Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Reliance Jio 4G Pricing, Plans, Data Packs, Activation officially announced by Mukesh Ambani

Jio 4G

Reliance Jio, Mukesh Ambani-led telecom giant, which has become synonymous with 4G Smartphone owners in India has announced some interesting news today at the 42nd Annual General Meeting of Reliance Industries Limited held in Mumbai.

Jio is India’s first all-IP network, which is future ready for 5G and 6G technology. It will allow the company to adopt future mobile technologies quite faster than non-IP networks. Today, the company has covered 18,000 cities and 2 Lakh villages. He promises that by March 2017, 90% of India’s population.

Mostly 2G, sometimes 3G, very less 4G. Largest 4G LTE network in the world today. VoLTE provides crystal clear call quality and unique ability to use voice and data simultaneously, which is not the case with just 4G providers.

Today, Jio has announced LYF smartphones price at as low as RS 2,999 and JioFi personal router Rs 1,999. This makes LYF handsets the most affordable 4G handset provider in the country. You can move to higher speced handsets in the range to Rs 3,999, Rs 499, and Rs 5,999. Apart from the new LYF handset announcement, Mr Ambani announced the Rs 15,000 worth of Jio Premium Apps subscription would be available for free up to December 2017.

Starting with Mumbai and Delhi, Reliance would be offering e-KYC procedure, any JIO customer carrying an Aadhaar card would be able to walk out with an activated SIM in just 15 minutes. talking about tariffs, there won’t be any charges for voice calls charges as well as roaming for Jio customers. Meaning Jio subscribers would get free unlimited high quality voice calls and can roam around across India without worrying about roaming bills.

The telecom giant has announced data tariffs starting at Rs 50/ GB, which is being touted as the lowest in the world. It is ten times affordable than any existing data plans by other private players in the country.

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HTC Desire 10 Pro & Desire 10 Lifestyle Smartphones to be unveiled on September 20

HTC 10 Desire 10

HTC will be announcing their latest smartphone offerings soon, but the company wants all the attention and hence they are not unveiling them at IFA 2016 event. Well, this makes a lot of sense as there are a bunch of announcements from the IFA show floor. With that being said, the company is all set to announce something  new on September 20. Although they didn’t really inform much about the launch, but it is reported that the company is going to launch the new Desire 10 smartphones.

HCT posted this teaser video on it’s Twitter Handle yesterday, which gives us a date i.e. September 20 and it also shows a smartphone. Highlighting the tagline ‘Be Edgier’, they are trying to give us some info about the upcoming device.  Also, do make a note that the company is going to launch two new devices instead of one. These two devices will be the HTC Desire 10 Pro and the HTC Desire 10 Lifestyle. We have already covered a bunch of rumours and specs about these two, so we pretty much know what to expect.

First of all, it is expected that both the devices will be sporting similar design and will differ only in terms of specs. The Desire 10 Pro is expected to be the high-end device of the two. However, both the devices will be competing in the mid-range category only. Talking about the specs, the HTC Desire 10 Lifestyle is going to sport a 5.5-inch display on the front and will be powered by Snapdragon 400 SoC. It will pack 2GB of RAM and will have 16GB of internal storage. There will be a 3GB RAM variant as well with 32GB of internal storage. For software, we are looking at Android 6.0 Marshmallow. The Desire 10 Pro will carry comparatively better specs. Anyway, Stay tuned to Phone Radar for detailed info on both the devices, once they are officially launched.

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Hands-on review: IFA 2016: Asus ZenBook 3

Hands-on review: IFA 2016: Asus ZenBook 3

There's a saying that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery – but not for Asus. The ZenBook 3 is the Taiwanese electronics firm's latest 12.5 inch MacBook-killing Ultrabook. It doesn't just so much imitate as it does completely destroy Apple's ultrathin laptop in specs and price.

Weighing in at a scant 2 pounds and 11.9mm (0.46-inches) thick, it's both thinner and lighter than 0.51-inches (13.1mm) and 2.03 pounds (0.92kg) Apple MacBook. And while Apple had to sacrifice key travel and performance components to make its laptop as thin as possible, Asus says nay to all of that and goes with the full might of Intel Core i7 processors and a lower price to boot.

Asus ZenBook 3 review

Design

If you've seen a Rose Gold MacBook before, this particularly colored ZenBook should look awfully familiar. Both machines share an almost identical silhouette, that said there are some distinct differences if you look closely enough.

For one thing the ZenBook 3 is thinner, but it's also a bit wider and not as deep thanks to its 16:9 screen ratio as opposed to the 16:10 Apple MacBook. Asus has also reversed the position of its ports, moving the charging/data USB-C Thunderbolt 3 port to the right and headset jack on the left.

Asus ZenBook 3 review

The ZenBook's distinctive spun metal finish makes a return and you'll also find a radial pattern concealing two of the laptop's four speakers – the other two are located on the machine's underside.

The model 3 also takes Asus' diamond cut chamfered edges to the nth degree. You'll find the chamfered edge starts on the inside at the top of the screen lid, it rolls onto the outside as it makes its way to the hinge.

MacBook imitations aside, the ZenBook 3 is a sharp little Ultrabook. It features an all-metal body, but Asus used a specially blended form of aerospace-grade aluminum alloy, which it claims to be 40 percent stronger than the material used in other Ultrabooks.

Asus ZenBook 3 review

Specs

Aesthetics aren't what really set the ZenBook 3 apart, it's hard core specs that do. Despite also being thinner and lighter than the ZenBook UX305, this ultra-slim system is a powerhouse starting with Intel Core i5 processor, 4GB of RAM and 256GB SSD for $999 (about £687, AU$1,379).

Users can also get a richly specced machine with an added Core i7 processor, 1TB SSD and 16GB of RAM and an added fingerprint scanner built into the corner of the touchpad for $1,999 (about £1,374, AU$2,760).

Asus ZenBook 3 review

While, other notebooks this thin have often gone with Intel Core M-series chips, Asus managed to get away with Core I-series CPUs thanks to integrating a newly developed 3mm fan. The 12.5-inch display has also been fitted with a sheet of Corning Gorilla Glass 4 for extra durability, though, screen resolution is limited to Full HD only.

Asus claims users can expect nine hours of usage and they should be able to top off an empty machine back to 60% in 49 minutes thanks to fast charging through the USB-C port.

Asus ZenBook 3 review

Early verdict

The Asus ZenBook 3 sounds like a winner on paper. How can you go wrong with Intel Core I-series power in a two-pound laptop? I'm chiefly wary of battery life and how much Asus really managed to squeeze into such a thin design and it's something I look forward to finding out in my full review.

Additional reporting and photography by Lucy Wang

Samsung Galaxy J7 Prime Smartphone with 5.5″ Display & 3GB RAM launched in Vietnam

Galaxy J7 Prime

Samsung officially unveiled the Galaxy J7 Prime, a device which was leaked a couple of weeks back. The smartphone is now listed on the Vietnam website of Samsung. The official listing shows us the design of the device as well as the full specs of the smartphone. This appears to be a solid device as far as the specs are concerned.

According to the listing, the device is powered by an octa-core Exynos 7870 SoC, wich is clocked at 1.6GHz processor. It packs 3GB of RAM and has 32GB of internal storage. It also packs a 3,300 mAh battery which is good as it will keep the device powered at least for an entire day. In terms of camera, we are looking at a 13-megapixel rear facing camera and an 8-megapixel front facing selfie shooter. Other connectivity options include WiFi b / g / n, Bluetooth 4.1, GPS, Glonass.

It has a nice build quality and it measures 151.5 x 74.9 x 8.1mm. As far as the pricing is concerned, the J7 Prime comes with a price tag of VND 6,290,000 (which roughly translates to about 18,900 INR). We don’t have any official info about the availability of the device outside Vietnam etc. So if you are interested to know more about this device then stay tuned to Phone Radar.

J7 Prime inline image

Earlier: A new Samsung device with the model number SM-G610 is listed on TENAA and is expected to be the Galaxy On 7 pro. Now the leaked images suggest the device to be called Samsung J7 Prime. Earlier the company had launched Galaxy J7 and Galaxy J7 (2016) smartphones. The device will be launched in the month of September in Vietnam. Unlike the earlier J-series devices, the J7 Prime comes with a metal body and sports better specifications compared to its predecessors.

As seen on TENAA, the device comes with few changes to the conventional Samsung devices. Importantly, the speaker which is usually seen on the front, rear or on the bottom is now shifted to the side edges. The power button and the speaker sits on the right edge while the volume rocker along with dual SIM slots and a MicroSD card slot are placed on the left edge of the device. On the front is a physical home button that comes integrated with the fingerprint sensor.

Samsung Galaxy J7 Prime3 Samsung Galaxy J7 Prime2

Coming to the specifications, the Galaxy J7 Prime sports a 5.5-inch Full HD (1920 x 1080 pixels) display and 2.5D glass laid on top. It is powered by the latest Exynos 7870 octa-core processor built on 14nm FinFET process. There is 3GB of RAM and 32GB of internal storage. The device runs on Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow out of the box with the latest TouchWiz UI on top. Both the SIM slots on this device support 4G LTE. It will be available in Gold and Black colors.

The device features a 13MP primary camera on the rear with LED flash and f/1.9 aperture. On the front is an 8MP selfie camera with the same aperture of f/1.9. It is backed by a 3300mAh non-removable battery that gives at least a day of usage. In early 2016, Samsung launched all new Galaxy C5 and Galaxy C7 smartphones in China. Till date, these are most affordable metal build Galaxy smartphones, and now the Galaxy J7 Prime is expected to be priced under Rs. 20,000.

Stay tuned for more updates!

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Samsung Galaxy J2 DTV is the first Smartphone to feature a Digital TV Tuner

Galaxy J2 DTV

Year after year, we see a bunch of Samsung smartphones. Most of them offer very similar specs more or less, with some exceptions. These exceptions do come with some of the most interesting features. One such offering is the new Galaxy J2 DTV. This device is essentially a variant of the Galaxy J2 (2016) launched previously. And as mentioned, this device comes with a Digital TV Tuner.

But the sadly this device is limited to the Philippines only. We don’t expect this device to make it out to other regions. Anyway, talking about the specs of the device, it features the same specs as that of the Galaxy J2 (2016). It is powered  by a 1.3 GHz quad-core Exynos 3457. The device packs 1GB of RAM and comes with 8GB of internal storage. In terms of the camera, we are looking at a 5-megapixel rear facing camera. On the front, we have a 4.7-inch Super AMOLED display with a resolution of 540 x 960.

The device is kept powered by a 2,000 mAh battery and hence you might be charging it quite often if you are going to use it to watch the TV. Most people might think this is kind of a pointless attempt from Samsung to launch this device. But however, it is reported that places like the Philippines have poor internet connectivity and hence streaming services like NetFlix, Hulu, etc won’t work as intended to. So having a Digital TV Tuner onboard makes a lot of sense if users want to watch TV.

The Galaxy J2 DTV is now on sale in the Philippines at a cost of 6,990 Philippine Pesos ($150). And if you are planning to import this device to use it outside, then do make a note that the Philippines uses a different broadcasting standard and hence it may or may not work for you outside. However, stay tuned for more info.

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Exclusive: Lenovo A6600 Dual 4G, VoLTE Smartphone with 5″ HD Display launched at Rs 6,999

Lenovo A6600 Smartphone

Lenovo has finally launched the A6600 Smartphone that has been revolving around the Internet as a budget-centric Smartphone. The Phone has been silently launched in the offline markets & this information has been shared by our trusted source who has revealed all the specifications along with the pricing of this phone.

The device comes powered with 1GB of RAM along with a 16GB of internal storage that can be expanded to upto 32GB with an external SD Card. Referring to the display this phone comes with 5″ of IPS HD Display along with a 2300mAh of battery capacity. Overall the specifications clearly hint that this is a basic smartphone considering the other line up from Lenovo ie the A7000, K3 Note or even the K4 Note that were launched in India earlier.

In fact, Lenovo is prepping the launch of the Zuk Z2 Pro Smartphone in India that would be launching in the coming weeks and the A6600 would probably be announced later at that event. Talking about the other hardware components, the phone is powered with a 1Ghz MT6735p Quad-core 64bit Processor & also comes with a 8 MP Rear Camera with led flash. For the selfie lovers, this phone isn’t something that would be impressing them since it comes with just 2MP Front Camera. The Phone is Dual Sim Dual VoLTE compatible connecting on 2G/3G/4G/ & VoLTE which means that if you are already having a JIO SIM Card then you are good to go.

The phone also comes with a bunch of pre-installed Lenovo developed applications like the Sync it, Share it, SEEit Gallery, SNAPit Camera along with the Stock Google UI for a Smooth android experience. Moving to the pricing part the Phone has been launched at a price of Rs 6999, while it is going to be sold at Rs 6600 itself from the day one with the offline retailers. Are you planning to buy one of these phone? If you are still confused you should be taking a look at our Phone Finder to find more interesting smartphones for your budget.

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Samsung Gear S3 Classic & Gear S3 Frontier launched at IFA 2016

Samsugn Gear S3 Watch

One of the most awaited piece of technology that was announced at the IFA 2016 is the Gear S3 smartwatch. Samsung launched the previous version i.e. the Gear S2 as well at around the same time last year and it soon became very popular. It had some interesting new features on the software as well as the hardware front, which makes it as unique as it is. Now on the same lines, the company has launched the new Gear S3 smartwatch as well.

This time around, we have two new addition to the range of watch. One is the Gear S3 Classic and the other one is the Gear S3 Frontier. Both of them have somewhat an identical design but they do offer some interesting features of their own. Also, this year’s watches are slightly on a larger side when compared to the last year’s variant. The first and foremost thing here is that both the models are more outdoor-friendly.

The Frontier model comes with 4G capability, which makes it capable of taking calls independent of a smartphone. It can also stream music as well. On the other hand, the classic version only has Bluetooth connection. The Frontier version comes in matte black and is the sportier version of the two, whereas the classic version is five grams lighter and offers a more classic timepiece look. With that being said, both of them are circular and has the new Gorilla Glass SR+ Protection on top.

Both the variants are equipped with a barometer, an always-on display and a battery which will last for four days. At least that’s what the company says. The Gear S3 can survive for around 30 minutes in water up to 5-feet deep and is compatible with Samsung Pay. The watch will run Tizen OS on top, rather than the Android Wear. Sales of the Samsung Gear S3 will begin in October. The exact prices are not known yet, but the Classic version is expected to be priced at about $350 & the Frontier one with LTE capability will cost you more. So stay tuned for more info these as we will update the thread once we have more info on them.

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Moto Z Play with 5.5″ Full HD Display & Snapdragon 625 SoC Launched at IFA 2016

moto-z-play-ifa

Earlier we reported about the new Moto Z Play smartphone certification on China’s regulatory agency TENAA. Today, Lenovo has officially launched the device at the ongoing IFA 2016. This is the third device in the new Moto Z series, earlier at the Lenovo Tech World last month, Lenovo announced the Moto Z and Moto Z Force modular smartphones. All the three smartphones support modular accessories called Moto Mods that can be magnetically attached to the 16-pins setup on the rear.

Talking about the specifications, it sports the 5.5-inch AMOLED display with Full HD (1920x 1080 pixels) resolution. Under the hood is the 64-bit Snapdragon 625 processor, the first processor from Snapdragon 600 series to be built on 14nm FinFET process. It is coupled with Adreno 506 GPU and along with 3GB of RAM. The device includes 32GB of internal storage and might also feature the MicroSD card slot for storage expansion.

It runs on Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow out of the box and will also receive the Android 7.0 Nougat. In the camera department, the device sports a 16MP rear camera and a 5MP selfie camera on the front. While the 3.5mm audio went missing on Moto Z and Moto Z Force, but the Moto Z Play on the safe side includes the audio port. The 3,510mAh non-removable battery on this device is rated to deliver 50 hours of battery life under regular usage.

For the Verizon customers in the U.S, the company launched the Moto Z Play Droid priced at $408. The Moto Z Play is priced at €499 and will be available from this month in selected global markets. The unlocked variant of Moto Z Play will be available in the U.S from October at a price $450.

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Hands-on review: Getac S410

Hands-on review: Getac S410

If there was a fashion competition for laptops, the Getac S410 wouldn't win it. And that's fine, because this chunky system is a semi-rugged model designed to be used by field operatives based out in the great outdoors who need a device that's reliable, solid and won't weigh them down. Too much, anyway.

Getac S410

People who might use one include the police, professional services, vehicle operators and professionals who work in public safety and manufacturing. Where rugged tablets like the Panasonic CF-20 make more sense when portability is paramount and the device has to be held with one hand, the S410 offers a more traditional laptop experience with a full-sized keyboard and 14-inch display.

Getac S410

In terms of design, the S410 resembles a laptop you might have bought in 2002. To call it chunky would be something of an understatement, its thickness wading in at a substantial 1.4 inches (around 35mm). Still, that's an improvement on the previous model, the Getac S400, which measured 1.93 inches (around 48mm) thick - so Getac is moving things in the right direction with this brand-new design.

Getac S410

All of that chunk lends the S410 a reassuringly solid feel in the hand. It's near impossible to detect any flex in the device's body, except for the keyboard part - and even then you have to press down really hard to get the plastic to bend. The solid chassis is what sets the S410 apart from regular laptops and quite literally forms the bulk of the laptop's basic cost. It starts at £1,149 (around US$1,518 or AUS$1,990) and rises north of that sharply as the specs increase.

Getac S410

Compared to other rugged devices like the aforementioned Panasonic ToughBook CF-20. the Getac's display is a let down. It's 14-inches in size, but the pixel-resolution is a meager 1,366 x 768. Forgetting sharpness for a second, this provides a distinct lack of screen real-estate and pinning two apps side-by-side is a compromised experience. There's no issue with using one app at a time in full-screen, but multi-tasking is frustrating at best.

Getac S410

The display is also difficult to see outdoors due to lackluster brightness. The S410 can be configured with Getac's 1000-nits Lumibond display with sunlight readable technology, but we can only assume that it was missing on our review sample as it barely looked like it was reaching 400 nits to our eyes. Colours appear washed out and lifeless, and viewing angles are poor due to the TFT panel used.

The S410's keyboard posses no challenges to typing, with decent sized keys - even if they're not particularly satisfying to type on and sound cheap under the fingers. Getac has done a better job with the trackpad and its accompanying buttons, which despite being small are responsive. Unfortunately there's no touch operation here, so forget using a digitizer or your fingers.

Getac S410

You can, of course, hook up a mouse to the machine into one of the ports. Connectivity options include four USB ports, Wi-Fi (802.11c), audio, VGA, HDMI and an SD-Slot.

Getac has outfitted the S410 with Intel's ultra-low voltage Core i5-6200U processor clocked at 2.3GHz (Turbo Boost to 2.4GHz), backed up by an insubstantial 4GB of main memory. There was no dedicated graphics option to speak of in our review sample, with the processor's integrated HD Graphics 520 taking on graphics duties alone.

Getac S410

Benchmarks

  • Cinebench R15: OpenGL: 28.38 fps; CPU: 284 points
  • Geekbench (Single-Core): 2,691 points; (Multi-Core) 5,732 points
  • Battery test (1080p looped video streamed over Wi-Fi in Edge, 50% brightness): 5 hours 24 minutes

The S410 produced fairly low benchmark results, and while the system was nippy enough most of the time with apps loading instantly, it did produce occasional moments of lag when performing tasks such as opening the Settings or Action Center panel. You won't have any problem running legacy apps on this machine, but the S410 would struggle under more CPU-intensive scenarios.

Getac S410

Even battery life isn't particularly up to scratch, despite the low-resolution display, with the S410 reaching a barely acceptable 5 hours and 24 minutes away from the plug socket. That's fine for, say, an Asus UX305 ultrabook, but the Getac is designed to be used away from a plug socket for hours on end.

Also, the test was conducted with the screen's brightness set to 50%, which rendered it nearly impossible to see outdoors in bright sunlight. Even though you would eke out a few more hours of battery, it would be at the expense of actually being able to do any work on the display.

Early verdict

It feels like the entry-level version of the Getac S410 has potential, but the unit we received to test was way too compromised to recommend. Its design, although chunky, is a clear improvement on the S400 and houses a comfortable keyboard, practical carry handle and a healthy selection of ports. However, the machine's display, average-strength processor and low amount of main memory render it unsuitable for working out in the field. When that's the primary objective of the device, that's not particularly heartening.

Review: Beats Pill+

Review: Beats Pill+

Let's get this out of the way; the original Beats Pill wasn't my favorite Bluetooth speaker – it was bass-heavy and uncontrolled. I didn't like its bigger Pill XL sibling, either, as I'm not a huge fan potential fire risks.

But both those products came out before Apple purchased Beats for $3 billion (about £1.79b, AU$3.25b). Apple's had a far better track record when it's come to audio products – I mean, these are the people that made the iPod.

So, have Beats products prospered under Apple's tutelage? In the case of the Beats Pill+, the answer is yes.

The Beats Pill+ improves on the original Beats Pill in just about every way, including sound quality. However, in the time that it's taken Beats to catch up, the market for $200 portable Bluetooth speakers has become insanely crowded – and, unlike the iPod before it, the Beats Pill+ just isn't good enough to stand out from the crowd.

Design

The Beats Pill+ continues the iconic design of the first generation, but with a larger chassis. While the speaker is slightly bigger than the original Pill it's still quite portable, measuring in at 2.5 x 8.27 x 2.72 inches or 6.36 x 21 x 6.92 cm (H x L x D) and weighing just over 1.5 lbs (0.75 kg). That's not all that heavy, but it's not as totable as, say, the UE Roll 2 or JBL Clip 2.

Beats Pill+

Likewise, while it isn't waterproof like the UE Boom 2 and JBL Charge 3, the Pill+ is built like a tank with a metal and rubber chassis. The rubber flap protecting the USB, aux and Lightning ports means the Pill+ has some splash resistance, but you probably shouldn't bring it poolside with you.

On top of the speaker, you'll find rubber-coated buttons that control power, pairing and volume. The buttons provide a good tactile feel and their rubber coating will withstand abuse, though the exposed and illuminated Beats button may get scratched over time. There's also an included carrying bag that offers some protection when taking the speaker with you on the go.

Beats Pill+

Inside the chassis, the Pill+ features two tweeters and two woofers to help disperse sound through its mesh metal grill.

Performance and features

While the design felt like a small iteration, performance-wise, the Beats Pill+ offers a massive improvement in sound quality over the original Pill – it's clearer and suffers from less distortion than it has in the past. Apple hasn't messed with the Beats "V-shaped" signature sound, though: there's still a lot of bass, a ton of highs and slightly muted mids.

Beats Pill+

Like the original, I thought the Pill+ laid the bass impact is strong, but it frequently sounds muddy and uncontrolled. Highs are energetic, but too much so at times. To that end, high frequencies from cymbals and violins can be a bit piercing, especially at high volumes.

Speaking of high volumes, the Beats Pill+ gets really loud. It had no problem filling my garage with sound and can be heard above the noise while I wrenched on my car.

That said, while it can get quite loud, sound quality suffers at high volumes. The distortion is "crunchy" and fatiguing so I don't recommend maxing out the volume if you can help it. (Those looking for a louder-than-comfortable Bluetooth speaker should check out the Sound Blaster Roar 2.)

Beats Pill+

Likewise, battery life for the Beats Pill+ is good, but definitely not what I'd consider class-leading. You'll be able to squeeze out 12 hours of music playback and can even use the Pill+ to charge your phone in a pinch.

There's a handy battery level gauge next to the power button so you're not left guessing how much power you have left, and once your speaker goes down for the count, the Pill+ charges from dead to full in about 3 hours using the included charger and Lightning cable.

Beats Pill+

If you feel compelled to rock out to two Bluetooth speakers, Beats does let you pair up two Pills+ speakers for stereo playback or to amplify sound, however you'll need to download the Beats Pill+ app for Android or iOS in order to take advantage of the feature. Besides dual playback, the app also lets you and a friend "DJ" together by controlling a playlist and playback from two separate devices.

So who is the Beats Pill+ good for? Anyone looking to put style over substance. With myriad other better-performing bluetooth speakers out there, the big draws here are a solid build quality and bass-heavy approach to playback.

We liked

First off, it can't be overstated how much better the Beats Pill+ is over the original speaker. Not only is its build quality excellent, but sound quality is good, too … as long as you don't mind Beat's signature bass emphasis. The speaker doubles as a battery pack and speakerphone as well, which are nice additional features.

We disliked

That said, it's hard to justify spending $230 (£190, AU$360) on the Beats Pill+ when there are at a least a half-dozen better speakers available for much less money. It's not waterproof or include NFC. It can't pair with multiple devices and its battery life is merely average. However, the biggest knock against the Beats Pill+ is its sound, which might be good for playing back rap, electronic and pop music, but falls flat with every other genre.

Final verdict

Compared to the competition, the Beats Pill+ is just too expensive and middle-of-a-crowded-road to recommend.

I found the JBL Charge 3 beat the Beats Pill+ in every performance category – the Charge 3 lasts 8 hours longer, is waterproof and offers rich, balanced sound for $80 (about £60, AU$106) less. The UE Boom 2 is also slightly less expensive than the Pill+ and features waterproofing, a 15 hour battery life and pairs with up to 8 devices.

The speaker is average at best but comes with a premium sticker price. For much less money, you can get better sound and more features from speakers like the JBL Charge 3 and UE Boom 2. If you're upgrading from the original Beats Pill and are committed to sticking to the brand, however, the Pill+ will be a major upgrade to your audio arsenal.

Hands-on review: IFA 2016: Lenovo Yoga Book

Hands-on review: IFA 2016: Lenovo Yoga Book

If Apple, Microsoft and their lot are the Thomas Edisons of the computing industry, then Lenovo has become the Nikola Tesla. Whereas the de facto founders of Silicon Valley established (and consistently update) the status quo for computing, Lenovo has constantly questioned and toyed with just what computing is since it bought IBM.

Lenovo's latest wild experiment? The company that pioneered the convertible hybrid laptop design has taken that concept to what might be its logical conclusion: the Yoga Book.

Why make such strong allusions? Because, like so many of Tesla's works, the Yoga Book really could either be the cool, ingenious, tablet-driven future of laptops that just makes sense. Or, it could be a flop to be forever remembered by diehard fans and hipsters.

Yoga Book

Keyboard, begone!

This is because the Yoga Book, a 10.1-inch laptop-tablet hybrid that comes with either Android Marshmallow or Windows 10, has no keyboard. Rather, its "bottom" half, attached via a variation on Lenovo's signature 360-degree watchband hinge, is a capacitive touch surface.

This magnesium-aluminum alloy surface (found across the tablet), called a Create Pad by Lenovo, can conjure a touch-based keyboard for you instantly. The Create Pad also features haptic feedback – and, living up to its name, can double as a veritable Wacom digitizer replacement with Lenovo's Real Pen stylus.

Just sit on that for a moment. A computing device that can operate as a laptop, a full blown tablet and a digital art tool without so much as a button press between them. It sounds like one of those too-good-to-be-true scenarios, doesn't it?

Yoga Book

Having played with the Yoga Book for a few minutes during a briefing recently, we can say that is not necessarily the case here. We'll be upfront in saying that typing on a Yoga Book involves a rather steep learning curve.

We're all used to typing on screens because they're in the front of our faces – we can always see in plain sight where our fingers are. That's not the case with a laptop. In fact, some might say the mark of a skilled typist is that she doesn't have to look at the keyboard at all.

Upon first trying to type on the Yoga Book, your eyes will probably struggle to stop from involuntarily looking at the keyboard. The haptic feedback helps fill in for the physical touch and force of plastic keys, but we're hesitant to say whether it's a worthy replacement.

Yoga Book

At the very least, it is incredibly close.

Typing on the device admittedly feels a bit strange and discouraging for someone that prides himself on his typing accuracy. But, coupled with practice and some awfully strong auto-correction software, you might not be missing your laptop before long. (I certainly wasn't.)

However, with this comes a conundrum facing the Yoga Book: at least from when we last tried out the device, it's clear that either Lenovo or Microsoft has to work on the Yoga Book with Windows 10's auto-correction software. Frankly, it's far less advanced than Google's.

Yoga Book

We had noticeably more trouble typing out sentences on the Windows 10 model than the Android one during our time with both, which is a shame considering Microsoft's superior position in pen recognition and general productivity. Hopefully, these discrepancies will be fully resolved before the devices' launch this October.

Death (or rebirth) to the pen

The typing experience only covers one half of the Yoga Book's incredibly unique selling proposition. The device can double as a drawing tool with the included Real Pen. The palm rejection is on point, as is the pressure sensitivity – all 2,048 levels of it.

But, what if you like good old pen and paper? Lenovo's thought of that, too. Using the firm's Book Pad, really just a yellow note pad with a magnetic strip to hold on with, you can instantly back up your handwritten, analog notes into digital representations.

Yoga Book

This is accomplished through what is known as electromagnetic response (EMR) technology. Basically, the pen – which can swap between real ink and plastic tips – generates electromagnetic electricity that the tablet's Create Pad picks up and translates into legible characters, words and sentences.

The technology in action was a bit mind blowing to see for the first time, to be honest. Being able to interact with a single device in this many ways, and effectively, is nothing short of amazing.

The best of the rest

Lenovo powers this futuristic experience with a quad-core Intel Atom x-series processor, 4GB of DDR3 RAM and 64GB of flash storage – all behind an FHD (1,920 x 1,200) IPS display. And, that's on both Windows 10 and Android.

Yoga Book

An 8,500 mAh battery said to last up to 15 hours of general usage keeps the 0.38-inch-thin (9.6mm), 1.52-pound (690g) slate running. (Of course, we couldn't test this during a hands on review.)

The Windows 10 version of the Yoga Book comes solely in all Carbon Black, while the Android version offers Gunmetal Gray and Champagne Gold.

Early verdict

Honestly, this thing could come in purple and this editor would still buy in. (Actually, that would look pretty cool.) That's partly because, for the tablet, a Real Pen, ink cartridge refills and screen tips, and the Book Pad, Lenovo wants just $499 (about £391, AU$664) for the Android version and $549 (about £419, AU$731) for the Windows variety to start.

Yoga Book

Sure, this is a low-powered device no doubt, but nothing that you couldn't complete basic productivity tasks with, like what some of us at TechRadar use a Surface Pro 4 every day for.

Ultimately, to focus on things like specs and power is to completely miss the point of the Yoga Book. The point is to show us a different way of computing that has been a long time coming, the first truly exciting and genuinely interesting attempt to push the laptop into the next phase of its storied life.

And, it actually works.

Hands-on review: IFA 2016: Lenovo Yoga 910

Hands-on review: IFA 2016: Lenovo Yoga 910

After sticking with the same design for two years, Lenovo is giving the Yoga 900 a dramatic makeover and it's fair to say the Yoga 910 is completely different 2-in-1 laptop. Lenovo has tweaked or completely changed every element of its flagship convertible with everything including a slimmer chassis, larger 13.9-inch UHD screen, smaller bezels, revamped keyboard layout and the Intel 7th generation processors.

However, all these little improvements have made the Lenovo Yoga 910 a slightly more expensive device starting at $1,299. But even with the higher price tag, this still feels like the best hybrid machine on the market.

Lenovo Yoga 910 review

Design

Lenovo claims the Yoga 910 the world's thinnest Intel Core i7 powered convertible measuring in at just 14.3mm thick (0.56 inches) – 0.6mm (0.02 inches) thinner than the Yoga 900. Along with dropping some extra bulk, this new hybrid has a new sleeker and sharper styling rather than the slightly curvy frame of yesteryear.

The Lenovo Yoga 910 follows a starkly modern design with straight lines forming sharp angles including places you wouldn't expect such embellishment. For example, the top and bottom half of the notebook meet to a slightly indented V-shape and an even more prominent gap near the watchband hinge.

Lenovo Yoga 910 review

The modern touches are a welcome change after seeing practically the same design for the last two years, but at the same time it feels like Lenovo went too far in certain respects. The leatherette interior was one of the most comfortable aspects of the Yoga 900 and now it has been replaced with cold aluminum sheet.

Thanks to the slimmer design, you also lose Lenovo's full-sized USB-A charging port in exchange for the new USB-C standard. That said, there are plenty of new elements to enjoy here including the a newly added fingerprint reader and one of the most impressive screens ever seen on a 13-inch.

Lenovo Yoga 910 review

Larger screen with none of the bulk

The Dell XPS 13 and XPS 15 blew us away by packing full-size screen into smaller chassis, and now Lenovo is trying to capture the same magic with the Yoga 910.

The display panel size has been bumped up to 13.9-inches and a new 4K resolution without drastically increasing the size of the chassis. In fact, this laptop features some of the thinnest bezels we've ever seen on a Lenovo device.

This is thanks to slimming down the bezels along the top and sides while moving the webcam to the sizable chin beneath the screen. It effectively uses the same Infinity Screen layout first introduced by Dell and the only real discernable differences is Lenovo has placed the webcam in the center of the screen rather than off to the left.

Lenovo Yoga 910 review

That said, the Yoga 910 uses its clever convertible abilities to avoid displaying a worm's-eye view during video calls. Users can simply switch the laptop into tent mode and have it sit on its front edges to have a video camera that meets them at eye-level.

One downside to this new design is the bottom bezel is nearly two inches tall and largely featureless. Thanks to the webcam's positioning, Lenovo had to leave out a Windows button soft key, which would have added some much needed some flair to hybrid's extra-large chin.

Lenovo Yoga 910 review

Everything is new

Lenovo introduced plenty of other little tweaks here and there to make the Yoga 910 an even better laptop-tablet.

The keyboard, for example, no longer has any of those annoying right-handed shortcut keys to get in the way of you hitting the enter key. Meanwhile, the trackpad is appreciably larger and there's even a newly added fingerprint reader to help get you signed through Windows Hello with a simple finger press.

The Lenovo Yoga 910 features some bumped up specs including Intel's freshly announced Intel 7th generation processors with up to 1TB of PCIe SSD storage and 16GB of memory. Battery life has also seen a significant bump to 10.5 hours on UHD model and 15.5 hours with Full HD variants – but those are only estimates we plan to take to task.

Lenovo Yoga 910 review

Early verdict

The Lenovo Yoga 900 perfected the 2-in-1 laptop formula and now the Yoga 910 seeks to elevate the series to all new heights. There are plenty of welcome elements here including the larger screen, edgier design and revamped inputs. However, some of the changes aren't sitting well with us including the marginally higher price and the new bare metal keyboard deck.

In the past the Yoga 900 series has blended a good mix of affordability with performance, but this latest iteration may skew things too far into the luxury category. We'll have to see how the other configurations stack up as well as how this machine performs before we can deliver our final verdict, but we're optimistic that Lenovo has knocked it out of the park once again.

Hands-on review: IFA 2016: Moto Z Play

Hands-on review: IFA 2016: Moto Z Play

Moto Z Play

Moto Z Play is the thicker, long-lasting and more affordable smartphone with creative modular accessories, and proof that Motorola is committed to the idea of a customizable phone.

You can snap on a bunch of different mods – from stylish battery packs, to a mini boom box, to a head-turning pico projector – all with the help of magnets.

Timed with the Moto Z Play launch is a new mod: the Hasselblad True Zoom camera. It makes your Android phone look and feel like a real camera with 10x zoom and physical controls.

Moto Z Playr review

All of these MotoMods, new and old, work across the three modular Motorola phones, including the ultra-thin Moto Z and shatter-resistant Moto Z Force.

The Moto Z Play isn't as flashy as the world's-thinnest-title-holding Moto Z, and it doesn't have the durable screen of the Verizon and US-exclusive Moto Z Force. It's also less powerful.

What it does have is a bigger battery, cheaper price and a headphone jack. You can charge via USB-Type C and play music over the normal 3.5mm jack here, unlike on the Z and Z Force.

Moto Z Play therefore fixes some of the gripes with the Moto Z, and opens modular smartphone accessories to a whole new audience looking for a cheaper phone. Let's see if it fits your needs.

Price and release date

  • Launches on September 8 in the US
  • $408 or $17 a month over 24 from Verizon
  • $449 unlocked without carrier restrictions

If you were interested in the Moto Z, but scoffed at its high price, then you'll like the savings that the reduced Moto Z Play brings at launch.

Moto Z Play

It'll cost $408 at full price when tied to Verizon, or at $17 a month over 24 months through the carrier's device payment plan. Fully unlocked from Motorola, it'll cost $449 in the US, which converts to £343 in the UK.

That contrasts with the Moto Z, which currently costs $624 at full price from Verizon and $699 unlocked. The Moto Z Force is even more at $720 without a binding contract, but still only available through Verizon.

Design

  • Really thick at almost 7mm, even with its flat back
  • Fingerprint sensor smartly locks and unlocks the screen
  • Includes a headphone jack, which was missing from the Z and Z Force

The Moto Z Play is a thicker-than-average phone that takes several cues from the flat design of its Moto Z counterparts. It measures 156.4 x 76.4 x 6.99mm and is 165g.

Even with the same 5.5-inch screen size and non-curved back, it feels big in one hand. It's still palmable on its own, until you magnetically attach accessories. Then it becomes a real monster.

Moto Z Play

The good news is that its extra girth gives you the ability to listen to music and charge at the same time. It sounds crazy to list this as a pro, but missing headphone jacks are a common thing now.

The Moto Z and Moto Z Force annoyingly don't include a 3.5mm headphone jack, instead sending audio over their USB-C ports and requiring an (included, but easy to lose) adapter.

The other good news is that the Z Play has just about every other design feature we liked about the initial Moto Z line, including the small but incredibly convenient front fingerprint sensor.

Moto Z Play

The fingerprint sensor takes up a lot of room and extends the phone's chin, but it works to our liking by both waking the phone and putting it to sleep with one touch.

Being able to both lock and unlock the phone without having to hunt for the side sleep/wake button on the frame is a tremendous advantage for Motorola's new phone series.

It's an especially big deal (for a bad reason) because the side power button is equidistant to the volume down and up buttons. It's easy to get it mixed up with their non-rocker volume button design.

Moto Z Play

The Moto Z Play includes a water-repellent nano-coating, but it isn't waterproof like the Galaxy S7. It's just good enough to survive accidental spills, splashes or light rain, not full submersions.

It also lacks the Moto Z Force's trademark feature: a shatterproof glass screen. Drop this one from the same five feet of height and you'll probably regret it.

The Moto Z Play comes in a two of colors so far: black with a silver frame and fringe, and white with a gold frame and trim.

MotoMods

The Moto Z Play takes advantage of all existing MotoMods and they seamlessly snap onto the back of the phone using magnets. The only thing that's cumbersome is it's suddenly thicker size.

With the Power Pack battery accessory, for example, suddenly the phone feels three times as big as it should. You may not need the battery pack considering the Z Play's heftier battery size, thankfully.

Moto Z Play

You will (and should) enjoy the back covers (called Style Shells, according to Motorola) because the Z Play as a reflective glass back and exposed 16 modular pins that aren't nearly as appealing.

The coolest mod is the Moto Z Insta-Share projector. It's a mini projector that shines your phone's screen anywhere you want at a size of 70 inches before distortion kicks in.

It's easy to use, living up to the instant name, and is an easy way to shine YouTube videos anywhere in the world (except ironically in Lenovo's own home country of China where Google services are blocked – but everywhere else). Video looks okay at 480p, and will save your back from lugging around a big, heavy projector

This projector fits in a pocket (though barely, at size close to 70mm) and has an embedded kickstand for tilting and automatic keytoning. Focus can be adjusted manually via a side dial.

Moto Z Play

The Insta-Share projector requires a dark or very dim room for its 50 lumens to be effective and, of course, it doesn't come cheap: it costs $299.

Motorola and JBL turned the smartphone volume up to eleven with their SoundBoost creation. It tuns the back of your phone into an even thicker frame, but one that becomes a powerful speaker.

It's not as loud as a dedicated Bluetooth speaker, but it's almost as good. You won't feel the need to turn it up if it's just you and a small party. Best of all, there's a hand kickstand and it adds 10 hours of battery life.

Moto Z Play

Looking for a Mophie case? Don't. MotoMod juice packs add 2,200mAh of battery life in exchange for a few millimeters to the thickness. Unlike the Z, the Moto Z Play can't really afford this extra girth.

It comes in a variety of designs, including from designers like Kate Spade and luggage maker Tumi. It's really trying to combine style and functionality, and it's easier to clip on compared to a Mophie case.

Moto Z Play

You don't have to buy a MotoMod right away to satisfyingly lock an accessory to the back of your new phone with magnetics. Moto Z comes with a Style Shield in the box.

Wood, leather and plastic options are going to be available in the future, giving you some degree of customization over your ever-important handset, just like the Moto X series.

Further out, there's a lot of potential for MotoMods. Motorola is opening up its platform to one and all with a $125 developer kit.

Display

  • Moto Active display senses your presence
  • 5.5-inch display at a lower 1080p resolution

Moto Z Play has a 5.5-inch Super AMOLED display, the same size and technology as the Moto Z and Z Force, but it brings the resolution and pixel count down.

Moto Z Play

It's a 1080p Full HD screen with 403 pixel per inch instead of a 2K resolution (also known as Quad HD). It doesn't look as stunning, but it's still beautiful enough that you won't complain.

Even with the resolution change, the Moto Z Play display keeps Motorola's Active Display intact. Wave your hand over the phone and it senses your presence with limited information, like the time, date, and notificats - all of which requires barely any power.

It's like the always-on screen used in new Samsung and LG phones, but one thing that's better is the discrete notifications icons are interactive here.

Tapping on one reveals more information, like the beginning of an email body. Flicking the icon upward opens the message. Flicking it down dismisses it. Motorola score major points with this minor touch here.

Interface and specs

The Moto Z Play also takes the specs down a notch with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 processor instead of the Snapdragon 820 chip almost every major Android uses in 2016.

Moto Z Play

It's still competent with a 2GHz octa-core CPU, 3GB of RAM and an Adreno 506 GPU, but it's not as fast as the Moto Z or Moto Z Force.

We experienced bit of slowdown when downloading apps, using the GPS and trying to navigate the menus. True multitaskers, watch out. Everyone else will be fine.

You'll also be okay with the 32GB of internal storage, even if phones like the ZTE Axon 7 and Samsung Galaxy Note 7 have launched with 64GB. Moto Z Play includes a microSD card slot within its nano SIM tray for expandable storage.

Moto Z Play runs one of the latest versions of Android and it functions like Google intended it, without the alterations that Samsung, LG, and other phone makers see fit.

Moto Z Play

Stock Android is a big deal for many purists, and for good reason. This Android 6.0.1 interface is streamlined. Motorola, once a Google company, doesn't deviate far from its former parent's playbook.

It adds a few of its own apps to the phone, like Moto Actions and Moto Voice, but these are only a help, not a hinderance. All of the menus are just like a Nexus running stock Android.

In the US, you'll have to deal with some pesky Verizon bloatware, and the fact that HD video calls only work with people on the same network, even if they have the same phone, is annoying.

You're also missing out on Android 7.0 Nougat, which just launched on the Nexus 6P and Nexus 5X, and it coming to the brand new LG V20. It has desirable features like splitscreen apps. The wait for the Android Nougat update is on, even before the Moto Z Play is in your hands.

Camera

The Moto Z Play has a 16MP camera with an f/2.0 aperture, and it provides around the same picture quality as the Moto Z. The Moto Z Force is slightly better with a 21MP camera.

Moto Z Play

It combines laser autofocus and phase detection autofocus that translates into zero shutter lag, but it doesn't have the best low light capabilities and lacks optical image stabilization.

It does have a color-balancing dual LED flash, which won't go unnoticed. The camera and flash bump is huge on this camera, even though it's not always the best.

Moto Z Play

The front-facing camera is 5MP, with what Motorola touts as a wide-angle 85 degree lens. It captures more of your selfie scene than an iPhone, sure, but not as much as an LG V10 at 120 degrees.

Video capabilities here are solid enough, with a resolution up to 4K and 120fps slow motion video at 720p.

Battery life

Motorola is promising 50 hours of mixed use from the Moto Z Play battery, and we've so far gotten between one-and-a-half to two days from our heavier-than-average phone addiction.

Moto Z Play

That extra phone use time is thanks to the 3510 mAh battery capacity. It makes the phone thick, but it'll get you through more than a day without fail.

When the Moto Z Play battery does deplete, it charges back up pretty quickly care of its included TurboPower charger. Motorola promises 10 hours of power after 15 minutes of charging.

Early verdict

Moto Z Play is all about playing longer and doing it all with ease. Its extended battery life and embedded headphone jack give us what we want (and expect) from a smartphone.

Moto Z Play

Yes, it's rather thick and the 1080p display isn't going to wow your friends. However, it has the same impressive Moto Active Display proximity sensing capabilities and the double-duty fingerprint sensor that turns the screen on and off.

We're running more battery life and charging tests to make sure the Moto Z Play consistently lives up its claims. Look out for an updated Moto Z Play review soon.

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