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Apple Preview review
11:12 am | July 26, 2022

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets | Tags: | Comments: Off

Bundled with every modern Mac, the Apple Preview app may be software you use often, yet you might not think too much about its capabilities. After all, it’s just a quick and easy image viewer and PDF reader for Mac, there when you need it. But did you know it contains some tools that could help you fill in a PDF form, and even sign it digitally?

That’s right, Apple Preview is much more than just one of the best free PDF reader. There’s potentially no need for expensive online tools like eSign software services - your (albeit not cheap) Mac can do that from the moment you take it out of the box. Let’s take a closer look. 

Apple Preview: Interface

Apple Preview during our eSign software tests

Apple Preview’s interface is clean and simple, yet offering you all the tools you need to read through a document and search for specific sections (Image credit: Apple)
  • The interface has that classic Apple minimalism, but all the options you need to look through and search a document are there

Software gets updated all the time, so for the purposes of this review, we’ll be taking a look at Preview version 11, running on Ventura, ie, MacOS 13. However, you’ll find the interface hasn’t changed in a good long while, making this review potentially relevant should you own an older copy.

Apple being Apple, the interface is as bare and streamlined as can be, with only a few icons present at the top of the window. If you’re browsing through a PDF, scrolling down will take you to the following page by default in a continuous scroll. You also have the option to see the document page per page, or have two pages displayed on the screen at the same time. There’s also the possibility of displaying thumbnails of each page in a sidebar to the left, helping you find the one you’re looking for more quickly. There’s also a search field top right, which will work as long as your PDF is properly formatted (most are, but some contain only images of text which negates that option, as it would for any other similar software).

All very simple and straightforward, but we’re not here to just browse through documents. We need to manipulate it in various ways.

  • Interface: 4.5/5

Apple Preview: Getting started

Apple Preview's clean interface in action on display

Apple Preview's interface is pretty bare, leaving the focus on the document you’re perusing  (Image credit: Apple)

So just how good is Preview? At first glance, it looks like you can do pretty much everything Adobe Acrobat Reader DC does (without being bombarded with adverts to upgrade, of course).

Double-click on a PDF (or image - but we’ll take those as a given and focus on the documents in question for this review), and it opens up, just as you’d expect. You can scroll through the document, zoom in or out of it, and even print it if you like.

There’s a thumbnail sidebar you can trigger on the left that allows you to scroll through a multi-page document with ease, by displaying a tiny version of all available pages, one above the other. Dragging the border between it and the main preview section lets you increase or decrease the size of those thumbnails.

Scrolling can be set on a page by page basis, or as a continuous scroll, and if your screen is large enough to see them without squinting too much, you can also set Preview to show you two pages side by side if you prefer.

You’ll find a large search field top right of the interface, which you can use to find specific words within the document (as long as the PDF is properly formatted of course, and not just a JPEG of a page formatted as a PDF, but this is a problem for every PDF reader).

  • Getting started: 5/5 

Apple Preview: Tools

Highlighting text in free PDF reader Apple Preview

Highlight your text with multi-coloured digital highlighters  (Image credit: Apple)
  • Lots of tools to cover broad plenty of use-cases

If that’s all you need, fantastic! Preview can cater to all your needs. But there’s more. What if you need to make notes, for instance? You’ll find a wealth of tools to help you achieve this.

There’s a highlighter pen for instance, which comes with a choice of five colors, and even offers you the possibility of underlining or striking through text (only in red for those two options, mind).

But if you need more than that, say hello to the Markup Toolbar. It isn’t activated by default, but a simple click of an icon will reveal numerous other features.

With it, you can add text boxes to any page, should you need to add a comment. The editing flexibility of these boxes is as extensive as you’d expect from a basic word processor: you can change the font, alignment, style, color, add a background fill, or an outline color - there’s a lot of flexibility there. Preview will remember those settings and apply them to the next text box you create - but you’re of course free to alter it should you so wish.

Use Apple Preview's text tools to do more

Add  notes, objects, freehand drawings, and more to your documents  (Image credit: Apple)

But that’s not all: you have freehand tools to create editable shapes. If you prefer more defined ones, you have a handful of pre-made templates, like a line with an arrow, a speech bubble, a circle, a square, another with rounded edges, that sort of thing. These shapes are fully customizable too.

If post-it notes (or equivalent) are more your thing, you can add those as well, and place them wherever you like (only when they’re minimized). And if you’re bored of those yellow notes, that’s just the default color - the highlighters’ five colors are also available for your notes.

With eSign software growing in popularity, you have the ability to add a digital signature and use that toolbar to insert it wherever you like on the document. You'll find our thoughts on this tool.

This should cover most people’s needs. But Apple went further still…

  • Tools: 5/5 

Apple Preview: PDF editor

Reordering pages in Apple Preview, the free PDF reader for Mac

Apple Preview allows you to reorder pages, rotate them, delete them, or copy them to another document  (Image credit: Apple)
  • Not a true editor, but useful and easy to customize and reorder documents

Now this title could be a little misleading as you can’t actually edit the content of an existing file using Preview. This isn't a full PDF editor with all the tools that brings. Technically, it's almost a free PDF editor, since you can delete unwanted pages, reorder them, change their orientation, and essentially customize a document to focus on just what you need.

Even better, you can copy one or more pages from one document, and paste them into an entirely new one. Or, if you have two documents open side by side with the thumbnail sidebar switched on, just drag a page from one sidebar to the other to duplicate it in that second document.

This kind of flexibility is most welcome, and although you can’t create a PDF document from scratch - an alternative would be to use Pages and save it as a PDF. You can just save the sections you’re most interested in to create a custom PDF perfect for your needs.

When it’s time to save this new document, click on the ‘Permissions’ button to be offered a wealth of options: you can choose to password protect it, and even allow the reader certain abilities, even if they don’t know the password, such as printing, inserting pages, or filling form fields, for instance.

  • PDF editor: 4/5 

Apple Preview: Annotations

Apple Preview during our eSign software tests

Annotate, draw on, add notes to any file Preview can open (Image credit: Apple)
  • Drawing, adding shapes, and even notes to a document can all be done via Preview’s Annotate tools

Preview lets you make notes on any document you can open with it. This is done thanks to its annotation tools, which you can access either via the MenuBar (Tools > Annotate), or by clicking on the relevant icon in the toolbar (the circle with the tip of a pen inside it).

This reveals a new Toolbar, directly beneath the main one. With it, you can draw directly on the page, or add various shapes, even manipulate each point of the curve you’ve created (you’re essentially working with bezier handles and vector images).

You’ll also find ways to add notes to a document (think of them as digital post-it notes), and perhaps more relevant to this review, add text boxes, or even your signature, both of which will prove invaluable when filling in a digital document.

  • Annotations: 4/5

Apple Preview: Forms

Apple Preview during our eSign software tests

Add as many text boxes you need to fill in a form, and customise them with the font, size, colour and alignment you prefer (Image credit: Apple)
  • The Text tool is very versatile although control of your chosen font cannot be done from the Form Filling toolbar

The text tool is the best - and only - way to add text boxes to a document, and reposition them so they’re over the sections that need your input. It’s worth noting that the main Toolbar has a Form Filling Toolbar icon, to the right of the Markup Toolbar we explored. However, it’s best to stick with Markup when filling in forms for one simple reason: Markup contains tools to edit your text box, altering the font, size, colour and alignment, whereas the Form Filling Toolbar, puzzlingly, doesn’t.

Those text boxes can be resized left and right, but not up or down, but it’s not really an issue. The box extends down the page automatically the more you write in it. Changing the style is a simple matter of clicking on the right icon to reveal an expanded menu, where you get to choose from any of the fonts installed on your Mac, along with your preferred colour, size, format and alignment.

One thing we appreciated during our testing is the next text box you add will bear those choices. So, if you want a consistent look for your text boxes going forward, you only need to set your preference once. It's also possible to copy and paste a text box. The position of it will be close to the existing one. Should you move to another page and hit paste, the new box’s position will be identical to the original, but on the different page. Repositioning them is but a matter of clicking and dragging.

The text box allows you to fill in any form you can open in Preview, but what about signing a document?

  • Forms: 3.5/5

Apple Preview: Signatures

Apple Preview during our eSign software tests

Adding a signature is quick and easy, although the connection to your iPhone misses a reorientation trick (Image credit: Apple)
  • Creating a signature has got that Apple panache to it

If you’re aware of online digital signature services, you’ll know that they all offer various ways for you to import your signature into the system. They allow you to choose a cursive font to write your name, sign using a mouse or trackpad, or import a photo of your signature. Apple’s approach is similar yet different. They offer different options, although the option to use a cursive font is conspicuous by its absence.

You’ll have three choices available to you, the first one being Trackpad, which is greyed out if your computer doesn’t have one. Maybe it’s because Apple controls the software and the hardware, but we found tracing our signature on a trackpad to be the finest we’ve experienced to date. It had just the right amount of smoothness and precision to get a pretty decent approximation of our trademark squiggle.

Camera is the second method. Hold up a signed piece of paper to your webcam, and Preview will cleanly extract it. It works best if it’s taken from a blank sheet of paper, as there are no photo editor options. But more often than not, you do end up with a signature on a transparent background.

iPhone is the final choice. Ideal for those who have no trackpad, no available piece of paper, but have their phone handy. The concept is very similar to Trackpad, with a very cool ‘it just works’ moment, as Apple Preview seamlessly connects to your mobile device to perform the task. Annoyingly, if you need to use your phone in landscape mode to sign, you’ll have to rotate it manually each time you add it to a document. You’d think Apple’s programmers would’ve thought of that, as signing holding your phone vertically seriously reduces your canvas size.

Once Preview has your signature, you can name it, and keep as many different signatures as you need. It can then be added, moved, and resized in any document, just like any other object. 

What Preview doesn’t offer, which online services do, is a means of sending documents to others, and tracking their progress. However, it’s an ideal solution should you need to fill in and sign forms digitally for yourself, without having to log in to an online service or pay monthly for the privilege.

  • Signatures: 4/5

Apple Preview: Final verdict

For a free PDF reader that comes pre-installed with every Mac, Apple Preview is a remarkably powerful tool, offering you the basics, while also allowing you to perform what could be considered pretty powerful editing and note taking functions. You'll even find a PDF merging tool  and a seamless way to combine PDFs.

Unless you need a fully-fledged PDF editor (or even the best free PDF editor) to actually modify the content of a PDF, Preview should be able to cater to all of your needs. It’s just a shame it’s only available on Macs. 

Apple Preview scorecard

Should I try?

Apple Preview's clean interface in action on display

(Image credit: Apple)

Try it if...

Don't try it if...

Dell XPS 17 (2022)
2:40 am |

Author: admin | Category: Computers Computing Gadgets Laptops Windows Laptops | Tags: , , , | Comments: Off

Editor's note

  • Original review date: July 2022
  • Newer Dell XPS 17 with updated components now out
  • Launch price: $1,749 / £2,099 / AU$3,999
  • Target price: $1,599 / £1,599 / AU$2,999

Update: January 2024. The model we reviewed here is almost two years old now, but it still remains one of the best laptops you can buy. This is because its powerful components are still very good, and the slim and light design remains one of the best you'll find on a 17-inch laptop, which can often be big and bulky due to their larger screens. This particular model is no longer sold directly by Dell, but can be found at other retailers, often with a nice price cut that makes it better value. Dell has also released more modern models of the XPS 17, so if you fancy getting this larger laptop with even more powerful components, you've got that option as well. The rest of this review remains as previously published.

Dell XPS 17 (2022): Two minute review

If the Dell XPS 17 looks familiar, that’s because it is. Physically, this revised 2022 model is a dead ringer for last year’s XPS - and the one from 2020, too. But that’s no bad thing given this is one of, if not the slickest and sleekest laptops around. 

What actually is different can be found inside, most notably Intel’s latest 12 Gen CPUs. Our review unit is rocking the Intel Core i7-12700H, which packs six performance cores plus eight efficiency cores and turbos up to 4.7GHz. 

Honestly, it ought to be enough CPU for even the most demanding users, making it one of the best laptops around for productivity and business users. But if you really insist you can pay extra - and an awful lot extra because the upgrade typically forces more expensive components in other areas - for Dell to stick in a Core i9-12900K, which has the same core count but peaks at 5GHz. We wouldn’t bother, since you’ll barely feel the difference, if at all.

Dell XPS 17 (2022) Key Specs

Here is the Dell XPS 17 (2022) configuration sent to TechRadar for review:
CPU: Intel Core 17-12700H
Graphics: Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050
RAM: 32GB DDR5
Screen: 17-inch 3,840 x 2,400, 500 nits
Storage: 512GB NVMe SSD
Ports: 4 x USB-C with Thunderbolt 4, 1 x 3.5mm combo jack, 1 x  SD card reader
Connectivity:
Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.2
Camera: 720p with IR
Weight: 4.79 lbs | 2.17 kg
Size (W x D x H): 14.74 x 9.76 x 0.77 ins (375 x 248 x 20 mm)
Battery: 97WHr

Elsewhere, one thing the XPS isn’t is an out-and-out gaming laptop. Our configuration runs an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050 GPU with 4GB of graphics memory. It’s dandy for a spot of casual gaming and will also add some welcome grunt to GPU-accelerated productivity and content creation apps. But it’s not a 4K powerhouse, nor is the RTX 3060 chip offered as an upgrade, which it ideally would need to be given the specification of the XPS’s screen.

Indeed, we’ve got the optional upgrade panel which packs 3,840 by 2,400 pixels - more than standard 4K thanks to the taller 16:10 aspect ratio. It’s a stunner of a screen rated at a punchy 500 nits and with 100 percent coverage of the Adobe RGB gamut, so it’s fully capable of content creation workflows. It also supports HDR, but isn’t a new-fangled mini-LED panel, so keep expectations in check. The HDR experience is OK rather than eye-popping.

The screen looks all the better thanks to those signature Dell XPS slim bezels on all four sides. It’s a design feature that keeps this two-year-old design looking bang up to date, and also minimizes the laptop’s overall footprint. It’s not just the screen that stands out, so does the sound quality. The XPS 17 really packs an audio punch, with remarkably dynamic sound including decent bass, good stereo separation and strong volume.

Rounding out the best bits of this revised 2022 model of the Dell XPS 17 is battery life of over 10 hours during light workloads, which is outstanding for this big a beast. On the other end of things, this isn’t anywhere close to being as portable as the best Ultrabooks, but no 17-inch laptop will ever score very highly in that regard. 

But if you do take it with, you can genuinely get a day’s work done away from the mains, which makes it one of the best student laptops for anyone about to head off to uni in a couple of months.

So whether you're a student, a content creator, or just want a gorgeous device, the Dell XPS 17 (2022) retains its place as possibly the best Dell laptop ever made that's not called the XPS 13.

Dell XPS 17 (2022): Price and availability

A Dell XPS 17 (2022) on a table

(Image credit: Future)
  • Starting price looks appealing
  • Quickly gets pricey with options

The Dell XPS 17 (2022) kicks off at $1,749 in the US, £2,099 in the UK and AU$3,999, the apparent discrepancy outside of the US accounted for by a higher spec base CPU. Anyway, if that’s not exactly cheap, things only get worse when you add upgrades. 

The gorgeous UHD+ touchscreen, for instances, adds $300 / £300, doubling the RAM to 32GB will sock you for $150 / £200 and the 1TB SSD costs an extra $100 / £100. All told, as configured here, you’re looking at $2,749, £2,599 in the UK and AU$4,798 down under.

  • Value: 3.5 / 5

Dell XPS 17 (2022): Design

A Dell XPS 17 (2022) on a table

(Image credit: Future)
  • Super slim bezels
  • Gorgeous build quality

The design of the Dell XPS 17 (2022) is a dead ringer for last year’s model and the year before, but we're grateful for that. 

The XPS is super sleek and beautifully built, with the main chassis and screen cover in machined aluminum and the palmrest in carbon fiber. It still looks modern too, thanks to ultra-slim bezels on all four sides of the display. And that despite still squeezing in a 720p webcam up top with Windows Hello facial recognition support.

The chassis is very solid and the keyboard bed fairly stable, though a little flex is present. The large trackpad is about as good as it gets on a Windows laptop. Only Apple’s MacBooks do trackpads better. 

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A Dell XPS 17 (2022) on a table

(Image credit: Future)
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A Dell XPS 17 (2022) on a table

(Image credit: Future)
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A Dell XPS 17 (2022) on a table

(Image credit: Future)

Of course, this is still a big machine weighing in at well over 2kg and measuring in excess of 14 inches across, but that's the case with all of the best 17-inch laptops; they're simply never going to be compact. That said, the slim bezels ensure about as small a footprint as possible and ensures that if you've got to have something this large you at least get the absolute most out of its size. 

The XPS 17 is about as haulable as 17-inch laptops get, with the possible exception of the featherweight LG Gram 17, which is slightly wider in terms of footprint but much lighter at 1.35kg.

If we do take issue with the XPS’s proportions, it’s how they map to the port selection. On the one hand, the quartet of USB-C ports all support full Thunderbolt 4 functionality with power delivery and DisplayPort alt mode, which is great. 

There’s also a full-sized SD card slot and an audio jack. But that’s it. There’s no USB Type-A, no full sized HDMI socket nor a LAN port, but that's the price you pay for the slick looks and chiselled chassis sides.

  • Design: 4.5 / 5

Dell XPS 17 (2022): Performance

A Dell XPS 17 (2022) on a table

(Image credit: Future)
  • Grunty 12th Gen Intel CPUs
  • Good cooling
  • Not a true gaming laptop

With six performance cores and eight efficiency cores, the XPS 17’s Intel Core i7-12700H has as many cores as the top Core i9 processor from Intel’s latest 12th Gen Alder Lake CPU family. It just runs at slightly lower clockspeeds, but not that you’d notice. 

As CPU performance goes, this laptop has everything you could ask for. It’ll tear through everything from video encodes to 3D renders with ease. Alder Lake’s world-beating single-core performance also guarantees that this laptop feels snappy in day-to-day tasks like web browsing. 

Indeed, with fully 32GB RAM, you’re rarely going to run out of memory, which makes multi-tasking a breeze. With that much RAM, swapping application data to the SSD will hardly ever happen. Even if it does, there’s a fast PCIe Gen 4.0 SSD ready to minimise the performance hit of disk swapping. Overall, it really is a very speedy machine, this XPS 17.

Benchmarks

Here is how the Dell XPS 17 (2022) performed in our suite of benchmark tests:

3DMark Night Raid: 27,398; Fire Strike: 11,908; Time Spy: 5,439
Cinebench R23 Multi-core: 17,747
GeekBench 5 Single-core: 1,682; (Multi-core) 13,725
PCMark 10 (Home Test): 6,810
Battery Life (Techradar movie test): 10:14
Total War: Warhammer III (1080p, Ultra): 48 fps; (1080p, Low): 121 fps
Dirt 5 (1080p, Ultra): 44 fps; (1080p, Low): 96 fps

If there is an exception, it involves graphics performance and gaming. As tested, our review unit runs Nvidia’s GeForce RTYX 3050 mobile GPU with 4GB of video memory. It is a big step up over plain old integrated graphics, to be sure. As our benchmarks show, you can get playable frame rates at 1080p in modern games. But only just. It’s not a truly high performance gaming GPU.

You can optionally go for the RTX 3060, which will improve your frame rates. But even that GPU isn’t nearly powerful enough to play games at the XPS’s native 4K-plus screen resolution. Even Nvidia’s fastest mobile GPU, the RTX 3080 Ti, is only just capable of that.

Anyway, the point is that the XPS is certainly up for some casual gaming. But if gaming is one of your top priorities and you can afford this class of laptop, we’d recommend going with one of the best gaming laptops instead with at least an RTX 3070 GPU, something which is certainly available at this price point.

  • Performance: 4 / 5

Dell XPS 17 (2022): Battery Life

  • Impressive battery life for a large machine
  • Full workday battery life is doable

Large powerful laptops like the Dell XPS 17 (2022) used to be nailed-on certainties for awful battery life. Not these days. In light workloads like watching video and web browsing, you can expect over 10 hours of battery life. That’s true all-day performance. 

Admittedly, if you do anything remotely demanding, that number will tumble dramatically, despite its ginormous 97WHr battery. But this certainly isn’t one of those old-school desktop replacement rigs that had you worrying about battery life the moment you unplugged from the outlet. This thing has legs.

  • Battery Life: 4 / 5

Should you buy a Dell XPS 17 (2022)?

A Dell XPS 17 (2022) on a table

(Image credit: Future)

Buy it if...

Don't buy it if...

Also consider

Dell XPS 17 (2022): Report Card

  • First reviewed July 2022

How We Test

We pride ourselves on our independence and our rigorous review-testing process, offering up long-term attention to the products we review and making sure our reviews are updated and maintained - regardless of when a device was released, if you can still buy it, it's on our radar.

Read more about how we test

Tribit Stormbox Micro 2 review
6:23 pm | July 25, 2022

Author: admin | Category: Audio Computers Gadgets Hi-Fi Wireless & Bluetooth Speakers | Comments: Off

Editor's Note

• Original review date: July 2022
• Launch price: $60 / £60 (approx. AU$86)
• Target price now: $60 / £50

Update: February 2024. We still rate the Tribit Stormbox Micro 2 as the best Bluetooth speaker for cheap bang-for-buck – delivering loud volume that resists distortion, and impressive bass that helps the sound to feel full, without overwhelming the well-detailed treble. The official price has risen in some regions since launch, but you can regularly find it for the target price listed above, or with even bigger discounts in sale events such as Black Friday. We haven't tested anything that's beaten it at this price so far. The rest of this review remains as previously published.

Tribit Stormbox Micro 2: two-minute review

The Tribit Stormbox Micro 2 is the latest proof that 'Tribit' and 'value' are two words that skip happily hand-in-hand down this road we call life. The Chinese audio specialist doesn't yet have the big-brand clout of heavy-hitters such as JBL, Sony, Ultimate Ears and Bose in the best Bluetooth speaker realm – and we almost don't want to shout out the virtues of Tribit's latest offering for fear that it'll join them and prices will go sky high. 

But we're duty bound, so know that Tribit's Stormbox Micro 2 cheap Bluetooth speaker takes everything that was good about the original and betters it – and that little speaker was a high-level contender to begin with.  

With a standard price of $60 or £60 (around AU$86), but already seeing a 10% discount on Tribit's own website, you simply can't do better for design, durability, features and sound quality in a cheap Bluetooth wireless speaker at this wallet-friendly level. 

As with the original 2020 Stormbox Micro, the StormBox Micro 2 is about the size of a stack of drinks coasters, and it has a handy strap on the underside so you can lash it onto a table leg, bag strap or your bike's handlebars – we even managed to strap it onto a hire car's cup holder. 

Now though, the Stormbox Micro 2 is just a little bit larger and weighs 35g more (315g rather than 280g). Like its older brother, the Micro 2 is IP67 dust- and waterproof, but its battery life is now a claimed 12 hours at moderate volumes, which is up from eight hours for the original – and remember, you'll only get five from similarly-sized options such as the JBL Go 3.

The power rating is also improved, from 9W to 10W, which means that the Stormbox Micro 2's loudness is increased. You're also getting Bluetooth 5.3, (up from Bluetooth 5.0) the chief perk here being a new Bluetooth range of 120 feet, according to Tribit. Personally, I was able to stray up to 60ft (18m) from the speaker before it lost connection to my phone – which is seriously impressive when walls and doors were involved. 

Perhaps the biggest improvement is that you can use the Stormbox Micro 2's two-way USB-C port to charge out (ie. to juice up your mobile device) as well as to charge the speaker itself, although it's standard 5W charging rather than fast charging. You get a USB-C to USB-C cable in the box, although no plug, and do note that if you own an iPhone you'll need a USB-C to Lightning cable to use the feature. 

You can also pair two Stormbox Micro 2 speakers together to get either 'Party' (read: mono) sound or create a stereo pair. Although it's a little disappointing to see you must have two Micro 2s to pair them up at all, so you can't daisy-chain other original Stormbox Micros as you can with JBL's PartyBoost tech or the UE WonderBoom 2 and original Wonderboom, say, it's a relatively small gripe at this level. 

And the sound is now beefier, crisper, more exciting and will bring even more fun to your picnic, hike or campfire. The Tribit Stormbox Micro 2 offers features you'd never expect at this price, and it's hard to imagine anyone balking at the minimalist, refined design. 

All things considered, the cheap Bluetooth speaker category has a new front-runner – and because of the Micro 2, Tribit is about to get a lot more famous. 

Tribit Stormbox Micro 2 held at an angle over a yellow table

That Bluetooth light is slightly bigger: all the better to see it with, my dear… (Image credit: TechRadar)

Tribit Stormbox Micro 2 review: price and release date

  • $60 / £60 (around AU$86)
  • Released in Spring 2022

The Tribit Stormbox Micro 2 was unveiled in April 2022 and right now it is available in black only (the first-gen model occasionally came in a fresh and limited-edition orange colorway but this was an exception rather than a rule), and although regularly priced at $60/£60, it is already discounted by 10% when buying direct from Tribit – which means it'll cost just $54/£54. 

Price cuts and Tribit are fairly common too (and we're very grateful for them) across big online retailers such as Amazon – so keep your eyes open because even at the original price, this is a supremely talented Bluetooth speaker. 

Tribit Stormbox Micro and Micro 2 side-by-side on yellow table

The first gen Stormbox Micro is on the left, the Micro 2 is on the right: note the extra height.  (Image credit: TechRadar)

Tribit Stormbox Micro 2 review: design and features

  • Compact, pocketable design with built-in bike-friendly strap
  • Cushion-shape means a large driver
  • Up to 12 hours paytime – ie. four more than the first-gen model

Every design tweak Tribit has made here for the second-generation Stormbox Micro is both welcome and adds value – irrefutable proof that a little more can always be squeezed out of even the best-value portable wireless speaker designs. 

As mentioned, it now doubles as a useful power bank (although it's a 5W charger so don't expect super-fast charging of your phone) and it's just a tad bigger and more rotund. If you think of the Tribit Stormbox Micro as a stack of drinks coasters, Tribit has simply added another coaster to the pile for the Micro 2 – and it has paid dividends when the thing is playing music. 

Visually, there's a little more flair too; the plus, minus and multi-function buttons are now white so as to show up better in low-light situations, and the blue Bluetooth light on the front edge is a little wider and easier to see, although the useful five-strong LED volume indicators are still there. On the underside, the excellent rubberized and slightly stretchy strap remains, but the rubber feet are slightly more substantial. 

And if you thought there were no microphones for speakerphone duties here, you'd be wrong – there's an integrated mic on the front corner, next to the power button, which works just fine as long as you stay relatively close to the speaker on calls. Start strolling up and down the room dictating an email and your caller may tell you to come closer a little closer and speak up. 

It's important to note that the JBL Flip 6 has none of those speakerphone/power bank features and still costs significantly more, so Tribit is performing well before it has even relayed a note. And things don't go downhill there either – but we'll get to the sound later. 

Perhaps our only gripe (and emphatically the only reason we removed half a mark) is the lack of backwards compatibility. Because the first and second-gen models look so similar (and because other firms such as JBL offer it) it would be good if you could beef up the sound by pairing old and new-gen Micros in mono – but this is not possible. 

That said, for newcomers to Tribit, at this money it is well-worth buying two Micro 2s to create an affordable wireless desktop speaker setup – we watch Carrie Underwood's Ghost Story on Apple Music Sessions on our MacBook Pro and found pleasing levels of separation and minimal lag between the music video and its sonic accompaniment. 

  • Design and features score: 4.5/5

Tribit Stormbox Micro 2 showing the strap, on yellow background

Strap this around your belt, over your bike's handlebars or even on a camping table leg. (Image credit: TechRadar)

Tribit Stormbox Micro 2 review: sound quality

  • Meaty, zealous, remarkably talented sound
  • Impressive bass performance given its size
  • Only starts to distort at 80% volume

Tribit has remained tight-lipped about the driver under the grille here, but whatever is going on inside the Stormbox Micro 2, we like – and it'll certainly go loud enough to fuel your picnic, barbecue, campfire or beach day with tunes, even at 60% volume. 

Listening to You Should See Me in a Crown by Billie Eilish is among the toughest test for a bijou speaker's bass chops we can think of, and the Tribit doesn't disappoint. Treble elements (what sounds like the dragging of a knife over a jar) and a synth scream ahead of the low-level beat are impactful, but when the bass drops it really sinks low in the best possible way, delivering a gifted, snappy, agile performance. 

Provided you don't go too loud (anything beyond 80% starts to upset the mix and bloat the bass – but that's hardly surprising given this speaker fits comfortably in your palm) you'll find yourself digging out different tracks to see what the Tribit makes of your more niche music. 

We stream The Waterboys' The Whole of the Moon and cymbal crashes, backing vocals, violins and even the cannon are given ample space to shine in a cohesive and well-handled mix that has us tapping our feet happily. For this money, it's head-scratchingly good. 

The Chemical Brothers' In Dust We Trust is a similar story: sounds fly in with ease and energy, but smaller musical articles which we might have expected would be lost in the mix given this speaker's dimensions are still layered here within its commendable tuning. 

And seeing as it's a five-star review, of course we have to put it to the ultimate classical test, don't we? Richard Wagner's Ride of the Valkyries features all of the three-dimensional strings and soaring trumpets we could possibly hope for at this level, all held firmly in check and with a perceptible, rumbling and exciting dynamic build.

  • Sound quality score: 5/5

Tribit Stormbox Micro 2's USB-C port, on yellow background

USB-C charging port: we love to see it – only this time, you can use this to charge your phone too.  (Image credit: TechRadar)

Tribit Strombox Micro 2 review: value

  • Incredibly competitive pricing
  • A recommended alternative to bigger brands

We hope we're not over-egging the pudding by saying the Stormbox Micro 2 is incredibly good for its nominal pricing – and as such is incredibly good value. 

It's important to balance this glowing praise by saying it is not the best Bluetooth speaker ever – this tiny design cannot compete with the bigger JBL Charge 5 and its brethren, because aside from their relative size, these designs feature more power, a dual-driver design and a more significant asking fee. 

What you need to know is that for this size and price, nothing on the market comes close, across the board – and by that we mean in terms of design, durability, feature-set and sound quality. Tribit's Stormbox Micro 2 has set a new benchmark. 

It is worth noting that although Tribit does have an app (which works for the splendid Stormbox Blast and two of Tribit's earbud options), the Micro 2 doesn't get app support, so there's no scope for EQ alterations or a numerical volume indicator – but at this level, we think it would be churlish to expect such a thing. 

  • Value score: 5/5

Tribit Stormbox Micro and Stormbox Micro 2 side by side on a yellow table

The one on the right is the Stormbox Micro 2, the left is the original: shame you can't pair the two, but those accents make for easier use in low-light scenarios.  (Image credit: TechRadar)

Tribit Stormbox Micro 2 review: should you buy it?

Buy it if…

Don't buy it if…

Also consider…

Think the Tribit Stormbox Micro 2 might not be the Bluetooth speaker for you? That's cool, here are three alternatives that could offer just the design, feature-set and sound quality you're looking for. 

Acer Predator Orion 3000 (2022)
2:05 pm | July 18, 2022

Author: admin | Category: Computers Computing Gadgets Gaming Computers Gaming PCs | Tags: , , , | Comments: Off

Editor's Note

• Original review date: July 2022
• New model is out with updated components
• Launch price: $1,449 / £1,099
• Official price now: $1,449 / £1,099 (with new components)

Update: February 2024. We originally reviewed this model of the Acer Predator Orion 3000 almost two years ago, and we were so impressed that it went straight to the top of our best budget gaming PCs guide. Now in 2024, it is still in that list, but it has slipped down a few places, thanks to some more modern gaming PCs coming out. However, it remains a great budget buy, especially if you're looking for a compact gaming PC to play on. If you can find the model we reviewed here with the same components, you should be able to get it for a very good price as well. If you like the look of this machine but want more modern components, the good news is that Acer has released new models with 13th generation Intel processors, giving you a bit more future-proofing while keeping the same affordable price.

Acer Predator Orion 3000: One-Minute Review

The Acer Predator Orion 3000 desktop PC presents newer players with one of the best and most affordable opportunities to make their mark in the PC gaming scene. After all, there’s a reason why it sits comfortably at the top of TechRadar’s list of the best budget gaming PCs

Acer’s latest Predator Orion 3000 line-up offers gamers the ability to choose from several mid-tier configurations that now include a 12th Gen Intel processor, an Nvidia RTX 30-series graphics card, and up to 64GB of DDR4 RAM, all packed neatly into a compact micro ATX case. 

Understandably, this PC series makes a few compromises in terms of its components that can only be described as cost-saving measures. For example, although the Orion 3000 features both HDD and SSD storage, the most basic configurations tend to include just 256GB of the latter. Similarly, the Predator Orion 3000 series also features DDR4 RAM as opposed to the newer industry standard of DDR5. 

Still, minor shortcomings aside, the hardware featured as part of the Acer Predator Orion 3000 series lends itself well to the average gamer. Plus, the PC is relatively easy to upgrade, should the need or desire to do so ever arise. 

Acer Predator Orion 3000 desktop gaming PC on a desk with RGB lighting turned on.

(Image credit: Future)

Acer Predator Orion 3000: Price and Availability

  • Starting at $1,449 / £1,099
  • Available now from the Acer store and third-party retailers
  • You can buy it in the US, UK and worldwide
Spec Sheet

Here is the Acer Predator Orion 3000 configuration sent to TechRadar for review:

CPU: 12th Gen Intel Core i5-12400F (2.50 GHz)
Graphics: Nvidia RTX 3060 Ti 
RAM: 16GB DDR4
Storage: 256GB M.2 SSD + 1TB HDD
Optical drive: N/A
Ports front: 1 x USB-A 3.1, 1 x USB-C, 1 x headphone jack and 1 x microphone jack
Ports back: 2 x USB-A 3.1, 4 x USB-A 3.0, 3 x analog audio jacks, 3 x DisplayPort, 1 x HDMI, Ethernet
Operating system: Windows 11 Home
Connectivity: Intel Killer E2600 Ethernet, Wi-Fi 6E, Bluetooth 5.0
Weight: 21 pounds (9.5 kg)
Size: 15.4 x 15.2 x 6.9 inches (392 x 386 x 175 mm) 

The Acer Predator Orion 3000 gaming PC series can be found on sale in the US, UK, and worldwide, with a range of slightly varying configurations available depending on each gamer’s individual needs. 

The latest iteration of the Orion 3000 series features the new Intel Alder Lake chipsets. The starting configuration is priced at $1,449 / £1,199 and includes a 12th Gen Intel Core i5 CPU, an Nvidia RTX 3060 GPU and 16GB of RAM, as well as 256GB of SSD and 1TB of HDD storage. Pricier variations allow users to opt for either an Nvidia RTX 3060 Ti or 3070 for the GPU and a 12th Gen Intel Core i7 processor for the CPU. 

The configuration that TechRadar reviewed is a slightly more powerful model available in the UK for £1,299 (approximately $1,600 in the US). The Predator Orion 3000 arguably presents one of the best values for money especially when you take into account its decent gaming performance and esports-ready hardware. It could be even better value if any currently available Acer promo codes bring the price down more.

  • Price and Availability: 5/5

Acer Predator Orion 3000 desktop gaming PC shown side-on on a desk with RGB lighting turned on.

(Image credit: Future)

Acer Predator Orion 3000: Design

  • Neat, compact design
  • Configurable RGB lighting
  • Loud cooling fans

The Acer Predator Orion 3000 features the classic gaming black-and-RGB design within the confines of a compact micro ATX chassis. 

At the front of the case, you’ll find a single USB Type-C port, alongside a Type-A USB 3.1 and two 3.5mm headphone and microphone ports. The PC’s back panel contains all the basic ports you can expect from your average gaming computer: four 3.0 USB Type-As, two 3.1 USB Type-As, and three analog audio ports. The back of the Nvidia RTX 30-series GPU allows gamers to connect their favorite display through either HDMI or DisplayPort.

In terms of software, the PC comes with a pre-installed version of Acer’s PredatorSense, which gamers can use to monitor internal temperatures, control the cooling fans and configure the RGB lighting system. It should be noted that on full blast, the PC’s cooling fans are extremely loud almost to the point of being distracting, even when using headphones on near-full volume. 

In terms of hardware and affordability, the Acer Predator Orion 3000’s closest competitor would likely be the latest HP Omen product range, which can typically be found on offer for a similar price. However, it should be noted that in terms of design, the Predator Orion 3000 is the likely winner in the match-up. 

The HP Omen comes equipped with a full ATX case, which – despite its slight upgradability advantage – will wind up taking up much more desk space. Another key aspect within the match-up is that the HP Omen series often receives criticism for its uninspiring design – something the Predator Orion 3000 excels at with its sleek appearance.

  • Design: 4/5

Acer Predator Orion 3000 desktop gaming PC shown from the rear. A Snorlax Pokemon plushie sits next to it.

(Image credit: Future)

Acer Predator Orion 3000: Performance

  • Great gaming performance
  • Decent CPU benchmarking results
  • Minimal SSD storage on cheapest configurations
Benchmarks

 Here is how the Acer Predator Orion 3000 performed in our suite of benchmark tests:

3DMark: Night Raid: 50,215; Fire Strike: 22,948; Time Spy: 10,381
Cinebench R23 multi-core: 11,164 points
GeekBench 5: 1,436 (single-core); 7,537 (multi-core)
PCMark 10 (Modern Office):
7,160 points
Total War: Warhammer III (1080p, Ultra): 78 fps; (1080p, Low): 246 fps
Cyberpunk 2077 (1080p, Ultra): 76 fps; (1080p, Low): 115 fps
Dirt 5 (1080p, Ultra): 98 fps; (1080p, Low): 219 fps 

Although the Acer Predator Orion 3000 can be considered an affordable option, this certainly doesn’t mean that it compromises on gaming performance as much as you would expect from a budget PC. Thanks to the inclusion of an Nvidia 30-series graphics card, the Predator Orion 3000 is capable of coasting through even the most graphically intensive games such as Cyberpunk 2077 and Total War: Warhammer III, consistently hitting over 70 fps on both titles on Ultra settings. 

The Acer Predator Orion 3000’s performance in our usual benchmarking tests exceeded expectations too. For example, our review unit’s duo of Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 Ti and Intel Core i5 processor achieved 7,160 points in the PCMark 10 test. This meant that the Predator Orion 3000’s hardware scored higher than 93% of other PCs and placed higher than the average premium gaming PC from two years ago. 

Overall, given the wide range of configurations available for purchase, the Acer Predator Orion 3000 line-up is perfectly capable of catering to most players looking to break into the world of PC gaming. Despite its lack of DDR5 RAM across the series and its base models including just 256GB of SSD storage, both are arguably minor shortcomings and can be easily overlooked considering the product’s reasonable price. 

Although those on the lookout for more premium hardware would likely benefit from exploring other options, this gaming computer is a solid choice for those looking to balance a decent gaming performance with a more than palatable price range. 

  • Performance: 4/5

Buy it if...

Don't buy it if...

Also consider...

First reviewed July 2022.

How We Test

We pride ourselves on our independence and our rigorous review-testing process, offering up long-term attention to the products we review and making sure our reviews are updated and maintained - regardless of when a device was released, if you can still buy it, it's on our radar.

Read more about how we test

Acer Predator Orion 3000 (2022)
2:05 pm |

Author: admin | Category: Computers Computing Gadgets Gaming Computers Gaming PCs | Tags: , , , | Comments: Off

Editor's Note

• Original review date: July 2022
• New model is out with updated components
• Launch price: $1,449 / £1,099
• Official price now: $1,449 / £1,099 (with new components)

Update: February 2024. We originally reviewed this model of the Acer Predator Orion 3000 almost two years ago, and we were so impressed that it went straight to the top of our best budget gaming PCs guide. Now in 2024, it is still in that list, but it has slipped down a few places, thanks to some more modern gaming PCs coming out. However, it remains a great budget buy, especially if you're looking for a compact gaming PC to play on. If you can find the model we reviewed here with the same components, you should be able to get it for a very good price as well. If you like the look of this machine but want more modern components, the good news is that Acer has released new models with 13th generation Intel processors, giving you a bit more future-proofing while keeping the same affordable price.

Acer Predator Orion 3000: One-Minute Review

The Acer Predator Orion 3000 desktop PC presents newer players with one of the best and most affordable opportunities to make their mark in the PC gaming scene. After all, there’s a reason why it sits comfortably at the top of TechRadar’s list of the best budget gaming PCs

Acer’s latest Predator Orion 3000 line-up offers gamers the ability to choose from several mid-tier configurations that now include a 12th Gen Intel processor, an Nvidia RTX 30-series graphics card, and up to 64GB of DDR4 RAM, all packed neatly into a compact micro ATX case. 

Understandably, this PC series makes a few compromises in terms of its components that can only be described as cost-saving measures. For example, although the Orion 3000 features both HDD and SSD storage, the most basic configurations tend to include just 256GB of the latter. Similarly, the Predator Orion 3000 series also features DDR4 RAM as opposed to the newer industry standard of DDR5. 

Still, minor shortcomings aside, the hardware featured as part of the Acer Predator Orion 3000 series lends itself well to the average gamer. Plus, the PC is relatively easy to upgrade, should the need or desire to do so ever arise. 

Acer Predator Orion 3000 desktop gaming PC on a desk with RGB lighting turned on.

(Image credit: Future)

Acer Predator Orion 3000: Price and Availability

  • Starting at $1,449 / £1,099
  • Available now from the Acer store and third-party retailers
  • You can buy it in the US, UK and worldwide
Spec Sheet

Here is the Acer Predator Orion 3000 configuration sent to TechRadar for review:

CPU: 12th Gen Intel Core i5-12400F (2.50 GHz)
Graphics: Nvidia RTX 3060 Ti 
RAM: 16GB DDR4
Storage: 256GB M.2 SSD + 1TB HDD
Optical drive: N/A
Ports front: 1 x USB-A 3.1, 1 x USB-C, 1 x headphone jack and 1 x microphone jack
Ports back: 2 x USB-A 3.1, 4 x USB-A 3.0, 3 x analog audio jacks, 3 x DisplayPort, 1 x HDMI, Ethernet
Operating system: Windows 11 Home
Connectivity: Intel Killer E2600 Ethernet, Wi-Fi 6E, Bluetooth 5.0
Weight: 21 pounds (9.5 kg)
Size: 15.4 x 15.2 x 6.9 inches (392 x 386 x 175 mm) 

The Acer Predator Orion 3000 gaming PC series can be found on sale in the US, UK, and worldwide, with a range of slightly varying configurations available depending on each gamer’s individual needs. 

The latest iteration of the Orion 3000 series features the new Intel Alder Lake chipsets. The starting configuration is priced at $1,449 / £1,199 and includes a 12th Gen Intel Core i5 CPU, an Nvidia RTX 3060 GPU and 16GB of RAM, as well as 256GB of SSD and 1TB of HDD storage. Pricier variations allow users to opt for either an Nvidia RTX 3060 Ti or 3070 for the GPU and a 12th Gen Intel Core i7 processor for the CPU. 

The configuration that TechRadar reviewed is a slightly more powerful model available in the UK for £1,299 (approximately $1,600 in the US). The Predator Orion 3000 arguably presents one of the best values for money especially when you take into account its decent gaming performance and esports-ready hardware. It could be even better value if any currently available Acer promo codes bring the price down more.

  • Price and Availability: 5/5

Acer Predator Orion 3000 desktop gaming PC shown side-on on a desk with RGB lighting turned on.

(Image credit: Future)

Acer Predator Orion 3000: Design

  • Neat, compact design
  • Configurable RGB lighting
  • Loud cooling fans

The Acer Predator Orion 3000 features the classic gaming black-and-RGB design within the confines of a compact micro ATX chassis. 

At the front of the case, you’ll find a single USB Type-C port, alongside a Type-A USB 3.1 and two 3.5mm headphone and microphone ports. The PC’s back panel contains all the basic ports you can expect from your average gaming computer: four 3.0 USB Type-As, two 3.1 USB Type-As, and three analog audio ports. The back of the Nvidia RTX 30-series GPU allows gamers to connect their favorite display through either HDMI or DisplayPort.

In terms of software, the PC comes with a pre-installed version of Acer’s PredatorSense, which gamers can use to monitor internal temperatures, control the cooling fans and configure the RGB lighting system. It should be noted that on full blast, the PC’s cooling fans are extremely loud almost to the point of being distracting, even when using headphones on near-full volume. 

In terms of hardware and affordability, the Acer Predator Orion 3000’s closest competitor would likely be the latest HP Omen product range, which can typically be found on offer for a similar price. However, it should be noted that in terms of design, the Predator Orion 3000 is the likely winner in the match-up. 

The HP Omen comes equipped with a full ATX case, which – despite its slight upgradability advantage – will wind up taking up much more desk space. Another key aspect within the match-up is that the HP Omen series often receives criticism for its uninspiring design – something the Predator Orion 3000 excels at with its sleek appearance.

  • Design: 4/5

Acer Predator Orion 3000 desktop gaming PC shown from the rear. A Snorlax Pokemon plushie sits next to it.

(Image credit: Future)

Acer Predator Orion 3000: Performance

  • Great gaming performance
  • Decent CPU benchmarking results
  • Minimal SSD storage on cheapest configurations
Benchmarks

 Here is how the Acer Predator Orion 3000 performed in our suite of benchmark tests:

3DMark: Night Raid: 50,215; Fire Strike: 22,948; Time Spy: 10,381
Cinebench R23 multi-core: 11,164 points
GeekBench 5: 1,436 (single-core); 7,537 (multi-core)
PCMark 10 (Modern Office):
7,160 points
Total War: Warhammer III (1080p, Ultra): 78 fps; (1080p, Low): 246 fps
Cyberpunk 2077 (1080p, Ultra): 76 fps; (1080p, Low): 115 fps
Dirt 5 (1080p, Ultra): 98 fps; (1080p, Low): 219 fps 

Although the Acer Predator Orion 3000 can be considered an affordable option, this certainly doesn’t mean that it compromises on gaming performance as much as you would expect from a budget PC. Thanks to the inclusion of an Nvidia 30-series graphics card, the Predator Orion 3000 is capable of coasting through even the most graphically intensive games such as Cyberpunk 2077 and Total War: Warhammer III, consistently hitting over 70 fps on both titles on Ultra settings. 

The Acer Predator Orion 3000’s performance in our usual benchmarking tests exceeded expectations too. For example, our review unit’s duo of Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 Ti and Intel Core i5 processor achieved 7,160 points in the PCMark 10 test. This meant that the Predator Orion 3000’s hardware scored higher than 93% of other PCs and placed higher than the average premium gaming PC from two years ago. 

Overall, given the wide range of configurations available for purchase, the Acer Predator Orion 3000 line-up is perfectly capable of catering to most players looking to break into the world of PC gaming. Despite its lack of DDR5 RAM across the series and its base models including just 256GB of SSD storage, both are arguably minor shortcomings and can be easily overlooked considering the product’s reasonable price. 

Although those on the lookout for more premium hardware would likely benefit from exploring other options, this gaming computer is a solid choice for those looking to balance a decent gaming performance with a more than palatable price range. 

  • Performance: 4/5

Buy it if...

Don't buy it if...

Also consider...

First reviewed July 2022.

How We Test

We pride ourselves on our independence and our rigorous review-testing process, offering up long-term attention to the products we review and making sure our reviews are updated and maintained - regardless of when a device was released, if you can still buy it, it's on our radar.

Read more about how we test

Apple MacBook Air (M2, 2022) review
4:00 pm | July 14, 2022

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets | Tags: , | Comments: Off

Two-minute review

Spec Sheet

Here is the MacBook Air (M2, 2022) configuration sent to TechRadar for review:

CPU: Apple M2 (8-core)
Graphics: Integrated 10-core GPU
RAM: 16GB Unified LPDDR5
Screen: 13.6-inch, 2,560 x 1,664 Liquid Retina display (backlit LED, IPS, 500 nits brightness, wide color P3 gamut)
Storage: 1TB SSD
Ports: 2x Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C), 3.5mm headphone jack, MagSafe 3 charging port
Connectivity: Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.0
Camera: 1080p FaceTime HD webcam
Weight: 2.7 pounds (1.24kg)
Size: 11.97 x 8.46 x 0.44 inches (30.41 x 21.5 x 1.13cm; W x D x H)

While writing this MacBook Air (M2, 2022) review, I was struck by a thought: what if Apple had actually originally planned for this to have been a redesigned MacBook Pro 13-inch with an M2 chip?

It sort of makes sense, as the new MacBook Air has a larger screen, better speakers and a 1080p webcam, compared to the MacBook Pro 13-inch (M2, 2022) that we actually got.

The M2 chip in both laptops offer very similar performance, and unlike what many people had hoped for, the new MacBook Air doesn’t come in a range of pastel colors, like the 24-inch iMac, but instead a limited amount of rather professional-looking hues. 

Finally, the MacBook Air (M2, 2022) launched with a much higher price tag of $1,199 (£1,249 / AU$1,899), which is a price we’d expect with a MacBook Pro, rather than the entry-level MacBook Air.

However, at WWDC 2023, Apple announced the new 15-inch MacBook Air with the Apple M2 while simultaneously cutting the price of the MacBook Air by $100, bringing the price to $1,099 (£1,149) and making it much better value.

Screenshot from WWDC 2023 livestream showing MacBook Air pricing.

(Image credit: Apple)

Having a redesigned MacBook Pro, alongside a MacBook Air with the same old design (but new M2 chip and cheaper price), would have made a lot of sense – but Apple did the opposite.

So, we have a redesigned MacBook Air that’s now more expensive, and a MacBook Pro 13-inch with the same old design. I can’t help but think this was a bit of a missed opportunity.

That’s because the Apple MacBook Air (M2, 2022) has big shoes to fill. Its predecessor, the MacBook Air (M1, 2020), has been our pick as the best laptop you can buy since its launch two years ago.

Does the MacBook Air (M2, 2022) finally knock its predecessor from the top? There’s plenty going for it, including a new eye-catching design that increases the screen size while making the entire laptop smaller and lighter, while also upping the webcam resolution to 1080p, as well as some other goodies. 

Apple MacBook Air (M2, 2022) on a white desk in a studio

(Image credit: Future)

The new look follows Apple’s reinvention of many of its other iconic products, including the iMac 24-inch and MacBook Pro 16-inch. In fact, the only MacBook to not get a redesign now is the new MacBook Pro 13-inch (M2, 2022), as mentioned earlier, which despite having the same new M2 chip, keeps its old look, and therefore feels like a bit of an afterthought.

Not so the new MacBook Air (M2, 2022), however. Along with a new look, it also gets the aforementioned M2 chip. This is the follow-up to the impressive M1 found in the previous MacBook Air. After ditching Intel, Apple now creates its own processor and graphics to power its Macs and MacBooks, and the results have already been spectacular, with excellent performance and industry-leading battery life.

As we saw with the new MacBook Pro 13-inch, the M2 chip continues this, with boosted performance and once again long battery life. The good news for the MacBook Air is that it gets the same M2 chip as the more expensive MacBook Pro 13-inch, which allows it to offer almost identical performance.

Throw in the new design (which offers a larger and brighter screen than the MacBook Pro 13-inch) and lower price tag, and there’s a strong case to make for the MacBook Air (M2, 2022) making the 13-inch MacBook Pro obsolete.

It’s not all good news, however, as the new MacBook Air launched with a higher price tag. Starting at $1,199 (£1,249), this is a large increase over the MacBook Air (M1, 2020), which launched at $999 / £999. This, sadly, means that it lacks the pure value for money that the M1 MacBook Air offered. It seems Apple is aware of that, as unlike other models, which get discontinued once a new version is out, Apple will continue to sell the older MacBook Air, marketing it at people who want a more affordable MacBook.

It means that the new MacBook Air isn’t such an easy recommendation as the older model, as that’s a high price tag for pretty much anybody.

So, while we’d recommend anyone who was thinking of buying the MacBook Pro 13-inch to actually get the MacBook Air (M2, 2022), we can’t recommend it to everyone, which is what we did with the previous MacBook Air. That’s a bit of a shame.

MacBook Air (M2, 2022) review: Price and availability

  • Launched at $1,199 / £1,249 / AU$1,899
  • More expensive than previous model
  • Now $100 less

The new MacBook Air was announced at Apple’s WWDC 2022 developer conference. While the MacBook Pro 13-inch (M2, 2022) was the first M2-powered Mac to come out, we’ve had to wait until July to get a solid launch date for the new MacBook Air, possibly due to Apple’s uncertainty about component and material availability. The new MacBook Air (M2, 2022) eventually went on sale on July 8 for order, with deliveries starting on July 15.

However, we expect this to be a very popular product, and with current stock issues, delivery dates may be delayed, though hopefully not by too much.

This MacBook Air starts at $1,199 (£1,249/AU$1,899). The M1-based Air will continue to be available for $999, though education users can grab one for a little less at $899.

Apple MacBook Air (M2, 2022) on a white desk in a studio

(Image credit: Future)

This leap in price is understandable, but it means it feels like poorer value than the older MacBook Air, which is a shame, as one of the best things about the 2020 MacBook Air was its low price and excellent performance.

The base model of the MacBook Air (M2, 2022) comes with an 8-core CPU, 8-core GPU, 8GB of memory and 256GB SSD storage.

Meanwhile, the new M2 MacBook Pro 13-inch starts at $1,299 / £1,299 / AU$1,999, which puts Apple in an odd place, as it now means the price of the MacBook Air and MacBook Pro 13-inch aren’t that different.

While both base models come with the new M2 chip, the cheapest MacBook Air comes with an 8-core GPU, while the MacBook Pro 13-inch’s base model comes with an M2 chip with a 10-core GPU, which means the more expensive MacBook has the edge when it comes to graphical performance, but the MacBook Air isn’t that far off, as we discuss later.

However, at WWDC 2023, Apple announced that it is knocking $100 off the MacBook Air (M2, 2022). This means this laptop is now a lot better value, and isn't quite as expensive at the M1 MacBook Air.

  • Price score: 3.5/5

MacBook Air (M2, 2022) review: Design

  • Brand-new design
  • Bigger screen, lighter body
  • New color choices

One of the most radical design overhauls we’ve seen Apple make to an iconic product has reinvigorated the new MacBook Air, and, while you may mourn the loss of the Air's iconic wedge, it looks far more modern and elegant than previous models.

As the name suggests, the MacBook Air is the thinnest and lightest MacBook Apple produces, and with the new MacBook Air 2022 model, Apple has made further improvements, shrinking the overall size and weight of the unibody design, while actually increasing the screen size.

The company's engineers have managed this in part by slimming down the bezels that surround the screen by as much as 30% on the top and bottom, while it’s 20% thinner on the sides. The chunky borders of previous MacBook Air screens were beginning to look rather outdated, especially when compared to high-end Windows rivals like the Dell XPS 13, so the thin bezels in the new model make this MacBook Air look much more contemporary.

Close up of Apple MacBook Air (M2, 2022)  webcam and notch

(Image credit: Future)

The MacBook Air's webcam has been upped to 1080p, to match those found in the MacBook Pros from late 2021, and this boost in resolution (alongside improved image and low-light handling with the new M2 chip), will be welcome for anyone who relies on video conferencing or making video calls to friends and family. And in this age of hybrid working, that’s most of us.

Less welcome will be the news that the combination of a bigger webcam and thinner bezels means there’s a visible "notch" that surrounds the webcam and drops down into the menu bar. This is the same as the notch found in the MacBook Pro 14-inch (2021) and MacBook Pro 16-inch (2021), and when it debuted with those MacBooks, it proved divisive.

We didn't mind the notch on those other systems, as Apple expanded the screen upwards, actually giving you more screen real estate, which made the trade-off worth it.

The same is true with the MacBook Air (M2, 2022), which comes with a 13.6-inch screen, compared with the 13.3-inch of the previous model. The resolution has also been upped from 2,560 x 1,600 to 2,560 x 1,664. This means the larger screen doesn't lose sharpness, and once again we think the trade-off with the notch for a larger screen is the right way to go, and you’ll hardly notice it’s there, while still benefiting from the extra screen space and better webcam.

The new Liquid Retina screen is also brighter by 100nits, so it's now 500nits, and also now supports one billion colors. There's no ProMotion support, however. Despite that, it means that we have a remarkable situation where the cheaper MacBook Air (M2, 2022) comes with a larger and brighter screen compared to the new MacBook Pro 13-inch. For people relying on visual quality, especially photographers, the MacBook Air (M2, 2022) looks a much better buy.

Apple MacBook Air (M2, 2022) on a white desk in a studio

(Image credit: Future)

Another big design change is, as we noted earlier, that the MacBook Air is no longer a "wedge" shape with a thinner front and thicker back. Instead, it's uniform, bringing it into alignment with virtually every other portable design Apple now produces. It also avoids the awkward issue where the previous MacBook Air was actually a little thicker than the MacBook Pro at one end. Now, there’s no doubt that this is by far the thinnest MacBook you can buy.

There's also new colors. People hoping for vibrant, pastel-like colors like the iMac 24-inch will be disappointed by the relatively low-key Space Gray, Silver, Starlight, and Midnight Blue colors. They do, though, look very good in person. We saw all of them at Apple's WWDC event, and our favorite by far was Midnight Blue, which is the color of the review unit Apple sent to us, and it looks just as gorgeous as we remember. Each color comes with matching power cables - a supremely Apple touch.

Outside of the different shades available, the laptop features MagSafe (yes, it's back) charging as well as two Thunderbolt ports and even a 3.5mm headphone jack, which will be welcome for people who use non-Bluetooth headphones and headsets. The MacBook Air (M2) is also as slim and lightweight as we hoped for: just 11mm thick and weighing in at 2.7 pounds.

The standard base model MacBook Air ships with a 30W charger, but you can opt to upgrade this to a 67W adapter for $59, which can get you to 80% battery capacity in just 20 minutes, and comes with two ports, so you can also charge up your iPhone, iPad or other devices at the same time, though this does impact charging times slightly, as the 67W is split between devices.

Overall, the redesign is, in our view, a triumph. It’s made the MacBook Air feel more modern, increasing the screen size and quality, and making it thinner and lighter. It’s pretty much everything you’d want from a visual overhaul, and while anyone hoping for vibrant, multi-colored, pastel shades will be disappointed, the new colors are nevertheless stylish and attractive.

  • Design score: 5/5

MacBook Air (M2, 2022) review: Performance

  • Excellent performance
  • On par with MacBook Pro 13-inch (M2, 2022)
Benchmarks

Here’s how the MacBook Air (M2, 2022) performed in our suite of benchmark tests:

Cinebench R23 CPU: Single-Core: 1,597; Multi-core: 8,098
Geekbench 5 Single-Core: 1,936; Multi-Core: 8,917
Battery Life (TechRadar movie test): 16 hours and 6 minutes

The new MacBook Air (M2, 2022) comes with the M2 System on Chip (SoC), Apple’s second-generation, 5-nanometer chip that the company claims will offer an 18% faster CPU, 35% faster GPU (now 10 cores), and a 40% faster neural engine than its predecessor. It’s worth noting that the base system of the MacBook Air ships with an 8-core GPU, but you can upgrade to a 10-core GPU.

Meanwhile, the MacBook Pro 13-inch base model comes with an M2 chip and 10-core GPU as standard for not much more.

During our time with the MacBook Air, the laptop performed incredibly well. The pre-installed macOS Monterey boots quickly and runs well, while also looking fantastic on the new screen. As usual, we used the MacBook Air (M2, 2022) for day-to-day use. 

Browsing the web in both Safari and Chrome was fast and responsive, even with multiple tabs open (the model we have on test comes with 16GB of unified memory, which certainly helps here), and typing up documents on the slightly redesigned keyboard (which is slightly narrower due to the redesign, but keeps the same Magic Keyboard switches) feels nice and comfortable.

Apple MacBook Air (M2, 2022) on a white desk in a studio

(Image credit: Future)

Since the launch of the M1 chip, and increasing number of applications have released M1-compatible apps, which also work with the M2, and that means your favorite apps should run brilliantly, and take advantage of the M2’s capabilities. Not just Apple apps, either, but applications from the likes of Adobe and Microsoft have M1 and M2-native versions.

For those that don’t, Apple’s Rosetta 2 tool once again helps here, allowing you to run apps made for Intel-based Macs almost as if they were designed for M2, with minimum impact to performance.

We also played around with Garage Band (Apple’s music-making software that comes pre-installed) and edited 4K home movies in iMovie, and again, the improved performance of the M2 chip kept everything running extremely well. We’d even go so far as to say that we didn’t notice any perceptible difference to the M2 MacBook Pro when using it for similar tasks.

One difference Apple likes to point out is that the MacBook Air has a fanless design, while the MacBook Pro 13-inch uses fans to keep its components cool. This should mean that the MacBook Pro 13-inch is better at sustained performance – it can work at full pelt for longer without overheating.

In practice, it means the MacBook Air (M2, 2022) is thin and light, and also completely silent when in use. However, we found that the MacBook Pro 13-inch’s fans rarely – if ever – kicked in, which suggests that it’ll only make a difference for seriously heavy workloads (think Logic Pro projects with hundreds of tracks, or 8K video editing in Premiere Pro), and you wouldn’t really buy the MacBook Air – or the MacBook Pro 13-inch for that matter – for those kind of demands. You’d be better off getting the more powerful MacBook Pro 14-inch or 16-inch.

Apple MacBook Air (M2, 2022) on a white desk in a studio

(Image credit: Future)

Our benchmark tests again showed how similar the new MacBook Air and MacBook Pro 13-inch are when it comes to performance. Single-core performance in both Cinebench and Geekbench were almost identical for the two devices, which makes sense as they both use the same 8-core M2 processor. 

Multi-core performance was also very similar in Geekbench, but in Cinebench, the 13-inch MacBook Pro had a slight edge. So, you may get a bit better performance when multitasking with the Pro, especially if some of those tasks are graphics-based, but otherwise performance is so similar, it’s hard to recommend the Pro over the MacBook Air, considering the Air has a new design, bigger screen and is cheaper.

So, we’re in a very odd situation. It looks like the MacBook Pro 13-inch wasn’t killed off by a competitor like Dell or HP… but by Apple’s own MacBook Air.

  • Performance score: 4.5/5

MacBook Air (M2, 2022) review: Battery life

  • Lasts over 16 hours
  • Charges very quickly

We had high hopes for the MacBook Air’s battery life, as the M1 chip was an extremely efficient chip that offered both high performance and long battery life, and Apple has promised the same with the M2 chip.

Our hopes weren’t dashed, with our battery life benchmark, where we run a 1080p looped video until the battery dies, lasting a huge 16 hours, which is seriously impressive, and far outstrips Windows-based laptops of around the same price tag.

It actually lasted 30 minutes longer than the MacBook Pro 13-inch, which is surprising, as the Pro has a larger battery. The Touch Bar of the Pro, and a less energy-efficient screen, may explain the faster battery drain on the Pro.

It’s also a substantial increase over the M1 MacBook Air from two years ago, which managed 11 hours in the same test.

This means you can easily use the MacBook Air (M2, 2022) throughout an entire work day, or on a long flight, and still have battery life left, which is seriously impressive stuff. We found that we were able to work easily without needing to think about where to plug the MacBook Air in to top up the battery, which gives you so much more freedom when using this laptop.

We had the more powerful charger, and it did indeed fill up the battery quickly when we did need a charge. The MagSafe port is also great, allowing you to easily plug the charger in quickly, thanks to the magnetic connection, and if it accidentally gets pulled out (which actually happened to us while we were reviewing), it disconnects easily without any danger of damaging the port.

You can also charge the MacBook Air (M2, 2022) via the USB-C port, which is handy if you need to borrow a charger when you’re out and about.

  • Battery life score: 5/5

Should you buy the MacBook Air (M2, 2022)?

Apple MacBook Air (M2, 2022) on a white desk in a studio

(Image credit: Future)

Buy it if…

 Don’t buy it if…

First reviewed July 2022

Also consider...

If our Apple MacBook Air (M2, 2022) review has you considering other options, here are three more laptops to consider...  

Testing scorecard

How we test

We pride ourselves on our independence and our rigorous review-testing process, offering up long-term attention to the products we review and making sure our reviews are updated and maintained - regardless of when a device was released, if you can still buy it, it's on our radar.

Read more about how we test

Apple MacBook Air (M2, 2022) review
4:00 pm |

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets | Tags: , | Comments: Off

Two-minute review

Spec Sheet

Here is the MacBook Air (M2, 2022) configuration sent to TechRadar for review:

CPU: Apple M2 (8-core)
Graphics: Integrated 10-core GPU
RAM: 16GB Unified LPDDR5
Screen: 13.6-inch, 2,560 x 1,664 Liquid Retina display (backlit LED, IPS, 500 nits brightness, wide color P3 gamut)
Storage: 1TB SSD
Ports: 2x Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C), 3.5mm headphone jack, MagSafe 3 charging port
Connectivity: Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.0
Camera: 1080p FaceTime HD webcam
Weight: 2.7 pounds (1.24kg)
Size: 11.97 x 8.46 x 0.44 inches (30.41 x 21.5 x 1.13cm; W x D x H)

While writing this MacBook Air (M2, 2022) review, I was struck by a thought: what if Apple had actually originally planned for this to have been a redesigned MacBook Pro 13-inch with an M2 chip?

It sort of makes sense, as the new MacBook Air has a larger screen, better speakers and a 1080p webcam, compared to the MacBook Pro 13-inch (M2, 2022) that we actually got.

The M2 chip in both laptops offer very similar performance, and unlike what many people had hoped for, the new MacBook Air doesn’t come in a range of pastel colors, like the 24-inch iMac, but instead a limited amount of rather professional-looking hues. 

Finally, the MacBook Air (M2, 2022) launched with a much higher price tag of $1,199 (£1,249 / AU$1,899), which is a price we’d expect with a MacBook Pro, rather than the entry-level MacBook Air.

However, at WWDC 2023, Apple announced the new 15-inch MacBook Air with the Apple M2 while simultaneously cutting the price of the MacBook Air by $100, bringing the price to $1,099 (£1,149) and making it much better value.

Screenshot from WWDC 2023 livestream showing MacBook Air pricing.

(Image credit: Apple)

Having a redesigned MacBook Pro, alongside a MacBook Air with the same old design (but new M2 chip and cheaper price), would have made a lot of sense – but Apple did the opposite.

So, we have a redesigned MacBook Air that’s now more expensive, and a MacBook Pro 13-inch with the same old design. I can’t help but think this was a bit of a missed opportunity.

That’s because the Apple MacBook Air (M2, 2022) has big shoes to fill. Its predecessor, the MacBook Air (M1, 2020), has been our pick as the best laptop you can buy since its launch two years ago.

Does the MacBook Air (M2, 2022) finally knock its predecessor from the top? There’s plenty going for it, including a new eye-catching design that increases the screen size while making the entire laptop smaller and lighter, while also upping the webcam resolution to 1080p, as well as some other goodies. 

Apple MacBook Air (M2, 2022) on a white desk in a studio

(Image credit: Future)

The new look follows Apple’s reinvention of many of its other iconic products, including the iMac 24-inch and MacBook Pro 16-inch. In fact, the only MacBook to not get a redesign now is the new MacBook Pro 13-inch (M2, 2022), as mentioned earlier, which despite having the same new M2 chip, keeps its old look, and therefore feels like a bit of an afterthought.

Not so the new MacBook Air (M2, 2022), however. Along with a new look, it also gets the aforementioned M2 chip. This is the follow-up to the impressive M1 found in the previous MacBook Air. After ditching Intel, Apple now creates its own processor and graphics to power its Macs and MacBooks, and the results have already been spectacular, with excellent performance and industry-leading battery life.

As we saw with the new MacBook Pro 13-inch, the M2 chip continues this, with boosted performance and once again long battery life. The good news for the MacBook Air is that it gets the same M2 chip as the more expensive MacBook Pro 13-inch, which allows it to offer almost identical performance.

Throw in the new design (which offers a larger and brighter screen than the MacBook Pro 13-inch) and lower price tag, and there’s a strong case to make for the MacBook Air (M2, 2022) making the 13-inch MacBook Pro obsolete.

It’s not all good news, however, as the new MacBook Air launched with a higher price tag. Starting at $1,199 (£1,249), this is a large increase over the MacBook Air (M1, 2020), which launched at $999 / £999. This, sadly, means that it lacks the pure value for money that the M1 MacBook Air offered. It seems Apple is aware of that, as unlike other models, which get discontinued once a new version is out, Apple will continue to sell the older MacBook Air, marketing it at people who want a more affordable MacBook.

It means that the new MacBook Air isn’t such an easy recommendation as the older model, as that’s a high price tag for pretty much anybody.

So, while we’d recommend anyone who was thinking of buying the MacBook Pro 13-inch to actually get the MacBook Air (M2, 2022), we can’t recommend it to everyone, which is what we did with the previous MacBook Air. That’s a bit of a shame.

MacBook Air (M2, 2022) review: Price and availability

  • Launched at $1,199 / £1,249 / AU$1,899
  • More expensive than previous model
  • Now $100 less

The new MacBook Air was announced at Apple’s WWDC 2022 developer conference. While the MacBook Pro 13-inch (M2, 2022) was the first M2-powered Mac to come out, we’ve had to wait until July to get a solid launch date for the new MacBook Air, possibly due to Apple’s uncertainty about component and material availability. The new MacBook Air (M2, 2022) eventually went on sale on July 8 for order, with deliveries starting on July 15.

However, we expect this to be a very popular product, and with current stock issues, delivery dates may be delayed, though hopefully not by too much.

This MacBook Air starts at $1,199 (£1,249/AU$1,899). The M1-based Air will continue to be available for $999, though education users can grab one for a little less at $899.

Apple MacBook Air (M2, 2022) on a white desk in a studio

(Image credit: Future)

This leap in price is understandable, but it means it feels like poorer value than the older MacBook Air, which is a shame, as one of the best things about the 2020 MacBook Air was its low price and excellent performance.

The base model of the MacBook Air (M2, 2022) comes with an 8-core CPU, 8-core GPU, 8GB of memory and 256GB SSD storage.

Meanwhile, the new M2 MacBook Pro 13-inch starts at $1,299 / £1,299 / AU$1,999, which puts Apple in an odd place, as it now means the price of the MacBook Air and MacBook Pro 13-inch aren’t that different.

While both base models come with the new M2 chip, the cheapest MacBook Air comes with an 8-core GPU, while the MacBook Pro 13-inch’s base model comes with an M2 chip with a 10-core GPU, which means the more expensive MacBook has the edge when it comes to graphical performance, but the MacBook Air isn’t that far off, as we discuss later.

However, at WWDC 2023, Apple announced that it is knocking $100 off the MacBook Air (M2, 2022). This means this laptop is now a lot better value, and isn't quite as expensive at the M1 MacBook Air.

  • Price score: 3.5/5

MacBook Air (M2, 2022) review: Design

  • Brand-new design
  • Bigger screen, lighter body
  • New color choices

One of the most radical design overhauls we’ve seen Apple make to an iconic product has reinvigorated the new MacBook Air, and, while you may mourn the loss of the Air's iconic wedge, it looks far more modern and elegant than previous models.

As the name suggests, the MacBook Air is the thinnest and lightest MacBook Apple produces, and with the new MacBook Air 2022 model, Apple has made further improvements, shrinking the overall size and weight of the unibody design, while actually increasing the screen size.

The company's engineers have managed this in part by slimming down the bezels that surround the screen by as much as 30% on the top and bottom, while it’s 20% thinner on the sides. The chunky borders of previous MacBook Air screens were beginning to look rather outdated, especially when compared to high-end Windows rivals like the Dell XPS 13, so the thin bezels in the new model make this MacBook Air look much more contemporary.

Close up of Apple MacBook Air (M2, 2022)  webcam and notch

(Image credit: Future)

The MacBook Air's webcam has been upped to 1080p, to match those found in the MacBook Pros from late 2021, and this boost in resolution (alongside improved image and low-light handling with the new M2 chip), will be welcome for anyone who relies on video conferencing or making video calls to friends and family. And in this age of hybrid working, that’s most of us.

Less welcome will be the news that the combination of a bigger webcam and thinner bezels means there’s a visible "notch" that surrounds the webcam and drops down into the menu bar. This is the same as the notch found in the MacBook Pro 14-inch (2021) and MacBook Pro 16-inch (2021), and when it debuted with those MacBooks, it proved divisive.

We didn't mind the notch on those other systems, as Apple expanded the screen upwards, actually giving you more screen real estate, which made the trade-off worth it.

The same is true with the MacBook Air (M2, 2022), which comes with a 13.6-inch screen, compared with the 13.3-inch of the previous model. The resolution has also been upped from 2,560 x 1,600 to 2,560 x 1,664. This means the larger screen doesn't lose sharpness, and once again we think the trade-off with the notch for a larger screen is the right way to go, and you’ll hardly notice it’s there, while still benefiting from the extra screen space and better webcam.

The new Liquid Retina screen is also brighter by 100nits, so it's now 500nits, and also now supports one billion colors. There's no ProMotion support, however. Despite that, it means that we have a remarkable situation where the cheaper MacBook Air (M2, 2022) comes with a larger and brighter screen compared to the new MacBook Pro 13-inch. For people relying on visual quality, especially photographers, the MacBook Air (M2, 2022) looks a much better buy.

Apple MacBook Air (M2, 2022) on a white desk in a studio

(Image credit: Future)

Another big design change is, as we noted earlier, that the MacBook Air is no longer a "wedge" shape with a thinner front and thicker back. Instead, it's uniform, bringing it into alignment with virtually every other portable design Apple now produces. It also avoids the awkward issue where the previous MacBook Air was actually a little thicker than the MacBook Pro at one end. Now, there’s no doubt that this is by far the thinnest MacBook you can buy.

There's also new colors. People hoping for vibrant, pastel-like colors like the iMac 24-inch will be disappointed by the relatively low-key Space Gray, Silver, Starlight, and Midnight Blue colors. They do, though, look very good in person. We saw all of them at Apple's WWDC event, and our favorite by far was Midnight Blue, which is the color of the review unit Apple sent to us, and it looks just as gorgeous as we remember. Each color comes with matching power cables - a supremely Apple touch.

Outside of the different shades available, the laptop features MagSafe (yes, it's back) charging as well as two Thunderbolt ports and even a 3.5mm headphone jack, which will be welcome for people who use non-Bluetooth headphones and headsets. The MacBook Air (M2) is also as slim and lightweight as we hoped for: just 11mm thick and weighing in at 2.7 pounds.

The standard base model MacBook Air ships with a 30W charger, but you can opt to upgrade this to a 67W adapter for $59, which can get you to 80% battery capacity in just 20 minutes, and comes with two ports, so you can also charge up your iPhone, iPad or other devices at the same time, though this does impact charging times slightly, as the 67W is split between devices.

Overall, the redesign is, in our view, a triumph. It’s made the MacBook Air feel more modern, increasing the screen size and quality, and making it thinner and lighter. It’s pretty much everything you’d want from a visual overhaul, and while anyone hoping for vibrant, multi-colored, pastel shades will be disappointed, the new colors are nevertheless stylish and attractive.

  • Design score: 5/5

MacBook Air (M2, 2022) review: Performance

  • Excellent performance
  • On par with MacBook Pro 13-inch (M2, 2022)
Benchmarks

Here’s how the MacBook Air (M2, 2022) performed in our suite of benchmark tests:

Cinebench R23 CPU: Single-Core: 1,597; Multi-core: 8,098
Geekbench 5 Single-Core: 1,936; Multi-Core: 8,917
Battery Life (TechRadar movie test): 16 hours and 6 minutes

The new MacBook Air (M2, 2022) comes with the M2 System on Chip (SoC), Apple’s second-generation, 5-nanometer chip that the company claims will offer an 18% faster CPU, 35% faster GPU (now 10 cores), and a 40% faster neural engine than its predecessor. It’s worth noting that the base system of the MacBook Air ships with an 8-core GPU, but you can upgrade to a 10-core GPU.

Meanwhile, the MacBook Pro 13-inch base model comes with an M2 chip and 10-core GPU as standard for not much more.

During our time with the MacBook Air, the laptop performed incredibly well. The pre-installed macOS Monterey boots quickly and runs well, while also looking fantastic on the new screen. As usual, we used the MacBook Air (M2, 2022) for day-to-day use. 

Browsing the web in both Safari and Chrome was fast and responsive, even with multiple tabs open (the model we have on test comes with 16GB of unified memory, which certainly helps here), and typing up documents on the slightly redesigned keyboard (which is slightly narrower due to the redesign, but keeps the same Magic Keyboard switches) feels nice and comfortable.

Apple MacBook Air (M2, 2022) on a white desk in a studio

(Image credit: Future)

Since the launch of the M1 chip, and increasing number of applications have released M1-compatible apps, which also work with the M2, and that means your favorite apps should run brilliantly, and take advantage of the M2’s capabilities. Not just Apple apps, either, but applications from the likes of Adobe and Microsoft have M1 and M2-native versions.

For those that don’t, Apple’s Rosetta 2 tool once again helps here, allowing you to run apps made for Intel-based Macs almost as if they were designed for M2, with minimum impact to performance.

We also played around with Garage Band (Apple’s music-making software that comes pre-installed) and edited 4K home movies in iMovie, and again, the improved performance of the M2 chip kept everything running extremely well. We’d even go so far as to say that we didn’t notice any perceptible difference to the M2 MacBook Pro when using it for similar tasks.

One difference Apple likes to point out is that the MacBook Air has a fanless design, while the MacBook Pro 13-inch uses fans to keep its components cool. This should mean that the MacBook Pro 13-inch is better at sustained performance – it can work at full pelt for longer without overheating.

In practice, it means the MacBook Air (M2, 2022) is thin and light, and also completely silent when in use. However, we found that the MacBook Pro 13-inch’s fans rarely – if ever – kicked in, which suggests that it’ll only make a difference for seriously heavy workloads (think Logic Pro projects with hundreds of tracks, or 8K video editing in Premiere Pro), and you wouldn’t really buy the MacBook Air – or the MacBook Pro 13-inch for that matter – for those kind of demands. You’d be better off getting the more powerful MacBook Pro 14-inch or 16-inch.

Apple MacBook Air (M2, 2022) on a white desk in a studio

(Image credit: Future)

Our benchmark tests again showed how similar the new MacBook Air and MacBook Pro 13-inch are when it comes to performance. Single-core performance in both Cinebench and Geekbench were almost identical for the two devices, which makes sense as they both use the same 8-core M2 processor. 

Multi-core performance was also very similar in Geekbench, but in Cinebench, the 13-inch MacBook Pro had a slight edge. So, you may get a bit better performance when multitasking with the Pro, especially if some of those tasks are graphics-based, but otherwise performance is so similar, it’s hard to recommend the Pro over the MacBook Air, considering the Air has a new design, bigger screen and is cheaper.

So, we’re in a very odd situation. It looks like the MacBook Pro 13-inch wasn’t killed off by a competitor like Dell or HP… but by Apple’s own MacBook Air.

  • Performance score: 4.5/5

MacBook Air (M2, 2022) review: Battery life

  • Lasts over 16 hours
  • Charges very quickly

We had high hopes for the MacBook Air’s battery life, as the M1 chip was an extremely efficient chip that offered both high performance and long battery life, and Apple has promised the same with the M2 chip.

Our hopes weren’t dashed, with our battery life benchmark, where we run a 1080p looped video until the battery dies, lasting a huge 16 hours, which is seriously impressive, and far outstrips Windows-based laptops of around the same price tag.

It actually lasted 30 minutes longer than the MacBook Pro 13-inch, which is surprising, as the Pro has a larger battery. The Touch Bar of the Pro, and a less energy-efficient screen, may explain the faster battery drain on the Pro.

It’s also a substantial increase over the M1 MacBook Air from two years ago, which managed 11 hours in the same test.

This means you can easily use the MacBook Air (M2, 2022) throughout an entire work day, or on a long flight, and still have battery life left, which is seriously impressive stuff. We found that we were able to work easily without needing to think about where to plug the MacBook Air in to top up the battery, which gives you so much more freedom when using this laptop.

We had the more powerful charger, and it did indeed fill up the battery quickly when we did need a charge. The MagSafe port is also great, allowing you to easily plug the charger in quickly, thanks to the magnetic connection, and if it accidentally gets pulled out (which actually happened to us while we were reviewing), it disconnects easily without any danger of damaging the port.

You can also charge the MacBook Air (M2, 2022) via the USB-C port, which is handy if you need to borrow a charger when you’re out and about.

  • Battery life score: 5/5

Should you buy the MacBook Air (M2, 2022)?

Apple MacBook Air (M2, 2022) on a white desk in a studio

(Image credit: Future)

Buy it if…

 Don’t buy it if…

First reviewed July 2022

Also consider...

If our Apple MacBook Air (M2, 2022) review has you considering other options, here are three more laptops to consider...  

Testing scorecard

How we test

We pride ourselves on our independence and our rigorous review-testing process, offering up long-term attention to the products we review and making sure our reviews are updated and maintained - regardless of when a device was released, if you can still buy it, it's on our radar.

Read more about how we test

Naenka Runner Diver
8:28 pm | July 8, 2022

Author: admin | Category: Audio Computers Gadgets Headphones | Comments: Off
Naenka Runner Diver key specs

Waterproof standard: IPX8

Battery life: 10 hours

Storage: 16GB

Audio formats: MP3 and FLAC

Weight: 33g

Editor's note

  • Original review date: July 2022
  • Original price $169.99 / £135/ AU$238
  • Price now $73.99 / £58.57 / AU$127.99

Update: February 2024. The Naenka Runner Diver headphones are better value than ever thanks to a significant drop in price, but they're no longer the monarchs of underwater music storage. The Shokz Openswim Pro and Runner Diver 2, both on the docket to be tested at time of writing, boast 32GB capacity storage, able to fit far more music into their headsets than the original Runner Diver. However, the reduced prices make it an excellent thrifty buy. The rest of the review is as originally published. 

Two-minute review

The Naenka Runner Diver waterproof headphones are unique among the best waterproof headphones and best bone conduction headphones.  Like most underwater audio gadgets they can store a bunch of MP3 files (remember them?) so you can listen to music, podcasts or audiobooks while you swim. 

However, they have something most rivals don’t in the shape of a Bluetooth module. It doesn’t work underwater, so you can’t stream to them using a smartphone on your sun bed, but you can switch to it when on dry land. In an instant, it turns these waterproof headphones from a one-trick gadget into a lifestyle accessory good for using in the pool, the gym, while out on a run, and even around an office. 

Based on bone conduction technology that sends vibrations directly to your inner ear, however, means bass-heavy audio that’s low on treble detailing. That makes music a largely narrow affair, though that’s probably not a deal-breaker for swimming when any kind of distraction will do. 

Able to store an impressive 16GB of MP3s, the Naenka Runner Diver waterproof headphones is an ambitious product whose minimalist design means a few long presses of buttons must be learned to switch between modes and tracks. Learn them well and the Naenka Runner Diver waterproof headphones will allow you to go to great lengths. 

Naenka Runner Diver waterproof headphones review: Price and release date

  • $169.99/£135/AU$238
  • Launched in April 2022

Naenka is a challenger brand in the bone conduction headphones space, with this unique product selling for $169.99/£135/AU$238. It’s manufactured by Shenzhen Mengqu Life Technology Co. in Shenzhen, China and sold on Naenkas website.   

Naenka Runner Diver waterproof headphones

(Image credit: Jamie Carter)

Naenka Runner Diver waterproof headphones: Design 

  • Minimalist design
  • Proprietary charging cable
  • Teardrop-shaped transducers

Design score: 4/5

You can get the Naenka Runner Diver waterproof headphones in whatever color you want. As long as it’s gray. It’s a smart, minimalist design that weighs just 34g and uses the same silicon plastic finish found on almost all bone conduction headsets. It’s there because it’s both smooth and it doesn’t move around when placed against wet skin. 

It also uses an ear-hook design to keep the transducers in place. That’s important because they rest against the tops of cheekbones to send sound vibrations directly to the inner ear. Here they’re shaped like teardrops.

Like all new bone conduction headphones, the Naenka Runner Diver waterproof headphones use a proprietary charging cable that magnetically attaches to the battery via four gold connector points. 

Naenka Runner Diver waterproof headphones: Performance 

  • Works well in and out of water
  • Lacks ultimate treble detailing
  • Ear plugs improve sound quality in water

Performance score: 4/5

The Naenka Runner Diver waterproof headphones are the last word in versatility. They’re actually at their best when being used in either ‘music mode’ (i.e. playback of MP3 or FLAC files on its flash storage) or ‘Bluetooth mode’ out of the water. Used outdoors or around the office and you obviously get the trademark ‘open ear’ design that lets you hear what’s going on around you. In practice that can be as handy around a home office (depending on whether you work alone or not) as when out on a run, but the design has obvious safety advantages for the latter. 

Sound quality when used out of water is good, though the maximum volume is a little too low. At no point did we experience any bassy ‘tickle’ in our cheekbones, but it got close. At all times the sound quality is good, but not excellent. There’s a lot of bass, but not much in the way of treble detail. If you listen mainly to podcasts or audiobooks it’s not going to make any difference. 

However, for its headline act the Naenka Runner Diver waterproof headphones needs a little help. They ship with no bag, but they do come with a small box of earplugs. That’s because by blocking your ear canals while swimming the transducers can do their bone conducting work in auditory silence. The results are much better than if you don’t use the earplugs, but only in water. Sound quality underwater is a little different to above it, with more bass – aided by those ear plugs – though here the low volume is an issue.

Naenka Runner Diver waterproof headphones

(Image credit: Jamie Carter)

Naenka Runner Diver waterproof headphones: Features 

  • IPX8 waterproof to 5m
  • Bluetooth 5.2 mode
  • 180mAh battery

The Naenka Runner Diver waterproof headphones are rated IPX8 waterproof down to 5m, but that rating also means they’re sweat proof and dust-proof. Inside is a 180mAh battery (which fully charges in 1.5 hours and is good for about 10 hours, though only if they’re used at 60% volume, which is unlikely) and a flash drive capable of storing up to 16GB of MP3 and FLAC files. 

The latter is a lossless high resolution format, so tends to produce very large files. However, considering the rather basic sound quality of the Naenka Runner Diver waterproof headphones we’re not sure why FLAC compatibility is necessary. Either way it’s obviously a pain to have to drag and drop files onto the flash drive, and you do need a computer to do so. 

The main other feature here is its Bluetooth module, which uses the new 5.2 specification. The upshot is that in practice the Naenka Runner Diver waterproof headphones always stay connected to a smartphone. 

Naenka Runner Diver waterproof headphones: Value for money 

  • High-range choice 
  • Challenger brand in bone conduction headphones

Value for money score: 3/5

 The Naenka Runner Diver waterproof headphones are more expensive than the market leader, whose Shokz OpenSwim sells for $149.95/£139.95/AU$219.95. However, they’re more affordable than the Zygo Solo, a premium package of waterproof headphones and a coaching app, which sells for $299/£218/AU$400. 

Buy it if...

 Don’t buy it if… 

Also consider

First reviewed July 2022

PrivadoVPN Free
2:16 pm |

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets Pro Security | Tags: | Comments: Off

Some providers boast about their free VPN plans, but then hamstring them with limits and restrictions, hoping you'll upgrade as quickly as possible. Swiss-based PrivadoVPN is far more generous, and its free offering is something you might be able to use long-term.

PrivadoVPN's choice of locations goes well beyond the two or three countries you get with some providers. You get P2P-friendly servers in nine countries: US, UK, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Netherlands, Mexico, and Switzerland. Windscribe does a little better with eleven countries, but PrivadoVPN still tramples over most of the competition.

Try PrivadoVPN for free

You get full access to all those locations, with a data limit of 10 GB every 30 days. That's better than some, but PrivadoVPN goes even further. If you use all 10 GB on day one, you're not cut off entirely. The app still gives you unlimited data via a single emergency server. It's very slow—1 Mbps, in fact—but at least it means you don't ever have to be unprotected.

There is one significant restriction: PrivadoVPN only supports connecting a single device at a time. You can install it on as many devices as you like, though, and keep in mind that other family members can also sign up and get their own 10 MB of data.

PrivadoVPN WireGuard Protocol

PrivadoVPN doesn't omit key features like WireGuard support (Image credit: PrivadoVPN)

It's also good to see that, unlike some providers, PrivadoVPN doesn't try to punish free users by leaving out key features (WireGuard, kill switch, specialist unblocking of streaming sites, you know how it works usually). Yes, the company limits your choice of locations and data use, but otherwise free users have access to just about everything PrivadoVPN has to offer.

My final quibble is that the PrivadoVPN support site is incredibly bare-bones. There aren't a ton of articles, which makes it more difficult to troubleshoot issues if you do come across obstacles. Compared to ExpressVPN and PIA, there just aren't enough articles covering the basics, technical topics, and all the bits in-between.

Privacy and logging

PrivadoVPN scores highly on privacy at a technical level. A choice of the highly secure WireGuard, OpenVPN, and IKEv2 protocols shields your traffic from hackers. Private DNS keeps your browsing activities out of sight, and a kill switch blocks your internet if the VPN drops, ensuring your data is never exposed to attackers.

These technologies deliver what they promise, too. Multiple test sites failed to uncover the tiniest hint of a DNS leak, and no matter what sneaky tricks I used to shut down the VPN (and I know a lot of sneaky tricks), the kill switch unfailingly kept me safe.

It's worth noting that PrivadoVPN hasn't undertaken a no-logging or security audit, which means you'll have to take the provider's word that they're not misusing your data. Obviously, this isn't ideal, and I'd like to see the VPN take a step towards transparency by investing in regular audits. Doing so will ensure that PrivadoVPN doesn't lag behind the likes of TunnelBear (which has had four annual audits), and gives prospective customers an immediate heads up that their privacy really is the priority.

PrivadoVPN does at least have a clear and simple privacy policy, though. This explains that logging is kept to a minimum, and the company doesn't record anything that could connect any internet action to your account.

PrivadoVPN No Log Policy

PrivadoVPN has a clear no logs policy, but it hasn't been independently audited (Image credit: PrivadoVPN)

Windows and Mac apps

PrivadoVPN's desktop apps have a straightforward interface which makes it easy to find and access all its various features.

If your needs are simple, things can be as easy as clicking Connect when you need the VPN's protection, and Disconnect when you don't. The app automatically uses the nearest server, and the data left this month is always clearly visible, a handy reminder if you're close to running out.

Clicking the default location displays your options, with cities in an impressive (for a free VPN) nine countries. Some free VPNs force you to scroll down the full location list, and look for icons to separate the free and premium servers, but PrivadoVPN takes a much easier approach: it simply displays all the free servers at the top of the list, so there's no scrolling at all.

Connection times were excellent at around one or two seconds for my nearest location (the slowest providers might take 20 seconds or more).

PrivadoVPN Windows App

The desktop clients present the user with a smart and straightforward interface (Image credit: PrivadoVPN)

The desktop apps don't have a lot of features or configuration options, but they cover the basics. You can choose from the WireGuard, IKEv2, and OpenVPN protocols. There's also an Auto-Connect option which tells the app to automatically connect to your preferred server when it launches, and a kill switch to protect you if the VPN drops.

However, the kill switch is of the 'hard' variety, which will block your access to the internet entirely if you're not connected to PrivadoVPN. It works like a treat, but it's somewhat extreme, and lacks the kind of customizability that other providers offer. Ideally, the kill switch would have a 'soft' alternative where users can still access the internet even if they switch off their VPN.

The Windows app now has a split tunneling feature. In a click or two you can choose apps that won't be passed through the VPN. That's useful for applications that don't need the VPN's protection, and there's another welcome bonus: the more traffic you route outside of the VPN, the less data you'll use, and the longer your allowance will last.

Overall, while PrivadoVPN's desktop apps don't lead the way in any specific area, they're strong all-rounders, thoughtfully designed, with a decent feature set suitable for beginners and experts alike.

PrivadoVPN Kill Switch

There's a decent selection of options in the Settings panel (Image credit: PrivadoVPN)

Android and iOS apps

PrivadoVPN's mobile apps have a simpler and more stylish look than the desktop editions. Out go the high contrast colors and bright orange buttons, in comes a relatively subdued and stripped-back design—little more than a Connect button and the name of your currently selected location.

There are a handful of configuration options in the Settings box. The iOS app allows you to choose a preferred protocol from WireGuard, IKEv2, and OpenVPN, and the Android build goes a step further with split tunneling support.

Mobile app performance can vary considerably, depending on your device and network conditions, but both the Android and iOS versions worked very well for me. They connected faster than the desktop apps, even when using the throttled 'emergency' servers. My connections were reliable, with no unexpected drops or speed issues.

PrivadoVPN's mobile apps look a little underpowered compared to the competition, with most providers offering more features and configuration options. But they're fast and easy to use, and if those are your priorities, they could be a smart choice.

PrivadoVPN Android App

We were impressed by the mobile apps, even if they're not perfect (Image credit: PrivadoVPN)

PrivadoVPN performance

Speed matters, even with a free VPN, so I put PrivadoVPN through its performance paces from a UK data center with a very capable 1 Gbps connection. The results were impressive, with the service delivering speeds of around 350 Mbps. That means PrivadoVPN has raced ahead to the number one spot in our fastest VPN rankings, overtaking Proton VPN.

Most free VPN plans don't include any form of streaming support, but PrivadoVPN is a rare exception. You get exactly the same unblocking abilities as paying customers, and I had no trouble accessing US Netflix, Disney Plus, Amazon Prime Video, and BBC iPlayer.

Speedtest.net performance benchmark

PrivadoVPN proved to be seriously nippy in our speed testing (Image credit: Speedtest.net)

If your regular paid VPN has occasional unblocking issues, PrivadoVPN might be worth having around as an emergency short-term backup. (Netflix says its data demands can be as little as 0.3 GB per hour for low quality, 1 GB for standard definition, so you can squeeze a fair amount of viewing from your 10 GB a month allowance.)

I had no significant issues setting up or using PrivadoVPN, but if you're not as lucky, it's good to know there's help available. PrivadoVPN doesn't have live chat, but you can contact support via email. We sent a test question and received a thorough and accurate reply within a couple of hours, suggesting PrivadoVPN should be able to quickly solve most problems and get you up and running again.

PrivadoVPN Mobile Apps

There's a lot to like about PrivadoVPN's free plan (Image credit: PrivadoVPN)

Final verdict

Try many free VPNs and you're often annoyed by everything the service left out. Try PrivadoVPN and you're likely to be pleasantly surprised by everything you get: great speeds, a reliable kill switch, and unblocking results that beat many paid VPNs. A must-try provider.

Tribit Stormbox Blast review
2:26 pm | July 5, 2022

Author: admin | Category: Audio Computers Gadgets Hi-Fi Wireless & Bluetooth Speakers | Comments: Off

Editor's Note

• Original review date: July 2022
• Launch price: $199 / £199 / AU$319
• Target price: $160 / £160

Update: February 2024. The Tribit Stormbox Blast is still our pick among the best Bluetooth speakers if you want something big and powerful for a great-value price. It costs about half the price of the likes of the Ultimate Ears Hyperboom, but delivers the kind of massive, weighty sound you want for a party. There have been several party speakers released since the Stormbox Blast from the likes of LG and Sony and more, but when it comes to value for money, we don't think you can do better even now. Especially if you can get it for a great sales price – we've seen it go for under $140 / £150, but if you aim for our target price above in a smaller discount, that's still absolutely worth getting. The rest of this review remains as previously published.

Tribit Stormbox Blast: Two-minute review

Let's address the elephant in the room: the Tribit Stormbox Blast looks about as unsubtle as a brick wrapped in Christmas tree lights coming through your (closed) window. It's a big black plastic cuboid, and to say that the branding, RGB lighting panels and flashing LEDs around the drivers are a little too much for our liking is an understatement. But that's where the harsh criticism ends.

The Stormbox Blast is the biggest and most powerful Bluetooth speaker in Tribit's ever-growing arsenal of portable speakers and it sounds every inch as detailed – even at higher volumes – as models from better-known audio specialists at three times the price. If it's a room-rockin' speaker you're after, this is one of the best party speakers we've tested. 

It's heavier than most of the best Bluetooth speakers out there (5.45kg, to be precise), but, unlike some of the best wireless speakers we've tested, Tribit is unconcerned with multi-room support, voice assistance or accessing your Wi-Fi for higher-quality streaming – although you can pair two of them in stereo, and there is a companion app.

Oh how we wish Tribit's talented audio engineers had run the finished article past a design team a few more times, to ask if all 32 LED lights should really flash at every beat (or were even necessary at all), but close your eyes and its 90W output, handled via two 4.2-inch 30W woofers and two 1.2-inch 15W tweeters, is not far off the performance you'd expect from a set of decent entry-level bookshelf stereo speakers.

It shouldn't sound this good for this money. It shouldn't sound this good given its appearance. It shouldn't have made us smile, nod our heads in time to James Brown's The Boss before looking up and exclaiming, "Wait, that's the Sonos Five playing… right? Right?!" But, what can we tell you? It did. And it wasn't the Sonos. 

If you can bear the idea of bringing it into your home (although, with an IPX7 water-proof rating and a 30 hour battery, you'll rarely need to charge it. It could live in the shed…) and you want a good dollop of fuss-free music, you need to know about the gifted room-filling sonic capabilities of the Stormbox Blast. 

Tribit Stormbox Blast on a blue table outside

The Tribit Stormbox Blast, with a total of 32 LED lights, certainly isn't a shy, retiring product. (Image credit: TechRadar)

Tribit Stormbox Blast review: Price & release date

  • Costs $199 / (around £163, U$290) 
  • Available from July 6, 2022

The Tribit Stormbox Blast is available to buy now (although, only just), costing one dollar less than $200. Other available regions include Germany (€230), Canada ($260 CAD) and India (₹16,999). 

In the UK however, it doesn't seem to be immediately available and indeed, our sample came with an EU two-pin charging cable, so it remains unclear whether we can expect it to launch in Britain. And that would be a shame. 

If you want something cheaper and more portable, the JBL Flip 6 or JBL Charge 5 are excellent shouts, and the Bose Home Speaker 500 or Amazon Echo Show 15 also boast voice assistant smarts. 

The Sonos Five is considerably pricier (and a Wi-Fi only home speaker) but the JBL Boombox, probably the closest product in this list for design and feature-set, would set you back $450 / £400 (around AU$650) upon its release in April 2020.

What we're saying, however you look at it, this Bluetooth 5.3, 90W beast is an awful lot of speaker for the money. 

Tribit Stormbox Blast top-plate detail

The Tribit Stormbox Blast's top-plate. Are those buttons a little big? Maybe. Or maybe they're perfect.  (Image credit: TechRadar)

Tribit Stormbox Blast review: Features

  • Bluetooth 5.3 for dual device connection
  • USB-C external charging port for your phone
  • XBass boost button

Let's begin with physical connections, because you'll find three ports on the back of the Tribit, shielded by a rubber cap: power cable (the Stormbox Blast does not need to plugged in to function, but 3.5 hours is the time it'll take to fully charge if fully drained of its impressive 30-hour battery) a USB-C out for charging your device, and a 3.5mm aux in for wired listening. 

Elsewhere, Bluetooth 5.3 is onboard for dual-device pairing and a wireless range of 40m (which is helpful if two of you are organising the playlist from the dancefloor, say) but sadly you're not getting aptX or AAC codec support; according to the spec sheet your protocols here are A2DP and AVRCP, aka the more basic Bluetooth streaming standard.

Surprisingly for today's market, the Stormbox Blast might not be the best candidate for beach listening either, since it's IPX7 rated – ie. waterproof only, rather than water- and dust-proof (you need to look for IP67 if you want both). Good for a pool party, maybe not if dirt is involved. And there are no mics and no built-in voice assistance either, unlike the Sonos Move, for example. 

What you do get, whether you want it or not, is 32 LED lights – 15 either side of the metallic grille and two behind the dual woofers, which are flanked by the two tweeters, placed in the top corners of the baffle as you look at the speaker. There are three ambient light profiles in total; one scrolls through colors for both the speaker LEDs and the volume-effect side panels, another keeps the speaker LEDs white and gives a rainbow effect to the side panels, and a third turns off all beat-driven light effects, but still fires up those side panels every time you alter the volume. It's not possible to turn all lights off, all the time, even via the Tribit app – more on this in a minute. 

The top plate is where you will probably alter this most of the time, (volume and playback can also be handled from your phone) where the seven buttons for power, Bluetooth pairing, volume, playback, ambient light show profiles and XBass are fairly self-explanatory, but we feel the need to say something about that last one. Although XBass can be deployed by pressing the button on the top plate, we would not recommend it – you can do better in the app. This button is supposed to pump up the bass, but for us it simply draws a slightly tinny veil over the otherwise talented sound. And you can do so much more! 

In the Tribit app, which feels a little sparse initially but adds value nonetheless, you can also choose from jazz, audiobook, party, classical or music EQ presets and tweak them using a five-band EQ tab – or you can customize your own from scratch. We like the jazz and music presets a lot, and although the bulk of this review is written using the pre-existing music profile, there's a lot of scope for tailoring things to your liking here. 

Tribit hasn't shouted much about its app, and perhaps it should. Although a relatively simple affair, it allows you to see the remaining battery in the speaker, which is a huge help if you're planning a shindig. 

  • Features score: 4.5/5

Tribit Stormbox Blast back, showing the three connection options, outside

Tribit Stormbox Blast's three ports are covered by a nice rubber cap and, unless you're using it to charge your phone, its 30-hour battery means you'll rarely need to pop this open.  (Image credit: TechRadar)

Tribit Stormbox Blast review: Sound quality

  • Meaty, zealous and musical sound
  • Regimented and impressive bass floor
  • Vocals textured and resonant

Want a shy, retiring sound for personal listening so as not to irritate your neighbor? You will have to tread carefully here, and it's important to note that during our tests, we found the difference of two to three volume increments was enough to go from too quiet to too loud indoors. But Tribit has made no secret of wanting to bring the party to both your ears and your body, and it has delivered. This thing can go loud. If you're worried whether one speaker will be enough for the garden party, it will here. 

Compare it to one of Ultimate Ears' bigger options such as the Boom 3 and there's no contest in terms of bass weight: we stream Snoop Dogg's Lay Low and the stop-start hip-hop riff is full, regimented and snappy through the Tribit and actually makes the UE sound lightweight and treble-centric in direct comparison – and although we realise that's not a fair comparison for size, for price, there's only about $50 in it. For our money, the smart money goes on the Tribit here. 

Our playlist continues to Poison by Bel Biv DeVoe, and vocals are textured and celebrated within a wide soundfield, where everything from the percussive riff to the walking bass is given enough space to be impactful. At this level, it's a lot – in a good way. 

Kristin Chenoweth's Taylor, The Latte Boy proves that the Stormbox Blast isn't just a one-trick pony and a bit of kit for avid for bassheads, though. Keys are three-dimensional as Chenoweth's stunning mixed belt comes through with oodles of fun and emotion. She sits a little close to the microphone here, and the fact that you can tell is a huge compliment to Tribit. 

Ghetts' Know My Ting is one of the most challenging tests of timing we could suggest for a speaker intended for Bluetooth streaming at a party, and the Stormbox Blast doesn't disappoint. Leading edges of notes are crisp and held resolutely in check. Juicy bass registers leave as quickly as they arrive, too, never muddying the layered and often intense dance mix. 

  • Sound quality score: 5/5

Tribit Stormbox Blast on a blue table outside

Those passive radiators on the side are a lovely touch, despite our reservations about the overall aesthetic. (Image credit: TechRadar)

Tribit Stormbox Blast review: Design

  • A heavy black plastic design
  • Actual speaker configuration is inspired though
  • Lights and branding may not be to your taste

This speaker is heavy – it's a brave soul that takes it on public transport because if you drop it en route, someone's foot is going to be sore for days.

Look, as we've said, we're not big fans of the light-up feature and general aesthetic here, plus it's only available in black and the branding and buttons are a little big. The big chunky plastic handle seems to lack a bit of finesse, too. 

Then again, this is a speaker built for a party, it's not intended to merge into your lounge like the plethora of demure fabric-covered spheres, cushions and oblongs currently on the market. 

And if you've got younger family members who want a house party, it may well appeal. Does the return of the original boombox sound novel and interesting to you? Well, you'll certainly be able to feel the weight of one here, and the passive rubberized radiators on the side of the unit are actually a nice feature. They don't move as much as those on the JBL Flip 6, but they're fun and they certainly seem to aid the sound dispersion and accuracy. 

What you need to know is that its innards are spot on; the four-driver configuration provides a nice wide soundstage and we wish that those drivers had taken a little more of the limelight rather than the LEDs – but each to their own. 

  • Design score: 3.5/5

Tribit Stormbox Blast on a beige coffee table, in a lounge

Tribit Stormbox Blast in your lounge? It doesn't exactly blend in… (Image credit: TechRadar)

Tribit Stormbox Blast review: Value

  • A huge dose of good quality music and bass for the money
  • No voice assistance or mics 
  • For solid, room-filling sound though, it's a no-brainer

Sonically, the Tribit Stormbox Blast isn't just good value, it's simply unbeatable value. But this is no shy and retiring speaker you can slip into the water bottle holder on your bike. When you listen to it, people will not just hear it, they'll see those lights too. 

In terms of feature set, there are a few holes on the spec sheet (no mics, no scope for multi-room integration) and the app is standard rather than exhaustive – but then again, those detailed, customizable EQ presets are something few propositions boast at the level. 

And we hope we have truly impressed upon you how good it sounds – for a cheap one-box speaker design it's truly surprising. We thought we might hate it and what we actually feel is light years away from hate. In fact we love the sound. 

We might hide it when not listening to it, you understand, but it can always be a guilty pleasure, for those nights when you're hosting a party of one – ie. you, and no guests. 

  • Value score: 5/5

Should I buy the Tribit Stormbox Blast?

Buy it if…

Don't buy it if…

Tribit Stormbox Blast review: Also consider