Actress Sophie Turner Talks About ‘Game of Thrones’ And ‘Dark Phoenix’

Actress Sophie Turner is juggling jobs with both “Game of Thrones” and “X-Men” franchises. Turner teased fans with the status regarding the HBO series’ final season and going to the dark side as Dark Phoenix.
Photo Credit Kevin Winter | Getty Images

Sophie Turner is one busy actress. Turner is a crucial part of the pop culture powerhouses: Game of Thrones and the X-Men film franchise.

Turner’s Game of Thrones News

Turner became a household name when she joined the cast of HBO‘s hit adaptation of George R.R. Martin’s science fiction and fantasy series. Turner portrays Sansa Stark, the eldest daughter of Lord Eddard Stark and Lady Catelyn Stark. Over the past few seasons, Stark’s character has evolved from a naïve girl to formidable opponent and strategist that is a force to be reckoned with throughout Westeros.

As Game of Thrones begins to wrap up, Turner previewed where Sansa will be at the beginning of the final season.

“This season, there’s a new threat, and all of the sudden she finds herself somewhat back in the deep end.” Said Turner.

Turner also stated that she would have to fight this new opponent without the help of her former mentor, Littlefinger, who Stark killed in season seven.

“This season is more of a passionate fight for her rather than a political, manipulative kind of fight.” Said Turner.

Turner also revealed that fans would have to wait until 2019 to watch Game of Thrones‘ final season. Turner stated that she learned a lot about acting by watching some of her cast members including Lena Headey, Peter Dinklage, and Kit Harington.

“The thought of not working with them is almost excruciating to me,” Turner said. “They’ve been my growing up.”

Embracing The Dark Phoenix

“OMG.” Turner wrote in a Jan. 23, 2015 Twitter statement when she announced that she won the coveted role of Jean Grey in X-Men: Apocalypse.

In X-Men: Apocalypse, Turner’s Jean Grey teamed up with Michael Fassbender’s Magneto, Jennifer Lawrence’s Mystique, and James McAvoy’s Professor X to stop Apocalypse (Oscar Isaac) from destroying the world.

But in next year’s X-Men: Dark Phoenix, Turner will play the fiery antagonist as Jean Grey will transform into the Dark Phoenix. The fiery Phoenix will take possession of Turner’s Jean Grey and will corrupt her and turn against the team.

“It’s about the butterfly effect of this thing happening,” said Turner. “What happens when the person you love the most falls into darkness?”

The X-Men will be forced to answer that question on Nov. 2, 2018, when X-Men: Dark Phoenix is expected to be released into theatres.

© 2017 ENSTARZ, All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.

JBL Pulse 3 Review

JBL launched around two dozen new audio products in India about a month ago, many of which we first saw unveiled at this year’s CES. We recently reviewed the Flip 4 which was a compact portable speaker, and today, we have the Pulse 3 which is the third version of JBL’s popular speaker with built-in lighting effects.

With the third iteration of the Pulse, we finally get proper waterproofing and more powerful drivers for better sound. With a price tag of Rs. 15,999, the Pulse 3 competes directly with Sony’s SRS-XB40, which also has a light show feature of its own. Let’s see if you should consider this one instead.

JBL Pulse 3 design and features

The first Pulse speaker had a somewhat crude design and was quite average in terms of sound quality, considering the focus was on the LED light effects. The Pulse 2 refined the design with a finer weave for the wire mesh, which made it look more elegant. Now, the Pulse 3 has done away with wire mesh completely, and instead, only the lower 30 percent of the speaker is fabric-covered, while the rest is an acrylic covering for the built-in lights.

The speaker is about the size of a 750ml water bottle, and it kind of looks like one too. There are two exposed passive radiators at either end of the speaker, which vibrate to produce better bass. However, due to the lack of any protective covering, it’s possible to damage these if you aren’t careful. Since the Pulse 3 is designed to stand upright, the bottom radiator was blocked when placed on any non-flat surface, such as a mattress. You can use the Pulse 3 horizontally but it will roll around, so that isn’t really recommended.

JBL Pulse 3 ports ndtv bbl

The ports and buttons are placed around the back. There’s a power button accompanied by status LEDs which show you the charge level, and also play/ pause and volume buttons. The Bluetooth button lets you start the pairing process, the Connect+ button lets you pair multiple Pulse 3 speakers, and there’s a dedicated button to change the light patterns. The playback control and the Connect+ buttons aren’t backlit but the rest are.

Just like the Flip 4, the battery status LEDs only light up when you press any of the buttons at the back. The Pulse 3 uses its lights to show you the volume level, which is clever. All other customisations, including adjusting the brightness of the lights, has to be done through the JBL Connect app. There’s also a rubber flap to protect the 3.5mm audio input and Micro-USB charging port.

In terms of specifications, the Pulse 3 uses Bluetooth 4.2 but doesn’t support any advanced codecs such as aptX and AAC. There’s no easy connectivity option like NFC either. There are three 40mm full-range drivers, which boast of a total output power of 20W. Frequency response is in the range of 65Hz-20,000Hz and there’s a non-removable 6000mAh battery inside. The speaker is quite heavy at 960g, but that’s still quite a bit lighter than Sony’s XB40.

The JBL Connect app for Android and iOS lets you link multiple speakers (the company says that more than a 100 can be synced) or you could use two of them in a stereo configuration. The app also lets you adjust the brightness of the lights and change the function of the Play button, to either play/ pause music or to summon your phone’s voice assistant (either Siri or Google Assitant). You can also use the Pulse 3 as a speakerphone, as it has a built-in mic.

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Tapping the speaker icon lets you customise the lighting effects. You can choose from Jet, Fireworks, Equaliser, Rave, Rainbow, Campfire, and Wave. You can set a custom pattern too, but the presets look much better. The colours can also be changed using an RGB pallette, or you can even use your phone’s camera to match the colours around you.

JBL Pulse 3 performance and battery life

The JBL Pulse 3 can have two active connections at a time, so two people can take turns playing music. Playing a track from the second phone immediately stops the currently playing track. The light show changes depending on the beat of the music, and colours keep cycling through your chosen palette. The light show can be switched off by holding down the corresponding button on the speaker. Just like the JBL Flip 4, you can change the function of the Play button to engage your phone’s virtual assistant, but this disables the play/ pause function, which isn’t practical. Also, when you have two phones with virtual assistants connected and try to use the shortcut button, nothing happens, since the speaker isn’t sure which one to engage.

We like the 360-degree sound produced by the Pulse 3. You can place it pretty much anywhere in your room and expect to hear it well enough, as sound reflects off nearby surfaces. Voice calls are also handled decently well although you’ll have to be close to the speaker for the person on the other end to be able to hear you clearly. We didn’t find much of a difference in audio quality when using a wired connection rather than Bluetooth.

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The Pulse 3 can get really loud, which is quite impressive given it’s relatively sleek design. The radiators work furiously when listening to bass-heavy tracks, although the bass begins to get drowned out a bit above the 90 percent volume level. At low volumes, the bass lacks kick but this works out well for certain electronic tracks such as Medicine Man by Zero 7. Vocals are crisp and the sonic signature is warm, but the mid-range is a bit lacking. This is also noticeable in other music genres like pop and rock. In Feel It Still by Portugal. The Man, the Pulse 3 produces punchy bass but instrument separation isn’t very good. Vocal-led tracks such as Wind of Change by the Scorpions do much better, so if this is the kind of you music you’ll be listening to a lot then the Pulse 3 should keep you happy.

The battery is rated to deliver 12 hours of playback time. With the bundled charger, it takes about four and half hours to completely charge the battery, which is a bit longer that we’d like. We played music on the Pulse 3 with the volume set to 50-60 percent most of the time, took a few calls, and had the lights set to their maximum brightness level, and we were able to get about 10.5 hours of playback time. That isn’t bad, considering it has to power the LEDs, but for a speaker this size, we would have liked better battery life.

Verdict

The JBL Pulse 3 costs Rs. 15,999, which is a bit expensive considering its average performance in the mid-range. On the plus side, the speaker does get pretty loud, is IPX7 rated, and has a fun light show feature. Battery life is decent but certainly could have been a lot better. If you’re looking for something with serious audio performance and very good battery life, then there’s the Sony’s SRS-XB40. It weighs more, but it’s rugged and offers better features such as LDAC and NFC, and it can also put on a light show to boot.

Price (MRP): Rs. 15,999

Pros

  • IPX7 waterproofing
  • Light show looks cool
  • Strong bass and vocal performance

Cons

  • Exposed radiators
  • Average battery life
  • Muddy mid-range
  • A bit expensive

Rating

  • Design: 3.5
  • Performance: 3
  • Value for money: 3
  • Overall : 3

Big Bash Cricket Review

After Ashes Cricket, Big Bash Cricket— the second part of Cricket Australia’s two-pronged approach to video games — is here on both Android and iOS. It’s part of Cricket Australia’s long-term plan to use video games as a way of keeping teens involved with the sport. The Australian cricket board has partnered with Big Ant Studios, the makers of Don Bradman Cricket 17, to launch two titles — Ashes Cricket for PS4 and Xbox One, and Big Bash Cricket for mobile.

If Ashes Cricket targets hardcore cricket fans who want an authentic cricket experience, then Big Bash Cricket is at the opposite end of the spectrum. It’s targeted at casual gamers, some of whom may not even know what cricket is. If you play Big Bash Cricket, you’ll realise this immediately. You can play this game on Android or iOS, and it’s easy to play with one hand, unless you have a gigantic phone.

Big Bash League is Australia’s premier domestic T20 cricket tournament. It features eight teams, each named after a major Australian city – though Sydney and Melbourne have two teams each in this championship. Since this is a game backed by none other than Cricket Australia, the board responsible for professional cricket in the country, all teams and players are authentic. Even if you don’t follow Big Bash League, there’s a good chance that a cricketer you like is in this game. Just like last year, Big Bash Cricket has both the men’s and women’s Big Bash League in the game with the full roster of players available to all teams.

There are three main modes in this game — Quick Match, Tournament, and Challenge. Quick Match lets you start a match immediately between any two teams you like. Tournament mode features the full Big Bash League schedule, so you can play around 15 matches and try to win the tournament. You can choose between 2, 5, 10, 15, or 20 overs per innings, which lets you decide how long each match lasts.Challenge mode is a new addition this year and it has two types of tests to throw at you. One is simple bowl – 25 balls or take 10 wickets on any given day. The second is a scenario mode called Moments, where you’re given specific goals. This mode describes Big Bash League games from previous years and asks you to either relive, or rewrite history. It’s similar to what the Brian Lara (and Shane Warne) series of games did on the Sega Mega Drive and original PlayStation, years ago. So you might be asked to help Sydney Thunder win a game the team had lost or you may even be asked to win it without losing any wickets while one player gets a half century.

big bash cricket challenge mode Big Bash Cricket

We really enjoyed playing Challenge mode in Big Bash Cricket. Even though there’s no real in-game reward for completing these challenges, it gave us a reason to return to the game every day as Moments mode refreshes daily. Having authentic player licenses really helps in this mode, as you get to help your favourite players succeed. We also love the fact that the game includes challenges for both men’s and women’s tournaments. The only thing we didn’t like is that you need to create an account to access the Challenge mode.

Back to the game itself — Big Bash Cricket retains the same core gameplay elements as its predecessor. While batting, you swipe in the direction you want to hit the ball and make sure you time it right. If you get the timing or direction wrong, there’s a good chance of losing a wicket. While bowling, you need to drag the marker on the pitch to select where to land the delivery and swipe to decide the pace and direction of the ball. Fielding and running between the wickets are automatic.

The new things, however, are mechanics called Super Bat and Super Ball. If you hit three sixes in a row, or bowl three balls without conceding a boundary, you unlock Super Bat or Super Ball. Super Bat lets you hit the ball further than normal, so even poorly timed shots can go for a six. Super Ball adds a bit more pace to your deliveries and you can use that to try and land a wicket. When you trigger Super Bat or Super Ball, you’ll see a meter with three bars, which reduce if you fail to hit a six or if you concede a boundary. This is a fun mechanic that motivated us to learn how to master the game.

big bash cricket easy mode Big Bash Cricket

There are three difficulty levels in this game — Normal, Pro, and Legend. Once you get the hang of the game, Normal mode will just seem way too easy. We managed to score almost 700 runs without losing a wicket in 20 overs in that difficulty level. Pro is slightly more challenging, but we highly recommend playing Big Bash Cricket in Legend mode for maximum enjoyment.

This is because in Legend difficulty the AI is really smart. It will vary the pace of its deliveries quite a lot, leading to a lot of wickets. Its slower delivery is very hard to spot and we took a long time to learn how to win on Legend mode. Even after we became quite good at that, we’d still lose the occasional game, which kept us engaged for longer. Even when you are bowling, the AI at Legend difficulty isn’t easy to beat. There are a few wicket-taking deliveries such as a slow inswinging yorker from around the wicket, but there’s no guarantee that these will land a wicket every single time.

We’ve been playing Big Bash Cricket for around 10 days and it’s safe to say that the game had us hooked the whole time. This a free-to-play game with none of the annoyances of free mobile games. It has ads but they show up in between two innings only. There’s no in-game currency, no unnecessary waiting to play games, and no horrible video ads that let you play a delivery again if you get out. The game has some fun customisation options that let you change the ball, helmet, and so on. Even these can be unlocked via the daily login bonus or by winning certain in-game trophies — no payment required. We must praise the makers of the game for resisting these monetisation tactics. Instead, they display logos of sponsors when you trigger Super Bat or Super Ball, or when the batsman reaches a milestone such as 50, 100, or 150 runs. This is perhaps the least intrusive way to monetise the game.

big bash cricket harmanpreet kaur Big Bash Cricket

Having said that, there still are some things that Big Bash Cricket can do a lot better. Player likenesses could be improved a lot — at the moment most players look generic and skin tone is the only differentiating factor between most of them. There are also some minor graphical glitches such as the ball flying through the roof of the stadium sometimes when you hit a six. We also noticed a bug during Super Overs — the T20 cricket equivalent of a penalty shootout. The AI would bowl the same delivery six times during a Super Over and hopefully the developers will fix this soon.

If you’re a stickler for realism, you’ll be disappointed to note the completely unrealistic shots that land you six runs. We have no idea how a paddle scoop shot off an incredibly slow delivery can go for a six outside the stadium. In Big Bash Cricket, that’s quite normal.

If you want an all-action, over-the-top cricket game for smartphones, Big Bash Cricket is the best of them right now. Others game are better for a more realistic cricket experience on mobile, but Big Bash Cricket has kept things simple without overly aggressive monetisation and that makes it a great experience.

Pros

  • Gameplay
  • Challenge mode
  • No annoying ads, free-to-play timers
  • Player, team licenses

Cons

  • Poor player likenesses
  • Unrealistic shots
  • Minor glitches

Overall rating (out of 10): 8

Big Bash Cricket is available for free (with ads) on the App Store and Google Play.

PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds Review

PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, or PUBG as it’s known, has taken the gaming world by storm since its launch earlier this year. So much so that it’s getting two mobile games in addition to a release on the Xbox One via Xbox Game Preview, its early access program.

For now though, you can still only play it on PC via Steam where the game is close to final and slated to exit Steam Early Access shortly. It’s changed a lot since it was first available, which is pretty much the point of early access games. But now that we’re almost at the final release, we wanted to take a close look at the game, and see how the finished product actually measures up. Should you jump in to see what the hype is about or is holding off the better option? We tell you.

As far as games go, PUBG is as simple a concept as it gets. In this online multiplayer shooter, up to 100 players are parachuted onto a large map and start off with no gear aside from cosmetic clothing options that don’t impact gameplay. On landing you’ll have to scavenge for guns, grenades, items, and armour, which are distributed at random, killing players as you come across them. You can switch between first-person and third-person perspectives, and we preferred the latter as it allows for a wider field of view, letting us spot enemies faster.

Sounds simple enough? Well, there’s an added complication. The game map shrinks every few minutes, forcing you to relocate to a new area, and damaging you until you do. Failing to enter a new safe zone results in death. If you’re the last player standing, you’re greeted with the phrase ‘winner, winner, chicken dinner’. You get in-game currency at the end of each round that you can use towards purchasing cosmetic gear to kit out your character.

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PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds Won’t ‘Add Anything that Affects Gameplay’: PUBG CEO

On paper, PUBG sounds fantastic. The execution though, leaves a lot to be desired. For one, the frame rate is erratic. Even at medium settings on an Intel Core i5 with 16GB RAM and a GeForce GTX 1070, we could barely hit 45 frames per second. This would not be a problem if it was a consistent 45fps but frequent dips and stuttering hampered gameplay resulting in clunky traversal and inaccurate aiming. That’s not something you’d want in a game where the mantra is kill or be killed. Hopefully the PUBG Xbox One version, while at 30fps, is at least steady – the dips in framerate ruin the game’s pacing more than anything else.

What’s more, we encountered situations where PUBG would push us back to our desktop screen with no reason whatsoever. Booting it up again would throw us right back into the match we were in. The lack of messaging or information from the game in such a situation is odd. Add this to the aforementioned stuttering that impacts core gameplay mechanics like traversal and gunplay, and you have a game that at this point in time is still a lot further from a full-fledged PC release than we’d like to believe.

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PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds Xbox One X Frame Rate Lower Than Previously Announced

And this isn’t all. The learning curve is exceptionally steep and PUBG is unwelcoming to newcomers. There’s no tutorial, nor can you play with bots to ease you in, learning the game’s finer points. All you’re greeted by is a screen with a giant button telling you to play PUBG. This immediately starts a new round – there’s no single-player campaign whatsoever. You can however, choose your server to play on such as US, Europe, and Asia, and you can play with your friends as well, through PUBG’s squad feature or be paired with a random individual in Duo mode to compete to be the last ones alive.

It’s as barebones as it gets in terms of game modes sporting the single battle royale option that has made it popular. Future updates may change that what with the developers claiming they have something in the works to ease newbies in. Thankfully more maps such as the desert-themed Miramar are on the way.

Despite some problems, there is some fun to be had with PUBG. The gunplay is satisfying when aiming works as it should, and the ever shrinking map provides an interesting challenge as it results in more frequent, chaotic encounters. But in between landing a headshot and sprinting to the nearest safe zone, are long moments of silence, spent rummaging through houses and buildings in search of equipment — if you haven’t been punched to death by another player in the first few minutes.

As it stands PUBG is an interesting addition to the FPS landscape. There’s an intriguing balance of randomness and skill that could make it a mainstay of the gaming community. But until it sorts out its many technical issues as well as becoming more accessible to newbies, we’d suggest holding off.

Pros:

  • Fantastic concept
  • Satisfying gunplay

Cons:

  • Not enough modes
  • Poor frame rate
  • Technical issues

Rating (out of 10): 5

Gadgets 360 played a digital copy of PUBG on Steam. It’s available at Rs. 999 in India and $30 in the US. PUBG will be hitting the Xbox One on December 12 at the same price.

We spoke about PUBG and what to expect from its Xbox One release on Transition. You can listen to it via Apple Podcasts or RSS or just listen to this episode by hitting the play button below.

Xiaomi Redmi 5A Review

Xiaomi has been crowding the budget smartphone market with multiple models and variants at overlapping price points, all with impressive specifications that the competition has struggled to match. At the lowest end, the Redmi 4A (Review) has been a compelling phone ever since its launch in India eight months ago, and we have recommended it to anyone on a water-tight budget. Now, Xiaomi is replacing its entry-level Redmi 4A with the Redmi 5A and making a really big deal about this launch even though there’s very little difference between the two models.

In a sea of patriotically named phones such as Micromax’s Bharat line and the Karbonn A40 Indian (Review), Xiaomi is positioning the Redmi 5A as a desh ka smartphone. What exactly qualifies it for that title is unclear – it might be its low price, the fact that it’s made in India, or its promise of exceptional battery life. Perhaps the most interesting thing about this launch is Xiaomi’s limited-time Rs. 1,000 discount on the lower-end model, which brings the price down to a very tempting Rs. 4,999.

We’re curious to see what exactly has changed, and what buyers stand to gain. Here’s our full review.

Xiaomi Redmi 5A design

There isn’t much to say about the Redmi 5A’s looks if you’ve used any entry-level Android smartphone over the past year or two. It’s all plastic, though the rear has a slightly metallic finish. Xiaomi says it will be sold in Dark Grey, Gold, and Rose Gold, though only the first two are listed as options for the first sale. Our Gold unit had a white front face, and we feel that the Dark Grey option with a black front would be more to our tastes.

The Redmi 5A has a 5-inch screen and there’s quite a lot of plastic above and below it. Still, it’s well suited to one-handed use. Grip is pretty good despite the 8.35mm thickness, and weight is quite manageable at 137g. When compared to the Redmi 4A, the differences are purely cosmetic. The two models vary by less than 1mm in terms of height and width.

There are capacitive navigation buttons below the screen which aren’t backlit, but that’s only to be expected at this price level. In a familiar Xiaomi touch, there’s a status indicator right below the Home button which is completely invisible until it lights up when you’re charging the phone.

The power and volume buttons are on the right, and there are two trays on the left – one for a single Nano-SIM, and another for a microSD card as well as another SIM. The camera at the back has a single-LED flash next to it, and the phone’s speaker grille runs along the entire lower back. There’s a Micro-USB port on the bottom and a 3.5mm audio socket on the top. One interesting touch is the presence of an IR emitter on the top, which you can use to control household appliances.

You get a charger and a Micro-USB cable in the box, but as usual, no headset. Interestingly, the company seems to be moving towards using Redmi as more than just a name for one product line – the box screams “Redmi 5A” on the front, sides and back, while the Xiaomi name and logo are much smaller and are almost tucked away out of sight.

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Xiaomi Redmi 5A specifications and software

It’s a bit surprising that the Redmi 5A’s specifications are pretty much identical to those of the Redmi 4A, which it replaces. You get the same Qualcomm Snapdragon 425 processor, with four cores clocked at 1.4GHz. The screen measures 5 inches diagonally and has a resolution of 720×1280. There’s a 13-megapixel rear camera and a 5-megapixel front camera. Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.1, FM radio, and GPS are supported. You can choose between a base variant with 2GB of RAM and 16GB of storage, and a more expensive one with 3GB of RAM and 32GB of storage.

The changes, if you can even spot them, are extremely subtle. The Redmi 5A actually has a slightly smaller battery, at 3000mAh down from 3120mAh. It also has a dedicated microSD card slot rather than the Redmi 4A’s hybrid dual-SIM arrangement. It uses Nano-SIMs rather than Micro-SIMS, and the maximum supported microSD capacity has gone up from 128GB to 256GB. That’s pretty much it – one feature that’s slightly worse, and one that’s a bit better.

Unsurprisingly, with the exception of the IR emitter, the Redmi 5A has no extras compared to its predecessor. Rather than spotlighting one particular feature such as a fingerprint reader, a front flash, a huge battery, secondary rear camera or an 18:9 screen, Xiaomi has chosen to stick with pushing out a workhorse all-rounder at this price level.

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At least things are a bit fresher on the software side. Xiaomi ships the Redmi 5A with Android 7.1.2, and version 9 of its custom MIUI skin running on top. This is single-layered UI with no way to enable an app drawer, which might not be a bad thing for first-time Android users. We noticed a few unnecessary animations on the home screen icons and when scrolling through long lists. There are a few themes you can choose from and hundreds more that you can download through the Themes app. You can also download individual wallpapers, fonts, and ringtones. These all appear to be free for now, but Xiaomi could start making money off downloads like this in the future.

If you dig through the Settings app, you’ll find options for splitting the quick toggles out into a separate panel within the notifications shade; configuring a “Second Space” user profile for privacy; setting up gesture shortcuts; and assigning extra functions to the Android navigation keys. There’s also Dual Apps functionality which lets you run a second instance of any app for use with a second account; and App Lock which lets you restrict app access – since there’s no fingerprint reader, you have to use an unlock pattern to use this feature.

Xiaomi preloads a few Microsoft Office apps, Skype Lite, Amazon Shopping, WPS Office, and UC news. There’s a spammy ticker of “Promoted apps” within an ordinary-looking home screen folder to encourage you to download them. Other Xiaomi features include the Mi Apps app store, Mi Store for Xiaomi products, Mi Community forum app, Mi Drop (an Apple AirDrop clone), and assorted custom apps that replace the default Android ones.

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Xiaomi Redmi 5A performance, cameras, and battery life

As far as entry-level phones go, Xiaomi has done well in balancing cost and performance. The Redmi 5A is capable of handling everyday tasks such as Web browsing, social apps, and messaging. We were even able to play a few heavy games, though performance wasn’t perfectly smooth. There was usually less than 500MB of free RAM out of our review unit’s 2GB. We found the phone stuttering slightly when switching apps sometimes, but only really struggling when we ran heavy tests or games. Things also definitely took a turn for the worse with the Second Space feature enabled.

Benchmark scores were decent enough. We got 36,421 in AnTuTu; 683 and 1,887 in Geekbench 4’s single-core and multi-core tests respectively; 3,719 in 3DMark Ice Storm Extreme; and 14fps in GFXBench. Our test phone was the variant with 2GB of RAM and 16GB of storage – it stands to reason that the more expensive variant’s additional RAM will make performance smoother.

The screen is pretty sharp, and even fine text looks good. Viewing angles are great, and brightness is high enough for outdoor use. However, colours don’t really pop and we found that videos and games looked a bit dull. Although the speaker grille runs across the back of the phone, there’s only one spot that sound actually comes out of, and the Redmi 5A is muffled easily when lying face-up on a soft surface such as a bed. Sound is pretty weak and distorts badly at high volumes.

If you swipe to the right from the Redmi 5A’s lock screen, you’ll see a menu with shortcuts to the Mi Remote app and something called Mi Home. The remote app is basic and unfortunately the process of figuring out how to control your TVs and other appliances requires some trial and error. There are IR profiles for Indian TV, set-top box, and AC brands including private-label store brands. Unlike with some other low-end phones, third-party apps can use the IR emitter.

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The Redmi 5A’s cameras are quite mediocre, but once again we have to balance our expectations against this phone’s low price. Photos don’t have a lot of detail – objects often have fuzzy borders, and textures aren’t reproduced very well. We found that colours were pretty dull, and not just when checking photos on the phone’s own screen. We were able to take some decent close-ups but anything at a distance suffered. At night, there was a serious drop in quality, and it was hard to capture anything that didn’t have artificial light falling directly on it. On the plus side, autofocus was usually quick to lock during the daytime. Video recording goes up to 1080p, but we found that clips looked quite artificial and weren’t very smooth.

Tap to see full-sized Xiaomi Redmi 5A camera samples

The front camera applies pretty aggressive beautification by default, making faces look extremely artificial. There’s a Pro beauty mode and a Smart beauty mode, the difference being that Pro mode gives you individual “Slim” and “Skin” sliders while Smart tries to guess your age and gender. When disabled, it’s clear that the front camera is pretty weak.

The camera app isn’t very well laid out, for example it takes two taps to get to the options menu from the default mode, but in some modes you can’t get to it at all.

Xiaomi has boasted about the Redmi 5A’s battery life as part of its “desh ka smartphone” pitch, and we were pleased to note that we could in fact get through a full day of casual use with up to 20 percent left over. Our HD video loop test went on for 11 hours, 9 minutes which is quite impressive.

Verdict
Xiaomi continues to impress us with its low prices, and even though the Redmi 5A doesn’t give us anything new or different compared to the Redmi 4A, it still delivers excellent value. If you can grab the 2GB/16GB version at the introductory offer price of Rs. 4,999, you’ll be very happy. Even at its regular retail price of Rs. 5,999, there aren’t many phones that could compete with it. If you’re a first-time smartphone user, or are only concerned with basic communications, the Redmi 5A would be quite a good choice. Camera quality is really the only major downside, and if that’s important to you, you’ll have to spend a bit more.

For the same reasons, the 3GB/32GB version of the Redmi 5A is less compelling. There are other options to consider that let you trade the additional RAM and storage for features such as a larger screen and fingerprint reader, most notably Xiaomi’s own Redmi 4 (Review) and Redmi Y1 Lite. We’re also not too far from the launch of the Redmi 5 with its fashionable 18:9 display, though that model is likely to cost a little more.

RHA MA650 Wireless Review

RHA is a little-known audio brand in India right now, but one you should definitely be aware of. With a primary focus on in-ear headphones, this tiny Scottish company is slowly expanding its demographic from audiophiles to a broader audience with its new wireless products. The MA series currently consists of two models, the MA650 and MA750, both of which were officially been launched in India a couple of months ago.

We have the MA650 in for review today. It’s priced at Rs. 7,999, and the main difference between this and the MA750 is its drivers, which are all custom made by RHA. Let’s see if this good-looking pair of headphones can deliver comfort and quality.

RHA MA650 design and features

The MA650 is a premium pair of wireless headphones, and it shows right from the packaging. In the box, you get a USB Type-C charging cable, a mesh carry pouch, and a selection of eight single-flanged and double-flanged pairs of ear tips and a single pair of Comply foam tips. The quality of the silicone ear tips is very good, and their slightly rigid texture offers a good seal from ambient noise.

RHA MA650 bundle ndtv RHA MA650

The MA650 is a neckband-style wireless headset, which means it rests around your neck when you wear it. The entire band is covered with silicone, which feels comfortable against your skin even for long durations. It’s light too, at just 33g, and the body can be bent and contoured easily for when you need to store it in the pouch. It’s sweat- and splash-resistant thanks to the IPX4 certification, so it can be used for workouts.

The neckband terminates into cylindrical bulges on each side. The left side has the NFC chip, while on the right, we have a USB Type-C charging port, power button, status LED, and a built-in vibration motor for alerts. We love RHA’s attention to detail here, like the aluminium inserts on the edges of the neckband that complement the earbuds and in-line remote nicely. The remote sports a microphone and three buttons for play/ pause and adjusting the volume. Double- or triple-pressing the play/ pause button lets you skip a track or go to the previous one. A long-press activates whichever virtual assistant you have on your phone. The earbuds themselves are made of 6000 series aluminium, which makes them very sturdy, and they look good too. The backs of the earbuds are magnetic and attach to one another so they don’t dangle about when you’re not wearing them.

The headphones use RHA’s custom model 380.1 drivers, with a frequency response of 16Hz-22,000Hz. The RHA MA650 supports codecs like AAC, aptX, and the standard SBC. According to a frequency response graph published by RHA, the MA650 is tuned for better upper-mid-range performance and bass, whereas the highs are toned down a bit. This is another way it differs from its more expensive sibling, the MA750, which is tuned to deliver equal performance across the entire frequency range.

RHA MA650 remote ndtv RHA MA650

RHA MA650 performance and battery life

We used the MA650 for a few weeks as our primary pair of headphones and absolutely loved how portable it is. We miss the convenience of retractable earbuds like the ones on LG’s Tone Active+ but the magnetic design served the purpose of keeping them from getting in the way. It would have been nice if the music paused automatically when the earbuds attached to each other, like with the Jabra Rox.

We found that the silicone ear tips worked very well in drowning out ambient noise, so much so that we didn’t feel the need to use the bundled foam tips. The earbuds have a snug fit and don’t stick out from your ears too much, making them quite inconspicuous. However, there is a bit of audio leakage, which is noticeable in quiet places. If you’re planning on wearing them while at work in an office, you might want to switch to the foam tips. We didn’t like the silly label with all the regulatory and trademark information that’s attached to left earbud’s cord, as it looks out of place. This could have been printed somewhere on the neckband instead.

The MA650 is mighty durable as even after a couple of weeks of rough usage, it still felt as good as new. The cords for the earbuds are secured firmly and didn’t feel like they would get loose, and the rubber lining managed to cope with our humid climate as well.

Setting up the RHA MA650 is also very easy as you have voice prompts to guide you. The in-line remote works well, but the buttons aren’t raised very much and we often found ourselves struggling to distinguish them by touch, because of the design of the rubber lining. The microphone does a very good job with voice calls, and none of the people we spoke with had any trouble hearing us.

Audio reproduction is balanced and crisp, with very good mid-range performance. Thanks to the way in which the MA650 is tuned, we never found the highs too piercing. This works well for pop tracks such as Maroon 5’s What Lovers Do, which was well balanced with just the right helping of bass and plenty of detail in the mid-range frequencies. Even at high volume levels, Adam Levine’s Falsetto never felt shrill. Another track in which the mid-range really shone, with good instrument separation, was Born to Touch Your Feelings by The Scorpions. Vocals were distinct and the overall sonic signature was warm and pleasing.

RHA MA650 angle ndtv RHA MA650

The MA650 isn’t for bass-heads though. Although the bass is tight, it lacks serious thump, which is evident in tracks like I Feel It Coming by The Weeknd. This isn’t a complaint since that’s just the way the headphones are tuned, and personally, we’d take a bit more mid-range detail over bass enhancement any day. This is highly subjective and might not suit everyone’s taste. We tested the headphones primarily with Apple Music on an iPhone 6s Plus (Review), but also tried it with a mix of FLAC files played on a Google Pixel 2 (Review), using aptX. With the latter, we felt the soundstage to be a bit wider.

The MA650 is rated to deliver 12 hours of battery life, and during our review, we actually managed to surpass this. With a mix of calls and music, we were able to achieve 13 hours and 43 minutes of runtime. You can check the battery level at any time by pressing the power button (even during music playback). To save power, the MA650 automatically shuts itself off after 20 minutes of inactivity. When the battery level drops below 20 percent, you’ll hear warning voice prompts every few minutes. The white LED also changes to red. Charging the headphones fully from zero percent took us just under two hours, through the USB port of a MacBook Air.

Verdict

It’s hard to find any fault with the RHA MA650. It strikes a very good balance between premium features, performance, and price. Our only criticism would have to be that the buttons on the in-line remote aren’t the easiest to use by touch. Other than that, this might just be the only neckband headset you should even consider in this price range. The MA650 a little expensive but considering it’s retailing for slightly less in India than in the UK, it’s not a bad deal. You can find it online through Headphonezone, and at select Croma and Apple resellers offline.

We recommend the RHA MA650 for anyone looking for a feature-rich pair of wireless headphones that delivers a good balance of audio performance and battery life at less than Rs. 10,000.

Price (MRP): Rs. 7,999

Pros

  • Very good battery life
  • Detailed mid-range
  • Premium build quality
  • Feature-rich, good bundle

Cons

  • In-line buttons can be tricky to use

Rating

  • Design: 4.5
  • Performance: 4.5
  • Value for money: 4
  • Overall : 4.5

A Hat in Time Review

Primarily funded off a Kickstarter in 2013, A Hat in Time – an indie 3D platformer that wished to emulate the glory days of Super Mario 64 – finally released in October this year on Windows and macOS. Since then, it has sold over 50,000 copies. And on Wednesday, it is expanding to the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.

The game stars Hat Kid, a young girl who’s on her way back home in her spaceship. But as the ship is passing a planet there’s a knock on the glass. A floating self-described Mafia member demands the girl pay the toll, as everyone must in Mafia Town, and the kid’s steadfast refusal brings things to a head. The mafioso bursts in by shattering the glass, which causes Hat Kid’s valuables – including the all-important 40 Time Pieces, fuel for her ship – to go flying out and be strewn all over the planet below.

A Hat in Time’s premise is really an excuse to stitch together its platforming sections, divided into four extremely varied chapters: Mafia Island, Battle of the Birds, Subcon Forest, and Alpine Skyline. Each of these consists of multiple acts, and is set in a world of its own. Mafia Town is the most generic of the lot, but later worlds such as The Owl Express in Battle of the Birds – inspired by Agatha Christie’s 1934 novel Murder on the Orient Express – display a lot more creativity.

a hat in time alpine skyline A Hat in Time

While Hat Kid’s ultimate goal is to recover those Time Pieces, you will also have to collect two other items: gems called Pons, and yarn – which contributes to the game’s title. The yarn allows you to stitch new hats, each of which comes with its own special ability, be it sprint speed, explosions, and much more. Pons are the in-game currency, and can be used to buy badges that pin on to hats and grant you additional abilities, from a collectibles magnet, to a grappling hook.

In the beginning, you can only attach one badge to a hat, which eventually goes up to three. A Hat in Time has the standard controls (jump, double-jump, and attack) of a platformer in addition to a horizontal lunge that lets you extend your airtime, but it’s the hats and badges that really let you customise your playstyle. You can quickly switch hats like weapons with the D-pad, allowing you to tap into the ability you need at any particular moment. Controls are mostly precise, though the double-jump and attack and landing a jump on a curved object aren’t intuitive enough.

A Hat in Time doesn’t innovate much beyond that, but it’s able to generate a mix of engaging gameplay with the options at hand, even if the first world – Mafia Town – is a low point for the game, culminating in a boss fight that provides a surprising spike in difficulty, and not enough latitude for your actions. The platforming bits may well get frustrating for some, and dissipate the charm and personality of the game.

a hat in time mafia town A Hat in Time

That’s a shame because the first chapter serves as a poor indicator of what’s to come. In fact, the four distinct worlds of A Hat in Time look and feel so different from each other that they may have well been developed that way. For instance, the voice-acting in Mafia Town is so over-the-top and cheesy that you’ll want to mute it at the first pause, but The Owl Express is so appealing that we found ourselves pushing through Mafia Town just to see a crow in a trench coat.

Even as the gameplay mechanics remain the same across A Hat in Time’s game time, the levels keep expanding in size and rewards. Plus, there’s an inherent joy in crafting new hats for Hat Kid, which keeps you traversing through the worlds to collect all the yarn pieces, be it inside treasure chests, on top of trees, or tucked away in a corner.

It also helps that A Hat in Time is full of eye-popping colour and winning personality, in combination with a playful tone that children will enjoy, and a sprinkling of offbeat humour that the older gamers will appreciate more. The game has been rated 10 ages and up by the ESRB on account of references to alcohol and tobacco, and fantasy violence – a character even talks about cutting up the mafioso and stuffing them in jars – so it’s really up to the parents to decide how suitable it is for their kids.

a hat in time trainwreck A Hat in Time

The other problems worth mentioning include the slightly wonky camera, a problem with most 3D platformers, which can sometimes hinder what you’re trying to see or achieve; and that the developer Gears for Breakfast has decided to keep the voice-acting of controversial YouTube personality Jonathan “JonTron” Jafari, who made a bunch of racist and xenophobic remarks earlier this year.

He was given a role as part of the Kickstarter in 2013 and only has a handful of lines in A Hat in Time’s second chapter, so it’s unfortunate that the part couldn’t simply be recast. Playtonic Games managed to do exactly that with its own platformer Yooka-Laylee, but that’s not the case here. Whether that should affect your purchasing decision is up to you, of course.

A Hat in Time won’t wow you out of the gates, but if you can plough through the mud, you’ll find an enjoyable 3D platformer with a goofy personality. It may never come close to the heydays of Nintendo 64 and its Super Mario titles, but it’s got a lot of charm and enough levels to win you over. And it’s finally here for console owners after four years of delays.

Pros:

  • Infectious charm, personality
  • Crafting new hats
  • Colourful environment

Cons:

  • Boss fights can be frustrating
  • Misleading introduction
  • Camera can be annoying at times

Rating (out of 10): 7

Gadgets 360 played a review copy of A Hat in Time on the PlayStation 4. The game is available on Windows, macOS, PS4, and Xbox One at $30 in the US. It costs Rs. 729 on Steam in India.

Centric G1 Review

The sub-Rs. 10,000 smartphone segment is bursting at its seams. We have seen tons of brands jumping in trying to shake off established players. One such entrant is Centric, a smartphone brand launched by Mumbai-based distributor Priyanka Telecom. The brand has launched multiple phones in this segment, and one such model is the Centric G1. We put this device through its paces to see if it’s worth your money.

Centric G1 design

One of the first things about the Centric G1 to grab your attention is the sandstone finish on the back panel. We last saw such a design on the OnePlus One (Review) which was quite unique at that time. The Centric G1 has a 5.5-inch display with what the company calls “Dragon Glass” for protection. There are non-backlit capacitive touch buttons below the display. Just above it is 5-megapixel front-facing camera and a recessed earpiece. We didn’t quite like the positioning of the power and volume buttons on the curved edge of the right side, because this made them hard to hit. The quality of the buttons isn’t that good either.

Centric G1 front NDTV Centric G1 Review

The phone has an 8-megapixel rear camera with autofocus and a single-LED flash. Centric has positioned the loudspeaker grille right next to the camera. The rear cover is removable and so is the 2900mAh battery. There are two Micro-SIM slots along with a microSD card slot, but none of them are hot-swappable. The Centric G1 has a 3.5mm headphone socket along with a Micro-USB port on the top, while the primary microphone is positioned at the bottom. It misses out on a fingerprint sensor which is surprising as other devices such as the Redmi 4 (Review), Micromax Evok Power (Review) and Coolpad Note 5 Lite (Review) have one.

Centric G1 specifications, software and, performance

The Centric G1 sports a 5.5-inch IPS screen with a resolution of 720×1280 pixels. It looks like the glass lacks an oleophobic coating, as this device picks up fingerprints very easily. Brightness is good but the viewing angles could have been better. The phone supports two 4G and VoLTE. It also gets Bluetooth 4.0 and WiFi 802.11b/g/n.

Like most other devices in this price segment these days, the Centric G1 is powered by a MediaTek MT6735 SoC clocked at 1.3GHz. There’s 3GB of RAM along with 16GB of storage which is expandable by up to 256GB using a microSD card. The G1 runs on pretty much stock Android 6.0 Marshmallow with a few additions. The phone gets Turbo Download which allows it to use Wi-Fi and 3G/ 4G data simultaneously to increase download speeds and, in our experience, the feature worked as advertised. There is gesture control along with common shortcuts such as double-tap to wake and tracing alphabets to launch select apps.

Also, Centric has installed a few apps including Centric Store which is its own app store, and Centric Care to help users find service centres. Apart from that, there is ChillX, a content aggregator, and Parallel Space, which lets you run second instances of other apps. The near-stock Android appearance and functionality does help this phone deliver a good user experience.

Centric G1 Screenshot NDTV Centric G1 Review

We put the device through several benchmarks to gauge its performance. In AnTuTu, the Centric G1 managed 34,462, and in Geekbench’s single- and multi-core tests, it returned 607 and 1732 respectively. The G1 also managed to score 14fps in GFXBench. The integrated Mali-T720 MP2 GPU manages to run casual games such as Subway Surfer and Candy Crush well, but load anything heavy and the device shows some lag. It struggled with graphics-intensive games like Breakneck. We also played Clash Royale, a card-based strategy game, which the device could handle without many issues.

The Centric G1 went on for 10 hours and 58 minutes in our HD video loop test, but charging it with the supplied 5W charger took over three hours which is painfully slow. A more powerful charger would really have helped. With light to medium use, the G1 could manage one working day. In one instance, the battery level suddenly dropped from 15 percent to zero, causing the device to shut down abruptly and without warning.

Centric G1 camera performance

The Centric G1 sports an 8-megapixel primary camera with an LED flash, and a 5-megapixel selfie camera. The app is quite basic and is similar to the one on the Intex Elyt-e7 (Review). There is a panorama mode and a picture-in-picture mode, in addition to the standard mode and a few filters. It has HDR as well but we found ghosting in a few photos we took with the mode enabled due to a lag between the exposures being captured. You can turn Auto Scene Detection on to get slightly better photos from the phone in different conditions. This mode is not available for the front camera but you do get a beautify mode which smoothens skin in selfies.

Photos taken with the Centric G1 were a little disappointing. The device had issues with light metering and we had to take multiple shots for it to get one right. We found chromatic aberration when shooting against the light during the daytime. Objects at a distance weren’t clear and lacked detail. Macros weren’t very good either, as they lacked any kind of sharpness and appeared flat.

Photos taken in low light had a fair amount of noise and there was a considerable loss of detail. With the Auto Scene Mode enabled, the phone bumps the ISO level up aggressively causing chroma noise. The Centric G1 is capable of shooting video at full-HD but we saw a minor lag in the viewfinder as well as in the output. The performance of the front camera was decent, but photos were only good enough to be shared on messaging apps.

Tap to see full-sized Centric G1 camera samples

Verdict

As a budget smartphone, there are a few things that the Centric G1 does right but a lot of things that it struggles with. Performance is decent for the price and 3GB of RAM does prevent background apps from getting killed too often. However, the omission of a fingerprint sensor at this price is surprising and the amount of time needed to charge this phone might be unacceptable for some. More importantly, camera performance is below average. If you are looking to buy a phone for less than Rs 10,000, here are the options you should look at instead.

Kodak 55UHDXSMART 4K UHD Smart TV Review

Kodak is an iconic photography brand, and if you’re above a certain age you’ll probably still remember memorable photos being called “Kodak moments”. But the shift to digital photography means that it has had to find a new space for itself, and amongst other things, the company now has a line of televisions on sale in the market.

Recently, Kodak launched a 55-inch HD smart TV, which has an MRP of Rs. 55,990, but is available at Rs. 39,990. That’s not bad on paper, but Kodak next released a 4K UHD LED TV with similar specifications, the Kodak 55UHDXSMART, which is currently being sold for just Rs. 6,000 more, which sounds a lot more attractive on paper. Kodak loaned a unit to Gadgets 360 for a couple of weeks, so that we could test the device and here’s what we discovered after using it for a while.

Kodak 55UHDXSMART design and specifications

The Kodak 55UHDXSMART has rather thick bezels around the panel, with a small Kodak logo centred at the bottom. The remote sensor and buttons are located at the bottom right – this is a little inconvenient as it’s highly directional and you actually have to point your remote in that general direction to get it to work. It’s a minor issue, but since most people are used to pointing the remote at the centre of the television, this might prove to be a problem.

The wall mount is standard, but we used the television with its bundled stand. The “feet” are fairly low, so if you want to use a soundbar with this TV, you’ll probably need to find some other place for it. The television itself is fairly thick when you compare it to new UHD TVs from the big name brands, though the weight is nicely distributed. Despite the non-adjustable stand, it was easy to shift the entire unit around without worrying about its stability.

Unfortunately, most of the ports on the back of the unit are hard to reach – if you’re wall mounting the Kodak 55UHDXSMART, this will be a major headache. You get two HDMI ports, Ethernet, and also composite and component cable hookups at the back, all facing downwards. You’ll want to try and get most of these wired up before mounting this TV on a wall. On the left side – which is a lot easier to reach – there’s a 3.5mm audio output, two USB ports, an SD card slot, a coaxial TV antenna terminal, and a single HDMI port.

kodak tv ports 224017 004000 2843 kodak

Kodak 55UHDXSMART software, specifications, and features

The Kodak 55UHDXSMART runs a custom version of Android and overall, the UI is fairly responsive. Don’t expect it to jump to life like your phone, or even a set-top box like the Amazon Fire TV or the Apple TV, but by the standards of smart TVs, it powers up pretty quickly, albeit not as fast as some of the more expensive offerings by the likes of LG. It’s powered by a 1.4GHz processor with 1GB of RAM and 8GB of storage. All this adds up to give you pretty decent performance most of the time with the likes of video streaming apps, but isn’t ideal if you want to play graphics-intensive games.

There’s Wi-Fi and Ethernet for connectivity, and both are pretty easy to set up. In our case, the router and the television were side by side so we just plugged in a LAN cable to take it online. Once online, simply go to the ATV mode, and you’ll have all your smart features available – there is no Google Play store but the TV comes with a third party app-store called Aptoide, which has a good range of applications available including Amazon Prime Video, Spuul, Eros Now, Saavn and Gaana. The television comes with a number of apps pre-installed as well, including Facebook, a custom browser, Netflix, Hotstar, and YouTube.

Navigation here can be a bit of an issue – you’re using the standard TV remote, which makes typing things a painful experience. That said, the streaming apps and the browser all worked fine, there were no issues worth mentioning. Browsing the Web on your TV this way is perfectly serviceable, but we imagine that it will be more of a curiosity or something you use when you want to show a webpage to a group of people, rather than something you use regularly.

The remote has dedicated buttons to launch YouTube, Netflix, and Hotstar and the experience when using them is smooth and reliable. Once the apps load, you can navigate within them using the TV remote. The remote also has additional buttons for media playback, to browse the contents of an SD card, launch the browser, and even take screenshots.

kodak tv remote 223917 003944 0293 kodak

If you want to launch apps other than the three with dedicated buttons, you will first need to switch to the TV mode. Settings and other menus come up as a standard box on the screen that you can navigate using the arrow keys and should be so familiar to anyone who’s ever used a television.

The TV also supports HDMI-CEC, which allows you to control other devices through the same remote control. This is really handy if you’re using something like an Amazon Fire TV, as you can just switch to HDMI and continue using the same remote, which works great.

Kodak 55UHDXSMART audio and video performance

The TV is capable of 4K and HDR playback, so the first thing we tried to do was test how it performed with Netflix streaming at the highest quality options. Watching Stranger Things Season 2, the difference was definitely visible and made a positive impact on the viewing experience. However, the colour range and brightness didn’t measure up to what we’ve seen on some (much more expensive) LG televisions, and blacks don’t get as deep as we’d like.

In darker scenes on shows like Stranger Things and Daredevil, there were patches of light on the screen which shouldn’t have been there, although it did a lot better on bright scenes, where there were no visible artifacts. Skin tones look fine, but if you watch animated shows you might also notice that the colour range is a little muted on this television. You can boost things through the settings to increase colour vibrancy, but that is of course a different thing.

The fact is that the Kodak’s price range is closer to what you’d pay for a HD TV from a brand like Sony, Samsung, or LG, and when compared to that, it’s doing a great job, but take away the price aspect and you can see that it looks a little compressed in terms of the colour range. Brightness is less of an issue, though it falls a little short of LG’s Signature OLED line.

We had the same experience with some more streamed shows, with and without HDR, and in 4K as well as full-HD. We decided to test the television further with some local content, and played a UHD copy of Batman v Superman playing from a Blu-ray player. As expected, this didn’t impact the viewing experience – although the panel has great viewing angles and brightness, the contrast for blacks is not all it could be. On the other hand, the TV has a crisp display that doesn’t have any issues of fuzziness or stutter – watching action packed shows and playing video games, there were no issues with motion fluidity. The company claims a refresh rate of 60Hz, and even games like Guitar Hero, where split-second timing is critical, were handled really well.

kodak tv with content 223217 003239 9363 kodak

Typical HD content, such as what you get from your DTH set top box, looks good. The upscaling is good enough that nothing looks jagged or blurry, so even if you don’t have too much 4K content right now, this TV could be a good pick.

In terms of audio, however, the TV is disappointing. There are two 20W speakers which can just about get the job done, but the audio is flat and barely has any range. It’s not muffled or distorted or anything like that, but it absolutely lacks character and you’ll want to get a set of external speakers or a sounder up and running right away.

Verdict
Kodak’s new TV is a little thick, its remote sensor is awkwardly off-centre, and instead of Google Play you’re using a third-party app store by default. We’ve seen better picture quality, but at significantly higher prices.

However, it makes up for shortcomings with a full range of apps available, including convenient buttons to launch some of the most popular streaming options right now. The viewing angles of the screen are also great, so you can get a big group together without anyone losing out. And all of this works with an interface that’s responsive, at a price that’s pretty good.

The big brands such as LG, Sony, and Samsung are still largely playing at another level when it comes to pricing, so compared to them, the Kodak sounds like a real steal. However, although Kodak is an established brand, it’s relatively new in the TV space. Other brands like Vu and TCL also have 55-inch 4K smart TVs at this price point, which necessitate their own share of compromises. Compared to some of these, Kodak’s offering is still tempting, but not necessarily a must-buy.

Price: Rs. 70,990 (MRP), available at Rs. 45,999 on Flipkart.

Pros

  • Good brightness and viewing angles
  • Good value for money
  • Dedicated keys to popular apps on the remote

Cons

  • Remote is extremely directional
  • Blacks could be deeper
  • Table stand is a little low
  • Audio is flat

Ratings (Out of 5)

Design: 3
Performance: 3.5
Value for Money: 4
Overall: 3.5

Nokia 3 Review

The Nokia 3, the most affordable of the three new Nokia-branded Android smartphones, was launched in India last month. It is the first smartphone with the Nokia name to hit the Indian market in a long time, but it’s worth pointing out that it hasn’t been manufactured by Nokia itself. The company that once dominated global smartphone sales is getting a second shot at the mobile business thanks to a brand licensing agreement with HMD Global, a Helsinki-based company run largely by former Nokia and Microsoft employees. As per the deal announced last year, HMD Global has an exclusive global license to create and sell Nokia-branded phones for 10 years. The company has been betting heavily on the Nokia brand’s power, and fans have been looking forward to the devices which are now finally here.

The rebooted Nokia 3310 was the first to be made available in India and received mixed response. The other two Android smartphones are the Nokia 5 and Nokia 6, which are yet to be made available in India. These four Nokia phones were the biggest announcements at MWC 2017, but it will only translate into sales if the products are good enough.

HMD Global has been marketing the Nokia 3 to buyers looking for a good design and “pure Android with regular updates” at a budget price. The Nokia 3 has been priced aggressively to take on the some of the heavyweights in the Indian market. However, it will have a tough fight ahead of it, as HMD Global needs to find its place in the Indian market and compete with popular phones like the Xiaomi Redmi 4, Moto G5, and Yu Yureka Black. The Nokia 3 is being marketed as the “Android phone with all the smartphone essentials” but will that be enough? We take a look.

Nokia 3 design

The Nokia 3 arrived at our lab in a playful white retail box which reminded us of the old Nokia days. The phone has a resemblance to the Lumia range of Windows Mobile-powered phones, but only in terms of design as the Nokia 3 runs Android. If you are in the market or searching for a phone online, you will see options priced under Rs. 10,000 with all-metal unibodies and they look more or less similar – whether it’s the Yu Yureka Black or the Xiaomi Redmi 4. In our opinion, the Nokia 3 brings freshness to the budget segment. While the Nokia 3 doesn’t have an all-metal body, the quality of polycarbonate used for the back and its metal frame still make the design good overall. It’s minimalist without feeling cheap.

The feel of the phone in a hand is one of the best we have experienced in this segment. Throughout our review period, we used the Nokia 3 with just one hand without being afraid of dropping it. The squarish shape of the phone offers a great grip from all angles. Our review unit was a Matte Black version of the Nokia 3, and it is also available in Silver White. The power and volume buttons are on the right and were painted black to match the phone’s body.

On the left, you’ll find the dedicated slots for two SIM cards and a microSD card, which is good to see as many other manufacturers offer hybrid slots at this price point. The bottom has the standard charging port plus a speaker grille, while the top has the 3.5mm audio jack. If you look closely, antenna bands are visible on the top and bottom of the Nokia 3, but they blend in with the colour of the phone. There are Nokia logos on the front as well back, just like older Nokia devices.

nokia 3 branding nokia

Typing on this phone was easy enough, and at 8.48mm thick, it’s actually thinner than the Redmi 4, but the latter has a much bigger battery. During the review period, we found that the power and volume rocker buttons were placed slightly too high and we had to stretch to reach them while using the phone with one hand. We also missed a fingerprint scanner, which has become almost a standard feature on smartphones, even at this price level. We feel that this is a significant omission for the Nokia 3. The capacitive Android navigation buttons are not backlit which means you could have a hard time finding them in the dark.

Inside the Nokia 3 retail box, you will get a quick start guide, earphones, a charger, USB cable, and a SIM ejector tool apart from the phone itself.

Nokia 3 specifications and software

The Nokia 3 features a 5-inch IPS LCD screen with a resolution of 720×1280 pixels and 2.5D Corning Gorilla Glass. The phone is powered by a 1.3GHz quad-core MediaTek MT6737 SoC coupled with 2GB of RAM. It has 16GB of storage which can be expanded using a microSD card (up to 128GB). There are 8-megapixel cameras at the front and back. The rear camera features an f/2.0 aperture, autofocus, and an LED flash. The front camera, on the other hand, also has autofocus and an 84-degree field of view. The phone packs a non-removable 2630mAh battery. 4G and VoLTE (voice over LTE) are supported, and connectivity options include USB-OTG, Bluetooth, and Wi-Fi.

The Nokia 3 is among few smartphones in the budget category to offer stock Android Nougat. It offers all the bells and whistles one can expect from a stock Android device such as bundled notifications where users get group notifications from a single app instead of multiple ones; the ability to reply to messages from the notification pop-up; notification management, which allows users to disable or silence notifications from individual apps; quick app switching with just a double-tap on the Overview button, and an all-new Settings app. Split-screen multitasking, which allows you to use two apps simultaneously, is also supported. The Nokia 3 supports Google Assistant out-of-the-box, which is yet to arrive on many other phones in the same price segment.

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Apart from monthly security updates, HMD Global has also promised that the Nokia 3 (as well as the Nokia 5 and Nokia 6) will receive Android O when it’s available.

Nokia 3 performance and camera

The Nokia 3 fares well in day-to-day usage. Despite using it for GPS navigation and long gaming sessions, the phone didn’t get warm, which is another advantage of the polycarbonate back.

However, we felt could feel the phone slowing down a bit while multitasking and we experienced some lags when switching from one app to another when there were over 12 apps open in the background. The phone was able to handle light games with ease, but graphics-heavy ones like Need for Speed: No Limits did slow down, which was annoying. The phone was able to play a range of video and audio files without any hiccups.

nokia 3 sim slots nokia

The single loudspeaker works well enough in a small room, and its clarity is decent. The bundled earphones are also good enough. We like to point out that the Nokia 3 is one of only a few phones that actually has bundled earphones in the box.

The 5-inch display on the Nokia 3 has excellent colour reproduction and brightness. We liked watching videos on the Nokia 3 and felt that this is among the better screens we’ve seen in the budget segment in terms of sunlight legibility and viewing angles. It’s worth pointing out, however, that phones such as the Yu Yureka Black offer full-HD screens at prices lower than the Nokia 3.

The Nokia 3 didn’t really impress us with its benchmark results. It managed only 27,432 in AnTuTu, 15,020 overall in Quadrant, and 10fps in GFXBench. The Xiaomi Redmi 4 (Review) and Yu Yureka Black (Review) gave better results in the same tests.

The 8-megapixel rear camera does okay in good lighting conditions, and autofocusing is quick as well. The samples we took in good light turned out to have decent levels of detail and controlled noise in the corners when zoomed in. However, we found that darker parts of the samples did lose details while large areas were often overexposed. At times, there were slight white balance inaccuracies in images as well. The Nokia 3 has an HDR mode though we noticed that it didn’t always kick in when required, and we felt that it could have helped in several cases. Unfortunately, low-light shots came out badly. Autofocus locking was slow, and the samples we took lacked detail while there was a lot of noise all over.

Tap to see full-sized Nokia 3 camera samples

The Nokia 3 supports 1080p video recording, and the quality is decent. The front camera on the phone also disappointed us, as despite its autofocus capability photos still came out blurry. You can use the Nokia 3 for a quick video call or casual selfies, but don’t expect a lot in terms of quality.

However, we liked the camera app which had a very easy-to-use interface with all major functions accessible in one tap. In beautify mode, the phone tries to improve photos by applying some corrections, but this isn’t always effective.

Nokia 3 battery life

The battery in the Nokia 3 lasted for roughly 16-18 hours of heavy usage which wasn’t a surprise, considering its 2630mAh capacity. We used the phone for roughly a week and we can say that it gave us better battery life when our usage was less demanding. Our HD video loop test lasted for 10 hours and 25 minutes which is good for a phone of this size. There’s no support for fast charging, and it took roughly two hours to get up to 100 percent which is longer than other phones with bigger batteries usually take.


Nokia 3 Android phone in pictures

Verdict
The Nokia 3 is now available in India priced at Rs. 9,499. It is a good-looking smartphone, and also supports 4G with VoLTE. One big positive point is that the company has promised future Android updates. Overall performance and camera results aren’t its biggest highlights. We also missed a fingerprint scanner, which really should be a standard feature now.

In our opinion, the Nokia 3 is best suited for first-time smartphone buyers and those looking for some experience with Android in general – if you can get this offline-only phone at a store near you. At this price, you could also go for the Xiaomi Redmi 4 or the Yu Yureka Black, both of which offer better all-around performance. The Asus ZenFone Live is another contender in the same price bracket.