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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
1 vivo nex dual display edition headphone jack
1 vivo nex dual display buttons
vivo nex dual display Jovi button copy

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.

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