Going into the Big Leagues

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Asus A555LF full Specification and Review

Asus is no stranger to the laptop world. The Taiwanese giant launched a bunch of new Windows 10-ready mainstream laptops earlier this month, and today, we’ll be testing its highest-end offering in the A-series, the A555LF. This laptop features an Intel Broadwell CPU and a discrete graphics card for that occasional gaming session. Let’s see if it’s worth your time and money.

Look and feel

The Asus A555LF is well put together and has pleasing aesthetics which makes it very presentable. The laptop is built primarily of plastic, which is of high quality, but we did notice some flex in the lid and the keyboard. Speaking of the lid, Asus has gone with a mosaic pattern which is really highlighted when light hits it. The finish is glossy brown and is a major fingerprint magnet.

Inside, we have a champagne tone for the palm rest and keyboard deck. The chiclet-style keyboard is comfortable to use and the keys are soft with good travel. You also get a full-sized numeric keypad. Above the keys, we have the power button towards the left and a ‘Sonic Master’ inscription on the right, which is Asus’s proprietary audio enhancement.

 

 The palm rest is generously proportioned and you get a large trackpad too. The latter has a smooth finish with minimal friction. Although the entire trackpad is clickable, the left and right click functions only work when you press the respective corners at the bottom. Also, as the trackpad and the rest of the unit are separate pieces, dirt and dust could accumulate in the gaps over time.
Specifications and software

The A555LF is powered by an Intel Core i5-5200U which is a dual-core CPU with speeds of up to 2.7GHz. There’s no Turbo Boost here but you do get Hyper-Threading. There’s a total of 8GB of DDR3 RAM in a dual-channel configuration; a 1TB hard disk (5400rpm); and an Nvidia GeForce 930M graphics card with its own 2GB of memory. Other specifications include Wi-Fi b/g/n, Bluetooth v4.0, Gigabit LAN, a VGA webcam, and a 2-cell Lithium polymer battery. The battery capacity might seem small but since this is Lithium Polymer, we should expect more runtime than a similar sized Lithium ion battery would provide. The non-HD webcam is a bit disappointing, especially if you’ll be video chatting a lot.

Asus ships the A555LF with Windows 10 Home 64-bit edition and bunch of its own as well as third-party applications. From Asus’s stable, we have Live Update, which will automatically look for latest drivers and software updates; Splendid Utility, which lets you change the display’s colour temperature; USB Charger Plus, which lets you charge mobile devices quicker when the laptop is on; WebStorage, which is Asus’s own cloud storage service; and WinFlash, which lets you update the BIOS if needed.

Asus also installs ‘GiftBox’ which is like a mini app store with special offers on paid apps. Finally, there’s Asus HiPost which is somewhat like Evernote but uses OneDrive to sync files between devices. You also get McAfee LiveSafe Internet Security (limited time subscription), a trial version of Microsoft Office 365, and 25GB of Dropbox space for six months.

Performance

The 15.6-inch display on the A555LF is just like any other you’ve seen in the budget laptop segment. The low resolution of 768×1366 means icons and text exhibit jagged edges. The screen is glossy making it very reflective in most situations. The viewing angles are not great either, so there’s a very small sweet spot where the picture looks like should. Anything beyond this results in either an underexposed or oversaturated picture.

Performance
The 15.6-inch display on the A555LF is just like any other you’ve seen in the budget laptop segment. The low resolution of 768×1366 means icons and text exhibit jagged edges. The screen is glossy making it very reflective in most situations. The viewing angles are not great either, so there’s a very small sweet spot where the picture looks like should. Anything beyond this results in either an underexposed or oversaturated picture.
Thanks to the decently powerful Core i5 and ample RAM, general performance is good. Applications run well and we didn’t have any issues with multi-tasking either. In our synthetic benchmarks, POVRay returned a trace time of 8 minutes and 12 seconds; 3DMark Fire Strike gave us an overall score of 1309; and PCMark 8 returned 2,988, 3,126 and 2,732 points for the Home, Creative and Work benchmark suites respectively.
As this laptop has a dedicated graphics card, we ran a variety of real world games to gauge its true potential. We started off with Crysis 3 and straight away bumped up the ‘System spec’ and ‘Texture resolution’ to high. We were averaging about 24FPS, which isn’t much, but the game was still manageable. Dialling some of the settings down to medium gave us a smother frame rate.

Verdict
You can find the Asus A555LF at a street price of Rs 48,999, which is not bad considering its performance. You can find similar options from other manufacturers around this price too but what sets Asus apart is the 2-year global warranty, when most others provide 1-year.

The A555LF has a few shortcomings such as the low-resolution screen and the plastic build, which is a little flimsy in some areas. We also wished Asus had used a slightly bigger battery and thrown in an HD webcam. On the plus side, the laptop has good aesthetics, a comfortable keyboard, decent casual gaming performance, and a very good set of speakers. This makes it a good mainstream option for those unwilling to breach the Rs 50,000 price barrier.

Price (MRP): Rs. 49,490

Pros

  • Two USB 3.0 ports
  • Good set of speakers
  • Pleasing aesthetics
  • 2 year global warranty

Cons

  • Low resolution display
  • Battery life could be better
  • Non-HD webcam

Ratings (Out of 5)
Design: 3.5
Display: 3
Performance: 3.5
Software: 3.5
Value for Money: 4
Overall: 3.5

Asus Chromebook Flip review

The 12.5-inch Asus laptop is a capable Chromebook with an all-aluminum 2-in-1 design and touchscreen. It looks and feels like a sleeker, more expensive product and, to be fair, for a Chromebook it kind of is.

Starting at $500 (converts to about £400, AU$655) the Asus laptop is no bargain-basement Chromebook; it’s a high-end model with a posh design and decent components. While it might be pricey for a Chromebook, it’s the perfect alternative to a low-end Windows 10 ($139.95 at Amazon.com) laptops for those who only need a machine for simple online-based tasks. The $549 Samsung Chromebook Pro ($499.00 at Amazon.com) is a better laptop, but if you want something smaller, the Asus Chromebook Flip is your best bet.

Perfectly portable

The Asus Chromebook Flip C302CA (not to be confused with this older Asus Chromebook Flip) is a really good-looking laptop. Its metal body construction looks effortlessly cool and it also feels solid, despite being perfectly petite in size and weight.

  • 2.43 pounds (1.1kg)
  • 0.53×11.96×8.26 inches (13.5x304x210mm)

I love the Asus’ compact build. It’s the perfect size for taking to go and the stylish metallic design — a very attractive alternative to a plastic laptop — won’t cramp your style. I use a 13-inch MacBook Air for work and I’d hate to carry anything heavier to and from work everyday. I’d prefer a design like this to the Air’s; it’s truly the ideal size for anyone who has to commute with a laptop often. Plus, you get the extra feature of a 360-degree convertible hinge, something you won’t find on most laptops in this price range.

 

Design

Like the original Asus Chromebook C100 before it, the C302 is built from an all-aluminium chassis, though, this time it has an anodized finish rather than a brushed texture. Overall, it has a clean, no nonsense aesthetic and it folds up to a nearly symmetrical slab of metal.

Thankfully, the original Chromebook C100’s long, bar-shaped hinge has been dropped for the ZenBook Flip UX360’s multi-gear, metal mechanism. The smaller, two-piece mechanism makes this machine feel like less of a toy while helping it to blend in as a regular notebook.

Android apps on tap

 

Having a usable tablet mode is becoming ever more common in Chrome OS devices as Google has steadily increased the platform’s Android integration. Unfortunately, the C302 does not come with access to the Play Store right out of the box, and we had to switch over onto Chrome OS beta channel in order to download apps.

Other than that small hiccup, the hybrid Chromebook is fully equipped to drive right into the Android ecosystem. We swiped and tapped into our favorite apps just as we would on any Google tablet. To our surprise, the hybrid Chromebook is also outfitted with gyroscopes, allowing us to play motion-controlled games like Asphalt 8.

The C302, with its Core m3 processor, performs nearly twice as fast as the Dell Chromebook 13 with a Celeron processor. That said, this hybrid doesn’t quite have the gusto to keep up with the Intel Core i5-powered Acer Chromebook 14 for Work or the Core m5 chip inside HP Chromebook 13, though it’s only a quarter less power.

Numbers aside, the 2-in-1 Chromebook performs admirably even with two open Chrome windows with 12 open tabs each. Along with our heavy browsing habits, we also had Google Music playing in the background and the Slack Android app open.

Optimal performance

Chromebooks are famous for their long battery life, and the C302 is one of the best examples of why. In fact, it’s the longest-lasting premium Chromebook we’ve tested yet that ran for 10 hours and 46 minutes on our standard local movie playback test.

By comparison, the Acer Chromebook 14 ended its run an hour and 10 minutes earlier, and the HP Chromebook 13 only managed to last for just a minute over eight hours.

With our regular everyday workload, the C302 ran just shy of hitting the eight-hour, all-day battery life mark. However, any combination of running fewer tasks, turning off the keyboard backlight or lowering the screen could dramatically increase usage time on this machine.

We liked

From top to bottom, the Asus Chromebook C302 is our most favorite Chromebook yet. It meets high standards set by the HP Chromebook 13 and other premium Chrome OS machine with a classy design and high-spec parts – yet it does all of this at a lower price.

We disliked

Our only legitimate complaint about this hybrid Chrome OS machine is it’s mediocre speakers, but it’s an issue we take with 80% of laptops. In other transitory problems, we wished Android app integration would have been more seamless, but for now, it’s an ongoing process. We’re sure Google will add Play store access to a stable Chrome OS build for this particular Chromebook as it has with others in the past.

Final verdict

If you’ve been on the fence about buying a premium Chromebook, this one has 100 reasons (read: dollars, pounds … you get it) to make you jump for it. Although it isn’t a huge price difference, the Asus Chromebook Flip C302 rises to its premium stature with a gorgeous screen and a better keyboard than you would find on some Ultrabooks.

This is the first Chromebook that genuinely feels as comfortable to use as a tablet as it is a traditional laptop. While the Samsung Chromebook Pro nearly renders this model moot with a sharper screen and built-in stylus, we have yet to see how it performs. For now, the Asus Chromebook Flip C302 is king of the Chrome OS hill and it’s well worth your utmost attention.

Dell Inspiron 13 7000 2-in-1 Laptop Specifications and Review

In our experience, 2-in-1 laptops tend to spend most of the time in one configuration or the other. The convertible aspect is diminished when the computer is primarily used as a laptop. The updated Dell 2-in-1 Inspiron, however, does such a fine job as both laptop and tablet, we found myself switching between modes all the time.

Still, we used the Inspiron 13-7000 series more often as a laptop, but its size and weight make the tablet mode a joy with leisurely applications. In some ways, it’s like a mullet: business up front, party in the rear, but without all the negative connotations of the world’s worst haircut.

Design

Like its competitors, the Lenovo Yoga 900 and the Asus ZenBook Flip UX360, the Inspiron is clad in an eye-catching metal shell. In fact, other than the differing logos, all 3 look remarkably similar. The biggest difference is the Lenovo’s hinge is a fancy solution that borrows from the design of metallic watch bands. Both the ZenBook and Inspiron have standard hinges connecting the screen and body, whereas the Lenovo uses a single, device-spanning solution.

Nonetheless Dell’s 2-in-1 is contained in a very attractive aluminum casing. The bevel around the trackpad is milled to an angle that brings out the natural shine of the metal on an otherwise brushed-aluminum body. The outer rim of the laptop lid has the same chamfered edge around it, giving it just enough flash to make it pop.

The chiclet keyboard has a bluish-white backlight reminiscent of the LED headlights of modern cars. The travel on the keys is just a touch on the shallow side, but it still feels comfortable and satisfying to use for writing papers or long emails. The trackpad, too, is satisfyingly tactile, with just the right amount of “click.

Losing touch

 Input-wise, the only place we really found the Inspiron lacking was in its touch interface – although that might have more to do with Windows 10 than quality of the screen.

Some of our hands are fairly big, and sometimes we would tap a backlink or open a program from the desktop and either miss entirely, or hit something nearby. Everyone knows close only counts in hand grenades and horseshoes.

Another annoying issue that broadly affects Windows 10’s touch keyboard is the lack of autocorrect. In other words, if you’re used to typing on a smartphone, you’re probably going to make a lot of typos using the Windows touch keypad.

By default, it doesn’t auto-correct, or auto-complete, which is a problem for someone like me whose finesse is more akin to a bull in a china shop. Typically, if you’re typing away on a keyboard you can catch typos for the most part, but it’s too easy slide over multiple touchscreen keys and enter errant characters.

 Gone from the updated Inspiron 2-in-1 is the built-in stylus, which would help with accuracy on the touch screen. Older models hid the stylus away in such as fashion as to make it look like a physical button. It would have been nice to at least have the option, but third-party solutions exist if you really need a digital pen in your life.

For getting work done, laptop mode is the clear winner. Typing on the Windows 10 on-screen keyboard is OK for entering URLs into search bars, but otherwise, not great. For fun stuff, like reading comics on Comixology, surfing the web, or watching movies, tablet mode is great. In fact, we’re seriously considering changing the orientation of our desktop monitors because reading on a vertical screen is kind of the best thing.

The Inspiron we tested weighs in at 1.75 kg, or 3.5 lbs. It’s downright husky up against both the svelte Lenovo Yoga 900 at 2.84 lbs./1.28 kg, and the 2.9 lbs./1.31 kg Asus Zenbook UX360.

The weight of the Inspiron 7000 series only goes up from there, with the heaviest models weighing in an astonishing 6.12 lbs./2.77 kg for the 17-inch entry model. At that point, a 2-in-1 just seems completely impractical, with comfort suffering measurably while in the tablet configuration.

 The extra half-pound of weight is easily forgivable when you consider the price. The Inspiron 13-7000 starts at $799 or $1,698 (about £610), as opposed to the $1,199 (£999, AU$2,199) Yoga.
The Zenbook also retails for $799 (about £610, AU$1,060), but you downgrade from a base-model Intel Core i3-6100u to an Intel M3-6Y30 mobile processor. ASUS makes up for the processor with twice the storage and twice the RAM of the base Inspiron, which comes with a 256GB solid-state drive and 4GB DDR4 RAM.

Specifications

:

  • CPU: 1.8GHz Intel Core i5-6260U Processor (dual-core, 3MB cache, up to 2.9GHz with TurboBoost)
  • Graphics: Intel Iris Graphics 540
  • RAM: 4 GB single-channel DDR4 2133 MHz
  • Screen: 13.3-inch, FHD (1920×1080) Truelife LED-Backlit Touch Display
  • Storage: 256 GB SSD
  • Ports: HDMI 1.4a, USB Type-C (ThunderBolt 3.0), USB 3.0 with PowerShare, USB 2.0, SD card reader
  • Connectivity: 802.11ac dual band Wi-Fi; Bluetooth 4.0
  • Camera: 720p Infrared Webcam with Dual Digital Microphone Array
  • Weight: 3.52 lbs (1.75 kg)
  • Size: 12.69 x 8.82 x 0.76 inches (32.3 x 22.4.0 x 1.92mm: W x D x H)

Performance

Running multiple applications in the background while we watched a movie on HBO Go didn’t slow anything down. So while this 13-inch convertible isn’t a powerhouse, it gets the job done. That said, it definitely doesn’t hit the highs of a gaming laptop, but you wouldn’t have too much trouble playing indies or older games on it, if that’s your thing.

Really, a 2-in-1 computer is perfect to split between productivity and casual use, while the computing power on-hand strikes a good balance between affordability and utility. I never noticed any performance issues in my everyday use, although we know better than to try and play something like GTA 5 or edit multiple movie files in Adobe Premiere Pro.

Benchmarks

Here’s how the Dell Inspiron 13 7000 2-in-1 performed in our suite of benchmark tests:

  • 3DMark: Cloud Gate:5618; Sky Diver:3684; Fire Strike: 851
  • Cinebench CPU: 282 points; Graphics: 43.7 fps
  • GeekBench: 3119 (single-core); 6411 (multi-core)
  • PCMark 8 (Home Test): 2,794 points
  • PCMark 8 Battery Life: 3 hours and 15 minutes

The Inspiron ekes out a win on every test except battery, where it pales in comparison to the Yoga’s 5 hours and 6 minutes on the PCMark 8 Battery Life test. It also does quite a bit better than the ASUS ZenBook in every test…with the exception of battery.

 Dell claims the configuration we tested gets 8 hours, 24 minutes of life from its integrated, 3-cell battery, but I came up short in my own experience.
 That’s not to say battery life is a problem. Far from it: With Guardians of the Galaxy playing in full-screen, in HD and on repeat, we got 5 hours 25 minutes of life from the Inspiron. This was about the same usage we got over the course of a day, with Chrome and Firefox open, running some heavy work-related Ajax webpages in the background. We bounced back and forth between work and watching movies on HBO Go, and were satisfied with the battery life.

It could be longer, for sure, but it almost has enough juice to make it across the country on an older airplane without charging ports.

Looks Great, Sounds Bad

Dell proudly touts the Inspiron’s included Standard Waves MaxxAudio Pro audio software for an enhanced “multimedia experience with an impressive soundstage”.

Unfortunately, sound is a big disappointment. It’s passable when using the Inspiron in laptop mode, but any deviation in its configuration throws the sound into a garbage can. Or at least, it sounds like it does.

Lenovo ThinkPad 13 Specifications with review

Lenovo’s ThinkPad laptops usually make for excellent workhorses for students or even professionals who prioritise productivity. The hallmark feature for us has always been the ergonomic ThinkPad keyboards which are hard to beat.

 The ThinkPad 13 is a new model catering to students and professionals on a budget. It’s built with durability in mind, and claims to be able to withstand humid environments and extreme temperatures. However, even though Kaby Lake refreshes have been announced already, this model still uses a Skylake-generation CPU.
Let’s see if the ThinkPad 13 offers a good enough value proposition to warrant a recommendation

Lenovo ThinkPad 13 design and build quality

The 13.3-inch screen makes the ThinkPad 13 fairly compact and easy to carry around. It’s pretty lightweight too at roughly 1.4kg and has good weight distribution. The body is built from plastic but it doesn’t feel cheap. The matte finish on the lid provides a rubber-like feel, which helps keep pesky fingerprints at bay. There’s a ThinkPad logo on the lid and on the palm rest area, with an illuminated dot on the letter ‘i’. The lid provides decent protection for the display as there’s little flex, and it doesn’t warp easily when pressed from the back.

The dual-hinge mechanism offers good torsion, even when you flip the lid to its extreme which is about 170 degrees backwards. The 13.3-inch display on the Lenovo ThinkPad 13 features an anti-glare coating and a resolution of 1366×768, which is entry-level. There are slight visible jaggies around icons and text but it’s not that bad. Brightness is good enough for indoor use, but we needed to max it out when using this laptop outdoors.

The one thing that ThinkPads usually get right is the keyboard, and the ThinkPad 13 is no exception. Despite its compact size, Lenovo has managed to fit in well-spaced keys which are the size of what you’d find on a standard desktop keyboard. Unfortunately, there’s no backlighting. You have the trademark TrackPoint input controller nestled between the G H and B keys, and the corresponding mouse and scroll buttons below the spacebar. The trackpad isn’t very wide but does a good job, and left- and right-clicks are recognised well. You also get a fingerprint sensor that’s placed next to the trackpad.

The ThinkPad 13 has a good set of ports spread out on both sides. You get three USB 3.0 ports, a USB Type-C port (USB 3.1 Gen1), a headphone and microphone combo socket, HDMI, an SD card reader, and a proprietary OneLink connector for connecting a ThinkPad OneLink dock. The exhaust vents are placed on the left, near where your hand will be, but we didn’t find the heat bothering us during our review period. There are vents on the bottom for for the intake of cool air, and the battery is non-removable.

Lenovo ThinkPad 13 Specifications

  • 13.3-inch display
  • 1,920×1,080- or 1,366×768-pixel resolution screen
  • Intel Celeron 3865U, Intel Core i3-7100U, Intel Core i5-7200U or Intel Core i5-7300U CPU
  • 4GB, 8GB or 16GB DDR4 RAM
  • 128GB or 256GB SSD
  • Intel HD Graphics 610
  • Optional fingerprint reader

Another useful feature is the laptop’s multitude of ports. Want to connect an external monitor, mouse and charge your phone? You can do all of that and more on the ThinkPad 13 without purchasing any separate dongles. It also has a Lenovo OneLink+ which works with the Lenovo OneLink+ dock..

Ports

  • Three USB 3.0
  • Full-size HDMI
  • USB-C port
  • Lenovo OneLink+
  • 4-in-1 card reader (SD, SDHC, SDXC and MMC)

Lenovo rates the battery life at up to 11 hours. In our CNET Labs battery streaming video test, it ran short of that at 8.5 hours. That’s an improvement over last year’s model, but still short compared to the LG Gram and the HP EliteBook x360, which both last around 11.5 hours.

Lenovo ThinkPad 13 performance

We loaded up Windows 10 Pro and updated the drivers and software to get the ThinkPad 13 running. The SSD helps in shortening boot and application load times but the write speeds are a bit disappointing. In SiSoft Sandra’s file system benchmark, we got a sequential read bandwidth score of 459MB/s while the write bandwidth was a mere 143MB/s. Out of the 192GB of storage space, you actually get 172GB, and of this, around 15GB is taken up by the OS leaving you with about 150GB for programs and files. This is a decent amount of space for work or school needs, considering there’s always cloud storage. However, if you have a lot of media or large files then you’ll probably run out of space pretty soon. A 256GB SSD would have been preferable here.

 The laptop returned decent scores in benchmarks, except for graphics-heavy tests. In PCMark 8, we got scores of 3255, 3756, and 3088 in the Home, Creative, and Work test suites respectively. 3DMark gave us just 715 points in the standard Fire Strike benchmark, which shows that the integrated Intel HD Graphics 520 GPU isn’t really designed with gaming in mind – then again, neither is the ThinkPad 13.
 However, don’t rule out its multimedia capabilities just yet. The ThinkPad 13 can handle 4K video playback with ease, and sound is surprisingly good for a “business” laptop. There are two speaker slits on either side of the body, firing downwards, that manage to produce rich and wholesome sound. The volume level is very good, and mids and highs sound good. The HD webcam doesn’t produce a noisy picture indoors, although it is a bit hazy overall.
The built-in 3-cell, 42Whr battery lasted for 2 hours and 26 minutes in Battery Eater Pro, which is fairly normal. In real-world usage, we easily managed to go around 7 hours at a stretch. This means that even if you do forget your power adapter at home, you should be able to get through most of a work day without worrying.

Verdict
While you won’t be able to pick this specific model up right now, we’re told that refreshed ThinkPad 13s with Intel’s Kaby Lake CPUs are only a few weeks from hitting our shores. You can expect the price range to be from Rs. 62,000 to Rs. 75,000, depending on the configuration you select. The best part is that the refreshed units will have backlit keyboards, something we sorely missed here. There should be variants with touchscreens too, so it’s definitely worth waiting a little while.

 

ThinkPads have always commanded a premium compared to regular laptops, and for the most part, it’s worth it if your work involves a lot of typing or you need something durable that can withstand the jostles of a daily commute. However, the ThinkPad 13 that we reviewed today feels a bit underwhelming, especially because of its premium price. The body, while sturdy, could have used some metal reinforcements. A backlit keyboard, a higher resolution display and a larger SSD would have helped make things more balanced.

Nikon D3300 specifications and review

The D3300 may have been replaced by the D3400, but that’s no reason to discount this entry-level DSLR. In fact, while the D3400 costs a little bit more (though prices are continuing to fall), the D3300 is the better buy right now.

Despite the growing popularity of mirrorless cameras, the entry-level DSLR market is still incredibly popular for those looking to take the next step in their photography journey.

Nikon’s range of D3xxx models has proved incredibly popular over the years for new users looking to expand their creativity thanks to their blend of easy handling and solid performance, backed-up by an impressive range of lenses and accessories.

Features

  • APS-C CMOS sensor, 24.2MP
  • 3.0-inch screen, 921,000 dots
  • 1080p video capture

The Nikon D3300 features a high resolution 24.2MP APS-C sensor, which is pretty impressive when you consider the enthusiast-focused (and much higher priced) D7200 shares the an almost identical sensor with it. Like the rest of the Nikon range, the D3300’s sensor does away with a low-pass filter on the sensor as well, which means even more detail can be captured.

In addition to this, the native sensitivity range runs from ISO100 to 12,800, and there’s an expansion setting that takes it to the equivalent of ISO25,600, that should provide plenty of flexibility for a range of lighting situations.

Like the Nikon D5300, the D3300 sports Nikon’s now second-generation processing engine, the EXPEED 4, allowing the D3300 to shoot continuously at a maximum rate of 5fps, while it can sustain this burst rate for up to 100 fine

quality JPEGs. Not probably quite a match for some mirrorless rivals, but more than enough for most people’s needs.

 

The EXPEED 4 processing engine is also responsible for allowing the D3300 to record Full HD movie footage at frame rates up to 50p/60p and with continuous autofocus. Helpfully, there’s a microphone port as well as a built-in stereo mic for better sound recording during movie shooting. If you want 4K, you’ll either have to look further up the Nikon line-up or at some mirrorless competition like the Panasonic Lumix G7.

Unlike some (pricier) rivals sporting articulating screens, the 3.0-inch display on the rear of the D3300 sits flush to the body. The absence of a touchscreen interface is also a little disappointing, especially when you consider how many of the camera’s controls are changed via the screen itself. If these are deal-breakers, then you might want to look further up the Nikon range to the D5600or rivals from Canon.

Like pretty much every DSLR at this price point, the D3300’s optical viewfinder only offers a 95% field of view. While it is bright and clear, not being 100% does mean that there is a chance of something appearing in the final image that you didn’t notice when framing up your shot.

Build and handling

  • Polycarbonate construction
  • Small and lightweight body
  • Weighs 460g

The D3300 is the second DSLR from Nikon to use a monocoque construction – this means that the chassis is made from a single piece of material. Lighter than the D3200 it replaced, the D3300 is actually a bit heavier than the D3400, with Nikon managing to shave a very modest 15g off the 410g body-only weight of the D3300.

The grip is still deep and comfortable to hold, with the textured surface making it feel particularly secure in the hand.

The new 18-55mm kit lens that the D3300 will probably most likely be purchased with is now collapsible. While by no means small in comparison to compact system camera lenses of the same equivalent zoom range, when collapsed the lens is quite a bit shorter than its predecessor, making it easier to fit into a small bag when not in use.

When you want to use the camera (with this kit lens attached), you’ll first need to press a button on the lens barrel to expand it back into normal proportions. This does mean that start-up time from packed away is a little slower than other cameras, but you can of course leave it extended if you need a quicker start.

Autofocus

  • 11-point AF, 1 cross-type AF point
  • AF-assist illuminator
  • 3D-tracking AF

Meanwhile, there’s an 11-point AF system that we’ve seen on a host of previous models, which has a central cross-type AF point for extra sensitivity.

It’s a little unremarkable, especially when compared to some mirrorless rivals, but its a tried and test system that does a solid job.

Autofocusing speeds are pretty high, especially in daylight or well-lit conditions. It’s rare for the kit lens to hunt around to acquire focus, and rarer still for it to present a false confirmation of focus. Speeds do drop a little in lower light conditions, but it’s only when it gets very dark that the lens struggles to focus at all.

Performance

  • 5fps burst shooting
  • Helpful Guide mode
  • 700-shot battery life

The D3300’s interface has a pleasingly modern appearance, with the high resolution giving the display beautifully rounded edges and displaying the interface’s colors well.

When shooting, the camera displays three circles which represent shutter speed, aperture and sensitivity (ISO). These displays change as you alter settings using the scrolling dials, most obvious being the aperture circle which closes and opens to represent the opening and closing of the aperture blades. If you’re new to creative photography, this is a great way to get to grips with the basics.

 

Image quality

  • ISO100-12,800, expandable to 100-25,600
  • No low-pass filter
  • Punchy colors

As expected, the D3300 has excellent resolving power. Even when zoomed in to images at 100% reveals that very fine details can be seen.

With such a high pixel count (24 million pixels), there comes the increased chance of noise appearing in images. The D3300 handles low light, high sensitivity situations very well. Noise only really starts to become particularly apparent when shooting at ISO 3200 above, and even then it’s acceptable, or certainly preferable to a blurred or missed shot.

Nikon D3400 Specifications and review

Ever since its popular D40 model back in 2006, Nikon has done well to dismantle the idea of a DSLR needing to be a large, cumbersome machine. Of course, since then the company has released many even more compact mirrorless 1-series cameras aimed at a junior audience, although it’s maintained its footing in the entry-level DSLR sector with a slew of compact and easy-to-use alternatives for those after something more traditional.

For a number of years, Nikon has chosen to split these into two camps. The D5xxx series has presented an approachable but reasonably powerful solution for those wanting to get going with DSLR photography, but have a little extra growing space as they become more confident, while the D3xxx series has adhered to a no-frills template, one that prioritises small size, light weight and a simple design, all the while maintaining the benefits of an interchangable-lens system.

The D3400 is Nikon’s latest contribution to the latter series, and a follow-up to the D3300. Not only has the company managed to shave a little of the D3300’s weight off the body for this new iteration, but it’s also boosted its battery life and improved a number of features to make it a mightier proposition for the novice user. It’s also launched the camera alongside a redesigned kit lens, one that sports a retractable inner barrel and a more streamlined design that eschews the focusing and Vibration Reduction switches we’re used to seeing.

But, after so many warmly received models and a raft of fine competitors in both DSLR and mirrorless categories, does the D3400 have enough going for it to make it worth the beginner’s attention?

Performance

Colour, dynamic range and vibrancy
Having used this very sensor in previous Nikon cameras, we did not really expect out-of-order aberrations, and neither did we experience any such moments. The D3400 produces very good colours across a wide array of situations, with crisp and vibrant bold colours and good dynamic range signature to Nikon’s usual imaging performance.

The colours look crisp and punchy, and this sensor retains highlight areas and shadow zones with a deft touch. This helps in retaining the colour accuracy of diverse areas within brightly lit, diversely arranged compositions. The metering sensor, while shooting in RAW also picks out the highlight and shadow areas really well, and this gives you a fairly deep scope of post-processing photographs to bring out correct colour shades and tones, detailed shadows and smooth highlights.

You can also underexpose frames with significantly differing exposure areas while shooting in RAW, and the D3400’s good dynamic range, true-to-source and amply vibrant colours combine to allow post-processing recovery of shadow areas. This allows you to successfully retain details while keeping the colours intact. Even with differing shades of the same colour, the Nikon D3400 shoots in good level of colour details.

The colours also retain good vibrancy for a camera of this price and range, and all of this leads to clean photographs with bright, accurate colours that look sharp enough. Good dynamic range further aids colour reproduction along with details

  White balance and colour saturation

Continuing the good work it does with colours, the Nikon D3400 produces good auto-calibrated white balance across scenes. It reads situations well as per ambience, not going off-the-mark with warm environments, as many budget DSLRs tend to do. You can also opt for manual white balance adjustment with the presets, or your custom colour temperature as you require. All of this works as intended, and is true to the environment you shoot in.

When it comes to colour saturation, the Nikon D3400 produces slightly richer saturation levels than the competing Canon EOS 1300D. Colours are more vibrant here, and that also leads to more saturated colours, particularly bold reds. Yellows and blues are more subtly optimised, and the overall performance of the camera yields good colour saturation points. For RAW shooters looking to tinker with the colours, setting picture control to flat does the job as intended.

Build and handling

  • Polycarbonate construction
  • Design little changed from D3300
  • 445g

The D3400 is designed to be small and lightweight, but Nikon has ensured there is enough grip to get hold of the camera and space on the rear for the thumb to rest without knocking into any controls. At just 650g with its battery, memory card and kit lens in place the model is one of the lightest DSLR combinations around, around 40g lighter than the Canon EOS 1300D and its own 18-55mm kit lens and around 200g lighter than the Pentax K-50 and lens.

 

Autofocus

  • 11-point AF, 1 cross-type AF point
  • AF-assist illuminator
  • 3D-tracking AF

In line with many other APS-C based rivals, the camera’s 11-point Multi CAM 1000 AF system covers a healthy proportion of the frame, the points arranged in a diamond-like formation. This is essentially unchanged from previous models, although the new AF-P 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G VR kit lens has been engineered to provide fast and quiet focus.

Fiio EX1 Earphones (2nd Gen) Review

Fiio, best known for its high-resolution media players and portable headphone amplifiers, recently launched the second generation of its premium EX1 earphones. The successor to the EX1 promises improved audio quality and better craftsmanship.

 At Rs. 4,299, / 67$  this pair is a bit on the expensive side for earphones with dynamic drivers. However, let’s see if the new EX1 manages to win us over.

Fiio EX1 (2nd Gen) design and features

The EX1 (2nd Gen) ships with fairly good packaging. You get six pairs of silicone ear tips (we only had one pair with our review unit), a clip, a carry case, a quick start guide, and a warranty card. The carry case is a bit too shallow, which means you need to take extra care when putting the headphones in and taking them out.

The enclosures are made from both stainless steel and aluminium alloy which makes them light, but they should still be able to withstand the wear and tear of daily use better than most plastic enclosures. The glossy finish makes the Fiio EX1 (2nd Gen) look really good and there are blue and pink rings around the left and right earbuds respectively, which makes it easy to identify which is which. There are also clear markers for the left and right earbuds printed on the inside.

The Fiio EX1 (2nd Gen) features a tilted in-ear design, which makes it a lot easier to wear these earphones. You get a 1.2m polyurethane cable, which is durable and doesn’t tangle too easily. However, it’s sometimes tough to get it to uncurl after being rolled up for a long time. The cable terminates into a gold-plated L-type 3.5mm headphone jack. There’s a cable tie attached to the bottom of the cable, which is handy for wrapping it up when you don’t have the case with you.

The cable has an in-line control pod with the microphone and media controls. The pod itself is built well but the buttons are fiddly and feel cheap. There aren’t any proper markings on the buttons to help you identify them.
One of the reasons for the high price of the Fiio EX1 (2nd Gen), we think, is the material used for the driver’s diaphragm, which is titanium. This material is light and can vibrate efficiently, which should result in overall better audio performance.
In terms of specifications, the Fiio EX1 (2nd Gen) has a frequency range of 20Hz – 40kHz, and impedance of 13Ohms. The drivers are 13mm each, and the whole unit weighs 18 grams.

Fiio EX1 (2nd Gen) performance

The tilted design of the earphones makes them incredibly comfortable to wear with nearly no fatigue after an hour of continuous listening. They’re also incredibly light so you’ll barely feel them in your ears. The cable is long enough for most use cases and we didn’t face any issues with durability during our two weeks of testing. We also found the microphone to be very good for phone calls.

The media buttons don’t have a very reassuring feel to them and volume control isn’t supported for iOS devices. Other than that, they functioned well across Android devices.
Straight out of the box, the earphones sound great with a nice wide soundstage and balanced tone. Our unit wasn’t sealed and may have passed through other hands, so your out-of-the-box experience might vary. The EX1 (2nd Gen) is also ‘Hi-Res Audio’ certified and it shows, as it reproduces FLAC files very well. We tested it on an HTC 10, a OnePlus 3T, and an iPad and it performed equally well in all the devices. The earphones do leak sound a bit but not too much.

Verdict
The Fiio EX1 (2nd Gen) is a very good pair of earphones, and even though it costs a slight premium at Rs. 4,299, you won’t be disappointed. A similar amount could also fetch you a pair of balanced armature earphones like the Brainwavz B100, which sound a bit cleaner due to the low emphasis on bass response. If you want that extra oomph in the low end, the EX1 (2nd Gen) fills that role nicely. These earphones have excellent build quality (barring the buttons on the remote), look great, and have a nice balanced sonic signature.

Price (MRP): Rs. 4,299 / 67$

 Pros
  • Excellent build quality and design
  • Detailed mid-range, punchy bass
  • Very comfortable to wear
  • Good bundle

Bose SoundLink Revolve full Review

Bose is one of the best-known lifestyle audio brands in the country, and much like Apple, its products usually look fantastic and cost a lot. Recently, the company added a pair of Bluetooth speakers to its SoundLink series. The SoundLink Revolve and SoundLink Revolve+ boast of 360-degree sound and are IPX4 rated for water resistance.

Today, we’ll be testing the Bose SoundLink Revolve, which is the smaller of the two. This speaker retails at Rs. 19,900, which is more than twice the price of similarly featured competitors such as the Ultimate Ears Wonderboom. No doubt you’re paying a hefty premium for the brand name, but let’s see if Bose has managed to deliver audio that is good enough to justify this as well.

    Design

The Revolve takes the design of the SoundLink Mini II and stretches it into a cylindrical shape that slightly resembles the Dalek robots from Dr. Who.

It features a strong aluminum housing which comes in either silver or black and features a rubberized base and buttons. The speaker feels extremely well made and should put up with being tossed in a bag with some keys and knick knacks.

On top of the speaker you’ll find buttons for controlling every feature of the speaker, including volume, playback, Bluetooth 4.0, aux and power. Bose’s multifunction button controls everything from music playback to activating voice assistants like Siri and Google Assistant. The SoundLink revolve works great as a speakerphone for taking calls, something the UE Wonderboom, another well-regarded speaker that we reviewed earlier this month, lacks. Its microphone is located on top of the speaker, so it’s able to hear your voice from any direction.

Performance

The biggest reason go to with the SoundLink Revolve over one of its flat-faced friends is if you want omni-directional sound. With it, you can move around and experience the same sound wherever you are. This is great for parties so everyone can have the same listening experience no matter where they’re sitting.

In terms of volume, the SoundLink Revolve does a great job of pumping music loudly in all directions. That said, if you place it at the center of the room, the speaker lacks some bass response but that can be remedied by placing the speaker near walls to help reflect sound and increase bass response.

 

Overall, the Bose SoundLink Revolve’s sonic performance is excellent, especially when compared to our other favorite 360-degree speaker, the UE Wonderboom. Where the Wonderboom sounds strained, the Bose plays loudly and effortlessly.

 Bass response also sounds richer and more controlled than the Wonderboom, which features a mid-forward sound. However, you should take into account that the Wonderboom is half the price of Revolve.
Compared to the aging SoundLink Mini II, the SoundLink Revolve sounds almost as good but can’t match the expansive soundstage and instrumental separation of the Mini II – though, admittedly both speakers sound very good and you’ll be hard pressed to notice the difference unless you listen to them side by side

Battery

The built-in battery is rated to run for up to 12 hours on a single charge. In our tests, we managed to get 9 hours and 21 minutes of continuous playback which is well short of the rated 12 hours. Considering that we had the volume cranked up to about 70 percent most of the time, this isn’t too bad. Charging the speaker from zero is a painfully long wait though, even if you’re using the bundled adapter. It takes a good three to four hours to recharge completely. There are also no audible prompts to tell you when the battery is running down –  the speaker just shuts down when it’s depleted.

Verdict

For its size, the Bose SoundLink Revolve offers incredibly loud and warm sound. It handles low notes effortlessly without you having to blast the volume. However, as good as the speaker is with bass delivery, this can be its downfall as it simply devours the mid-range at high volumes in some tracks. Also, this is not the speaker for you if you enjoy high-resolution music files as there’s little reward to be had.

The design of the driver is such that you don’t need any surface to reflect off. In fact, it sounds best when placed in open spaces. Build quality is excellent, and we like that this device can withstand some degree of exposure to liquids. If we could change anything, we would have liked quicker charging. Perhaps Bose could have incorporated some sort of fast charging method.

The SoundLink Revolve is quite expensive at Rs. 19,900. Its bigger sibling, the Revolve+, costs Rs. 24,500 for which you get a larger driver and better battery life. The Bose SoundLink Revolve is a good-looking little speaker that manages to make nearly any audio source sound pleasant, and sometimes, that’s all that matters.

Price (MRP): Rs. 19,900 /310.53$

Toreto Aqua TBS 325 Bluetooth Speaker Review

Toreto is an Indian firm that has been selling mobile accessories since 2013. Its range includes earphones, headphones and speakers, and the latest addition to its lineup is the Toreto Aqua, a waterproof Bluetooth speaker that is priced at around Rs. 3,000. Is it worth your time and money? Read on to find out.

Toreto Aqua design and features

The Toreto Aqua speaker ships in a box with clear plastic top that let you see its contents. You get the speaker itself, a Micro-USB cable, a small aux cable, and a user manual. The speaker is quite funky with gray being the dominant colour, and bright orange accents and buttons. The base is made in such a way that speakers point upwards at an angle when the unit is placed on a table, which helps direct audio towards your ears.

The speaker has a metallic grill on the front. The orange accents on the front and the hook at the back are made of plastic while the buttons and the rest of the body are rubberised. There’s a rubber flap at the back that keeps the Micro-USB port, the 3.5mm headphones socket and the microSD card slot waterproof. The Toreto Aqua weighs 340g which is spread across the unit well. Powering it is an 1800mAh battery.

Toreto Aqua Bluetooth speaker: Design

Out-of-the-box, the Toreto Aqua speaker is designed in a capsule shape, which makes it ultra-portable. The speaker has a grey rubber casing on the outside with accents of contrasting colors on the rim and other elements. All the ports on the speaker are covered with rubber to keep water from slipping in, making it ideal for pool parties, outdoor activities or even in the shower.

It has four buttons on the top, each performing specific functions with an illuminating ‘x’ shape at the center. While the M-shaped button is for Power and Bluetooth pairing, the Volume buttons let you skip to the next and previous tracks on a long press. The fourth button, as it appears in the image below, lets you play and pause tracks.

Toreto Aqua performance and battery life

Long-pressing the M button fires up the device, and the LED blinks rapidly waiting for a device to pair. To test the Toreto Aqua, we paired it with an Asus ZenFone and a Moto 5 with music streaming from Google Play Music and media from Amazon Prime Video and YouTube.

When we started testing this speaker, we were surprised at the volume it could put out. It could get really loud indoors, and we had to stick to a lower volume level. We found that the speaker’s volume couldn’t be controlled by a phone, and had to be adjusted independently.

We played MP3s as well as FLAC audio files, and it was quite hard to tell any difference between them. The overall audio quality of the Toreto Aqua is decent but it seems to go overboard with the highs. It is capable of producing some bass but the mids aren’t very clear. When playing songs with a good bass line at high volumes, the speaker would rock about on our table.

When listening to Levels by Avicii and Keep It Mello by Marshmello, we found the highs to be a little unpleasant at higher volumes in an enclosed room. When watching Le Mans on Amazon Prime Video the hybrid race cars did sound a little different though dialogue was clearly audible. Overall we found that this speaker performed better in open spaces than in closed rooms.

Playing audio files off a microSD card isn’t much of an issue. The Toreto Aqua can play MP3s but not FLAC files. The speaker plays a tone to notify you that a Bluetooth device has been paired or disconnected, and when switching between modes. This can be a little tricky as the cues are easy to miss.

Knowing the speaker is waterproof, we did dunk it in a swimming pool a couple of times. Once pulled out of the pool, it would continue playing songs without any trouble. The speaker would sound muffled with water in the drivers, but just had to bump the volume up to help the speaker push it out. We did check the rubber flap on the back and found that it can keep the ports dry even after multiple dips as long as you secure it properly.

 The Toreto Aqua can keep playing music for over five hours, but needs over three hours to charge. It is also quite hard to gauge battery life. There is no obvious way to check how much time you have left before the battery will run out.

Verdict
The Toreto Aqua does a few things well but it could do with some improvements. It looks good and has its waterproofing sorted out, but its output needs to be a little warmer and the mids need a boost. For now, it is safe to say that this is a good speaker for outdoor use, but not the best performer indoors. If you are looking for a bathroom speaker this isn’t ideal, but if you want to blast your tunes on a trek or a swim, this might do just fine.

Reliance Jio 4G router full reviews

RELIANCE JIO 4G ROUTER Review: First of all thanks for landing this article, if you are searching for RELIANCE JIO 4G ROUTER for your home, office or outside use then I must say you are on the right place. I’m using this router from last 3 months and I’m quite happy from it’s performance. So here are things which I like, dislike and worth to mention about RELIANCE JIO 4G ROUTER.

RELIANCE JIO 4G ROUTER Review

Hey everyone! I bought this JIOFI 3 router few months back for using the Jio data services. As of now (22-05-2017) this is the latest and the best JIO fi model It comes with 2600mAh battery and a matte finished body unlike the JIO FI 2 which comes with glossy body and 2300mAh battery.

In The Box:

  • JioFi 2 4G Wireless Hotspot in Black color
  • 2-pin charger (5V-1A)
  • Micro USB cable
  • 2600mAh battery
  • User manual and warranty information

Specifications

Well with the amazing built quality and cool design this gadget surely deserves your pocket well, Wi-fi hotspot has become necessary if you own multiple gadgets. On the go, in the car, away from your home or office, often you need to have an Internet connection to access emails, accounts, and data on clouds, etc.

It will full charge in 1 hour and 30 mins and give you a battery life of around 6 hours of continues usage.In my opinion I found it really useful ,because you don’t have to turn ON your phone’s hotspot every time you want to access internet on your laptop or share it with friends on the go.

It doesn’t get heated so you can keep it in your pocket.But if you connect say 5+ devices then it gets slightly warm.

You can’t use any other sim than JIO 4G. But you can unlock it easily by following some youtube tutorial videos .And after it you can use any 4G sim in it.

Price: As per the price is concern RELIANCE JIO 4G ROUTER comes with the price tag of Rs. 2,500 approx.

Pros:

  • Lightweight with matty finish.
  • Scratch proof.
  • Sturdy design.
  • OLED display is good and provide accurate information about battery signals and device connected.
  • Battery back up is awesome, if you connect only 1-2 device it can last up tp 8-9 hours if you are not travelling with device.
  • Speed is far better than mobile phone.
  • It also support sd card, so you can use it as a pendrive in case of emergency.

Cons:

  • Don’t support any other SIM.
  • Don’t come with cover.

My Final Words:

According to me this is one of the best router available in India. I personal use Reliance Jio 4g router in my office to connect more than 7 laptops and trust me it works like charm. If you planning to purchase it then don’t think simply go for it now.

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