Sunday, July 31, 2016

Meizu M1E with Helio P10 SoC & YunOS to Launch on August 10th

Meizu M3 Note - Rear Top

Last week, we mentioned about the Meizu launching a new smartphone and smartwatch in the next couple weeks. While we expected the leaked E series to be of the smartwatch but the latest information suggest the company to launch a new smartphone series. The first smartphone under the E- series will be called as Meizu M1E and will be launched alongside the smartwatch on April 10th. There are rumors about Meizu smartphone to launch with dual rear cameras and curved display.

Now the latest leaks of images confirmed the device to be another affordable device next to the Meizu M3 Note. Recently the company launched the high-end Meizu MX6 and Pro 6 smartphones. The leaked confirms the device to look same as the Meizu MX6 except the antenna band placement. Unlike the curved antenna bands as seen MX6 and Pro 6, the M1E comes with regular parallel bands. On the front is the physical home button that comes integrated with a fingerprint sensor.

meizu m1e

While we are expecting the upcoming smartphone to run on YunOS, the Meizu M1E runs on YunOS 5.1.1 based Flyme 5.2.1 UI. It might come with 5.5-inch FullHD display and will be powered by the Helio P10 SoC. It comes in different storage variant along with 2GB and 3GB of RAM. On the camera front, there will be a 13MP rear shooter and a 5MP front shooter for selfies.

Note: Featured image is of Meizu M3 Note

This story appeared first on Phone Radar. Join the PhoneRadar Forums to discuss, meet experts & share your experiences.

OvRcharge Wireless Charger levitates your smartphone at $177 like Magic

OvRcharge Levitating charger

We live in a time, where the levitating Bluetooth speakers are mainstream now. There are a bunch of them available online and can be easily used with just about any smartphone or a tablet etc. But just when we thought that it’s not going to get any better, now we have a new gig. OvRcharge claims that it can charge your smartphone wirelessly and it will levitate your device while doing it. How cool is that? Well, it obviously comes with its own drawbacks but still.

This is a third party charger and it might not be as efficient as the stock ones that manufacturers provide. But this product is more for its appealing looks and tricks that it can perform. So essentially this works with most of the smartphones i.e. if it supports wireless charging. If not, then you might have to put a third party case to make it work. This levitating feature works with the help of a magnet which you will be attaching to the back of your device. Once powered on, this will levitate your smartphone and charge it wirelessly.

This charger from OvRcharge is priced at about $177 now which is a Kickstarter early bird price. Once it is becoming official, it will definitely be priced more than that. But from the looks of it, it appears to be aggressively priced and is very expensive as a charging solution alone. But it will definitely add on as a nice collectible giving your living room or your desk a unique look. It is not for everyone by any means, but if you don’t mind spending some money on this and if you can put up with its slow charging speeds, then you should definitely go and check this product right away. We hope to an upgraded version in future maybe with the quick charge ability etc. Stay tuned for more interesting and upcoming kickstarter projects like this.

This story appeared first on Phone Radar. Join the PhoneRadar Forums to discuss, meet experts & share your experiences.

Coolpad Cool 1 with LeEco EUI and Dual Rear Cameras to Launch Soon

leeco-coopad-cool1

Coolpad and LeEco are launching a new smartphone as their first joint collaboration. While it is not officially launched yet, we have a close look at some of the specs of the smartphone in detail and also its name which is confirmed officially via a teaser. The smartphone appeared on TENAA, showing off the first looks and the some of the specs. The device is called the Cool 1 and is expected to launch in the month of August this year.

In terms of specs, we are looking at a Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 processor coupled with a 4GB of RAM. It will also have a 64GB of onboard internal storage. On the front, we have a 5.5-inch quadHD display. Other hardware specs include a dual-camera setup and a fingerprint scanner at the back. The device will be powered by a 3500 mAh battery. These are the specs of the smartphone available at this point in time and we will surely be seeing more of this in the near future.

coolpad leeco

But looking at the specifications of the device, it appears to be of flagship standards and mostly will be competing directly the smartphones like Huawei P9 and the newly launched Xiaomi Redmi Pro.

Developing…

This story appeared first on Phone Radar. Join the PhoneRadar Forums to discuss, meet experts & share your experiences.

Xiaomi Redmi 3S with 13MP Camera & 4100mAh Battery to Launch in India on August 3rd

Xiaomi Redmi 3S

A couple months back, Xiaomi had launched the Redmi 3S smartphone in China in two variants. The 2GB RAM variant is priced at 699 Yuan while the 3GB RAM variant costs 899 Yuan. While the same device is expected to launch in India soon, we got some exclusive news. The official launch event will be held on August 3rd in New Delhi. The device will be the successor to Redmi 2 and Redmi 2 Prime that are launched last year. Just like the Redmi 2 devices, the Redmi 3S will also be the best alternative for any other entry-level device.

We can expect the device to be priced anywhere between Rs. 7,000 – Rs. 8,000 price range. Apart from the improved specifications, the Redmi 3S also comes with a metal body. On the back of the device is the fingerprint sensor that can also be used as a shutter button in the camera app. Coming to specs, it sports a 5-inch HD (1280 x 720 pixels) IPS display and is powered by Snapdragon 430 octa-core processor. The 2GB RAM variant comes with 16GB of internal storage while the 3GB RAM variant includes 32GB storage.

Both the variants include a MicroSD card slot for storage expansion. It supports dual SIM dual standby with the hybrid SIM slot where the user can opt for a MicroSD card instead of the secondary SIM. Talking about the camera, there is a 13MP rear camera with PDAF and a 5MP selfie camera on the front. It includes a 4,100mAh non-removable battery that can easily last more than a day of usage. Connectivity options include 4G LTE, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS, and a MicroUSB 2.0 port. It runs on Android 6.0 Marshmallow out of the box and the latest MIUI 8 update can be expected soon.

However, the Redmi 3 Pro also comes with same specifications and design expect the processor. It is powered by the Snapdragon 616 octa-core processor while the Redmi 3S came with Snapdragon 430 SoC. After launching the popular Redmi Note 3 (Review), recently the company also made the 6.44-inch Mi Max (Review) available here in India. Stay tuned for the official pricing ad specifications of the Redmi 3S.

This story appeared first on Phone Radar. Join the PhoneRadar Forums to discuss, meet experts & share your experiences.

Holofone Phablet comes with 35 Lumens Projector, compatible with Android & Windows OS

Akyumen Holofone

With the launch of smartphones like Samsung Galaxy Note 7 and the new iPhone 7 variants are right around the corner, now we have something very unusual to be called a smartphone. A company called Akyumen has just announced to launch a new smartphone with some interesting tricks up its sleeves. Coming in at a display size of about 7-inches, if you still consider this to be a smartphone instead of a tablet, then this might just be a perfect option for you. It’s called the Holofone Phablet.

Apart from having a massive display of that size, it also features a 45-lumen projector. The company claims that it projects up to a 100-inch screen. If this is true, then it is going to be a beast of a phone. Talking about the software, here also users have the flexibility to go with the Android or the Windows 10 OS. Yes, you can select between any one of the OS and enjoy it. The Android operating system version is 6.0 Marshmallow, which is the latest build available for other flagships as well. And when it comes to Windows, you are essentially getting a full blown Windows 10 PC here. No Windows 10 Mobile or the Continuum.

So with a smartphone running latest Android OS and the Windows 10, no one can go wrong here. In terms of hardware specs, we are looking at a quad-core Intel Atom Cherry Trail processor and 4GB RAM along with a 128GB of onboard storage option, which can be expanded via a microSD card. For camera optics, we have a 13-megapiexel rear facing shooter and a 5-megapixel front facing selfie camera. The internals of this device is powered by a 3,500 mAh battery. According to the company, this battery can power the projector for up to 2 hours. It supports 4G LTE connectivity and also features USB Type-C port for syncing.

If you are interested in buying this phablet, then you can head over the company’s official website and pre-order one right now. In terms of pricing, the basic bundle comes for $750 and it goes up to $950 for a set that includes some of the accessories like a wireless speaker, a gaming controller etc. With smartphones like the Moto Z coming with Moto Mods for using a projector, this is a nice touch from Akyumen. Stay tuned for info on this device.

This story appeared first on Phone Radar. Join the PhoneRadar Forums to discuss, meet experts & share your experiences.

Best Mid-Range Smartphones below Rs 15000 (July – August)

smartphones-below-rs-15000-august-2016

We have seen few smartphones that come with high-end specifications priced under Rs. 15,000 price tag. Recently, most of these devices also come with a metal build body. Unlike earlier months, most of the launches came from top global manufacturers that too with competitive pricing. Below is the list of smartphones that are highly recommended because of its value for money specifications and superior build quality.

tcl 560 qrap

TCL had launched two new smartphones in July – TCL 560 and TCL 562. Both the smartphones come with some decent specifications that make them competitive against the competition. The TCL 562 priced at Rs. 10,990 comes with 5.5-inch display with Full HD display and will be powered by Helio P10 SoC. It includes 3GB of RAM and 16GB of internal storage. On the other hand, the Rs. 7,999 priced TCL 560 sports 5.5-inch HD display and Snapdragon 210 SoC. The TCL 560 is only limited to 2GB of RAM and include the same 16GB of storage.

The TCL 560 is only limited to 2GB of RAM and include the same 16GB of storage. In the camera department, there is a 13MP rear camera on TCL 562 while the TCL 560 comes with an 8MP camera. For selfies, both the device packs a 5MP front camera. The devices support dual SIM dual standby with 4G LTE connectivity. TCL 562 additionally comes with a fingerprint sensor embedded into the physical home button on the front. Both the device are exclusively sold through Amazon in India.

intex-aqua-power-4g-wrap

The Indian smartphone manufacturer, Intex launched the Intex Aqua Power HD 4G smartphone priced at Rs. 8,363. It is the successor to the 2015 launched Aqua Power HD. The device runs on a couple of years old Android 5.1 Lollipop and comes with dual SIM dual standby support. It sports a 5-inch HD (1280 x 720 pixels) IPS display. Under the hood is the MediaTek MT6592M quad-core processor clocked at 1.2GHz.

It includes 2GB of RAM and 16GB of internal storage that can be further expanded via MicroSD card slot. On the camera front, there is an 8MP rear camera with LED flash and a 5MP front camera for selfies. The device is backed by a 3,900mAh battery that is rated to last up to 390 hours on standby. Connectivity options include 4G LTE, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0, GPS, and a MicroUSB 2.0 port.

LYF-Water-4-Water-6-wrap

The LYF Water 4 and Water 6 are latest smartphones from the Reliance’s 4G smartphone brand. Unlike Flame series, the Water series comes with better specifications, but there are other smartphones from Chinese manufacturers that offer high-end specifications and better build quality. The Water 4 is priced at Rs. 7,599 while Water 6 costs slightly higher at Rs. 8,999.

Both the smartphones come with same specifications except the storage, the Water 4 sports 16GB of storage and Water 6 includes 32GB storage. The devices come with 5-inch HD display and is powered by Snapdragon quad-core processor along with 2GB of RAM. There is a 13MP rear camera, 5MP front camera, and a 2920mAh battery. The Jio 4G preview offer with unlimited usage of 4G data and voice calls is applicable for both these devices.

Samsung-Galaxy-J2-2016-wrap

The Galaxy J2 (2016) & Galaxy J2 Pro are the latest affordable smartphones from the World’s largest smartphone maker. The Galaxy J2 (2016) is the successor to 2015 launched Galaxy J2. It is priced at Rs. 9,750 and available on online and offline stores. On the other hand, the Galaxy J2 Pro is the same Galaxy J2 (2016) but sports higher RAM and storage. It is priced at Rs. 9,890 and is exclusively sold through Snapdeal. The devices run on Android 6.0 Marshmallow based latest TouchWiz UI on top.

The devices come with a 5-inch HD Super AMOLED display and is powered by 1.5GHz Spreadtrum quad-core processor. The Galaxy J2 (2016) includes 1.5GB of RAM and 8GB of storage while the Galaxy J2 Pro features 2GB of RAM and 16GB of storage. Both the devices come with an 8MP primary camera and a 5MP secondary camera. These are also first set of devices to include the newly announced Smart Glow feature which is said to be replacement notification LED.

Samsung-Galaxy-On5-pro-On7-Pro-wrap

Last year, Samsung unveiled the new Galaxy On series by launching Galaxy On5 and Galaxy On7. Now in July 2016, Samsung launched their successors Galaxy On5 Pro and Galaxy On7 Pro. The Galaxy On5 Pro comes with a 5-inch HD display while the Galaxy On7 Pro sports a bigger 5.5-inch HD display. Both the devices include 2GB of RAM and 16GB of internal storage.

The devices run on Android 6.0 Marshmallow out of the box based latest TouchWiz UI on top. There is a 13MP rear camera, a 5MP front camera, and 2600mAh battery on Galaxy On5 Pro. On the other hand, the Galaxy On7 Pro features an 8MP rear camera, a 5MP front camera, and a 3000mAh battery. Both the devices come with S bike mode and ‘Ultra Data Saving Mode.’ The Galaxy On5 Pro is priced at Rs. 9,190, and the Galaxy On7 Pro comes with a price tag of Rs. 11,190.

lg-x-screen-wrap

After many years, LG came up with a competitive mid-range smartphone by launching the LG X Screen. It is priced a Rs. 12,990 and is exclusively available on Snapdeal. The USP of the device is its 1.76-inch always-on secondary display that shows custom text, app shortcuts, and notifications. On the front is a 4.93-inch HD display and is powered by Snapdragon 410 quad-core processor. It includes 2GB RAM, 16GB of internal storage and a Micro SD card slot.

The device comes SOS mode which can be activated by continuously pressing the power button five times. In the camera department, the LG X Screen features a 13MP rear camera and an 8MP selfie camera. It is backed by a 2300mAH battery which might not last more than a day of usage. It measures 142.6 x 71.8 x 7.1 mm and weighs 120 grams. Connectivity options include 4G LTE, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS, and a MicroUSB 2.0 port.

This story appeared first on Phone Radar. Join the PhoneRadar Forums to discuss, meet experts & share your experiences.

Best Budget Smartphones below Rs 7000 (July – August)

smartphones-below-rs-7000-august-2016

If you are looking for best budget smartphones available in the markets, then below are few highly recommended devices that offer the best performance even at an affordable price range. While the LYF smartphones are launched a couple of months back, the price cut makes them recommended because of the Jio preview offer. With the increasing 4G adoption, almost all the smartphones launched in July came with 4G LTE support.

  • LYF Flame series

Lyf Flame 1 wrap

LYF had launched the entry-level smartphones under the Flame series. The Flame 1 and Flame 2 are launched at the Rs. 6,500 and RS. 4,800 respectively. Later the company also launched the Flame 3, Flame 4, Flame 5, and Flame 6 smartphones at Rs. 3,999. All these smartphones come with three months of free 4G data and voice calls under the Jio preview offer. In the month of July, the company announced price drops on all the Flame series devices which make them the most affordable 4G and VoLTE supported devices in the market.

After the recent price drops, the Flame 3, Flame 4, Flame 5, and Flame 6 now cost just Rs. 2,999. And the Flame 2 comes at just Rs. 3,599 while the Flame 1 is now priced at Rs. 4,999. The free Jio 4G SIM provided with the devices works only in those devices for the first three months. Along with the free 4G data and voice calls, the users can also access the Jio suite of apps with premier membership for three months.

intex-aqua-power-4g-wrap

The Aqua Power 4G is the affordable smartphone from Intex that also launched alongside the Aqua Power HD 4G with slightly better specifications. It is priced at Rs. 6,399 and comes with a 5-inch HD (1280 x 720 pixels) display and powered by MediaTek MT6735P processor. It includes just 1GB of RAM and 8GB of internal storage which can be expanded upto 32GB.

It runs on Android 6.0 Marshmallow out of the box and includes pre-installed bloatware apps. The Aqua Power 4G packs an 8MP rear camera with LED flash and a 2MP front camera. It comes with dual SIM support and offers 4G LTE connectivity. The device is kept powered on by a 3,800mAh battery that can easily last more than a day of usage. It measures 145.4 x 72.7 x 8.9 mm and weighs 160 grams.

iBall-Andi-5Q-Gold-4G-wrap

The iBall Andi 5Q Gold 4G is yet another 4G smartphone from the Indian manufacturer. Just like other devices, it comes with a plastic body and sports not to so great specifications. On the front is a 5-inch IPS display with HD resolution. It is powered by an unknown quad-core processor clocked at 1GHz. There is 1GB of RAM and 8GB of internal storage along with MicroSD card slot.

The device runs on Android 5.1 Lollipop and comes with dual SIM dual standby. It sports an 8MP rear camera with LED flash and a 5MP front camera. The device is backed by a 3,000mAh battery that gives at least day of usage. Connectivity options include 4G LTE, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS, and a MicroUSB 2.0 port. The device is priced at Rs. 6,799 and is available in India via online and offline stores.

karbonn-aura-power-4g-wrap1

Apart from LYF devices, the Karbonn Aura Power is another smartphone to be launched with VoLTE support. Which makes the device work with Jio 4G that is expected to launch on August 15th. It is priced at Rs. 5,990 and comes with a whopping 4,000mAh battery that makes it a battery powerhouse. The device runs on Android 5.1 Lollipop and includes several bloatware apps.

It comes with a 5-inch FWVGA (854 x 480 pixels) IPS display. Under the hood is a 1GHz unknown quad-core processor clubbed with 1GB of RAM and 8GB of internal storage. On the camera front, there is an 8MP rear camera and a 2MP selfie camera on the front. The connectivity options include 4G LTE with VoLTE along with other basic options.

intex-aqua-fish-wrap

While all the smartphones listed above runs on Android, the Intex Aqua Fish runs on Finland-based Jolla‘s SailFish 2.0 OS. The device was first unveiled at the MWC 2016 held in February this year. If you are worried about apps, the SailFish OS can run Andriod apps but lacks the PlayStore. The device is priced at Rs. 5,499 and also supports 4G LTE for faster internet speeds.

Talking about the specifications, It features a 5-inch HD display and is powered by the 1.3HGz Snapdragon  212 quad-core processor. It also includes 2GB of RAM and 16GB of internal storage. There is an 8MP rear camera, a 2MP front camera, and a 2500mAh battery. It measures 142.4 x 72 x 9.6 mm and weighs 150 grams. The device will be across all major online stores in India.

This story appeared first on Phone Radar. Join the PhoneRadar Forums to discuss, meet experts & share your experiences.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Hands-on review: BT Smart Hub

Hands-on review: BT Smart Hub

BT is the last of the big internet service providers in the UK, after Virgin Media, Sky and TalkTalk, to introduce an upgrade to its router, more than two years after the last one, the Home Hub 5, came to market.

The Smart Hub (notice the subtle name change, although effectively this is the Home Hub 6) claims to have the most powerful Wi-Fi signal in the UK thanks to its seven antennas, more than its main rivals.

It also packs some clever technology that reduces interference, improving reliability by reducing the number of dropouts. Another nifty piece of tech, BT Smart Scan, seamlessly swaps channels in the background to dodge any congestion.

BT Smart Hub rear

There are plenty of little details that BT engineers and designers seem to have worked on with the Smart Hub, starting from the box. It is slim enough to slip through most letterboxes according to BT, which is done to encourage self-installation and therefore reduce the cost of visits for BT.

Furthermore, the instructions are printed on the inside of the box and BT encourages its existing users to recycle their old routers by shipping them back in said packaging.

It's also worth noting that the lights on the router can be switched off or dimmed, and the lights and icons present on the Home Hub 5 have been removed to avoid confusion.

You will still need to check the user guide to interpret the hub lights though (no lights, green light, flashing orange, flashing purple, steady orange, red and blue).

BT gives you three copies of your Hub details (SSID, admin password for hub manager and wireless password or key). Two of those are on the router itself, and one is available on a sticker, handy if your router is located far from your home office for example.

BT Smart Hub front

The hub is much taller than the one it replaces, but shares a lot in common with its predecessor. At the back, there are four Ethernet ports (all Gigabit capable), a USB port, a power in socket, a power on/off button, an RJ11 broadband socket and a factory reset button. On one side of the router is a WPS Wi-Fi setup button.

We don't know who built the BT Smart Hub but we suspect it is either Arcadyan or Sagemcom, the outsourced manufacturers for the Home Hub 5, the current BT router which is still being sold for £129.

We did manage to open up the device but failed to recognise or indeed log any meaningful indicators except for the character string RTV1906VW-D18. All of the major components were hidden under a metal cap which prevented us from identifying them.

That was not the only surprise that BT had in store for us. There seems to be two versions of this router as well, aimed at two categories of customers according to the moderator of BT's customer forum.

The first one – the one we got for review – has four GbE ports and is meant for FTTC (Fibre to the Cabinet) and ADSL customers. The second one is for FTTP (Fibre to the Premises) customers, and in this variant one of the GbE ports has been configured to work as a WAN port for the ONT (Optical Network Terminal) connection.

BT Smart Hub interface

Unlike some of its competitors, the Smart Hub offers only one SSID by default which combines both 2.4GHz and 5GHz signals.

As for the configuration manager, it is far more intuitive than you'd expect with clearly identified, logically grouped sections: My Devices, Wireless, Status, Help, Hub Light Control, Broadband Test, Smart Setup, Restart and Advanced Settings.

The latter is where all the fun is, allowing the more expert user to tinker with port forwarding or UPnP.

BT Smart Hub interface 2

Early verdict

Sadly, we couldn't fully test the Smart Hub; as a Virgin Media customer, we had the wrong type of router sent to us (the one without a WAN port) – not that this was anyone's fault.

The Smart Hub is available for new BT customers for free on BT Infinity Broadband. Those on standard BT broadband can upgrade for a fee (to get the router free, as it were) or they can buy a BT Smart Hub for £50, an £80 saving.

Non-BT customers can make their way to eBay where they will find quite a few Smart Hubs already on sale despite being launched just a few weeks ago. Just be aware that you will need the WAN-enabled version to make the most out of it.

Note: We've asked BT to send us the other version of the Smart Hub router and will update this review as soon as possible.

Friday, July 29, 2016

Panasonic T44 Lite with Android Marshmallow & 2400 mAh Battery Launched

Panasnoic T44 Lite

Panasonic has launched budget-level smartphones with a competitive specifications at an affordable price in range. Now, the company has launched a new smartphone with basic level specifications named as Panasonic T44 Lite and is exclusively available for purchase on Snapdeal from August 1st. It is priced at Rs. 3,199 and is the lighter version of the Panasonic T44 smartphone that was launched back in June 2016 at a cost of Rs. 4,290. Last month, this brand had launched the Eluga Note smartphone with decent specs at a price of Rs. 13,290.

The Panasonic T44 Lite smartphone sports a 4.0-inch IPS display with 800 x 480 pixels resolution that gives a 233 PPI of pixel density. Under the hood, it comes powered by a MediaTek quad-core processor that clocks at 1.3GHz paired with Mali 400 GPU. It supports dual SIM dual standby and runs on the latest Android 6.0 Marshmallow out of the box.

Coming to camera department, it comes packed with a 2-megapixel primary camera with LED flash, which can record videos in 720p at 30 frames per second. On the front, there is a VGA front snapper for selfies. The other camera features include Burst Mode, Panorama mode, Digital Image Stabilisation mode and just Shot Mode. The handset has an 8GB built-in storage that can further be expanded up to 32GB via microSD card slot and accompanied by a 512 MB of RAM.

The device carries the only 3G network, Bluetooth, WiFi, 3.5 mm audio jack, Micro USB port, A-GPS and FM Radio. The main USP of the device is removable 2400 mAh capacity battery that provides to deliver a standby time up to 400 hours and lasts a talk time up to 8.5 hours on 3G and 20 hours on 2G. Measuring the dimensions of the device include 127.3 x 66 x 9.65 mm in dimensions and is weighing around 137 grams.

The Panasonic T44 Lite smartphone has an elegant design that comes in Electric Blue, Rose Gold and Champagne Gold color variants. Recently, the company had sent us a press invite for the upcoming smartphone on August 1st in New Delhi, India, which might be called as Panasonic Eluga Arc 2. It will be the successor of the Panasonic Eluga Arc that was launched in April 2016 and is now available for purchase on Amazon at a price of Rs. 10,475.

This story appeared first on Phone Radar. Join the PhoneRadar Forums to discuss, meet experts & share your experiences.

3 days after Mi4i Caught on Fire, Now Xiaomi Mi 5 Explodes in China

Xiaomi Mi 5 Explosion1

Earlier this week, we have seen the Xiaomi Mi 4i bursted while charging. Xiaomi had reacted to this incident saying the device will be investigated to check the root cause of this incident. In the official statement, the company also confirmed that the replacement was offered to the customer. Today, the Weibo post shows the busted Mi 5 battery. The white color Mi 5 which might be a non-ceramic variant of Mi 5 can be seen in the photos.

While the Mi 4i was completely damaged; in the Mi 5’s case, the battery is only damaged while the rest of the device looks perfect. As of now, there is no information about this incident except the images. The Mi 4i that was bursted earlier also caught on fire but the Mi 5 might caused an explosion. The device was first unveiled at the MWC 2016 in February this year and went on sale in China starting from March 1st.

Xiaomi Mi 5 Explosion3

Developing…..

This story appeared first on Phone Radar. Join the PhoneRadar Forums to discuss, meet experts & share your experiences.

Alibaba’s YunOS is World’s Third-largest Smartphone OS with 70 million users

YunOS

YunOS which is also called as Aliyun OS is Linux Distribution for smartphones based on the Android Open Source Project. This operating system is developed by AliCloud, which is a subsidiary of Chinese company Alibaba Group. After 5 years of its release, the company is now challenging the dominant Android in China. The OS revolves around the idea of bringing cloud functionality to mobile devices. YunOS features cloud-based e-mail, Web search, weather updates, and GPS navigation tools.

Now the company says, this mobile operating system, reached 70 million smartphone users by the end of May. This is a huge number considering its popularity outside China. According to reports, it overtook Apple’s iOS in smartphone shipments in China during the first quarter. Apparently, the YunOS grew 700 percent in the year 2015 and went to on to become the third biggest operating system after Android and iOS.

The company is further aiming grow these numbers further. They aim to expand the number of mobile phones running on YunOS from 70 million at the end of May to 100 million by the end of 2016. This would allow the company to reach a market share of 20 to 25 percent in China, which is the world’s largest smartphone market. YunOS is currently powering a variety of different smartphones from many brands. Over 17 million YunOS-powered smartphones from a number of smaller domestic brands like Meizu and Duowei, were shipped in China between January and March.

Also note that Alibaba invested over $590 million to acquire a stake in Chinese smartphone maker Meizu, in order to grow YunOS’s user base. Besides smartphones, Alibaba’s YunOS can also be used in the smart set-top box, Internet TV, smart home, a smart vehicle equipment, wearable and other smart terminals. The company is also planning to launch an internet-connected smart car early next month.

With all these diverse projects and plans for the future, it will be interesting to see where the company will head in coming months and years with its mobile operating system. Stay tuned for info on this in future.

This story appeared first on Phone Radar. Join the PhoneRadar Forums to discuss, meet experts & share your experiences.

Review: LG SH7B Soundbar

Review: LG SH7B Soundbar

Soundbars are all the rage these days and it's easy to see why – they take up very little space, sound way better than your TV's speakers and are dead-simple to set up. And while some feel that soundbars might not sound as good as a true surround sound system or even a good stereo setup, I've found that they do a good enough job that most people won't mind skimping on some sound quality for an easier setup and smaller price tag.

That said, the LG SH7B soundbar system sounds great for the price, offering a ton more features than other soundbars. It's also as easy as it comes to get set up as it doesn't require routing wires or the need for an preamp and amp of a traditional surround sound system.

Said simply, the LG SH7B offers an attractive package for movie and music enthusiasts who don't want to break the bank. The soundbar and subwoofer package retails for $500 (about £380, AU$666) but, give it some time, and you'll be able to find it for even lower on the web.

Design and connections

The 360-watt LG SH7B comes with a soundbar and subwoofer in the box. The soundbar measures a slim 41.73 x 2.09 x 3.35 inches (L x W x H) and the sub is a compact 6.73 x 12.6 x 9.92 inches (L x W x H).

The subwoofer is wireless, so all you need to do is plug in its power cable and it'll sync automatically with the soundbar. There's a single status light located on the subwoofer that tells you if it's connected, which comes in handy if you ever need to troubleshoot it.

LG SH7B soundbar

The LG SH7B offers a ton of flexibility for mounting. Wall mount adapters are included in the package and the soundbar is light enough that it'll fit just about anywhere.

Alternatively, if breaking out a drill wasn't on your agenda for today, you can simply place the soundbar flat on your home entertainment center without needing to drill. Plus, since the sub is wireless, you can place it anywhere within the room – but I suggest putting it in a corner to maximize bass impact.

Behind the soundbar you'll find connections for HDMI in and out, optical, auxiliary and ethernet. What you don't see physically are connection options for Bluetooth and Wi-Fi that make the LG SH7B quite a versatile speaker setup for all your music or movie streaming needs.

LG SH7B soundbar

To get started, you'll need to download LG's MusicFlow Player app, as it allows you to seamless transition from listening to music on your phone to all of your LG speakers at home. LG's MusicFlow line of speakers all work in tandem with the SH7B to create a multi-room listening experience that in some ways rivals Sonos systems. (However, for the record, I've previously reviewed the LG MusicFlow P7 portable speaker, which I found to be less than impressive.)

While the SH7B's setup was mostly a breeze, I found LG's Music Flow Player app for Android a buggy mess. I tried multiple times to connect the SH7B to my wireless network but it always failed. I switched to my iPad and downloaded the iPhone version of the app and it connected the first time. So much for being platform agnostic.

With the SH7B hooked up to your home network, you can use Google Cast to stream your music over Wi-Fi, offering an audible performance bump over the Bluetooth connection.

Sound quality

For its light weight and reasonable price tag, the SH7B surprised me with an above average sound. It still sounds like a soundbar – with its narrow imaging and simulated surround sound – but this is the tradeoff you make for going with a simplified audio solution.

LG SH7B soundbar

Movies, overall, sound good, with powerful bass impact and distortion-free playback, even at higher volumes. Out of the box, the bass is a little overbearing, but that can be adjusted with the included remote. For the most part, mids and highs sound good with dialogue sounding clear.

Watching Star Wars: The Force Awakens, the sound of blasters and lightsaber wooshes filled my apartment. Lasers hit home with impactful blasts of sound, with the subwoofer generating an impressive amount of bass for its size. However, there was very little surround sound effect, which pulled me out of the experience and made everything sound a bit two dimensional.

The SH7B's limited imaging means you won't get true surround sound, but it's not a problem exclusive to LG's latest 'bar – most other soundbars under $1,000 typically face that problem as well. To its credit, though, its sound is concentrated around the center channel but there's still good stereo separation to help create a more immersive listening experience.

If you want a comparison to another manufacturer, the Samsung HW-J650 goes for around the same price of the LG, but features an annoying echo effect making the LG a better buy.

LG SH7B soundbar

Music sounds mediocre on the SH7B with the speakers missing top-end resolution and offering sometimes muddy bass. However, turning down the subwoofer level helped to tame the bass and balance the sound. If you're more of a casual music listener, the SH7B is more than adequate but you might be better off with a stereo bookshelf speaker, which will sound better for music and cost a little less.

One thing I really enjoyed about the LG SH7B is its ability to be used without turning on the TV. I streamed music via Google Play Music and Soundcloud to the soundbar. I love that Google Cast is built in, making it easy to start streaming music from any Android or iOS device.

We liked

Although the SH7B doesn't offer the finest audio quality, LG managed to pack its entry-level soundbar full of useful features that still manages to sound good. Having Google Cast built in makes the SH7B a versatile home theater product for all of your music or movie needs.

Plus, it's easy to set up and having a wireless subwoofer makes setup easy. You can also add rear Musicflow speakers to upgrade the SH7B into a true surround sound setup.

We disliked

Out of the box, the SH7B has overwhelming bass. It's easy enough to turn down via its remote control, but bass sounds a bit uncontrolled for some movies. While setup is painless for the most part, LG's MusicFlow Android app is extremely buggy compared to the one it released on iOS. The SH7B still sounds like a soundbar with its limited three-dimensional imaging so those looking for true surround sound should look elsewhere.

Final verdict

It's hard to fault the LG SH7B too much – it does a lot with a minuscule physical footprint and a reasonable price tag to match. I really enjoyed my time using it for playing back music and watching movies, even if the lack of true surround sound made the films less immersive than I was used to.

That said, it's a breeze to set up since its subwoofer is wireless but Android users may be frustrated by LG's buggy app. Sound quality is great for the price, but in the end loses out to traditional bookshelf speakers in terms of clarity on the high-end. If you want a soundbar that can take on every type of media you can throw at it, though, the LG SH7B is a great option.

Review: Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Tablet

Review: Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Tablet

Introduction, design, features and specs.

As the BYOD (aka "bring your own device") movement gains more traction than ever, people are expecting more portable, multi-purpose and even stylish devices. Lenovo, the de facto leader in the business hardware world with IBM's ThinkPad brand in hand, has been paying close attention.

It's latest attempt to appease the iPad-hungry audience is the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Tablet, arguably its most adaptable computing device yet. Complete with hot-swappable modules, a built-in fingerprint sensor for Windows Hello and ThinkPad's signature slick but understated design, is this the work-ready tablet to rule them all? It's a bit more complicated than that.

ThinkPad X1 Tablet

Design

Lenovo clearly crafted the ThinkPad X1 Tablet with versatility in mind, drawing inspiration from unique ideas of its own (e.g. a projector module similar to that of the Yoga Tablet 2 Pro) while cribbing – and improving upon – at least one from the market-leading Surface Pro 4 (e.g. the magnetized keyboard cover for multiple typing angles).

Like so many of its products, Lenovo's new modular business hybrid comes coated in a black, soft touch paint that looks slick and understated, a hallmark of the brand that is never lost on Lenovo. If you're trying to give off a professional but tech-savvy vibe, this tablet's profile will serve you well.

However, we have one major pain point with the ThinkPad X1 Tablet design: the kickstand. Rather than opening out and upward, like the Surface Pro 4, this tablet's hinge opens out and downward, so that the base of the kickstand rests on your lap, not the edge of it like with Microsoft's solution.

Because this arrangement doesn't offer much resistance beyond its sturdy hinge, it's far easier for this tablet to slide off of your lap than it is for Microsoft's. That's because the latter uses the friction created by the lip of its kickstand to keep it steady.

While a bit of a pain, and definitely a matter that should be accounted for in considering whether to pick one of these up, the reasoning for the design makes sense. The various connections and controllers for the tablet's available modules likely need that space that would otherwise be thinned out for a hinge that flips upward. But, was that a worthy trade off?

ThinkPad X1 Tablet

March of the modules

Well, that's tough to say with 100% certainty, as we've yet to use Lenovo's Presenter module outside of a press briefing. But, the fact that the Productivity Module boosts battery life by nearly two hours in our tests speaks pretty well as to whether it's worth a bit less stability on your lap.

And that's before you even consider the additional ports it offers: one more USB 3.0, HDMI and Lenovo's OneLink port. Not a bad trade-off at all. That said, it's the $150 (about £116, AU$197) price tag that will hurt more than a bit of a slippery grip on your legs.

The Presenter Module, while we haven't been able to test it out in any detail since CES, throws an 854 x 480-pixel image up to 60 inches wide from 200cm (about 6.5 feet) away. The module operates fanlessly and adds up to 2 hours of juice to the tablet's battery. Finally, its HDMI port can accept both incoming and outgoing connections.

However, at $300 (about £226, AU$394), the Presenter Module is rather prohibitively priced. Granted, IT fleets might only carry a few of these for employees to share, but for the individual at a startup that might be looking at this versus a legit, full HD projector for about the same price, it becomes harder to justify.

Regardless, with modularity sweeping the tech scene right now, we hope that Lenovo continues exploring and – more importantly – refining these ideas, because something tells me this trend isn't going to fade anytime soon.

ThinkPad X1 Tablet

Spec sheet

  • Here is the ThinkPad X1 Tablet configuration sent to TechRadar for review:
  • CPU: 1.2GHz Intel Core m7-6Y75 (dual-core, 4MB cache, up to 3.1GHz with Turbo Boost)
  • Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 515
  • RAM: 8GB LPDDR3 (1,866MHz)
  • Screen: 12-inch, 2,160 x 1,440 FHD+, IPS multi-touch display (3:2 aspect ratio)
  • Storage: 256GB SSD (M.2)
  • Ports: 1 x USB 3.0, 1 x USB-C, Mini DisplayPort, microSD, 3.5mm audio jack, Nano SIM port
  • Connectivity: Intel 8260 dual-band 802.11ac with Bluetooth combo
  • Weight: Tablet: 1.69 pounds (0.77 kg); Keyboard: 0.66 pounds (0.30 kg)
  • Size: Tablet: 11.45 x 8.24 x 0.33 inches (291 x 209.5 x 8.45 mm); Keyboard: 11.41 x 8.97 x 0.20 inches (290 x 228 x 5.2 mm; W x D x H)

The configuration you see above goes for around $1,600 (about £1,199, AU$2,096), with the starting setup poised to run you about $1,100 (around £830, AU$1,440) – both of which come with the ThinkPad Keyboard cover. The entry-level spec halves both the available memory and storage space while bringing the dual-core processor down 100MHz in frequency.

Without the keyboard cover, which we'd say is all but essential, the ThinkPad Tablet X1 starts at $899 (about £679, AU$1,199)?. That's a bit pricier altogether than Microsoft's latest Surface Pro 4 device, but it's hardly an apples-to-apples comparison.

Speaking of the keyboard, expect to find nothing less than Lenovo's stalwart typing pedigree on display. This is all but a traditional Lenovo AccuType keyboard, with a firm keyboard deck and the satisfying kickback you've come to love plus the traditional, accurate and smooth TrackPoint inputs.

ThinkPad X1 Tablet

Of course, the whole set of keys is brightly and uniformly backlit. But, the stars of the show are the two magnets through which the keyboard attaches to the tablet or any module that's attached to its base.

Taking the concept one step further than the Surface Pro 4, these offer not one, but two additional angles from which to type. Then again, we find ourselves using the "default" that's at about a 35-degree angle than the new one that's about 50 degrees – it's simply too elevated.

At any rate, this is one of the most comfortable keyboard covers we've ever typed with, so kudos to Lenovo on that.

Performance, screen, battery life and verdict

Lenovo's latest business-bent tablet has done Intel's Core m line of chips a great service with some positive PR. Despite what assumptions you may have about the fabricator's line of mobile-focused silicon, the ThinkPad X1 Tablet nearly surpassed the Surface Pro 4 model we tested late last year housing an albeit dated Core i series CPU.

The Lenovo system also completely smoked the Samsung Galaxy TabPro S we reviewed earlier this year, though Samsung's was rocking a Core m3 chip while the X1 Tablet here contains an m7 model of the same generation.

ThinkPad X1 Tablet

Benchmarks

  • Here's how the Samsung Galaxy TabPro S performed in our suite of benchmark tests:
  • 3DMark Cloud Gate: 4,905 points; Sky Diver: 2,744 points; Fire Strike: 678 points
  • Cinebench CPU: 236 points; OpenGL Graphics: 34 fps
  • Geekbench: 3,214 points (single-core); 6,437 points (multi-core)
  • PCMark 8 Home: 2,403 points
  • PCMark 8 Battery Life: 3 hours and 8 minutes

We get it, these numbers alone don't say much about what this tablet is capable of, so we'll put that into perspective. With one of the beefiest Intel Core m chips to date, the Tablet X1 can all but handle the same workloads the Surface Pro 4 can, coming within three – yes, it was that close – points of its PCMark 8 score.

With graphics test scores like these, I wouldn't expect to get much more out of the Tablet X1 than silky smooth HD video playback and the most casual of games during those lunch breaks. As far as productivity goes, that 8GB of RAM will let you keep way more than 10 browser tabs open without having to reload their contents. And, that chip will do just fine throughout various intense spreadsheet functions, like VLOOKUP.

Oddly enough – considering this is Core m we're talking about here – what you have to look out for is battery life.

ThinkPad X1 Tablet

Latching onto longevity

Lenovo projects its Tablet X1 to last for up to 10 hours of continuous use. However, in our testing, we saw just over three hours from the PCMark 8 Battery Test at 50% brightness. That said, slapping on the device's battery-packing Productivity Module increased its lasting power in the test, which simulates general use from word processing to video chatting, to 4 hours and 37 minutes.

In our local video playback test (also at 50% brightness), the tablet lasted for 5 hours and 7 minutes without the module and 6 hours and 45 minutes with it attached. So, if you want something close to all-day battery life from this device, the Productivity Module is all but required. However, the module costs, again, a cool $150 (about £115, AU$200).

The module does add a bunch of valuable ports in addition to extra battery life. But, when the Surface Pro 4 can reliably last for 5-plus hours, and Samsung's TabPro S even longer at 6-plus hours – both without the need for a $150 attachment – it's enough to make you second guess.

ThinkPad X1 Tablet

A sharp, but simple, screen

Perhaps part of the blame for the X1 Tablet's relatively short battery life is its awfully sharp screen. Taking a cue from Microsoft's Surface, the 3:2 display puts out 2,160 x 1,440 pixels, which is quite a lot for word processing, spreadsheet work and presenting to potential clients or what have you.

Don't get us wrong, the IPS panel, with its screen-sharably wide viewing angles, is downright gorgeous. Colors pop but look realistic, and it gets plenty bright – not to mention that the bezels are pretty thin considering the fingerprint sensor on the right bezel. But, is it perhaps a bit overkill for who you might figure the target audience is? In our opinion, the general professional would do just fine with a standard FHD screen if it meant even a small amount of extra longevity.

So, is this the new go-to tablet for professionals, or does that accolade still belong to the Surface Pro 4 or iPad Pro? Again, it's a bit more complicated than that.

ThinkPad X1 Tablet

We liked

Versatility is the name of this tablet's game, and the ThinkPad X1 Tablet has no rival here. Theoretically, the X1 Tablet can last as long as how many charged-up Productivity Modules you have on hand, which power users will appreciate. Plus, the keyboard cover, being adorned with Lenovo's AccuType keys, is arguably the best tablet keyboard on the market.

We disliked

That said, achieving the X1 Tablet's superior versatility gets expensive pretty quickly, especially when bought in individual units. Also, spending that extra cash doesn't get you as much battery life over the competition as we feel it should. Finally, the hinge design isn't all that conducive to lap typing, which train and/or bus commuters will find bothersome.

ThinkPad X1 Tablet

Final verdict

For the ThinkPad diehards out there, you've just met the best business-bent tablet that money can buy. However, no product exists in a vacuum.

For as impressive as the ThinkPad X1 Tablet is, both Apple and Microsoft still rule the roost when it comes to ergonomics and cost-effectiveness. Unless you're running several presentations a day on the go or have incredible love and loyalty for AccuType keyboards, there isn't a terribly compelling reason to buy this tablet over either Microsoft or Apple's.

Review: Updated: Now TV Smart Box

Review: Updated: Now TV Smart Box

Introduction, features and set-up

Sky's new Now TV Smart Box is in many ways very similar to its existing Now TV Box. It still offers a temptingly cheap way of getting Sky's suite of Now TV streaming services onto your TV, it still offers access to a wide range of other on-demand services, and Netflix and Amazon Prime Video are still annoyingly absent.

The main thing that's new here is the inclusion of a Freeview HD tuner for watching TV, which also allows you to pause and rewind as you watch. This means there's a decent case to be made for Sky's new box being the only thing you need to plug into your TV.

Whether this really is the only box you need, however, is something of a vexed issue, as it depends on a few things – namely how 'smart' your existing TV is, what streaming services you currently use, and how you like to watch live TV.

Before we get deeper into those considerations, let's look at what you get with the Now TV Smart Box.

Now TV Smart Box

Features and set-up

The Now TV Smart Box costs £50, or it's free as part of Sky's new triple-play Now TV Combo offering, which enables you to pay for TV, phone and internet services on a monthly basis, without having to sign up to a contract. Prices for that start at £9.99 a month (not including line rental).

If you don't take advantage of Now TV Combo, you can access Sky's TV services via the traditional Now TV route of purchasing monthly passes for Entertainment, Sky Cinema, Kids and Sports programming (sports fans can also purchase weekly or 24-hour passes), and via the Sky Store app.

The Smart Box itself is a 1080p-resolution Roku-manufactured device, and comes supplied with power and HDMI cables, and a remote control. Note, though, that you don't get an aerial cable, so you'll have to buy one separately if you don't have one lying around.

Now TV Smart Box size comparison

The device is considerably larger than the Roku 3-style Now TV box, and is more similar to the Roku 4 in size and appearance.

On the rear of the device you'll find the HDMI and aerial ports, as well as an Ethernet port should you wish to use a wired internet connection (Wi-Fi up to 802.11n is supported). There's also a microSD card slot under the HDMI port, but you'll need a keen eye to spot it.

Now TV Smart Box

The microSD slot, along with a USB port on the right of the device, can be used to play back video files (in MP4 or MKV format), music files (in AAC, MP3 or WMA format), or to view JPEG, PNG or GIF images.

There are no separate audio-out options – your only option is to have the audio channeled via the HDMI connection.

The box comes with 12 apps as standard, including Now TV and Sky Store (naturally), BBC iPlayer, ITV Hub, All 4, Demand 5, YouTube and Vevo, and there are numerous others available through the built-in app store, including Spotify, IGN and Facebook.

Disappointingly, however, Netflix and Amazon Prime Video continue to be absent from Sky's Now TV box, so if you subscribe to either of those services you'll need to have another device hooked up in order to access them.

Now TV Smart Box

Setting up the device is relatively painless. Simply plug in the power, HDMI and aerial cables (alongside the optional Ethernet cable), and turn on the device.

You'll be walked through a couple of initial steps, including entering your Wi-Fi username and password, and selecting your resolution. The device will then scan for Freeview channels, and finally you'll find yourself at the Smart Box's home screen.

Interface and performance

Once you've set up your Smart Box the home screen is what you'll see when you first turn it on, and you can go there at any time by pressing the home button on the remote.

The top left tile of the home screen shows a live feed of the last channel watched, while the others will show a curated selection of on-demand titles from Now TV and other services.

When I checked out the home screen the selection was dominated by picks from Now TV, although there were a couple of options from the BBC and Channel 5 in there as well; this may change over time, depending on what's available.

Now TV Smart Box Home Screen

The next menu down the list is a 'Best of Catch Up' selection, which is dedicated to the five main on-demand services. Each app gets its own row, featuring a link to the app itself at the far left, and 10 top picks from that service.

This is helpful if you're just browsing for something to watch, but if you want to search for a particular programme you'll have to boot into the specific app; there's no universal search feature along the lines of what you get with the Roku 4.

The next item in the list is the TV Guide. There are three tabs here: one for the device's 60 free-to-air Freeview channels, one for the Now TV streaming channels, and one for radio stations.

Now TV Smart Box TV Guide

From here you can select any of the Freeview TV channels or radio stations, and they'll play more or less instantly.

Annoyingly, though, selecting any of the Now TV channels doesn't take you directly to that channel; instead it will launch the Now TV app, and from there you need to select the channel again.

This is especially grating if you've scrolled down a fair way to select the channel you want on the first list, as you'll be dumped right back to the top of the new list; it's a small thing, but it makes the experience feel a lot less cohesive, and more like a collection of apps than a selection of platform-agnostic content.

When you're watching Freeview content you can press the up and down keys on the remote to scroll through channels, or press left to view a list of available channels – it's here that you might start to wish the remote (which is the same as the one that was included with the last Now TV Box) had a number pad to enable you to jump quickly to a specific channel.

You can also pause and rewind up to half an hour of live TV, but the absence of recording functionality is unfortunate. Yes, many shows will be available on the various catch-up services, but inevitably many others won't; additionally, having the ability to record shows means you have a permanent copy, with most catch-up content expiring after a set period.

Now TV Apps

Our final stops on our tour of the menus are the My Apps list, which enables you to select apps directly, and the App Store, which enables you to download more. Each app has its own interface, and some are definitely easier to navigate with the Smart Box's remote than others.

It's in the My Apps list that you'll find the Sky Store, where you're able to purchase movies and TV shows to stream whenever you wish.

It feels odd that the Sky Store doesn't have a menu all to itself, given that it has a dedicated button on the remote, but at least the button makes it easy to get to.

An annoying result of the Sky Store being a separate app within the Smart Box is that you need to sign into your Now TV account a second time before you can make any purchases. Again, this makes the Smart box feel like a collection of separate apps rather than a single unified experience.

This sign-in process is thankfully a one-time thing, but it's annoying all the same.

Now TV Smart Box Remote

As for the remote, it's a perfectly passable experience, but it's not the best around.

Amazon Fire TV's Alexa has brought voice search to streaming boxes, Roku has its remote built into an app for phones and tablets, and even your average Freeview box has a numpad to enable you to quickly skip to the required channel.

Compared to those, navigating through channels using the Smart Box's minimalistic remote can feel like a chore, especially when you're skipping from a channel like E4, which is pretty far down the TV guide, to ITV, which is near the top.

It's not a bad remote by any means. It's fast and responsive, and you can certainly do most of what you need to do quite easily; but it's also exactly the same as the remote that came with the streaming-only Now TV box, and I can't help thinking it would benefit from a few more buttons to help users get around the expanded selection of content a little more easily.

Performance

Sky's Now TV service might be limited to 720p resolution, but the Smart Box itself is a 1080p machine. This means that it's the streaming services themselves that get to decide between 720p and 1080p.

It would've been nice to see Sky offer up an Ultra HD 4K streaming box like the Roku 4 – although with only Netflix and Amazon Prime currently offering 4K streams, and with both of those services absent from the Smart Box, the increased resolution would, as it stands, be of limited use.

Now TV Smart Box Content

I watched a variety of content, from live TV through Freeview to on-demand viewing and live TV streamed through apps, and the video quality was consistent with my previous experiences of each of the major services.

Obviously various factors will influence the quality of the images you receive, such as your internet speed and television reception, but in my experience the Now TV Smart Box delivers solid image quality, with little in the way of artifacting.

Sound quality is also good. I wasn't able to test the box through its maximum 7.1 surround sound configuration, but a 90W Roth Audio sound bar I had to hand made audio sound crisp and clear.

Verdict

In my introduction I said that deciding whether the Now TV Smart Box was for you was a complicated question, and hopefully by now you'll have an idea of why.

There's nothing especially bad about the device, but it's usefulness to you will depend on what streaming services you use, how you like to watch live TV, and what your current setup is.

If you currently have a smart TV that offers you access to Now TV, then the Smart Box will add the ability to pause and rewind live TV.

Now TV Smart Box

Or, if you don't have a smart TV but do have a streaming box, then the Smart Box's contribution to your setup will be putting Freeview and streaming into one place – but you won't want to throw away your existing streaming box if you use Netflix or Amazon Prime.

We liked

The Now TV Smart Box is great at bringing Freeview and streaming services together into a single package. The two elements are combined nicely, and it's easy to jump between them.

Picture quality is good, and support for up to 7.1 surround sound systems is an welcome inclusion.

We disliked

The absence of Netflix and Amazon Prime is disappointing, and ultimately means that you'll have to have a back-up streaming box available if you want to enjoy these services. And, while many programs will be available on on-demand services, Freeview recording functionality is another unfortunate omission.

Navigating the numerous menus with the included remote can feel clunky, especially when it comes to the Freeview channels. The device's various apps feel very separate, and there's no ability to search for content regardless of platform.

Final verdict

At times the Now TV Smart Box can feel like a jack of all trades and master of none.

On the one hand it offers Freeview, but it doesn't have the ability to record – and dedicated Freeview boxes tend to be easier to navigate thanks to the number pads on their remote controls.

Now TV Smart Box

On the other hand it also offers streaming services, but the absence of Netflix and Amazon Prime Video prevents the Smart Box from being a one-stop-shop for all your TV and movie content.

So, if you want a budget box that combines a functional Freeview machine with a handful of catch-up services, the Now TV Smart Box could be exactly what you need.

But if you're big into your streaming or flexible TV viewing respectively, you might be better off going for a dedicated machine for each.

!!!!!!!!!!

Popular Posts

Blog Archive