Surface Laptop

                        Surface Laptop                          



 
                         The new Microsoft Surface Laptop could be the Windows ultra portable to beat. Starting at $999 and in stores June 15, this 2.8-pound stunner comes in four colors, sports a very unique fabric deck and promises up to 14.5 hours of battery life.We went hands-on with the Surface Laptop at Microsoft's launch event, and it looks like a beautiful piece of hardware for a reasonable price, filling the void by the now-ancient MacBook Air. However, there are some limitations, too.

Design


                          Because it's meticulously designed, Microsoft says you won't see a screw or anything that signals how the device was put together. That's because Surface boss Panos Panay says it's designed to be "silent to the eye." The laptop features a 13.5-inch PixelSense display with 3.4 million pixels (2256 x 1504) with a 3:2 aspect ration. The system weighs 2.8 pounds and measures just 14.5 mm thin. Microsoft says it's the thinnest LCD touch module ever put in a laptop.  The device comes in four colors: burgundy, graphite gold, platinum and cobalt blue. We like that you can easily open the clamshell with one finger. When we went hands-on with the Surface Laptop at Microsoft's press event, the design really impressed. It looks sleek, especially in burgundy and cobalt, and there's not a screw to be seen.

Keyboard


                        The Surface Laptop offers 1.5 mm of key travel, which is more than some competing laptops. For instance, the MacBook Pro's keyboard is limited to 0.5 mm. Based on our hands-on time, the Alcantara fabric around the deck feels great to touch and rest your wrists on as you type. The keys were nice and clicky on first impression, though we'll spend more time with the layout in our full review.

Ports and Pen


                   There are, however, a dearth of ports, with just a full-sized USB port, mini DisplayPort and headphone jack on the left side. On the right side, all you'll find is Microsoft's proprietary charger. (It looked like a SD Card slot at first, but it's not.) Conspicuously absent is a USB-C port. Microsoft explained in an interview why it didn't opt for USB-C, saying that it's not that prevalent yet, but we don't buy that.  As you would expect, the Surface Laptop works with the Surface Pen, which lets you annotate content, as well as leverage other features of Windows 10 Creators Update. The Surface Laptop will run Windows 10 S out of the box, which only works Windows Store apps, but you'll be able to upgrade to Windows 10 Pro.

Performance and Battery Life


                       In addition to supporting the latest Core i5 and Core i7 processors, the Surface Laptop offers a PCIe SSD. Most impressively, Microsoft claims up to 14.5 hours of battery life. (Of course, we'll put that to the test.) The standard configuration comes with a Core i5 CPU, 4GB of RAM and 128GB SSD for $999, but you can upgrade up to Core i7. You can also get 8GB or 16GB of RAM, as well as a 256GB or 512GB SSD

Software


                      The Surface Laptop comes with a 90-day free trial of Windows 10 Pro, but after that it will fall back to Windows 10 S unless you pay $50 to upgrade. Why is that important? Although Windows 10 S promises a cleaner interface and fast boot times, as well as a more secure environment, you'll be locked into the Edge Browser and Bing for search. You'll also only be able to use Windows Store apps.


OnePlus 3T

 OnePlus 3T

 


One Plus 3T: Midnight Black edition


                     Following the extremely limited Collette edition of the OnePlus 3T (just 250 units), the company has announced the Midnight Black version of the 3T. This is still a 'limited release' The Midnight Edition is very similar but without the Collette branding and features "space-grade aluminum with three carefully applied dark coatings 14 microns thick and maintains the natural look and feel of metal."
 

Design and build

                              Even the ‘s’ iterations of i Phones have an ‘s’ stamped on the back, but in this case there is absolutely no design change from the One Plus 3 to the One Plus 3T. The only change is in the darker color option, the grey of which on the rear is a tad darker than the old model. The forthcoming Soft Gold option is exactly the same, and visually indistinguishable from its five month old brother. This reinforces that OnePlus sees the 3T as a small tweak for the line, hoping as it does to not frustrate loyal fans that shelled out for a 3. The 3T happily retains an outstanding design, with build quality to rival any premium smartphone maker in the land. It does what Apple has still failed to do and made a 5.5in screen phone slim, svelte and usable with one hand.

                         Apparently carved out of one piece of space-grade aluminium alloy the OnePlus 3T measures 153 x 75 x 7.4mm and weighs 158g. The frame of the handset houses a power/lock button on the right edge, a USB-C port, speaker, mic and 3.5mm headphone jack on the bottom and a volume rocker and OnePlus’ excellent Alert Slider on the left, leaving the top edge flat, curved and smooth. With a front facing fingerprint scanner that relies on haptic feedback as opposed to a physical button, this is a phone that screams ‘use me’ from the second you take it out the box. In that box it also already comes with a screen protector pre-applied, handy if you want to use it with one. The only lines that break the dark gunmetal of our review unit are the aerial lines and the OnePlus logo that sits beneath a 16Mp camera that protrudes ever so slightly from the casing. The front facing camera sits next to the earpiece and is also an amazing 16Mp, something we’ll explore later. At the launch event for the OnePlus 3T, co-founder Carl Pei explained that the company is always striving to do better; he used Apple’s design as a benchmark and the phone is one of the best looking handsets on the market, rivalling the matte black iPhone 7 Plus in the looks department, which is no mean feat. It does however remain slightly slippy, and is a phone that could be destroyed with one drop onto the pavement. We recommend one of OnePlus’ subtle but grippy cases that fit both this and the older.

 

Specs, hardware and performance


                     Despite initial rumors, the One Plus 3T has exactly the same display as the OnePlus 3. It’s a 5.5in Optic AMOLED with Full H D (1920x1080) resolution and 401ppi. By its own admission, One Plus continues to ship a screen that recreates colors more vibrantly than most, but with the Oxygen OS skin of Android that it runs this feels right; the handset and feel of the software that the screen runs is right at home with the popping colors and bright whites.  There’s the option to calibrate the colors to your tastes though, and this is one example of the granularity of Android helping the One Plus 3T more than most become a truly personal device.

processor, memory and storage

                     The One Plus 3T’s upgrades are mostly all internal, and while they’re all welcome, it took a fair few days of use to see why it’s come to be. We’ve used the One Plus 3 for a few months, so can draw decent comparisons – straight off, you need not upgrade for fear of missing out on processor power, speed or battery life if you own the older model. Having said that the 3T is faster, yet only noticeably so if you are really hammering it at full pelt. It joins the Google Pixel and Pixel XL in having Qualcomm’s top of the line Snapdragon 821 processor, the current pinnacle of smartphone chips. While only the most graphically intensive games and busiest of multitasking days will make the 820 sweat, the 821 is faster on the One Plus 3T. Going from the 3 to the 3T, the difference is noticeable if incredibly subtle. In a full week of use we experienced absolutely no lag, slow app changes or overheating. It is truly like using a desktop at some times, and even has more RAM than some of those computers with 6GB on board. Pair that with Adreno 530 graphics and you have an obscenely powerful smartphone in your pocket – alongside your fat wallet full of the money you’ve saved by choosing it.


Note: OnePlus has been caught cheating popular benchmarks such as Geekbench and GFXBench with its OnePlus 3 and OnePlus 3T. XDA-Developers accuses OnePlus of having configured the processor to automatically switch into overdrive mode when a popular benchmark is detected (you can read the full story here).

                       One Plus has confirmed the practice and apologised, stating that "In order to give users a better user experience in resource intensive apps and games, especially graphically intensive ones, we implemented certain mechanisms in the community and Nougat builds to trigger the processor to run more aggressively. The trigger process for benchmarking apps will not be present in upcoming OxygenOS builds on the OnePlus 3 and OnePlus 3T." For now you can see our benchmark results below as accurate as they were run on OxygenOS before the changes were implemented. Also note that with the flagship-level hardware onboard both phones should be decent performers, and behaved as such during real-world testing.

 

fingerprint scanner and other specs

                     The fingerprint scanner is on the front bottom face of the device, which is still where these sensors work best, despite Sony trying the side and Huawei and others the back. The button is non-moving and gives the perfect level of feedback when unlocking the device or using a compatible app like Android Pay to verify your identity. Unlike the iPhone 7, it doesn’t feel like the whole phone is clicking down – it’s way better here. Tapping the same sensor acts as a home button, and is so good that when we try phones with physical buttons it feels wrong. The best devices change our habits for the good, and the OnePlus 3T has the best fingerprint sensor/home button combo of any current smartphone on the market.

battery life

                                   The non-removable battery clocks in at 3,400mAh, a step up from the 3,000 of the OnePlus 3. The internals are exactly the same dimensions but the battery is denser, hence the increase. In general use the phone will last a full working day which is about average. We left the house most days at 8am with 100%, and by the time we rolled in from work at about 6.30pm the OnePlus 3T had about 30% left in the tank. This was when using the device as our primary email sender and using apps like Slack, Spotify, Pocket, WhatsApp, train timetable apps, GPS battery-drainers like Google Maps and several others throughout the day. The battery percentage chugs down at the expected rate, and we didn’t experience any dramatic unexpected fall-off. On one particularly busy Google Maps day out in Barcelona even after 12 hours on the go the battery was sitting at 15%, and that was with the phone used to navigate, take photos and video and more besides. Obviously it depends what you’re doing on the device, but for all but the most intensive users, the OnePlus 3T will last the whole day no questions asked and lighter users should be able to get a decent chunk into a second day with the 3T.

Included in the box is OnePlus’ Dash Charger. The brick and cable, only when used together (important to note this point) charge the phone to 60 percent in 30 minutes. This is OnePlus’ claim, and it rings true – Dash Charge is excellent. It means you need not charge your 3T overnight, instead giving it a quick boost when you get up in the morning. There's also a Dash Charger for your car in the shop.

Not only does this encourage a better way to charge your phone (sometimes lithium-ion batteries degrade with overnight overcharging) while allowing you to top up very quickly, but also more importantly means you won’t panic about running out of juice for all but the most phone-focussed of days – and that is something that every smartphone user wants, bar none. The slight downside is that this fast charging only works with the included combo of plug and cable. Any other USB-C cable will charge it, but at a slower rate.

cameras

                      The slim casing of the 3T means the camera protrudes slightly. This is an acceptable pay-off for what is an excellent sensor: a 16Mp lens with f/2.0 aperture and an LED flash. It’s also capable of shooting video at 4K resolution or 1080p resolution at 60 frames per second. We used the camera extensively in Barcelona, and the results were very impressive. The panorama mode stitched together a mountain view exceptionally well, giving full detail to the scene. A football match in cloudy weather was reproduced well with no blur and in a low-lit church the camera reproduced colour and shadow to a high quality level.  The front-facing 16Mp camera is an upgrade on the 8Mp of the OnePlus 3, and is one of the highest resolution selfie cameras on the market, matching as it does the megapixel count of the rear one. It’s an impressive upgrade, but one that only the most ardent of selfie fans will notice. However, it did improve the quality of video calling considerably, and will benefit those into Snapchat stories and similar services.

 Software

                               Refreshingly the software update that the One Plus 3T ships with changes the user experience in all the right ways to represent a clean, intuitive and pleasant to use Android version that is every bit as good as Google’s own version. By basing its Android skin Oxygen OS closely to stock Android Marshmallow 6.0, One Plus has been able to make small tweaks that don’t completely change the way we used the phone, but enough to notice positive improvements day to day. An update to Android 7.0 Nougat began rolling out for the One Plus 3 and OnePlus 3T at the end of December, ahead of many of its rivals. Note that we have reviewed this phone running Marshmallow, not Nougat. Oxygen OS 3.5.1 is the new version, compared to the 3.2.7 we had installed on the older OnePlus 3 at the time of writing. Never mind the decimals, here are the differences. Menus, in settings for example, look cleaner with no lines between options, a neater top bar and a bluer default font from the green of the 3. To be honest, they are minor changes, like the layout of the notification bar that you pull down from the top of the screen.  The One Plus 3T cleverly combines a physical slider with profile changes to quickly switch between modes. Here, the three-position switch goes between Silent, Do Not Disturb and Ring. These are customis-able and are useful for putting your phone into a quieter mode for meetings or when you go to bed for example. This is different to how the slider worked on the One Plus 3, where it went between Silent, Priority Notifications and All Notifications. The functions are basically the same, but again have some software tweaks within the settings menu.

All in all, the alert slider is a great idea, improving on Apple iPhone silencer switch, and is a button you’ll miss if you use other phones afterwards.

                         The best thing about these tweaks is the way they simply blend into the OS and are intuitive, thoughtful upgrades. One Plus confirmed that the 3 and the 3T will both receive updates to Android Nougat 7.0 in December 2016. We hope there is more of the same incremental updates rather than a full overhaul, because Oxygen OS 3.5.1 is very good indeed. Nor would it make sense for OnePlus to work so hard on an upgrade that most users would only see for one month.
            
 

 

            Specs


    Android Marshmallow 6.0.1 with Oxygen OS 3.5.1
    5.5in 1920 x 1080 AMOLED display, 401ppi
    2.35GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 quad-core processor
    Adreno 530 graphics
    6GB RAM
    16Mp main camera, LED flash, support for videos in 4K and 1080p at 60fps
    16Mp front camera
    802.11 a/b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi
    Bluetooth 4.2
    4G LTE
    Nano-SIM
    GPS
    NFC
    3,400 mAh non-removable battery
    152.7 x 74.7 x 7.4mm
    158g

Moto Z review

 Moto Z review

 

  Design


                       Moto Z is a smartphone that takes thinness to a new level with a flagship-worthy stainless steel frame that measures 153.3 x 75.3 x 5.19mm. It weighs just 139g and feels astonishingly wafer-thin in one hand. What's uncanny about its dimensions is that Motorola introduced its thickness as 5.2 inches at Lenovo Tech World unveiling in June. When has a company ever rounded up on their smartphone thickness?

                    This may be why Motorola didn't call it the Moto X 2016, even though that's really what this is. The design drops the curved back and familiar Motorola dimple for a flat and boxy shape that still feels good to hold. All of this means that it's so thin it doesn't even include a normal 3.5mm headphone jack. Yes, Motorola beat Apple's iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus to dropping the headphone jack in favor of charging-audio output "solution." There's nothing on the bottom except for a USB Type-C port. Included in the box is a 3.5mm jack to USB-C cable to convert your existing headphones, or you have the option of using Bluetooth. This seems like the future, like or not, and Motorola is going first.

                 The new connection that's more revolutionary – and favorable for consumers – is the Pogo-style pins on the back of the Moto Z that enable modular accessories. These 16 gold-plated connectors feed data back and forth between the phone and Moto Mods. The entire back of the phone and all of the mods are magnetized so that the two parts click into place and, thankfully, no amount of shaking knocks them loose. You won't find a fingerprint sensor in the back since that's where the MotoMods connect. Instead, there's a tiny fingerprint sensor on the front of the phone at the bottom. It's right near the new "moto" lowercase logo (because that's how everyone in Silicon Valley does it these days). This non-clickable fingerprint sensor (which is totally not a home button, despite what your brain will say for the first week of ownership) is fast and accurate. The real home button is above it on-screen. That's fine, but the sensor and logo take up a whole bunch of otherwise dead space on the phone face.

                   The sensor does have one standout feature: it not only wakes the phone with a finger press, but it also puts the device back to sleep. No more reaching for that tiny sleep wake button on the side.This is a relief because the Moto Z has very small power and volume buttons on its ultra-thin steel frame. These three side buttons are also evenly spaced and confusing to press at times. The fact that the power button is lightly riveted doesn't help this time around. Three equidistant buttons on the same side has caused us to press the power button when trying to turn the volume down (and, great, our phone is now off) and crank up the volume when we want to lock the phone (great, now it's insanely loud instead of locked and silent). The fingerprint sensor pulls double duty as a sleep wake button and is much appreciated. Fingerprints are more of a problem everywhere else on the Moto Z. This phone is a fingerprint and grease magnet – maybe to a world-record level, too. Both the front glass and the stainless steel back have been perpetually covered in smudges since day one. It's not very appealing or easy to wipe clean. Both the black and gold Moto Z color options we tested were loaded with them. All the more reason to add modular accessories to this Android phone. That can include "Style Shells" (aka its thin back covers that add a small curve) that come in a variety of textures (wood, leather and plastic).

Moto Z modules


                       Moto Mods are "world thinnest' title-destroying accessories, which sounds bad for the form slim factor, but this actually have us excited the about the Moto Z. They're more creative and plentiful than what we've found using the LG G5.  The Moto Z Insta-Share projector is the most unconventional accessory: it's a pico projector that shines whatever's on your screen anywhere you'd like at a size of up to 70 inches before distortion kicks in. True to its name, it instantly worked the first time we tried it, and we've been able to watch YouTube videos and browse TechRadar in a passable 480p resolution without having to lug around a heavy projector. It's ideal for showing off funny videos to a group of people (those "Have you seen this video?" moments) without having to pass a phone or tablet around and laugh in strange intervals. This projector fits in a pocket (though barely, at size close to 70mm) and has an embedded kickstand for tilting and an automatic keytone adjustment. The projection focus can be adjusted manually via a side dial.

The Insta-Share projector requires a dark or very dim room for its 50 lumens to be effective and, as you might have guessed, The new Moto Z Hasselblad True Zoom mod proves that this phone is capable of capturing, and not just projecting. It launched later with the Moto Z Play in September, and gives you amazing 10x zoom capabilities. It worked to snipe far-away shots and we really liked the manual zoom and half-press shutter physical controls. Close-up pictures didn't look at natural vs the Moto Z camera, oddly enough, and there's a serious camera bump. Motorola also partnered with JBL to pump up the volume with SoundBoost, which turns the back of the phone into a thick, powerful speaker. It's loud, but not nearly as loud as the best Bluetooth speakers we have tested, and it includes a handy kickstand that we really like. It's strong, and has a confident clicking sound to it. The SoundBoost also supplies 10 hours of battery life with its built-in 1,000mAh capacity, If that's not enough extra juice for you, there are several MotoMod packs that have 2,200mAh of additional battery life in exchange for a few millimeters of thickness added to the handset.  The battery mod prices vary because they comes in four different designs, including from designers like Kate Spade and luggage maker Tumi. Case maker Incipio supplies the entry-priced versions.

                   Moto is really trying to combine style and functionality with its battery packs, and it's way easier to clip on compared to a Mophie case. Be warned: unlike Mophie juice packs, these lack protection around the side of the phone. You don't have to buy a MotoMod right away to satisfyingly lock an accessory to the back of your new phone with magnetics. Moto Z comes with a Style Shield in the box. Wood, leather and plastic options are going to be available in the future, giving you some degree of customization over your ever-important handset, just like the Moto X series.  Further out, there's a lot of potential for MotoMods. Motorola is opening up its platform to one and all with a developer kit that costs USD$125 (about £94, AU$167). The possibilities for future MotoMods are exciting and, unlike Google's Project Ara modular phone.

ASUS ROG MAXIMUS IX





              ASUS Maximus IX Hero. Though very little RGB bling is injected, this motherboard is compatible with the new generalized ASUS AURA SYNC, which is a software suite that allows for multiple choices in additional RGB gear to be driven from your one software suite. Next to that it's a fully fetched feature rich ROG motherboard of course.

                 So, with the 7000 series processor ( Kaby Lake) released, it's time for a peek at the motherboards based on Z 270. We review the motherboard with a Core i5 7600 K processor, that puppy is developed on the 14 nm node. The Core i5 series processors are intended to be the more budget friendly offering from Intel, for a more mainstream consumer. For this review we look at the performance of this processor and motherboard in a wide variety of benchmarks and situations. Kaby Lake processors for the desktop platform have been released. Though you'd think it is an all new chip, it is however merely a respin seen from Sky lake, meaning both series processors are Socket 1151. This also means that IF you are in the market for a new series 7000 processor, your H 170 or Z170 motherboard can be compatible with Kaby Lake after a motherboard BIOS upgrade. The new series Kaby Lake processors are fairly energy efficient, still as powerful as they have been for years. If you are interested in new technologies like Intel Optane, you will however need to upgrade to a Z 270 or H 270 range motherboard. This new Z 270 platform offers supports for Optane SSDs and offers support for slightly faster DDR 4 memory. ASUS is releasing the Maximus IX I with that familiar look, optimized for cooling and armed with a proper feature set. You will spot nice dark elements, a bit mysterious even. While this motherboard is ASYS AURA SYNC compatible, it does not offer much LED bling aside from the chipset heat sink logo and a logo on the rear IO. You are not going to find hugely expensive Creative labs audio chips or an Intel Thunderbolt controller on this motherboard. No, everything seems and feels normalized, in line with good looks and features you need. By doing so, ASUS is offering this motherboard at a pretty competitive price level, making your upgrade needs more budget friendly in that 269 Euro/USD range. 

                   This motherboard does come with everything you need with four DIMM slots, two M.2 slots and full speed USB 3.1 (10 Gbps) devices. There is a lot more going on, what we like for example is that this motherboard offers a Intel Gigabit LAN connector. Lacking once again however is WIFI (which seems to be ditched by most manufacturers), which we feel is a bit of a miss. Armed with that Z270 chipset this motherboard offers three x16 slots and three 1x PCIe.

                    Rather than load up the Maximus IX Hero with a 40 Gb/s ThunderBolt 3 controller sharing the same 40 Gb/s chipset link with every other onboard device, Asus loads this ROG-series board with two 10 Gb/s USB 3.1 controllers and a bunch of overclocking-friendly features. The top of the overview image above shows the MemOK button which temporarily limits memory speed to allow booting if you’ve configured memory poorly (without forcing CLR_CMOS), several buttons on the lower edge to assist tuners who use open platforms, and two buttons on the I/O panel that make it easy to reset your firmware configuration (CLR_CMOS) and program the firmware IC without the need for a compatible CPU or DRAM (USB BIOS Flashback). We also see an obvious gap next to the I/O panel buttons, where it appears Asus left out the intended Wi-Fi module to justify the Maximus IX Hero’s sub-premium pricing. The previously mentioned internal buttons and switches include Power, Reset, Safe Boot, Retry, the Slow Mode switch, and the LN2 jumper. Retry forces a hard reset, and Safe Boot allows users to boot up using default settings while retaining their custom settings in the firmware GUI. The manual says Slow Mode clocks the CPU down to allow LN2 overclockers to manually overcome the “cold bug” phenomena, and LN2 mode switches from slow to user-configured clock settings automatically following POST. The sole USB 2.0 front-panel header combines with four propriety control pins when using an accessory Asus OC/Panel overclocking controller.

                          The Maximus IX Hero includes an incredible number of fan headers, though Asus doesn’t list them all that way. Two of the eight PWM-capable headers are designated “High Amp” for pumps and extremely large fans up to 3A. Asus recommends using only PWM mode for fans greater than 1A, and no speed control for pumps greater than 1A. Another five-pin header connects to Asus’ accessory Fan Extension Card, which can be purchased separately and used to add another four fans.
The top front corner’s MemOK button resides next to a 2-digit POST code display and four activity LEDs that indicate CPU detection, DRAM detection, VGA detection, and Boot (POST completion). The LEDs help users who can’t easily decipher POST codes figure out which device stalled the boot process, should anything (such as an overclock) go wrong. Beneath the MemOK button, the threaded 3D Mount secures optional covers (aesthetic components) that users can 3D print from model files available on the Maximus IX Hero micro-site.

                   The Maximus IX Hero has three x16-length PCIe 3.0 slots, but you’re only going to want to put two graphics cards in the system. The expected LGA-1151 options of x16-x0-x4 or x8-x8-x4 pathways are still in play, where the PCH-fed x4 slot doesn’t support SLI. However, the best reason not to use a graphics card in the bottom slot is that the  USB 3.0 is the solitary USB 3.0 front-panel header is found beneath it. The cables that connect to these aren’t flexible. Alternatively, the bottom slot could be a good place to put a PCIe SSD. Reinforced with through pins and metal-encased sides, the two graphics card slots are separated by two extra spaces so that extra-thick graphics coolers can fit. The PCIe x1 slots are open ended to allow longer cards, such as x4, to be installed and operate in x1 mode. The long bottom slot operates with two pathways by default, but x4 mode can be enabled by disabling the x1 slot above it in BIOS. This arrangement makes sense if you assume two graphics cards will be installed in the reinforced slots, since even traditionally-sized performance graphics card coolers are so thick that they block the slot directly beneath. Cable clearance for front-panel USB headers won’t be a problem if you can find a case with the new USB 3.1 connector, for which the interface is found above the slots, right next to the 24-pin power header. Confounding your search is the fact that many companies were already calling cases with Type-C front-panel connectors “USB 3.1” last year, even though those cases use the motherboard’s USB 3.0 header. Many case manufacturers have relied on the technical verbiage of “USB 3.1 Gen 1” to describe what we’ve come to know as USB 3.0. The only way to confirm that the newer “USB 3.1 Gen 2” standard has been employed is to look at the case specs, or at photos of its cables. Buyer beware, as we have not yet seen any of the new generation cases in our labs. Moving on to storage, we find six SATA 6Gb/s headers facing forward at the Maximus IX Hero’s front edge. One of these is shared with the upper M.2 interface, but only when an SATA-based M.2 card is employed there. The lower M.2 interface relies on Intel’s flexible HSIO scheme to steal resources from two SATA ports and employ those resources towards two PCIe pathways. Users who want three NVMe drives to all operate in PCIe 3.0 x4 mode can use both M.2 slots along with the bottom PCIe slot, while sacrificing only two SATA ports and one PCIe x1 slot.

The Maximus IX Hero includes a vast sticker kit, beverage coaster, and a CPU holder to ease installation, in addition to the traditional four SATA cables and I/O shield, a thermal probe lead, an HB-style SLI bridge, a driver disk, bracket and M.2 screws, and a complete user’s manual.


Dropbox Android app

Dropbox Android app


                      Dropbox Android app, showed the officer my phone, and everything was fine. In a similar incident, I was able to find my dog's microchip number in a document on Dropbox. It's during these moments that I'm most thankful for the Dropbox mobile app. The app (which is also available for the iPhone) also comes in handy for effortlessly backing up photos and videos. Its reliability, utility, and ease of use make Dropbox a top Android app. In the following review, I only cover the Dropbox Android app. For additional details about the service as a whole, see my in-depth review of Dropbox. Furthermore, as that service is slightly different.

Price and Versions


The Android app is free to download, and Dropbox as a service uses a premium model. A free personal account starts you out with 2 GB of space. You can earn more free space through referrals and other actions. Dropbox Plus is the paid option. It costs $9.99 per month or $99.99 per year and includes 1 GB of space. The price of a Business account varies based on the number of employees: $15 per month per user, with a minimum of three users, making $45 per month the minimum.


Online and Offline Files

                       The point of the Dropbox mobile app is to give you access to all the files you store in Dropbox whenever and wherever you need them. The interface is clean and simple, showing by default a list of all the files and folders you keep in the parent Dropbox folder. Whenever you have an internet connection, you can easily browse or search for files you need. The Dropbox Android app also gives you the option to view all image files, which is handy when sharing photos. The app lets you save selected files offline, too. To save a file so that you can view it anytime, you just need to tap a down arrow that appears alongside it, or in the upper right corner of the screen if you've opened the file for viewing. A list of options appears, including Available Offline. Toggling that switch will  save a copy of the file offline. The next time you display a list view, you see a small green icon of a mobile phone with a check mark in it next to all the files saved offline. You can also quickly pull up a list of all your offline files via an option from the main menu.

Dropbox Options

                     A good set of options appears when you want to add a new file to your Dropbox account from the mobile app. You can create a new text file right from the app, without using any third-party word processing apps, which is convenient. You can also choose a document, photo, or video to upload; snap a picture; or scan a document. Sharing options in the app let you send a link to any folder so that other people can view its contents. For sharing in the moment, you can use a quick link from the menu to view all photos, handy for when you want to pass your phone around a group of friends to see your latest pictures. You can do some light photo editing in the Dropbox Android app, too, which is a wonderful feature. The options don't go beyond cropping and rotating, but they still add significant value to the app.

                In addition to giving you the ability to view and share your files, Dropbox's Android app also automates a couple of tasks that are specific to the mobile environment, such as immediately uploading photos and videos that you take. Another benefit is that Dropbox plays nicely with others. Tap on a spreadsheet file inside the app, for example, and Dropbox can automatically launch it in a compatible app that supports editing, such as Google Docs, Sheets, or Slides. Seamless integration among services is never more important than on the tiny screen of a smartphone.  One minor disappointment is that while you can sort to view all images stored in your Dropbox account, there are no similar filters for other types of files, such as spreadsheets or PDFs. The best you can do is use a search bar, which actually works well enough when you search for "PDF" but not necessarily all kinds of files.

An Excellent App

               If you're already a Dropbox user, add the mobile app to your Android device. You never know when you're going to need files that are stored in your Dropbox account. It's also useful to learn the ins and outs of the photo upload features, as it's a valuable tool that helps back up your pictures. The Dropbox app remains one of our favorite Android apps



Storm Krypton Review

Storm Krypton Review



                              The general performance of the laptop remains hardly changed at all with its Intel Core i 7-4710 M Q. This is a slightly speed bump over the previous i 7-4700 M Q quad core processor. In fact, most people probably would not notice any speed difference between the two in many applications. This is not bad as it is a very fact processor and handles demanding tasks like gaming and desktop video without any problems. The processor is matched with 8 GB of D D R 3 memory which provides a smooth overall experience in Windows but it is half what many other companies offer at this price point. The base storage configuration of the Krypton continues to use a standard laptop hard drive of 750 GB in size and 7200 rpm spin rate. This gives it decent performance but it is not as quick as if it had a solid state drive installed in it. There are two slots for hard drives and two m SATA slots for installing S S D drives if you do want to upgrade it. It is disappointing that an S S D is not standard as many at this starting price point are including it now. If you need to add additional space, you can also attach high speed external hard drives to it via the three USB 3.0, e SATA or Fire Wire ports which gives a grater range of diversity of connectors than most laptops that just feature USB.


A dual layer DVD burner is included for playback and recording of CD or DVD media.


                            Of course the big change to the Krypton is the inclusion of the new NVIDIA Ge Force G T X 970 M graphics processor. This provides it with more than enough performance for smooth frame rates at high detail levels for the 1920 x 1080 resolution of the 17-inch panel on the laptop. With the 6 GB of video memory, the system even has the ability to add a second screen through the Display Port or HDMI connectors. While there are sufficient connectors to run three displays, the graphics are not really fast enough to keep smooth frames at the level. In terms of the display performance, it is somewhat disappointing now. This is because it uses the TN display technology which is great for fast response times but sacrifices color gamut and viewing angles to achieve this. There are several new laptops with IPS displays that offer a much better picture.

                          Keyboard and track pad remain the same. It offers a nice size with decent spacing. The keys are fairly springy compared to many newer laptops which may be beneficial for gamers but might impact heavy typing. The track pad is a decent size and features dedicated left and right buttons below it. It tracks well and handled multi touch without an issue but most gamers will likely use an external mouse anyways. It features an etched design on it that combined with the keyboard lighting which can be adjusted to various colors gives it a more premium feel.

                       The battery pack for the Digital Storm Krypton features a rather large 89.2 WH  capacity rating. This is pretty much required with all the powerful components on the system. In digital video playback tests, it results in roughly three and a quarter hours of running time. This is average for a 17-inch gaming class laptop but well below what a standard 17-inch laptop can achieve. For instance, the Dell Inspiron 17 7000 Touch runs for over twice as long in the same test thanks to its power efficient components. Gaming on the battery pack will also be much shorter than the test so don't be too far from a power outlet.

                      The big issue facing the Digital Storm Krypton is of course the price. Starting at just over $1700, it is a fair bit more expensive than many other 17-inch gaming laptops. The price difference is primarily attributed to the improved support access the company provides for all of its computer systems. The closest priced competitors is the Cyber power FANG BOOK E V O H X 7-200 at just under $1700. It offers a similar level of gaming performance from a i 7-4701 HQ processor and G T X 970 M just like the Krypton. The difference is that it comes with a S S D drive standard for faster loading or applications. Battery life is also better but it is a larger and heavier system. The other bit competitor is the Main gear Pulse 17. It is certainly much more expensive and comes equipped with twin S S D s in a RAID configuration for even faster storage support. It also is thinner and lighter but has a much higher $2300 starting price. It is easy to configure the Krypton for a similar setup but it still will be a larger and heavier laptop.

Pros
Solid Gaming Performance
Wide Range of Peripheral Ports
Highly Customizable
Cons
Display Lacks Brightness and Color
High Price Tag
Below Average Battery Life
Description
Intel Core i7-4710MQ Quad Core Mobile Processor
8GB PC3-12800 DDR3 Memory
750GB 7200rpm SATA Hard Drive
Dual-Layer DVD Burner
17.3" WUXGA (1920x1080) Display with 2.0 Megapixel Webcam
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970M Graphics Processor with 6GB GDDR5 Memory
Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11b/g/n Wireless, Bluetooth
Three USB 3.0, One USB 2.0, One eSATA (shared), FireWire 400, DisplayPort, Mini-DisplayPort, HDMI, 9-in-1 Card Reader
16.3" x 11.26" x 1.81" @ 9.03 lbs.
Windows 8.1



     How, reader.....about digital krypton, its nice budget but you could still playing a game, nice right
just enjoy it. 

Fuhu Nabi Elev-8

Fuhu Nabi Elev-8

 fuhu nabi

Design and Features

                            The Nabi Elev-8 is fairly small and lightweight, though once you wrap it up in the included red rubber bumper, it becomes a bit heftier. It measures 8.98 by 5.94 by 0.94 inches (H W D) and weighs 1.16 pounds, including the bumper. The bumper eliminates the need for a case, and the grippy material is easy for children to hold. The top of the tablet is home to power and volume buttons, along with a micro SD slot that supports cards up to 32 GB. On the right side you'll find the headphone jack and power port. Unlike most Android tablets, the Elev-8 uses a proprietary charging port, so don't expect your standard micro USB cords to work. This means that it won't be easy to find a new charger if you lose this one. There's 17.65 GB of storage available for use, which is plenty for apps and games, and you can always add more storage via the micro SD slot. The 1,280-by-800 display isn't a high-end part, but it's perfectly adequte for gaming and for streaming Netflix. That said, the Asus Zen Pad S gets you a much sharper 2,048-by-1,536-pixel screen for not much more money. But you're not buying the Elev-8 primarily for the hardware. It's the software that matters most, and in this regard Fuhu mostly succeeds.


Software


                      The Elev-8 runs a heavily modified version of Android, with two distinct flavors: Nabi mode for kids, and Parent mode for adults. Nabi mode consists of a few swipe able screens with large icons. The first screen is home to your Utilities, which you can use to set an alarm clock, check out the local weather, and track time with a stopwatch. The next screen is Dream Pro Studio, which has three apps: Animator, Draw, and Publisher. Draw is exactly as it sounds—kids can scribble all they want on the tablet and save it to an album. Animator lets them create movies using included templates, and Publisher helps them write books.  Another screen consists of apps for browsing the Web and watching video. For example, the Cartoon Network app comes pre-installed. After that are screens for pre-installed games, including Threes, Fruit Ninja, Toca Cars, and Toca Mini. Kids can download more games using Treasure Box, which is a mobile app store for kids and has apps, games, movies, and TV shows.  Parent mode is essentially the standard Android experience, albeit with a different home screen. Time controls let you set limitations for how long kids can use the tablet, and you can see how long they spent with it after the fact. Parents can also create Chore Lists, and reward kids with Nabi Coins, which are redeemable in the aforementioned Treasure Box app store.

Performance

                       The Elev-8 is powered by a Snapdragon 615 octa-core processor clocked at 1.46 GHz, which is pretty solid for a kid's tablet. It scored 32,581 on the An Tu Tu benchmark test, placing it well ahead of the child-friendly Kurio Xtreme 2 (23,122). But it's nowhere near the level of performance of high-end tablets like the Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 (52,137). I do wish the Elev-8 was a bit faster in real-life usage. Swiping between home screens feels sluggish, as does starting a game. When you press the Home button, it usually takes a couple of seconds to actually get to the home screen. But assuming you're not juggling a ton of apps in the background, games run pretty smoothly. I played a few rounds of Fruit Ninja, and my slices were responsive and fast. Once they're playing a game, kids likely won't notice that it took a couple of extra seconds to start. The 5-megapixel rear camera takes somewhat pixelated shots, while the 2-megapixel front-facing camera is good enough for video calls and selfies. That said, both feel like afterthoughts. Luckily, the speakers—located on either side of the display—are pleasantly loud without sounding tinny. This is definitely a tablet you can use to watch video without needing to connect a Bluetooth speaker. 

Battery life on the Elev-8 is a high point. The tablet lasted 6 hours and 26 minutes in our battery test, which streams full-screen video over Wi-Fi at maximum brightness. This is notably longer than other similarly sized tablets, like the iPad Mini 4 (5 hours and 15 minutes) and the Galaxy Tab S 2 (5 hours and 33 minutes). 

Conclusions

                     The Fuhu Nabi Elev-8 has lots of good preloaded content and options for kids, and adults are sure to appreciate the parental controls. It lacks the neat motion-control games available on the Kurio Xtreme 2, but makes up for it with longer battery life and more powerful components. Either tablet is a solid option if you want to put a wealth of appropriate content at your child's fingertips, though you can get a lot more for your money by buying a standard tablet. The inexpensive Amazon Fire, for instance, can give you access to thousands of kid-friendly books, educational apps, games, movies, and TV shows for $2.99 per month with Free Time Unlimited.

NUBIA M 2 REVIEW


 NUBIA M 2 REVIEW

Build and Design




                        We’ve always been impressed with Nubia’s design philosophy. While the black and gold colour scheme can look a tad too flashy to some people, it’s unique amongst a sea of similar looking smartphones. To its credit, Nubia makes the best of the candy bar design, to make a phone that’s eye-catching and feels premium. Its unibody metallic design feels better and more upmarket than most phones in this range. On the other hand, the smooth and polished finish is a tad too slippery. That leaves the phone prone to falling out of your hand when pulling it out of the pocket, or picking it up in a hurry. The body is slippery all around, even the sides, which makes the phone precarious in your hand. Combined with the fact that it’s larger than average, ergonomics really isn’t the M 2 Lite’s strong suit here. You’ll find the fingerprint sensor cum home button on the front, accompanied by two small red dots on either side, for back and recents functions. The camera is on the top left of the back, with a distinct red accent around it, and the flash next to it. The Nubia logo on the back is in gold, and matches the golden accents running along the edges. The power on/off button and volume rocker lie on either side, while there’s a headphone jack and speaker grille neatly chiselled at the bottom. Aesthetically, this is the best you can get under 13 k, but all things considered, Nubia needs to work on the ergonomics. It’s a unique looking smartphone, but one that’s prone to damage due to poor ergonomics.

Display


Speaking of choices, there’s a confounding one when it comes to the display. The Nubia M2 Lite comes fitted with a 5.5 inch TFT HD display. The choice of panel type and resolution are both almost unheard of in this price range today. Moreover, while HD resolution can still be made to work, the noticeably poor viewing angles that TFT tech brings along is sort of a deal breaker.

On the Nubia M2 Lite, you’ll notice a colour shift from minor angles, and a reddish tint appearing all over the screen. There’s also brightness loss when looking from angles, which makes for a sub-par experience. For a company that has traditionally focused on experience over specifications, this is a really confounding choice.

H D resolution on a 5.5 inch panel brings pixel density down to 267 p p i, but frankly speaking, you’ll be hard pressed to notice the lack of sharpness, even though the screen indeed isn’t as sharp as we’re used to nowadays. Colors are pleasantly warm as long as you’re looking straight at the display, while black levels and contrast are well tuned too. Essentially, the T F T panel marred what could have been a pretty great display, despite lower than ideal resolution. This, again is a case of a single choice breaking what could have been an admirable display.


U I and U X


                    While Nubia U I is mostly change for change’s sake, there are some features that look nice. For example, the Breath Light, which is a soft glow that shows up when the phone is on charge, is something one can get used to. Icons are colorful, but also sharp and modern. The UI is just about the right fit for a smartphone of this sort. there’s a deal breaker here in how many permissions Nubia’s apps ask for. For example, the Gallery app wants access to your Contacts. Similarly, the Flashlight app wants to manage phone calls and record audio, while the Calculator wants that and access to Storage. I couldn’t think of a single reason why any of these apps would need these permissions and chose not to use them, downloading alternatives like Quick pic instead. They’re essential permissions too, meaning none of these apps are going to work unless you grant them access. In my book, these permissions alone are enough to not recommend this phone to anyone. Nubia UI also has customized screenshots, allowing long snapshots, circular, rectangular and so on. In doing so, each time you press the button combination, the screen shows multiple options. At this point, you’ll have to select an option. If you press back or home instead, the phone doesn’t save the screenshots as default, choosing to delete them instead. It’s almost as if Nubia is pushing users to use the feature, even if they don’t need it. The rest of the UI is pretty straightforward, with no app drawer, as has been the trend over the past few years. I didn’t find any broken apps or pesky bugs either. But at this point, you probably notice a trend in how one choice my Nubia comes in the way of what could have been a great phone.

Performance

                                     The Nubia M 2 Lite runs on the Media Tek MT 6750, an octa-core So C with two Cortex A 53 clusters, clocked at 1.5 GHz and 1.0 GHz in a big.LITTLE formation. The MT 6750 is also Cat 6 capable, which gives enough data speeds for most users. However, its competitors are sporting Cat 13 speeds already. More importantly, regular performance speeds do suffer. Apps take longer than usual to load and gaming frame rates are lower. I found stutters in games like W W E Champions, while Asphalt 8 took a while to load and showed lags in menus and transitions. The same happens when transitioning across the the UI, from app to app and opening the camera. Even the Facebook app would sometimes often stutter while scrolling. Benchmark scores reinforce what I see on regular performance here. In practical terms, the phone doesn’t really qualify as snappy and there’s a heating issue to boot. Internal temperatures rose to over 50 degrees at times, which isn’t ideal for any smartphone.


Camera


                    The Nubia M 2 Lite’s USP is its front camera, with a 16 MP sensor placed above the display. It’s an ISO CELL sensor, with an f/2.0 lens and front flash (Nubia calls it “soft light”). Nubia employs pixel binning technology to make photos sharper.  However, the camera itself is nothing exceptional. Skin textures appear more natural than most budget selfie cameras, although colors are still a tad bleached. Most importantly, exposure is all over the place on most selfies. This could be a result of combining two pixels into one, which is what pixel binning technology does. Nubia’s algorithms need tuning if that is indeed the case. For a budget selfie camera, this still works. It’s good even, when shooting in low light, but as far as selfie cameras go, 
                        On the other hand, the rear camera is sub-par at best. Noise levels are quite high, with grainy shadows when shooting outdoors, while low lights shots produces distinctly under-saturated colors. Colors are slightly under-saturated in regular conditions too, but they’re distinctive when shooting in low light. Together, neither of the cameras are worth writing home about.


Battery


                    On a regular day’s usage, the Nubia M 2 Lite lasts for about a work day, hitting industry standards today. While we cannot consider this good battery life, it’s what most smartphones offer. With about 45 minutes of gaming, all the rear camera shots you see in the gallery above, 10 phone calls, lots of social networking and texts, and just over an hour of video streaming, the Nubia M 2 Lite lasted for about 10 hours on a single charge. The screen brightness was set to auto throughout this period.  The PC Mark battery test lasts for 8 hours and 46 minutes, which concurs with our regular usage tests as well. Battery life on the Nubia M2 Lite is decent, but not extraordinary.


CONCLUSIONS

                  In my opinion, the company employs the right balance of design and specifications, leading to a device that is good as far as the overall experience is concerned. Sadly though, the Nubia M2 Lite is none of the above. It continues Nubia’s rich tradition of stylish looking smartphones, but that’s about all it brings to the table. There’s too much compromise to recommend this, and as I said above, those apps mysteriously asking for permissions is a deal breaker anyway. The Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 (review) and Honor 6X (review) are better options.

LG G 6 REVIEW

LG G 6 REVIEW

 LG G 6 REVIEW


                                Many people struggle to believe the G 6 has a 5.7-inch screen, because it feels so small in your hand. It’s easy to stretch your thumb across to the other side of the phone when holding it in one hand, and it remains usable at all times. Try that with any phone with a 5.5-inch screen, and it’s a struggle. How has LG achieved this feat? It minimized the size of the bezels and chose an 18:9 aspect ratio, making it longer and thinner than the 16:9 aspect ratio screens found on most other phones. Get used to the look, as the G 6 almost certainly won’t be the only 18:9 ratio phone we’ll see in 2017. The front of the G 6 looks very modern, thanks to the rounded corners of the screen. It’s the screen that’s rounded, too, rather than a bezel over the top to give it the look. Combined with the rounded corners of the phone, it helps absorb impacts and lessens the likelihood of catastrophic screen damage. The thin top and bottom bezels make the screen stand out even more, and enhance the minimalist style of the phone. This is a glass and metal phone, with Gorilla Glass 3 on the front, and Gorilla Glass 5 on the back. We are worried that it will break and be expensive to replace, so we highly recommend you buy a G 6 case. Flip it over, and the rear has LG’s trademark fingerprint sensor which doubles as a power button below the dual-lens camera and flash unit. Apart from a subtle G6 logo, that’s it. Our review model is platinum, which looks fantastic, and isn’t the fingerprint magnet you may expect. The phone also comes in black or white. The G 6 is thicker than many phones, but not by much, and it gives you a lot more phone to hold on to.

              At the moment, yes it is. It combines everything we love about big-screen phones and removes everything we hate about them. There’s no longer a reason to compromise and buy a smaller phone, and no reason to get one bigger than the G 6, either. You won’t be prying the G6 out of our hands for a while. Measuring 5.7 inches and boasting an impressive 2,880 × 1,440-pixel resolution, the G 6 has envious screen specs; but those cool rounded edges and the overall size of the G6’s screen isn’t what makes it so special. It’s the 18:9 aspect ratio. This also equates to a 2:1 ratio, which means two perfect squares fit next to each other on it, something that LG exploits in the user interface. It’s actually the movie industry that may end up making-or-breaking the 18:9 screen. Some filmmakers consider it to be the happy medium between cinema and TV aspect ratios, meaning regardless of what screen a video is watched on, it will retain the same look — no cropping to fit — and stay the same as the director and cinematographer intended. More and more video is being watched on smartphones, so this is a major consideration. For now, there’s a limited amount of 18:9 content online, mostly streamed through Netflix. We watched Daredevil and Marco Polo on the G6, and both looked superb; filling the screen entirely after tapping a special button in a drop-down menu. There’s something very special about seeing a video fill the screen this way. It’s more immersive, more cinematic, and genuinely impactful.
                     The aspect ratio isn’t the only feature that makes the video experience on the G 6 special. It’s the first phone to come with both Dolby Vision and H D R 10 support. This technology previously only seen on televisions is designed to make the image more lifelike with better colors, more accurate contrast levels, and wider viewing angles. There’s not much content out there that takes advantage of it at the moment — it doesn’t make any difference to regular YouTube videos, or the operating system — so it’s only Netflix or Amazon Prime subscribers that may see the benefit.  There’s also the problem with video content that’s not formatted for an 18:9 screen. That content has black bars running down the sides of the video in landscape orientation. If 18:9 video catches on like LG and others hope, this will eventually become less of a problem, but for now, you’ll have to put up with them in most cases. Size oddities aside, the G 6’s display is stunning. It’s full of color, detail, and warmth, and a true pleasure to watch. Although the screen is technically 5.7 inches in size, it doesn’t really look like any other 5.7-inch screen, and some may see the G 6’s screen size as a con, due to the taller, thinner aspect ratio. For example, put the G 6 alongside the 5.5-inch iPhone 7 Plus and open an app such as Twitter, and the iPhone will display more text and information on one screen than the G 6. It’s still a big-screen experience, just unlike those we’re used to.


SLICK SOFTWARE AND FUN APPS


                       Android 7.0 Nougat is installed on the LG G6, and our pre-production review model had the March 2017 security patch installed, making it right up to date. LG’s user interface is placed over Android and has a few additions to make better use of the 18:9 aspect ratio screen. Android purists will note changes to the notification shade, the Settings menu, and the option to enable the app tray, or spread apps across multiple home screens. LG also provides various themes to match the color scheme of your G6, which change backgrounds, wallpapers, and icons. The G 6 is ideally suited to multi-window app use, providing a perfect square for two apps to live in, and it’s easy to activate using a long press of the Android menu key. LG only installs a few of its own apps, such as Quick Memo+, which handily syncs with Google Drive, LG Health, a Tasks app, and its own messaging, music, file manager, and calendar apps. Additionally, there’s an FM radio app, and an audio recorder. Many of LG’s own apps make use of the 18:9 aspect ratio. The Gallery app takes up the whole screen, for example.  It’s LG’s Square Camera that’s the most interesting. It splits the screen into two, with the top half for square format pictures and the lower half for previews, or custom shots. It’s a shame Square Camera’s functionality wasn’t built into the main camera app, because many people will miss it.

                    Grid Shot works especially well. The square is broken down into quarters, each filled with a still image or a three-second video clip, which when put together tells a neat little story. There’s plenty of room for creativity here, and best of all, the result can easily be shared on Facebook or Twitter, with videos intact. This is essential, and a problem Apple hasn’t overcome with its similarly fun Live Photos feature. If you can’t share them with your friends, we question whether it’s worth it at all.  Other features in Square Camera include Match Shot, which is like Grid Shot but with two pictures instead of four, and Guide Shot for matching photos using a handy transparent overlay, so people can capture the same pose or composition on multiple occasions. A long press on the home button brings up Google Assistant. The G 6 is the first to use the Assistant outside of the Pixel phones, ahead of its wider release on other Android 7.0 Nougat phones. We’ve reviewed a version of the G 6 that has software which is 95 percent ready for release, meaning there may be some alterations when the phone goes on sale. However, we experienced no stability or compatibility problems.  While LG’s user interface does deviate from standard Android, it’s not unpleasant or slow. Thought and effort has been put into the icon design when you change themes, the color choices that match the body, and the icon curves that match the shape of the screen. LG’s U X 6.0 looks fantastic, and we never felt a desire to change the launcher on the G 6. The G 6 has up-to-date software now, and we hope that will continue in the future, but that will be down to LG’s update schedule, which unfortunately may lag behind Google’s.

A WONDERFUL WIDE-ANGLE CAMERA


                             There are two camera lenses on the back of the G 6, both with 13 megapixels. One boasts a wider-angle lens than the other. The 125-degree wide-angle lens doesn’t have optical image stabilization and it has an f/2.4 aperture, while the 71-degree standard lens has O IS and a far better f/1.8 aperture.  You get two different experiences when taking pictures, especially in low light, when the standard angle lens produces pictures with more detail and less noise. However, the G 6 can take some fantastic nighttime or evening shots, adding drama and atmosphere in the right environment. Used creatively, and with the right lighting, the wide-angle lens is also more than capable. In daylight, the G6’s camera didn’t enjoy overcast days at the end of British winter time, and struggled to manage contrast — eventually settling on washing out the sky and darkening the landscape. It’s not ideal, and something we’re hoping will be cured when the final software build is released. We also found the screen itself didn’t do the photo justice, and it often ended up looking better than expected when we checked the gallery. Again, something that’s likely to change with a software update. We’re noting it here in case nothing changes.

                   Show the camera a blue sky, colorful plants, or any close-up material, and it shines. Using the phone in Spain after the launch, we compared the G6 to several other phones including the Pixel XL and the iPhone 7 Plus, and found it produced the best image in several different tests. Most of the time, it came very close to matching the Pixel XL, a highly rated camera phone. Taking photos with the G6 is enjoyable and addictive, and the wide-angle mode presents new creative opportunities. There’s a manual mode for both stills and video, if you’re confident enough to change settings in search of the perfect picture. LG hasn’t included an editor, though, and you’re given the choice of using Google Photos or a third-party app, such as Snap seed instead. The G 6’s selfie camera has 5 megapixels and a single 100-degree, wide-angle lens, and like the main camera the two modes are alternated using a button on the screen. There are also several filters to apply, and a chance to manipulate skin tone and artificial lighting sources. While capable enough, selfies taken with the G 6 can’t match those of the Huawei P 10. The wide-angle lens makes it easy to take great group shots, though, and goes along way to redeeming the front cam’s ability. LG has also made good use of the extra screen in the camera app, using the top edge (or side edge in landscape) as a preview gallery, showing the last four pictures taken so you don’t have to jump into the gallery app to see them.

PLENTY OF POWER AND BATTERY LIFE

                    The LG G 6 has a Qualcom Snapdragon 821 processor inside, plus 4 GB of RAM. There will be those who mumble complaints about the Snapdragon 821, whining it’s not a super-new Snapdragon 835. Don’t be one of these people. Ever used the One Plus 3T or a Google Pixel? There’s more than enough power inside both those phones to keep them fresh for ages, and they both have the 821 inside. LG made the decision to use the 821 in order to get the phone on sale quickly, rather than over the summer, and it shouldn’t put you off at all. An An Tu Tu benchmark result returned a score of 135,032, and 3D Mark’s Slingshot Extreme test saw it score 2,102. These are around the same as the scores attained by the Pixel XL, but fall short of the One Plus 3 T. It’s also very close to the LG G5 and the Samsung Galaxy S 7. Other complaints will be made about the lack of removable battery on the G6. However, even though the G 6 is now a sealed phone, that has given it an IP 68 water and dust resistance rating. While having a replaceable battery is great, having to replace the entire phone after you spill a drink all over it isn’t so great. Yes, you’re trading one feature for another, but additional durability protects your purchase instantly, and there are plenty of battery packs out there to buy.

                      When we first started using the G 6, the battery life was poor, barely lasting a mid-to-heavy use day. A software update has improved the situation, where we’re seeing 25 percent of the battery remaining after the same level of use in a single day. That includes photo work, social networking, games, and navigation. Buying the G 6 in the U.S. will see your phone come with wireless charging, a feature not included on international versions of the phone. Using the supplied charger and USB Type-C cable charged the 3,200 m Ah cell reach capacity after about an hour and 30 minutes.

NO HI-FI AUDIO FOR MOST BUYERS AND NOT ENOUGH STORAGE

                     It falls short of the video performance. It doesn’t have stereo speakers, just a single one at the base of the phone, and there’s no Dolby Atmos, or even standard Dolby Audio tweaks. The single speaker does a decent job, but it’s overshadowed by the iPhone 7 Plus, Boom sound speakers on any H T C phone, and cheaper hardware like the Z T E Axon 7 and 7 Mini. It’s a shame, when what’s on screen looks so fantastic. Additionally, LG has restricted the Quad D AC to devices for sale in South Korea only. LG G 6 phones sold in the United states get 32 GB of internal storage and a Micro SD card slot as part of the SIM tray, but internationally, larger capacity versions will be sold. LG G 6 phones in Europe have neither the Quad D AC or wireless charging. We’d much rather a single model with all these features inside. LG says the localization is based on buyer preferences, and ensures the price of the phone is kept competitive in different regions.

WARRANTY

                      The LG G 6 went on sale in 24 European countries on April 24, including the U.K., France, and Germany. LG has secured 33 partnerships with networks, so the phone should be easy to find. In the U.K., it’s sold through E E and Three, and Car phone Warehouse. Plans cost from around 30 British pounds each month for 24-months, or a SIM-free unconnected G 6 is around 650 British pounds.


CONCLUSIONS

                            LG’s G 6 should have a long shelf life of at least two-to-three years. The software is right up to date, and it has Google Assistant already installed, meaning there’s no need to wait for an update. Updates in the future may take longer to arrive than on a Pixel phone, though. That’s our only concern and reservation in recommending the G 6 over the Pixel XL. The processor is the only sticking point. We always like to have the latest hardware and software, because it ensures the phone will last many years if we want it to, but the Snapdragon 821 won’t remain Qualcom’s top chip for much longer. Does it matter? Not really. It won’t suddenly stop working, and your phone won’t suddenly react like it’s pedal-powered. However, if bragging rights are your thing, it’ll soon lose out to the Snapdragon 835. That said, the 821 is tried and tested, unlike the 835.

                     The G 6 is not only the first major flagship smartphone out in 2017 that we really adore, but it’s also a return to what makes us love LG phones — subtle yet beautiful design, a brilliant standout feature, and a cracking camera. The software is good, too, with Google Assistant installed rather than a third-party or untested alternative, ensuring it works cohesively throughout the phone. Best of all, it’s compact and easy to use with one hand, but offers a screen larger than its direct competitors. We love it, and think you will to.

Toshiba Portege Z20t



Design


                  Built with a neat-looking graphite black metallic shell that won't fingerprint or smudge, the Portege is middle-of-the-pack in terms of heft and thickness. The Portege weighs 3.3 pounds (1.5 kg) when attached to its power keyboard, and 1.6 pounds (0.73 kg) as a tablet. For reference, the HP Elite x2 weighs 3.63 pounds (1.65 kg) when attached to its power keyboard, and 1.71 pounds (0.71 kg) without a keyboard, while the Venue 11 Pro weighs 1.76 pounds (0.72 kg) with its keyboard and 1.6 pounds (0.68 kg) without it. To be fair, neither of those keyboards will add 7 hours of battery life like the Portege's power keyboard will, so the keyboard more than makes up for its heft. It's also slightly slimmer than the Elite x2, by a measly 0.02 inches, so there's one more minor, minor victory.

                   The Z 20 t features a 12.5-inch, 1,920 x 1,080 IPS touchscreen that compares nicely to the full H D-resolution display ( F H D) 1,920 x 1080 on the 11.6 inch Elite x2, and the Dell Venue 11 Pro 7000's FHD screen. However, the Z20t's screen does feature a bit more pizazz than the Elite x 2, which was one of the weaker FHD screens I've ever tested. The tablet is built with a flat base that is comfortable to handle when not attached to the keyboard dock. However, the seven latches that hold the tablet to the dock are a bit much. Popping the tablet off of the dock is as simple as flipping a button and pulling, but putting the tablet back on requires careful alignment. You won't be able to mindlessly slap the tablet back onto the dock, especially considering how flimsy the plastic latches and receivers are on both ends of the device; if you do, you might very well end up with a little piece of plastic shrapnel flying off onto your desk.

                    Unlike the Elite x2, you can connect the tablet to the keyboard in the reverse display mode seen on Lenovo Yoga devices, and you can flip and bend the tablet all the way back into tablet mode while it's still attached to the power keyboard. So, if you're in desperate need of this device in tablet mode, but you're short on juice, you can pop it onto the keyboard and get to work without an issue. Unfortunately, when the device sits on the dock in display mode, you won't be able to press too hard on the screen, as the tablet doesn't lock into place while sitting on the dock. This is a bit of a hindrance, especially for anyone who is giving a presentation and needs to use the touchscreen to flip from slide to slide.

                       In laptop mode, the mounting is perfect; it's sturdy enough to handle hard presses, and loose enough to adjust without having to yank and shove. One thing you'll likely hate about the Portege is the key layout on the power keyboard. I'm not sure if a group of middle-schoolers is the target demographic for this device, but the keys are so small you're going to wind up spending more time searching for the right button than you should, especially for a device that's designed for productivity. Ditto for the trackpad, which is only about and inch and a half tall. Like the Dell Venue 11 Pro and the Elite x2, the Portege runs on an Intel Core M chip, which is designed for mobile computing. Core M processors lack the speed and power of the Intel Core i series, which can be found on hybrids like the Microsoft Surface Pro series.

                      As I mentioned in my Elite x2 review, Core i processors are especially suited for Windows 10, which is designed to enable enhanced productivity, such as multitasking between spreadsheets and video editing. With a Core M processor, you can still get through a typical work day without noticing any issues, but if your job requires heavy spreadsheet use, or video editing, or if you want to sneak in a PC game, you're going to want something that comes with a Core i processor.


Specifications


CPU: 1.2 GHz Intel Core M 5Y71 (dual-core, 4MB cache, up to 2.9GHz with Turbo Boost)
Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 5300
RAM: 8 GB
Screen: 12.5-inch 1,920x1,080 HD resolution
Storage: 128 GB
Ports: 2 x USB 3.0 (power keyboard), 1 x Ethernet (power keyboard), 1 x HDMI (power keyboard), 1 x RGB video (power keyboard), 1 x HDMI, 1 x microSD, 1 x micro USB
Weight: 1.71 pounds
Size: 12.2 x 8.5 x 0.8 inches (W x D x H) (tablet with keyboard)
What you'll immediately love about this device is the abundance of ports and connections available. Even on the tablet alone, you're able to connect via HDMI, micro USB and microSD. That's pretty rad for a tablet. Most manufacturers leave the ports and connections off of the tablet, in order to minimize thickness. Toshiba was able to do both simultaneously. Kudos.


Benchmarks
Toshiba Portege x 20t performed 

3DMark: Cloud Gate: 2,976; SkyDiver: 1,435; Fire Strike: 400
Cinebench CPU: 113 points; Graphics: 14 fps
PCMark 8 (Home Test): 2,187
PCMark 8 Battery Life: 7 hours and 54 minutes
In the Cinebench graphics test, the Portege and the Elite x2 1011 managed a frame rate of 14 frames per second (fps), which is about 7 frames slower than the Venue, and 11 frames worse than Core i-powered Microsoft Surface Pro 3. For the CineBench CPU test, which measures a processor's multi-core performance via a 3D image rendering task, the Portege got whooped by everyone, even the Elite x2, which scored 152 points, a score that is about 30 points lower than the Dell, and 50 points lower than the Surface.

                          The Portege and the Elite scored 400 points in 3 D Mark's Fire Strike test, which measures graphics rendering. The Dell scored 512 points. The Surface scored only 347 points. The Portege lost to all of its competition on the 3D Mark Sky Diver test by a wide margin (1,435 to the Elite's 1,491 to the Dell's 1,862 and the Surface's 2,242). So, even compared to devices in its own class, the Portege runs slightly slower. But where the Portege absolutely wallops the competition is in battery life.

Battery

                        Only the Elite x2, which ran for 7 hours and 41 minutes (about 14 minutes less than the Portege) during the PC Mark 8 battery test, is able to compare to the Portege in this competition. The Surface only ran for 2 hours and 38 minutes during this test, while the Venue ran for 4 hours and 1 minute.  When playing looped video on the Elite x2, I was able to run the battery for 7 hours and 15 minutes as a tablet and 11 hours and 20 minutes when connected to the power keyboard. With the Portege I was able to run the same test for 7 hours and 45 minutes as a tablet, and 14 hours and 25 minutes with the attached keyboard. If what you're after is a compact and lightweight large format business tablet that can remained powered all day, the Toshiba Portege z20t might be right for you. However, if you perform labor intensive tasks at work, then you'd probably be better suited buying one of the competing hybrids. That's not to say this isn't a solid device (it is), but you're already making a sacrifice buying something with a Core M chip, you shouldn't have to sacrifice further by buying a hybrid whose Core M chip isn't on par with similarly-specced devices.

                          If what you're after is a compact and lightweight large format business tablet that can remained powered all day, the Toshiba Portege z 20t might be right for you. However, if you perform labor intensive tasks at work, then you'd probably be better suited buying one of the competing hybrids. That's not to say this isn't a solid device (it is), but you're already making a sacrifice buying something with a Core M chip, you shouldn't have to sacrifice further by buying a hybrid whose Core M chip isn't on par with similarly-specced devices.