Xiaomi Redmi 4 review: High on performance, low on price

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Xiaomi Xiaomi is a well-known player in the Indian smartphone market. The company has made quite a name for itself with its affordable yet feature-loaded smartphones. And to woo the budget-conscious Indian consumer, it has launched a new smartphone in the country.

Having a starting price of Rs 6,999, the Redmi 4 is Xiaomi’s latest entry into the hugely-competitive Indian smartphone market. The successor to last year’s Redmi 3S Prime, the smartphone comes with many improvements and claims to offer better performance over its predecessor. But is it really any good?

We tested the Xiaomi Redmi 4 for some time, and here’s the rest of our review.

Design and display

In terms of design, the Redmi 4 looks similar to its predecessor – Redmi 3S (Prime). That said, the company has tweaked the design a little bit here and there.

Xiaomi Redmi 4 sports an all-metal unibody design. Compared to the Redmi 3S, it’s more compact and less slippery. The smartphone comes with a matte rear panel and round edges make it easy to hold. The front panel has three soft-touch navigation keys – Home, Options and Back below the display. Above the display is the earpiece, a 5MP selfie camera and the usual array of sensors.

The rear panel has a 13MP rear camera with LED flash at the top left corner. At the center, there’s a circular fingerprint sensor and Xiaomi’s ‘Mi’ logo at the lower section. The power button and volume rocker are placed on the right side, while the SIM card tray sits on the left. The top edge has a 3.5mm audio jack and an IR blaster, while the bottom edge houses the speaker grille and microUSB charging port. All said, the Redmi 4 retains majority of the design elements of the Redmi 3S, but is sleeker and easier to hold in the hand.

Talking about the display, the Xiaomi Redmi 4 has a 5-inch HD display of 720×1280 pixel resolution. The 2.5D curved glass design improves the overall appearance of the smartphone and definitely looks better than the flat screen of its predecessor. During our testing, we found the display to be good. Brightness levels are decent and the display isn’t that reflective, even when used under direct sunlight. Colour reproduction and viewing angles are on point as well. The display comes with a ‘Reading Mode’ that further reduces background glare. It’s possible to schedule the ‘Reading Mode’ for automatic activation at a certain time, and users can configure it for all apps or some selective ones.

Xiaomi Redmi 4 is powered by a 1.4GHz octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 435 processor and comes in three variants based on RAM and internal storage. Our test unit had 3GB of RAM and 32GB of internal storage. The smartphone also accepts microSD cards of up to 128GB in size.
During the course of our testing, we found the smartphone to perform adequately without any kind of visible lag. We played various heavy games and used some heavy editing apps, and the Redmi 4 handled everything without any issues.
That said, the smartphone’s rear panel heated up a little (around the rear camera lens) after extended amount of gaming. Multitasking and switching between apps was a smooth affair.
We ran AnTuTu and GeekBench 4 benchmarking tests on the smartphone as well. While it scored 41,856 in the former, the single-core and multi-core scores on the latter were 664 and 1910 respectively.

As for call quality, it was largely fine on 4G VoLTE networks. Signal reception was also good on the Redmi 4.
Xiaomi Redmi 4 is backed by a 4,100mAh battery, which easily lasted us more than a day with moderate usage. This can be attributed to the low-resolution display and small screen size. Moreover, the battery doesn’t take much time to get fully-charged either.

Coming to the software, the Xiaomi Redmi 4 runs Android 6.0 Marshmallow OS with the company’s MIUI 8.2 skin baked on top. There’s no app drawer and all apps are placed on multiple homescreens. Some essential apps like compass and malware scanner come pre-installed. There’s also a ‘Lite Mode’, which simplifies the UI with bigger icons and fewer features for better accessibility. The Child and Guest modes can be used to restrict access to selected apps.

Just like its predecessor, Xiaomi Redmi 4 comes with an IR blaster, which allows the smartphone to be used as a universal remote control. The pre-installed Mi Remote app lets users add virtual remote controls for a variety of home appliances like TVs and ACs.

Talking about the camera, the Redmi 4 has a 13MP rear camera with LED flash and a 5MP front-facing shooter for selfies. The camera app itself is pretty simple to use and comes with various shooting modes such as Panorama, Manual, Tilt-shift and more. There is also a Beautify mode that allows users to take better selfies.

During our testing, we found the image quality of the Redmi 4’s camera to be impressive. The captured images offer sharp and vibrant colours, especially with adequate lighting. The camera performed well in both indoor and outdoor conditions, especially considering its price. The front camera also delivered good results in our testing.

Source: timesofindia

FiiO X5 (3rd gen) review: Fall in love with music, all over again

FiiO Tanks to their all-round versatility, modern-day smartphones are no longer just communication devices. Whether it’s clicking photos, checking social media updates or anything else, they can do it all. But perhaps their most-popular use is as portable music (and by extension, media) players.

And that makes perfect sense, given how convenient they are. Just transfer your favorite tracks to your smartphone’s internal storage (or a microSD card, which in turn can be popped into the phone, if supported), grab a pair of headphones/earphones, and you’re ready to roll. That’s how simple it is, and that’s precisely why smartphones have become the de-facto personal music players for just about everyone.

Be that as it may, there are some for whom a smartphone playing a bunch of low-bitrate MP3s, cranking out distorted output through a pair of run-of-the-mill earphones, just doesn’t cut it. These are discerning audiophiles (such as yours truly) who’d settle for nothing less than the purest-quality sound, and who’d go to great lengths to curate an enviable collection of lossless digital music. And for these folks, a high-resolution portable music player (PMP) is the only way to go.

If that’s something you can relate to, then you might want to take a gander at the FiiO X5. The Chinese company has made quite a name for itself in the past few years, thanks to its affordable yet feature-packed Hi-Res audio products. And the new X5, now in its third generation, is supposed to be among the best FiiO has ever made.
But is that really the case? Or at a hefty price of Rs 27,299, is this thing is ultimately too costly for its own good?

Take one look at the FiiO X5, and you can’t help but appreciate its solid build quality. Although it has a rather unassuming cuboid-shaped construction, the subtle design touches sprinkled here and there add to the PMP’s overall aesthetic appeal.

Let’s begin with the sides. On the top end of the right side, there’s a small circular Power/Sleep button that has a Blue-coloured Power status indicator LED at its center. The button itself is enclosed by a Red-colored outline and the whole arrangement is placed inside a slightly-recessed section, which looks quite nice. Move a little down to the center, and you’ll see two microSD card trays.

The bottom side of FiiO X5 is also its busiest. Left to right, it consists of a 3.5mm headphone port, a 2.5mm balanced output port, a microUSB port (for charging and data transfers) and a 3.5mm line-out/coaxial digital output port. Two tiny screws are here as well.

thumbAs for the left, this is the one that lends a funky character to the otherwise straightforward design of the FiiO X5. The whole left side is a slightly-protruding one and slants a bit inward while going from bottom to top. A much smaller section of this protrusion starts from the top and again, slants inward to meet the bigger one head-on, thus creating a recess between them. It’s this recess that hides the FiiO X5’s most distinctive-looking button -— a volume control dial -— which makes the adjustment of playback volume a walk in the park. On one side of the dial, there’s a Play/Pause button while on the other, a Forward/Rewind rocker is located.

Get to the front, and you’ll see the only element that sticks out like a sore thumb in the X5’s otherwise premium construction — Display. Although the 3.97-inch touchscreen is usable, its absurdly low 480×800 pixel resolution is tacky. The fact that it’s a TFT panel doesn’t help things either. It’s true that the primary focus of the X5 is music and not video consumption (or playing games), but we think that an LCD panel with a slightly-higher resolution would’ve been much better suited, especially given the PMP’s high price.

The FiiO X5 packs in some serious audio processing hardware underneath. It’s fitted with not just one, but two power-packed 32-bit AKM AK4490EN DACs (Digital to Analog Converters), one taking care of each audio channel. It also has a low-distortion architecture with digital filtering and decoding support up to 768kHz. And the dualities don’t just end there. The X5 comes with two crystal oscillators, one that handles DSD sampling rates like 44.1kHz and 352.8kHz, and one that deals with regular sampling rates such as 48kHz and 384kHz. The company claims that these help in eliminating compression artifacts almost completely. Then there are two dual-channel OPA1642 chips for low-pass filtering and a custom OPA426 chip for amplification.

Now, that’s a whole lot of technical mumbo-jumbo, but what does it mean for you, the end user? To put it simply — great sound.

Using the magic of both hardware and software-level audio enhancement, FiiO X5 makes the sound come alive, allowing you to listen to subtle details that’s just not possible otherwise. And you won’t be able to enjoy those details through a cheap pair of earphones. Grab a nice pair of headphones/IEMs from a specialist audio accessories manufacturer like Sennheiser or Altec Lansing (we used the BT Sport), load up some FLAC files, and hear the difference. For our test run, we used the FiiO X5 to play lossless tracks covering genres as diverse as Alternative rock, Acid jazz and Electropop, and the X5 didn’t disappoint us.

The dual DACs ensure that all frequency ranges (e.g. highs, mids) are properly separated, and make even background vocals sound clearer. There’s no distortion in the audio output at all, even when the volume levels are cranked all the way up to the maximum.It’s worth noting that FiiO’s lossless music player can also make standard MP3 tracks work better, thanks to built-in ViPER effects (although many of them are paid) and a 10-band equalizer with multiple presets. There is audio gain support included as well.

As far as the user experience goes, FiiO X5 runs a customized build of Android 5.1 Lollipop. Although it’s visually not much different from regular Android Lollipop, it’s a trimmed-down version that includes just the music-related essentials and extra software-based settings (e.g. Audio gain, Low pass filter). There are two UI modes — a standard mode that includes a homescreen, complete with app drawer; and a Pure music mode that locks the UI to just the music player. The latter is fairly easy to use and includes all standard options like playlist creation and management, grouping of tracks based on genre, artist etc., as well as multi-folder music playback. It goes without saying that the X5 supports nearly all audio formats (both lossy and lossless) out there, including everything from FLAC and ALAC to MP3 and WMA.

While the combination of a quad-core RK3188 chipset and 1GB of RAM may not be the best out there, it gets the job done. Having Android as the core operating system (instead of a custom OS) also lends the FiiO X5 the ability to access the plethora of apps available on the Google Play Store, including everything from streaming music services (e.g. SoundCloud) to lightweight games (e.g. Temple Run 2).

thumb3A particularly noteworthy feature of the X5 is USB Audio support. It essentially means is that you can hook it up to your PC via USB, connect an external speaker through the player’s line-out port and enjoy high-quality sound which is enhanced by the X5 DACs before being transmitted to the external speaker. All you need to do is download a companion USB audio driver from FiiO’s website and install it on your PC. From movies to games to YouTube videos, it makes everything sound better.

FiiO X5 comes with 32GB of internal storage, out of which about 26GB is user accessible. While this is definitely inadequate for anyone who has a decent music collection (especially if it’s all lossless music), the good thing is that the X5 comes with not just one, but two memory expansion slots, each capable of holding a microSD card of up to 256GB in size. That equates to 538GB of storage, which is definitely more than sufficient for just about everyone.

Timex IQ+ Move review: Fitness band with a traditional touch

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reviewNEW DELHI: If one goes by sales figures, it appears that wearables technology still has miles to go before it hits mass adoption. Amongst several wearable devices in the market, fitness bands are the ones that are finding more takers than other devices. These appeal to health-savvy users. Also, the fact that many of these devices are in the affordable range too works for them.

The well-known watch brand Timex too recently launched a hybrid wearable device — Timex IQ+ Move. The Timex IQ+ Move is a regular looking smartwatch with added capabilities of a fitness tracker. The IQ+ Move is priced at Rs 9,995, which is slightly more than some of the offerings by competing brands such as Fitbit, Xiaomi and others. We have been using the new Timex IQ+ Move since sometime now and here’s how it fares in our tests.

Design

The Timex IQ+ Move could very easily be mistaken for a regular analogue watch. There are absolutely no signs of a fitness band on it. The model we received came with a dark blue coloured silicone band and a 41mm circular metal case with a main dial and a smaller secondary dial to track the daily progress. There’s a crown on the side to set the time.

For those who are used to wearing watches with rubber or silicone bands might not find much difference while using it. However, those who are used to metal and leather bands could find it annoying at times as the silicone material makes the skin difficult to breathe. We would’ve appreciated it if the watch came with a detachable band.

What could also bother most wearers is the silicon band’s ability to attract dust and lint. However, it is the best for a sportsperson or someone who works out on a daily basis. It goes without saying that the Timex IQ+ Move is sweat and water resistant. It can work even at 50 metres underwater. So you don’t need to think twice before going for a swim.

Although Timex has given its best shot in making the IQ+ Move look like a classic analogue watch, it is understandably thicker than usual at 13mm due to its massive battery and a bunch of sensors stuffed inside. The overall aesthetics stay simple and minimal. There is no fancy groove design or a rotational circular screen bezels on the case. And don’t expect any smart features in it as well.

Performance

The performance of the Timex IQ+ Move completely relies on its sensors and their accuracy. There’s a companion app too where the cumulative results gathered by the fitness band are shown. Downloading the Timex Connect app and setting it up is a cakewalk. Unfortunately, it is the only way how you can check your performance and if you have achieved the required goals or not. You can also get a rough idea of how far are you from the required target by looking at the sub-dial but that’s a rough estimate.

The Timex Connect app is available on both App Store and Google Play and can be setup via Bluetooth. Like other fitness bands and smartwatches, you would have to keep the band connected to the smartphone or the tablet at all times if you want to sync the band anytime with the app. But you can stay offline too and sync the IQ+ Move later manually by connecting them over Bluetooth and pressing the fitness band’s crown for five seconds.

review2While setting up the app you are asked for the device which you are wearing, set up both the dials on the watch, feed in your name, gender, birth date, height, weight and bed time. What we liked is the fact that there is an option to customise which goal you have to see on which dial. For instance, the main dial’s seconds handle can be configured to show one of the specific goals.

The sub-dial can either show you the steps goal or the distance covered goal. The second hand in the dial besides showing the seconds can also be configured to show the date, steps and the distance covered. As it has been always the case, you also get to set your own goals while setting up the companion app.

As for the updates the app includes a section called ‘Check for Updates’ from where it gathers the new firmware version and lets users upgrade their fitness bands from there itself. While the update takes place, the watch should be kept within the Bluetooth range of the handset.

What might leave you in disappointment is that the Timex IQ+ Move has no fluorescent dials to view in low-light situations. However, the company has a baked in solution for that as well. The fitness band comes with company’s own INDIGLO light up technology which turns on the background light inside the dial to highlight the seconds, minutes and the sub dial.

As for the battery, the Timex IQ+ Move has a long lasting one as it won’t bother you for months. Timex claims that the fitness band’s battery can last for up to a year.

Source: timesofindia

Samsung Galaxy C7 Pro: Good on looks, smooth on performance

Samsung Samsung recently launched its Galaxy C7 Pro smartphone in India. Priced at Rs 27,990, the Samsung Galaxy C7 Pro falls not-so-crowded Rs 25,000 to Rs 30,000 range. While there are plenty of options available in the under Rs 20,000, the choice is relatively limited in the plus-Rs 20,000 range.

So what does one expect from a phone when spending over Rs 25,000? Good design, lasting battery, sturdy build and of course, overall smooth performance.

Does the Samsung Galaxy C7 Pro checks all these boxes right? Read our review to find out…

Design

Samsung Galaxy C7 Pro is available in Gold and Navy Blue colour variants, and the effort put in by the company is evident in the premium design, look and feel of the smartphone.

The front panel of the C7 Pro is dominated by a bright and vibrant display, below which lies a Home button with integrated fingerprint sensor. There are two capacitive navigation keys which are backlit. The Samsung branding lies right between the display and the earpiece. A selfie camera and LED flash are also placed on the front panel.

Flipping over, you’ll see the back panel with the Samsung branding. The primary camera lies right above it, along with the LED flash. The back panel also comes with striped antenna lines on the top and bottom.

The volume rocker is on the left edge, while the power button and SIM tray lie on the right. The bottom edge has a USB Type-C charging port, 3.5mm headphone jack and the speaker grilles.
Samsung Galaxy C7 Pro has a sturdy build quality and comes with a matte finish that adds to its premium design. In a nutshell, we really liked the look and feel of the smartphone.

Now let’s talk about the display. We have always liked the displays of Samsung’s smartphones, and the Galaxy C7 Pro didn’t disappoint us either.

The 5.7-inch Super AMOLED display of the Samsung Galaxy C7 Pro comes with 2.5D Gorilla Glass 4 protection. The colours are bright and vibrant, while the projected images are sharp. Even when using the smartphone under direct sunlight, we didn’t notice any distortion or anything like that. The display is a little reflective, but it’s not too much of a problem.

We can say that the display of Galaxy C7 Pro lives up to the standard of other Samsung smartphones. It’s definitely one of the positive aspects of the smartphone.

Performance

Samsung Galaxy C7 Pro runs Android 6.0 Marshmallow and is powered by a 2.2GHz octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 SoC, coupled with 4GB of RAM. The phone offers 64GB of internal storage and can support microSD cards of up to 256GB in size.

Samsung2 For imaging duties, the smartphone has a 16MP primary camera and a 16MP front-facing shooter. All major connectivity options such as 4G LTE, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS, USB Type-C and 3.5mm audio jack are included.
During our testing, the overall performance of the smartphone was smooth and we quite liked our experience with it. Apps open quickly and multitasking isn’t a problem either. We switched between different apps and used multiple Google Chrome tabs at the same time, and the C7 Pro handled everything well.

Call quality was also good and we had no problems in making/receiving calls, even in areas with low signal reception.

Another big plus of the Galaxy C7 Pro is that we didn’t encounter any heating issues while using the smartphone. We used Maps for navigation, played games and browsed social media, but the smartphone didn’t get heat up even once.
In addition, we played several YouTube videos and witnessed no lag at all. Audio output was clear as well.

Coming to the 3,300mAh battery of the Samsung Galaxy C7 Pro, it lasted us all day even after heavy usage. We used the smartphone to enjoy videos, browse the web and even accessing some battery-draining apps like Facebook. In addition, our usage involved phone calls and some gaming as well. With all this, Samsung Galaxy C7 Pro’s battery lasted till the end of the day.

The fingerprint sensor mostly does a good job, but there were a couple of instances when it didn’t unlock the smartphone instantly.

Coming to the cameras of the Galaxy C7 Pro, they did a good job in both well-lit as and dimly-lit areas. The primary camera managed to take very clear and sharp images, with accurate colour reproduction. We couldn’t notice any pixelation or distortion even after zooming in on the images.

But the images taken from the selfie camera, while good, could not match up with those clicked by the primary camera.

If you’re a selfie-fan, the Galaxy C7 Pro might not be the one for you. Otherwise, the camera experience on this smartphone is really good.

We also ran a few benchmark tests on the C7 Pro. While it scored 936 (single-core) and 4404 (multi-core) on GeekBench 4, AnTuTu score was 67473.

Source: timesofindia

Sony MDR XB950B1 review: For the bass lovers

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Sony Sony is a well-known name when it comes to audio products, with its line-up including numerous feature-loaded headphones, earphones and other accessories. The company recently expanded its portfolio with the launch of the MDR XB950B1. Priced at Rs 12,990, the pair of Bluetooth headphones was first unveiled at CES, earlier this year. Primarily targeted at bass lovers, the MDR XB950B1 is claimed to offer exceptional sound quality with enhanced battery life. But is it really any good?

We used the Sony MDR XB950B1 for some time and here’s what we think about it.

Design

The MDR XB950B1 is claimed to have been especially designed for bass lovers. It has an impressive metallic design and the angular earcups make for a better user experience. They are well-cushioned and don’t cause any discomfort even when worn for long periods of time. The earcups also have an adjustable metallic headband, which itself is cushioned for more comfort. Both sides of the headband have levers which can be used to adjust it for a perfect fit. As for the earcups, they are made of plastic and consist of all the controls.

The left earcup has the power button, microphone, USB charging port, 3.5mm audio jack and a special ‘Bass effect’ button. On the other hand, the right earcup is where the volume rocker, and a toggle to manage music and handle calls is located.

All said, we found the design and build quality of the MDR XB950B1 to be impressive.

Performance

Coming to performance, the Sony MDR XB950B1 managed to impress us in many ways. To get started, you just have to press the power button and the device automatically connects to a nearby Bluetooth source for pairing. The headphones come with 40mm drivers which help in delivering amazing audio output. The ‘Bass effect’ button instantly enhances the bass output. We loved this feature and it contributed in making our music-listening experience an enriching one.

We listened to some EDM tracks and could feel the vibration in our ears. Apart from high bass output, the MDR XB950B1 offers good noise-cancellation. The earcups cover the ears completely, further blocking any surrounding noises while listening to music.

Sony 2Sony MDR XB950B1 comes with a detachable cable, so you can enjoy music even when the battery runs out. Bluetooth connectivity was fine during our testing. However, there were occasional disconnections when using the headphones in underground areas such as subways and metro stations. Apart from Bluetooth, you can use NFC to connect your smartphone and listen to music. The pair of headphones claims to have up to 10 hours of battery life on a single charge. During our testing, we managed to get around 8 hours of music playback, which is good for a pair of Bluetooth-powered headphones.

Sony MDR XB950B1 can be used with a companion ‘Connect’ app that lets users choose multiple listening environments such as Arena, Club and Concert hall. The ‘Bass effect’ functionality can be controlled via the app as well.

Sony MDR XB50BS and XB80BS in-ear headphones launched, price starts at Rs 5,490
Overall, the pair of headphones offered excellent sound performance during our testing. Audio output is excellent, and the output is loud and crisp. Listening to any kind of music, be it Pop, EDM or Hip-hop, turned out to be a delight. Apart from music, handling calls also worked as intended.

Source: timesofindia

LG G6 review: Standing tall, in every sense of the word

LGIn the modern-day world of technology, where you can get smartphones with top-of-the-line innards at surprisingly affordable prices, powerful hardware alone is no longer reason enough to justify paying a premium for a flagship smartphone from a big-name brand. That’s why established players are increasingly focusing on outing devices with innovations that go much beyond than just commanding spec-sheets. And one such name is LG.

From the curved G Flex to the secondary display-toting V10, LG has a lot of ingenious smartphones to its credit. But not all of the company’s ‘innovative’ mobile devices have been as successful as it would have wanted them to be, the case in point being its last year’s flagship — G5.

The G5 was a really bold move by LG, banking on the whole modularity concept. However, the smartphone failed to find too many takers. It was also marred by issues such as subpar build quality and clunky implementation of the modular concept. The company acknowledged that it made ‘mistakes with the G5’, and launched the V20 in the second half of 2016 to recoup some of its market share.

Fast forward to the present, and the chaebol is back in the fray with its newest offering – G6. Ditching the modular approach, LG’s 2017 flagship largely sticks to the basics of smartphone design. In addition, it comes with a display that’s quite unlike anything else out there. And of course, there’s puissant hardware thrown in for good measure as well.

That sounds impressive, but is it a package compelling enough to merit a price tag of Rs 51,990?
Let’s find out, in our full review of the LG G6.

Design, build quality and display

Smartphones are often chastised for their uninspiring form factors. The G6, on the other hand, embraces its slab-like construction, and completely nails it in the design department. This is not a device that relies on fancy shticks to look different. Instead, it takes the very essentials of smartphone design and perfects them.

LG2The G6 is crafted from two materials – aluminium and glass. The rear panel is made out of a layer of Corning Gorilla Glass 5. While it undoubtedly looks good, it also makes the smartphone’s back a fingerprint and smudge magnet. At the centre of the upper half of the rear panel is a rectangular module with rounded corners. It sits flush with the rest of the back and houses the dual-camera system of the G6, comprising two 13MP sensors – one standard (71-degree, f/1.8 aperture) and one wide angle (125-degree, f/2.4 aperture). A vertical dual-LED flash is situated between the two camera lenses.

Just below the dual-camera assembly is the circular fingerprint sensor, which also doubles up as a power button. The lower end of the smartphone’s back panel has a shiny G6 logo imprinted in the centre, with some safety/regulatory information and other details (such as the model number) below it. The rear panel is mostly flat, but curves slightly towards all four edges.

The sides of the LG G6 are all metal and have a smooth finish. The volume up/down buttons (which have a nice feedback) are located on the upper-half of the left side and directly opposite them, is the hybrid dual-SIM/microSD card tray, located on the right side.

Up top, the G6 has a 3.5mm audio jack and a secondary noise-cancelling microphone on the right. Coming to the bottom edge, it has a USB Type-C port in the middle, flanked by a microphone (on the left) and a speaker grille (on the right) with three big vents. The only breaks in the G6’s otherwise continuous side frame are provided by a couple of antenna lines – two on the top and one each on the left, right and bottom.

Coming to the front, it’s home to the G6’s biggest standout feature – display. The display has minimal side bezels, and those on the top and bottom aren’t that substantial either. A 5MP (f/2.2 aperture) front-facing camera is situated on the top left corner, above the display. At the center, there’s an earpiece, as well as the proximity and ambient light sensors. The chin bezel is bare, except for an LG logo stamped in the middle.

As for the display itself, we’ve got just one word for it — phenomenal. The tall 5.7-inch ‘FullVision’ panel of the G6 is truly a sight to behold. Being an IPS LCD one, it has flawless colour reproduction and excellent viewing angles. It gets plenty bright as well, so sunlight legibility is a non-issue. We enjoyed a couple of videos (both standard and HDR) and came away thoroughly impressed. The ‘Dolby Vision’ support really makes a world of difference, and you just have to know where to look (hint: Netflix) for the right HDR video content that can do justice to the G6’s gorgeous display.

Oh, and the rounded corners of the display look amazing too. As per LG’s claims, they help in minimizing the damage to the display in case of accidental falls. So that’s a plus as well.

With a resolution of 1440×2880 pixels and a pixel density of around 564ppi, the LG G6’s panel renders everything from 4K videos to even webpages with striking detail. The tall display and its unusual 18:9 aspect ratio may take some time getting used to, but it’s incredibly useful when you’re browsing the web or using apps like Facebook and Twitter. That’s because the added visual real estate allows more content to be displayed on the screen as you scroll.

LG3The G6 lets you easily scale third-party apps/games (via Settings) and videos (via a button during video playback) to fit its 18:9 display. However, some apps and YouTube videos don’t support scaling (yet), leaving you no option but to bear with unsightly black bars on the sides. Also, for some reason, LG chose to put two-generation old Corning Gorilla Glass 3 on the G6’s display. This is especially weird, considering the back panel is secured by Gorilla Glass 5.

There’s another area where the G6’s tall display makes a mountain of a difference – one-handed usage. And this is something that becomes apparent the moment you hold the phone in your hand. The LG G6 is a 5.7-inch smartphone but it feels much smaller than that. It’s perfectly usable with one hand. The only frequent-use issue that potential users might be concerned about – pulling down the notification shade from the top – can be solved by adding a dedicated on-screen button for the same to the navigation bar. This can be done via Settings.
All said, we found the LG G6 to be solidly-engineered and well-constructed piece of mobile hardware. Its design is understated yet classy, and its heft gives it a reassuring in-hand feel.


Performance, software and camera

Delivering processing muscle to the G6 is Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 821 SoC, comprising a quad-core CPU (two Kryo cores clocked at 2.35GHz and two Kryo cores clocked at 1.6GHz) and Adreno 530 GPU. This is complemented by 4GB of RAM and 64GB of internal storage, with support for microSD cards of up to 256GB capacity.

Much has been said and discussed about LG’s decision of opting for last year’s silicon to power its 2017 flagship. In its defence, the company clarified that it couldn’t use this year’s top-tier Qualcomm chipset – Snapdragon 835 – because fellow South Korean rival Samsung hogged the entire initial production batch of the 835 for its own flagships – S8 and S8+. Numerous reports have corroborated the same as well, so it seems like LG didn’t really have a choice but to use the older 821 chipset for the G6.

Now, if you love having the latest hardware specifications in your smartphone (and other gadgets, for that matter) and have already made up your mind that a Snapdragon 821 chipset in a 2017 flagship is simply not going to work, there’s no amount of reasoning that can convince you otherwise. And theoretically, the 835 is better than the 821, even if just a little.

But if you don’t care about model numbers and marketing speak, and just want a smartphone that works well, the Snapdragon 821-powered LG G6 is going to serve you just fine.

It may have come out last year, but the Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 is still a top-of-the-line SoC that’s mighty powerful for handling just about every task that you might expect a flagship Android smartphone to perform.
During the course of our testing, we used the G6 to play the most graphic-intensive of games (e.g. WWE Immortals), stream/record 4K videos and browse ten different websites in separate Google Chrome tabs, all while juggling randomly between them. As expected, the smartphone (or its Snapdragon 821/4GB RAM combo) aced everything like a champ. Like every smartphone out there, the G6 does get a little warm when playing games or recording videos for an extended amount of time, but it’s nothing to be concerned about.

The bottom-line is, the Snapdragon 821 is all that the G6 needs. And the numbers back it up too. The smartphone scored 82257 in AnTuTu benchmark test, while GeekBench 4 scores were 1760 (single-core) and 4060 (multi-core).
However, formidable hardware is just one aspect of the picture. A well-rounded Android smartphone also has to have efficient software. To that end, the LG G6 runs Android 7.0 Nougat out-of-the box, with its own UX 6.0 layer baked on top.

As such, all Nougat-specific features like split-view multitasking, display scaling, enhanced notifications and better power management are included in the G6. But what truly makes the G6 shine is UX 6.0.

That’s because UX 6.0 isn’t just a fancy software skin, it’s a custom interface designed to let users take full advantage of the G6’s 18:9 aspect ratio ‘Full Vision’ display.

LG5LG G6’s 5.7-inch display essentially has a 2:1 aspect ratio, and UX 6.0 enhances the visual experience by dividing nearly all system apps into two perfect squares. So, if you open the calendar app in landscape mode, one square will display (monthly) calendar and the other will show your upcoming tasks/appointments. Similarly, accessing the Music app in landscape mode shows album art/playback controls in one square, and playlist in the other.

The 1:1 UI management works wonderfully with Android 7.0 Nougat’s split-view multitasking feature, allowing you to access two apps at the same time in separate perfect squares. It also lends a visual coherence to the entire user interface and blends will the G6’s overall design.

Other than that, UX 6.0 is a standard skin layer. Like its predecessor, it doesn’t come with an app drawer and all apps are arranged on multiple homescreens. But don’t fret, you can easily download ‘Home & app drawer’ from the ‘SmartWorld’ store if you prefer a cleaner homescreen layout.

Speaking of ‘SmartWorld’, it is LG’s own digital content store from where you can download anything from themes and wallpapers to ringtones and apps, and use them to customize the G6’s user interface to your heart’s desire.

There’s also something called ‘Smart Bulletin’ (accessible via Settings > Home screen), which shows a customizable feed of content such as calendar schedule, health data and smart settings in a vertically scrollable screen, accessible by swiping to the right. It’s similar to Google Now in functionality.

LG G6 comes with Google Assistant out-of-the-box, but it’s something that all smartphones running Android 6.0 Marshmallow or above are going to get it eventually.

The G6 isn’t too heavy on bloatware, but does come with a few of LG’s own apps such as Smart Doctor (for optimizing the phone’s performance, checking battery usage and diagnosing hardware), Mobile Switch (for transferring data between two devices) and RemoteCall Service (for connecting with LG’s customer service). While majority of these apps are useful, none can be uninstalled. Three third-party apps – Facebook, Twitter and Evernote – come preloaded too, with the first two being removable.

Some other nifty features such as Comfort view (another name for Bluelight filter) and screen gestures (Double tap to sleep/wake) are also thrown into the mix. Then there’s QSlide, which lets you run some system apps (e.g. E-mail, File Manager) in a small floating window on the homescreen.

The rear-mounted fingerprint sensor on the G6 worked sans issues during our time with it. It supports 360-degree recognition and works with moist digits, albeit sporadically. Furthermore, the content saved in some apps (Gallery and QuickMemo+) can be secured with fingerprints.

Just like its predecessor, the LG G6 has a dual-camera setup at the back. It’s comprised of two 13MP modules – one standard (f/1.8) and one wide angle (f/2.4). While the former is optically stabilized and has phase detection auto focus, the latter lacks both. That sounds great on paper, but is the real-world imaging performance of the LG G6 any good? The answer, is a conclusive yes.

The rear dual-shooters of the G6 are capable of capturing some amazing-looking pictures, especially in favourable and well-lit conditions. The pictures have ample amount of resolved detail and are plenty sharp, with accurate colour reproduction. Night-time photos come out to be incredible (for a smartphone camera), and only show compression artefacts when zoomed in. The HDR mode makes the results look even better.

Even though the Auto is more than sufficient for all your shooting needs, the camera app offers a full-blown Manual mode (with options to change everything from ISO to EV) for those who want better control.

The secondary 13MP module of the LG G6’s dual rear camera system isn’t just there for fancy Bokeh effects. Instead, it consists of a wide-angle lens (125-degree) that lets you capture a lot more in a single frame. Typical of wide-angle lenses, there is a slight barrel distortion, but nothing to be worried about.

LG G6 can record 4K (maximum 30fps) and Full HD (16:9 and 21:9 UltraWide) resolution, complete with high-quality stereo sound. Thanks to 3-axis OIS (on the standard 13MP module), resulting videos come out to be shake-free and pack as much detail as the photos. Videos shot with the wide-angle lens look good too.

As for the 5MP selfie camera up front, we found it to be more than decent. It does get a little grainy in low-light conditions, but is more than adequate for its intended purpose(s). To complement the dual camera system at the back, the front-snapper also has a software-based wide-angle mode that you can use to take photos with your entire group of friends. And of course, usual ‘beautification’ features like skin tone adjustments and filters are there in the camera app too.

By the way, the camera app deserves a special mention here. That’s because in addition to the usual features (e.g. photo/video modes, manual controls), it comes with a special ‘Square Camera’ mode. This in turn has four sub-modes – Match shot, Snap shot, Guide shot and Grid shot. These can be used to take a square photo and instantly preview it, take multiple photos and combine them, and then some more. Apart from that, some other modes included in the camera app are Slo-mo, 360-Panorama and Timelapse.

wordIf you’re an audiophile, you’re going to love the G6. That’s because LG’s newest flagship comes with a built-in Hi-Fi DAC (Digital to Analog converter). All you have to do is plug-in a pair of earphones/headphones, and the DAC automatically recognizes the connected peripheral, enhancing audio output as it does so. Having tested the G6 to play both regular MP3 and lossless FLAC tracks, we can confirm that the built-in DAC does make a difference to the audio output, even if it’s a little.

Now that we’re on the topic, it’s worth adding that the G6’s speaker is one of the loudest that we’ve come across in a while. It’s quite clear and doesn’t throw distorted sounds at higher volumes either. But given the G6’s price tag, it’s a crying shame that LG couldn’t include stereo speakers in the package. As mentioned before, watching videos on the G6’s ‘Dolby Vision’ powered display is a joy.

And yet, all of G6’s features don’t mean a thing if it can’t help you stay in touch at all times. Thankfully, that’s not the case. During our test run, we found the call quality (on both sides) to be perfect. The smartphone latches on to 4G VoLTE/3G networks quickly, and cellular reception is generally great. Obviously, this depends on mobile network coverage in your area, so individual results will vary.

And if you accidentally drop the G6 in a fountain or a kitchen sink while talking to someone, don’t worry. This thing is IP68-certified, and can easily withstand the occasional splash.

From dual-band Wi-Fi and DLNA to Bluetooth 4.2 and NFC, the G6 checks all the right boxes when it comes to connectivity options.

LG G6 has a 3,300mAh non-removable cell. That’s not huge by any means, but still more 300mAh more than that of the S8. So how’s the battery life on LG’s 2017 flagship?

For our testing, we used a fully-charged G6 for an hour of gaming, around two hours of voice calls and an hour each of streaming music and video playback, all while keeping Wi-Fi/Cellular data and push notifications enabled throughout the day. Under this use case, the G6’s battery lasted us a full workday, even if it struggled a bit in doing so. The smartphone is yet to get the battery optimizations included in Android 7.1.2, so we expect the battery life to get better once it does.

LG G6 supports Qualcomm’s Quick Charge 3.0 technology, so you can charge the battery up to 50% in just about half an hour.

Verdict

There’s absolutely no question that the LG G6 is a great all-round smartphone. From a subtly-elegant design to premium construction and from great audio quality to terrific camera experience, there are many things that LG’s 2017 flagship does right. And of course, the ‘Full Vision’ display is there as well.

But the thing is, the G6 has to compete against fellow chaebol Samsung’s Galaxy S8, which is near-universally considered to be the best Android smartphone out there. Compared to the G6, the S8 has a swankier curved display, iris/facial recognition support, Samsung’s own Bixby digital assistant, a better front-facing camera, wireless charging (The G6’s US variant comes with wireless charging, but doesn’t include the Hi-Fi DAC) and DeX workstation support.

Having said all that, the Galaxy S8 is also more expensive than the G6. Furthermore, it has a smaller battery, a single rear camera and a weirdely-placed fingerprint sensor.

The G6 is undoubtedly the best smartphone that LG has ever made. And if you’re willing to look past the ‘old’ Snapdragon 821, it’s every bit as flagship as it can get. Some may find the price tag of Rs 51,990 a bit too much, but the prices of LG’s smartphones almost always drop in a few months after launch.

So if you want an Android smartphone that excels in every department, go ahead and get the LG G6, you won’t be disappointed.

Source: timesofindia

Acer Predator 15 (2017) review: A cool gaming laptop

Acer

Acer 2t has been raining gaming laptops. The PC and laptop gaming sector is on fire and users want the best bang for their buck. This is probably why players like Acer, Asus and HP are getting aggressive in the segment. Today, there are several options available in the market when it comes to purchasing a laptop designed for gaming. Acer is the latest to refresh and redo its line-up of Predator gaming notebook series in India; out of which we got to review the Acer Predator 15 (2017) model. This is what we could make of the mammoth.

Design

These days all the gaming machines come with hard edges, which is not very ergonomic. Yes, they look good, but they tire you out quickly. The same applies to Acer Predator 15 (2017). It is a knockout when it comes to the design and appeal, with great contours, however loses a few marks when it comes to ergonomics.

This one drives a 15.6-inch Full HD display that can deliver great graphics at viewing angles up to 178 degrees (above the screen we found the HD webcam for video chat). On the backside of the lid, users get a backlit Predator logo in silver along with twin backlit lines on the sides. That’s not all; Acer has provided a RGB keyboard making it a showpiece. In fact, the keyboard is large and has a separate numeric keypad too. Users also get a good-sized backlit (on the edges) trackpad that is multi-touch ready. On top of the keyboard Acer has placed a triangular power button with few extras on the sides that manage profiles.

On the right users get two USB 3.0, one HDMI, one thunderbolt and Ethernet ports. The left side of the Acer Predator 15 (2017) has two more USB 3.0 ports along with the power, 3.5mm audio and SD card slot. Next to them Acer has put the DVD writer, this can be replaced with an extra cooling fan that comes in the box (quite neat if you ask us). The front has the twin 4 way speakers backed by Dolby Audio. There is a sub-woofer in the Acer Predator 15 (2017) that is placed under the laptop.

Performance

The Acer Predator 15 (2017) has the latest when it comes to configuration. It has an Intel core i7 (7th gen) 2.8 GHz CPU, 16 GB RAM, 1 TB HDD along with 128 GB SSD to boot-up the device in no time. It also sports the NVIDIA GTX 1060 graphics unit with 6 GB RAM. That said, however, the graphic card could have been better. Other features such as Bluetooth and built-in microphone are also available.

Acer Predator 15 (2017) runs Windows 10 home edition OS that did not take much time to setup. We were up and running in a few minutes. There isn’t a lot of bloatware on the system either and you are given the essentials with the option to add more software from the locker. Since this is a gaming machine, Acer has installed the Predator sense app on it. This helps gamers to over clock the system at a click of a button. But, for it to be enabled users’ needs to plug the charging brick to it.

We ran 3D Mark fire test on the machine and as expected it did not give us the best results. Since the graphics card is a mid-end one we only got 8.7K points on it. This does not kill the performance totally, but we have seen better results from its competitors. The Acer Predator 15 (2017) was able to handle games like DOTA 2 and CS:Go at over 100 FPS (max settings), but these fell down to around 40 when games like Dues Ex and GTA 5 were played. On PC Mark Vantage it did not display great results either. It scored only 13,451 points putting it in the middle of the current generation of gaming laptops.

Acer 20Sound on the other hand is great. The speaker system is brilliant for gaming as well as entertainment. Coupled with the great full HD screen we were enamoured by the experience. However, the experience could have been better if the screen was 4K ready. Jumping over to the battery life. The Acer Predator 15 (2017) is like any other laptop, big, bulky and slow on the battery. That is because most would want to keep it wired in always for best performance. We could get just 3.5 hours of uptime from this laptop (under normal use). It went down to 2 hours when playing a game.

Verdict

Acer is giving some neat new things in the Acer Predator 15 (2017) like Killer double shot pro feature that enables the user to split their bandwidth requirement over Wi-Fi and Ethernet. The ability to swap the DVD drive with an additional fan is relevant for a gaming machine. Which makes issues like overheating evaporate. However, competitors like Asus and MSI are giving slightly better specs at lesser price. This one retails for Rs 1,59,990 which we feel can hurt Acer’s market.

Source: timesofindia

Why its best to Buy Twitter Followers

Twitter has now been on the web for a while now. Basically it has turned into one of the most quickest growing networking sites on the internet. One of the most pleasant things about Twitter is that it has a great user community that you can easily use to connect with others. The possibility to make a new connection with someone is as easy as placing your hand on the follow button. Online marketers understood the value of Twitter when it first began, which is why they are still trying in many ways to break the Twitter code. If you really want to succeed in marketing products on Twitter, you must have a targeted follower base, which will be hard to market without.

twitterEven though you can pick up a few different strategies to get more followers, it will result only to get a minimum number of followers. If you target for more number of followers, then you can buy twitter followers from reputed buyers. There are many service providers selling twitter followers online. After verifying various buyers testimonial I came across this website addtwitter-followers, where they offer the twitter service in a safe and legit way, which also helps in your twitter ad campaign. In this review, I will let you know the basic things which I came to know before buying twitter followers.
twitter

1. First, what are followers?
Followers are Twitter users who consistently read everything you tweet. They subscribe to your updates and are the first to find out it once you post something new. They represent your customer base and help enhance your visibility on the net. If the account already has a lot of followers, youre more prone to attract new followers as well as gain the eyes of others.

2.How will having followers help me?
When you have enough followers, Twitter will even help you to get more visibility! They often feature popular accounts on the home page, thus attracting a lot more followers for you. Many 3rd party websites also list the most used Twitter accounts each day, week, month, or year! Theres so much publicity available around that we can help you start right this moment!

3.Why should i buy followers?
Online marketing is the key to success these days. Social media sites play a huge role in anyones online presence. Twitter holds significant weight in how your consumers perceive you. We know that your company is awesome. So why not let others know too? Youre more likely to attract new clientele if you have an already established fan base. A Twitter page with hundreds of followers attracts way more attention than a Twitter page with a few followers. You could wait months or years to get the established following you need, or you could have it in just a few clicks of a button with addtwitter-followers. Sounds like an easy decision to to make!

4.How do you differentiate addtwitter-followers from other sellers?
Addtwitter-followers are the most effective in the commercial for any reason! There are many service providers who sell you followers which are robots or empty accounts. When Twitter finds these accounts, they delete them, thus completely defeating the intention of your investment! At addtwitter-followers, they know much better than to use bot accounts. And most important they provide guaranteed service until youll be satisfied with the standard, quantity, speed, and longevity from the followers they provide in your case. They always feel quality is important, and they always deliver that.

5.What is needed from me?
twitter2Just your username along with your payment! Other websites may make you go through tedious registration processes, or provide personal information just like your password. They dont ( sounds easy right?) They will make everything easy for us, not stressful. Thats why they ask for little information, after that youll be on your way to Twitter popularity!

6.How long does it take?
Waiting is minimal with Addtwitter-followers that is why delivery is almost Instant! They understand that its crucial that you get projects this way up and running as soon as possible. They make sure to start the transaction, once you make is confirmed. Watch the followers start to arrive almost immediately after you put your order!

5 mistakes I made with my money

moneyMy career path has had lots of twists, blind turns, steep climbs, and sharp drops. This is also true as far as my financial state goes. I made a few key mistakes before I finally understood what is financial responsibility.

As someone who has learnt about money management and investing the hard way, I want to share my lessons with you by talking about the five biggest mistakes that I made when it comes to money.

Mistake#1: Not planning my career path effectively

We Indians as students are normally obsessed with becoming either a doctor or an engineer. At 17, I ran the medical entrance race but lost. Since then from graduation to MBA, my qualifications have not really been a result of well thought out career plans. The only thing I was aware of was that I was good at communication.

It might be safe to say that focusing on my core competency from the very beginning and working on entering a field of my interest (which I finally managed), would have put me in a far superior position financially.

Mistake#2: Living beyond my means and depending on parental financial cushion

My first job, at the age of 23, was as a journalist. I, however, was not happy with my salary. It barely covered rent and living expenses.

Being the son of an Army Officer, truth is that you don’t really have to deal with money. You have access to a lifestyle that in the civilian world only the very well off can afford.

In my early 20s I could not adjust to the idea of living within my means. I wanted the best of things without considering whether I could afford them. While most people like to turn to credit cards, I turned to my parents. Being an only child, convincing them wasn’t difficult.

This dependence remained even into my MBA, the second job, and only started abating when I entered my third job with a start-up.

Mistake#3: Inconsistent saving and using up my savings on wants rather than on investments or needs

I used to believe that I need to earn more to start saving. My savings were as and when they could be managed. They never went into investments of any kind, not even a bank FD. This was very true of my first two jobs. Only in my third job did I try saving regularly. The result of my savings laying in my savings account was that they ended up being used for gadgets or foreign trips.

If I had strictly invested in long term instruments, my savings would have multiplied manifold.

Mistake#4: Learning about practical finance and its management too late despite being an MBA

I graduated with a bachelors in commerce at the age of 22, pursued a degree in Journalism at 23 and finally pursued my MBA when I was 26. Even though I had theoretical knowledge of finance, I started learning about investments and managing them only when I quit my third job at the age of 29.

If I had been investing consistently since my first job at the age of 23, the money accumulated would have been worth enough to at least buy a small car without a loan.

Mistake #5: Not thinking long term – not investing in equity

I learnt the hard way that compounding is a friend you must adopt early. Even Rs 1000 saved 7 years earlier is roughly worth Rs 2050 now at 15% per annum returns.

I never really thought long term till I started reading and learning about investments, and especially how the greats such as Warren Buffett and Peter Lynch thought. At age 29, I finally started figuring out how wealth creation works.

Looking back at all the market rallies that have come and gone since 2006 (when I first started working) it’s worth pondering what my equity investments would look like now. If I had invested even minimal sums in equity funds with a long term track record, I would be 7 years ahead in my retirement planning.

The bright side:

While it seemed that I had dug myself into a hole, once I started understanding and adopting the best investment practices, the realization came that with some additional work, the damage of 7 years of inaction and poor financial choices can be repaired. The first step was finding a job that I loved and which could exploit my strengths.

Here are some hacks I am implementing that might help you too, to get your financial plans on track:

1.Save at least 20% of your take home and directly invest in long term investments. ELSS is one of the best options I am aware of to save tax. The three year lock in means I can’t be irresponsible with my savings

2.10% of my take home is being put in a liquid fund which will build into an emergency fund. In my situation long term investments are as urgent as an emergency fund

3.I have taken double health insurance (one personally and one given to by my employer) to take care of any emergencies related to health

4.I monitor my expenses on a weekly basis and have strict limits on how much I can spend on wants.

5.I invest time into constantly learning about finance and my specific career skills through online courses via e-learning sites. This ensures that my career skills are constantly being updated.

Source: timesofindia