Monday, October 31, 2016

Xiaomi is now testing its Smartphones in America via U.S networks

Xiaomi Logo

Well, the Chinese Smartphone maker Xiaomi is planning to launch few major mobile products in America as it has started testing its devices on U.S. networks. It will take some time for the testing process to complete and maybe in a year or so the company will be ready for launching its smartphones via network carriers.

Recently Xiaomi has entered the markets like Mexico, Russia, Poland, Vietnam, and the Middle East and Latin American markets. As we know the bands of the US mobile networks are very different compared to other parts of the world, it will be quite difficult to test phones across the major local carriers.

Also read: Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge Blue Coral variant officially launched, will be available in select markets

Xiaomi’s plan of selling their smartphones through the US carriers will undoubtedly improve their sales as there are more customers and it may also plan to set up a store to provide the require support. The company is currently testing its Mi 5 and Mi Note 2, and it also has the plans to launch its majority of handsets. Xiaomi already has an online store where its sells its accessory and TV box is U.S but has to pass through the network testing for its smartphones to support the LTE bands.

Also read: Xiaomi Redmi 4A Smartphone Launched at 690 Yuan in China

Hugo Barra said that they are not going to launch anything until they are completely ready and also mentioned that few Chinese brands launched few phones in the US earlier, but it was a flop due to lack of testing done with the different Bands.

The ex-Googler has completed three years with Xiaomi recently, and with the sales of the Mi Mix starting on 4th of November, many might be eagerly waiting to grab this device. This Bezel-less concept smartphone was unveiled along with Mi Note 2 and Xiaomi calls Mi Mix as the world’s first smartphone with the edgeless display.

Also read: Huawei Mate 9 to Launch with Kirin 960 SoC & Android 7.0 Nougat

The Japanese display maker Sharp also released a device with similar design couple of years ago, but the internal built quality was different. The 6.4-inch display on the Mi Mix comes with a screen to body ratio of upto 91.3% and has an aspect ratio of 17:9 without any bezel on three sides.

So are you waiting for Xiaomi to complete the testing? When can we expect the devices to be launched via US carriers? Stay tuned to Phoneradar, and we will be back with similar news and updates.

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

Stan

UPDATE: We've updated the interface section of the review, with more thorough detail about how everything works – read below to find out more!

Now that Australians have spent some time with Stan, it's time to reflect on how well the final product has delivered in terms of its primary goal – to give Aussies the streaming video-on-demand experience that they've been clamouring for.

Since Stan's Australia Day launch, Aussies (who haven't resorted to proxies and VPNs) have finally had a Netflix-like taste of what instant streaming content is all about, but is the content up to snuff? And how does Stan perform now that it's out in the open and away from its preview phase?

Then comes the big question: does Stan have what it takes to keep Australians coming back for more now that Netflix is here?

Setting up Stan

Getting Stan up and running is a fairly straightforward process, though you will require a few things in order to view the service on your television at home.

At launch, a compatible iOS or Android smartphone or tablet was needed in order to browse Stan's content library, in addition to an Apple TV or Chromecast media streaming device so that you could AirPlay or Cast the content over to your television.

Thankfully, a Stan app has made its way to the Apple TV, PS3 and PS4, allowing users to browse the streaming service's content library on their TV screens.

And, though Stan was previously absent from Xbox consoles, the app is now available on Xbox One with platform-exclusive features, such as the ability to browse and control the service with Kinect's voice recognition functionality. It should be noted that while Stan is available on the Microsoft's current console, the app is still unavailable for last generation's Xbox 360.

On top of the platforms listed above, Stan's list of supported devices continues to grow, as it's now also available on a number of 2012-2016 model Samsung smart TVs, 2014-2016 model LG smart TVs and now 2014, 2015 and selected 2016 model Sony smart TVs that are running the Android TV platform.

Alternatively, you can use your PC or Mac to view Stan's content on most browsers and stream it to your Chromecast from there.

Stan has also released a native version of its app for PCs, tablets or smartphones running the Windows 10 platform. This version lets you use to Cortana voice-assistant to select the shows and movies you want to watch, and even lets you pin shows to your Start Menu.

Stan is compatible with iPads running iOS7 and above from the second generation onwards, as well as all iPad minis and iPhones from the fourth generation onwards.

Stan Content

Most Android phones from 4.2 onwards are supported, including recently added support for Sony's Xperia Z1, Z2, Z3 phones and tablets, HTC One M7, M8, M9 and Desire and LG's G2, LG Optimus L7II smartphones.

In terms of tablets, most Android units running 4.2 and above will work, aside from the HP 8 G2.

Once you've selected something to watch, you can start playing it on your phone or tablet, or tap the AirPlay/Cast icon to throw it to your Apple TV or Chromecast, at which point you can put your smart device to sleep.

Though the Stan app for Apple TV initially lacked the Siri voice search functionality that Netflix has been enjoying for a while, a new updated has added Siri universal search support.

But that's not all – Stan is now available to stream on the Roku 2-powered Telstra TV streaming box.

Get that interface up in yo' face

Anyone who's seen Netflix's interface should know what to expect with Stan in terms of functionality. Stan is definitely on the same playing field when it comes to the service's interface.

Admittedly, it's kind of awkward that your highlighted content box sits at the right side of the screen. On Netflix, the box sits on the left, giving you a good idea of the next batch of titles come in from the right to make their way into your highlighted section. With Stan, having this box on the right means you have no idea of what's coming up – you only see a trail of titles that you've already passed over on the left of the screen. More importantly, browsing titles like this feels unpleasant, like walking backwards into a crowd.

That said, everything else about Stan's UI is impressive. Movie and TV show publicity art is all over Stan, and it looks incredibly slick – its carousel in particular is clean and image-driven, with over half of our iPad's screen displaying some of Stan's most exciting content, like its exclusive shows Transparent and Mozart in the Jungle, as well as other premium dramas like Hannibal and Fargo.

Stan TV Season Display

Flicking up on the screen will show you a range of genres and collections below, such as Comedy Classics, Best of Australia and World Movies, with titles and poster art laid out horizontally for you to swipe across and browse.

Tapping on a show will let you choose the season and episode you want, while tapping on a movie will give you some information screen where you can press play and jump straight in.

Options can be revealed on the left side of the screen by tapping the icon in the upper left hand corner, allowing you to switch profiles, browse TV and movie genres, kids content, your watch history or your list of saved shows (just like on Netflix), and the upper right hand contains a search bar and access to your profile (again, just like on Netflix).

Stan's Apple TV app is slightly different to the tablet and smartphone version, in that it lists its sections along the top of the screen, with genres and content laid out in a style that's more consistent with Apple TV's other apps.

That Stan sure has some nice features

Unlike its competitors, Stan gives you the option to choose the image quality of your stream on smartphones and tablets via a cog icon at the bottom of your player window.

On a tablet or smartphone, you can opt to use Stan's automatic setting for an adaptive bit rate that's tailored to the quality of your connection, or choose the SD or HD constant bit rate encode, depending on whether or not you have bandwidth to spare.

When viewed on a television screen through one of Stan's Apple TV, Fetch TV, console or smart TV apps, the service works just like Netflix in that you are provided with an adaptive bit rate version only.

Stan Image Quality Options

Though curiously missing at launch, Stan now offers closed captions on a selection of its shows, meaning that hearing impaired people can enjoy at least some of its content – we hope that Stan eventually applies closed captions to its entire catalogue, just like Netflix has been doing for years.

Stan doesn't have the ability to recommend movies and shows to you based on your movie habits, which is one of Netflix's best features. And, because there's no rating system implemented, there's no feeling that any of its 'trending' shows are actually driven by viewership.

Hopefully, a personalised 'recommended shows' feature is somewhere in Stan's future.

That Stan sure is a content fellow

Recently, we posted a comprehensive rundown of all of Stan's confirmed content library, and now that we've used the service, we can confirm that there's plenty more content available that has yet to be announced.

When it came to the service's content ratio for television and movies, Stan leaned more on the television side at launch, however there have been some movie content announcements since then that have levelled the playing field somewhat.

In terms of television exclusives, Stan continues to deliver major announcements, including a multi-year content deal with Warner Bros. International which sees the service gain the local streaming rights to a range of big shows, including all ten seasons of Friends, the DC comic book shows The Flash and Constantine, iZombie, The Following, The Last Ship, Hart of Dixie, A to Z, Forever, and much more.

Add all of that to its already-impressive list of exclusives, including Better Call Saul, Power, Dig, Mozart in the Jungle, Transparent and much more, and you have a streaming service that gives Netflix a run for its money in the content department.

One area where Stan is sure to shine above it's competitors, is in its Australian content, with a wide variety of quality Aussie television shows and movies on offer.

Stan Aussie TV lineup

The service has quite a bit to choose from in terms of classic movies and back catalogue titles, like the entire James Bond collection, the entire Middle Earth saga (aside from the latest Hobbit film), a large range of foreign films and much more.

However, we do hope that more studios sign on, as the service could do with some more recent blockbusters like superhero movies and animated films – both of which Stan is almost entirely lacking in.

Netflix recently announced a content deal with Disney in Australia and New Zealand that gives the upcoming service access to a wide range of Marvel, Pixar and Disney Animation Studios content, which somewhat highlights Stan's shortcomings in this area.

With that said, if your interests are more in-tune with art house fare, then Stan is absolutely for you – the service's range of foreign films, indies and classics is unrivalled.

How does Stan perform?

Stan's buffering times will vary depending on your internet connection, however in our home and office tests, we were mostly able to start streaming HD content within 30-45 seconds of starting it.

Stan requires a minimum 1.5 mbps connection speed for the ability to stream, 2.5 mbps for standard definition, 3.5 mbps for 720p HD resolution content and a 6.5 mbps connection speed for full 1080p HD resolution.

The real test, however, came with Stan's much-anticipated, fast-tracked streaming of Breaking Bad spin-off, Better Call Saul.

Obviously, Stan has a lot banking on the successful delivery of this hugely publicised new series, as much of its marketing has centred around its exclusivity to the service.

Tested via a tablet and Chromecast setup only an hour or so after being put up on the service, the first episode of Better Call Saul started immediately in HD, playing almost flawlessly with the exception of a single moment of buffering around two-thirds of the way into the episode.

One thing worth noting – while this is just speculation, we did encounter some fluctuating bit rate quality on an episode of Community that we were watching just before we moved on to Better Call Saul.

Better Call Saul on Stan

Since launch, we have encountered bugs from time to time – one occasion saw Stan continue to try and buffer The Wolf of Wall Street in the Safari browser for several minutes until we gave up and refreshed the window, at which point it worked fine on its second attempt.

Another occasion saw The Terminator randomly start again from the beginning after having already been on for a few minutes.

Also, Stan would sometimes forget where we were up to in an episode or movie when switching between our Mac browser window and iPad.

Switching between episodes on the computer would also cause each episode to go back to the beginning again, and episodes do not have progress bars when viewed in a computer browser window.

Finally, we did experience an instance where a paused episode of a TV show crashed, giving us an A11 error code, which Stan promises will be rectified in its next software update.

A11 error code on Stan

Thankfully, these problems have eased in the months since launch and are practically non-existent on the Apple TV, smart TV and console versions of the app.

Just like the tablet and phone versions of Stan, you can now choose the quality of your stream on your console and smart TV, meaning that if you do run into some annoying buffering, you can always drop the quality to get a smoother stream happening – it's not ideal, but we'd choose lower resolution over constant stopping and starting.

Stan requires a minimum 1.5 mbps connection speed for the ability to stream, 2.5 mbps for standard definition, 3.5 mbps for 720p HD resolution content and a 6.5 mbps connection speed for full 1080p HD resolution.

We even managed to stream HD over our iPad's 4G connection during a train ride, though we wouldn't recommend doing this very often – two 22 minute episodes of Community in HD used up around 935 mb of cellular data.

One thing worth noting, is that Stan would sometimes forget where we were up to in an episode or movie when switching between our Mac browser window and iPad.

Switching between episodes on a computer would also cause each episode to go back to the beginning again.

Verdict

Now that we've spent some real time with Stan, we've come away largely impressed with what the service has to offer, delivering pretty much everything that Australians have been asking for since they first discovered what their friends overseas have had access to for years.

The ultimate test will be whether torrenting Australians will put their money where their mouth is and pay for the content when delivered in an affordable and convenient manner.

Stan's excellent execution of its streaming media service really leaves people with very little reason to take the illegal downloading route.

We liked

Stan's interface is immediately impressive, with an image-driven layout that's easy to navigate and aesthetically pleasing.

Content-wise, Stan impresses with its large library (even bigger than Netflix Australia), which includes quality television shows, big-time Hollywood productions, foreign cinema and home-grown Aussie content.

Delivering content in full high-definition is also a big plus, and any competitors still sticking to standard definition content are going to find a tough road ahead of them.

Bonus points for allowing smartphone and tablet users the ability to select the quality of their streams based on their available bandwidth.

Streams also start very quickly in full HD with minimal buffering instances experienced.

We disliked

While Stan mostly sails smoothly, certain bugs have marred the experience on a few occasions, either stopping the show dead in its tracks or crashing the app entirely.

There's plenty of content on Stan, as mentioned above, however, it could still do with more animated films and even more recent tentpole films – no Disney or Marvel content makes the service feel somewhat lacking in the blockbuster department.

We're happy to see that Stan has started including closed captions for a selection of its shows, though we hope that those who are hearing impaired and those with language barriers eventually get captions for the service's entire library.

Stan's Apple TV and PlayStation apps are a huge step in the right direction when it comes to browsing the service's content library on our televisions, though we'd still like to see more consoles and other media players added to Stan's list of compatible devices.

Final Verdict

The question of whether Stan will hold up well as a Netflix substitute in an important one, though we can say that Stan is certainly heading in the right direction, especially when it comes to its $10 a month subscription fee.

However, we do feel it needs even more content – Stan's recent content licensing deal with Roadshow is a step in the right direction, though Netflix's recent Disney announcement shows that Stan still has some way to go in terms of providing the kind of popular content that people want to see.

So long as StreamCo keeps working hard to fix its bugs and expand its content library, we can say that Netflix will have itself a worthy local competitor.

Stan may have lost its crown as the Australian king of streaming services since Netflix's arrival, but it's consistently edging its way back to the throne by adding excellent content and expanding its supported platform list.

Alcatel Launches Idol 4S with 4GB RAM, VR Support & Windows 10 OS

alcatel-idol-4s-windows-10-vr

Almost a month ago, we got our first glimpse at the world’s first Windows 10 powered smartphone with VR support. At that time, the images of the retail package of Alcatel Idol 4S running on Windows 10 OS are leaked. Now, the device is officially launched in the U.S at a price of $470 and will be on sale through T-Mobile. It comes with a free VR headset, and the device is pre-loaded with VR games and videos. For a limited time, the company is also offering a 45-day trial subscription of Hulu, a 60-day trial subscription to Groove Music, and a free copy of the Halo Spartan game for free with every purchase of Idol 4S.

On the front, there is a 5.5-inch AMOLED display with Full HD resolution. The device with a metal frame with 2.5D glass laid on front and back. Under the hood is the Snapdragon 820 (MSM8996) quad-core processor clocked at 2.15GHz. There is 4GB of RAM and 64GB of internal storage on this device. In the camera department, the Idol 4S sports a 21MP rear camera with PDAF and dual tone LED flash. For selfies, it comes with an 8MP front camera with wide-angle lens and single LED flash. There is a dedicated shutter button for capturing images instantly.

Using the Continuum feature, the Idol 4S smartphone can be used as a computer by connecting to a monitor and keyboard. The dual speakers placed on front and bottom of the device offers HiFi audio. Connectivity options include 4G LTE, Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac (2.4GHz & 5GHz), Bluetooth 4.1, GPS, and a USB Type-C port. The Cortana comes pre-installed on this device and features the same options as on Lumia devices. The device is backed by a 3,000mAh non-removable battery and is mentioned to give 13 hours of talk time and lasts upto 17.5 days on standby.

We can also find the circular fingerprint sensor with Windows Hello support placed on the rear. It feels very slim by measuring 153.9 x 75.4 x 6.99 mm. Earlier to this, there is also Android powered variant of Idol 4S with almost similar specifications. However, it came with a Snapdragon 652 octa-core processor instead of them much powerful Snapdragon 82o SoC. The rear camera on the Idol 4S running on Android OS is limited to 16MP while the front camera remains same as on Windows 10 powered variant.

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

Jumper EZBook 2

In the world of technology lookalikes, the Jumper EZBook 2 is probably the one that comes the closest to the original masterpiece. Let’s not muck about, this is an almost perfect copy of Apple’s ground-breaking MacBook Air, more specifically the 13-inch model, but it’s available for a fraction of the price.

The 13-inch MacBook Air costs £949/$999 while the EZBook 2 retails for £162 ($195, or about AU$260) at the time of writing from online Chinese retailer Geekbuying (who provided us with the sample for this hands-on review).

(These costs are exclusive of any taxes that may be levied by HMRC or the courier companies on behalf of the outlet. Want to buy tech from online Chinese retailers? Read this first.)

Our first encounter with Jumper was the EZpad 5S which is a well-made Microsoft Surface 3 lookalike convertible tablet and, on the whole, it was a positive one. Will the EZBook 2 prove to be another decent product? Let’s see.

Make no mistakes, while the EZBook 2 aspires to look like its illustrious Apple competitor when it comes to appearance, it uses an entirely different material to achieve this.

It’s no surprise, really, that Jumper’s MacBook Air clone is made up of plastic, shaped and finished in a way to mimic the aluminium finish of the product that inspired it. 

There’s even a backlit Jumper logo which, well, is a clear nod to the company whose logo is a half-eaten apple.

The laptop is bigger than we were expecting – this is a 14.1-inch model which is the usual display size slotted between the more popular 13.3-inch and 15.6-inch sizes, and is made even bigger thanks to the massive inch-thick bezel used by Jumper, another nod to Apple.

Like the MacBook Air, this device adopts a wedge-like profile with its thinnest edge about 6mm, and the thicker end reaching 18mm. With a footprint of 347 x 230mm, it is far bigger than an A4 sheet, and at just a smidgen under 1.4kg, has a manageable weight for a product of those dimensions.

The notebook being this big gave the design team a bit more leeway, and allowed for dedicated buttons for home, page up, page down and end, as well as a power button on the keyboard itself. 

The latter makes it easier to switch your laptop on and off, and is a definite bonus compared to some notebooks where you have to walk your fingers along one edge to find the power button. However, it’s a mixed blessing because it also increases the chances of accidentally putting the laptop to sleep with a stray tap.

The keys are larger than expected at 15 x 15mm, with a very comfortable travel and a decent 3.3mm gap between them. They were however a tad too sharp for our liking and a little bit wobbly; we didn’t detect any flex under normal use.

The touchpad is surprisingly large and comfortable to use. While not on par with the touchpad on the MacBook Air, the fact that it’s almost twice the size of a credit card (yes, twice) ranks it amongst our favourite efforts at the entry-level end of the market.

As for the display, the 14-inch panel offers good colour reproduction but has some issues with brightness and contrast. It is a matte Full HD model, so while the pixel density is not as high as some of its competitors, it is perfectly adequate for everyday usage.

Connectivity is one area where Jumper flexed its muscles, offering the following: a microSD card slot, a Mini HDMI port, two USB ports (one USB 3.0), a headphone jack, along with Bluetooth 4.0 and 802.11n on the wireless front.

The Jumper EZBook 2 comes with a massive 10,000mAh battery which is powered using a 12v3A (36W) charger. That translates into a charging time of roughly four hours and a battery life of around 8 hours 30 minutes on default settings, which is one of the best results we’ve seen on an entry-level laptop.

Don’t expect too much from this machine when it comes to performance though. The device is powered by an Intel Atom x5-Z8300 clocked at 1.44GHz; that is the slowest commercial processor available.

The benchmarks shown above indicate that the EZBook 2 is in line with what can be expected from a laptop equipped with such a processor – the 4GB of memory and 64GB eMMC storage are adequate for lightweight tasks, but this is no powerhouse.

The two speakers provided produce a boxy sound which is characteristic of entry-level devices in this price range. There’s a 2-megapixel front-facing camera, and as is sadly the case for almost all Windows-based devices coming from China, the operating system is pre-registered.

Early verdict 

This is the second iteration of the Jumper EZBook 2. The first one, released earlier this year, was panned by some reviewers for some very fundamental mistakes (like the inability to connect an external hard disk drive). Fortunately, this model has better cooling, improved packaging, and solves the USB port power issue.

Competition is ferocious at this end of the market. The EZBook 2 faces some impressive rivals such as the Voyo VBook V3 convertible laptop, a Lenovo Yoga clone with the added benefit of a stylus and a touchscreen.

But this notebook does hold its ground – initial issues have been ironed out and the design of the EZBook 2, while in no way ground-breaking, is familiar and well enough realised. 

Is this laptop a deal at this price? Yes and no. If you’re ready to take a punt, especially when it comes to the warranty, then go for it. Otherwise, you will have to spend north of £300 (about $365, AU$480) to get something with similar features, but at least you will also receive a UK-based warranty to rely on if anything goes wrong with the device.

For businesses, the Jumper EZBook 2 provides an attractive alternative to Chromebooks and other lower-specced models available in that price range. It might even be worth buying a few extra units to eliminate any potential downtime associated with failures.

Huawei Mate 9 to Launch with Kirin 960 SoC & Android 7.0 Nougat

huawe-mate-9-leica

Huawei will be launching its new premium smartphone, Huawei Mate 9 on November 3rd in Germany. The device will come in two variants – Mate 9 with flat panel display and Mate 9 Pro with a curved display. Now the latest leaks all over from China revealed a bit more information about the device. The Mate 9 is said to sport a 5.88-inch display with Full HD (1920 x 1080 pixels) resolution while the Mate 9 Pro might come with a 5.5-inch AMOLED curved display. The devices will be running on Android 7.0 Nougat out of the box with customized EMUI laid on top.

The official teasers almost confirmed the device to be powered by the Kirin 960 octa-core processor which was recently announced in China. It is built on 16nm FinFET process with four Cortex A73 cores clocked at 2.4GHz  and four Cortex A53 cores clocked at 1.8GHz. Coming to the graphics performance, the ARM’s Mali G71 MP8 GPU takes care of the gaming and animations on the device. The earlier leaked image by Evan Blass confirmed the Leica branded dual rear cameras. Now the latest infomration is that, the company is using a 12MP and 20MP sensors on the back of the device.

The cameras on the back are assisted by dual tone LED flash and laser autofocus. While the device will be available in different storage capacities with 4GB and 6GB RAM options, the below screenshots suggests the 6GB RAM variant to come with a whooping 256GB of storage. One variant of the recently announced Xiaomi Mi MIX also came with 6GB of RAM and 256GB of storage. There is no information about the battery caapctiy of the device, butwe guess Huawei to come with its own fast charging technology. If the rumors are to be believed, the package includes a power adpater with 5V/8A output.

huawei-mate-9-specs

It comes with USB Type-C port and might include stereo speakers on the bottom edge. Though the fingerprint sensor is placed on back of both the devices, there is a physical home button on the front of Mate 9 Pro but missing on the Mate 9. The device offers dual SIM dual standby with 4G VoLTE support. The Kirin 960 SoC by default supports Cat.12 and Cat.13 LTE along with CDMA. With the quad carrier aggregation (4CA) on Kirin 960, the device might reach download speeds upto 600 Mbps. Take this details with a pinch of salt as the company is yet to official confirm all these information.

Last week, the company has launched its affordable smartphone p priced at 1299 Yuan (approx  $192 / Rs. 12,800). It came with a 5-inch HD AMOLED display and came with MediaTek MT6750 octa-core processor clocked at 1.5GHz. The device comes packed with 3GB of RAM and 16GB of expandable storage. There is a 13MP rear camera with LED flash and a 5MP front with wide-angle lens. The Enjoy 6 is backed by a 4,100mAh battery that is mentioned to give 22 hours of talk time. It runs on Android 6.0 Marshmallow and might receive the Nougat update by the end of this year. With the fingerprint sensor and NFC, the Enjoy 6 can be used for authorizing mobile payments.

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

Xiaomi Redmi 4A Smartphone Launched at 690 Yuan in China

xiaomi-redmi-4a

After the leak couple of days earlier, the Redmi 4A from Xiaomi has become official via China Telecom carrier. The device has been listed on the website with some images and is priced at 690 (approx $102). Xiaomi has not announced this device officially yet, but according to this telecom operator the Redmi 4A will be coming with a model number 2016111 and will be available in Rose Gold and Gold color variants.

The device will come with a 5-inch HD LCD display with 720 x 1280 pixel resolution and is powered by a 64 bit Qualcomm Snapdragon 425 MediaTek MSM8917 quad-core processor with a clocking speed of 1.4GHz. There is a 3030 mAH non-removable battery on the back and will come with 2GB of RAM and 16GB of ROM memory which could be further extended to 128GB via microSD card slot.

The Redmi 4A will come out of the box with Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow Operating system and might also get further updates in the future. There is 13MP camera sensor on the rear with LED flash and it is accompanied with 5MP camera on the front. The other connectivity option includes 4G LTE, GPS, Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n and Bluetooth v4.2.

Earlier: Xiaomi Redmi 4A Smartphone leaks with Quad-core processor and Metal Shell

Xiaomi Redmi 4A has popped up online with few specifications leaked and is expected to be priced at 599 Yuan. The device has been listed on product.pconline, and there is an image leak also showing it metal back. Xiaomi has already shaken the smartphone market with sales and later with its Mi Mix which is a conceptual phone that came edgeless display, and this was announced along with Mi Note 2. The Redmi 4 A will be the successor of the Redmi 4 that was launched earlier and will be coming with few tweaks.

According to the leaks, the Redmi 4A will come with a 5.0-inch display with a resolution of 1280 x 720 pixels and will be powered by an unknown quad-core processor with a clocking speed of 1.4GHz. There is an 8MP camera on the rear which will be accompanied with a 5MP camera for selfies and video calling.

Also read: UMi opens Android N Beta Testing for Plus Smartphone users, Meizu Pro 6S with Helio X25 SoC & 21MP Camera to Launch on November 3rd

Nothing much is known about this device for now since only these specifications have been leaked till now. We might see more and more leaks coming in the future, and Xiaomi might be unveiling this device in their next meet up. We can expect the device to be powered by Android 6.0 Marshmallow operating system and might also feature a fingerprint sensor to enhance the security levels. Earlier we have seen that Xiaomi has become number one Online Smartphone brand in India by selling more than lakh smartphones in 18 days but has not seen much success in its home country.

Also read: Samsung to Launch Galaxy A7 (2017) Smartphone with 16MP Front & Rear Cameras

What do you think of this device? When can Xiaomi unveil this device? Stay tuned to phoneradar and we will be getting back with more leaks and news. Do comment in the section below and let us know about your views.

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Sony may launch two new Xperia Smartphones at MWC 2017

Sony-Xperia-Logo

Judging by the previous trends, it looks like Sony‘s Xperia lineup is not doing quite the trick for the company. Not that these are bad smartphones by any means, but customers are simply not ready to buy them. There could be a lot of reason for this. First, it could be the absurd pricing or maybe there is nothing much that is being offered by the company in terms of design. We have seen the exact same design for the past couple of years and maybe it is the time that they realize the need for a change.

Well, that is something to be decided by the company so that we will leave it up to them. But talking about the new smartphones, it looks like the company will be launching their first batch of smartphones of 2017 at the MWC trade show. Well, the same can be confirmed since the company has already registered two phones with a Russian regulatory body. What else do we know about these possible new smartphones from the company? Not much. We just have the first details about them, and it includes only the model numbers as of now.

Sony Xperia Ear Smart Earphones Coming to Japan on November 18

These two new Xperia smartphones go by the model numbers G3112 and G3121. And when you compare the model numbers with some of the previous smartphones launched by the company, we can pretty much confirm their launch at the event. These new model numbers follow the same pattern as the previous phones introduced by Sony at the same trade fair. So these new ones fit quite well here. But sadly as mentioned earlier, we don’t really have much info about them to be reported as of now.

However, if you are in the market for a Xperia smartphone, then the current options for you include a few like the Xperia XZ. The Xperia XZ is sort of the flagship smartphone, which the company has to offer here in India as of now. It packs some serious specs like a 5.2-inch IPS FULL HD display that has Corning Gorilla glass. Under the hood, it is being powered by a Quad-core Snapdragon 820 chipset along with 3GB of RAM and 32GB of internal storage, which can be expanded up to 256 GB via microSD card. It also packs a new 23MP IMX300 sensor that includes triple sensing autofocus – PDAF, Color Detection, and Laser. The front-facing module is of 13MP as well.

But all of this again comes for a hefty price of 49,999 INR. For that price, you can get away with a couple of smartphones that will nearly give the same or similar performance. Hence customers tend to go for other smartphones. Coming back to the new smartphones which have been spotted now, we expect to see more info about them in coming weeks and months. It is also safe to say that as the closer we get to some of the international events, the more info we will start getting them. So if you want to know more about them, then we suggest you stick around as we will update once we have more details.

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Dash Charge technology is the primary reason behind the sales figures of OnePlus 3

OnePlus 3 - Dash Charge (1)

The Chinese smartphone manufacturing company OnePlus launched their new smartphone called the OnePlus 3 earlier this year. The smartphone packed some serious specs and just like the other smartphones from them; the company priced this one as also quite aggressively. OnePlsu 3 was priced on the higher side when compared to the previous offerings from the company but still it was way less than what other flagships were retailing for. However, none of that stopped customers from buying it.

Talking about the specs and features of the smartphone, OnePlus packs some serious specs as mentioned earlier. But what makes it worth buying is one of the new technology that the company came up with. Yes, it is the Dash Charge technology. It is a fast charge technology developed by the company in-house. But it is not your everyday charging technology since it works a bit differently than other like the Fast charge, etc. Well, if you want to know more about it, then you check out the comparison which we did between some of the fast charging technologies developed other companies.

What is Dash Charge Charging Technology in the OnePlus 3, Hints at OPPO’s VOOC

And yes, coming back to the topic here, OnePlus’ co-founder Carl Pei confirmed that according to the survey taken by OnePlus, Dash charge is the technology that drives people to purchase the OnePlus 3 smartphone. He stated that he knows why people buy OnePlus products because they have the data and the number one reason why people bought the OnePlus 3 smartphone is the dash charge technology. He also mentioned that this technology along with the overall quality and build of the smartphone as well as the camera are also some of the main reason why OnePlus 3 is what it is today.

With that being said, we totally agree with him on this since these are some of the reason why the OnePlus 3 smartphone is as popular as it is today in the market. Even after so many months after the initial launch date, people still compare it with some of the other flagships launched this year which has better features, etc. But still, the OnePlus 3 stands tall in many areas in comparison. And another thing to note from this discussion is that these are some of the features which you can expect to get even better with future variants from the company.

And talking about the new and upcoming smartphone from them, it is expected that they will be launching a new variant of the OnePlus 3 called the OnePlus 3T. And as far as the specs of this new smartphone are concerned, we can expect it sport somewhat similar specs as that of the OnePlus 3 but definitely, it will be improved in some areas like an upgraded processor and maybe Android 7.0 Nougat out of the box. Well, if you waiting to buy the new smartphone from OnePlsu, then this is the one to look out for. Stay tuned for more details on this device in future.

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Sunday, October 30, 2016

Lenovo to Launch Moto M & Vibe P2 Smartphones on November 8th in China

lenovo-moto-m-vibe-p2-launch

From the last few months, there are many rumors about the launch of a new all-metal smartphone from Moto. The device is rumored to be called as Moto M and is even listed on TENAA with the model number XT1662. A couple of days back, we also reported about the listing of the device’s screen protectors, where we also got much better view of the device. Today, the news from China suggests the Moto M along with Lenovo Vibe P2 will be made official on November 8th. Few rumors also suggest the Moto M to be exclusive to just Chinese customers. Both the devices will be sporting metal body with high-end specifications.

Talking about the Vibe P2, in July this year, the company has showcased the device at a Chinese trade fair. At that time, we got the complete information about the device along with first looks. While on November 8th, we will be knowing the price of the device. The device will be the successor to the Vibe P1 and Vibe P1 Turbo that are also launched here in India. It features a 5.5-inch AMOLED display with Full HD (1920 x 1080 pixels) resolution. Under the hood is the Snapdragon 625  octa-core processor coupled with 4GB of RAM and 32GB of onboard storage.

However, the USP of the device is its 5,000mAh battery that can easily give two days of moderate usage. In the camera department, there will be a 13MP rear camera with dual tone LED flash and a 5MP front camera. The Moto M also comes with a 5.5-inch Full HD (1920 x 1080 pixels) display but with a non-AMOLED panel. As we said before, the device will be first Moto smartphone to feature a fingerprint sensor on the rear. On the Vibe P2, the fingerprint sensor will be embedded right into the physical home button on the front. There is also vertical camera strip holding the rear camera, LED flash, and laser autofocus.

Lenovo Vibe P2 Lenovo Moto M

It also has a slight curve on the back which offers a nice grip to the hold. The Moto M packs 3GB of RAM and 32GB of internal storage. There will be a 16MP rear camera, an 8MP front camera, and 3,000mAh battery. With the recent agreement between Lenovo and Microsoft, from now on, all the Lenovo smartphones will come pre-loaded with Microsoft apps like Office, Skype, and OneDrive. Interestingly, the list also includes Moto devices which are known to offer stock Android UI with zero bloatware apps. At least in China, the Moto devices will be launched with highly customized Vibe UI laid on top.

Both the Moto M and Vibe P2 will include MicroSD card slot for storage expansion. The device will support 4G LTE and offers other basic connectivity features like Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and GPS.  While both the Vibe P2 and Moto M will be running on Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow out of the box, we can expect them to receive the Android 7.0 Nougat update very soon. The Moto G4 and Moto G4 Plus smartphones in India are already receiving the Nougat update.As of now, there is no official information over this and we can only confirm all these specifications and other details on the launch day. Stay tuned!

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Cubot Cheetah 2 Smartphone with Front Fingerprint Scanner Launched

cubot-cheetah-2

The Chinese manufacturer company, Cubot has been known for introducing the budget-level smartphones at an effective pricing. Recently, this brand has launched the Cubot Manito smartphone with decent specifications at a price tag of $89.99 and is available for purchase via gearbest. Cubot Mobile and Cheetah Mobile had combined and introduced their first smartphone in Early 2016 at the MWC stage in Barcelona. It is called as Cubot Cheetah and is priced at 190 Euros.

Cubot is manufacturing Hardware section while Cheetah Mobile is concentrating on software enhancements. On the same lines, the company has now unveiled a new smartphone which is named as Cubot Cheetah 2 and is priced at 12,183 rubles (approx. Rs. 12938 in India / $193 in the US). This smartphone is the successor to the previously launched Cubot Cheetah smartphone which was exclusively sold on Amazon stores like the US, UK, and Europe.

Also read: LG U Smartphone with 5.2″ FHD Display & 3000mAh Battery Launched

Coming to specification, the Cubot Cheetah 2 smartphone specifications are slightly changed from its predecessor Cubot Cheetah smartphone. It sports a 5.5-inch IPS FHD screen and offers a 401PPI of pixel density and 16M colors which improve the brightness up to 30%, and the color keeps the bright & clear display in the sunlight. It comes with a 2.5D curved touchable screen on the front. It features a fingerprint sensor is embedded with a physical home button while on Cubot Cheetah smartphone fingerprint ID located at the back.
cheetah-2Under the hood, it comes packed with a MediaTek MT6735 octa-core processor that clocks at 1.3GHz paired with Mali T720 GPU which is the same processor on its predecessor. There is a 32GB internal memory that can further be expanded via microSD card slot up to 256GB and coupled with a 3GB of RAM capacity. It supports dual SIM dual standby and offers 4G LTE network which carries speeds up to 150Mbps of downlink and 50Mbps of uplink.

Also read: Samsung Galaxy C7 Pro smartphone makes an appearance on India import tracker Zauba

The other connectivity options include Bluetooth v4.0, Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, OTG support, GPS/A-GPS, FM radio, 3.5mm audio jack and Micro-USB Type-C port. Sensors on the handset include Light Sensor, Distance Sensor, Accelerometer Sensor, Compass Sensor, Gyroscope Sensor and G-Sensor. Powering of the entire smartphone is 3000 mAh capacity battery which is slightly smaller than its predecessor that is the 3050mAh capacity battery.
cheetah-2-phoneAs per as cameras are concerned, this smartphone packs a 13MP primary camera with Samsung 3L8 Sensor, 5P lens, f/2.0 aperture with 0.5Ax2 LED flashlights that can record videos in 1080p at 30 frames per second. On the front, there is an 8MP image sensor with Sony IMX219 and intelligent beauty feature for taking perfect selfies. It LED notification light shows the Red and Green colors. Measuring the device dimensions are 153.6 x 75 x 8.5 mm and is weighing around 188 grams.

Also read: JioFi 2 Hotspot – How To Setup, Find Usage & Tips to Increase Reliance Jio 4G Speed

It runs on the latest Android 6.0 Marshmallow out of the box with pre-installed applications, and it uses the AAC BOX horn speaker, which helps to deliver a sound quality very neat and also used the IMD technology which characterized with antifriction and anti-surfing. The Cubot Cheetah 2 smartphone will be available in Gold and Blue color variants at a price tag of $187.49 and is now available for buy on AliExpress website. There is no information about the global launch as of now. So stay tuned to phoneradar for more tech news and updates.

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Reliance Issuing Jio 4G SIM Cards at Doorstep in Mumbai & Few Other Cities

Jio Digital Life

In early last month, Reliance Jio 4G has opened its trial offer for every Indian who owns a 4G smartphone. Though many of the users are facing difficulties in generating the barcode, even those who got the barcode aren’t that lucky to get the SIM. The SIM cards are only available in limited stocks, and even few shops are selling the free SIM’s for a few hundred Rupees. At the AGM meeting on September 1st, Mukesh Ambani has announced the Instant eKYC verification for the Jio 4G SIM will be introduced for making the paperless activations.

From our sources, we came to know that this service is now rolled out in Mumbai and soon will be also available in  Delhi NCR, Kolkata, Pune, and Ahmedabad. With the eKYC system, the customers can get the Jio 4G SIM without any hassle and the activation will be done instantly. The personal details need to be filled by the customer on Jio official website, and the Jio representative will reach the mentioned address for eKYC. Once the eKYC is successfully completed, the Jio 4G SIM will be activated within 15 minutes.

The customers need to have a 4G enabled device with the barcode generated from MyJio app, similar to the offline process. For eKYC, the customer needs to show the original Aadhaar card. The Jio’s representative will also collect the fingerprint of the user for authentication. The issued SIM will be activated for both voice calls and data. Though Airtel and Vodafone also started using eKYC for instant activation of their SIM cards. As of now, no other operator except Jio is offering doorstep activation. All the Jio 4G SIM cards activated on or before December 3rd will be eligible for the Jio Welcome Offer with unlimited 4G internet, voice calls, and SMS.

jio-4g-ekyc-sim

We might see the similar kind of offer with unlimited usage in a new name that is rumored to be extended til March 2017. As of now, the free voice calls is useless since the company is experiencing heavy call drops. Jio says the lack of sufficient interconnection points is the main reason for call drops and the unlimited offer is expected to be extended till the interconnection problem is solved. TRAI has imposed a whopping Rs. 3,050 crores fine on leading Indian telecom operators Airtel, Vodafone, and Idea. While the issue will be now sorted out in courts, the users can enjoy the free benefits of Jio in the same period.

Earlier this week, we also reported about the Android powered set-top boxes (STB) from Jio. These STBs will bring the Smart TV features to the normal LED/LCD TVs. As per our source, the Jio STBs will support 4K UHD resolution and includes Bluetooth remote controller. Along with Google Play apps, there will be Jio apps like Jio TV and Jio Cinema apps pre-loaded onto the device. Xiaomi might also bring its 4K Mi Box STB to India in the coming months. It was recently launched in the U.S at a price of $69.

Recommended: Everything about the Jio 4G’s eKYC

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Saturday, October 29, 2016

OnePlus One being tested with an unofficial version of Android 7.0 Nougat

OnePlus Logo

If you are still rocking a smartphone which is about two years old now, then the chances are that you will not get the taste of Android 7.0 Nougat. And one such device is the OnePlus One. Launched back in 2014, this was one of most hyped device of all time. With an unfamiliar invite system to buy one, not many people were able to get their hands on one. Anyway, a year later the invite system was ditched by the company and the smartphone is now readily available for anyone to purchase.

Talking about the software side of things, it was running CyanogenMod out of the box which was again ditched by the company for their own custom ROM called the Oxygen OS. Till date, the smartphone has received two major software updates, but one should not be expecting the new Nougat update for it, at least not an official one. Yes, because according to a recent report, the OnePlus One smartphone has been spotted on a couple of benchmarking website running the Nougat 7.0 build.

It seems that the OnePlus One was spotted on GFXBench, and Geekbench, both showing Android 7.0. However, one thing to note here is that these are not the official version of the software by the company. These are third party ROMs which were reported earlier as well. Hence if you are still using a OnePlus One smartphone, then you should not be too excited for this new in particular. But on the contrary, it is at least good to see that you can install a third part build of the software after all. So even if it is not an official one, you can still get a taste of the new software on your smartphone.

Talking about this third party build of Nougat for OnePlus One, almost everything works on the ROM except for the video camera and the stock keyboard. And the good news is that both of them can be fixed with an update maybe or you can completely replace them with some other third party software. Well, all you have to do is go ahead and take the risk and install the third party ROM. With all that kept aside, it is good to see so much software support for this smartphone till now.

The same can’t be said about some of the other smartphones launched along with it like the HTC One M8 or the LG G3. All of them have pretty much the same exact specs under the hood. Talking about the specs, the OnePlus One is powered by the Snapdragon 801 SoC under the hood. It also packs 3GB of RAM along with upto 64GB of internal storage. It was basically a flagship killer in more than one ways and above all, it performed well as it claimed to do. Now let’s wait and see what we get from OnePlus in future.

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Next year’s iPhone 8 could feature OLED Panels made by Sharp

iphone-8-2017

Now that you have a decision about buying an iPhone 7 or an iPhon 7 Plus by now let’s take a look at what we might be getting next year with the new iPhones i.e. the iPhone 8. A couple of days back we saw some new reports claiming about the possibility of three different iPhone variants next year. And now according to the new report which we have today, it is expected that one of the iPhone 8 variants out of the three could feature an OLED panel. And the likely hood of this happening is very high.

According to the source, the CEO of Sharp, Terry Gou addressed the students at Tatung University and stated that the iPhones have been evolving and now it is making a switch from LTPS (low-temperature poly-silicon) to OLED panels. He also stated that they don’t know if this move will be a hit for the company but if they don’t innovate then there will be nothing new to expect. Well, with that being reported, it looks like it is pretty much confirmed at this point that we will see an iPhone with an OLED panel after all.

Also, as reported by Terry Gou, this is something that Apple should definitely bring to the table since the current iPhones don’t offer anything new to the market as compared to the iPhone 6s that was launched last year. It is also worth noting that these new displays could be make by Sharp in the U.S itself, or at least a part of them. Also considering the fact that they only make these displays in Japan currently, it will be interesting to see how this works out.

Previously it was also reported that the South Korean smartphone manufacturer Samsung would be making the curved OLED displays for the new iPhone 8. But now that we have learned something new now, it is indeed quite confusing to even speculate anything at this point in time. Well, it could also be possible that more than one manufacturer will be manufactur these panels for Apple and Samsung and Sharp are a part them. Anyway, as mentioned earlier, it is too early speculate anything this as of now.

If in case you don’t know anything about these new iPhones, then you should know that we might see three different variants of the iPhone 8 next year and it is expected that it will come with a glass back panel with a metal frame on the sides. This would be a huge departure from the current design of the iPhone 7 and the iPhone 7 Plus, which uses a metal design throughout the body. With that being said, we do believe this is just the start of many rumours to follow and we will be updating you more once we have other details as well. Stay tuned for on the next year’s iPhone 8.

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Cubot Cheetah 2 Smartphone with Front Fingerprint Sensor Launched

cubot-cheetah-2

The Chinese manufacturer company, Cubot has been known for introducing the budget-level smartphones at an effective pricing. Recently, this brand has launched the Cubot Manito smartphone with decent specifications at a price tag of $89.99 and is available for purchase via gearbest. Cubot Mobile and Cheetah Mobile had combined and introduced their first smartphone in Early 2016 at the MWC stage in Barcelona. It is called as Cubot Cheetah and is priced at 190 Euros.

Cubot is manufacturing Hardware section while Cheetah Mobile is concentrating on software enhancements. On the same lines, the company has now unveiled a new smartphone which is named as Cubot Cheetah 2 and is priced at 12,183 rubles (approx. Rs. 12938 in India / $193 in the US). This smartphone is the successor to the previously launched Cubot Cheetah smartphone which was exclusively sold on Amazon stores like the US, UK, and Europe.

Coming to specification, the Cubot Cheetah 2 smartphone specifications are slightly changed from its predecessor Cubot Cheetah smartphone. It sports a 5.5-inch IPS FHD screen and offers a 401PPI of pixel density and 16M colors which improve the brightness up to 30%, and the color keeps the bright & clear display in the sunlight. It comes with a 2.5D curved touchable screen on the front. It features a fingerprint sensor is embedded with a physical home button while on Cubot Cheetah smartphone fingerprint ID located at the back.
cheetah-2Under the hood, it comes packed with a MediaTek MT6735 octa-core processor that clocks at 1.3GHz paired with Mali T720 GPU which is the same processor on its predecessor. There is a 32GB internal memory that can further be expanded via microSD card slot up to 256GB and coupled with a 3GB of RAM capacity. It supports dual SIM dual standby and offers 4G LTE network which carries speeds up to 150Mbps of downlink and 50Mbps of uplink.

The other connectivity options include Bluetooth v4.0, Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, OTG support, GPS/A-GPS, FM radio, 3.5mm audio jack and Micro-USB Type-C port. Sensors on the handset include Light Sensor, Distance Sensor, Accelerometer Sensor, Compass Sensor, Gyroscope Sensor and G-Sensor. Powering of the entire smartphone is 3000 mAh capacity battery which is slightly smaller than its predecessor that is the 3050mAh capacity battery.
cheetah-2-phoneAs per as cameras are concerned, this smartphone packs a 13MP primary camera with Samsung 3L8 Sensor, 5P lens, f/2.0 aperture with 0.5Ax2 LED flashlights that can record videos in 1080p at 30 frames per second. On the front, there is an 8MP image sensor with Sony IMX219 and intelligent beauty feature for taking perfect selfies. It LED notification light shows the Red and Green colors. Measuring the device dimensions are 153.6 x 75 x 8.5 mm and is weighing around 188 grams.

It runs on the latest Android 6.0 Marshmallow out of the box with pre-installed applications, and it uses the AAC BOX horn speaker, which helps to deliver a sound quality very neat and also used the IMD technology which characterized with antifriction and anti-surfing. The Cubot Cheetah 2 smartphone will be available in Gold and Blue color variants at a price tag of $187.49 and is now available for buy on AliExpress website. There is no information about the global launch as of now. So stay tuned to phoneradar for more tech news and updates.

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

Friday, October 28, 2016

LG BP556 Blu-ray player

There’s been a good deal of fuss made about 4K UHD Blu-ray of late, but in the real world there’s still plenty of demand for regular 1080p HD Blu-ray players. 

The format may be a decade old (how time flies), but for DVD replacers and first-gen BD upgraders, the sight of a relatively affordable Blu-ray deck can still make the AV pulse quicken. 

The new £85 ($189, AU$119) LG BP556 doesn’t just spin discs for a living, it’s also a well-specified media hub, and can function as part of the brand’s MusicFlow wireless audio system. Want to stream CDs around the house? This is the deck that’ll do it.

Design

The BP556 is unashamedly unspectacular. But at just 270mm wide and 43mm tall, it’s easy enough to accommodate. 

The thin fascia is plain. There's no display, just a front-facing USB port offset from the disc tray. The chassis might be lightweight, but it’s finished in a faux carbon fibre pattern which adds a level of visual interest.   

Rear-side connections include a single HDMI plus coaxial digital audio output and Ethernet. 802.11 a/b/g/n Wi-Fi is integrated.

The deck comes with a stumpy IR remote, but it can also be controlled with LG's AV Remote app (available for iOS and Android). Opting for app control brings extra functionality. Private Listening allows you enjoy audio from the player on headphones via your mobile device, for example. You can also cast from content on your phone to the deck. 

The player has a neat, graphical user interface. The main menu offers Movie, Photo, Music, Settings and Premium buttons. The latter groups various streaming content providers together, including Netflix, Amazon Video, Spotify, YouTube and Dailymotion, as well as Now TV, BBC iPlayer and Blinkbox in the UK in what is now known as the Talk Talk TV store. 

The player is also DLNA savvy, through LG SmartShare. It picked up my Twonky and Plex servers, but usability is hampered by poor video playback. The player will unwrap MP3, WMA, AAC and FLAC music files (but not DSD), but I struggled to find video that it liked. MKV isn’t supported, and some MPEG clips are played without audio.

On the plus side, I was surprised at just how quickly the deck loaded Blu-rays. The mechanism may not be as quiet or slick as top-end machinery from Oppo, Sony et al, but it managed to take a java-heavy movie from tray to menu in just 44 seconds. A simple concert Blu-ray offered up its menu in only 29 seconds. In the world of Blu-ray, that’s rather rapid.

Performance

Picture quality is great. It's all too easy to forget just how fine a content source regular Blu-ray is, even from a modest box. 

HD detail is high and artefact free (not something you can say about HD streaming sources), and of course multichannel audio is superb. I plumbed this cheapo deck into a reasonably well-specified home theatre system, and it delivered the goods. The picture quality from Star Wars: The Force Awakens was thrilling, while the Dolby Atmos soundtrack from John Wick was totally immersive.

You’ll need to rummage around the menus though if you want to make the most of this deck’s potential. If you’re using it with an AV receiver or high-end soundbar, bump the audio sampling frequency up from a default 48Hz to 96kHz or 192KHz. If you don’t, it’ll downscale any High-Res Audio tracks. 

The digital output of the deck should also be left in Auto mode, to allow bitstreaming to a waiting AV receiver. If you select PCM, the player will encode soundtracks to stereo. Look out also for DRC (Dynamic Range Compression). This limits any dramatic increase in volume and it’s active out of the box, I would advise you to switch it off. 

There's also an option for Quick Star in the menu, which helpfully shortens the start-up time.

Getting into the Flow

So far so … predictable. But things get interesting when you connect the player to LG MusicFlow speakers. 

The LG AV app identifies any MusicFlow enabled speakers on your home network network, and then lets you stream to them. Pop a CD in, or stream a playlist from Spotify, and audio can be directed simultaneously to any connected speaker around the home.

What’s more, you can also distribute audio from any Blu-ray or DVD – great fun if you want to have your movie playing along in a kitchen or den. There is a catch though: If the player is in bitstream mode, because it’s delivering a Dolby or DTS soundtrack into a home theatre system, there’s an obvious delay between the main system and any connected speakers. 

The solution is to switch the deck to stereo PCM, at which point all the connected MusicFlow speakers sync up.

The LG BP556 is a neat little deck that offers more functionality than you might expect for the price. Its Blu-ray performance is top notch for a player of this calibre, and given its compact size and OTT streaming support, it’s a solid alternative to a dedicated media player, like the Amazon Fire TV

While the BP556 works well in a modest home cinema set up, it's equally likely to appeal if you want to bring Blu-ray and Netflix (etc) playback to another room. Throw in MusicFlow functionality though, and the BP556 might even be enough to swing you towards an LG-based multiroom audio system.

We liked

If you’re looking for a 1080p Blu-ray player that won’t break the bank, the BP556 doesn’t disappoint. Its disc playback performance is up to snuff and all the key streaming services are on board, too. What really sets this player apart from rival cheapies, though, is the way it integrates with LG’s MusicFlow multiroom wireless audio system.

We disliked

Let’s not beat about the bush – this is a boring looking contraption. At least it’s small enough to be hidden from sight. And for reasons best known to itself, it proves to be a woefully inadequate file player. 

Final verdict

It may be budget, but the BP556 offers a Blu-ray performance worthy of any decent home cinema system and has all the key network streaming services available via a simple graphical UI, and for many that might be enough to warrant picking one up. But if you're really serious about your home ent setup, hook it up to some LG MusicFlow speakers and you can also stream audio around the house, which definitely adds an extra level of cool.

Toshiba OCZ RD400 512GB SSD

Standard SATA III solid state drives (SSDs) already bring performance benefits over traditional hard drives, so when a drive comes along that promises 4.5x the speed of an SSD, as the Toshiba OCZ RD400 512GB does, you sit up and take notice.

Unlike standard SSDs and modern HDDs that plug into the SATA III ports of your motherboard, the Toshiba OCZ RD400 512GB can plug into a PCIe or M.2 port of your motherboard. Most modern motherboards in desktop and laptop PCs will have these ports, so unless you’re using very antiquated hardware, you should be able to install the Toshiba OCZ RD400 512GB without a problem.

The SATA III ports of a motherboard were really designed for traditional hard drives, so although SSDs bring performance increases, their performance is being bottlenecked by the connection – and this is why most modern SSDs peak at around 520MB/s write, 560MB/s read, speeds. To put this in perspective, the Toshiba OCZ RD400 512GB, which avoids the SATA ports, can get up to speeds of 2,600MB/s read, 1,600 MB/s write. That’s a huge difference.

This does mean you’re going to be paying more cash for this performance. The Toshiba OCZ RD400 512GB costs £315 (around $385, AU$500), which is around the same price as the Kingston 1TB SSDNow KC400, which costs £320 (around $400, AU$520). Similar price, but half the capacity. However, it’s all about speed, and that means over three times the speed for sequential write tasks, and over five times the speed for sequential read tasks.

Put simply, this is an SSD for enthusiasts that place speed over anything else. If you’re looking for a large capacity hard drive to store photos or slap into a NAS, then this is not the drive for you.


 Features and specification

The Toshiba OCZ RD400 512GB uses the M.2 interface on your motherboard which bypasses the aging SATA III ports that most standard SSDs and HDDs use.  If you don’t have a motherboard with an M.2 connection (though most modern ones should), the Toshiba OCZ RD400 512GB also comes with a PCI-E adaptor, for slotting in the drive there. 

The NVMe interface further helps speeds by reducing latency in the I/O path between the drive and the CPU of your machine, making this a potentially very fast drive.

When active the Toshiba OCZ RD400 512GB has a power consumption of 6.0w, which means this is a pretty efficient SSD, and endurance-wise it has a service life of 296TB total bytes written (with the 1TB model having 592TB TBW). A mean time between failures of 1.5 million hours, and SMART support gives us confidence that this is a reliable SSD that can be used every day for intensive tasks.

Performance

 To make sure we tested the Toshiba OCZ RD400 512GB to its full ability we installed it in the M.2 port of a Maximus VIII Extreme Intel Z170 motherboard with the latest UEFI BIOS installed, Windows 10, and the Intel NVMe driver. 

We ran a number of benchmarks on the Toshiba OCZ RD400 512GB to see how it coped under pressure. The results were very impressive, with the drive hitting speeds of 2606MB/s read and 1444MB/s write in our sequential tests using the CrystalDiskMark. 

These are incredibly fast speeds when you compare it to modern SATA III SSDs such as the Kingston 1TB SSDNow KC400, which hit 560.8MB/s read and 536.6MB/s write speeds. A fairer comparison would be to the Samsung NVMe SSD 960 Pro M.2, which uses the same M.2 connection. 

Here the Samsung beat the Toshiba OCZ, reaching phenomenal speeds of 3480MB/s read, 2100MB/s write – quite a difference, though the Samsung is more expensive ($329.99, £270, AU$430 for the 512GB version). 

Still, the Toshiba OCZ RD400 512GB represents a huge performance leap over SATA III drives, though if you’re spending this much already on an M.2 drive, you may think the extra outlay for the faster Samsung is worth it.

The ATTO benchmark, which is a reliable tool for testing the read and write speeds of a hard drive using various file sizes, also provided some very impressive results, with top speeds of 2670MB/s read and 1600MB/s write speeds. 

The Toshiba OCZ RD400 512GB is another SSD that uses the M.2 port and really shows up the limitations of the aging SATA III connection. 

Unencumbered by the bottleneck, the Toshiba OCZ RD400 512GB produced amazing speeds of around two to three times the speeds of regular SSDs (and the gap between it and traditional HDDs is even more impressive). 

The Toshiba OCZ RD400 512GB isn’t the fastest SSD around (that honour currently goes to the Samsung NVMe SSD 960 Pro M.2), but as a (slightly more) affordable way to get into the world of M.2 SSDs, it’s certainly a tempting prospect.

We liked

The Toshiba OCZ RD400 512GB is an incredibly fast SSD, and if you’re making the move from a SATA III-based drive to this, you’ll be blown away by the performance. The reliability and efficiency of this drive is also superb.

We didn't like

The Toshiba OCZ RD400 512GB is fast, but it’s also expensive, and this will only be an SSD for professional workstations or enthusiast users.

It’s also not as fast as the Samsung NVMe SSD 960 Pro M.2, so if you’re already spending a lot of money on an SSD, paying a bit more for faster performance may seem like a no brainer.

Final verdict

The Toshiba OCZ RD400 512GB is an incredibly fast SSD, only upstaged by the Samsung NVMe SSD 960 Pro M.2. It shows how much potential that M.2 SSDs have over SATA III – this is not just an incremental upgrade but a huge leap. This huge leap also comes with a huge price tag, however, so this is an upgrade that won’t be for everyone.

The PCI adapter included gives this drive some flexibility, and the price advantage over the Samsung could make this an attractive purchase if you’re looking to give your storage a (serious) boost.

It won’t be for everyone, but if your work relies on moving large amounts of data around quickly and reliably, the Toshiba OCZ RD400 512GB is well worth considering.

Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge Coral Blue variant to launch in Taiwan on November 1st

s7-edge-coral-blue

Samsung launched the Note 7 smartphone previously and one of the color options in which it was offered was the Coral Blue. Yes, it WAS offered because now it is not available anywhere as the company has stopped manufacturing them. Well, yes, the Coral Blue was indeed beautiful and probably the one which most of the people would have picked. But hey, it looks like Samsung knew that and hence now maybe they are planning to launch the S7 Edge smartphone with the coral blue color.

Yes, official pictures of the Coral Blue Galaxy S7 edge have bee just posted by Samsung Taiwan and with that we get a close look at how the smartphone will look at in all its glory. The very first thing to note here is the fact that the smartphone will be launched in Taiwan on November 1st. So this not just a speculation or some rumour which you should ignore. This is very much real and will be sold in Taiwan. With that being said, another thing to know here is the fact that it is the exact same S7 edge which was launched previously and there is nothing new as far as the specs or the features are concerned.

Also, the company has previously stated that this new variant of the S7 Edge will be launching in Singapore as well on November 5th. Hence we do believe that the company is now trying to make this smartphone variant available widely across the globe. And yes, that’s what we also expect since the smartphone in Coral blue color looks gorgeous. And also, if you reside in the U.S, then this new variant is likely headed your way as well.

Yes, although it is not confirmed by the company, but there were rumours previously which indicated that this new Coral Blue variant of the S7 Edge will make its way to Verizon in the U.S. And as mentioned earlier, there is nothing different here other than the new paint job. And if you were disappointed that the Note 7 in Coral Blue is dead, then this is definitely something for you to consider. With that being said, we do hope that the upcoming Samsung Galaxy S8 smartphone to also come in this beautiful color option.

Do make a note that the Note 7 launched in India came only in two color option and the Coral Blue was not one of them. So maybe if you think the S8 will come in the new Coral Blue or even if you are waiting for this S7 edge in India, then you might not be as lucky as you think to pick one up. However, we don’t have any official confirmation on this and we have to wait for the company to confirm its existence in India. But as mentioned earlier, it is likely to be skipped here in India. Stay tuned for more info on this as we will update once we have more details.

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Samsung Galaxy C7 Pro smartphone makes an appearance on India import tracker Zauba

galaxy c5 2016

While we wait for some other devices from the South Korean manufacturer to launch in India, we now has spotted the new alleged C7 Pro smartphone making an appearance in the country. Earlier, we had reported about the company working on these new C5 Pro and the C7 pro smartphones, and now the same can be pretty much confirmed since we have this new report now. Yes, it is indeed difficult to keep up with the company’s ever growing smartphone list, but we can only hope that these new ones could be a little better in comparison to others.

As per this enw report, we can see that this new handset which has the model number SM-C7010 was featured in two seperate listings on the website. Although the units are only intended for testing, but at least we know that we might get something new from them yet again. Talking about the smartphone specs or features itself, we don’t get much info on that other than 5.7″ display size and a price tag which definitely could not the final retail price. The price listed is 13,645 INR which is about half of the C7 regular unit’s price.

Now that we have some light on this new smartphone about it’s existance, we can hope that we do get some more info on these device in coming weeks or months. Hence stay tuned for more info on them as we will update once we have more details.

c7-pro-zauba-listing

Earlier – Samsung launched their new series smartphones in China that is the C series. Then company launched two devices in this series i.e. the C5 and the C7. These handsets are exclusive to China as of now and it looks like there are no plans for launching them anywhere outside. And now according to the new reports, it looks like the company is working on the next iterations to these two. It is speculated that the company has the Galaxy C5 Pro and the Galaxy C7 Pro in the pipeline.

The Galaxy C5 Pro carries the model number SM-C5010 and the Galaxy C7 Pro has SM-C7010 as the model number. It looks like both these devices will get better internals as well as new software features. However, we don’t have any official confirmation on any of this info. So it would be a wise option to wait until we have some solid info on them. Well, if you don’t know about the C series smartphones, Samsung is trying to offer a mid-ranged smartphone here with decent specs in a premium body.

It is expected that the company will do something on the same lines here as well. When you talk about the specs of the earlier C series devices, the Galaxy C5 was powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 617 SoC and was backed by 4GB of RAM. It sports a 5.2-inch display on the front with a 1080p resolution. It comes with 32GB of internal storage which can be expandable upto 200GB via a microSD card. But on the downside, it only comes powered by a 2,600 mAh battery.

We expect that the company would some justice here and come with better specs to meet the competition. As far as the pricing is concerned, the C series devices are currently retailing for about 25,000 INR to 28,000 INR. So if not less, we at least expect the upcoming ones also to be priced on the same lines. But as mentioned earlier, we don’t have any confirmation on this and hence take all this info with a pinch of salt. Stay tuned for more detailed info on this.

Note – The featured image displayed above is of Galaxy C5.

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HP Omen 17

It seems like crazy talk to call a $1,799 or AU$3,699 (about £1,470) laptop a good value, but that's exactly what the HP Omen 17 is. It's like the design process began with someone walking into HP's engineering lab, tossing a GTX 1070 on a table and telling the team "Here, build a computer around this." It feels as though HP found a gamer's check list of "dream features in a laptop," and focused on graphics, screen, and storage. 

The Omen 17 is a 4K, G-Sync enabled 17-inch laptop that actually makes Quad-HD gaming seem like a viable option. It's not a budget computer per se, but when you see what it can do, the price tag seems like a downright bargain. More powerful than the ASUS Rog Strix GL502 and less expensive than the Gigabyte P57X, the HP Omen 17's price tag almost seems too good to be true. 

Design

As far as gaming laptops go, the HP Omen 17 is conservatively designed. It lacks the aggressive angles and sharp lines of most other high-powered laptops. Apart from its enormous size, you'd be hard pressed to know it's a gaming laptop at all save for the throwback HP Voodoo logo on lid.

The computer is plastic through and through, and it definitely feels that way. At no point in time did I feel like I was going to snap something off by handling it, but I also never felt like I was holding a premium laptop. The Omen has the plastic-lunchbox feel of the Gigabyte P57X , lacking the higher-end brushed-aluminum of most gaming laptops, including the Asus.

The face imitates the look of carbon fiber, which gives it a little more of the powerhouse gaming-laptop feel, and the backlit, chiclet-style keyboard has a tactile feel to it. Keys are yielding and responsive, but otherwise unremarkable.

Two big knocks against the design of the Omen 17 are its trackpad and its hinges. The lid hinges have a metallic finish, but look tacky. I also notice an audible squeaking, which can make for some spooky sound effects around Halloween, but otherwise, they don't inspire much confidence in their longevity. 

The trackpad is clunky and imprecise. It's multi-touch enabled, which is always a welcome feature, but clicking it just doesn't feel nice. At all. There's no crispness to it. If, for some insane reason, you want to use it for gaming, you're going to have a harder time than usual. Get a mouse or just hook up a console controller.

One of the most surprising and impressive things I encountered in my time with the Omen was how quietly it runs. The Omen has dual fans and quad heat pipes, with three exhausts to help move air, and it almost seems like sorcery. 

It gets hot, without question, but it never reaches a point where it feels alarming so, and the fans are easily drowned out by background noise. Do they run silently? No, but they're never distracting, and that's pretty impressive given how much power the Omen 17 has inside.

When it comes to size, the HP Omen makes itself known while sitting on your lap at a beefy 7 pounds. That makes it heavier than the Asus, perhaps not too surprising given the ROG Strix is a smaller 15-inch laptop. It's also a bit heavier than its 17-inch Gigabyte P57X competitor, which weighs 6.6 pounds.

Where the weight really becomes noticeable is when you pack up the computer and power brick and sling it over your shoulder. The power brick is one of the closest I've ever seen to resembling an actual brick used in construction, and its bulk and the Omen's hefty base weight means your back is going to be angry with you.

A Glaring Issue

There's something to be said about 17-inch gaming. Having all that extra screen real estate makes for a more immersive experience, and it helps better show off all those glorious pixels. The fact that the display is G-Sync enabled adds even more immersion while smoothing out screen tearing impressively.

As nice as it is having a gigantic, 4K, G-Sync enabled screen, don't even think about using it outdoors. In fact, the screen glare is so bad I had a hard time using it in my dining room where the indirect sunlight was coming through the windows.

The HP Omen 17 really gives you more for less. In fact it seems like there's a catch not immediately apparent. While it lacks the aluminum lid of the Asus ROG Strix GL502, it's only a few hundred bucks more expensive than the $1399 base-model ROG, but the Omen is bigger, has a newer graphics card, and it does 4K. 

Size and graphics-wise, it's on par with the Gigabyte P57X, but price-wise, the P57X is in the neighborhood of $700 more. You could use those savings to get a pretty nice 4K TV set and hook the Omen up to it. 

Spec sheet

Here is the HP Omen 17 configuration sent to techradar for review: 

  • CPU: 2.6 Ghz Intel Core i7 6700HQ (quad-core, 6MB cache, up to 3.5GHz with TurboBoost)
  • Graphics: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 (8GB GDDR5 RAM), Intel HD Graphics 530
  • RAM: 16GB (DDR4 2133 MHz)
  • Screen: 17.3-inch 4K (3,840 x 2,160) G-Sync screenStorage: 256GB SSD; 1TB HDD (5,400 rpm)
  • Optical drive: External USB DVD-RW
  • Ports: 3 x USB 3.0 ports, HDMI, DisplayPort, mic/headphone jack, Ethernet, SD card readerConnectivity: 2x2 802.11ac WLAN and Bluetooth 4.0Camera: Front-facing HP Widevision HD Webcam
  • Weight: 7 pounds
  • Size: 16.38 x 11 x 1.29 inches (W x D x H) 

Including a USB DVD-RW drive is a nice touch, but personally I can't imagine ever needing it. The 1TB HDD is a wonderful addition for those of us who primarily buy digital. 

The 1TB HDD and 256GB SSD is an even match with the Asus ROG Strix GL502 and the Gigabyte P57x. You can also get the HP Omen 17 with a 512GB SSD, which would run everything quite nicely. Given the growing size of modern games (GTA 5, a 3 year old title, takes up almost 60GB), your best bet is the 1TB HDD, with the SSD for your OS.

Performance

For its price, the Omen 17 is an insane computer. The 4K, G-Sync enabled screen and ample storage more than make up for its plastic feel and bulk. Performance-wise, its value really shines.

If you just want smooth frame rates and high detail, go ahead and crank everything up and set the resolution to 1080p. The Omen delivers. If you don't mind lower frame rates and some sacrifices in graphical flourish, you can mostly get away with playing games in 4K and having a pleasant experience depending on how demanding the title is. 

Benchmarks

Here’s how the HP Omen 17 performed in our suite of benchmark tests:

  • 3DMark: Cloud Gate: 22,920; Sky Diver: 25,943; Fire Strike: 11,668
  • Cinebench CPU: 679 points; Graphics: 104 fps
  • GeekBench: GeekBench: 3732 (single-core); 13,387 (multi-core)
  • PCMark 8 (Home Test): 3293 points
  • PCMark 8 Battery Life: 2 hours and 20 minutes
  • Battery Life (techradar movie test): 3 hours and 46 minutes
  • The Division (1080p, Ultra): 71 fps; (1080p, Low): 164 fps
  • GTA V (1080p, Ultra): 52 fps; (1080p, Low): 100 fps

Games look and run incredibly well. Metal Gear Solid 5, my personal favorite game of the last decade, looks absolutely amazing with the GeForce Experience-suggested settings. I only played it on Xbox One previously, but on the Omen I could see the muscles in Snake's back as he crawled his way through the game's prologue.

Even 4K works well, which is a testament to the power of the GTX 10-series cards. The Division auto-configured itself to run in 4K and I was able to get a respectable 30 fps with everything else left on the suggested settings.

Grand Theft Auto 5, with everything turned to the max, even runs at 4K. Granted, it doesn't run well at Ultra settings, but it runs 20 fps in full 4K. Choppy frame rate aside, I found myself staring slack-jawed at the individual pebbles that make up San Andreas' asphalt streets. 

I also checked out ABZU, which has a much lower overhead than GTA 5, and cranked its settings to their max. If you ever get the chance to play ABZU in 4K on a computer that can handle it, you will not be disappointed. On the Omen's 17 inch screen, it's breathtaking.

At 1080p, the Omen just screams. It's on par with the Gigabyte P57x, which isn't surprising given the similarity of their configurations. On Ultra, I was getting an impressive 52 fps in GTA 5 and 71 fps in The Division. I've never seen the games look so great. Turning on G-Sync taps down the max frame rate, but makes for an even smoother experience.

There's no doubt this is a VR-ready machine. Spec-wise, it's perfect. The GTX 1070 is a complete animal of a graphics card and the difference between it and its predecessor in the 980 is notable. While 16GB is plenty of RAM, 32GB is even better, and the memory modules are accessible via an access plate on the bottom. 

For the low price of RAM these days, why not splurge on more memory?

It comes as no surprise that battery life is a bummer. It's about what you'd expect from a gigantic, powerful laptop, which isn't saying much. You honestly won't do much better with a competing laptop, so it's hard to knock a problem that plagues high-end gaming laptops.

Conspicuously absent from the HP Omen 17 is any sort of bundled overclocking and performance software. Some users don't trust themselves enough to delve into the settings on my CPU and GPU, but if you love to get in there and adjust voltages, there's nothing included with the computer. You'll need to venture into the BIOS or use your favorite third-party tool.

I'm happy to say the sound quality on the built-in speakers is not only good, but loud. And better still, when the volume is blaring, the speakers don't sound like they're about to burst. You'll obviously get better sound from dedicated speakers, but the built-in Bang & Olufsen sound equipment is loud and clean. 

The jump to 4K and VR started before the hardware was truly ready. Earlier 4K enabled computers could barely handle the content they were marketed to run, and initial requirements for VR made a lot of people realize their powerful gaming rigs weren't going to handle the next "big" thing in gaming. 

We've come a long way in a short time, and not only is hardware powerful enough to handle the next big gaming buzz, the HP Omen 17 proves it can come at a reasonable price.

We liked

The huge, G-Sync display really let’s modern games stretch their graphical legs. I already put 100 hours into Metal Gear Solid 5 on consoles and I can honestly say, looking as good as it does on the Omen 17, I wouldn't mind putting in another 100 hours.

Sound quality from the built-in speakers is good enough to not detract from the experience, and if you want to stream some music, loudly, the Omen has you covered.

We disliked

It seems very unlikely this desktop replacement will ever venture too far from a desktop. A 17-inch laptop is bulky by anyone's standards, and the seven pound weight coupled with the huge power brick makes traveling a real chore.

The screen doesn't handle bright light very well, even when it's coming through a window. As long as there's no light source to reflect off of it, the screen looks quite nice, but you won't be showing this laptop off at the park.

Final verdict

The powerful HP Omen 17 makes up for its shortcomings through the application of pure power at a price point well below other comparably equipped machines. Sure, it has creaky hinges and a plastic chassis, but who cares? 

It's worth the trade-off to get your hands on such a powerful machine at a sub-$2000 price. Even if you don't care about 4K, once you see your games at their highest settings in 1080p, you'll forgive the HP Omen 17 for not looking the part.

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