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Tuesday, August 20, 2019

A Great Free PDF Editor for Windows

Of all the file formats out there, PDFs are one of the most versatile as far as viewing and sharing formatted documents is concerned, plus with editable PDFs, they’ve only become more useful. Whether it’s a form, a draft document, or even resumes and CVs, PDFs are the most widely used formats. So, as important as it is to have a PDF viewer handy on your Mac or PC, having a PDF editor can be just as important. That’s where software like the Icecream PDF Editor (download) come into play. If you’re looking for a great free PDF editor, here’s our review of the Icecream PDF editor.
Key Features

As far as PDF editing apps go, Icecream PDF Editor is one of the more feature-rich apps I’ve used. It comes with a bunch of handy tools and options that’ll let you edit and manipulate PDFs with ease. Let me break down some of the most exciting features of the Icecream PDF Editor.

    PDF Editing

PDF files are great for preserving the formatting of documents across platforms, but editing them can be a pain. However, with the Icecream PDF Editor, editing a PDF is extremely easy. Simply click on the Edit button in the app, and you’ll get a handy toolbar with all the editing features you might need.

There’s a ‘Select’ tool that will let you select any element of the PDF file and easily make edits to it. If it’s text, you’ll be able to change the text itself or add more text to it, edit the font, change the color, the font size, alignment, and more. If it’s a text-box, you’ll be able to adjust the stroke size for the text field, change its color, adjust opacity, etc. You can edit the attributes for almost anything with the select tool. There’s also a text tool that will let you add a text box to the PDF and add any text to it, along with options to adjust the color, font, and more.

Icecream PDF Editor Select Tool

Then there are tools to add shapes to the PDF including rectangles, circles, lines, and arrows. These too have a bunch of options including things like the ability to adjust the outline color, the fill color, and a lot more. It’s really quite great.

Icecream PDF Editor Add Shapes

    PDF Annotation

While editing a PDF is definitely great, if you’re simply looking to make some annotations to a PDF file to point out certain areas of interest, or add things like sticky notes to the PDF, the Icecream PDF Editor has got you covered there as well.

For starters, there’s a tool to add text to the PDF, and there’s also a tool to add a sticky note. This is pretty useful since you can add it anywhere on the PDF, and add a description that will appear when someone clicks on the sticky note icon in the PDF. You can choose the color of the icon, add a description to it, and even set its opacity to suit your liking.

Icecream PDF Editor Stick Note Tool

There are also highlighting tools here, including an area highlight tool that will let you draw a selection around the area you want to highlight and highlight it when you’re done. You’ll also be able to choose the color for the highlight if you want.

Icecream PDF Editor Highlighting Tool

Other than that, there are tools to underline text, make a strikethrough, and even add a wobbly underline — something I’ll be using to mark proof-reading errors in documents. Plus there are shapes like circles, rectangles, lines, and more that you can use to annotate a PDF.

There’s also a stamp tool here that has a bunch of preset stamp options that you can simply place on the PDF. It’s like a digital stamp saying something like ‘Accepted,’ ‘Withdraw,’ ‘Finished,’ and more. You can also use custom stamps if you want, by the way, but for the most part, these should suffice.

Icecream PDF Editor Stamp Tool

    Adding and Moving Pages

Another really common thing that people do with PDFs, is adding pages to them and adjusting the order that they appear in. Icecream PDF Editor can handle that with ease as well. You can simply click on the ‘Pages’ option in the menu bar and then click on ‘Add Page‘ to add a new page to the PDF. That’s all well and good, but what really won me over was the drag and drop functionality here. So if I add a new page and I want to shift it to a different position in the PDF file, I can simply click and hold on it, and drag it to the new position. It’s really intuitive.

Icecream PDF Editor Adding New Pages
User Experience

Features are good and all, but without a decent user experience, even a powerful and useful app becomes an annoyance to deal with. The Icecream PDF Editor, however, has a pretty great design and it results in very simple and intuitive user experience.

Things are very streamlined here, and everything is either properly labelled, or has icons that are self-explanatory to the extent that you’ll never be left wondering what a particular tool does, or where to find a particular tool that you’re looking for.

Honestly, this is one of the more under appreciated things in a lot of apps. Seriously. I mean, the Icecream PDF Editor might not be the most feature rich software out there, but it definitely is the most easy to use PDF editors I’ve ever used. It’s just that well organised.

On the left you get all the editing and annotation tools that you might need, along with a handy toolbar that pops up when you’re using a tool, allowing you to make adjustments to things like colors, fonts, and more. On the center, there’s the PDF viewer itself, and it also has tab functionality so you can open up multiple PDF files in the same instance of the app. That’s great too.

Icecream PDF Editor User Experience

On the very right, there’s a narrow strip of tools that will let you switch between viewing pages of the PDF document you have open, to viewing any bookmarks you’ve added in the PDF, and a handy option that shows you all the sticky notes and descriptions you’ve added in the PDF in one, easily accessible place so you don’t have to go searching through the entire file.

Icecream PDF Editor User Experience
Pricing and Availability

I’m pretty sure you’re impressed with the Icecream PDF Editor and its capabilities. So let’s talk pricing and availability now. If you look at other software with similar features, you’ll easily end on the ballpark of around $60 to $80 for them. However, the Icecream PDF Editor is absolutely free. You can simply download it from the website and start editing all your PDF files without worrying about spending a lot of money.

The only issue that I personally have with the Icecream PDF Editor is that it’s not available for macOS. The software is only available on Windows 7,8, and 10, and that’s it. So yeah, if you’re a Mac user, you’ll have to look elsewhere for your PDF editing needs. For Windows users, however, Icecream PDF Editor is pretty much the best PDF editing software.
Pros and Cons

While the Icecream PDF Editor is an awesome PDF editing app for Windows, it does have some pros and cons.

Pros:

    Feature rich
    User friendly interface
    Completely free

Cons:

    Only available on Windows
    No functionality to export PDFs to other formats

Icecream PDF Editor: An Awesome PDF Editor for Windows

At the end of the day, the question is, should you use the Icecream PDF Editor for your PDF editing needs? The answer, dear reader, is absolutely. If you’re a Windows user, this is one of the best PDF editors you can use. Plus, it’s absolutely free so that’s even better. After the Oppo Find X with its mechanical pop-up camera design launched in India earlier this year without much fanfare, the Chinese giant decided to step up the game and bring their most popular and innovative R-series to the country. Well, the latest smartphone in that line-up, the Oppo R17 Pro, is finally here and has been priced at Rs 45,990.

The Oppo R17 Pro is not only the first device to bring the Snapdragon 710 chipset to India (around a week before Nokia), but also the one to show off its SuperVOOC flash charging technology – which is just marvelous as you’ll learn. It also features a waterdrop notch with a great-looking display, stunning gradient design, and more.

oppo r17 pro box

I was truly excited to try out the Oppo R17 Pro, and we were loaned a Radiant Mist variant of the device, so let’s check out my experiences with the device:
Oppo R17 Pro: Specifications

Like we always do, let’s first take a quick peek at the specifications table for the Oppo R17 Pro to get an idea of what we’re dealing with here:
Dimensions    157.6 x 74.6 x 7.9 mm
Weight    183 grams
Display    6.4-inch Full-HD+ AMOLED
Processor    Snapdragon 710
GPU    Adreno 616
RAM    8GB
Internal Storage    128GB
Rear Cameras    12MP (f/1.5-f/2.4) + 20MP (f/2.6) + TOF (time-of-flight) 3D stereo camera, LED flash
Front Camera    25MP (f/2.0)
Operating System    Android 8.1 Oreo-based ColorOS 5.2
Connectivity    Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, Wi-Fi Direct, Bluetooth 5.0, A-GPS, GLONASS, NFC, USB Type-C
Sensors    in-display fingerprint, E-Compass, Light and Proximity, Acceleration Sensor
Battery    3,650mAh (1850mAh + 1800mAh)
Colors    Radiant Mist, Emerald Green
Oppo R17 Pro: What’s in the Box

The device comes packed inside an elegant purple box with the R17 Pro tag on top – that also dazzles in a blue and purple gradient under a light. Once you slide out the main compartment, you will find the Oppo R17 Pro sitting on the top, followed by all the other accessories neatly placed inside.

Apart from the Oppo R17 Pro, listed below are the box contents of the device:

    SuperVOOC Charging Adapter
    USB-A to USB-C Cable
    USB Type-C Earphones
    Quick Start Guide
    SIM Ejector Tool
    Silicone Case (Blue)

Oppo R17 Pro unboxing
Oppo R17 Pro: Design and Build

A glass back with the gradient look is no longer a new look for smartphones. Oppo has itself has dabbled with this before, and R17 Pro is an attractive and sparkling beauty.

The Radiant Mist color that I’ve been using switches between bright blue and purple colors under different lighting conditions, and it may be a little too dazzling at first look -well, to the point that many of us found it to be tacky.

You will, however, get used to the color gradient once you start using the smartphone or can choose to subdue the effect by using the blue silicone case. The camera bump on the rear is also huge and the phone rocks back and forth when you place it on a table and try to use the in-display fingerprint sensor.

Not everyone is a big fan of the blinding colors and the shiny back of Oppo R17 Pro, but I believe it’s fun to show it off in public. It obviously makes everyone take notice and I, for one, wouldn’t mind that kind of attention and it could be a great conversation starter.

oppo r17 pro vs OnePlus 6T thunder purple

Though it’s a bit on the thicker and heavier side of things than say OnePlus 6T, the R17 Pro feels light and comfortable to use thanks to a great in-hand feeling. The frosted glass finish feels very good but the phone is a bit on the slippery side and I would suggest you use the silicone case, if possible.

The power button on the right and the volume rocker on the left are quite clicky, which makes them a joy to use, and like me, you might also keep wondering about how they are of different colors.

In terms of ports, you will only get a USB-C port on board here and there’s no 3.5mm headphone jack, but I appreciate Oppo for including a pair of USB Type-C earbuds in the box.
Oppo R17 Pro ports
Oppo R17 pro power button
Oppo R17 Pro: Display

Turning our attention to the front, the Oppo R17 Pro dons the now-trendy waterdrop notch that makes it look equally gorgeous from the front as the back. The device is packing a 6.4-inch Full-HD+ AMOLED display, with a resolution of a 2340 x 1080 pixels, a 19.5:9 aspect ratio, and a screen-to-body ratio of 91.5 percent.

The display is gorgeous and makes for the perfect entertainment device. The OLED screen gets pretty bright, not just indoors but also under direct sunlight. Everything from the color reproduction, viewing angles, and the accuracy is spot on and there’s nothing I’d change here.

The Oppo R17 Pro was the first device with Corning’s Gorilla Glass 6 protection. It means you don’t need to use any form of screen protector, which is generally the first accessory you might buy. Well, I didn’t mean to test out its toughness, but accidentally dropped the smartphone from pocket height and it survived, so there’s surely some merit to Corning’s claims.

You can take a closer look at the notch, with a selfie camera and missing notification LED (which is a shame), as well as the thin bottom chin right here. They are no different from what we’ve seen on the OnePlus 6T already.
Oppo R17 Pro notch
Waterdrop notch
Minimal chin

The chamfered edges around the display, where the smartphone’s frame meets the screen, were quite sharp to the touch and it felt like you could get some cuts at first, but the edges smoothen out after a day or two of usage which is a relief.
Oppo R17 Pro: Under-Display Fingerprint Scanner

As smartphones are shifting towards bezel-less displays, the rear fingerprint scanner is losing its relevance. The Oppo R17 Pro also ditches the physical fingerprint sensor in favor of the under-display optical fingerprint sensor to further enhance the look and feel of the frosted glass back.

Oppo’s proprietary under-display fingerprint sensor on the R17 Pro only lags a little behind the OnePlus 6T in terms of unlocking speed. The speeds are quite comparable and it’s difficult to pick a winner, as you can see for yourself in the video attached below.

It’s not all rosy. These sensors are fairly new, and the registration process is still pretty sluggish. The recognition is also a hit or miss, if you haven’t registered your fingerprint correctly, covering the edges. We also noticed sluggish animations while unlocking the device on certain occasions, but the same can be fixed via software updates in the future.
Oppo R17 Pro: User Experience

Well, let me start off by saying that Oppo R17 Pro is backed by Android 8.1 Oreo-based ColorOS 5.2 and it should be enough to give you the hint that even though you will get a feature-rich skin, there are some qualms that need to be corrected – as I’ve already stated in my Realme U1 review.

ColorOS 5.2 may have mixed things up since it first arrived but the experience and UI still looks pretty much iOS-like and that bugs me every time I hop onto this train. I may have gotten used to the gestures and menus, so it has become less of a pain for me and I hope that ColorOS 6.0 fixes some of the niggles.

coloros oppo r17 pro 1

Even though it seems that we usually have bad things to say about ColorOS, this Android skin is literally packed to the brim with features and there are some which you might come to appreciate over time. As you can see in the screenshots attached below, when you turn on the portable hotspot, Oppo R17 Pro shows the data consumed in that one session and the number of devices connected to it in the notification bar at the top.

Oppo has also partnered with Trustonic Secure Platform (TSP) to only further enhance the security and privacy of its devices by providing enhanced experiences on services such as Alipay, WeChat Pay and even Paytm – which gave us a sneak peek at this feature while helping complete payments in a Secure Environment.

There are several other features too, such as the Smart Assistant and Smart Sidebar, along with Kids Space, Voice Call Effects, and more that you will need to scour through under the Settings. My biggest complaint is the absence of an ambient display that could’ve made up for the lack of the notification LED.
Oppo R17 Pro: Performance

Though ColorOS may not paint the best picture in terms of user experience, I cannot say the same for the Snapdragon 710 chipset. Oppo R17 Pro is the first smartphone powered by this chipset to launch in India, promising flagship-grade features and performance comparable to Qualcomm’s 800-series chipset. It is coupled with a whopping 8GB of RAM and 128GB of onboard storage on the Oppo R17 Pro, which is no longer an overkill and only works in the favor of the smartphone.

We decided to test out the performance of the Snapdragon 710 against the Snapdragon 845 chipset, so I’ve been lugging around both the Oppo R17 Pro and OnePlus 6T with me for the past few days. Apart from running the conventional benchmark tests (results below), I decided to check out app opening and closing times, gameplay experience, and an overall performance check.

oppo r17 pro pubg

I was keen to finally get a taste of Snapdragon 710’s real-world performance against its older brother and it didn’t disappoint me. The app loading time differs only by a mere 6 seconds, where PUBG opened on the Oppo R17 Pro in around 33 seconds whereas it took 27 seconds to load up on the OnePlus 6T. This is not bad considering the heaps of memory that’s always available for use on the R17 Pro, especially after more of it is freed up by the software-based Oppo Game Engine feature.

Further, I also opened popular social media apps such as Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter in quick succession and the Snapdragon 710 was only a few milliseconds behind in opening and closing and re-opening the apps in comparison to the Snapdragon 845, which shows that app management on the Oppo R17 Pro is also good and you wouldn’t face any issues over the long term.

I then turned my attention to the gaming performance, which is where I was surprised to see that even though the Snapdragon 710 chipset is slightly better than the Snapdragon 660 (in terms of benchmarks), popular games such as PUBG and Asphalt 9 automatically took up the highest graphics settings, which is not the case with the 660. While Asphalt 9 was a breeze in my testing over the past few days, my PUBG sessions saw me jump back and forth between high and medium graphics.

I did notice a few jitters and frame drops in the former, leading me to jump to the latter, but the crisp graphics on the OLED screen of the Oppo R17 Pro pushed me to switch back to “high” graphics once again.

oppo r17 pro performance

Finally, I decided to load up the newly added Battle Royale mode in Modern Combat 5 and Oppo R17 Pro offered stable frame rates here as well, confirming that the Snapdragon 710 is capable enough to handle heavy workloads. Games like Asphalt 9, Injustice, and Mortal Combat X also ran buttery smooth, without any frame drops or stutters, so it’s safe to say that gaming on this device is a satisfactory experience.
Oppo R17 Pro: Antutu Benchmarks

Though I wouldn’t put too much faith in benchmark figures as they don’t really translate to the real-world performance, you can find attached our Geekbench and AnTutu benchmark scores below.

The single and multi-core Geekbench scores of Oppo R17 Pro stands at around 1800 and 6000 respectively, which is pretty low as compared to Snapdragon 845-powered devices, whose benchmark scores peak at around 2450 and 9000 (for the OnePlus 6T).

The Antutu benchmark of the Snapdragon 710 chipset on Oppo R17 Pro may be a little higher than Snapdragon 660 benchmarks, but the Snapdragon 845 blows it out of the water. The AnTuTu benchmark score of the Snapdragon 845 is almost twice as much as those of the Snapdragon 710 – which is enough to tell you the difference between the two, but as pointed out about I noticed no issues in real-world performance.
Oppo R17 Pro: Cameras

The cameras are a major highlight of the Oppo R17 Pro as it’s the first Oppo device to feature a triple rear-camera setup. This includes a 12MP (f/1.5-f/2.4) primary sensor and a 20MP (f/2.6) secondary sensor, coupled with a third TOF (time-of-flight) 3D stereo sensor. There’s also a 25MP (f/2.0) selfie camera on board here.

In true Oppo fashion, the camera hardware does sound amazing on paper but spending a few days with the R17 Pro made me realize that the company has come a long way. The days of overexposed or saturated selfies are gone and you can now capture some striking shots with this smartphone. Let’s check out some camera samples:
Oppo R17 Pro Camera Samples: Daylight

The Oppo R17 Pro was a pleasant surprise in the camera department as the pictures we captured in day time and some artificial lighting turned out to be pretty good. While the color saturation and over-sharpening may be an issue for some, I found these shots to be Instagram-ready and worth every penny you’ll spend on this phone.

The dual rear cameras, paired with the AI algorithms, are able to give you photos with good detail, vibrant colors, and highlights.
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Oppo R17 Pro Camera Samples: Low Light

Oppo R17 Pro is able to hold its ground in low-light conditions as well, where also it helps punch up the colors, retain color depth, and outputs accurate photos. The device usually automatically recognizes the scene as ‘Night’ and clicks night mode shots, which turn out to be amazing even when there is a bare minimum amount of light around.
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Regular Mode
Oppo R17 Pro Camera Samples: Selfies

As I’ve already mentioned, Oppo seems to have improved its selfie camera performance with the addition of onboard AI to the device. The pictures you see attached below have decent amount of detail and while the camera may soften the skin tones sometimes, the selfies captured are Instagram-worthy in most cases.
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Oppo R17 Pro Camera Samples: Portrait Mode

Oppo clicks one of the better portrait shots on a smartphone and it was unbelievable for me as well. The portrait selfies, as well as shots captured using the rear camera, have a ton of detail, decent edge detection and a natural background blur in most cases. While pictures of human subjects are much better, those of inanimate objects look great too, which is not the case in many phones.
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Oppo R17 Pro Camera Samples: Ultra Night Mode

Night mode is the latest hype train that every smartphone maker is looking to board and Oppo doesn’t want to miss out on that. The Ultra Night Mode on the Oppo R17 Pro is not at par with the Pixel 3, but it’s pretty good. You will see in the shots attached below that Oppo is punching up the highlights and shadows to output some stunning pictures.
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Regular Mode
Ultra Night Mode
Regular Mode
Ultra Night Mode
Regular Mode
Ultra Night Mode
Regular Mode
Ultra Night Mode
Regular Mode
Ultra Night Mode
Regular Mode
Ultra Night Mode
Oppo R17 Pro Camera Samples: TOF Camera

The time-of-flight (TOF) camera may not appear to be a suitable addition from a user’s point of view but it makes the Oppo R17 Pro capable of capturing some sweet photos at night and get it ready for future AR applications. It currently sits above the existing rear-camera setup, shoots light beams at subjects and reads their distance from the device to better position the limited AR Stickers (or Apple Animoji clone) inside the camera app or light up the subjects in might mode.

These AR stickers may not be as good as Animoji’s but you can see the TOF camera in action in the screenshot attached below. You can check out the lion’s close-up and body shot right here. The face tracking is okayish and I’m not impressed.

oppo r17 pro tof camera

Oppo, however, tells us that new features that make use of the TOF camera will soon be added via software upgrades and if AR applications take off, then you have got yourself ‘dedicated hardware’ to better map and process depth data.
Oppo R17 Pro Video Samples

The Oppo F17 Pro is capable of capturing 4K (UHD) videos but only at 30fps, which sure sounds disappointing for the price you are paying. And if that wasn’t enough, the videos captured, while they feature accurate colors and good audio quality, but the OIS (Optical Image Stabilization) isn’t able to handle the wobble of the auto-rickshaw I was traveling by. You can find the 4K (30fps) video sample attached right here:

However, when you bump down the video quality to 1080p (30fps) then you can easily witness that the video is smoother and the wobble is also reduced in comparison to the 4K videos. You can check out the 1080p video sample attached right here:

Oppo R17 Pro: Connectivity

The Oppo R17 Pro comes with a dual nano-SIM card tray at the bottom and it looks like the tray we have seen on the Mate 20 Pro that also allows you to use a Nano memory card to expand storage. The device extends to you dual VoLTE functionality and I faced no issues with the network connection over the past five days, except when I switched circles and landed in Mumbai yesterday morning to attend the launch event.

You also get your usual set of connectivity options here, which includes Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac (2.4GHz and 5GHz support), Bluetooth 5.0, A-GPS, GLONASS, BeiDou, NFC, and a lot more. So, there’s no dearth of connectivity options and R17 Pro will serve you just fine in this department.
Oppo R17 Pro: Audio and Telephony

The Oppo R17 Pro comes with a single bottom-firing speaker and even though I’m not particularly happy with its positioning, the speaker gets really loud (like really!!) and still manages to offer a wide soundstage with plenty of treble and bass.

It’s easy to muffle the speaker while playing games, so be warned and use a pair of earphones to enhance the experience. You get 15 volume steps, which could be better distributed to let you control the volume.

Oppo R17 Pro USB-C earphones

To make up for the lack of a headphone jack, Oppo has included a USB Type-C headset in the box but they’re yet another Apple Earpods clone. I don’t understand the obsession with copying Apple products but these earphones are sturdy and well-built. They offer decent sound quality, but with a flat soundstage and no bass-rich sound, which could turn out to be a disappointment for the Indian masses.

Further, Oppo told us that the Snapdragon 710 chipset packs 2×2 MIMO support and this made it possible for the company to include four antennas (two at the top, two on the bottom) on the R17 Pro. I have been using both my Jio and Airtel SIM cards on the device since it first landed into my hands and there have been no complaints on my end.

Oppo R17 Pro telephony

The network reception has been great and I haven’t experienced any call drops either. I was told by one caller that the voice did fade away when I held the smartphone even a little far away from my mouth, but there were no hiccups otherwise.
Oppo R17 Pro: Battery Life

We know you have been dying to know about the awesome battery in the Oppo R17 Pro and the SuperVOOC charging technology.

Yes, the modest 3,700mAh battery pack on this device (same capacity as the OnePlus 6T) is backed by crazy fast charging speed that blew me away. I mean, pretty much everyone was amazed by the charging speed of the Oppo R17 Pro.

oppo r17 pro supervooc animation

Well, my first taste of SuperVOOC was at a cafe, with my battery drained down to 4% after clicking camera samples and texting. I only put the device to charge at the cafe counter for about 7-8 minutes, and I was shocked to see the battery at 35%.

SuperVOOC charging takes a leap ahead of OnePlus’ fast charge; it completely powers up your device from 5% to 100% in a little over 30 minutes. This has been made possible by splitting the battery into two halves – 1850mAh and 1800mAh and charging simultaneously via a 50W charging adapter – making for an extraordinary experience.

    SuperVOOC Charging iS just incredible

As for the battery life, well, my biggest qualm with ColorOS is that it does not show the screen-on time and it becomes a little difficult to judge how long the battery really lasts under different usage conditions.

oppo R17 Pro battery consumption

If I were to guess, a few phone calls, some PUBG and Modern Combat 5, along with WhatsApp amounts to medium usage. The device lasted me the whole day, with 12-15% charge left at the end of the day, but SuperVOOC technology remedies low battery warnings by juicing it up to full charge in no time. Just plug it in and be ready to be amazed.
Oppo R17 Pro: Pros and Cons

We have now finally made it to the decision-making process and I know most of you’ve already dismissed Oppo R17 Pro as an overpriced Snapdragon 710 smartphone. I know you’re recommending the OnePlus 6T (starts at Rs 37,999) to friends and relatives right now, but do hear me out once.

Oppo R17 Pro is not a bad phone in any way and you cannot outright dismiss it because the device certainly has a lot of things working in its favor and I really took a liking to it over the past few days. Oppo R17 Pro didn’t just lay the groundwork for the OnePlus 6T, but also brings along a powerful set of dual rear cameras, faster charging, and a dazzling (yet tacky!) rear panel.

The R17 Pro is a really compelling device but the poor pricing seems to have sunk the ship for Oppo, who might find it difficult to court buyers for the device. The users are all about internals specifications right now and the possibility of owning a more powerful device, backed by the Snapdragon 845 for less money will certainly sound like a better option, which is where the OnePlus 6T or Poco F1 (starts at Rs 20,999) take the cake.

PROS:

    Beautiful gradient design
    Less intrusive waterdrop notch
    Under-display fingerprint sensor
    Cameras live up to the hype
    Snapdragon 710 is great
    Remarkable charging speed

CONS:

    Grossly overpriced
    TOF camera unusable
    ColorOS woes galore
    No wireless charging

Oppo R17 Pro rear

SEE ALSO: OnePlus 6T Review: It’s Almost Perfect
Oppo R17 Pro Review: Impressive But Overpriced

Overall, the Oppo R17 Pro is one beautiful and powerful package that makes sense and is capable enough to check all the right boxes. But the price is unpalatable only for the super fast charging tech.

The Oppo R17 Pro, as it turns out, could have been a strong competitor in the mid-range segment in India if the company hadn’t bet too heavily on SuperVOOC and not priced its device way beyond the cheapest flagship smartphone in the market. This makes the R17 Pro a futile attempt to court flagship users in the country. Do you agree with me?
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A Fantastic Thin and Light Notebook for Professionals

Xiaomi’s onslaught on the Indian smart TV industry, which kicked off earlier last year, has proved to be a runaway success. The Mi TV lineup has only grown over the course of 2018 to help Xiaomi build a strong foothold over the home entertainment market. Well, the Chinese giant is now looking to enhance your TV viewing experience with the launch of their Mi Soundbar (Rs 4,999) in India and that too at a pretty tantalizing price tag.

Xiaomi sent over the huge Mi Soundbar to us for a review, and I have been using it over the past week. So, here’s how my experience with Xiaomi’s Mi Soundbar has been so far:
Mi Soundbar: Specifications

Calling the Mi Soundbar huge isn’t an understatement, it is 33 inches in length and holds eight speakers, but it’s still quite lightweight and weighs just under 2 kilograms. If you want to delve into the specifics of the speaker setup, well, Xiaomi has packed two 0.75-inch dome tweeters and two 2.5-inch woofers to bring the crisp audio experience to the table. This is coupled with four passive radiators that help boost the bass – which is a prime selling point for the Mi Soundbar. You can check some key specifications listed below:
Dimensions    83 x 7.2 x 8.7 cm
Weight    1.9 kgs
Speakers    two 65mm woofer units + two 20mm dome tweeters + four passive radiators
Input Power    > 14W X 2 @1 kHz
Connectivity Options    3.5 mm stereo AUX, fiber optic, coaxial S/PDIF, red and white line-in, and Bluetooth 4.2
Mi Soundbar: What’s in the Box

Xiaomi’s Mi Soundbar comes packed inside a brown cardboard box similar to its Mi TVs. You’ll get the following stuff in the Mi Soundbar box:

    Mi Soundbar (you cannot miss this one)
    Power adapter
    User manuals
    S/PDIF cable
    Wall mounting accessories

The Mi Soundbar has a number of connectivity options and I would have much preferred if Xiaomi provided a 3.5mm AUX or optical cable in the box over the S/PDIF one.

Mi Soundbar: Design and Build

The Mi Soundbar is no different from several other Xiaomi products we have seen in the recent past. The classy design and minimal aesthetic of the Mi Soundbar, should make it attractive to the masses.

The Mi Soundbar is a massive cuboid, and comes only in white (for the plastic body with a matte finish) with a grey fabric mesh on the front to cover the speaker unit. There’s a subtle “Mi” branding on the top right of the soundbar and I like that.

This color combo makes it look sophisticated, and I kind of like it, but it also makes me wary of handling the Mi Soundbar. It catches dust and grease pretty easily and that could ruin its look, which is why I’d have loved it if Xiaomi had a black variant of the soundbar as well.

The buttons to switch between all available connectivity choices, along with the volume controls, are neatly placed at the top. It’s handy and functional (and the buttons sure are clicky) but there’s no way to see the volume level, which could have been fixed with a display. You have to keep pressing the buttons until you feel you cannot go down or up any further.

If not a display, Xiaomi could have at least provided a remote with the soundbar to allow users to adjust the volume from the comfort of their sofa set or bed. It’s one of the key ingredients missing from the recipe here and many of its competitors do have an edge here.

Xiaomi has also kept the weight of the Mi Soundbar in check and it weighs just 1.9 kilograms but doesn’t feel like it when picked up. The weight distribution appears to be fairly even and everyone who checked out the Mi Soundbar was impressed with this one fact – in addition to the sound, which we’ll talk about in a bit.

    Installation

The Mi Soundbar can be installed in 2 different forms under your television set. You can either choose to just connect the power and input cables and then place the soundbar below your TV on a table,  or mount it on the wall – great if your TV is also mounted. Xiaomi even provides the accessories — screws and screw mounts — required to mount the Mi Soundbar within the box but you’d have to do the heavy lifting yourself.

If you decide to place the Mi Soundbar on a table top, the body will rest on three sturdy rubber feet which can be found at the bottom – two near the ends, and one sitting in the middle. They will not only keep your Mi Soundbar from directly touching the table but also makes it skid-proof and absorb the vibration from the speakers.

Overall, the build quality of the Mi Soundbar is pretty good and I don’t really have any major qualms with it — except the lack of the remote which would have solved a number of issues here.
Mi Soundbar: Connectivity

Xiaomi offers you a number of different options to connect the Mi Soundbar to your TVs, laptop or smartphone. Firstly, you can obviously turn to Bluetooth to connect any of the devices to the soundbar but the audio output won’t really be the best, well, because wireless audio streaming is still not there yet. It supports A2DP music playback, which is sweet, however, still not as good as its wired alternatives.

    Wired Connection Ports

The wired options include the familiar 3.5mm AUX port, the red and white Line-in ports, a black S/PDIF (co-ax) port, followed by the optical port. It means you’re not going to face any issues when connecting to your Mi TV as it has all of these ports. However, I was using the Mi Soundbar with one of the smart TVs at the Beebom office and it worked perfectly fine in my case.

The ports are arranged neatly on the rear, with buttons to switch between them laid out on top. These connectivity options can be switched between pretty quickly and easily, with just the press of a button. An LED indicator above the button tells you which source is playing. It requires you to have the necessary cable attached to the soundbar (which you might need to buy yourself) to get the output. You’ll have to flip the rocker switch to turn on the soundbar once you’ve connected it to the power source.

    No HDMI or USB Ports

While all this sound perfect, I know, the Mi Soundbar lacks a few of the most important ports in today’s age. It lacks the HDMI input and USB ports to round off the connectivity options and that’s a huge shortcoming. It would have made it easier to connect to a lot more devices or simply plugging in a USB drive to play songs directly.

However, I won’t be too harsh on Xiaomi for the lack of these connectivity options because the company is giving users access a great audio experience at a pretty reasonable price.
Mi Soundbar: Audio Quality

We already know what’s packed inside the Mi Soundbar, so let’s get down straight to the meat and gravy of this product – the audio quality. Xiaomi promises that the soundbar is designed to deliver a “thrilling cinematic” experience and well, I was astounded to see it make good on this promise the moment I plugged it into my MacBook Air. Yeah, it was my first taste of using a soundbar and I kicked off the testing with my daily drivers before moving to a smart TV.

    Listening to Songs

Well, let me preface my experience by saying that you’re not going to be impressed with the Mi Soundbar in this scenario. While the soundbar gets loud and has a ton of treble and bass that a lot of people may approve of and like, but I have to warn you that the soundstage isn’t well-balanced in this case.

The enhanced bass, as Xiaomi terms it, clearly takes control and this subdues the vocal performance and low frequencies in the process. There will certainly be times, such as during songs like Steven’s Crossfire, when the bass would be so overpowering that you won’t really catch the vocals and it’s distracting. Otherwise, the clean bass and treble are something EMD enthusiasts will appreciate with the Mi Soundbar.

While the music listening experience isn’t particularly great here, you can’t overlook the movie and TV season-viewing aspect of the Mi Soundbar.

    Watching Movies

mi soundbar TV copy

Over the past weekend, I spent all my time in bed binge-watching a new sci-fi mystery show called Travelers on Netflix. I realized that the true purpose of Mi Soundbar is to make it possible for you to appreciate your favorite movies and TV shows with a fuller and cinematic audio experience. The soundstage is pretty well-balanced here and one can not just distinctly hear the dialogues clearly, but also the sound effects with heavy bass, as well as higher frequencies. Movies sound fantastic on the soundbar. .

Also, I have a medium-sized room at home and the Mi Soundbar was loud enough to give me an improved viewing experience as compared to just using the TV’s speakers. Placing the soundbar on a table under the TV was satisfactory in my case and also, I did notice that the rubber feet here are strong enough to hold the soundbar in place.

mi soundbar mi logo 7 copy

Xiaomi has certainly put in much effort to tune the sound of the Mi Soundbar for a better home entertainment experience and while it seems to work for binge-watching movies, it all boils down to preference when listening to music.
Mi Soundbar: Should You Buy One?

Finally, let us answer the one question that you’re here for, and it’s whether you should get Mi Soundbar for your home or not. Well, Xiaomi has designed a soundbar that extends a well-balanced and full output for binge-watching movies on Netflix or listening to music when you come home after yet another tough day at work. And if you’re a bass lover, well, your day will be made. So, Xiaomi has probably added another feather to its overflowing hat with the launch of Mi Soundbar in India and I think it justifies the Rs 4,999 price tag pretty well.

There may be a few chinks in its armor such as the lack of a remote or a few I/O ports, however, the sound quality makes up for these imperfections.

Mi Soundbar is perhaps one of the better options available on the market in its price range and there’s no denying it. But, there’s a possibility that you want to use a remote. Well, in that case, you can get the F&D T180X 2.0 TV Soundbar (Rs 5,490) which should offer you a similar soundstage due to its 3-inch drivers and 1-inch tweeters. You can also pick the Philips DSP-475 U Soundbar and subwoofer combo (Rs 4,500) if you want to add that extra thump to your experience.

PROS:

    Elegant aesthetics
    Lightweight body
    Powerful bass and treble
    Amazing sound for movies and TV

CONS:

    No Remote Control
    Lacks few I/O ports
    Not great for just music

mi soundbar 1 copy

SEE ALSO: Xiaomi Poco F1 Review: Flagship of the Masses!
Xiaomi Mi SoundBar Review: Cinematic Sound At a Bargain

After smartphones, Xiaomi now strives to dominate the home entertainment market and the Mi Soundbar is the perfect addition to their enormous portfolio in India. It serves as a perfect companion to their Mi TV lineup, that has been selling really well, and brings a lot of value to your viewing experience. It’s sleek, light and more importantly, affordable, to make you want to pull out your wallet and buy one almost immediately. With the release of its Prestige series of laptops, Taiwanese PC maker MSI significantly widened its target audience and it now has a couple of great options in its portfolio geared at professionals who are looking for performance notebooks that don’t look as flashy as some of its gaming notebooks.

At the lower end of the Prestige series, MSI now offers a thin and light 14-inch notebook called the MSI PS42 which positions itself as a compelling buy for anyone looking for the perfect combination of portability and performance.

Starting at Rs. 77,990, the MSI PS42 will definitely turn some heads, but is the notebook really all that it’s geared up to be? Here, we’ll be taking an in-depth look at the MSI PS42 to find out if it actually has what it takes to be your perfect companion on-the-go.

Note: For the purpose of this review we received the MSI PS42 8RB from the company, which is the higher-end SKU with a dedicated Nvidia GPU and is priced at Rs. 99,990 in India.
MSI PS42 8RB Specifications

Lets take a look at the detailed specifications of the MSI PS42 8RB before we proceed with the review. The MSI PS42 8RB packs in an 8th Gen Intel Core i7-8550U clocked in at 1.8GHz with a max boost clock of 2.0GHz. Here’s the full specs sheet:
Dimensions and Weight    322 x 222 x 15.9mm, 1.19kg
Display    14-inch FHD IPS
Processor    8th Gen Intel Core i7-8550U @1.80GHz
Graphics    Nvidia GeForce MX150 with 2GB GDDR5 memory + Intel UHD Graphics 620
RAM    16GB DDR4 @2666MHz
Storage    512GB NVMe SSD
I/O Ports    2x USB 3.1 Type-C Gen 1, 2x USB 3.1 Type-A Gen 1, 1x SD card reader, 1x HDMI, 1x Kensington Lock, 1x 3.5mm headphone/mic combo jack
Connectivity    802.11 ac WiFi, Bluetooth 4.2
Operating System    Windows 10
Battery    4-cell 50WHr Li-Polymer
Speakers    2x 2W
Price    Rs. 99,990
MSI PS42 8RB: Design and Build Quality

Being the company’s first laptop geared towards professionals, the MSI PS42 takes a significant step away from MSI’s gaming design aesthetic to offer something that would blend quite easily in an office environment. Compared to some other laptops in the segment, the MSI PS42’s design seems a bit unimaginative when you first take a look at it, as it features a tried and tested brushed metal design that looks classy but outdated.

MSI PS42

On the inside, the laptop features a 14-inch FHD IPS matte finish display with rather narrow bezels on the top and sides, along with a substantial chin. As with many Ultrabooks with narrow bezels, the webcam on the MSI PS42 rests in the center of the bottom bezel, which isn’t the most ideal position. However, it’s a trade off you’ll have to make if you’re looking for a laptop with narrow bezels.

MSI PS42

There’s a well spaced out backlit keyboard with decent sized keys, along with a rather narrow touchpad with an embedded fingerprint scanner for Windows Hello authentication. The MSI PS42 offers users a decent selection of ports (more on that later) which are evenly distributed on the left and right edges of the device.

There’s a large exhaust vent right above the keyboard which houses the tactile power button in the center and all of the laptop’s indicator LEDs are positioned to the left of the Tab key, wrapping over the left edge of the notebook. I really like this implementation as it will allow users to easily see the LEDs, irrespective of the lid being opened or closed.

MSI PS42 2

Weighing in at just under 1.2kg, the MSI PS42 is one of the lightest laptops with a dedicated GPU and even though it does feel a bit hollow, there isn’t any major deck flex and the laptop feels quite sturdy. While I’m more than satisfied with the design and build quality of the PS42, I’m not a fan of the company’s choice of using a white backlight with silver keys, because it makes the legends quite difficult to read while you’re using the laptop in a well-lit room, but then again, you have the option to completely disable the backlight which does improve readability.
MSI PS42 8RB: Display

The MSI PS42 features a 14-inch full HD (1920×1080) IPS display with a matte finish and it looks absolutely stunning, thanks in part to the narrow bezels. Unlike other matte panels that I’ve used before, content on the MSI PS42’s display looks vivid and crisp like a glossy screen, without any glare whatsoever. The display also has a decent 1000:1 contrast ratio and colors look fairly accurate, which makes the system quite a decent option for photo/video editors.

MSI PS42

As with all of its other laptops, MSI bundles its True Color software with the PS42, giving users the option to further customize the color reproduction as per their specific needs. And since the laptop covers all of the sRGB spectrum, there’s quite a bit you can do to customize the color reproduction to your liking. What prevents the display from being absolutely perfect is the max brightness which, when compared with other laptops in the segment, is just about average. Because of this, outdoor visibility isn’t that great and you might have trouble using the laptop in brightly lit environments.

In my opinion, MSI has made use a pretty decent display panel on the MSI PS42 which makes it perfect for content creators who want an editing machine to use on the go. You’ll definitely face some issues with the brightness levels but if you think you can overlook that, I can assure you that you’ll have a fantastic experience with the laptop’s display.
MSI PS42 8RB: Ports and Connectivity

For a 14-inch thin and light notebook, the MSI PS42 features a decent selection of ports, offering users two full-sized USB 3.1 Type-A ports, two USB 3.1 Type-C ports, a full-sized HDMI port, an SD card reader, a 3.5mm headphone/microphone combo jack and a Kensington lock slot.

MSI PS42

The ports are evenly distributed on the left and right edges of the laptop, with the USB Type-A ports, a USB Type-C port, the Kensington lock and the SD card reader residing on the right, while the rest of the ports are located on the left.

The port selection puts the MSI PS42 a fair bit ahead of the competition, as most notebooks in this segment only offer a USB Type-C port and one other full-sized USB port these days.

MSI PS42

While I have no issues with the port selection, I do have two problems with the placement and the implementation of these ports. Firstly, both the USB Type-A ports are located very close to each other on the right edge of the laptops, which might cause some issues if any of your USB headers are unusually large or weirdly shaped. Secondly, when an SD card is inserted into the SD card reader on the laptop it protrudes a fair bit from the chassis, which might lead to some accidental damage.
MSI PS42 8RB: Keyboard

The MSI PS42 features a spacious keyboard with full-sized, well spaced out keys which makes typing on the notebook an absolute pleasure. The keys feel tactile, have a decent amount of travel and make no rattling noises. With my large hands, typing was a bit difficult at first(especially because of the narrow wrist rest), but I got used to it within a couple of hours and after that typing was a breeze.

MSI PS42

I was glad to see that the keyboard included full-size arrow keys and didn’t opt for a weird shrunken design like some other laptops in this segment. The keyboard is also backlit, but the white backlight is only good if you’re using the laptop in the dark. In well-lit rooms, turning on the backlight has an adverse impact on the readability, making the legends quite difficult to read against the silver background. Other than that, I had no issues with the keyboard on the MSI PS42.
MSI PS42 8RB: Touchpad

The touchpad on the MSI PS42 is tiny and on top of that the integrated fingerprint scanner eats up quite a bit of usable space. I really wish MSI had put the fingerprint scanner elsewhere (hint: on the power button), which would have easily addressed this issue. I also faced problems while selecting text using the touchpad, because as soon as I reached close to the fingerprint scanner, the touchpad would stop tracking my finger and start moving the pointer down. Also, I don’t see any sense in leaving that tiny amount of space to the left and top right of the fingerprint scanner. Wasting precious space on a touchpad of this size is simply beyond me.

MSI PS42

Thanks to the inclusion of Windows precision drivers, the trackpad otherwise felt pretty smooth and accepted all multi-touch gestures without any issues. However, because of the fact that there’s barely any surface area to work with, using the multi-touch gestures felt rather unnatural and cramped.

I get that there are significant space constraints when working with laptops in the category, but I think MSI could have made the trackpad slightly wider, which would have addressed most of the issues. Rounding off the poor trackpad experience are the left and right mouse buttons which feel really mushy but, on the upside, have a satisfying click.
MSI PS42 8RB: Audio

At first look, you’d think that the speakers on the MSI PS42 are located within the grill above the keyboard, but that’s not the case. The two 2 Watt speakers are located on the underside of the chassis, towards the front on either side and they sound surprisingly good for a laptop this size. The speakers get fairly loud, especially for a laptop this size and they’re good quality speakers, no doubt.

MSI PS42

As with most downward firing speakers, the sound can get easily muffled if you use the laptop on your lap but the same is not true when using it on a desk. On the contrary, the sound gets amplified while using the laptop on a desk, with the angled shape of the chassis towards the front playing the role of a passive amplifier.

Audio quality from the 3.5mm combo jack is also pretty great and thanks to the included Nahimic audio software audio through wired headsets is just exceptional. You also get the option to customize the sound output through the software, which is great.
MSI PS42 8RB: Camera

The webcam on the MSI PS42 is just about average, as far as laptop webcams go (why aren’t high-resolution cameras on laptops a thing already?), but thanks to its poor placement it isn’t really all that usable. While using the laptop on a desk, the webcam is barely able to capture my entire face and when I was using the laptop on my lap it could only manage to capture my chin.

MSI PS42

As you can probably tell from the attached sample, the image quality is something most of you might be able to work with, but the angle is just plain bad.

MSI PS42 Webcam Sample

What I did like about the camera, however, is the fact that MSI gives privacy conscious users the opportunity to disable the camera at the hardware level with a simple keyboard shortcut (Fn+F6). This will definitely give you a sense of security and you wouldn’t have to tape up the camera and ruin the laptop’s aesthetic.
MSI PS42 8RB: Performance

As mentioned earlier, the MSI PS42 packs in an 8th Gen Intel Core i7 U-series processor, coupled with 16GB RAM and a zippy 512GB SSD. On the graphics front, the laptop features both integrated Intel HD 620 graphics and a dedicated Nvidia MX150 with 2GB of GDDR5 VRAM. Much like you’d expect from a laptop of this caliber, the MSI PS42 managed to breeze through pretty much everything I threw at it, including some casual gaming. But before we get to its real world performance, let’s take a look at the synthetic benchmark scores.
MSI PS42 8RB: Benchmarks

I ran the usual list of benchmarking applications on the MSI PS42 and the laptop definitely coughed up some decent scores. In PCMark 10, the MSI PS42 bagged a decent score of 3751 which is significantly better than that of the HP Spectre x360, which managed to score 3420 in the same test, even though both of the systems have the same Intel (chip) inside.

MSI PS42

In Geekbench 4, the PS42 managed a respectable multi-core score of 11418, while in Cinebench R15’s OpenGL test it scored 85.03 FPS. GPU performance was also quite good, with the laptop managing to bag 1214 in 3DMark’s Time Spy benchmark, while securing 10937 in the Sky Diver benchmark designed specifically for gaming laptops and mid-range PCs.
MSI PS42 8RB: Daily Use Performance

Now that we’ve got the benchmarks out of the way, lets talk about the laptop’s real world performance in day-to-day use. In my time with the MSI PS42, where I used it as my daily driver for work and personal use, I was glad to see that the laptop managed to successfully do all that I threw at it without a hitch.

MSI PS42

Everything from web browsing to light photo/video editing felt buttery smooth on the laptop and I have absolutely no issues with the laptop’s day-to-day performance. If you’re looking for a thin and light machine for a light workload, the MSI PS42 won’t disappoint.
MSI PS42 8RB: Performance Under Load

Thanks to the dedicated Nvidia MX150 chip, I was also able to play some games on the laptop and I think the gaming experience was pretty good for a laptop that’s directed at professionals who’d like to play some casual games now and then. Lighter eSports titles like CS:GO and League of Legends ran without any issues on the MSI PS42, with the laptop managing to push over a hundred frames at 1080p medium-high settings.

MSI PS42

More demanding titles like PUBG were also playable, with the laptop managing to deliver around 30-40 frames at 720p very low settings. Older AAA titles like GTA V and Sleeping Dogs also ran fairly well, but only when the graphical settings were reduced to low and the resolution was set to 720p.

For a thin and light laptop designed for professionals, I think the aforementioned numbers are pretty satisfactory and if you’re someone who enjoys an occasional game or two you wouldn’t have any problems with the MSI PS42 (only if you’re ok with playing games at a lower resolution). The laptop can also be used for 1080p video editing which, thanks to its dedicated GPU, is quite snappy.
MSI PS42 8RB: Thermals

THE MSI PS42 packs in two fans to keep everything running cool and they barely kick in while doing everyday tasks. Temperatures remain under an acceptable range under light load and the chassis doesn’t have any hot spots, making the laptop quite comfortable to use on your lap. Even while playing games, none of the components got too hot, with the chassis going up to 55 degrees which isn’t all that bad.

MSI PS42

While under stress, both the CPU and the GPU crossed the 80 degree mark several times, but most users will never push the laptop to those limits, so that shouldn’t be an issue. Even if you do somehow manage to work the laptop that hard, the fans do their job well and bring the temperature down significantly. However, when the fans do ramp up they make this high-pitched sound which might put off some prospective buyers.
MSI PS42 8RB: Battery Life

MSI claims that the MSI PS42 is capable of delivering up to 10 hours of battery backup on a single charge, but in my testing I didn’t even get remotely close to that number. In my day-to-day use case scenario, which included web browsing, a lot of typing, media consumption and some light photo editing, the laptop managed to deliver around 5 hours of backup on a single charge. This was possible only while using the best battery life profile and the brightness set to 40 percent.

MSI PS42

Charging times were also pretty average, with the laptop managing to charge from 10-100 percent in around two and a half hours, while in use. When left idle or turned off, the laptop took an hour and a half to charge up to 100 percent from the same levels. In my opinion, the MSI PS42’s battery life is just about average for a Windows laptop and even though you can possibly squeeze out up to 7 hours of battery life on a single charge, it’ll probably be under a very light load.
MSI PS42 8RB: Pros and Cons

Now that we’ve discussed almost everything about the MSI PS42, allow me to give you a quick overview by pointing out its pros and cons:

Pros

    Great build quality
    Portable yet powerful
    Decent performance
    Tactile and well spaced out keyboard
    Exceptional display
    Good port selection
    Windows Hello support

Cons

    Poor webcam placement
    Tiny trackpad
    Annoying fingerprint scanner placement
    Average battery life
    No ethernet port
    Lacks USB Type-C charging support

SEE ALSO: HP Spectre X360 13 Review: The Ultimate Premium Experience
MSI PS42 8RB: Should You Buy It?

If you’re in the market for a thin and light notebook with a dedicated GPU, you’ll notice that there aren’t many options to choose from. In that regard, the MSI PS42 is definitely a good buy as it offers a decent combination of portability and performance which is great for most professionals. The laptop not only handles day-to-day tasks with relative ease, it can also be used to play some casual games and edit photos/videos on the go.

Starting at Rs. 77,990, the MSI PS42 is definitely worth checking out, but if you’re someone who requires a dedicated graphics card, the higher end variant at Rs.99,990 is a great buy. At this price point, there are hardly any other laptops in the market offering the same specifications in a thin and light package. Sure, there’s the Xiaomi Mi Notebook Air (starting at Rs. 74,450) which is definitely a great buy, but you’ll have to import it from China, which has its own risks.
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Monday, August 19, 2019

A Fascinating Notch-Free Design from Viva Review

Choosing the best Bluetooth headset can be baffling and this gets even more challenging when you’re looking at the affordable segment. The market is already flooded with a lot of recognized as well as unrecognized brands and if the pedigree of a brand matters to you more than the utility of the products it produces, there are many options from legacy brands like JBL, Motorola, Philips, Sony, and some newer and popular ones like TAGG, Boat, etc.

In the middle of these brands lies Toshiba, the Japanese brand predominantly famous for its display and storage solutions, which has been testing the waters in the segment of personal audio. In this review, we will evaluate whether you should bank upon the brand’s 143-year old heritage and buy the Toshiba RZE-BT180H Bluetooth headphones for Rs 2,395 or instead pass it for an audio accessory that offers more value.

Before we move forward with learning more about the Bluetooth headset, take a look at the specification of the Bluetooth headset from Toshiba.
Toshiba RZE-BT180H Bluetooth Headphones Specifications
Frequency Response    20Hz - 20kHz
Battery    8 hours (Playback)
3 hours (Charging Time)
Weight    174 grams
Bluetooth    Bluetooth 4.2
Up to 2 devices at once
Charging Port    microUSB
Price    Rs 2,395 (Amazon)
Toshiba RZE-BT180H Bluetooth Headphones Box Contents

The box is made out of thin cardboard and has a transparent window, offering a peek at headphones inside. The low quality of the box leaves a poor first impression about the headphones and we’ll see in the later sections whether this is actually true or not. Inside, you get:

    Toshiba RZE-BT180H Bluetooth headphones
    MicroUSB cable
    3.5mm AUX cable

Toshiba RZE-BT180H Bluetooth Headphones Review

The experience after opening the box was just as lukewarm, and this is because the AUX cable supplied in the box appears to be of poor quality, and in case of our unit, the AUX cable did not even work properly. This appalling quality makes for a bad start, and coming from a well-known brand, this is really questionable and discomforting.

Let’s now see if the build and sound quality make up for the poor first impression on unboxing.
Toshiba RZE-BT180H Bluetooth Headphones: Build & Design

The most noticeable thing about the Toshiba Bluetooth headphones is the choice of the dandy, fluorescent colors including orange, green, blue, along with the relatively duller grey. We received the green unit for review and the dual-tone design makes the build of the headphones intriguing, if not exciting. But the feeling withers away as soon as one takes a closer look at the headphones.

Toshiba RZE-BT180H Bluetooth Headphones Review

Toshiba has chosen a very disappointing quality of plastic for the construction while the fluorescent elements are made of rubber, stuck on with a poor adhesive, ready to come off with a small amount of force. There is a layer of this rubbery material cushioning the headband on the inside and the way this plastic feels reminds me of cheap chew toys for teething puppies and those are way more economical than the band.

Toshiba RZE-BT180H Bluetooth Headphones Review

The plastic around the rest of the body also is utterly disappointing. Firstly despite its satiny finish, you don’t actually feel good about holding these earphones. The quality of this part is very similar to the cheap dashboard plastic used on base-model cars.

Toshiba RZE-BT180H Bluetooth Headphones Review

The headband in itself is very rigid and feels very uncomfortable while using. Besides the ability to extend the length of the headphone, there is not much one can do to fix the feeling of discomfort. The earcups are tiny and make the experience even worse, so much so that wearing the headphones for longer than an hour almost feels like a curse.

Toshiba RZE-BT180H Bluetooth Headphones Review

The right headphone houses the buttons for basic controls as well as the micro USB and the headphone jacks. Besides dedicated buttons to increase and decrease the volume, the central button is useful for play/pause controls as well as to switch the headphones on or off. The volume buttons can also be used to jump tracks by long-pressing. There is a tiny LED beside the buttons which it blinks blue when the headphones are connected and red when the battery is low or a device has disconnected.

Overall, the build of the Toshiba Bluetooth headphones is disappointing and wearing them for a long duration can be a distressing affair. Let’s see if its performance is a saving grace.
Toshiba RZE-BT180H Bluetooth Headphones Audio Quality

It breaks my heart to see a headphone sound this awful. It almost feels like Toshiba has simply rebranded a cheap white-label product without putting any effort in tuning the audio output. The hollow bass makes leaves you feeling as if the instruments were made out of plastic, while the mids feel too feeble and trashy to shoulder crucial parts of the music. Likewise, the treble sounds too blunt and far from striking.

Toshiba RZE-BT180H Bluetooth Headphones Review

Overall, the mix of sound is utterly disappointing and while listening to tracks with a lot of instruments, the frequencies overlap, making the overall audio feel unclear. The headset does get really loud but the sound is distorted at higher volumes. Moreover, when the volume is above 60-70%, you can easily hear sufficient bleeding from the earcups and this can annoy others sitting next to you in public transport or in a quiet place.

I did manage to fetch out some bearable audio by adjusting the equalizer but that has to be tweaked with every track change, and this can get annoying and is certainly not very convenient for non-savvy users. The sound quality just does not make the cut for me and even when I can fix it by adjusting the EQ, the experience is still not as satisfying as I would like it to be.

Toshiba RZE-BT180H Bluetooth Headphones Review

Overall, the audio quality is also disappointing but not as much as the build quality. However, there is not even a single thing that makes up for the frustrating experience.

You can also take calls with the Toshiba headphones using the inbuilt mic but it picks up a lot of noise from the background, spoiling the experience for the caller and you.
Toshiba RZE-BT180H Bluetooth Headphones: Battery Life

While the build and the audio quality on the Toshiba RZE-BT180H Bluetooth headphones are not up to the mark, it does fairly decently in terms of the battery life. The battery on the headset easily lasts for almost nine to ten hours which is more than the claim of eight hours by the company. However, please do note that this is on using the headset at two-thirds of the volume (for the reasons stated above).

Toshiba RZE-BT180H Bluetooth Headphones Review

Charging the headset may take almost three hours using the supplied micro USB cable and a basic wall adapter. This is not exactly bad when compared to other Bluetooth headsets in this price bracket. Overall, while I’m not really impressed by the battery, I’m not exactly as disappointed by it as I am by the build and the sound quality.
Toshiba RZE-BT180H Bluetooth Headphones: Pros and Cons

It’s clear that these attractive-looking Bluetooth headphones by Toshiba show off poor design, sound quality and have no features that make a compelling case in their favor. To sum it up, here are all things that are bearable and bad about Toshiba RZE-BT180H Bluetooth headphones.
Pros

    Decent battery backup

Cons

    Terrible, cheap build quality
    Very uncomfortable
    Rigid and peeving headband
    Abysmal sound

Toshiba RZE-BT180H Bluetooth Headphones: Stay Away for Your Own Sanity

After using the Toshiba RZE-BT180H Bluetooth headphones for a week, I can say that the experience almost felt like a punishment, and besides the sub-standard sound quality, the discomforting build is what made the experience unbearable for me. Yes, those striking colors will be attractive but only if you these headphones as a prop for your desk and not actually use them.

Toshiba RZE-BT180H Bluetooth Headphones Review

If you wish to spend your hard-earned money effectively, you can pick up the Energy Sistem 2 Bluetooth Headphones (Rs 2,599) which offer a much better sound quality, almost the same battery life, and great comfort. You may also check out the boAt Rockerz 600 (Rs 2,274) which will offer clearer audio but with a battery backup of only 6-7 hours. Lastly, if you can be satisfied with a pair of wired headphones, there are plenty of options but I’d recommend you to go for a reliable option from Sony – the MDR-XB550 (Rs 2,999) with emphasis on bass performance. The notch may have turned into a trend over the past year but it is still considered an eyesore by many. And no, I’m not talking solely about users but smartphone makers as well. If you didn’t already know, Vivo is one such smartphone company and it’s adamant about staying away from the notch with its flagship hardware.

The Vivo NEX with its pop-up selfie camera and near bezel-less design was an exquisite experience, but the company is hankering for more. So, let me introduce you to the second-generation Vivo NEX, the Vivo NEX Dual Display Edition and it’s unlike anything you’ve seen before.

vivo nex dual display featured image idea 2 copy

The Vivo NEX Dual Display Edition, as the name should tell you, packs two screens and no selfie camera. Yeah, it’s true and it’s functional — if a bit gimmicky. This is backed by powerful internals that you would expect from any flagship phone these days.

Well, Vivo hasn’t announced any plans for an India launch yet but they sent over a unit for us to check out. I have been using the Vivo NEX Dual Display Edition for the past couple of days and well, here are my first impressions of the device:
Vivo NEX Dual Display Edition: Specifications

Before we dive into my experience with the Vivo NEX Dual Display Edition, let me give you a quick look at the specs sheet of the device:
Dimensions    157.18×75.36×8.09mm
Weight    199 grams
Primary Display    6.39-inch Full-HD+ AMOLED, 2340×1080p
Secondary Display    5.49-inch Full-HD AMOLED, 1920×1080
Processor    octa-core Snapdragon 845
GPU    Adreno 630
RAM    10GB
Storage    128GB
Rear Cameras    12MP (f/1.8, 1.4µm, 4-axis OIS) + 2MP (f/1.8) depth sensor + TOF camera
Front Cameras    N.A
Operating System    Android 9 Pie-based Funtouch OS 4.5
Battery    3,500mAh
Connectivity    dual VoLTE, Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, Bluetooth 5.0, A-GPS, GLONASS, BeiDoU, USB Type-C
Sensors    in-display fingerprint sensor, accelerometer, gyro, proximity, compass
Vivo NEX Dual Display Edition: What’s in the Box

The Vivo NEX Dual display Edition is housed inside a premium-looking packaging with the NEX branding on top. You will find the device sitting on top when you lift the cover but all of your accessories are placed inside a slide-out space (there’s a pull-tab) under it. Here’s everything you get inside the box:

    Vivo Nex Dual Display Edition
    Charging adapter
    USB-C charging cable
    Bumper case
    A pair of earphones
    SIM ejector tool
    User manuals

vivo nex dual display unboxing
Vivo NEX Dual Display Edition: Design and Build

Starting off with the design of the Vivo NEX Dual Display Edition, it’s yet another all-glass phone that doesn’t look much different from its predecessor from the front. And I am not saying it’s a bad thing; that near bezel-less aesthetic is what draws users to the device in the first place. The front of the display is all-screen without any cameras, but there’s a slight bezel at the bottom.

1 vivo NEX dual display edition

However, the main attraction of the Vivo NEX Dual Display is not the bezel-less front, but the second display. I turned over the device right after taking it out of the box to see how the rear display looked. It sits between the cameras at the top and NEX branding at the bottom. And to be honest, it doesn’t really look bad and it’s there to serve a purpose.

1 vivo nex dual display edition branding copy

I know, many of you may not have missed it but the dimensions and weight of Vivo NEX Dual Display Edition aren’t much different from the original NEX and that’s awesome. You now have two displays, no moving parts, and a superior selfie experience, however, it comes at the cost of a smaller 3,500 mAh battery. The original NEX had a bigger 4,000 mAh battery but we’ll have to see how that affects daily use.

The device retains the same premium factor as its predecessor, is comfortable to handle and use every day. It may look chunky but feels good in the hand, except for the fact that you smudge the rear display while using it. The Polar Blue color (which isn’t as shiny and rainbowy as the original NEX) test unit that we received looks pretty stunning, especially when light falls on it.
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1 vivo nex dual display usb-c port
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The Vivo NEX Dual Display Edition has a standard button placement, with the power and volume rocker on the right and a Jovi smart assistant button (with the Vivo branding) on the left, which is also the power button for the rear display. The buttons are clicky and feel good, and having two power buttons feels weird at first.

As for the ports, the device includes a 3.5mm headphone jack up-top and a USB Type-C port at the bottom – along with the speaker grill and hybrid SIM tray.
Vivo NEX Dual Display Edition: Displays

vivo nex dual display edition screen copy

The 6.4-inch FHD+ Super AMOLED display spans across the entirety of the front of the device – except for a teeny-tiny chin that makes it look almost exactly the same as its predecessor. The 5.5-inch FHD Super AMOLED display on the rear, however, has a fair share of top and bottom bezels. Both the displays are color accurate, fairly bright, have deep blacks, and look stunning.

Vivo NEX Dual Display Edition Selfie - rear display copy

You can switch between the 2 displays on the Vivo NEX Dual Display Edition on the fly and it’s really simple. Either swipe three fingers across the screen and flip over to use the other screen or press the power button and the Jovi button at the same time to trigger the display swapping. The Jovi button acts as a power button for the rear display, when you want to only use that display.

The main purpose of the dual display, I think we all know, is being able to see ourselves when we click selfies using the rear cameras, because there’s no front camera on board. The rear display acts as a viewfinder here and to be honest, it is a great experience! You can click better selfies, even in low light with the dual-LED fill light included on each side of the circular camera module.

Vivo NEX Dual Display Edition fill light copy

One of the standout features of the dual displays is that it enables the person whose picture is being clicked to see themselves in the rear display. They can see if the framing is right, how they look and even pose for a picture-perfect moment that you can direct by displaying it on the rear display.

Further, the dual displays here can do a lot more than help you click selfies easily. Vivo certainly has given its implementation some thought and there are a couple of cool dual display features here. There’s the Paint Heart and V-mood feature, where you can draw stuff on the main screen and make it appear on the rear display. Vivo also allows you to turn the rear display into a gamepad in PUBG Mobile fights and I was really excited to try it out. But sadly, this feature was missing in our unit.
Vivo NEX Dual Display Edition: Biometric Security

Taking a look at the biometric security options available on this device, well, it sports a fifth-generation in-display optical fingerprint sensor on the front and it’s actually quite fast. The registration process is still sluggish and irritating, but the unlock speeds here are far superior than the competitors. Vivo claims it takes only 0.29 seconds to unlock the smartphone and it’s been quite good in my usage, even if under-display sensors are still finicky. It is, however, faster than the one on the OnePlus 6T and this video right here proves the same:

Further, on the rear end of the device, Vivo offers 3D Face Unlock to make it easy for you to unlock the NEX Dual Display Edition. Vivo NEX Dual Display Edition utilizes its 3D time-of-flight (TOF) camera to record your face data. It’s similar to Face ID seen on Apple iPhone and the unlocking process is equally fast (if not faster), secure, as well as reliable with this device. It works in low-light and night-time conditions as well. You can see how speedy the face unlocking process is, right here:

Vivo NEX Dual Display Edition: Cameras

Moving on, the Vivo NEX Dual Display Edition joins the triple camera club and includes a 12MP (f/1.8) primary sensor with 4-axis OIS, along with a 2MP (f/1.8) depth sensor and time-of-flight camera which I talked about above. This is now both your rear, as well as selfie camera and the second rear display acting as the viewfinder is perfect. It is also a head-turner.

vivo nex dual display cameras copy

The software here is flush with all of the features, be it the selfie portrait mode, lighting effects, AR stickers or more, that one expects from a flagship phone. As for the picture quality, the images have a good color reproduction with a nice amount of detail and highlights. It usually produces soft images with over-exposed backgrounds or sharp images that look doctored in most lighting situations.

However, I have to mention the Vivo NEX Dual Display Edition’s low-light performance as it’s particularly great. It might not be Pixel Night Mode good, but it was fun to use the device in low-light and it meets the company’s boastful claims. The portrait shots and AR stickers are lovely to use. You can check out some of its camera samples right here:
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Vivo NEX Dual Display Edition: Lunar Ring

Another standout feature of Vivo NEX Dual Display Edition, which you may have noticed already, is the circular ring around the cameras. I know it looks like a design choice similar to Moto’s but it comes with an added functionality.

Vivo NEX Dual Display Edition Lunar Ring copy

Vivo calls it the ‘lunar ring’ and it houses RGB LEDs that light up to give the Vivo NEX Dual Display Edition a more modern appeal. It surely is a bit gimmicky, but kind of useful as it lights up in different colors or patterns when you receive a message or when someone calls you. This was especially helpful for me as I usually place my smartphone, with the screen facing down.

The lunar ring here also dances in rainbow colors when you play music or receive a call, so it definitely is a cool addition to the Vivo NEX Dual Display Edition. It even powers up while clicking portrait selfies and though it doesn’t really affect the picture much, it’s a great touch overall!
Vivo NEX Dual Display Edition: Performance & Software

Now that we’ve gotten the key highlights of this device out of the way, I finally want to shine a light on the performance of the Vivo NEX Dual Display Edition. It’s powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 845 chipset, paired with 10 GB of RAM and 128 GB of internal storage.

vivo nex dual display gaming copy

Yeah, the device is bestowed with the top-of-the-line specs – like most flagship phones available in the market and it works perfectly fine. The touch response was good and I faced no issues in my daily usage, which was smooth as butter on the front display.

As for the gaming experience on the Vivo NEX Dual Display Edition, well, I only had time enough to try out PUBG Mobile over the past couple of days. The device takes the highest settings by default but you can bump it up to HDR and still manage to get a smooth and consistent frame rate for the duration of the game. The near bezel-less screen only further adds to the experience and it’s awesome.

vivo nex dual display software experience

However, there were times when I noticed frame drops and jitters across the UI on the rear display – especially while using the camera. Well, anyone would assume that 10GB RAM is, of course, more than enough to handle any task we throw at an Android device.

I think the software (Android 9 Pie-based FunTouch OS) is a major backlog here and Vivo is trying too hard to clone iOS and I loathe it. The OS isn’t optimized to accommodate the needs of the smaller rear display and third-party apps appear in a weird letterbox. This is distracting for sure but can easily be fixed via a future software update.

SEE ALSO: Vivo NEX Review: Packs One Surprise After Another
Vivo NEX Dual Display Edition: A Fascinating Notch-Free Phone

While the original Vivo NEX was innovative, the Vivo NEX Dual Display Edition is the best example to showcase that the Chinese giant is sprinting to get all latest technologies into the hand of today’s tech-aware users. It may not provide the best or the most optimized software experience, but it’s ahead of the curve than many popular phone makers and I am more impressed with this fact than the device itself. I hope to see Vivo continue this trend and keep us excited to try out new smartphones in the future.
Read More »

The Best High-End Windows Laptop?

For times when you don’t want to pick up that 6-inch slab to dismiss yet another irrelevant notification, a smartwatch can come in handy by allowing only certain notifications through and keeping the rest away. And of course, when you want to go on a run or want to work out, the smartwatch can intelligently track your progress. Clearly, I find smartwatches more useful and less distracting than smartphones and in this review, we will see how well the new Amazfit Verge (Rs 11,999) by Huami justifies these expectations.

Huami’s Amazfit, backed by Xiaomi, has put out a couple of compelling smartwatches in the past including the Bip and the Stratos, and now the Amazfit Verge joins the clan with a richer and better display, a sportier look, and a relatively more appealing price tag.
Amazfit Verge Specifications

Let’s get the ball rolling by learning about the specifications and the box contents of the Amazfit Verge smartwatch.
Processor    1.2GHz Dual Core Processor
Storage    4 GB
RAM    512 MB
Display    1.3-inch 320x300 pixels
Water Resistance    IP68 without swimming protection
Sensors    air pressure, geomagnetic, ambient light, gyroscope, heart rate sensor, accelerometer
Connectivity    Bluetooth 4.2 BLE+BR/EDR,
Wi-Fi 2.4GHz 802.11b/g
Battery    390 mAh
Price    Rs. 11,999
Amazfit Verge Box Contents

The box of the Amazfit Verge snuggly wraps its content and feels solid and durable, while the graphics on the outer leaf are very appealing. The contents include:

    Amazfit Verge smartwatch
    Charging “cradle” aka dock
    Manuals

amazfit verge review

The Verge has a different fucntion for the button (which we’ll talk about in the later sections) compared to the Bip and the Stratos. I wish this was more apparent in the user manual so that users, at least the new ones, felt more confident about the purchase. Other than this, I am quite happy with what we get in the box.

Let’s move further and get to know about the build and the features of the Amazfit Verge in detail.
Amazfit Verge: Design and Build

amazfit verge review

The Amazfit Verge, from the very first look, seems designed for sports. The circular 1.3-inch display is housed in a plastic casing, with separate halves for the top and bottom shell. Despite the use of polycarbonate reinforced by glass fiber, the build feels very firm and stable and designed for action.

The Home button lies on the side of the Amazfit Verge along with a tiny microphone for calls. The button has a shallow travel and does not feel very posh, even though it is fairly tactile. On the other side, there’s a modest loud-speaker which can be used to listen to music or take calls when you’re on the move.
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Speaker
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Home Button and mic

Amazfit has also guaranteed protection from dust and splashes of water with an IP68 rating, which means you need not take the watch off in the shower or while out in the rain. However, the watch gets no mention of protection against swimming, so it is advised to avoid using it in the pool.

amazfit verge review

On the front, the Amazfit Verge uses an AMOLED display protected by Gorilla Glass 3, making the smartwatch suitable for more some rugged usage. Despite the anti-fingerprint coating, the display can be smudged very easily, especially because you must cover the display with your palm to unlock it. The display also houses an ambient light sensor which is used to automatically adjust the backlight of this AMOLED display.

amazfit verge review

Coming to straps, the Amazfit Verge uses Silicone watch bands which you can bend or stretch easily without fearing that it might break. The buckle on the strap is made of good quality plastic and the strap loop has a single tooth (see below) to prevent it from sliding off when worn. This, however, also makes taking off the watch somewhat inconvenient.

These straps are removable but the angled design of the tiny lugs might restrict you from choosing just any third-party band. This is unlike both Amazfit Stratos and Amazfit Bip which allow easy replacement of the factory-made straps. Further, even Amazfit itself does not sell replacement bands so this can be a bit troubling for certain users.

amazfit verge review

Design-wise, the Amazfit Verge feels very durable and well-built and although it is thicker than a centimeter, it feels very light on the wrist at almost 46 grams. While the Amazfit Verge does not feel as premium as the Stratos, the polycarbonate design gives it a sportier look. It might fail to grab other people’s attention but the utilitarian design is less intrusive compared to other heavier and metal-clad smartwatches when it comes to sports or fitness activities.

Now, let’s take a look at how the display functions. Spoiler alert: if you’ve been using an older Amazfit smartwatch, you might feel jealous.
Amazfit Verge Display

amazfit verge review

Earlier smartwatches from Amazfit performed really well but were plagued by poor readability and color reproduction of the reflective display. The company now seems to have learned its lesson with the Amazfit Verge which uses an AMOLED display, which is instantly much more appealing and striking than the displays on Stratos and Bip. This 1.3-inch circular display features a resolution of 360×360, which makes it really sharp and easily legible.
amazfit verge review
Amazfit Verge (left) vs Amazfit Stratos (right) indoor

Owing to the use of AMOLED technology, the display is very bright, has an excellent color reproduction including deep blacks. The vibrant and saturated colors of the UI icons and other elements complement this great display and I loved how beguiling the official watchfaces look on this display. Depending on the watchface, one can also activate always-on display which displays the time and some other basic info at a lower brightness. This can help help you save the battery when you just want to check the time, and also reduces unneccessary wakes.

amazfit verge review

The AMOLED display is very responsive but there’s no haptic feedback in response to the touch. Any observable lag is due to the limited hardware and software resources and not due to any latency in touch. The display is embedded with an ambient light sensor which helps the smartwatch manage the brightness automatically. Under water, or in the shower, the watch is usable but there’s no special mode for using it with gloves.
amazfit verge review
Startos’ reflective display fares well but not better than Verge’s AMOLED outdoors

Amazfit Verge scored full marks when it comes to the quality of this display, which has colors to put budget smartphones with LCD displays to shame.
Amazfit Verge Performance

Coming to the meat of our review. Here’s what using the Verge is like:
Software Features

The Amazfit Verge runs a custom UI which, as per the product description page, is based on Android. The interface cleanly laid out, with large menu icons and intuitive navigation – although there are no tutorials offered by the company and the users will have to figure it out by themselves.

Like other smartwatches, the Verge lets you customize watchfaces and choose from among the 11 pre-existing ones by long pressing on the home screen. Swiping upwards from the bottom opens up notifications, while swiping in the opposite direction shows the quick settings panel where you can toggle options including sleep mode, airplane mode, volume, brightness, settings, and the option to restart or shut down the smartwatch.

amazfit verge review

Moving forward, swiping from right to left opens a vertically-scrolling menu. This includes a host of features such as Health, Heart Rate, Sports, Sleep, Activities, Phone, Alarm, Timer, Stopwatch, Compass, and Settings. Health shows general stats like the numbers of steps walked, floors climbed, and a history of data from the past week. The Sports option lets you start logging of 12 different types of physical activities manually but as I mentioned before, swimming is not included. Furthermore, the Activities menu shows an overview of your workouts in the past.

All these options are laid out in two columns and the display shows you a 2×2 grid at a time. Each option has a slender animation in which the icon (or the UI element) shrinks slightly and then comes back to its original size with each tap. Moreover, elements like Heart Rate have their own interactive animations to show progress. Each tracking-related feature shows you a summary of the data from the past week, which is displayed on the beautiful display using dedicated colors per option. Besides this, the watch also supports widgets so that individual features can be accessed directly, the number of widgets is limited to two, which is slightly disheartening.

amazfit verge review

The Amazfit Verge lets you store and play music files through the speaker – or a connected Bluetooth headset. The speaker, coupled with the mic, is also useful for calling. These features are very elaborate, especially calling, which includes a full numeric keypad for dialing phone numbers. During calling as well as while playing music, one can find a dedicated option to manage the volume. Additionally, you can also control the music playback on your smartphone with the Verge.

When it comes to the fitness features, Amazfit Verge has detailed real-time tracking including the workout time, steps taken, distance traveled, heart rate, average speed, battery percentage, and even the route, captured with GPS, in case of outdoor runs. However, while tracking an activity, you cannot tweak or access other options apart from the volume and the brightness. If you wish to use a Bluetooth headset, you must connect it before starting the activity, as there’s no way to change it in the middle of the session.

amazfit verge review

The Home button is useful for unlocking the locked display and to exit any menu and take you back to the watchface while using the Amazfit Verge. This is in contrast with the Bip which uses its single button for going a step back, as well as from Stratos, which uses the main button to select an option and the other two to scroll through the menu.

On the Verge, you can go a step back by swiping the screen from left to right. Lastly, in order to lock the screen, you can cover it with your palm and a double tap on it when it is locked, unlocks the watch.

The Settings menu can be a bit challenging initially, especially because the text is too long in many options, but once you set up the basic settings as per your preference, you will only need to visit this page occasionally.

Overall, the UI feels fluid most of the times but it might get jittery if you open a lot of in-built apps at the same time, sometimes even resulting in a crash and reboot. The visible lag, whenever it appeared, is due to the underwhelming dual-core processor, and only 512MB of RAM, as we will see later.
Fitness Tracking

The main elements for tracking your health and fitness on the Amazfit Verge include a massive heart rate monitor on the back. It also supports continuous heart rate monitoring but there is no option to choose the intervals for intermittent tracking. The smartwatch shies away from gimmicky features like Blood Pressure or SpO2 monitoring and focuses on the essential ones. When it comes to tracking sleep, it captures the duration of light and deep sleep zones and any instance of you waking up at wee hours. Besides night sleep, the smartwatch can also track naps during the day.

The Verge is capable of tracking a host of indoor and outdoor activities. I have mentioned in the previous section most of the variables it shows during and after the physical activity. The smartwatch can also capture parameters like the average length of your stride while running, which is good for serious runners.

When it comes to the accuracy, the Amazfit Verge captures data such as heart rate, number of steps, or other vital stats during exercises with a significant amount of detail and accuracy. This information can be accessed with greater detail using the official Amazfit Watch app. The only crucial element absent from the smartwatch is the feature to track swimming-related activities but apart from that, I have not experienced any random or unexpected spike in this tracking data, and this holds good even when you’re moving.

While Amazfit cannot capture data related to exercises automatically, it does have an option to prompt you every time it senses the beginning and the end of physical activities. During my week-long usage for the review, however, I failed to witness the feature actually working, and had to toggle the option manually.

This data output by the Amazfit Verge is comprehensive enough to let you plan your workouts effectively or get better sleep. It’s also extremely reliable in most cases.
Hardware

Amazfit Verge is equipped with a 1.2GHz dual-core processor which runs decently in tandem with the 512MB RAM most of the time but might feel underpowered at times. One might have a jittery experience upon opening a lot of inbuilt apps at the same time. Besides the processor, the accelerometer is useful for tracking movements during sleep and also wakes the display when you lift or flick your wrist, which can be turned off in the Settings.
Watchfaces and Apps

While the Amazfit Verge comes with only 11 inbuilt watchfaces, it allows you to use third-party watchfaces. Amazfit Watchfaces is my go-to destination from where I download unofficially developed watchfaces for free. Since the Amazfit Verge is fairly new, the number of available options is smaller compared to Bip or Stratos but the developers have ported a fair amount of watchfaces from Stratos, which also has a circular dial. Here you can download the watchfaces in WFZ format and transfer them to the watch directly by connecting it to a computer via the USB charging cradle.
amazfit verge review
Third-party watchfaces

While there is decent support in terms of watchfaces, the Amazfit Verge does not support installing apps – despite being based on Android (although the company does not explicitly mention that the UI is built upon Google’s Wear OS). So, if you’re looking to expand the functionality of your smartwatch or customize it beyond watchfaces, you might want to pass on the Amazfit Verge.
Amazfit Verge Connectivity

Apart from Bluetooth to connect with the smartphone or wireless headphones and speakers, the Amazfit Verge features (2.4GHz only) Wi-Fi which can be used to transfer data including music files quickly to and from the connected smartphone. Additionally, Wi-Fi can also come in handy for finding the newer updates for the smartwatch.

Verge, as I mentioned above, also supports file transfers over USB and you can use the bundled charging dock to transfer music files or watchfaces to it. When connected with a PC or other smartphone (via OTG), the smartwatch shows a file system similar to a standard Android phone. I really like the mass storage option and it makes transferring watchfaces or music files very convenient.
Amazfit Verge Battery

Powered by a 390mAh battery, the Amazfit Verge is claimed to last around five days of moderate usage. In my usage, the watch stayed alive for over two-and-a-half to three days easily with continuous heart rate, always-on display and brightness cranked to full, and GPS monitoring switched on. With heart rate measurements set to manual and always-on display switched off, the battery life increases to almost four days, which is satisfying.

amazfit verge review battery

For charging, the Amazfit Verge takes no more than two hours while using a basic 10W charging brick. You can also charge it using your PC, and the time taken for the process is almost the same. So overall, I find the Amazfit Verge very pleasing in the department of power.
Amazfit App

The official Amazfit app (free, Android, iOS) can be used to see your fitness data and vital stats such as the data related to your physical activities, heart rate, and sleep-related information.

All of the data can be seen on daily, weekly, or monthly basis, and you can also drag your finger across the graphical charts to pan to a specific time. Besides showing your essential data, the app also lets you change the order of widgets and choose watchfaces. Moreover, there is an option to share this data on social media, or export it as binary files, as well as the option to link your Strava account for running and cycling data.
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Despite looking beautiful, the Amazfit app doesn’t have essential features such as the option to link Google Fit or Mi Fit data, even though logging in with your Mi account is supported. Further, you can neither change the frequency of automatic heart rate scans nor change the settings for gestures like lift-to-wake or automatic tracking from the app, which is disappointing. Besides that, what is crushing is that this data is not synced to the cloud.

Lastly, unlike other Amazfit watches, the Verge has not gained support from third-party companion apps yet. This means that we’ll have to wait to be amazed by Amazfit in terms of the supported features within the app, which is a shame.
Amazfit Verge: The Good and the Bad

The Amazfit Verge has fared really well during my usage and has shown almost accurate results when it comes to the fitness data. However, there are certain areas where it left me longing for more. So while there’s a lot to love and little to hate about the Verge, here are the pros and cons:
Pros:

    Sporty design
    Solid build
    Striking AMOLED display with great readability
    Decent fitness-tracking features
    Music playback support and controls
    Automatic brightness
    Speaker for music and phone calls
    Wi-Fi and USB for faster file transfer
    3rd-party watchfaces supported
    GPS with GLONASS

amazfit verge review
Cons:

    Complicated strap design
    No support for 3rd-party apps
    Not ideal for swimming
    Can run slow at sometimes
    Lack of controls in the smartphone app

Amazfit Verge: Limited Features but Excellent Performance

Amazfit Verge, in my experience, has turned out to be a great smartwatch for the price. Available in blue, gray, and white colors for Rs 11,999 on Amazon, the Verge undercuts its own sibling – the Stratos (Rs 13,999) – because of an attractive and rich AMOLED display, and a light and non-intrusive form factor. You can connect the Amazfit Verge to a computer as a USB mass storage, which is more appealing to me compared to the onboard Wi-Fi.

amazfit verge review

However, despite being built on Android, the interface omits support for additional apps – although unofficial watchfaces are supported. Furthermore, the compatible Amazfit app for Android and iOS lacks critical features for modifying the settings on the app and has poor sync capabilities, leaving the Amazfit Verge out by itself. Apart from this, there’s no support for swimming-related activities, which can be a deal-breaker for swimming enthusiasts or professionals.

All in all, the Amazfit Verge is on the verge of being the best smartwatch in the segment but lags behind the Samsung Gear Sport (Rs 14,000) due to its limitations mentioned above. With all its positives and negatives, the Amazfit Verge seems like an option worthy of your expenditure. The Gear Sport costs almost Rs 3,000 extra but for that extra outlay, it brings slightly improved fitness tracking, syncs fitness data with the cloud, and has third-party app support. Dell added the hexa-core Intel Core i9 to the XPS 15 (9570) last year, and took things to a whole new level. This variant with a stunning 4K screen, 32 gigs of DDR4 RAM and Nvidia GTX 1050Ti graphics is overkill in the name of a computer. Who really needs such power on the go and is it worth the astounding asking price of over Rs 2 lakh in India?

Answering the first question, Dell told us it’s meant for video creators, design professionals and those who require ‘all the power’ to get through their regular work day. For instance, lab professionals, data scientists, mechanical engineers and architects can easily use all that computing power to good use. As for the price tag, well that’s just the reality of buying high-end PCs in India and anyone who has bought a high-end MacBook would sympathize. We’ll soon see whether the XPS 15 9570 is worth the price:
Dell XPS 15 9570 Specifications

As mentioned, we had the top-end configuration of the XPS 15 9570. You can also get it with a Core i7 8750H hexa-core processor along with the 16GB of RAM. Here are the rest of the common specs between the two models:
Display    15.6" 4K Ultra HD 3840 x 2160 InfinityEdge IPS display

Processor    8th Generation Intel Core i9-8950HK Processor (12MB Cache, up to 4.8 GHz, 6 cores)

RAM    32GB 2x16GB DDR4-2666MHz
Storage    Samsung PM981 1TB PCIe SSD
GPU    NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050Ti with 4GB GDDR5
Wireless Connectivity    Killer 1535 802.11ac 2x2 WiFi and Bluetooth

Ports    2 USB 3.1 Gen1, 1 Thunderbolt 3, 1 HDMI 2.0, 1 Noble Lock, 3.5 mm combo jack, SD Card reader, Battery indicator, Fingerprint sensor (Power Button)
Battery    6-Cell 97WHr Integrated
Price    Rs 2,15,190 (Dell.com)

Since we got a review unit of the XPS 15, the box contents were limited to the laptop and its charger.

Dell XPS 15: Design and Build Quality

If you have seen the older 2017 model of the XPS 15 or the 2018 XPS 13 9370, you would be more than familiar with the design and build quality of the XPS 15 9570. The laptop is densely packed, built using top-notch materials and the assembly leaves little to be desired. It’s easily one of the best-looking premium laptops in the world, and that includes the new Apple MacBook Pro.

While the top and bottom of the laptop are crafted from a single block of aluminum, Dell has gone for its signature carbon fiber material for the middle section, which includes the top of the keyboard deck. This soft, almost-rubberised material extends to the very top of the keyboard deck, wrapping around the Function row and just ending at the hinges. As a result, using the XPS 15 is quite unlike any other laptop.


Overall, the XPS 15 brings superb construction but opening the laptop with one hand is not the easiest thing. That’s because the lid itself is quite a bit thinner than the base, as is the case with most laptops and you have to pull the lid up exactly from the middle.

As you would expect, there’s little to no flex in the display or the keyboard deck. This is one densely built laptop. That also means it digs into your wrists rather dramatically. If you have sensitive skin, which gets cuts easily, you may want to hold off on pressing down on the keyboard deck with your wrists. The sides of the laptop too present some problems as the aluminum can end up snagging against your skin if you handle it a little too aggressively.

When talking about the bezel-free design of the display, one has to mention the placement of the webcam, which is bang in the middle on the chin of the screen. We’ll show you a couple of samples to highlight just how bad this is. Dell has decided to place it back on the top of the display for the 2019 Dell XPS 13 model, so the 2018 XPS 15 9570 might be the last XPS to have the chin-cam.

While Dell advertises this laptop as a thin-and-light productivity machine, the reality is it’s anything but light. At nearly 3.5 kg, it’s clearly a very heavy machine, even in the premium segment. The dense build and the materials makes it feel heavier in the hand, so it’s not the most portable laptop in hand.

Dell XPS 15: Display

The 4K IPS panel on the XPS 15 9570 is simply stunning. The brightness, viewing angles and color reproduction is just brilliant, and the bezel-less look just makes everything seem a lot more immersive.

This being a 4K panel, you will have to adjust the Windows scaling to get UI elements in the right size for your eyes. Out of the box, Windows puts everything in 200% scaling, which makes little sense given the screen real estate on offer here. I turned it down to around 150% for the best viewing and productivity experience for multiple windows.

The display is rated for 100% Adobe RGB color gamut and comes with Dell PremierColor software, which is said to automatically convert low-fidelity content for more vibrant on-screen colors. Despite being a glossy panel, the XPS 15 9570 does a good job of keeping reflections away when lights are shining overhead. The peak 400-nit brightness is also great for outdoor use. I rarely found a situation where the display didn’t make things pop.

    The 4K IPS panel on the XPS 15 9570 is simply stunning

Since this is a 4K touch panel, interacting with your fingers and stylus is a possibility. I didn’t find myself using the touch functionality all that much, given that this is not a 360-degree form factor. Also, considering that the display does not fold out fully flat, you can’t really use the touch screen as a presentation or interactive tool in front of others.

The display supports 4K HDR content as well, so if your internet speed is up to the task, you can stream such content from YouTube, Netflix or Amazon Prime Video. It takes up a lot of bandwidth, but everything looks so stunning that you probably would be too engrossed to notice the data being consumed.

Watching videos on this laptop is a delight, and thanks to the high-end CPU, you can not only watch 4K videos with ease, but also edit them and see the output on the screen in the native resolution.

Another aspect that makes this laptop a joy for watching movies are the speakers, which produce rich sound with no distortion or clipping. I was surprised to see just how well the speakers managed to eke out all the detail from a flac version of Charlie Mingus’s The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady. It sounded terrific, unlike any other PC I have tried it on. Dell has added Waves MaxxAudio Pro for tuning the audio, which doesn’t really make that much of a difference. The speakers are plenty loud and have great sound right out of the box.
Dell XPS 15: Ports and Connectivity

The irony of premium laptops these days is that you will find all the computing power but few ports to connect accessories. Dell has gone with a more robust collection of ports for the XPS 15 9570.

On the left, you get a barrel-plug charging port, a full-sized USB type-A port (Gen 1 with PowerShare), a full-sized HDMI 2.0 port, a Thunderbolt 3 with PowerShare, DC-In & DisplayPort (4 lanes of PCI Express Gen 3) and the 3.5mm combo headphone/mic slot.

On the right, you will find a full-sized SD card reader, another USB 3.1 Gen 1 with PowerShare port, the signature Dell battery gauge indicator and a Noble lock slot for security.

That’s a whole lot of ports and you can hook up a dongle with VGA, or Ethernet to the Type-C port to extend this selection. Overall, I would rate Dell’s effort in this regard as higher than most other competition, especially the full SD Card slot, which will come in handy for photographers.

Dell has added the Killer 1535 802.11ac 2×2 WiFi and Bluetooth 4.2 instead of the Intel WLAN card into the XPS 15 9570. This offers great performance on most networks and the pre-installed Killer Wireless utility lets you intelligently allocate bandwidth to the applications that need it the most.

You can also connect an Ethernet cable with a dongle and let the system decide whether it wants to use Wi-Fi or the LAN for the internet. The Killer Wireless Control Center utility makes it possible for the Dell XPS 15 9570 to stream video faster than most other PCs I have used. You can open the app and easily set the priority for each app that’s using the internet, making streaming much faster than otherwise.
Dell XPS 15: Keyboard and Touchpad

The first thing I do when I get a new laptop is to type a lengthy stream-of-consciousness take on what the keyboard is like. I usually just open up Notepad and start typing everything I can think of when using the keyboard. In this case, the .txt file ran quite long as typing on this keyboard is just too good.

To Dell’s credit, the chiclet-style keyboard is one of the best you can use on a laptop these days. The keys have a good amount of travel, almost perfect for touch-typists and they don’t require too much actuation force to use.

The backlit keyboard does not have a full number pad, which you may have expected on a keyboard deck this large, but that’s something you have to live without. The carbon fiber palmrest makes typing for long hours less painful than a simple aluminum deck might have.

To complement the excellent keyboard, the large and spacious trackpad on the XPS 15 comes with support for Windows Precision drivers and all of Windows 10’s gestures, which are quite cool. The whole trackpad is clicky in the XPS 15, but there is also a demarcated area for left and right clicks. My only complaint about the trackpad is that it tends to collect oil and smudges from your fingers over time, which means you have to wipe it down every now and then, to use it without that sticky cursor feeling.

While the XPS 15 does not have an IR camera to enable face recognition for Windows Hello, it does have a fingerprint reader right on the power button, just where it should be. It works very well and is quite speedy. You need to scan your finger after you turn on the PC, which is fine by me, but some users may want the PC unlocked right after you touch the power button to turn it on – like in the Huawei Matebook X Pro.
Dell XPS 15: Performance

To say that the Dell XPS 15 chomped through everything thrown at it would be an understatement. It did that and had room for more too.

The Intel Core i9 8950K hexa-core processor is an absolute beast with no reservations, and you will rarely come across any generic computing scenario where it doesn’t beat the Core i7 8750H found in the base version of this laptop.

Let’s face it: the high price of this machine is largely down to the component cost of the Core i9, which Intel is undoubtedly selling at higher margins to its OEM partners. With a price gap of nearly Rs 80,000 between the two models, you just have to consider what you would be using the XPS 15 for. The Core i9 is definitely worth the extra money for its 4K editing chops and faster compute performance in design and engineering apps.
Dell XPS 15: Benchmarks

We also tested a few popular games from our Steam library on this PC, even though with a slow 4K screen and a 1050 Ti, it’s not meant to be a gaming PC.

In Monster Hunt: World, we got an average of 41-43 FPS at 1080p with Medium settings, which is not shabby at all. Admittedly, the experience was far from satisfying and there was some choppiness which could be down to the GPU used here. In High settings, we got around 31-32 FPS at 1080p resolution.

When it came to PUBG, the laptop gave us 30-32 FPS at High settings in 1080p resolution. The 4K screen made Vikendi look absolutely fantastic, although the game itself ran like dog on the PC in High settings, especially when you had enemies nearby or when you are trying to vault windows or transitioning between vehicles and running. The GPU simply couldn’t keep up with the beauty of the new PUBG map. Thankfully, we got around 45-55 FPS in Low graphics settings, which made things look less awesome, but the gameplay itself was much improved.

We put the machine through our usual array of benchmarking software. First up was PassMark, where the XPS 15 9570 finished up in the 96th percentile with an overall score of 5739.2.
Passmark score for the Dell XPS 15 9570

In CPU Mark, only the 16-core AMD Ryzen Threadripper managed to topple the Core i9 8950HK, which handily wiped out the rest of the competition.
CPU Mark score for the Dell XPS 15 9570

In Cinebench R15, the laptop got 72.93 fps in the OpenGL test, 521cb in the CPU score and 105cb in the single-core tests.
Cinebench R15 score for the Dell XPS 15 9570

In Unigine Heaven Benchmark 4.0, the XPS 15 got 70.6 FPS in the full HD full screen mode with 2XAA. It scored 1779 in the test with a max frame rate of 135.5 FPS.
Unigine Heaven score for the Dell XPS 15 9570

In 3D Mark Time Spy 1.0, the laptop scored 2484 in the graphics test and a superb 5438 in the CPU test, with an average of 15-18 FPS.
3DMark TimeSpy score for the Dell XPS 15 9570
3DMark TimeSpy score for the Dell XPS 15 9570

In Furmark, the XPS 15 9570 score 775 points with a max FPS of 15.
Furmark score for the Dell XPS 15 9570

We also ran CrystalDiskMark to check how well the 1TB PCIe SSD holds up and as you can see it delivers some astounding trasnfer figures and this shows in real world performance as well.
CrystalDiskMark score for the Dell XPS 15 9570

In real-world performance, everything was breezy, and the XPS 15 9570 seemed to be overkill for typing articles and editing and resizing photographs. Even so, everything seemed to flow much better with this laptop. There was no freezing up; no unexplained delays in loading up apps. Even the benchmarking apps worked with great aplomb.

Video editing went smoothly for 1080p 60fps footage, but 4K 60fps does tend to push the fans into overdrive. The laptop is not ready for full-time duty of 4K editing, which might be explained by the GPU used here.
Dell XPS 15: Battery Life

Dell has pushed the battery capacity to the absolute limit (legally speaking as laptops with more than 100 wHr batteries are not permissible in US flights) with a 97 wHr battery unit in the XPS 15. As a result, you get some really good endurance from this machine. I would say the Dell XPS 15 provides Ultrabook-like battery life with all the performance of a desktop PC, which is exactly what you want when you have such a large battery unit inside.

Under normal usage i.e. with 10-12 tabs in Chrome (including 4K videos), Photoshop and other essential apps running, the laptop easily lasted me a typical work day of 9-10 hours with some juice to spare when I got back home. This is excellent when you think about the power inside the XPS 15.

When it was put under stress, such as during benchmark testing and gaming, the Dell XPS 15 petered out in just over 5-6 hours. This is also quite good, and you are likely to get similar endurance when editing 4K video on this laptop. I would, however, always keep the power brick in my bag – for longer work days.

Charging speed for the Dell XPS 15 9570 is not exceptional. The laptop goes from 0 to full charge in just over 2 hours, which is not bad, but it’s not blazing either. We would like to see this being pushed up in the next-gen version, with some kind of fast charging tech, which would absolutely make the XPS 15 a long-lasting machine.
Dell XPS 15: Heat Emission

As with rival Core i9 systems, the Dell XPS 15 suffers from overheating and fan noise when put under intense workload. But in regular usage, the XPS 15 remains cool, calm and collected without overheating or too much fan noise. This is great because past generations of this laptop have been known to have coil whine and overheating issues.

The good cooling on the XPS 15 9570 allows you to push the CPU and GPU to run smoothly at with very minimum throttling and low heat emissions. The laptop hovers just over 40-degrees Celsius during gaming or benchmarks, but remains well under that mark when you are using it for regular everyday work.
Dell XPS 15: Webcam

Wondering how bad that webcam placement is? It’s pretty much the only real terrible thing about this laptop.

It makes you look unflattering, captures your grubby fingers and generally makes you look like a giant in front of a puny laptop. Here’s yours truly:
Dell XPS 15: The Good and The Bad

I really can’t find much wrong with the Dell XPS 15 9570. It’s certainly one of the best laptops you can buy right now. Even if you get the Core i7 variant with lower 16GB of DDR4 RAM, you are not short on power by any means. The only real dilemma here is about the price. Here’s the Dell XPS 15 in the balance:
Pros:

    Bright, vibrant display
    Stunning design and build quality
    Top-notch performance
    Plenty of ports
    Excellent WiFi and streaming performance
    Capable of 4K video editing
    Excellent keyboard and trackpad
    Superb speakers
    Healthy battery life


Cons:

    Heavy, with wide footprint
    Too pricey for Core i9 variant
    Webcam on the chin
    Sharp edges

Dell XPS 15: The Best High-End Windows Laptop?

When it comes to alternatives for the XPS 15, you will not find many in the market. At this price range, we are in workstation territory and edging into high-end MacBook Pro models.

Astoundingly, you will find the Dell XPS 15 9570 with Core i9 laptop on Amazon India for a scarcely-believable Rs 3,39,000, while Dell has listed it for around Rs 2,15,190 (+GST) on its official website. In comparison, the base variant comes for Rs 1,36,390, and still provides you with plenty of horsepower. In many ways, the Core i9 model is too niche for most users.

The other Core i9 model under Dell’s portfolio is the G7 gaming laptop, which we thought was an excellent notebook for gaming, but its thickness may not be for those looking for a portable workhorse. You can get it on Amazon India for Rs 1,56,300.

The MacBook Pro with the Core i9 is not even available in India, and it has its fair share of throttling and heating issues.
Dell G7 Internals

So the real question is whether the almost Rs 80,000 premium for the Core i9 is worth it for your use case. Honestly, I would say that if you buy the XPS 15 with Core i7 and a decent 4K monitor, you will still end up saving some cash to buy other accessories. Thanks to the Thunderbolt 3 port, driving the 4K display should not be a problem.

You may have noticed I didn’t really go into whether you should buy the XPS 15 or not. If you are looking for a high-performance productivity laptop with plenty of power in a thin package, then this is really your only option besides a MacBook Pro. And within Windows, you don’t have comparable options at all unless you go for high-end Lenovo ThinkPad laptops geared for business users.
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