Gadget news
Here’s the Ulefone Armor 27T Pro with thermal camera and 10,600 mAh battery
5:12 pm | June 22, 2024

Author: admin | Category: Mobile phones news | Comments: Off

Ulefone unveiled the Armor 25T Pro rugged smartphone last month, and the brand will follow it up with the Armor 27T Pro soon. We've received some exclusive information about the Ulefone Armor 27T Pro, so let's see what's on offer. The Ulefone Armor 27T Pro will feature a thermal camera powered by FLIR with MSX technology and VividIR, allowing users to detect heat signatures up to 450°C and see through darkness, glare, smog, and dense smoke. The thermal camera on the rear will be joined by a 64MP Night Vision camera (OmniVision OV64B1B) and a 50MP primary camera (Samsung GN1)....

Creative Aurvana Ace 2 review: ace-sounding earbuds let down by noise cancelling snafus
5:00 pm |

Author: admin | Category: Audio Computers Earbuds & Airpods Gadgets Headphones | Tags: | Comments: Off

Creative Aurvana Ace 2: Two-minute review

The Creative Aurvana Ace 2 got audiophiles excited in a way few things ever could when news of the xMEMS-driver-toting earbuds were first announced. So, do they deliver on their undoubted potential? Well... yes and no. 

The headline feature of the Creative Aurvana Ace 2 – at least according to these pumped up audiophiles – is the use of solid-state drivers created by tech manufacturers xMEMS. To boil down a PowerPoint presentation's worth of tech jargon, these audio drivers are created using the same processes as chips (computer ones, not the fried foodstuff) to improve phase consistency and maintain dynamic audio while keeping earbuds small. And if you want us to skip any form of buzzword, then the point is this: the drivers are meant to revolutionize audio in earbuds.

And, frankly, it works: the Creative Aurvana Ace 2 sound great. They provide a lovely neutral sound with fantastic detail across the board and a dramatic sound stage. They’re some of the best noise-cancelling earbuds I’ve used at this price... if all you care about is sound. Perhaps the color design, too, which is also worthy of praise as I'm loving the Creative Aurvana Ace 2's black-and-copper aesthetic.

Unfortunately, while sound is (obviously) quite important for earbuds, it’s not the only factor to consider, and Creative flubs the landing in a few other key areas.

The battery life isn’t great. The noise cancellation is fine at best and bonkers at worst. The Creative app doesn’t have enough features to justify itself. The equalizer doesn't seem to work. The touch controls are basically impossible to reliably use. And, worst of all, there’s the screaming, which you can read more about in the design section.

If every rose has its thorn, then, this one is attached to an entire, overgrown bush.

Some have been calling the Creative Aurvana Ace 2 the first earbuds to use this xMEMS tech but, as you may have discerned from the use of the number ‘2’ in the name, they’re not alone. They were released alongside the ‘standard’ Aurvana Ace which also features this technology. 

What upgrades does the Creative Aurvana Ace 2 have over its near-namesake, then? The higher-end buds cost a touch more, introduce adaptive ANC, add support for the AptX Lossless codec, and are decked out in that smoldering copper finish. And that's, er, it.

In short, you might find the ‘cheaper’ Creative Aurvana Ace versions provide better value for money. 

Creative Aurvana Ace 2 review: Price and release date

The Creative Aurvana Ace 2

(Image credit: Future)
  • Announced January 2024 
  • Cost $149.99 / £164.99 / AU$229.95

The Creative Aurvana Ace 2 were announced at the beginning of 2024, alongside the more affordable Creative Aurvana Ace – both sets of earbuds marked the first use of the xMEMS drivers, though at the time of writing they’re not the only ones.

The buds will set you back $149.99 / £164.99 / AU$229.95, so they’re pretty much mid-range earbuds, though that market segment is very large and the Ace 2 sit toward the low end of it. For some context the Aurvana Ace cost $129.99 / £134.99 / AU$169.95, and in both the US and Australia I’ve already seen small discounts on both products.

There’s not actually that much competition in the low-triple-digit price band, and you’ll be able to see a few select competitors below, but perhaps the closest contemporary rival is the new Nothing Ear which came out around the same time, for the same price, and which I reviewed immediately prior to the Ace 2.

Creative Aurvana Ace 2 review: Specs

Creative Aurvana Ace 2 review: Features

The Creative Aurvana Ace 2

(Image credit: Future)
  • 4-hour buds battery, 16-hour with case
  • App doesn't really add anything
  • Buds keep screaming at me

In the introduction to this review, I ominously mentioned the screaming, and your mind might now be picturing some atmospheric horror film. You’d be better off thinking of that mandrake scene from the movie Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. When noise cancellation is turned on, and the buds are totally enclosed (ie, clenched in your hand) they sometimes make a weird, high-pitched screaming sound.

Why would you grip the buds in your hand like that? Well, that’s not the only reason you’d have them enclosed – the noise sometimes happened when I was trying to use the buds' touch controls, when they were sandwiched between my hands and my face. Having a high-pitch squealing beamed straight into your shell-like isn’t nice.

I can’t say for sure what causes this noise, but my guess is that the noise cancellation creates a feedback issue into the buds when they’re in a small space. I also heard the buds pumping out an odd sound when I was in enclosed spaces such as an elevator or small connecting rooms in gyms or theaters. Whatever the reason, the screaming and the strange helicopter-blade-sounding ANC sound were both disconcerting and annoying.

Although it's possible I have a faulty review sample, I still feel compelled to write this review honestly, and (while we're happy to test another set in future) this was a genuine issue and one that surprised the TechRadar team. 

The Creative Aurvana Ace 2

(Image credit: Future)

These issues didn’t occur when ANC was deactivated, and they’re not the only reason that I’d advise you not to turn the Aurvana Ace 2’s noise cancellation on – the main one is that it simply isn’t very good. It takes the edge off background sound but struggles to eliminates louder noises, as well as low-level wind or louder talking.

That's not to mention the transparency mode, which ostensibly beams in background noise so you can still hear what's going on around you. Most buds have this feature, but the Aurvana Ace 2's was unique in that it seemed to amplify these sounds buzzed in. Passing busses, nearby weights dropped in gyms, me coughing, all were blared into my ear like a klaxon from hell. Too loud!

ANC can be toggled using Creative’s smartphone app, creatively called… Creative. This has a few features like ANC control, button customization and an equalizer (which I’ll get into in the Sound quality section, given this one increasingly resembles War and Peace) but as far as headphone tie-in apps go, it’s a little sparse. 

Creative’s official estimate for the Ace 2’s battery life is four hours, and in testing I’d roughly concur – if you follow my advice and turn ANC off, that goes up to six hours. The case battery bumps that up to 16 hours of listening, or 24 without ANC.

I don't think I've ever tested a pair of earbuds with a battery life this short: even the worst rivals sit around six hours. I’m writing this journey on a coach journey that’ll last longer than four hours – life (general) necessitates extended listening periods!

  • Features score: 2/5

Creative Aurvana Ace 2 review: Design

The Creative Aurvana Ace 2

(Image credit: Future)
  • Small, comfortable earbuds
  • Alluring black-and-tan look
  • IPX5 certification

The Creative Aurvana Ace 2 come in a pretty appealing hue. They're black with a bronze trim, and both the case and the buds take this theme. It’s pretty zingy, I like it.

The buds weigh 4.7 each, and I have no complaints about the fit – they felt snug in the ear and only once or twice did they become a little loose. I used them at the gym a few times, too, so that's not unheard of by any means!

They’re lightweight so I never felt earache from wearing them, and the IPX5 protection meant I felt safe using them in drizzle. I couldn't find an IP rating for the case, so leave that poolside when you're going for a dip.

The Creative Aurvana Ace 2

(Image credit: Future)

Apparently the buds have touch controls but I think you need magical powers to use them, because I could never work out how to toggle the haptic button. Not even the app tells you how. Only once did I use it successfully, and that was when I didn’t even mean to – I somehow turned the volume up to full when putting the buds in my ear. Helpful.

Then there’s the case, which looks pretty standard as wireless earbuds go: a small pebble, which weighs 46.6g. That’s nice and light, and the Aurvana Ace 2’s case (the cAse 2?) often disappeared into my pockets. 

The case has a USB-C port for charging and also supports wireless charging, and its only other feature of note is a small intent loop through which you could put a lanyard or wrist mount string. You don’t see these often enough in earbuds.

  • Design score: 3.5/5

Creative Aurvana Ace 2 review: Sound quality

  • xMEMS drivers really bring it
  • Equalizer doesn't bring anything
  • Lots of supported audio codecs

The Creative Aurvana Ace 2

(Image credit: Future)

I can finally say some good things about the Aurvana Ace 2! They sound pretty great compared with same-price rivals. I’ve just come off of testing some similarly priced earbuds and the Ace 2 sound better.

The sound is totally, white-flag-waving neutral, which is something you don’t see enough of in the warm world of mid-range earbuds. This means that the sound doesn’t lean by default too far towards the higher or lower pitches. 

Something I loved about the buds is the palpable sound stage, more so than on any buds I’ve tested in ages – you can really sense the different instruments around you, helping you to enjoy your songs on a different level.

These boons are all, presumably, thanks to the use of the xMEMS driver, as well as an extra 10mm dynamic driver on each bud. Perhaps the xMEMS revolution really is here, though I don't see the Aurvana Ace 2 being the product to deliver it.

The Creative Aurvana Ace 2

(Image credit: Future)

The buds also support a nice big range of audio codecs, for people who know what that means. Enjoy high-fidelity audio from AptX standard as well as Adaptive and Lossless as well as AAC, LC3 and SBC. Good luck finding LC3 files to listen if you're not an avid audio fan though.

By default the sound is a little too low, and there’s no way in the app to turn it up. That's apart from the aforementioned accident of turning up the volume on the bud’s stem, which unlocked never-before-heard levels. 

Since every positive comment I make about the Ace 2 comes with a qualifier, here's your sound quality caveat – the equalizer. I used it when listening to the buds. I used it quite thoroughly. I slid the various dials up and down. And the differences in sound were so minute that I'm not convinced I wasn't imagining them, like some audio placebo. If you want to add some extra treble to your music, or pull out the bass, these aren't the buds you're looking for.

  • Sound quality: 4/5

Creative Aurvana Ace 2 review: Value

The Creative Aurvana Ace 2

(Image credit: Future)
  • Audio quality is better than most same-price rivals...
  • ...but most other features are worse

If you'd let me test the Creative Aurvana Ace 2 without revealing the price, I’d probably be able to tell you exactly how much they cost to the penny – they’re basically bang average for earbuds in this bracket. But that’s a game of averages.

In terms of audio quality, the Ace 2 punch above their weight – you could pay a fair bit more and expect sound quality like this.

However that’s balanced out by a dearth of features, and some major issues that display the trappings of cheaper buds than the Ace 2. These are corners cut to keep the price considerate.

  • Value: 3.5/5

Should I buy the Creative Aurvana Ace 2?

Buy it if…

Don’t buy it if…

Creative Aurvana Ace 2 review: Also consider

How I tested the Creative Aurvana Ace 2

The Creative Aurvana Ace 2

(Image credit: Future)
  • Tested for 10 days
  • Tested at home, in the office and on walks

I used the Creative Aurvana Ace 2 for just over two weeks prior to writing this review, and used them paired alongside both my Android phone, Windows computer and briefly my Apple iPad.

The testing time co-incided with a trip I took so the Ace 2 got tested to the max in terms of environments: I listened to music, conducted calls and watched Netflix in cafes, on buses, in a hotel room, in busy streets, in the rain and shine and even in packed pubs (it was only a trip to Sheffield, England, so I wasn't missing anything).

I have over five years' experience testing tech gadgets for TechRadar, which includes loads of earbuds, especially at this lower- and mid-range price levels. Seriously, the Ace 2 weren't the only pair of earbuds I was using during the testing, so I can accurately compare them to rivals.

  • First reviewed in June 2024
Engwe Engine X review: an imposing e-bike for budget buyers
4:31 pm |

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets Hybrid & Electric Vehicles Vehicle Tech | Comments: Off

Engwe Engine X: one-minute review

The Engwe Engine X is impossible to miss with its brutalist and imposing design. For just under $1,300 / over £1,000, you'll get a bike that is made of budget parts. Unbranded disc brakes and gear mechanisms give reasonable performance but lack the sort of responsiveness that mid-range bikes deliver. When paired with the suspension, the 20-by-4-inch wheels provide a high level of absorption when travelling over uneven surfaces. The balance of the frame is not quite right for regular off-roading, which is probably the biggest downside of the bike.

The Engwe Engine X's battery is not very easy to remove, which is far from ideal when it comes to charging. It's nicely tucked away inside the frame but is unfortunately only accessible via a difficult-to-unclip mechanism. The 13Ah battery provides an advertised range of 120km, which is only remotely possible at the lowest level of pedal assist. I achieved nearer to 50km when commuting through a range of countryside, main roads, and city streets. A charging time of five hours is reasonable given the size of the battery. 

For its weight and size, it is impressive that Engwe has managed to make this a foldable bike. That being said, not only were the folding clips hard to use, but also the weight made them nearly impossible to move around. You certainly wouldn't want to transport this in and out of a train or a car boot on a regular basis. It is also disappointing that there is no clip to keep it in its folded position. 

If you're in the market for a super-budget e-bike, then you certainly get a lot for your money with the Engine X. More refined folding bikes, like the Brompton or the Estarli e20.7 are available but have the downside of being more expensive.

Engwe Engine X: Price and availability

Engwe Engine X Frame

(Image credit: Future)
  • $1,299 / £1,049 for single battery 
  • $1,816 / £1,438 for 16Ah battery version 
  • Available from the manufacturer directly

The Engwe M20 is available in the US, and thanks to the 250W motor and 25kph speed limiter, it is also road-legal in the UK. 

There are two battery options: one with the default 13Ah and the second with a 16Ah battery. The former costs $1,299 / £1,049, whereas the latter will set you back $1,816 / £1,438. There is no option for a second battery on this bike, although it could certainly be customised. 

Both packages have an identical bike that includes the frame, mudguards, Shimano gears, disc brakes, front and rear lights, as well as a stand. 

If you're in the market for accessories, then Engwe offers a range of different options, including a rack bag, bike pump, lock, and additional tail lights for an additional cost.

Engwe Engine X: Design

Engwe Engine X Blocky design

(Image credit: Future)
  • Primitive design 
  • Very heavy bike 
  • Budget-friendly parts

After unboxing, cutting what seemed like a thousand cable ties, and building the Engwe Engine X, I stood before something that I could only describe as imposing. The brutalist design emanates from the single tube that stretches from front to back and continues throughout the whole frame. The rectangular frame design is necessary because it houses the battery, but it does result in an overly chunky design. 

The focus appears to be primarily on function rather than aesthetics, something that is evidenced throughout the bike's design. The front headset sits uncomfortably high, making it very difficult to control the bike, especially at slow speeds. 

The gear shifting is relatively smooth and efficient, but make no mistake, these are basic parts. The Shimano 7-speed gear system is comprised of a Tourney rear mechanism and a simple Shimano Indexed Shifting thumb shifter, both of which are on the cheaper end of the spectrum. 

The disc calipers, again, are unbranded and connected to Wuxing brake levers, which collectively leaves a fair amount to be desired. I found them to be a little soft and, at times, not as responsive as I would have liked. The seat is large and overly soft, meaning I suffered from a fair amount of numb bums on my test rides. 

The wheels are, like the rest of the bike, oversized. Measuring in at 20 by 4 inches, the Chao Yang tyres do a great job of cushioning any uneven bike track or potholed road surface. Mud from the wheels is sufficiently guided away from the cyclist thanks to the thick metal mudguards that cover a large part of the circumference of the wheel. 

The front and rear lights are also very basic, with the front one being particularly primitive and flimsy. You'll want to provide your own lights for extra visibility, especially at the front. 

I've left it until now to mention because its hard to believe, but this is a folding bike. You'll have to put beautiful folding mechanisms like the Brompton bike out of your mind, though, because Engwe hasn't managed to nail this part of the bike at all. It feels more like an afterthought than something beautifully integrated into the core of the bike. The clips are difficult to unclip, and I was anxious about damaging them by being too forceful. There is also no lock or clip for when the bike is folded, which makes it very difficult to move around. 

All of this weight and robust build quality does have the added benefit that it'll withstand anything you could throw at it. Even though most of the joints and parts appear to be overengineered, it does mean that very few of the bike's parts look like they would ever break. 

  • Design Score: 4/5

Engwe Engine X: Performance

Engwe Engine X Gear mechanism

(Image credit: Future)
  • An abundance of torque 
  • Top speed of 25km per hour 
  • Good suspension

The Engine X has a fair amount of power behind it. The motor has 250W of continuous power and a maximum peak of 500W, all delivering 50Nm of torque, giving the bike a fair amount of oomph, even from standing still. There are five pedal assist modes, which could really be reduced down to three. In reality, levels one and two provide such a limited amount of assistance that it begs the question of whether they're of any use. 

I had no problems getting up most inclines, with the highest level of pedal assistance helping to pull me up small to medium inclines. Steeper hills took a bit more thought, but if I was able to get in the right gear, then the assistance was able to provide enough muscle to get me through. 

The speed is limited to 25kmph, which is easily reached when using the fifth pedal assist setting. It is rather annoying to feel the motor disengage at maximum speed, but this is a requirement to be road legal in the UK. I did find the motor to be a little temperamental, especially when stopping and starting. At times, it took far too long to kick in, leaving me wondering if there was a problem with the bike. 

The suspension performed really well, managing to smooth out almost all of the surfaces that I took it on. That being said, because of the substantial weight of the bike, I was reticent to take it on any track that might make it difficult to stay on the bike. The height of the handlebars also makes it tricky to handle, especially over mixed and varied terrain. 

The bike coped really well in all weather conditions, with the mudguards able to handle even the wettest of conditions. The seat is soft, which resulted in getting a numb bum on medium to long journeys. The lights are good to have, but they didn't have enough power to light up the road on countryside roads with no street lights. 

The keys have to be in the bike for it to work with the port located underneath the frame where the battery is located. This is a little awkward, not only because it looks odd, but also because it's annoying to have the key jangling around while cycling. This also means you won't want to attach your bike key to your main set of keys.

  • Performance score: 3.5/5

Engwe Engine X: Battery life

Engwe Engine X battery is located in the frame

(Image credit: Future)
  • 120km range for each battery 
  • Five hour charge per battery 
  • Batteries encased in bike frame

The Engwe Engine X advertises a range of 120km, which is impressive for this size and weight of bike. In reality, getting anywhere near this range is only possible using the lowest level of pedal assist. That would be okay, but unfortunately, this bike is not set up for being used with minimal help. With such little assistance, the bike becomes very tricky to ride, mainly due to the weight, the balance, and the resistance. I found that achieving nearer to 50km with normal riding was more believable. 

The frame only allows for a single battery, although it can be upgraded to 16Ah from 13Ah if so desired. The battery is contained inside the frame, which is great in terms of aesthetics but not great for ease of removal. The battery can be removed by disengaging one of the clips but this is very fiddly and really put me off wanting to do it on a regular basis. When it comes to an e-bike I want to be able to easily remove the battery at the end of a journey and charge it in the house. 

The battery can be charged while located inside the frame but that does really limit the charging options to wherever the bike is stored which in my case is in the garage. That is far from an ideal charging location as far as I’m concerned. 

A full charge is achieved in 5 hours, which is great for this size of battery.

  • Battery life score: 3.5/5

Engwe Engine X: Scorecard

Should you buy it?

Buy it if...

Don't buy it if...

Also consider

How I tested the Engwe Engine X electric bike

I enjoyed using the Engwe Engine X e-bike on my daily commute. My journey takes me through the countryside, along 60mph roads, and through the intricacies of city streets. To complement the different views, I was also treated to the full range of winter weather in England. 

As a result, I was able to give every single part of the bike a good run-out and stress test everything in real-world conditions. The bike did a sterling job of coping with whatever was thrown at it, largely due to the heavyweight nature of every single component.

Read more about how we test.

First reviewed: June 2024

Xiaomi Redmi 13 review
3:55 pm |

Author: admin | Category: Mobile phones reviews | Tags: | Comments: Off

Apple Intelligence may not come to the EU at launch over regulatory concerns
3:06 pm |

Author: admin | Category: Mobile phones news | Tags: | Comments: Off

Last week, at WWDC, Apple jumped on the AI bandwagon by introducing Apple Intelligence for iOS 18 and macOS Sequoia. However, it may not be available at launch in the European Union since Apple has announced it could block Apple Intelligence's release in the EU over regulatory concerns. Apple said that Apple Intelligence, iPhone Mirroring, and SharePlay Screen Sharing may not be rolled out in the EU due to the Digital Markets Act (DMA), which could force the Cupertino-based tech giant into downgrading the security of its products and services. “We are concerned that the interoperability...

PlayStation Pulse Explore earbuds review: perfect for PS5, peerless for PlayStation Portal
1:09 pm |

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

PlayStation Pulse Explore earbuds: Two-minute review

The PlayStation Pulse Explore earbuds are excellent gaming earbuds that are easy to recommend. If you’re on PlayStation 5, PlayStation Portal, or PC you won’t find better-sounding earbuds. 

The sound quality is simply superb. I’ve never heard such clear, detailed, rich, and high-quality audio from a pair of earbuds in all my years of testing them. The first-class audio is supported by a robust mic that came in clear through party chat; a solid design and build; splendid connectivity between the buds, PS5, and PlayStation Portal handheld; and a sturdy charging case that offers fast charging. The result is a robust portable package. 

It’s not all good news, though. The lack of active noise-cancelling, the just-okay battery life, and the fact that you’ll likely need some third-party foam tips to get the best comfort and sound out of the Pulse Explore will irk some. We wish they were a little cheaper too. 

If you can look beyond those shortcomings, you’ll get some of the best gaming earbuds for PS5 and PlayStation Portal on the market and some of the best audio we’ve ever heard from gaming earbuds in general.

PlayStation Pulse Explore earbuds on a wooden surface with a white brick background

(Image credit: Future/Rob Dwiar)

PlayStation Pulse Explore earbuds: Price and availability

  • List price of $199.99 / £199.99 / AU$249
  • Premium pricing…
  • …but discounts and price drops are becoming common

The PlayStation Pulse Explore earbuds launched in December 2023, a few weeks after the PlayStation Portal remote-play device came out. There were some wobbly stock levels at launch, but now the buds are widely available at all major retailers and from Sony itself.

They're expensive for gaming earbuds, sitting right at the top of the premium band of pricing. However, since their launch, we’ve seen them go for under the list price, particularly in the UK, so it's worth keeping an eye out for price cuts and sales events.

That lofty list price pitches them against some other big-hitters of the gaming earbud market, namely Sony’s own Inzone Buds. Coming in at an almost identical price ($198 / £179 / AU$249), the Inzone Buds have a few key differences despite also offering Sony’s audio prowess.

They’re also more expensive than the JBL Quantum TWS, and way pricier than some of our favorite wired buds like the SteelSeries Tusq

PlayStation Pulse Explore earbuds: Specs

PlayStation Pulse Explore earbuds on a wooden surface with a white brick background

(Image credit: Future/Rob Dwiar)

PlayStation Pulse Explore earbuds: Design and features

  • Distinct form factor, comfy fit
  • PS5-inspired design language
  • Battery life is middling

The design of the Pulse Explore earbuds is very in keeping with the PlayStation 5 console and suite of accessories. There are sweeping (as much as there can be on small buds) curves of white plastic across the earbuds and charging case, which makes them look at home next to the console and the PlayStation Portal. The inner parts of the buds and the tips are black, punctuated by metallic charging points.

The charging case also has that aesthetic and shares the buds’ top-notch build quality. It’s got a neat LED light on the front, and while it’s chunky to the point of not being quite pocket-friendly, I've been able to fit it inside two different PlayStation Portal cases. One more so than another, admittedly, but keeping the buds and Portal together in one carry case is eminently doable.

Onboard the Pulse Explore buds, there are just two buttons: one volume rocker button, and one PlayStation Link button. The former is a simple, single-function affair with one exception: you can’t use it to change volume when connected via Bluetooth. This is a slight annoyance and seems like something that’s only a meager software update away – and given there have been a few of those already, I’m a little baffled as to why this hasn’t been patched in. The latter button has several functions depending on the press, ranging from connecting to the last device, connecting to Bluetooth, wiping connections, and resetting your charging case. The charging case itself has one button, which can be held down for varying amounts of seconds to get functions such as Bluetooth pairing mode, and deactivating or activating the most recent PlayStation Link connection.

PlayStation Pulse Explore earbuds on a wooden surface with a white brick background

(Image credit: Future/Rob Dwiar)

The Pulse Explore buds connect to your PS5 and Portal via PlayStation Link - Sony’s new proprietary audio connection system. This promises swift, crisp, and robust connectivity that will mean lossless audio with super-low latency. It hasn’t ever let me down in my testing. It also means that the buds can connect directly to the PlayStation Portal and are one of only two devices (at time of writing) that offer that - the other being the PlayStation Pulse Elite headset.

The quoted five hours of battery life - though I got about six out of them in my testing - is a bit middling, even if supported by some extra charge in the case (10 hours). This might be enough for most gaming sessions and is supported by a quick charge function which will get you 1.5 hours in 10 minutes, but we’d hoped for more from earbuds that cost this much.

PlayStation Pulse Explore earbuds on a wooden surface with a white brick background

(Image credit: Future/Rob Dwiar)

PlayStation Pulse Explore earbuds: Performance

  • Audio quality from planar magnetic drivers is sublime
  • PS5 and PlayStation Portal performance is seamless and excellent
  • Require extra foam tips to get the best comfort and audio

Putting it simply, the audio quality on offer is superb. Much was made of the Pulse Explore offering planar magnetic drivers in gaming earbuds for the very first time, and boy can you hear and appreciate that. In every game, and across media, the earbuds sound terrific. From light environmental sounds of rustling leaves and water dripping on the Beira D in Still Wakes the Deep or characters brushing through grass in A Plague Tale: Requiem to chaotic firefights in Helldivers 2 and Diablo 4 the buds excel at providing beautifully detailed audio. Alongside the richness, the amount of bass is particularly impressive, given the buds’ small stature. In short, the sound quality will surprise, thrill, and delight whatever you play or listen to, and they really hold their own as a PS5 headset option.

If you need to alter the sound a little, you can. There are options on the PS5 to mess with the EQ, so there’s some versatility and customization on hand if you need to optimize the soundscape for particular games or genres.

You may have to do a little work to get the very best from the buds, at least, that’s what I’ve found after nearly two months of testing. Don’t get me wrong, out-of-the-box audio is exquisite, but I have found that experimenting with comfier foam earbud tips boosted the earbuds’ audio volume levels and quality and made them far more comfy, too. I bought a set for less than $10 / £10 Amazon that did the job.

Connecting the buds to the PS5 and PlayStation Portal is simple and effective. PlayStation Link makes the process seamless with the included dongle and it hasn’t hiccuped once in my weeks of testing the buds. Now that the PlayStation Portal has had an update to boost its usage capability when away from home, the Pulse Explore earbuds are slightly more attractive given that PlayStation Link-powered direct connection.

PlayStation Pulse Explore earbuds on a wooden surface with a white brick background

(Image credit: Future/Rob Dwiar)

Using the buttons takes some getting used to. The volume button is slightly more accessible than the PS Link button, but both need relatively firm pushes to engage. This can feel like you’re jeopardizing their fit every time you press them, given the force needed.

As mentioned briefly above, the battery life is very middling for buds. I’d call it ‘just about good enough’ on a practical level. The quoted battery life of five hours is about right, though I have got more than that – definitely at least six hours – out of them on more than one occasion. The fast charge function is a lifesaver, but you’d be forgiven for hoping for more from $200 / £200 gaming earbuds.

The microphone has never let me down when using it for multiplayer gaming on PS5 – in Helldivers 2, Diablo 4, and Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Breakpoint, specifically – but I will say it’s not anything spectacular. It’s robust and clear enough for comms in such online games, and when using the earbuds on PC for work meetings and voice calls, but, naturally, it won’t hold a candle to a headset boom mic.

Overall, I’d prefer the earbuds to be a bit cheaper, and the shallow battery life in particular holds these buds back a bit, but I still wholeheartedly recommend them to anyone looking for top gaming earbuds for PS5 - especially so if the PlayStation Portal needs to be taken into consideration too. Planar magnetic drivers in gaming earbuds are now here, and I’m all for it. 

Should I buy the PlayStation Pulse Explore earbuds?

Buy it if...

Don't buy it if...

Also consider...

If you want to keep your options open for gaming earbuds then the below alternatives should be food for thought. It’s worth mentioning that if you’re looking for a decent alternative for the PlayStation Portal device, the PlayStation Pulse Elite headset is the most viable candidate given it’s the only other audio device that can connect to the Portal directly. That said, here are two other sets of earbuds for consideration.

How I tested the PlayStation Pulse Explore earbuds

  • Tested for weeks with PS5 and PlayStation Portal
  • Compared against other gaming earbuds and PS5 headsets
  • Tested with multiple devices and third-party tips

I used the Explore earbuds with my PS5 and PlayStation Portal for nearly two months; incorporating them into my daily and weekly gaming schedule and habits. I used them to play single-player games such as Still Wakes the Deep, GTA 5, Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice, Rise of the Ronin, and to revisit A Plague Tale: Requiem to get the platinum trophy. I also tested all these on the PlayStation Portal, with the Pulse Explore buds connected to the PS5, as well as directly to the handheld. Elsewhere, I played Helldivers 2 and Diablo 4 online with friends to test the mic, while also using the buds on my PC for meetings and voice calls.  

I was able to compare them with the Razer Hammerhead True Wireless buds (2nd gen), which I use every day I commute to see how they stack up against some established competition, particularly in terms of music and listening to podcasts or radio. As an extension of this comparison testing, I also compared the buds with other headsets in my collection, including the SteelSeries Arctis Nova Pro Wireless, Sony Inzone H9, and SteelSeries Arctis Nova 5.

Read more about how we test

First reviewed April to June 2024.

SoundMagic E11D review: impressive hi-res USB-C wired earbuds that won’t break the bank
1:00 pm |

Author: admin | Category: Audio Computers Earbuds & Airpods Gadgets Headphones | Comments: Off

SoundMagic E11D: Review

SoundMagic makes some bold claims about the SoundMagic E11D, stating that they deliver “superior sound”, “enhanced accuracy and detail”, and are made from “high-quality aluminum components” – but how good are they really? Pretty good, actually.

Let’s start with what matters the most – audio quality. I was very pleased with the clarity offered by these buds, and when listening to Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes by Paul Simon, they skilfully weighted the various instrumental elements – from the groovy bassline to the recurring guitar riff and layered vocals. However, I did find that clarity was hampered somewhat at louder volumes. On that point, these buds can get very loud if you want them to; there’s no way that you’ll be left wanting more on the amplification front.

When tuning into Black Eye by Allie X, I was impressed by the E11D’s ability to supply controlled bass. The deepest tones weren’t astonishingly impactful, but they certainly demonstrated a bit more depth than the Skullcandy Set USB-C buds on comparing the two. Similarly, Rains Again by Solji was delivered clearly and without any tinniness at 50% volume. However, high-pitched vocals fell short of being perfectly crisp. All in all, though, audio will satisfy the vast majority of listeners – something that also rings true of the E11D’s sibling, the SoundMagic E11C, which appear on our list of the best wired headphones.

The E11D’s effectiveness in the sound department is, in part, thanks to their built-in digital-to-analogue converter (DAC), which can handle up to 24bit/96kHz audio. This alone earns the E11D kudos, especially given that even some of the best wired earbuds still require one of the best portable DACs to truly showcase their skills. That’s not to say that you’ll transcend to a new plane of consciousness by using the E11D, but for the very decent list price of $44 / £39.99 / AU$65, you’ll most certainly get your money’s worth.

On the topic of cost, it’s important to consider that the E11D arrive with a few extras to sweeten the deal. Alongside some silicone ear tips, in small, medium, and large sizes, you also get a sturdy black and gray carry case, which is a decent-looking, convenient addition to the mix. 

Another area in which the E11D score positively is comfort. I kept them in my ears for multiple full work days and while on walks, and they never once fell out of my ears or felt irritating after longer listening periods. In addition, the E11D enable you to enjoy music, podcasts or videos without being overly distracted by external noise, thanks to their noise isolation. 

Imagine this: you’re sitting in the office with colleagues around you typing away. A plethora of sounds surround you, whether it's occasional chatter or the roar of an engine as a car zooms past – but even that’s overridden by an electric guitar blaring from the next room over. Well, let’s just say I didn’t have to do much imagining last Thursday – but, thanks to the E11D, all of this wasn’t too much of a distraction. Noise isolation here is pretty good, and although some sounds will still creep through, these buds do a nice job of keeping you zoned into whatever you’re listening to – especially considering they don’t come with specialized foam ear tips. 

One more factor that can disrupt a wired listening experience is the sound of wires moving during use. SoundMagic has done a decent job of keeping cable noise relatively dulled compared to other more budget models. You can still hear these sounds if you touch the wires, for instance, but the noise is far less imposing than I’ve heard with the Skullcandy Set USB-Cs, for example.

So far you might be thinking that me and the E11D have an unbreakable bond that could last a lifetime. Unfortunately, I’m going to have to burst that bubble. You see, these earbuds may offer solid sound and considerable comfort, but they don’t hit all the right notes, especially on the design front.

First, the E11D’s controller is pretty disappointing. While equipped with the classic volume up, down, and play/pause buttons (the latter can also be used to take or hang up calls and skip songs), the buttons themselves are so small and positioned so close together, that they can prove a challenge to use. Even my colleague with fingers smaller than mine struggled with the button controls. This is pretty frustrating if you’re trying to adjust the volume while on the go, for instance. When it comes to the E11D’s built-in mic, though, I’m pleased to report that it works very well, and I could hear myself clearly – with only a little background static – when listening back to a voice recording.

Looks-wise, the E11D aren’t stone cold stunners, but they’re also far from ugly. The rounded appearance of the actual buds lacks the sharpness of models such as the Skullcandy Set USB-C, for instance, but they're still classy in their way. Available in either black or silver, I did test a seemingly older variant of the E11D in black, which had a larger connector, plus they did have some issues working with my Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4. However, when using the newer, silver version of the E11D, I experienced no such issues, and in fact I’d argue that their cable’s twisted design makes them the better choice. 

Overall, the E11D deliver plenty of bang for their buck. The combination of hi-res audio and impressive noise isolation means that you’ll almost definitely be satisfied with what they offer.

SoundMagic E11D earbuds and gray carry case on top of orange amp

(Image credit: Future)

SoundMagic E11D review: Price and release date

  • $44 / £39.99 / AU$65
  • Launched in November 2018

SoundMagic’s E11D earbuds are available for $44 / £39.99 / AU$65 and first launched in November 2018. 

These are a budget option, but there are USB-C earbuds on the market that are cheaper still, such as the aforementioned Skullcandy Set buds, which come in at just $31.99 / £29.99 (about AU$50), but also Apple’s USB-C EarPods (list price currently $19 / £19 / AU$29). More on the Skullcandy alternative later – but be warned that in our opinion, Apple’s USB-C EarPods don’t deliver particularly great sound quality. If you want access to a higher caliber of audio, shelling out a little more on the E11D could be well worth it.

SoundMagic E11D review: Specs

SoundMagic E11D controller against orange background

(Image credit: Future)

Should you buy the SoundMagic E11D?

Buy them if...

Don't buy them if...

SoundMagic E11D review: Also consider

SoundMagic E11D review: How I tested

SoundMagic E11D hanging down against orange background

(Image credit: Future)
  • Tested across two weeks
  • Used in the office, at home, and while walking
  • Predominantly tested using Tidal on FiiO M11S hi-res music player

I tested the SoundMagic E11D earbuds in a range of environments, including the office, at home, and while out and about. When listening to music, I played tracks from the TechRadar testing playlist, which contains tracks from a vast variety of genres, in order to measure sound quality.

I also listened to hours of songs via Tidal on the FiiO M11S hi-res music player, and watched YouTube videos on my windows laptop. When appropriate, I used the Skullcandy Set USB-C buds to compare the E11D on audio quality, comfort, and ease of use.

Read more about how we test.

  •  First reviewed: June 2024
Realme V60s officially listed on the Realme China website
12:27 pm |

Author: admin | Category: Mobile phones news | Comments: Off

We only recently heard about the Realme V60 and V60s through a TENAA leak which seemed to imply that both phones have identical specs. Well, now the V60s is officially listed for sale on Realme’s China website and the regular V60 was briefly as well with the same exact specs sheets. The latter listing has now been taken down, so there is still a change that the two phones might have some specs differences after all. Anyway, the Realme V60s is an entry-level dual SIM 5G device. It is rocking a 6.67-inch HD+ display, with a 720 x 1604 pixels resolution. The panel has a 120Hz refresh...

Adobe Photoshop Express (2024) review
9:57 am |

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets Pro Software & Services | Comments: Off

There’s no denying that when it comes to the best photo editors, Adobe Photoshop sets the industry-standard. The image editing software is so ubiquitous, the name has even become a common noun. 

But Photoshop is a huge beast of a program for desktop computers. How can it be squeezed into a mobile device? Well it can, for iPads, but you can’t run that on a phone or Android device. However, by paring it down to a few cool essential features you can: enter Photoshop Express. 

Adobe Photoshop Express: Pricing & plans

Adobe Photoshop Express during our tests using a tablet

Photoshop Express can automatically detect objects and background, while allowing you to customise the selection - shame the lack of fine tune brushes can hamper this work  (Image credit: Adobe)
  • A free download is great, but the best tools are hidden behind a paywall. Still, there are numerous ways to unlock all the features, and if you subscribe to an Adobe plan that includes Photoshop, you already have Express as part of the deal. 

Photoshop Express is a free download from the App Store, Google Play and the Windows Store (no joy for Mac users, sadly). You’ll have a number of tools available to use as soon as you launch the app for the first time, but as you may expect, some premium features need to be paid for. 

If you already subscribe to one of Adobe’s packages which includes the full version of Photoshop, you’ll get access to all of Photoshop Express’ features. Prices for such plans vary widely, depending on the contract you choose, and if you're an individual, in education, or a business, but to give you an idea, an individual on a one-year contract would expect to pay $20 a month for the photography package (which includes Adobe Photoshop, Lightroom and Photoshop Express) - a much better deal than the $23 a month for Photoshop and Photoshop Express on their own. Alternatively, you could opt for $60 monthly for the 'All Apps' package (which comes with over 20 professional software packages, including Photoshop Express). 

But if none of that appeals, Photoshop Express has a standalone subscription for $5 a month or $35 a year. 

  • Pricing & plans: 4/5

Adobe Photoshop Express: Interface & experience

Adobe Photoshop Express during our tests using a tablet

Scroll through your projects, images, and templates, all from an easy to use interface  (Image credit: Adobe)
  • A very simple and streamlined interface, with numerous simplified tools at your disposal. All very easy to use, but marred by a few features that should’ve been included. 

Adobe Photoshop Express is designed to work on tablets and phones, so is ideal for editing on the go. The interface works in either orientation on a tablet, but phones appear to be restricted to portrait. 

As with any other image editing app, you can grant it access to your entire image library, or restrict it to only a chosen few (a list which can be amended at any time). You’re also able to connect to your Google Photos, DropBox and Facebook accounts, but not your iCloud files. If you work with Lightroom, you can access its online library from within Photoshop Express, and the same goes for your Creative Cloud libraries (should you have any). 

If you wish to explore and use other people’s photography, you can browse through a ‘Free Library’. Photoshop Express can Las gain access to your camera. This is not just for convenience, as the interface includes a series of interesting filters you cannot find on your device’s default camera app, such as Artful, Blue Skies and Pop Art, with each filter having a few swappable options to choose from. 

Adobe Photoshop Express during our tests using a tablet

The adjustment tools are greatly simplified, but work as expected, even if there are some omissions, such as curves  (Image credit: Adobe)

The interface itself is pared down, and easy to understand; this is a simplified version of Photoshop after all. You scroll down through your projects, photos, tutorials and templates, choose what you want to start with, and away you go.

When it comes to working on a project, most tools can be found at the bottom of the interface, with a few others located to the side. For instance the layers are found on the right. Tap on whatever you need to bring up various options, along with a slider to determine the intensity of your chosen effect.

It’s all very simple and there are even some interesting ‘smart’ tools, where internal algorithms determine what to automatically select. This works well for the Cutout and Masking tools, but as always they’re not always perfect. Thankfully you’re able to make adjustments.

There are some drawbacks though: surprisingly, the brushes lack edge detection, something that has been part and parcel of Adobe’s other offerings for some time, and would greatly improve any fine tuning you’d care to make. The lack of curves for colour correction is also disappointing, as is the lack of a refine brush. But as it’s a simplified version of Photoshop, perhaps this is something we should accept and work with.

  • Interface & experience: 3.5/5

Adobe Photoshop Express: Tools

Adobe Photoshop Express during our tests using a tablet

You can access your camera directly from within Photoshop Express, and take advantage of a series of unique filters  (Image credit: Adobe)
  • Some features are truly impressive, such as the masking and cutout tools, as well as Face Retouch, which is incredibly well implemented.  

As mentioned, there are no curves, so when it’s time to make some image adjustments, you’re offered a selection of tools represented by a thumbnail of the image you’re working with, with the effect applied to it. It’s not often easy to see what the change is, so thankfully each adjustment comes with a name. This is all fine, relatively basic and simple to use, but these adjustments have a clever trick up their sleeve: the ability to select a specific part of your photo, through automatic or manual masks, letting you apply changes to only a chosen section. Multiple objects are found automatically for you, but if you’re not happy with what's on offer, you’re free to create additional masks, and refine existing ones, with the understanding your level of precision will be limited. 

Adobe Photoshop Express during our tests using a tablet

The Face Retouch tools are impressively powerful, yet incredibly easy to use  (Image credit: Adobe)

Perhaps the most impressive feature is Face Retouch. The algorithm will automatically find a face in your photo and reveal what you can alter, including, lips, nose, eyes, contour, etc. Each offers a number of sub-categories, with a slider to apply it to your image. It’s simple, enabling you to make some pretty substantial changes, and the results are most impressive, if somewhat uncanny.

Perhaps best of all, you can continue working on your projects when you get back to your computer - as long as your devices are logged in to the same Adobe ID, and you’ve got a subscription of Photoshop of course.

Despite its limitations Photoshop Express does allow you to create fairly complex projects, like being able to combine photos, create collages, add text layers, and more. If you’re looking for a simple image compositor, that has some impressive functions. Despite lacking in certain areas, it could be worth taking a look, and maybe even opting for the premium features.

  • Tools: 4/5

Adobe Photoshop Express: Scorecard

Should I buy?

Adobe Photoshop Express during our tests using a tablet

Performing collages, mixing and matching parts of an image onto another, adding text, it’s all in a day’s work with Photoshop Express  (Image credit: Adobe)

Buy it if...

You need to apply more image editing than the default apps on your mobile device allow, and don’t mind subscribing to a product to gain access to some premium features.

Don't buy it if...

You feel constrained by some of the missing features, you’re not a fan of an app that hides its best features behind a paywall, or you prefer working on a ‘proper’ computer when editing your images. 

Avoiding Adobe? We compared all the best alternatives to Adobe Photoshop

Deals: OnePlus Nord 3 price drops to CE3 level, Realme GT 6 and vivo Y58 launch
9:14 am |

Author: admin | Category: Mobile phones news | Comments: Off

The OnePlus Nord 3 will turn 1 year old in July, but the powerful Dimensity 9000 chipset makes it seem young. It can certainly stand its ground against other mid-rangers and the current offer drops its price almost as low as the OnePlus Nord CE3. The Nord 3 is equipped with a 6.74” 120Hz display (1,240 x 2,772px, 10-bit colors). On the back is a 50MP main camera (1/1.56”) and an 8MP ultra wide, there is no tele module (only a 2MP macro cam). The 5,000mAh battery offers solid endurance and with the included 80W charger it needs only 32 minutes to get to 100%. ...

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