Saturday, December 4, 2021

Toshiba UK31 4K TV (43UK3163DB)

One-minute review

The Toshiba UK31 is a sleek-looking 4K TV that, at its £379 price tag for a 43-inch display, offers more than enough bang for its buck.

As you'd expect from a TV of this price, its audio performance is nothing to write home about – so we'd recommend nabbing a sound bar if you can afford it – but the picture quality more than makes up for what it lacks elsewhere.

Toshiba's TRU Picture Engine software alongside Dolby Vision and HDR support ensures this set delivers a crisp, smooth image with decent contrast that is sure to enhance your viewing experience next time you binge a TV show.

Though if you like watching the latest hits from Disney Plus or Apple TV Plus make sure to grab a streaming stick first (such as a Chromecast or Fire TV Stick) as the UK31's smart platform is lacking several key services.

Gamers may also want to shy away from this TV as the HDMI 2.0 ports are the best this TV offers meaning the image quality output from your favorite console will be capped at just 4K/60fps even if your high-end rig can do better.

Price and availability

The Toshiba UK31 is on sale right now in the UK – and it comes in both 43-inch or 58-inch sizes.

We tested the 43-inch version which costs £379, while the 58-inch version sells for £529, however, we've already seen it sold for less. During the 2021 Black Friday sales we did see this TV drop down to £329 / £449, so if you're not desperate to upgrade your home cinema right now you might want to wait for the next sales period and nab this TV at a bargain.

If you're in the US you might instead want to check out the Toshiba C350 - while it doesn't come with identical specs, you'll find many comparable features at around the same price point as this UK31 set.

Toshiba UK31 remote control

(Image credit: Future)

Design

  • Sleek design
  • Wide foot
  • Annoying power light

The Toshiba UK31 has a sleek frame and design that doesn’t give off the impression this is a budget TV – though there are still a few issues with the set's appearance. 

It's supported by a single large stand that provides more than enough support, but the connection between the screen and stand is a little flimsier than we'd like. While we've had no issues the set can be rocked in place a bit too easily leaving us worried it might come loose from the base.

Additionally, the base isn't particularly tall. Generally, this won't be an issue but if you plan to use a soundbar you might find it will get in the way of the screen unless you can elevate your TV a little more – or simply wall-mount it.

The main gripe we have with the TV's design, though, is the green power light at the base of the screen. While we did eventually learn to ignore it, the light is bright and more eye-catching than we would like during use, especially if you like to turn down other lights in the room to enhance the impact of your TV screen.

Toshiba UK31 side profile

(Image credit: Toshiba)

As for ports, you'll find three HDMI 2.0 ports that support 4K at 60Hz. One of these ports supports eARC for connecting a sound bar. You'll also find an Ethernet, a digital optical output and a USB port so you connect a multitude of devices.

The remote control is nothing to write home about but will get the job done. It has a standard array of buttons to carry out the TV's functions as well as shortcuts that will give you quick access to the Prime Video and Netflix streaming services.

Smart TV

  • Easy to use interface
  • Amazon Alexa voice assistant built-in
  • No native Disney Plus or Apple TV Plus

The Toshiba UK31’s OS is definitely the area where this set performs weakest.

While the TV's interface is easy to navigate a major issue you'll notice out of the gate is that some key streaming apps are missing. You can access Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and YouTube, but there’s no Disney Plus or Apple TV Plus (and music lovers will notice that Spotify is absent as well).

Given that these are some of the most popular services out there offering great shows like The Mandolarian and Ted Lasso, it’s not just disappointing but surprising that you can’t access them natively through this TV.

On top of that, the Alexa integration isn’t much to write home about. If you are deep in the Amazon ecosystem, you should get some additional functionality by connected to compatible Alexa products. However, the built-in Alexa support for the UK31 isn't quite as polished as in more premium TVs, the voice assistant often reacting even when we haven't said ‘Hey Alexa’. You can, however, turn the smart assistant off entirely.

Toshiba UK31 TV on display in a living room surrounded by modern furniture

(Image credit: Toshiba)

Picture performance

  • TRU Picture Engine boosts performance
  • Crisp 4K image
  • TRU Flow is great for sports, but not everything else

Thankfully the Toshiba UK31 does well where it counts – it’s picture performance is excellent when compared to other budget-friendly sets.

This TV’s 4K image is crisp and clear, and thanks to this set’s Dolby Vision and HDR10 codecs the colors are bright and vivid. The middling brightness means the UK31 can't compete with higher-end sets, but you're getting a solid picture output for the price. 

This is a cheap 4K TV, but one that does manage to upscale lower-res content admirably, while Toshiba's TRU Flow technology ensures smooth, judder-free images for fast-paced sports matches and the like.

Lastly, TRU Micro Dimming lends a hand at improving this TV’s contrast. While you’ll get a much better performance out of OLED screens – which excel at delivering distinct black levels – the UK31’s Micro Dimming tech does improve the depiction of dark scenes, beyond what you might expect at this price point.

The only issue we had with the TRU engine is that TRU Flow would turn itself on too often for our tastes – and can give what you're watching a bit of an unnatural feel.

Toshiba UK31 ports on its back side

(Image credit: Future)

Audio performance

  • Dolby Atmos and Dolby Audio Codec
  • Audio is sufficient, if underwhelming
  • You wouldn't regret buying a soundbar

While you won’t be blown away by the audio that the UK31 can produce, the sound quality of its 20W speaker system is more than enough to get the job done for those on a tight budget.

Bass is quite light, but the mids and highs hold up enough to ensure every scene is audible – clear, if not overly impactful. If you’re just looking to kick back and relax while watching everyday TV, you’ll be plenty happy with what you get.

But, if you can afford to splash out on a soundbar then you’ll be treated to a major boost in performance. 

One of the key reasons for this is that this UK31 comes equipped with the Dolby Atmos codec. The native speakers aren’t capable of putting this to good use, but a half-decent soundbar definitely can – giving your TV’s audio performance a major step up that would rival a more high-end home cinema setup.

Should I buy the Toshiba UK31 4K LCD TV?

Buy it if...

You're after a budget TV
This TV is at an incredibly budget-friendly price point and comes with some impressive features.

You're a sports fan
Thanks to this TV's TRU Flow feature, you'll be able to keep up with all the action as it unfolds onscreen, without troublesome judder.

You don't mind compromises
This TV pulls of a good image at an even better price but makes sacrifices in several departments, if you want a TV that has delivers a better performance you might want to think about increasing your budget.

Don't buy it if...

You subscribe to loads of streaming services
Unfortunately, quite a few streaming services are missing from this TV's OS – so unless you have a Fire TV Stick or Chromecast you're not going to be able to watch all of them.

You don't use Amazon Echo devices
The inclusion of the Alexa AI assistant is a bit of a gimmick, and unless you're already in the Amazon Echo ecosystem then you won't find much use for it.

You don't have space for a sound bar
A soundbar isn't a necessity for this TV but it would greatly improve its lacklustre audio performance – if you have the space for one in your home cinema setup you absolutely should add one.

  • Looking for more examples of great small-screen TVs? Check out our guide to the best 40-inch TVs

Friday, December 3, 2021

Workspot DaaS

Workspot is a SaaS platform and cloud PC service that offers and manages virtual desktops for enterprise organizations. Its key customers have advanced security needs and require high-performing, reliable computing for a fully or partially dispersed team. Some companies use Workspot both in and out of the office, so if employees are moving around a lot or some are in-house while others are remote, everyone can have the same experience.

According to the website, there’s “customizable everything,” which means Workspot will be able to integrate with the tech you’re already using via other cloud providers – and if you’re currently using a VDI (virtual desktop infrastructure), you can augment it with Workspot to fit your needs.

Workspot offers an assortment of support options too, including chat, email, and phone, plus a forum and knowledge base.

Features

Workspot offers feature-packed cloud PC plans (Image credit: Workspot)

Features

Workspot has customizable and scalable cloud desktops for end users with remote access for contractors and employees. The cloud desktop can be accessed immediately and from practically anywhere, giving your team’s productivity a huge boost. There’s also GPU-powered performance for those who use graphics-heavy apps, like designers and engineers.

Workspot has three main types of cloud solutions. Enterprises can pick and choose the ones they need depending on if employees are working mainly with office applications and products, CAD applications, or a combination of both.

Windows 10/11 Cloud Desktops

The Windows 10/11 cloud desktop works like a regular Windows PC does, except it’s delivered from the cloud. The user can access their apps and data from any device they want. 

GPU Cloud Workstations

Workspot’s GPU workstations are for companies or professionals that need to run graphics applications like Adobe Premiere, Petrel, Siemens NX, etc. For teams that are distributed, IT no longer has to ship physical devices; instead, it’s all accessible via the cloud.

Session-Based Desktops and Apps

This solution is for companies that don’t need a full desktop solution but instead only need the team to access corporate apps. This is a faster and more flexible way to publish and deliver apps.

Security

Workspot separates the control and data plane while also employing multi-factor authentication to keep your data safe (Image credit: Workspot)

Security

Workspot’s cloud PCs are incredibly safe, and users don’t need to worry about data loss, IP theft, malware, or ransomware. There isn’t any data that resides on the hardware used, and data is encrypted whether it’s being transferred or is at rest. There’s also a complete view of and control over user activity and access.

User experience

While some users report difficulty getting Workspot set up and having trouble learning how to use the platform, most report that implementation is easy and that the service is user-friendly. Workspot also has a support team that will work with your IT team at any step, providing training and helping you get the most out of the service. Implementing Workspot may be difficult for some businesses, but their tech support agents will walk you through it.

Viewing access information to see who has done what on the desktop is organized and detailed, with the time and date, a description of the event, and the user, location and device. It can be filtered by application, device, network, etc. too. 

Adding a new policy is straightforward as well. After entering the policy name and type, you select the groups that the policy applies to (like a specific sales team), then choose which URLs the users in that group can and can’t access. That means you can prevent certain groups from accessing the company’s Asana account, for example.

There have been some complaints about the cameras, microphone and speakers not working as they should, like during conference calls. That may be something that support can address in a training session.

Workspot iOS App

Workspot is available for Windows, macOS, Android and iOS though it can also be used in your browser (Image credit: Apple)

Platforms

Workspot can be used on any web browser, as well as Mac OS and Windows operating systems. There are also Workspot apps for Android and iOS.

Quote

You'll need to contact Workspot directly for a quote (Image credit: Workspot)

Plans and pricing

Since Workspot’s services are catered to the enterprise’s needs, pricing is available upon request. Once needs are assessed, customers are given a flat rate, making cost reliable and including everything from cloud computing to support. Reviewers regularly commented that cost-per-user pricing was fair and lower than competitors. Price was also a main reason why many customers switched from other providers, especially since the cost includes a high level of support.

The competition

Workspot’s main competitors are Amazon WorkSpaces and Microsoft Windows 365. Overall, Workspot offers more options than both services across the board. There’s also a useful comparison chart on the website.

Workspot also has to compete with DIY solutions, which are right for certain enterprises. However, for users who don’t have all of the resources to handle building a DIY solution, or those who want everything to be taken care of by one company, Workspot may be the better option.

Final verdict

Workspot is a full-featured, safe, and cost-effective option for creating satellite offices without needing remote desktop software or a VPN. As your business grows or as you decide to onboard more employees, you can create a virtual desktop with a broader, global reach. Accessing data from anywhere, including graphics-intensive workstations, is a must for remote teams that need to work collaboratively and efficiently. Plus, for essential businesses that don’t have the option to shut down should they need to abide by a stay-at-home directive, like during the pandemic, being able to keep everything running remotely is the safest option.

We've also highlighted the best virtual desktop services

Audeze LCD-X Headphones

30-second review

The Audeze LCD-X Open-Back Headphones bring a lot to the table.

Audeze has long been one of the pioneers of planar magnetic headphones. In short, planar magnetic headphones use a different driver than typical headphones. Typical headphones use what’s known as a “dynamic” driver, which is a cone diaphragm with a voice coil (think speaker drivers) whereas planar magnetic drivers use a conductive diaphragm sheet that’s sandwiched between magnet arrays. The advantages of planar magnetic drivers are speed and resistance to distortion. 

The LCD-X is a refinement of Audeze’s planar magnetic drivers over many years, and it shows with incredible sound quality and refinement in usability. Gone are the days of hooking up planar magnetic headphones directly into a speaker amp to be able to drive them. The LCD-X goes toe to toe with some of the best dynamic driver headphones on the market without breaking a sweat.

Price and availability 

The LCD-X is available worldwide for  $1,199 (£1,299, AU$1,899). This puts the LCD-X somewhere in the middle of Audeze’s headphone line up with the new Penrose gaming headset being the most affordable and the range-topping LCD-5 costing  four times as much.

Design

If you’ve been following Audeze, the LCD-X doesn’t stray far from the company’s iconic look and build quality. The LCD-X is an open-back headphone, which means it lets sound pass inside and out to give sound a better sense of space and imaging. 

The headphone is built like a tank and pays for it with its 612g weight. This isn’t completely surprising as planar magnetic headphones must house a lot of magnets. For reference the venerable Sennheiser HD 800S, a dynamic driver headphone, weighs just 330g, which is nearly half the weight of the Audeze. 

Audeze LCD-X

(Image credit: Lewis Leong)

While heavy on the head, the headband and ear cup design help distribute the weight evenly across the head so there are no hotspots. 

We found the headphone to be relatively comfortable over long listening sessions, but we were always aware we were wearing headphones. The ear cups are large, fitting around our ears with ample space. Clamping pressure is mild but the headphone sat securely on our head. 

The headband is made of metal with a leather support underneath, which we found very comfortable. The ear cups are leather and breathe relatively well as we never felt steamy even listening on a hot summer day. Connecting the ear cups to the head band are solid metal pieces that feel like they can withstand some serious abuse. It’s also nice to see that there are user accessible screws so parts can be replaced, adding to the longevity of the headphone. 

Features

As if the tank-like build wasn’t enough, Audeze includes a hard plastic case for travel. It’s enormous but the headphones can literally be kicked across a room and still be fine in the foam-lined case. 

Included in the box is a 1.9m Single-ended 1/4'' to dual 4-pin mini-XLR cable. If you opt for the more expensive $1,699 ( £1,699, about AU$2291) “Premium Package,” you get an additional 1.9m Balanced 4-pin XLR to dual 4-pin mini-XLR cable, a 1/4" to 1/8" stereo adapter, and a nicer Pelican travel case. Since the LCD-X uses mini-XLR jacks, it’s easy to fit the headphone with aftermarket cables and users can enjoy a balanced setup, which reduces interference and allows the headphones to accept more power. 

Audeze LCD-X

(Image credit: Lewis Leong)

 Audeze also sells the Reveal+ plug-in on their website for $199 or bundled with headphones for only $99. The Reveal+ plug-in allows you to basically EQ the headphones to sound like various famous studios across the world. It’s extremely cool but ultimately only really useful for music producers who want to ensure they’re mixing for a specific space and sound. 

For music lovers, Reveal+ is mostly a novelty, allowing you to feel like you’re in the recording studio, but the deviation from the final mix is quite significant.  

Audio quality

The Audeze LCD-X never wowed us with its sound quality... but in this case that's a good thing. Its tonal balance is exceptionally neutral and we can see why it's marketed as a headphone for music producers. Bass is extremely tight and fast, and there’s a nice sub bass rumble. Mids are incredibly detailed and vocals sound incredible through the LCD-X. Highs have great extension and are never sibilant. We do wish there was a tiny bit more treble sparkle but treble-sensitive listeners will find the LCD-X’s frequency response just about perfect. 

What did impress us immediately was the LCD-X’s resolution and ability to separate instruments and place them with pin-point accuracy within the sound stage. Imaging is spectacular, allowing sounds and instruments to sound like they’re coming from behind you. In terms of soundstage, it’s not the widest, but it’s more than adequate and has great height. There is so much detail across the entire frequency range that you’ll be able to pick up the most subtle flaws and details that lesser headphones would otherwise miss.

Audeze LCD-X

(Image credit: Lewis Leong)

Compared to the similarly priced Focal Clear Mg, the Focals win in terms of listening fun, as it has slightly elevated bass and highs that sparkle. The Focals also beat the Audeze in terms of dynamics, which is the ability of a headphone to render soft and loud sounds quickly and accurately. However, the neutrality of the Audeze LCD-X is enticing, and it responds extremely well to EQ so you can tailor the sound to your liking if you wish. It’s that neutrality that also makes the LCD-X better suited as a studio monitor than the Focal Clear Mg (though Focal has a studio version called the Clear Mg Pro). 

Overall, get the Audeze LCD-X if you want something neutral, laid back, and slightly dark and get the Focal Clear MG if you want something exciting, dynamic, and in your face. 

Should you buy the Audeze LCD-X Headphones?

Audeze LCD-X

(Image credit: Lewis Leong)

Buy them if...

You want a balanced and neutral sound
The Audeze LCD-X is remarkably neutral, making it the perfect candidate for music mixing and mastering. 

You want a headphone to last forever
While the design of the LCD-X may be utilitarian, its build quality is astonishing. Its serviceability also makes it a headphone that can stand the test of time.

You want an open back headphone experience
The LCD-X is an open back headphone, which means sound will leak in and out. The advantage of this is spacious sound and imaging, which the Audeze does impeccably. 

Don't buy them if...

You don’t already have a good headphone system
The LCD-X requires a lot of current to sound its best. While entry-level headphone amps and DAC/amps can drive the LCD-X just fine in terms of volume, these headphones like having more current to maximize sound quality. 

Heavy headphones bother you
The LCD-X is quite heavy compared to the competition. While we found it very comfortable overall, we were always aware of the headphone’s weight. 

You’re looking for value
The LCD-X is an investment and could likely be the last headphone you’ll ever buy. However, other headphones like the Beyerdynamic DT1990 Pro are a better value at half the price.

Zeeker P10 rugged smartphone

Two minute review

This newcomer to the rugged smartphone market made an entrance with a visual bang, one with the highest pixel count on any camera sensor, 108 million to be exact (12,000 x 9,000) which is more than three times the resolution of an 8K screen (or 13 times that of 4K). That is the headline feature and one that is worthwhile if you are after a rugged smartphone that can take ultra high resolution photos. Another feature that didn’t get that much attention is the 8-megapixel infrared night vision sensor that could be useful for nocturnal journeys.

For the rest though, there’s evidence of some corner cutting. For a start, the 4G-capable Mediatek Helio G85 is slower than the Mediatek Dimensity 700 found in a number of cheaper 5G smartphones like the Doogee V10 or the Ulefone Armor 12 5G. The amount of onboard RAM and system storage is also less than we’d expect on a phone costing $370.

Overall, if you don’t need the high pixel count, there are definitely cheaper rugged options out there. And should you be looking for a more affordable 108-megapixel camera, the Xiaomi Redmi Note 9 Pro 5G is a more balanced smartphone with a longer warranty and 5G.

Pricing and availability

The Zeeker P10 is available from Amazon US for as little as $370 with free shipping. You can also buy it from AliExpress for roughly the same price but read this first if you're considering doing so.

Rear of Device

(Image credit: Future)

Design

Zeeker embraces the utilitarian approach of the traditional rugged smartphone design. Plenty of plastic and textured surfaces with a dash of fluorescent colour, wrapping up a metal frame. Going down that route has one big advantage, economies of scale. By adopting a design that’s very close to the competition, you minimize the amount of potential mistakes, cut down on the bill of material and reduce time-to-market. On the other hand, there’s no big differentiators as far as the shape and design are concerned.

Display

(Image credit: Future)

The phone’s display is a 6.49-inch FHD+ covered by a layer of Corning Gorilla glass. It is a tad oleophobic, definitely better at avoiding greasy fingerprints compared to say, the Samsung Galaxy Note 9. Near its top is a status LED and a punch-hole selfie.

Buttons Right Side

(Image credit: Future)

On the left edge is a SIM tray and a custom button while the right edge is located a fingerprint reader, the power button and the volume rocker. At the bottom, a flap hides a USB Type-C connector as well as a headphone jack.

Rear Camera Close Up

(Image credit: Future)

At the rear of the device is the crown jewel, a huge 108-megapixel camera sensor courtesy of Samsung. The ISOCELL HM2 has found its way in a wide range of premium smartphones like the Honor 50, the Motorola Edge 20 but no Samsung devices to date. There’s an 8-megapixel night vision camera, an 8-megapixel ultra wide camera and a 2-megapixel camera with an array of infrared LED and LED flash. Further down below is the grill that hides a single speaker.

USB-C Port and Headphone Jack

(Image credit: Future)

At 173 x 81 x 15mm for a weight of 317g, it is reasonably light for a rugged smartphone with this screen size. Our current champion is the 6.67-inch Nokia XR20 which weighs just 248g. As expected, the Zeeker P10 is MIL-STD-810G and IP68/IP69K rated.

Hardware

Spec Sheet

The Zeeker P10 comes with the following hardware:

CPU: Mediatek Helio G85

GPU: Arm Mali-G52 MC2

RAM: 6GB

Storage: 128GB

Screen size: 6.49-inch 

Resolution: 2400x1080

Weight: 317g

Dimensions: 172.6 x 80.8 x 14.6mm

Rear camera: 108MP, 8MP, 8MP, 2MP

Front camera: 8MP

OS: Android 11

Battery: 6Ah

A Mediatek G85 system-on-chip lies at the heart of the P10 and while it is a capable chip, it is still barely mainstream when it comes to sheer performance. Zeeker added 6GB of RAM and 128GB eMMC 5.1 (the faster version). 

As far as connectivity is concerned, there’s Bluetooth 5.0, NFC and Wi-Fi 5. A 6000mAh battery powers the smartphone and it is fed by either a 18W fast charging option and 15W wireless charging. In the box was a screen protector, a fast charger, an OTG cable, a USB cable and a pair of earphones.

Performance and in use

Benchmarks

This is how the Zeeker P10 performed in our suite of benchmark tests:

PCMark (Work 2.0): 8580

Passmark: 4930

Passmark CPU: 2301

Androbench (sequential): 301 (sequential read); 198(sequential write)

Androbench (random): 92 (random read); 70 (random write)

3DMark  Wild Life Vulkan: 724

Zeeker developed its own UI, Zeeker UI, which is an overlay that sits on Android 11. Zeeker says that it is fast, clear and practical. In use, we didn’t see much of a difference although the bundled apps and features seem to be a bit of a deja vu. There’s the outdoor toolbox and the kids/children space as well as Duraspeed; the first one is a collection of apps (compass, barometer, sound meter etc) aimed at field workers, DIYers and outdoor dwellers. The second one allows you to set up a restricted secondary virtual phone and is ideally suited for a guest user (e.g. children) while the third one allows you to freeze apps in the background.

You won’t buy that phone because you are an avid player. The wide range of tests we put the P10 through don’t lie. In the majority of benchmarks, Zeeker’s inaugural rugged smartphone delivers some of the poorest scores in recent memories we’ve seen on 3DMark. Sandwiched between the XR20 and the Ulefone Armor 8 Pro. Not catastrophic but something to be aware of.

In Use

(Image credit: Future)

Should I buy the Zeeker P10?

Buy it if:

You want a rugged phone with a big camera sensor 

That’s the only reason you’d buy this phone. It’s rugged and it has a wonderful 108-megapixel camera sensor plus an underrated IR camera sensor.

Don’t buy it if:

You want 5G connectivity

Despite its relatively high price, the Zeeker P10 doesn’t do 5G.

You want a rugged smartphone with mid-range performance 

While we didn’t encounter any significant issues with day to day usage, the Zeeker P10 is simply too slow for this price. We’d rather sacrifice the screen for a 5G capable Dimensity 700 SoC.

We've also rounded up the best rugged smartphones and best rugged tablets

Ginger writing tool

It’s been a while since writing assist tools arrived on the market, and they’ve managed to establish a solid reputation among professional writers and even some hobbyist communities. There is a lot to gain from using a comprehensive solution that analyzes your writing and suggests potential improvements, and there is no shortage of options for that on the current market. If you’ve never used a tool like this, it’s definitely something worth checking out if you want your words to flow more smoothly.

Ginger offers a good range of features to help you improve your writing and polish your work to perfection. It will analyze your text in various ways and suggest improvements, and it will even help you train your style in an ongoing manner. It has various features that you may or may not need, and at the same time offers everything in a comprehensive package that doesn’t take long to get used to. It doesn’t matter if you’ve already used similar tools in the past or if this is your first one, Ginger is definitely worth checking out.

Pricing

Ginger becomes significantly less expensive per month if you sign up for an annual or two year plan (Image credit: Ginger Software)

Plans and pricing

Ginger has a free version, though it comes with various limitations. You can’t check text that’s too long, among other things – though you can still break it down into chunks and check those separately. Of course, this is much more time-consuming, and also prone to some inconsistencies as context is lost between those chunks. Still, the free version does a good job at demonstrating the basic features and explaining what the application is useful for.

Premium plans can be purchased on a monthly and annual basis, as well as a two-year subscription. Prices range between $19.99/month and $9.99/month between the different tiers, making this an overall adequately priced solution for what it has to offer. Some competing tools cost a bit more, while others offered at a similar price don’t come with so many features. You should give the free version a try before committing to a full purchase.

Features

Ginger helps you identify weaknesses in your writing style and shows you opportunities for improvement. You can use it to avoid repetitive wording, awkward phrasing, common grammatical and structural problems, and various other issues that plague the work of the average writer. Many of the tools are driven by AI, making them reliable and comprehensive in their functionality. Unfortunately, this also means that it’s sometimes difficult to figure out exactly what a certain suggestion is based on.

Rephrasing Tool

Ginger's rephrasing tool can help you reword phrases in your writing (Image credit: Ginger Software)

You can also use a rephrasing tool to help bring some variety into your work. If you’re having trouble coming up with different ways to say something, this is a great way to get over that block. However, reworded phrases might sometimes sound awkward, so make sure to check the result before accepting it.

Interface

Ginger has a very slick and minimal user interface complete with keyboard shortcuts (Image credit: Ginger Software)

Interface and in use

Ginger has a simple interface that’s very easy to use, and the application rests nicely in a small window on your desktop. It can also integrate with Microsoft Word and all popular browsers through extensions if you prefer to use it that way instead of a dedicated application window. The standalone version is lightweight enough that it won’t bother you during your daily tasks, even on a slower computer.

Platforms

In addition to being offered as a browser extension, Ginger is also available for Windows and Mac as a standalone app (Image credit: Ginger Software)

There are various differences between the standalone version and the extensions, though those can be mostly explained by limitations of the corresponding platforms. The developers have tried to adapt the program as best as possible to different paradigms, so you can expect it to work just fine whether you’re using the browser version or the standalone application.

Support

Ginger has a searchable knowledgebase in case you run into any problems (Image credit: Ginger Software)

Support

Ginger has professional and competent user support, and the company doesn’t lack in any way in this area. They know their product very well and are quick in their service, so you should expect to get your queries resolved quickly and without any issues. Check out the knowledge base before asking for help – it already offers quite a bit of information in a structured manner.

The competition

Ginger faces competition in tools like Grammarly, and it’s hard to say which one offers a better solution right now, because all programs on this market approach their functionality in slightly different ways. Ginger is great for those who need ongoing help with checking their work, and it can also work well for the occasional edit for someone who doesn’t write frequently.

Final verdict

If you’ve never used a tool like Ginger, it’s time to give it a try – at least if you’re serious about your writing. And of all the options in the market, Ginger is one of the better options for first-time users right now. Download the free version and see how well it works for you. You may easily discover tons of opportunities for improving your writing right off the bat, and the more you continue to use it, the more of those revelations you’ll have.

We've also featured the best free writing software and best laptops for writers

SoundMagic P23BT

Two-minute review

A reliable name in headphones and earphones despite not being the first brand you'd probably think of, SoundMagic has released its first wireless over-ear headphones in the form of the SoundMagic P23BT and done quite a remarkable job. 

Sure, they feel as cheap as you would expect from a pair of headphones that only cost $55 / £50 (about AU$100), but they work well where it counts. 

That means a surprisingly wide soundstage with reasonable bass and modest mid, a comfortable fit and an astonishing battery life of up to 60 hours. 

Other features include aptX, aptX HD, AAC and SBC codec support and a closed back design that does a decent job of blocking out surrounding sounds. There's no active noise cancellation here but we would hardly expect it at this price admittedly. Similarly, there's no app support so no way of tweaking the EQ or similar but again - this is a barebones collection of the essentials that you'll want to see from any headphones.

a closeup of the soundmagic pt23bt headphones

(Image credit: TechRadar)

The SoundMagic P23BT are comfy too. Granted, they feel cheap at first thanks to a plastic headband and a foldable design that's useful for storing away but feels a bit flimsy, but the ear cups feel good on your ears. There's no sign of premium materials here and the power button feels incredibly cheap but it all works well enough. 

Controls on the headphones are touch sensitive and work on a gesture based system. It's reasonably easy to remember what command does what though and it's also fairly responsive.

Other features include a wired boom mic that can be attached as and when needed if you want to start using the SoundMagic P23BT for calls. 

The SoundMagic P23BT won't win prizes for looks or complex features to lure in audiophiles. For the average user simply looking for a cheap way to listen to music on the move and well, however, these do the job. Even better, that extraordinary battery life means a week's worth of the longest of commutes still won't require you to dig out the charging cable. 

the soundmagic p23bt wireless headphones

(Image credit: TechRadar)

SoundMagic P23BT price and availability

  • Available now for $54.99 / £49.99 / about AU$95 
  • One color option - black 

The SoundMagic P23BT are priced at $54.99 / £49.99 / about AU$95, making them very cheap for wireless headphones

They're available from pretty much all third-party retailers with the only color option being black.

the soundmagic pt23bt wireless headphones

(Image credit: TechRadar)

Design

  • Comfortable fit
  • Foldable design
  • Removable mic

The SoundMagic P23BT are very lightweight to the point that they feel pretty flimsy. They have a foldable design so that they easily bend together to fit into your bag when you're not using them. The ear cups are made from memory foam so while - to the touch - they don't feel premium, they feel good on your ears and the lightweight design ensures that they never feel cumbersome. 

Buttons wise, the SoundMagic P23BT feels suitably cheap yet functional. One physical button dictates power and Bluetooth connectivity depending on how long you hold it down while the outside of the right ear cup offer touch-sensitive controls that can adjust volume, skip tracks, take calls and so forth. These work fairly well, proving intuitive and memorable. 

The headphones use 40mm drivers that we'll go into detail about later but they do the job well. There's no active noise cancellation but the covered ear design means that these still block out surrounding sound reasonably well for the price. 

The SoundMagic P23BT are a little light on extra features so don't count on voice assistant support or a separate app for dictating EQ. However, it is possible to attach a wired boom mic as and when needed. It's also an option to plug them in and listen away, although this should be rarely needed given the impressive battery life that we'll talk about later. 

the soundmagic p23bt wireless over-ear headphones

(Image credit: TechRadar)

Audio performance

  • Reasonably well balanced
  • 40mm drivers
  • Support for aptX, aptX HD, AAC and SBC codecs 

The SoundMagic P23BT aren’t going to rival more expensive headphones but they still sound quite good. The bass isn't overwhelming when listening to the likes of Billie Eilish's Bad Guy and while it could also offer a bit more punch, we're mostly grateful it doesn't overwhelm like other cheap headphones. Instead, you can still hear some decent lows and enjoy some reasonably crisp mids. 

The soundstage is also reasonably wide so you certainly don't have to crank up the volume here to get the most from it. We felt suitably cocooned while listening to the likes of David Bowie's Under Pressure and Soft Cell's Tainted Love continues to sound wide reaching and engaging. 

There's no app support here so you can't tweak anything which is a mild shame but hardly surprising. Where things are much more promising is that the SoundMagic P23BT support aptX, aptX HD, AAC and SBC codecs, which is always useful. 

the soundmagic pt23bt headphones being folded up

(Image credit: TechRadar)

Battery life and connectivity

  • Up to 60 hours music playback
  • Fast charging support
  • Bluetooth 5

Impressively, the SoundMagic P23BT promise 54-60 hours of battery life when listening to music, and it achieves it too. It's long enough that you almost forgot how long ago it was that you last charged up your headphones which is pretty remarkable. Talk time is estimated at between 39 to 45 hours but we don't talk to enough people to be able to accurately check that for a good few months yet. 

For those rare times you do need to recharge, a 10-minute charging session gives back five hours of playtime. Also, the headphones can last for 50 days in standby mode. It's all very impressive and easily one of the best things about the SoundMagic P23BT. You simply don't have to think much about them. 

The SoundMagic P23BT only use Bluetooth 5 rather than the latest 5.2, but clearly that isn't bothering battery life by any means. We didn't suffer any drop outs either while using it.

Should I buy the SoundMagic P23BT?

the soudnmagic p23bt headphones

(Image credit: TechRadar)

Buy them if...

You want great battery life
Always forgetting to recharge your gadgets? You really won't have to worry about it very often with the SoundMagic P23BT so it's a real timesaver.

You want great portability on a budget
The SoundMagic P23BT might feel flimsy but they fold up nicely and they're suitably lightweight so they'll fit in your bag perfectly.

Don't buy them if...

You want high-end audio
The SoundMagic P23BT sound good for the price and have decent codec support but if you're an audiophile, you'll want more than these can provide

You want plenty of features
The SoundMagic P23BT keep things fairly simple if effective. If you need app support, voice assistant commands, and general fanciness from your tech, this isn't the one for you.

ProWritingAid writing tool

There is a huge market for assist tools of various types nowadays, and many professionals rely on them heavily for their daily work. The complexity and features of those tools vary across the board, but the general idea is the same – they help you get the most out of your work by pointing out areas for improvement. Writing is a field that’s seen lots of these solutions in recent years, which is a refreshing change after being dominated by Grammarly for so long.

ProWritingAid is a competitor to Grammarly that’s established its own place on the market, with a steady base of users that follow its development. This writing tool is more expensive than Grammarly, but at the same time leaves something to be desired in terms of features and usability in comparison. Grammarly is still the market leader, but ProWritingAid is not to be underestimated either, as it offers healthy competition.

Pricing

ProWritingAid is available as a monthly or annual subscription though there is also a lifetime license (Image credit: Orpheus Technology )

Plans and pricing

The application is offered with several subscription options – you can either pay monthly, yearly, or make a one-time payment for a permanent subscription. The last option costs $399, while a monthly subscription is $20, or $6.58 with the annual plan. It’s a good idea to give the monthly plans a try before committing to a longer-running option, even though the annual subscription can be quite alluring with its huge discount.

The one-time payment option is a mixed bag, depending on what specifically you’re looking for. Some people might get their money’s worth very quickly, while for others it would make more economic sense to stick to a monthly subscription, or even switch to a cheaper service like Grammarly. ProWritingAid is clearly aimed at users who do a lot of writing on a regular basis, so if you only need it for occasional corrections and check-ups, you should probably look at an alternative option.

Features

ProWritingAid can be used for creative, business and academic writing (Image credit: Orpheus Technology )

Features

The application offers various features to help you get your point across more clearly and concisely. It evaluates your writing in multiple aspects, including overall readability, sentence length, use of passive voice, and other features which are common in similar tools. You have easy access to tools for checking your grammar and style, a thesaurus for quick reference, and an overview of issues like overused words and phrases, repetition, awkward phrasing, and more.

Summary Report

ProWritingAid provides you with a Summary Report on all of your documents (Image credit: Orpheus Technology )

The application will look into how you’re transitioning between different sections of your work as well. Some of the tools are clearly aimed at specific types of writers. Those doing creative work will likely benefit from ProWritingAid more than those working on technical texts, for example. It’s important to keep this in mind, as some of the suggestions you’ll receive might not be exactly aligned with your intended style. 

Interface

ProWritingAid has a nice and clean interface with icons and descriptions for all of its tools (Image credit: Orpheus Technology )

Interface and in use

The program works in a browser, and doesn’t require any powerful hardware to run. This is nothing new in this corner of the market, as many other popular programs of this type work in a similar manner. The interface is nice and clean, and everything is where you would expect to find it. It doesn’t take too long to get used to the way ProWritingAid works, and if you’re coming from other similar programs, it should feel quite familiar to you right from the start. Some elements might seem a bit too big, but that’s a minor issue, and one that can be addressed to some extent with the use of your browser’s zoom feature. In fact, some users apparently use it at 80-90% scale by default, so give that a try and see how it works for you.

Knowledgebase

ProWritingAid has a number of useful articles available in its knowledgebase (Image credit: Orpheus Technology )

Support

The company offers an extensive knowledge base, as well as several extra features that bring them closer to their community. You can take advantage of various tutorials for improving your writing, and even submit a feature request and see where it goes. Keep in mind that the popularity of ProWritingAid means that you will probably face a lot of competition if you do want to put in a feature request, so don’t be disheartened if it looks like they aren’t paying much attention to your idea.

The competition

Grammarly is the most direct competitor to ProWritingAid right now, and comparing the two is not very straightforward, as they both serve somewhat different purposes. ProWritingAid is aimed at heavier users who frequently need to verify their writing and take advantage of batch tools and similar features. Grammarly, on the other hand, is more suitable for the everyday writer who occasionally needs to check something, as well as those who need its specific features. If the pricing plans of ProWritingAid look too expensive for your needs, definitely check what the rest of the market has to offer.

Final verdict

ProWritingAid is a competent entry into a market that’s becoming quite busy lately. It faces serious competition from Grammarly, but still manages to hold its own, and stands out without too many issues. If you can afford it, it’s definitely worth spending some extra cash on. Make sure to check what Grammarly has to offer in comparison though, as you might find it perfectly suitable for your specific needs.

We've also featured the best free writing software and best laptops for writers

Hoka One One Bondi X

30-second review

The max-cushioned Bondi X is a bulky running shoe, but despite the size, it provides a snappy ride thanks to the embedded carbon plate, a new addition to the Bondi line. The full-size moulded EVA midsole is just the icing on the cake and further enhances the responsiveness of the shoes.

The mesh upper also received an update, and now uses 'hotmelt 3D yarns' to reduce weight and increase ventilation in the shoes. However, wearing the Bondi X feels familiar and reminiscent of Hoka shoes of the past, particularly the Carbon X 2 and Rocket X. In a good way, of course.

The larger-than-life look of the Bondi X might put off some of the more diehard runners; people either love or hate Hoka’s chunky running shoes. Fans of the brand will appreciate the vibrant colours and funky looks of the shoe, though.

Hoka One One Bondi X

(Image credit: Matt Kollat)

Price and release date

The Hoka One One Bondi X was released in September 2021 and is available to buy now at Hoka and selected third-party retailers such as sportsshoes.com for a recommended retail price of $200 / £180 / AU$349.95.

Design

The Bondi series has always been one of the more whimsical franchises in the Hoka lineup and the Bondi X carries this ethos in its design. The chunky bottom unit dominates the view; it’s wider than your average Hoka, but features the original cushioning and curvy lines we expect to see in Bondi shoes.

The sizeable foam underfoot not only provides a safer platform to land on but also something to look at, too. The silhouette of the compression-moulded EVA midsole – the main supplier of that ‘mega cushioned’ feeling – is visible on the side of the shoes. Just follow the blue line and you’ll find it.

Hoka One One Bondi X

(Image credit: Matt Kollat)

The 3D Hotmelt yarns-infused breathable mesh upper is said to allow more airflow in the shoes which is great as the Bondi X was designed for long-distance training. The upper felt familiar and reminiscent of previous – and well-loved, may I add – Hoka models: not too tight but firm enough to keep the shoes strapped to your feet without any issues.

The 5mm heel to toe drop places the Bondi X firmly in the midway point between racing flats and high stack racing shoes with a massive 10-12mm drop. This further reinforces the neutral runner nature of the Bondi X and helps you devour the miles with ease (the carbon plate helps too – more on that later).

Compared to its predecessor (the Bondi 7), the men’s version of the Bondi X is ever so slightly lighter, while the women’s version is a tad bit heavier. From a practical standpoint, such a minor difference won’t translate into a significantly different running experience and even with the reduction in weight, the Bondy X is not a light running shoe per se.

Hoka One One Bondi X

(Image credit: Matt Kollat)

Performance

Compared to Hoka’s top racing shoe, the excellent Carbon X 2, the Bondi X is softer and wider; more forgiving, one might say. It’s less performance-oriented and aimed at people who like to sneak in a cheat mile or two when they head out to longer training sessions.

One thing we haven’t covered yet in detail is the inclusion of the carbon plate in the Bondi X. Previous version of the shoe didn’t include this feature and to be fair, it’s still a bit unclear why Hoka added it as there are already two carbon enhanced running shoes in its repertoire already (the Carbon X 2 and the Rocket X).

That said, the Bondi X benefits greatly from the inclusion of this modern racing shoe staple. The Early stage Meta-Rocker mechanism might not be as soft as performance running shoes (the Adidas Adizero Adios Pro 2 jumps to mind), you can still feel the snap of the carbon plate as it propels you forward. This makes the Bondi X an ideal choice for those who want to go – run, even – the extra mile.

Hoka One One Bondi X

(Image credit: Matt Kollat)

The best thing about the carbon plated Bondi X is that it grants access to a feature previously only available in performance running shoes. It democratises the carbon plate, so to say, making it available to people who aren’t chasing PBs every time they go out for a run, but who might still appreciate a little extra help, especially when running form starts falling apart after 10 miles or so.

As mentioned above, the Bondi X is not a light running shoe, but I doubt anyone would find the weight obtrusive in this case. Everything in the bottom unit, including the Meta-Rocker, the EVA midsole and even the cushioning, works together in unison to help runners keep going mile after mile.

In conclusion, the Hoka One One Bondi X is a near-perfect long-distance trainer for people who don’t mind wearing stylish running shoes. Adding a carbon plate to an otherwise non-performance-oriented running shoe was a risk but one that paid off nicely here. If you’re happy to pay the premium price, you won’t be disappointed with the Bondi X.

Hoka One One Bondi X

(Image credit: Matt Kollat)

Buy it if

You appreciate a well-cushioned running shoe
The Bondi X delivers a proper max-cushion experience and provides a plush ride

You like when a running shoe has style
Happy for your running shoes to take center stage when you wear them? If so, you’ll love the Bondi X.

Don't buy it if

You need a cheap running trainer
The Bondi X is an expensive running trainer and costs as much as a mid-range running watch

You’re after a performance running shoe
Despite the carbon plate, the Bondi X is by no means a running shoe you can use to break PBs

Canon EOS R3

Two-minute review

If you want a glimpse of the future of Canon's mirrorless cameras, take a look at the Canon EOS R3 – it might look like a DSLR from a decade ago, but inside it's one of the most advanced sports and wildlife cameras ever built.

Canon says the EOS R3 sits in between the Canon EOS R5 (its smaller mirrorless all-rounder) and the Canon 1D X Mark III (its chunky flagship DSLR). In practice, it's a combination of the two, and the mirrorless successor to the latter.

But Canon hasn't just repackaged its existing tech with the EOS R3. It's the flag-bearer for a host of new technologies, most notably a new 24.1MP backside-illuminated stacked CMOS sensor.

The front of the Canon EOS R3 mirrorless camera

(Image credit: Future)

This sensor's stacked design apes that of Sony cameras like the Sony A1, giving the R3 a purring photographic engine that's capable of producing 30fps raw burst shooting and minimal rolling shutter in video.

Unusually for a pro sports camera, the EOS R3 also packs video treats like the ability to shoot 6K raw video internally, and an articulating touchscreen. There's even a modern incarnation of the 'Eye Control AF' system we saw back in the 1990s on Canon's SLRs, which lets you choose focus points just by looking at them in the viewfinder.

But does this rare combination of talents add up to a great camera, or a slightly confused one? There's no doubt that for, pro photographers, it's the former. If you're a paid snapper, just knowing that the EOS R3 is out there is going to be bad for your bank balance. After all, it's hard to justify shooting anything else when a camera that makes missing a shot – either because of autofocus, its continuous rate of shooting, or its low-light capabilities – extremely difficult.

The Canon EOS R3's price is certainly less appealing. This is latest-generation tech and Canon knows it, which is why you’ll be parting with the thick end of $6,000 / £6,000 / AU$9,000 if you decide to get one. That number goes up sharply once you're committed to its high-end RF-mount lenses.

And yet. Pick one up. Turn it over in your hands. This is the current pinnacle of mirrorless technology, at least for Canon shooters. And while the EOS R3 is undoubtedly overkill for most amateurs, and hardly a discreet camera for the street, it is – like the EOS 1D X Mark III before it – the new default choice for pros who can't or won't compromise, and are prepared to put their kit on the line to get the shot they need.

Canon EOS R3 price and release date

  • The Canon EOS R3 costs $5,999 / £5,879 / AU$8,599
  • That's pricier than the EOS R5, but less than the EOS 1D X Mark III
  • It was due to ship in November, but there are currently stock shortages

The Canon EOS R3 has a body-only price of $5,999 / £5,879 / AU$8,599. As expected, that's a pro-level price tag that will be beyond most amateur snappers, although it is lower than the Sony A1's launch price ($6,500 / £6,499 / AU$10,499), and that of the Canon EOS 1D X Mark III, which cost ($6,499 / £6,499 / AU$9,999) when it landed in early 2020.

Been saving up for one? Unfortunately, the EOS R3 is hard to come by right now. In September, Canon released a statement saying that it had "received more orders than expected" and that "it will take some time before delivery". This means that all retailers currently only have the EOS R3 listed as available for pre-order or on backorder, but we'll update this page when this changes.

Design

  • A smaller, lighter version of the Canon EOS 1D X Mark III
  • Super-crisp, fully articulating 4.1 million-dot touchscreen
  • Same electronic viewfinder (EVF) as the Canon EOS R5

Canon won't ever describe it as such, but the Canon EOS R3 is clearly the mirrorless equivalent of its Canon EOS 1D X Mark III sports DSLR. This means it's larger than the Sony A1 (which doesn't have a built-in grip), but smaller than its DSLR cousins. 

In the hand, the EOS R3 is considerably lighter than the 1D X Mark III, weighing 822g (or just over 1kg with a card and battery). That's a huge weight saving of over 400g, which will please the spines of sports snappers. The size difference is less noticeable,  with the EOS R3 being about 2.5cm shorter, nearly a centimeter narrower and about 4mm deeper than the 1D X Mark III, but it doesn’t lose any of its grab-ability compared to Canon’s other pro-grade cameras.

The grip – now finished in a fetching carbon-fibre style rubber – is deep and easy to keep hold of. It’s spectacularly light for a full-height pro camera and the handling is superb. Canon has built up substantial experience when it comes to making cameras that are as quick to use as they are to shoot, and it’s all brought to bear here. 

The buttons are large and have relatively deep travels, which means you know when you’ve hit one, as well as being usable with gloves. The menu system is big, bold and responsive, and anyone coming from any of Canon’s recent models will take no time getting up to speed. 

Two hands holding the Canon EOS R3 mirrorless camera

(Image credit: Future)

What really marks out the EOS R3 as a professional sports camera, compared to smaller models like the Canon EOS R5, is its build quality and built-in battery grip. It has a magnesium alloy body that makes it the toughest mirrorless camera Canon has made so far.

The EOS R3 has the same level of weather-proofing as the 1D X Mark III, but it isn't built to withstand the same extremes of temperature as Canon's bomb-proof DSLR; this is predominantly a sports camera, after all, as shown by that built-in portrait grip. It also uses the same LP-E19 battery as the EOS-1D X Mark III, which has a capacity about a third higher than that of the Canon EOS R5's LP-E6NH battery.

Canon has clearly attempted to make the EOS R3 as comfortably familiar as possible for those coming from its pro DSLRs. There's no room for the 1D X Mark III's mini display on the back, but the majority of its rear buttons are in the same place as on that camera – and it also has the Smart Controller that debuted on that DSLR in 2020.

This touch-sensitive AF-On button is a bit like an upside-down computer mouse, letting you quickly move your autofocus point around the frame. While it split opinion among photographers, Canon clearly had enough good feedback from its pro snappers to keep it on the EOS R3 – and there's an extra Smart Controller button for when you're shooting in portrait, too. Those who aren't a fan of this modified AF-On button can also use the traditional, knurled AF joysticks.

The rear buttons of the Canon EOS R3 mirrorless camera

(Image credit: Future)

Elsewhere, 'festooned' is a good way of describing the way the R3 is decorated with buttons. Customizable Fn buttons on the front give you plenty of ways to set the camera up just as you want it, while the back – and top plate – give you near instant access to drive mode, autofocus settings, metering mode and plenty more. The thumbwheel on the back is a good way of cracking through menu options, and for those who prefer pecking their way through menus, the screen on the back is, natch, a touchscreen.

The left-hand side of the camera is all ports. The usual suspects are in attendance; HDMI, USB-C (usable for both data transfer and charging the battery) are joined by mic-in and headphone jacks, plus a flash sync port. You also get wired Gigabit Ethernet – of vanishingly little concern to most, but an absolute must to photographers working at busy sporting events. This is joined internally by 2.4GHz and 5GHz wireless, to the possible chagrin of existing 1D X Mark III owners, for whom 5GHz wireless is a pricey add-on in the shape of the WFT-E9 Wireless File Transmitter.

Because the Canon EOS R3 is a mirrorless camera, there are naturally some differences between it and the company's sports DSLRs. The two most obvious ones are its viewfinder and rear screen. Canon has confirmed that the EOS R3 has the same electronic viewfinder (EVF) as the Canon EOS R5, which means it's a 5.67 million-dot affair with a 120fps refresh rate. 

Canon claims this "rivals an optical viewfinder". And in practice, we indeed found it to be indistinguishable from true-optical viewfinders. It's also added an 'OVF simulation View Assist' mode, which lets you see the action that's going on outside the frame.

Image 1 of 3

The side-flipping screen of the Canon EOS R3 mirrorless camera

(Image credit: Future)
Image 2 of 3

The vari-angle screen of the Canon EOS R3 mirrorless camera

(Image credit: Future)
Image 3 of 3

The back of the Canon EOS R3 mirrorless camera on a table

(Image credit: Future)

A more unexpected inclusion is the outstanding 3.2in vari-angle touchscreen, which has a super-crisp 4.1 million-dot resolution. 

This blows the Sony A1's 1.44 million-dot, tilt-only rear screen out of the water, and its full articulation will be particularly handy for video shooters. It’s also 0.05in bigger than the screens on either the 1D X Mark III or the EOS R5, which you won’t notice, but has nearly twice the number of pixels, which you definitely will.

It's actually the first vari-angle screen we’ve seen on a camera that meets Canon’s pro standards for water and dust ingress, and consequently feels tough and well made, quite apart from giving you the welcome option to flip it over so it’s tucked safely against the R3’s body when you chuck it in a bag. It's also a big change from the Canon EOS 1D X Mark III's completely fixed rear screen, which was designed purely for sports snappers.

The top of the Canon EOS R3 mirrorless camera

(Image credit: Future)

One new feature that we haven't seen on any other Canon camera so far is the new Multi-Function Shoe in the middle. This is interesting because, like Sony's Multi-Interface Shoe, it allows for high-speed, two-way data transfer between the camera and any compatible accessories that you mount on top of it. 

Canon has announced a new Directional Stereo Microphone (DM-E1D) and Speedlite Transmitter (ST-E10) that are both fully compatible with the new shoe – which means they can draw power from the camera. The hot-shoe is the same size as Canon's standard hot-shoe, so you can use all your old accessories with it, but one downside is that it doesn't create a weather-proof seal – if you want full weather-proofing, you'll need an optional accessory.

Autofocus

  • New Eye Control AF is more than just a party piece
  • AF tracking now includes vehicles, along with humans and animals
  • Lightning-fast subject acquisition

In the great mirrorless camera war between Canon and Sony, one of the main battles is autofocus – and the EOS R3 breaks new AF ground for Canon cameras.

Before we talk about our real-world experience, let's introduce the EOS R3's autofocus claims. Like the Canon EOS R5, it has the Dual Pixel CMOS AF II system, but there are a few differences this time. Canon says the EOS R3 is "the fastest EOS R series camera yet" in terms of focusing, trumping the R5 with its ability to focus in 0.03 seconds, compared to 0.05 seconds.

The EOS R3 is also the first Canon camera to have a 'vehicle tracking' autofocus mode. This is something we've seen previously on the Olympus OM-D E-M1X, and the R3's mode works in a similar way to that camera's Intelligent Subject Detection AF system, locking focus on rally cars, motorbikes and open-cockpit F1 cars so that you can concentrate on composition.

The rear screen of the Canon EOS R3 mirrorless camera

(Image credit: Future)

And how well do all these AF skills work in the real world? We certainly weren't disappointed – in fact, the autofocus is nearly impossible to trip up. We’ve been saying this about pro-grade cameras for some time now, but whether in poorly lit, strongly backlit, low-contrast or dynamic situations, the EOS R3 kept up with our subjects incredibly well.

We tried it with Canon’s RF-mount 24-105mm f/4L and the 70-200mm f/2.8L, and both pieces of current-generation glass produced sharp shot after sharp shot. If you shoot sports or wildlife, the EOS R3 could see you taking home more sharp frames than ever before. Like other cameras in the RF-mount range, the EOS R3 has a few tricks up its sleeve – people-tracking is an obvious inclusion, as is animal and vehicle tracking given, but the most unique one is Canon's Eye Control AF.

The Eye Control Autofocus of the Canon EOS R3 in action

(Image credit: Canon)

Despite sounding futuristic, this is actually a new version of the 'eye-controlled autofocus' system we saw back on the Canon EOS 3 SLR in the late 90s. It allows the camera to detect where you're looking in the viewfinder and move the autofocus to that point in the frame. The idea is that, in fast-moving scenarios, this will be quicker than using manual controls, and will let you concentrate on adjusting your exposure or composition. Canon says the system has been adapted from technology used in the company's medical division, and uses eight low-powered LEDs in the viewfinder to track your eye and overlay that information on the sensor.

We’re pleased to report that Eye Control AF selection is far more than a gimmick. It feels virtually magical – you can set it up in various ways, but the end result, where the R3 tracks exactly where you’re looking in the frame and drops the autofocus point straight on top of it, is amazing.

Not being glasses-wearers, we can’t say for sure whether Canon’s claim that it works with standard eye glasses is true, but in the event that you try and dislike Eye Control AF, the touch-sensitive AF point selection button has been pinched wholesale from the 1D X Mark III, and it works just as well here.

The smart controller button on the Canon EOS R3 mirrorless camera

(Image credit: Future)

When the camera is choosing its own AF points, it can select anywhere in the frame; if you opt for manual AF point selection you can choose from 100% of the width of the frame or 90% of the verticality. Overall, there are 4,779 different AF points available (in stills mode; this drops a little to 3,969 in movie mode).

The final AF performance improvement over the Canon EOS R5 is slightly better low-light performance. Canon says the EOS R3 can focus in lighting conditions as low as -7.5 EV (think a night-time scene with minimal moonlight), which is an improvement on the EOS R5's quoted low of -6EV. Bear in mind, though, that both of these figures are based on shooting with an f/1.2 lens at ISO100, making it more of a theoretical ceiling than a day-to-day reality.

Overall, then, no camera we've seen gives you more options for controlling your autofocus than the EOS R3. Between the Smart Controller, touchscreen, AF joysticks and Eye Control AF, there's now very little excuse for not nailing your focus.  

Specs and performance

  • New 24.1MP backside-illuminated stacked CMOS sensor
  • 30fps burst shooting (raw or JPEG) with electronic shutter
  • Only 12fps continuous shooting with mechanical shutter

Our short review of the Canon EOS R3's performance is 'blimey'. But the longer one requires a little context. The Canon EOS R3's most significant feature is its new 24.1MP sensor. This has been both designed and manufactured by Canon, despite earlier rumors that it would be made by Sony. Crucially, it's also Canon's first 'stacked' sensor.

Sony has pioneered 'stacked' full-frame sensors, the layered structure of which allows more complex circuitry to be built behind the photosites. The result? Higher data read-out speeds, which brings benefits like faster burst-shooting speeds and reduced 'rolling shutter' in video. And that's certainly the case with the EOS R3.

In a world where the Sony A1 is capable of shooting 50MP photos at 30fps, the EOS R3's 24.1MP resolution might sound disappointing. But unless you regularly crop into your photos a lot, that's more than enough for most photographers – and the professionals who've been pinning their livelihoods on the 20.1MP Canon EOS 1 DX Mark III certainly haven't complained.

The top of the Canon EOS R3 mirrorless camera

(Image credit: Future)

This means the Canon EOS R3 is more of a rival to the Sony A9 II, which has a 24.2MP stacked full-frame sensor, than the A1. And in a few specs battles, the EOS R3 comes out on top. 

In very specific conditions, it can hit continuous shooting speeds of 30fps with AE/AF tracking when using the electronic shutter, and maintain that for 540 JPEGs or 150 raws (in other words, 18 seconds or five seconds of shooting respectively).

In this 30fps stills mode, it’s actually impossible to only shoot a single frame – you just can’t get your finger off the shutter button fast enough. That means you won’t want to use the EOS R3 at full chat in more than a handful of situations, but when push comes to shove and you simply can’t afford to miss the shot – we’re thinking the flower chuck at a wedding, the moment the leopard springs from its cover, the instant the sprinter crosses the finish line – the R3’s continuous mode leaves you perilously short of excuses.

There are limitations – you can only reach 30fps if you’re using the R3 with its shutter set to electronic, and although rolling shutter is extremely well-controlled, it’s not an impossibility if you’re really whipping the camera side-to-side as you shoot. If you’re wedded to the haptic feedback and authentic 'crack' of a mechanical shutter, you’ll have to live with the R3’s relatively normal 12fps. There are other cameras out there with faster mechanical shutters, not least the 1D X Mark III (16fps) and even the EOS-1D X Mark II (14fps).

Image 1 of 3

The side of the Canon EOS R3 mirrorless camera on a table

(Image credit: Future)
Image 2 of 3

The side of the Canon EOS R3 mirrorless camera on a table

(Image credit: Future)
Image 3 of 3

The back of the Canon EOS R3 mirrorless camera on a table

(Image credit: Future)

Beyond the ability to hit staggering shutter speeds of 1/64000th of a second, the electronic shutter can also be synced with external flashes (up to 1/250th of a second), something that was previously only possible with mechanical shutters. Like Sony, Canon has also added Flicker detection and High Frequency anti-flicker shooting modes to help detect and correct flickering indoor light sources.

Another big benefit for handheld shooting over the Canon 1D X Mark III is the inclusion of in-body image stabilization. When you use the EOS R3 with compatible RF lenses, you'll get shake reduction of up to eight stops. This allows you to preserve still image quality and, if it works as well as in the Canon EOS R5, get reasonably smooth video without a gimbal.

We need to talk about battery life, because all this performance – the two fantastic displays plus the processing horsepower needed to keep it all moving – doesn’t come cheap. You can fairly well ignore the CIPA-generated numbers: the spec sheet says the R3 will shoot just 620 images using the EVF; or precisely 20.6 seconds of shooting the R3 at its fastest 30fps speed. 

This isn’t true; we saw far more images on a single charge than that. But it’s definitely fair to say that on a demanding day of shooting, you can expect to watch the battery indicator drift steadily downwards, to the point that having a spare LP-E19 battery on hand is a sensible precaution against the camera conking out just as the image of the day presents itself.

The battery of the Canon EOS R3 mirrorless camera

(Image credit: Future)

Pleasingly – as with the EOS R6 and R5 – Canon hasn’t introduced a new battery system here, so if you already own an EOS-1D X Mark II or Mark III, you already have a compatible battery. In fact, if you own a full-height Canon body back as far as the EOS-1 Mark III (2007), those batteries will fit, too. That means there’s quite a lot of choice in terms of new batteries, second-hand units, and third-party units, so getting a spare battery for emergencies doesn’t need to be the expensive shopping trip Canon wants to put you through for a new LP-E19.

Because the Canon EOS R3 is designed very much for pro sports photographers, it also goes big on connectivity. Alongside Bluetooth 5.0 and 5Ghz Wi-Fi, you also get a Gigabit Ethernet port for firing images via FTP servers. Pro snappers will also be able to use Canon's Mobile File Transfer (MFT) app to transfer images to remote servers via their smartphone or tablet. 

This will combine nicely with a new accessory, the Smartphone Link AD-P1, which will let you mount your iOS or Android phone on the optional Multi-Function Shoe Adapter. While most of this will be overkill for the average photographer, full-time agency photographers will definitely enjoy bathing in the EOS R3's generous connectivity.

Image and video quality

  • Incredible images up to high ISOs
  • Fantastic dynamic range with beautifully balanced colors
  • Shoots oversampled 4K/60p video and 6K/60p raw video internally

It’s fair to say that if you own an EOS R5 or R6 and want an upgrade in image quality, the EOS R3 doesn’t offer great bang per buck. Its full-frame, 24MP stacked CMOS sensor is, by any measure, a cracking one. But if a revolution in dynamic range and low light performance is possible (we haven’t seen evidence of that yet), then this isn’t it.

That’s not to say images aren’t good quality; they’re fantastic. Canon’s legendary mastery of color processing is in evidence, with the R3 returning a set of well-balanced, good-looking images. It’s amazing for low light photography as well – compared to the EOS R5 it adds a stop of ISO at the top end, going to ISO 102,400.

Image 1 of 11

A test scene showing the Canon EOS R3's ISO performance

Canon EOS R3, shot at ISO 100 (Image credit: Future)
Image 2 of 11

A test scene showing the Canon EOS R3's ISO performance

Canon EOS R3, shot at ISO 200 (Image credit: Future)
Image 3 of 11

A test scene showing the Canon EOS R3's ISO performance

Canon EOS R3, shot at ISO 400 (Image credit: Future)
Image 4 of 11

A test scene showing the Canon EOS R3's ISO performance

Canon EOS R3, shot at ISO 800 (Image credit: Future)
Image 5 of 11

A test scene showing the Canon EOS R3's ISO performance

Canon EOS R3, shot at ISO 1600 (Image credit: Future)
Image 6 of 11

A test scene showing the Canon EOS R3's ISO performance

Canon EOS R3, shot at ISO 3200 (Image credit: Future)
Image 7 of 11

A test scene showing the Canon EOS R3's ISO performance

Canon EOS R3, shot at ISO 6400 (Image credit: Future)
Image 8 of 11

A test scene showing the Canon EOS R3's ISO performance

Canon EOS R3, shot at ISO 12800 (Image credit: Future)
Image 9 of 11

A test scene showing the Canon EOS R3's ISO performance

Canon EOS R3, shot at ISO 25,600 (Image credit: Future)
Image 10 of 11

A test scene showing the Canon EOS R3's ISO performance

Canon EOS R3, shot at ISO 51,200 (Image credit: Future)
Image 11 of 11

A test scene showing the Canon EOS R3's ISO performance

Canon EOS R3, shot at ISO 102,400 (Image credit: Future)

A set of test images (above) confirmed what our field tests suggested: ISOs to 1600 are indistinguishable; push it another stop to ISO 3200 and you’ll see the barest amount of noise creeping in in detail-free areas. Keep going and ISO 12,800 produces some fine, filmic-looking grain, but it’s really only around ISO 51,200 that you’ll see cloudier-looking noise in your images. 

We would say images at this setting are definitely usable, though, making the R3 a potential world-beater when it comes to press photography, astrophotography, sports in poor weather, sports in good weather, or weddings. It’s a camera you can throw the book at and be sure that you’re creating dependable, usable images at ISOs that would have been unthinkable, if not unreachable, five years ago.

Image 1 of 8

Test image shot on the Canon EOS R3

(Image credit: Future)
Image 2 of 8

Test image shot on the Canon EOS R3

(Image credit: Future)
Image 3 of 8

Test image shot on the Canon EOS R3

(Image credit: Future)
Image 4 of 8

Test image shot on the Canon EOS R3

(Image credit: Future)
Image 5 of 8

Test image shot on the Canon EOS R3

(Image credit: Future)
Image 6 of 8

Test image shot on the Canon EOS R3

(Image credit: Future)
Image 7 of 8

Test image shot on the Canon EOS R3

(Image credit: Future)
Image 8 of 8

Test image shot on the Canon EOS R3

(Image credit: Future)

Canon was relatively quiet about the EOS R3's video powers in the run-up to its full launch, but they're far from a footnote. It's a powerful hybrid camera that can unusually shoot raw video internally (at 6K/60p, using the full width of the sensor) along with oversampled 4K/60p video.

The benefit of oversampled video is that it tends to have more detail and less noise – and as you can see in our sample video, that's certainly the case. The EOS R3's video also has very well-controlled rolling shutter, thanks to that new stacked sensor, although it's not impossible to see the effect if you're moving the camera very quickly.

When shooting in 6K raw, you can opt to shoot in the CRM (Cinema Raw Light) format, which helps produce relatively manageable file sizes without coming at the expense of dynamic range. Color graders will also be pleased to see support for the C-Log 3 format for malleable 10-bit files, while the overheating issues that dogged the Canon EOS R5 before its firmware fixes are less of an issue with the EOS R3.

This is partly because there's more room in the R3's body to spread its components out, and also because of its lower-resolution sensor. Canon claims you'll be able to shoot for six hours at a time (assuming you have enough juice) when shooting standard frame-rates, and for up to 1.5 hours in the high 120p mode.

Handily, you can record video to both the CFexpress and UHS-II slots simultaneously to create a backup, and the EOS R3's video credentials are further bolstered by that new Multi-Function Shoe, which can power accessories like the new Directional Stereo Microphone DM-E1D.

Should I buy the Canon EOS R3?

The front of the Canon EOS R3 mirrorless camera

(Image credit: Canon)

Buy it if...

You're a professional sports or wildlife photographer
The EOS R3 is built for speed – if that's more of a priority to you than resolution, it's the best mirrorless camera around. It can shoot full-quality raw files at 30fps, and the autofocus system is incredible. Its buffer and lower-resolution files are also advantages over its rivals.

You want Canon's best mirrorless camera for video
The EOS R3 can't match the EOS R5's 8K video mode, but in most other respects it's the superior video tool. You get the new 'accessory shoe' that supports external microphones, it shoots oversampled 4K/60p video, and it has far fewer overheating issues than Canon's smaller mirrorless cameras.

You're looking to upgrade your older pro sports DSLR
Flagship mirrorless cameras like the EOS R3 now offer a performance upgrade from their DSLR equivalents, in terms of burst shooting, autofocus, stabilization and video. If you have an older 1DX series camera, then the EOS R3 has the viewfinder and power to make the upgrade worthwhile. 

Don't buy it if...

You need high-resolution stills or 8K video
The EOS R3 may be the outright speed king, but rivals like the Nikon Z9 (45.7MP) and Sony A1 (50.1MP) combine fast burst shooting with higher-resolution sensors. If you like the cropping flexibility that extra resolution provides, you may find the 24MP EOS R3 a bit restrictive.

Value for money is a consideration
If may be cheaper than the Sony A1, but the EOS R3 is an expensive camera considering its slightly more niche appeal. The Nikon Z9 is almost 10% cheaper, and there's no doubt that non-professionals will get far better value from the Canon EOS R5 or EOS R6.

You want a small, discreet mirrorless camera system
It may sound obvious, but it's easy to get seduced by the Canon EOS R3's speed and power and overlook other practical considerations. The EOS R3 is made for professionals working in pro environments – if you want a camera that's easy to carry or allows you to shoot unnoticed from the sidelines, you'll be better off with a Canon EOS R5 or Sony A7 IV.

!!!!!!!!!!

Popular Posts

Categories

Blog Archive