Sunday, February 28, 2021

Creative Stage v2 Soundbar

Two-minute review

For anyone who’s in the market for a soundbar for their small studio space or even a college dorm room, the Creative Stage v2 is an excellent choice. It’s fairly compact, comes with a subwoofer, and is a definite improvement over your TV’s speakers. Plus, for a little over $100, it’s an affordable upgrade to your viewing experience.

Other than that, the Creative Stage v2 might not be as impressive. It’s too small to properly fill a medium-sized room, and it really is best suited for watching TV shows with lots of dialogue. Bluetooth connectivity makes it easy to pair with a smartphone for some music listening, but the audio quality you get is far less impressive.

Then there’s the notion that the Creative Stage v2 could be used as a desktop speaker system, which to some extent can work. But it’s quite a large thing to have sitting on your desk, compared with two satellite speakers that could be positioned beside your monitor instead. In short, there are many things that the Creative Stage v2 gets right, and a few things that need improvement.

Price and availability

The Creative Stage v2 is available now, and is priced at $109.99 (£99.99; AU$142).

Design

There’s nothing out of the ordinary about how the Creative Stage v2 looks. A sleek, mostly plastic soundbar in black is what you get, with volume and power controls on the right hand side.

The bundled subwoofer is tethered to the soundbar via a 2m cable, which means you’ll only need to have one power cord going to the soundbar.

Creative Stage v2

(Image credit: Creative)

At the back of the soundbar you have ports for HDMI, Optical In, 3.5mm jack, and USB-C. The USB-C port can be used with the bundled cable to connect the soundbar to your PC or laptop, which pretty much immediately detects the Creative Stage v2 as an external speaker.

There are also mounting holes built into the soundbar, so you can mount it neatly under your TV. Sadly, there’s no mount guide included in the box – this is always a great thing to have to ensure that you mount your speaker correctly, so we hope that Creative can include this in the future. Included in the box is a 3.5mm cable and the USB cable, but no HDMI or optical cable is present – presumably to keep the cost of the unit down.

Also bundled with the Creative Stage v2 is a remote control, which lets you adjust the speaker volume, play or skip Bluetooth media, and quickly change input sources. Sadly, batteries aren’t included, so make sure you pick these up as well before setting up your soundbar. A slight oddity with this remote – it also managed to turn on our robot vacuum cleaner whenever we used it, which was incredibly entertaining.

Creative Stage v2

(Image credit: Creative)

Setting up is very easy – just connect the Creative Stage v2 to your TV and away you go. Creative recommends doing this via HDMI (ARC) for the best sound quality, however we found no difference when using either HDMI or the Optical port. We don’t recommend using Bluetooth even if your TV supports it, as there can occasionally be a noticeable delay, especially when there’s scenes involving dialogue.

Audio quality

One should never expect a soundbar to replace a full-blown home theatre experience, but what you should expect is a vast improvement over your TV’s default speakers, and to this extent the Creative Stage v2 does a decent job. It showcases brilliant clarity for voices, thanks to its Clear Dialog feature, so every word and syllable sounds crisp and clear.

Dual 2.25” drivers fire enough sound to fill a small room, and while the subwoofer is a good addition, the Creative Stage v2 is going to struggle with medium-sized living rooms. The volume just isn’t enough to project clearly the further away you’re sitting from it, so while it is an affordable upgrade, it’s clearly meant to be used in much smaller spaces.

The other kicker is that you won’t get any supported audio codecs here, so even activating the soundbar’s own surround mode doesn’t make much of a difference. Music quality is also sub-par, with mids sounding a little too tinny for our tastes. The subwoofer is an added bonus to bring a bit of life to tracks, but that’s the only plus point. One thing the Creative Stage v2 does do well is remaining consistent even at high volumes – there’s no distortion with voices at all even at max volume, which is a good thing.

If you do fancy using the Creative Stage v2 as a desktop speaker (and have the desk space) then you’ll probably have a better experience, considering that it’ll be blasting audio at you from just a few centimeters away. The USB cable though we found should have been a bit longer, as it was a little bit short to comfortably reach our PC case on the floor.

Should I buy the Creative Stage v2?

Creative Stage v2

(Image credit: Creative)

Buy it if…

You want a TV sound upgrade
The Creative Stage v2 portrays some excellent voice quality, so it’s perfect for boosting your favorite TV shows.

You’re on a budget
It’s a very affordable soundbar with various connectivity options, and can even double as a PC speaker.

Don’t buy it if…

You want loud volume
The Creative Stage v2 just isn’t capable of producing enough volume to fill anything more than small room, and this worsens the further away you sit from it.

MDDHosting

In comparison with veterans of the web hosting industry, MDDHosting is practically a newcomer in the business. The company was launched in 2007 and is headquartered in Mooresville, Indiana with a mission to provide an alternative to hosting services they saw as overpriced and therefore out of reach for many potential customers. 

To add a note of sentimentality, they insist that they do not see their clients as a number or a dollar sign, and will provide the highest quality service and support to each and every individual. A noble goal, but how much of it they have managed to fulfill needs to be checked.

Today they take pride in being a home of more than a few thousand websites over the world which they host from their network data centers situated in Denver, Colorado. On this subject, as many others, MDDHosting has been rather open, providing a substantial amount of information on its main website. The website itself looks rather blue-ish, feels fresh and is simple to use, which is always an encouraging sign.

As is usually the case with younger hosts, the website features an official blog which contains latest news about the company, announcements and special offers. However, you won't find extensive textual content such as introductions, product analysis, guides, and stories related to hosting, nor anything of that sort.

Although present on several social network platforms, MDDHosting doesn’t seem particularly active, which is probably the primary reason why these accounts aren’t more prominently featured on its website, we reckon. 

Pricing

MDDHosting offers reasonably priced cloud hosting plans that don't shoot up in price upon renewal (Image credit: MDDHosting)

Plans and pricing

Since MDDHosting’s main focus is on cloud hosting and cloud-based VPS, those who are looking for more traditional options may find their skepticism about this provider justified. Beside these two options (each of them provides a few plans differing in sizes and purposes), MDDHosting presents three reseller hosting solutions.

Regardless of the type of hosting, all plans share a few rather appealing features, including website security extension with an SSL certificate, StorPool-powered storage and daily offsite backups. The most economical plan among these is tagged as “CloudStarter” and it will cost you $4.00 per month (sounds pretty cheap?), but only if you commit for three years (yes, it was too good to be true). Otherwise, its price ranges from $4.50 to $5.99, depending on the billing cycle, which is (to be fair) rather affordable for a cloud hosting service that will get you unlimited domain names and unmetered bandwidth, as well as features we already mentioned.

If you go with MDDHosting and change your mind along the way, there is an “unconditional” 30-day money-back guarantee, under the condition that you are a first-time user, and it applies to all MDDHosting’s plans.

As for the methods of payment, they are glad to accept all major credit cards and PayPal.

cPanel

MDDHosting lets you manage your site with the industry standard cPanel (Image credit: MDDHosting)

Ease of use

Deciding on a plan with MDDHosting feels like a child's play, since all options are properly presented in a way that is easy to comprehend and make a comparison. All cloud hosting plans apart from “CloudStarter” include unlimited SSD storage and a promise of blazing speed, therefore, if saving some bucks is not an imperative for you, go for a bigger plan. 

“CloudStarter” is best fit for personal blogs or simple websites with low traffic and just a few plugins, but if your site begins to grow (or you simply change your mind), you can upgrade your package to “Cloud1” in no time and at any time.

Unfortunately for the newcomers, MDDHosting isn’t generous to a fault when it comes to domain names, since anyone who doesn’t already own one, will have to purchase it. Otherwise, you can transfer it or use it without the need to trade your current manager with a new one.

After this, you’ll proceed to your chart where you’ll be able to check everything in detail and decide if you want a few add-ons, some of which are free of charge. Here is where you decide if you want access to SSH/sFTP or not, which doesn’t affect the overall cost.

The billing cycle is pleasantly pliant and covers every expected period from one month to three years. One the next page you’ll be offered to add even more add-ons (some free, some affordable) and after this (guess what?) even more add-ons. To tell the truth, all of them are good to have (CodeGuard’s daily website backups, SiteLock, spam filter and so on) and are fairly priced. To complete the order, you’ll have to create an account with MDDHosting by providing them with a number of personal information you ought to be used to by now if you dealt with similar hosts in the past.

After the checkout, you can move to your control board without a hitch where you can manage and maintain the details about your package and account, which you can upgrade or downgrade with a few clicks. From here you are able to log in to industry-standard cPanel with which you should be able to control (with a bit of practice, if you are a newbie) all aspects of your new website with ease. Because of free access to Softaculous, hundreds of advantageous apps can be yours in an instant. In addition, and as an alternative, there is a drag-and-drop website builder with more than fifty themes and just as many widgets.

Performance

We used GTmetrix to measure the uptime and response time of our MDDHosting site (Image credit: GTmetrix)

Speed and experience

Although MDDHosting doesn’t make a lot of promises on its speed performance, the specifications about their data centers (LiteSpeed servers for the win!) they chose to highlight hint at the answer.

In search for more empirical evidence, we tested the speed of MDDHosting’s main website with the help of a much appreciated tool going under the name of GTmetrix. The results were picture-perfect, which actually came as no surprise. The time it took for the page to completely load and for the largest element of it to become visible, with the total blocking time and other metrics showed not only above-average, but virtually perfect results. Conclusively, GTmetrix rated MDDHosting’s main site with a well-deserved A (100%).

Network Status

You can also check the status of MDDHosting's servers onits website (Image credit: MDDHosting)

MDDHosting puts a brave front by offering a 1000% uptime guarantee which is backed up by SLA (Service Level Agreement). This implies that a user is entitled to a credit worth ten times the amount of actual downtime your website has suffered. We must say, this will certainly ease the trauma of being disconnected from the rest of the world.

Anyway, after monitoring the uptime of MDDHosting’s main website throughout the month, UptimeRobot made us sigh with relief. During the recorded time, the total amount of downtime was 43 minutes, which means the website was up 99.991% of the time (a welcome news indeed).

Knowledgebase

You can find the answers to common web hosting questions in MDDHosting's knowledgebase (Image credit: MDDHosting)

Support

All fellow introverts out there will be pleased to hear that MDDHosting has provided us with all essential self-help options. The Network Status page makes the information about the servers available as well their overview in real time. Knowledgebase uses a familiar well-structured layout and is chock-full of articles on various interrelated subject matter. The articles themselves are inconsistent in length (some are text-heavy and stuffed with pictures while others are made up of a single sentence), but generally go directly to the point and provide a satisfactory solution to the issue.

Forums

MDDHosting also has forums where you can find the latest news and updates (Image credit: MDDHosting)

Finally, there is a community forum as well, but as of recently it has been filled with announcements related to server status and a few customer reviews. One of them caught our eyes with a witty (yet pretty accurate) description of MDDHosting’s support team portraying them as “support ninjas” that are always “quick, kind, and knowledgeable”.

These “support ninjas” can be reached via ticket or e-mail, but you don’t try hiring them to do the dirty job for you, if it isn’t related to hosting, that is. Those who have questions regarding the sales and billing can contact them via telephone from 8AM to 4PM (EST) during the business days.

The competition

Children of the 2000s, both MDDHosting and Hostinger today are success stories in the landscape of web hosting. There are certain similarities between the solutions they provide, although Hostinger includes e-mail hosting, WordPress-optimized packages as well as Minecraft servers for all the fans. In addition, its solutions come with a whole collection of options for a control panel and are on the cheaper side.This being said, the performance of MDDHosting’s servers (in terms of speed and uptime) is hard to beat, even by Hostinger.

MochaHost and MDDHosting have data centers in the US, but while MochaHost deploys a couple of them, MDDHosting has only one. Both of them are more than recommendable hosts, although MDDHosting lacks a dedicated hosting option, which is a must for fast-growing businesses.

Bluehost is one of MDDHosting’s greatest competitors and rightly so. While MochaHost can brag about its “perfect” performance and “insane” SLA-backed uptime guarantee of 1000%, Bluehost is a more beginner-friendly option with cheaper entry-level plans, free domain registration, necessary one-click installs and more support channels.

As US-based providers, both HostGator and MDDHosting are the most convenient solution to the customers from the US. While both represent a good value for money, HostGator may be a better choice for newcomers, while MDDHosting's extensive list of features may attract web developers. And since both provide a money-back guarantee, you are free to change your mind without compromising your budget.  

Final verdict

MDDHosting’s hosting solutions are fast, feature-packed and reliable products that are (although not the most affordable product on the market) unlikely to force you to break the bank. The whole process of picking a plan, creating your account and launching your website is surprisingly and enjoyably straightforward and you can update your plan at any moment, as smoothly as possible.

However, when it comes to being beginner-friendly, MDDHosting has its fair share of strengths and weaknesses. The most notable one is the absence of live chat as a support option, which is a shame since it is one of the most popular channels for the customers to reach out for help. Therefore, if you are new to all this, explore some of its alternatives (such as HostGator, Bluehost or WebHostingBuzz) before trying out MDDHosting.

5centsCDN

While some CDNs target the big business market, and others focus on simpler budget solutions, 5centsCDN does its very best to provide something for just about everyone.

Looking for power? 5centsCDN offers over 1,150 PoPs around the globe, including some servers from other top providers (Akamai, G-Core Labs). That brings real benefits in some typically poorly-served regions. Many CDNs have only one or two locations in South America, for instance; 5centsCDN has seven.

But if that's overkill for what you need, the company also offers plans using just a handful of PoPs from as little as $0.0025 per GB (more on those below).

Video features include support for live streaming, video on demand and comprehensive transcoding, and unusual supporting features including the ability to schedule a video playlist, or automatically playing videos on your site for a specific period of time.

Free SSL support is available via shared SSL or a Let's Encrypt option, and you can also use your own custom certificate.

A stack of features ranges from OpenStack-powered cloud storage, to secured token protection for your content, origin shield support for reducing load on your server, and a rich API to help customize operations to suit your needs. And the list goes on – check out 5centsCDN's exceptionally detailed 'All Features' page to find out more.

If you run into problems, 5cents provides support via email, ticket, live chat and Skype. There's an SLA, too, with the company promising 99.9% uptime for the CDN (there are live uptime figures on a status page here). There's no way for us to tell whether every customer sees that, but it's still good to see 5centsCDN making such public commitments.

5centsCDN

(Image credit: 5centsCDN)

We also have some issues with the website, though, which can be confusing, or even misleading in some areas. One page writes in glowing terms about the web application firewall, saying it 'was designed from scratch to outwit today's real-world threats, rather than yesterday's theoretical problems'. Sounds great, but there's just one problem; it doesn't exist, it's not available in the control panel, and it's still listed on the To Do section of the company's roadmap.

We suspect that's a mistake rather than an active attempt to deceive customers (there would be no point in that, as a free trial allows everyone to see for themselves), but it's still unacceptable. Customers should be able to trust what's on the website, and that's clearly not always the case. We wouldn't necessarily rule out 5centsCDN because of that, but if you have priority features, make sure you confirm the company delivers what you expect before you hand over any cash.

5centsCDN

(Image credit: 5centsCDN)

Pricing

5centsCDN prices are generally great value, but as usual with CDNs, it might take quite a few calculations to understand exactly what you'll be paying.

The Standard plan charges just $2.50 a month for 1TB of traffic (overage is priced at the same $0.0025 per GB). You're restricted to 10+ PoPs and delivery in North America and Europe only, but that still looks good to us. Fastly charges $0.12 for North America and European traffic, Amazon CloudFront asks $0.085, CDN77 and many other relatively good value providers are still priced at $0.03-$0.04.

The Volume plan triples in price to $7.50 for the same 1TB traffic, but this time you get access to 30+ PoPs and delivery worldwide.

Opting for the Premium plan gets you 1TB traffic and 60+ PoPs for $10 a month, while the Enterprise plan supports the full 1,150 PoPs for $15, with an overage of $0.015 per GB.

5centsCDN

(Image credit: 5centsCDN)

If you're not ready to commit, 5centsCDN also has a similar range of Pay As You Go plans. Specs are almost identical, but the per GB price typically doubles, and minimum top-ups range from $5 for the Standard deal to $200 for the Enterprise plan.

All plans come with 100GB of cloud storage for free (you can add more for $0.05 per GB). There's no extra cost for SSL, or requests, and your credits don't expire as long as you top up again in the next year. So, if you hand over $5 for the Standard PAYG plan today, then get distracted for the next 11 months, you can come back, and your credit balance will still be waiting.

Put it all together and this looks like a nicely balanced set of deals with something for everyone, from the beginner to the most demanding business user.

If you're unsure, there's a 7-day free trial to help you find out more, though it has quite a few restrictions (100GB traffic, a maximum of 10 concurrent live viewers, video transcoding is limited to 15 minutes and there's a 5centsCDN watermark; find out more here).

5centsCDN

(Image credit: 5centsCDN)

Setup

After an easy signup process, 5centsCDN directed us to its client portal. CDN services, tickets, invoices, account balance and more are all clearly summarized, which is handy as an overview of an account.

The page isn't so clear on what to do next, and users are left to browse a sidebar and figure out what they need. The interface makes some effort to help CDN newbies, though, for example indicating that push zones use cloud storage to store your content, and it's likely you'll locate the right area within a few clicks.

Creating your initial zone looks a little complicated, at least initially. While some CDNs might just prompt you for one or two settings – origin server name, CDN name, protocol to use – 5centsCDN's pull zone form includes 11 sections, most with several options of their own: origin shield, cache settings, edge settings, SSL, geoblocking, secure tokens and more.

5centsCDN

(Image credit: 5centsCDN)

Read the form in-depth, though, and you'll see this is a smarter way to do things. Yes, there are a lot of settings, but 5centsCDN has clear prompts for the most important options, and tooltip-like help for everything else. This allows you to see useful features (creating Let's Encrypt SSL) immediately, without having to poke around in endless setup panels. And if you don't think you need a particular option, the chances are you can ignore it. The default settings are well chosen, and for instance creating a pull zone can be as simple as entering your site domain name.

Once the zone is working, an Integration pane explains how to change website resource paths to point to the CDN, depending on whether you're using a CNAME (<img src="https://ift.tt/3dVs19M"> or an automatically generated CDN name (<img src="https://ift.tt/2P9gR6H).

Cache settings include the ability to set a default cache expiry time, but only with a few standard settings (1 day, 7 days, 14 days and so on; some providers give you far more fine-tuned control, down to minutes or even seconds). But you can set custom times for individual objects in your site code, and there are pluses elsewhere. There's an option to serve stale content, for instance, if a file has expired but the origin is down.

Other panels follow a similar pattern. Sometimes they look a little basic, so for instance the Compression feature supports simple Gzip only, no Brotli or other options. But there are also lots of small tweaks which you won't always see elsewhere. You can specify the preferred location of your origin shield, for example (often this is left up to the CDN). There is an option to add a robots.txt file to the CDN root directory, allowing you to set search engine crawling rules. And an Optimize for WordPress feature avoids caching admin and other pages for users logged into WordPress.

5centsCDN

(Image credit: 5centsCDN)

Support

If you run into any technical trouble, the Help Center has some useful articles. They're lacking in detail, though, and don't begin to match the top providers.

We opened the Live Chat window and posted a test question about 5centCDN's Web Application Firewall, and the issue we noticed earlier. It's mentioned on the website, we wrote, but isn't visible in the control panel – how could we access it?

'Thank you for using 5centCDN's live chat service' came the reply, only seconds later. 'Is there something, in particular, we can help you with?'

Well, you could read the question we just posted? We asked again for information on using the WAF, and got the response: 'We will check your query with our back-end team and get back to you as soon as possible.'

An agent who can't answer a basic question about a supposedly major feature of the service? Or a bot, maybe? Neither possibility is encouraging.

5centsCDN

(Image credit: 5centsCDN)

After 24 hours with no response, we raised two tickets, one on the firewall, one on a simpler service issue. The easy question got a helpful reply within three hours, and eventually we received this response regarding the firewall: 'WAF is not compatible with our partner CDN. So, we have disabled this feature for time being. We are working with them to enable this and we have added this to the roadmap. We will add this feature soon!'

Having a firewall which is incompatible with the CDN sounds like someone's made a very major planning error, and that doesn't explain why it's still listed on the website as an active feature. But at least we have an official explanation: there is no WAF, but it's 'coming soon' apparently.

5centCDN's support isn't a disaster, then, but it's not great, either. The difficulty we had getting an answer on the firewall suggests that if you're asking anything out of the ordinary, it might take quite some time to get a reply. If this could be an issue we'd recommend you ask plenty of test questions during your trial, and make sure the company can deliver what you need.

5centsCDN

(Image credit: 5centsCDN)

Performance

Measuring CDN speeds is a challenge, but CDNPerf does a better job than most, gathering hundreds of millions of response times every day and using them to compare most of the top providers.

5centsCDN's results couldn't be any better, with the company's 26ms average worldwide response time giving it first place out of 20 contenders. That's remarkable, considering the price you're paying.

It's always worth checking out a CDN's performance in other regions, as providers don't always excel everywhere. But 5centsCDN very lowest score was a still respectable 5th place in Asia, and after that it managed 4th place in North America and Africa, 3rd place in Europe and 2nd place in Oceania.

There's much more to CDN speed than raw response times, of course – like your website platform, the CDN's features, and how you use them. 5centCDN's excellent results get it off to a great start, though, and the free trial gives you a chance to see what the service can do for your site.

5centsCDN

(Image credit: 5centsCDN)

Final verdict

5centsCDN isn't as powerful or professional as the top providers, and for the website to claim it has a web application firewall, when it really doesn't, is unacceptable. But there is a lot to like here, including high speeds and very low prices, and if your application isn't too demanding then it's a must-see.

  • We’ve also highlighted the best CDNs

HP Reverb G2

The HP Reverb G2 is quite possibly the most exciting virtual reality headset on the market right now. That may come as a surprise to people expecting the likes of HTC, Oculus or Valve to be the ones to push VR forward, but the HP Reverb G2 achieves that by bringing one important revolutionary change: high-resolution lenses.

We’re really not joking when we say the HP Reverb G2’s 2160 x 2160 resolution per eye is a game-changer. It takes immersion to a whole new level by eliminating the 'screen door' effect pretty much completely. The screen door effect occurs in lower-resolution headsets, where you can make out the gaps between pixels. 

Once you notice it it’s hard to ignore; it creates the appearance of looking through a fine mesh – or screen door – and can hamper immersion. By overcoming that issue, while at the same time undercutting most of its rivals on price and being compatible with Steam VR, which gives you access to a huge range of VR games and experiences, the HP Reverb G2 really is the headset to beat.

HP Reverb G2

(Image credit: Future)

Price and availability

The HP Reverb G2 is available now at leading retailers for AED 2,499.

That price tag is certainly high, and puts the Reverb G2 above the wire-free Oculus Quest 2, but it’s also more affordable than the HTC Vive Cosmos, and quite a bit cheaper than the high-end Valve Index and HTC Vive Pro, while offering higher resolutions than all of them.

So, it’s definitely an enthusiast VR headset, but one that has an edge over the competition by offering better specs – and we always like to see that.

HP Reverb G2

(Image credit: Future)

Design

The design of the HP Reverb G2 is pretty standard for a virtual reality headset. Headphones are built in, and the headset can be adjusted while you wear it via Velcro straps. The face mask that rests against your face when you're wearing the headset is light and comfortable, and does a good job of blocking out light from the outside world (another immersion-breaking issue with some VR headsets).

This mask magnetically attaches to the headset, making it easy to swap out (in case you need a custom fit). At the bottom of the headset is a slider for adjusting IPD (interpupillary distance – the distance between the lenses for each eye), which is easy to do.

HP Reverb G2

(Image credit: Future)

HP says the Reverb G2 weighs 1.1lbs without the cable. This isn’t the most useful metric, as you need to use the headset with the cable, so you’re never going to wear it without the cable attached. However, it does feel lighter than many of its competitors, including the Vive Cosmos, although it also feels a little more plasticky and fragile.

Speaking of the cable, it plugs into the headset above the goggles, requiring you to remove the mask, and the other end connects to a small, rather stylish, breakout box that connects to the DisplayPort of your PC. There's also a lead that plugs into a USB-C port – so make sure your PC has one of those. 

HP Reverb G2

(Image credit: Future)

A power adaptor also attaches to the box, and the end result is a mass of wires on your desk, although the breakout box is smaller and nicer looking than the one that comes with the HTC Vive. However, if you have the HTC Vive box you’re able to disconnect the headset and its cable, allowing you to hide it away when not in use; with the HP Reverb G2, the cable to the headset can't be disconnected from the box, only the headset, so even if you're not using the headset and disconnect it you’ll still have a long cable you’ll need to deal with.

At 6m, the cable is also one of the longest that comes with a wired headset, rivaling the Valve Index, and giving you a lot more freedom when using it for room-scale experiences and games.

While the HP Reverb G2 doesn’t offer anything revolutionary in terms of the headset design, it’s a solid and comfortable experience. After using the flip-up goggles of the Vive Cosmos, however, we did miss that design feature on the Reverb G2 – it’s handy for when you want to see the outside world without having to remove the headset completely.

HP Reverb G2

(Image credit: Future)

Performance

As a Windows Mixed Reality headset, the HP Reverb G2 doesn’t come with additional sensors that you need to set up; instead, it uses cameras built into the headset pointing outwards to track movement. While it doesn’t provide the pin-point accuracy of the likes of the Valve Index, which requires you to set up additional sensors around the room, it does a decent job, and it means this headset is much easier to set up.

After you've wired everything up, the Windows Mixed Reality portal pops open, enabling you to configure your play space. It’s a nice enough interface (which we’re used to after using other Mixed Reality headsets), and integrates into Windows 10 well, and it also means there’s no additional software needed. As plug-and-play VR experiences go, the HP Reverb G2 does an excellent job.

HP Reverb G2

(Image credit: Future)

Windows Mixed Reality offers a decent amount of apps and games that you can install though the VR interface, including some real gems. The actual interface, which takes the form of a large home you can walk around, looks fantastic on the HP Reverb G2 – if this is your first taste of VR, you’re going to be very impressed.

What’s even better, though, is that the HP Reverb G2 (and Windows Mixed Reality headsets in general) is compatible with Steam VR. This gives you access to a library of hundreds of fantastic VR games, such as Half Life: Alyx and Star Wars: Squadrons, two of the best VR games we’ve played recently.

We used the HP Reverb G2 with a range of VR games and experiences, including those two titles, and we came away incredibly impressed. We really can’t stress enough how much of an impact the high-resolution lenses in the HP Reverb G2 make – with the screen door effect eliminated, it takes immersion to a whole new level. Many of the games we played with the headset were titles we’ve played many times before, but they felt almost completely new with the G2.

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HP Reverb G2

(Image credit: Future)
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HP Reverb G2

(Image credit: Future)
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HP Reverb G2

(Image credit: Future)

The controllers that come with the HP Reverb G2 are the standard ones you get with Windows Mixed Reality headsets. They're fine – and we're familiar with them, having used them plenty of times before – but they lack some of the advanced features found on the likes of the Valve Index controllers. Also, the lack of base stations did mean the headset occasionally lost track of the controllers – this didn't happen too often, but if you’re after pin-point accuracy you’re going to need to use the Valve Index or HTC Cosmos Elite, both of which use base stations.

But games looked fantastic on the HP Reverb G2 – although we should note that while the games we tried played flawlessly, we were running them on an incredibly high-end PC, with an Nvidia RTX 3090, one of the most powerful GPUs in the world. On more modest hardware, the extra resolution of the HP Reverb G2 could cause problems. If you're looking for a seated VR experience for games such as Microsoft Flight Simulator, or even for racing simulators, then the HP Reverb G2 gives you exceptional value. After all, these kind of specialist games require their own external controllers, so you'll get to enjoy all the benefits of VR without having to lunge around the room.

HP Reverb G2

(Image credit: Future)

The one caution we'll express with the HP Reverb G2 is that it doesn't seem to like working with AMD motherboards very well. On two of our AMD-powered test beds (both X570 boards), neither one could work with the HP Reverb G2. Windows simply kept saying to check our display cable, even though everything was securely connected. No amount of changing USB ports, DisplayPorts, or using dongles fixed the issue for us.

However when we connected the kit to an Intel machine, the headset was up and running within minutes, with no problems whatsoever. A quick search online shows that other users are facing similar issues with AMD PCs, so if you're running one then you may want to proceed with caution.

Buy it if…

You want the best immersion
The high resolution of the HP Reverb G2 really is revolutionary in virtual reality, and needs to be seen to be believed.

You want a simple setup
Without needing base stations, and with most of its software already in Windows 10, the HP Reverb G2 is easy to set up.

You love VR games
The high-resolution screen, and Steam VR support, make this a brilliant headset for VR gamers.

Don't buy it if…

You have a low-powered PC
The high resolution of the HP Reverb G2 means you’ll need a decent machine to power it, so check your specs before you buy.

You want to play wirelessly
The HP Reverb G2 needs to be wired to a PC or laptop, and there’s no wireless option. This could limit immersion.

You’re looking for a budget VR headset
The HP Reverb G2 is cheaper than some of its rivals, but it’s still pricey.

Saturday, February 27, 2021

AdvancedHosting Anycast CDN

Founded in 2002, AdvancedHosting is an experienced Netherlands-based web host which offers CDNs for both static and video content.

The video product supports streaming video in all the main formats, via HTTP or HTTPS, and using protocols including MPEG-DASH, Apple's HLS and Adobe's HDS.

Anti-hotlinking features are a highlight, with the service including a host of features to protect your valuable content. URL signatures, expiry times, binding URLs to IPs, cookie checks and more.

In this review we're looking at AdvancedHosting's Anycast CDN for static content. This uses Anycast technology to quickly route your website user's traffic to their nearest AdvancedHosting data center, allowing them to download your content much faster.

The company's network is a little smaller than usual, with 23 PoPs across four continents (10 in Europe, nine in the US, three in Asia and one in South America).

The service doesn't have smart image processing or some of the other advanced features you'll see with the market leaders. But it covers the basics, with free SSL, integration with WordPress, and a straightforward web dashboard. If simplicity is top of your priority list, AdvancedHosting's more stripped-back approach might appeal.

If you run into technical trouble anyway, the website claims support is available 24/7 via email and live chat, but the reality seems different.

We opened a live chat window and asked a very simple product question, but spent 30 minutes looking at an 'all agents are busy' message before giving up.

We sent an email on a Saturday morning, but had received no reply even 12 hours later.

We raised a ticket, checked the website after an hour, and an automated response told us: 'It will be processed at the working time (Mon at 8.00 GMT). Wait, please.'

We waited again, and did finally receive a polite and helpful reply on Monday morning. That's good news, but if you might need support provided a little more swiftly, be sure to test the service in-depth yourself before you sign up.

AdvancedHosting Anycast CDN

(Image credit: AdvancedHosting)

Pricing

AdvancedHosting's static CDN has some seriously rock-bottom prices, with the Unlim aCDN Light plan giving you 10TB of traffic a month, 50GB storage space and unlimited domains for only $25 a month (that's $0.0025 per GB).

To put that in perspective, CDN77 is better value than many CDNs, but it still asks $199 a month for only 6TB traffic. Even BunnyCDN's best-value Volume Network deal, which limits you to eight locations, is twice the price at $0.005 per GB.

Other AdvancedHosting plans include a higher traffic allowance, but the per GB price remains more or less the same. The Unlim aCDN S plan supports five times the traffic at 50TB, for instance, comes with five times the storage (250GB) and costs five times as much ($125 a month).

Alternatively, you can opt for a bandwidth-based plan. Plan names and prices are the same, but they're based on connection speed rather than traffic. The Unlim aCDN Light plan gives you 50Mbps for $25 a month, for instance, while the Unlim aCDN S plan is priced at $125.

If you're unsure what traffic allowance you'll need – maybe your site traffic varies a lot throughout the year – you could opt for a cheaper plan and pay the overage fees. These are only $3 per TB, so for example using 20TB traffic on the 10TB Unlim aCDN Light plan still only gets you a bill of $45 a month.

Works for us, but AdvancedHosting has one more surprise. Sign up, hand over your credit card details (no PayPal) and you're given $50 credit just for registering. The site warns that 'usage of resources is limited during the free trial period', but doesn't explain how. If you run into difficulties, though, you can get full access immediately with a minimum credit of $10.

We're always a little more concerned when a site requires payment details upfront, but AdvancedHosting says that it won't automatically charge your card, so you remain in full control of your spending.

AdvancedHosting Anycast CDN

(Image credit: AdvancedHosting)

Features

Creating your first CDN setup with AdvancedHosting can be as simple as choosing a resource origin (your origin server, or AdvancedHosting's own cloud storage) and giving it a name. The service activated our first resource in under 10 minutes.

There's likely to be more setup work to do. At a minimum, you'll want to specify your own domain and SSL certificate (you can use one of your own, or generate one for free with AdvancedHosting's Let's Encrypt support).

Creating a CNAME record with your domain name registrar can produce a more readable URL (cdn.mydomain.com). AdvancedHosting offers little guidance on this or any other part of the setup process, though. 'Use System domain to map your user domain in a CNAME record', the web dashboard says, with no links to any documentation which might explain further.

We checked the support site to see if there were more details anywhere else, but sadly not – the relevant page simply said 'Do not forget to point the Custom Domain in DNS for our System Domain', with no further explanation.

AdvancedHosting Anycast CDN

(Image credit: AdvancedHosting)

A basic set of preferences includes the ability to enable an origin shield. This reduces the load on your server by having the CDN copy files from the origin to one of its own nodes (you can't set an origin shield yourself), and having the others take files from the shield.

Simple access control features include a hotlink protection system which enables blocking and allowing access by domain (it can also block traffic with a missing 'Referer' field).

Cache control options include the ability to set a 'time to live' value, to anything from one hour to 365 days. We'd like to see a lower minimum value (some services, including Fastly, support anything from one second up), but you can still control the TTL of any object from your own site.

AdvancedHosting Anycast CDN

(Image credit: AdvancedHosting)

There are a handful of other options, but most are equally limited. There's support for Gzip compression, for instance, but as an on/off switch only, with no option to specify the file types you'd like to compress. You get CORS (Cross-Origin Resource Sharing) support, too, but again it's just a switch, with none of the control you'll get elsewhere.

If you manage to get your CDN up and running properly, the dashboard does at least give you some pretty graphs on bandwidth use, cache performance and more.

Despite the limited feature set, AdvancedHosting's support site has barely any documentation on how the system works. If you're wondering what CORS does, for instance, there's no link to the documentation from the console, and even if you find it, all you'll discover is it's: 'A header that specifies which resources can access the CDN for content. Disabled by default. Enabling CORS adds the Access-Control-Allow-Origin header "*".'

You'd be better off just entering CORS CDN directly into Google, which points you directly to helpful articles from competitors like KeyCDN.

AdvancedHosting Anycast CDN

(Image credit: AdvancedHosting)

Performance

Normally we'd round off a CDN review by taking a look at its speed results from the benchmarking site CDNPerf.com.

Unfortunately, that's not going to work this time, as although CDNPerf tests no less than 20 top CDNs, AdvancedHosting isn't one of them.

Our guess would be that AdvancedHosting's small network and distinct lack of features mean it's not going to be a great performer.

If you're tempted by its low prices, though, invest $25 in a month of the full service and find out for yourself.

Final verdict

AdvancedHosting's Anycast CDN is a very cheap way to get started with CDNs, but the very basic features, lack of configurability and weak support make it impossible to recommend for anything serious. (Please note, this verdict is for the Anycast CDN only. We did not test AdvancedHosting's video CDN, which is a different product.)

  • We’ve also highlighted the best CDNs

Teracube 2e review

Two-minute review

A phone that looks as boring as the Teracube 2e has no right to be this interesting. The Teracube 2e is a $199 / £170 (around AU$250) phone sold on the idea that you can use it for four years or more, not just a couple.

It comes with a four-year warranty and has a replaceable battery just like phones from the old days (and the similarly positioned Fairphone range). You get an unusually tough case in the box too. And while the Teracube 2e's warranty doesn’t cover you for cracked screens, there is a reasonable $59 (roughly £40 / AU$75) cost for such repairs.

There’s a question mark over whether Teracube will actually exist in several years’ time to honor the warranty and provide the "3 years of Android and security updates" it promises. But that is always a risk when you buy tech from a start-up rather than an established tech giant.

But does the tech stack up? The Teracube 2e has a pleasant enough screen and the performance is acceptable. At its $99 pre-order price it was a good deal. Its $199 standard price is a harder sell.

Why? The Teracube 2e’s camera is very poor by the standards of similarly priced phones, and its MediaTek Helio A25 chipset is weak and does not hold up all that well today, let alone in four years’ time.

You can’t play Fortnite, and numerous games don’t run as well as they do on the various Moto G phones you can get for around the same money. We are not too worried about that, though. The Teracube 2e is not intended as a mobile for gamers. But given that it barely has the headroom to keep up with Android 10, how will Android 12 run?

Future performance is not something we usually worry about all that much, but it’s the Teracube 2e’s whole deal. The $49 (roughly £35 / AU$60) cost of a spare battery raises an eyebrow too.

The Teracube 2e ideal comes off better on Kickstarter than in reality. However, it does its job well if you keep your techy expectations low, and its real-world battery life is excellent.

Teracube 2e price and availability

  • Out now in the US and UK
  • Costs $199 (around £170)

The Teracube 2e is out now in the US and UK, available to order direct from the company's website. Oddly it's priced in US dollars (costing $199) even for UK orders (despite those shipping from the UK).

Given that exchange rates fluctuate, that presumably means the UK price will too, but with added VAT you should be looking at around £170. At the time of writing, the Teracube 2e isn't available in Australia.

Teracube 2e

(Image credit: TechRadar)

Design

  • Plastic pull-off back
  • Removable battery
  • Tough case included

The Teracube 2e is notable for the ways it rejects a few conventions of phone design. You can pry off its exceptionally bland plastic back and get access to the battery. It pops out just like those from the early days of smartphones.

This is the substance behind the claim the Teracube 2e is a phone you can use for four years or more. As you probably know, rechargeable batteries have a limited lifespan.

"A normal battery is designed to retain up to 80% of its original capacity at 500 complete charge cycles when operating under normal conditions," says the Apple website about iPhone batteries. It’s perfectly normal for battery life to end up clearly worse after a couple of years, and this normal wear and tear is not covered by any standard warranty.

You can replace the ‘non user-replaceable’ batteries of many modern phones, but it involves surgery. You’ll usually have to use a heat gun to loosen the glue that keeps the back in place.

Teracube 2e

(Image credit: TechRadar)

A Teracube 2e’s battery is easy to replace. The $49 cost of extra batteries may seem steep given you can find ‘new’ batteries for older Samsung phones for less than half that on eBay, but Teracube isn’t making these things on the scale of Samsung.

There’s a downside to the Teracube approach. A lack of rubberized seals around the rear case makes water ingress much more likely. And the battery contacts are right there to see, waiting to be shorted. Motorola uses a ‘nano coating’ on some of its budget phones to avoid this, without going down the more expensive route of water resistance that provides an IP rating-grade seal.

The Teracube 2e's battery is easy to replace, and easier to damage than most.

This is less likely to be a problem if you use the included case. A lot of phones come with a thin transparent silicone case, intended to avoid scratches while letting you see the finish underneath.

The Teracube 2e's case is much chunkier, more like an aftermarket case you might buy on Amazon for $15 / £10 or so. It’s built up at the corners, prepped for drops, and has a lip that sticks above the screen to avoid display damage.

Teracube 2e

(Image credit: TechRadar)

Despite the added protection it doesn’t bulk up the Teracube 2e so much you’ll want to leave it off. The speckled finish is also more interesting to look at than the satin-effect plastic of the rear cover. This case also has an environmental angle. It’s made of wheat starch and ‘biodegradable polymers’, so won’t take 500 years to break down like plastic.

And no, it doesn’t start disintegrating if you wash it under the tap. ‘Biodegradable’ is about the case eventually breaking down in landfill, not while you use the Teracube 2e.

Most other parts of the outer hardware are similar to what you’d expect from other affordable phones - though it's made from recycled materials. The Teracube 2e has a 3.5mm headphone jack and a moderately fast rear fingerprint scanner.

Its speaker, a single driver at the bottom, is poor, however. Thin-sounding and quiet, the Teracube 2e can’t compete with most of the $200 / £170 phones we’d recommend.

Display

  • Bright ~600 nit IPS LCD
  • Solid color
  • 720p resolution with no additional frills

The Teracube 2e's screen measures 6.1 inches across and, like the displays of almost every smartphone, looks pretty good.

Color is reasonably well saturated for a cheaper phone, image sharpness is fine, and max brightness is surprisingly high. It hits 596 nits according to our colorimeter, about 150 more than you might expect from a solid budget display.

That said, we did find the camera preview image a little dimmer than we’d like when out taking photos, as the Teracube 2e doesn’t fiddle with color and contrast to improve visibility in bright conditions.

Teracube 2e

(Image credit: TechRadar)

That’s the end of the Teracube 2e’s notable display abilities. It does not support HDR, its 720p resolution is not as sharp as that of the 1080p phones available at the same price, and the screen refresh rate is the standard 60Hz. So it doesn’t have the scrolling smoothness of a 90Hz or 120Hz display.

This is no surprise. It's not realistic to expect disruptive levels of tech from a brand more interested in (relative) sustainability. We’re satisfied by the Teracube 2e’s display.

Specs and performance

  • Helio A25 chipset scrapes by with no deal-breaking basic lag
  • Poor for gaming, with low frame rates and long load times
  • A clean take on Android 10

The Teracube 2e's processor is more likely to be an issue for some of you. It’s the MediaTek Helio A25, which tends to be used in phones significantly cheaper than the Teracube 2e.

Sure, it has eight cores, but its performance is not close to, for example, the Snapdragon 662 used in the Moto G9 Power. It scores 738 points in Geekbench 5, to the ~1400 of the G8 Power.

There’s some good news. The Teracube 2e’s general performance is okay, most likely because it has 4GB of RAM. A few cheap phones with this kind of limited processor also have the absolute minimum amount of RAM, and it can make daily use a total chore.

Those phones make us long for the day the review is over, and we can get rid of a review device. But the Teracube 2e’s day-to-day experience is perfectly fine.

Sure, there are some slight pauses when you switch apps or load up the virtual keyboard. However, there’s nothing in the basics to give you a headache.

Teracube 2e

(Image credit: TechRadar)

You feel the Teracube 2e’s limited power more keenly when you ask it to do something more demanding. Games like Asphalt 9 and ARK: Survival Evolved take so long to load you’d assume they’ve crashed. Sometimes that is the case but, generally, it’s just that load times are interminable.

This is a bad phone for gaming. Fortnite isn’t supported, presumably because the Teracube 2e doesn’t meet its minimum requirements. ARK: Survival Evolved is a write-off. Asphalt 9 runs okay-ish, but there are regular pauses when the action or environment gets too busy.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t play anything on the Teracube 2e. Asphalt 8 runs well, as does PUBG - but they still suffer from godawful load times. Asphalt 8 was released in 2013 too, and while it has no doubt changed since then, getting a game that old to run well is no achievement in a $200 / £170 mobile.

Don’t expect too much from the Teracube 2e. But at least the software looks nice.

Teracube says this is ‘stock’ Android 10, but there are some tweaks here and there. For example, there’s a spot for MediaTek’s DuraSpeed feature in the Settings menu. This strictly limits background processes, a way to hide the bad performance of MediaTek’s cheapest chipsets. But, thankfully, despite all its gaming issues the Teracube 2e doesn’t really need DuraSpeed.

Camera

  • Terrible ultra-wide camera
  • Very old-fashioned HDR implementation
  • Unstabilized video

Teracube saved some money on the 2e’s chipset, and the same is true of the camera hardware and software R&D (or lack thereof). The Teracube 2e has two rear cameras. there’s a 13MP primary camera with an f/2.0 lens and an 8MP ultra-wide with an f/2.2 lens.

We have only one nice thing to say about the Teracube 2e's camera, which is that the main camera can take passable photos if you choose your framing carefully and take the time to use the HDR mode. Other than that, it does not compare well to almost any other similarly priced phone we might mention.

Our first issue is another example of cost-cutting. The Teracube 2e’s camera covering does not have an oleophobic coating. This means getting finger grease off can feel like scrubbing crude oil out of your carpet. One wipe won’t do, even with a glasses cloth. We imagine many Teracube 2e buyers will go around with a fine layer of finger grease covering the camera, quietly smearing a Vaseline glaze over their photos.

Teracube 2e

(Image credit: TechRadar)

The Teracube 2e’s ultra-wide camera is terrible. It does not have autofocus, detail is poor even in good lighting, and the right third of photos look excessively soft, as if the lens is misaligned with the sensor.

Shooting images with the Teracube 2e also feels a bit like skipping back to 2013, because the standard auto mode does not appear to make any use of Auto HDR. Blown highlights and dim shadows are the orders of the day, and they are far from fresh.

There is an HDR mode, but this takes a long time to capture a single image and does not fix blown highlights. It just brings up the shadows a bit. This phone’s HDR mode is far less effective, and far slower, than the standard shooting modes of rival phones from Realme, Motorola and Samsung.

Teracube 2e

(Image credit: TechRadar)

Image processing is relatively ugly, the edges of the frame turn to mush even in the main camera. Images shot in indoor lighting look milky and undersaturated. Night images look terrible and, by 2021 standards, the night mode is poor.

Video is also, you guessed it, bad. The Teracube 2e’s highest quality capture mode is 1080p, 30 frames per second, and as it has no kind of stabilization your footage will be unusable in many situations. Unless you like judder-vision.

The Teracube 2e’s 8MP selfie camera comes off well in comparison, but its images still look undersaturated next to those of other phones, and the fine latticework of noise over most image shows off the sub-standard processing.

You’re probably getting the idea by now. The Teracube 2e’s cameras are not good.

Camera samples

Image 1 of 10

Teracube 2e camera sample

With or without HDR, the Teracube 2e’s dynamic range is poor. (Image credit: TechRadar)
Image 2 of 10

Teracube 2e camera sample

If you don’t wipe the lens carefully, you’ll get smeared light sources, as in this image. (Image credit: TechRadar)
Image 3 of 10

Teracube 2e camera sample

Images are routinely dull-looking, and you can see the effect of HDR ghosting in this image. (Image credit: TechRadar)
Image 4 of 10

Teracube 2e camera sample

Feed the Teracube 2e an ‘easy’ scene like this and it can do a reasonable enough job. (Image credit: TechRadar)
Image 5 of 10

Teracube 2e camera sample

Don’t bother trying to take night images with the Teracube 2e. (Image credit: TechRadar)
Image 6 of 10

Teracube 2e camera sample

The Teracube 2e’s images look lifeless next to those of the best $200 phones. (Image credit: TechRadar)
Image 7 of 10

Teracube 2e camera sample

This shot could be worse, but the Teracube 2e has fumbled the sky, with overexposed clouds and the wrong shade of blue. (Image credit: TechRadar)
Image 8 of 10

Teracube 2e camera sample

Use HDR and, once in a while, you’ll get a reasonable image like this. (Image credit: TechRadar)
Image 9 of 10

Teracube 2e camera sample

The wide camera is awful. See how the right side of the image is blurry? (Image credit: TechRadar)
Image 10 of 10

Teracube 2e camera sample

Once again using the wide, the right side of the picture is blurry. (Image credit: TechRadar)

Battery life

  • 4,000mAh removable battery
  • Easily lasts a day and may even stretch to two
  • Slow charging, and no bundled charger

The Teracube 2e’s battery brings better news. It’s a 4,000mAh unit, which does not seem all that high a capacity next to some alternatives. However, it's a great match for the low-power chipset and low-resolution screen.

Stamina is excellent. The Teracube 2e easily outlasts plenty of high-end phones in real-world conditions.

We routinely end up with around 50% battery by the end of the day, and on light days it has even been in excess of 60%. Add that kind of lasting power to the decent enough day-to-day performance and you have a phone that feels pretty easy to live with. As long as you don’t want to play games. Or take photos. Or listen to podcasts using the weak internal speaker.

Teracube 2e

(Image credit: TechRadar)

Teracube does not bundle a charger with the Teracube 2e. Yes, it is in part a cost-saving measure, but it’s one that fits with the brand’s low-waste message.

Unlike a top-end Samsung you don’t need a fancy adapter either. We tried both high voltage and high current bricks and the Teracube 2e doesn’t seem to draw more than 10-11W with either. The downside is relatively slow charging.

Should I buy the Teracube 2e?

Teracube 2e

(Image credit: TechRadar)

Buy it if...

You want to bring back the days of replaceable batteries
The nerd-bait excitement of the Teracube 2e centers around one thing: you can pop out the battery and replace it, just like in 1999. It’s a cute concept. We get the appeal for those who tend to only switch phones when they just don’t last through the day anymore. However, bear in mind replacements seem to cost $50 and may not be easily available by the time you need one.

You’re after a no-nonsense long-lasting phone for the basics
Teracube offers some great peace of mind extras. The Teracube 2e promises the same three years of updates as an Android One phone, and comes with a four-year warranty. This won’t cover you for wear and tear, accidental damage, or smashed screens. But if a hardware fault arises Teracube will send you a refurb so you don’t have to wait for a repair. Day-to-day performance is fair too, and the battery life is well above average. It’s a low stress buy if you only need the basics.

You want to feel good about yourself
Are you a know-it-all or an insufferable hipster type? The Teracube 2e might be right for you. Bore your friends with your ‘ethical’ credentials and bask in a delicious sense of smug self-satisfaction. Just don’t think too much about how the phone still uses the same rare-earth metals as any other, wrapped up in a simpler, cheaper shell.

Don't buy it if...

You want to take photos
The Teracube 2e’s cameras are terrible, as if Teracube wanted to take us back to the old days of tech not just with a replaceable battery, but with photo quality too. There’s no Auto HDR, the ultra-wide camera is dreadful, night photos are very poor, and handheld video is juddery thanks to the lack of stabilization.

You want to play games
Want to play games? Don’t get a Teracube 2e. It can’t play Fortnite, and can’t do justice to some of the other high-end games it can have a crack at. Older and lower-end titles can run well, but load times are far longer than we’re comfortable with.

You want a phone that will run smoothly in several years
The Teracube 2e just about gets by in 2021 with the power it has. If you don’t try to run a game, Android 10 runs with just a little lag. However, this leaves little headroom for the future, and new versions of Android tend to be made with slightly higher base specs in mind, not lower ones. This rather sours the idea of the Teracube 2e as a phone you’ll use for an eternity.

First reviewed: February 2021

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