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Saiyin DS6305 review: a flawed but astonishingly cheap soundbar
7:01 pm | July 13, 2024

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets Soundbars Televisions | Comments: Off

Saiyin DS6305: Review

Product Info

In the US, Saiyin sells a similar product, the DS6345, that comes with a subwoofer. Please note that this is not included with the DS6305, available for purchase in the UK and Australia. This review was conducted in the UK and covers the soundbar only, although specs and dimensions for the subwoofer will be included. 

The Saiyin DS6305 is an extremely cheap soundbar that aims to provide a bit more depth for your home viewing experiences. At just £39.99 (about AU$75), you won't find many cheaper alternatives out there, but you will, inevitably, have to make some sacrifices in terms of features and sound quality. 

With the Saiyin DS6305, you get decent enough audio without any bells and whistles. There’s no Dolby Atmos, DTS:X, or anything like that – so don’t expect spatial, ultra-dynamic sound. The overall quality is actually quite good for the price, with the main draw being the relatively powerful bass output. I was impressed by the added depth it offered compared to the plain old TV audio from my Hisense U7K TV, which, for reference, has a built-in subwoofer to bolster low-end frequencies. 

When streaming Dune (2021) via Netflix, the film’s deep, atmospheric score and sound effects were far more impactful with the DS6305 than just my TV. Bass was still not super clean or intricately detailed, but it was delivered with a solid amount of power nonetheless, especially considering the absence of a subwoofer. The movie’s dialogue was sometimes a little lacking in clarity, but totally passable – just don’t expect the kind of quality you’d get from one of the best soundbars

I then tested how the DS6305 fared with sport by tuning into a UEFA Euro 2024 match. The commentary wasn’t crystal clear amidst the booming crowd noise – which was emulated a lot more faithfully than in standalone TV audio – but it wasn’t totally drowned out, resulting in an adequate listening experience. 

To measure the soundbar’s gaming performance, I played Shin Megami Tensei V: Vengeance on the PlayStation 5. Jumping in an open, echoey area sounded a lot more natural than on my TV audio, especially the depth of the character’s feet against the concrete floor. The game has a very ambient, atmospheric soundtrack, which was complemented by the DS6305, but, again, the bass was a little muddied at times. This really sums up the audio quality on offer here: you’ll get more power, bass, and full-bodied sound than from just your TV, but don’t expect impeccable quality or game-changing expansiveness.

Saiyin DS6305 positioned below Amazon Fire TV

(Image credit: Future)

When watching videos, TV, or films, I made sure to use the Movie EQ mode – one of the three available options alongside Music and News. When listening to some music on Spotify, I switched between Music and Movie mode to gauge the key differences, but surprisingly, I couldn’t make out any discernible change. I also tuned into BBC News to test out the News mode, and apart from a very slight increase in volume, I didn't hear anything strikingly different. As a result, I’d have to say that changing between the 3 EQ ‘modes’ is barely worth your time. 

Looping back to my Spotify listening session, I wasn’t anticipating something that would produce beautiful-sounding audio and I honestly felt that the DS6305 didn’t perform too badly. When tuning in to I Want You by Moloko, I will admit that the opening vocals – intended to have a pure, breathy sound – weren’t particularly clear, perhaps less so than my normal TV audio. Beyond that, though, the overall listening experience was far better with the soundbar, which wasn’t bad at capturing the various instruments entering into a densely layered, exciting mix. Sure, it did tend to lean more heavily on bass and I couldn’t make out every last detail of the track, but this is pretty typical for the price. 

I also wanted to get a sense of how high-frequency sounds came through, so I listened to Rains Again by Solji. This song has markedly high-pitched vocals throughout and I found that these certainly didn’t have the sweetness or delicacy that really make it pop, but the audio wasn’t particularly tinny or grating. If you do want to use this soundbar for any kind of music, it will do the job – just don’t expect great quality.

Front of Saiyin DS6305

(Image credit: Future)

The DS6305 is very cheap, and unsurprisingly, it looks cheap. It’s enclosed in standard black plastic housing and has a relatively feeble foam material protecting the speaker. The soundbar has an LED light strip that fills up depending on volume level and changes color depending on the connectivity option being used – a neat inclusion (though it simply flashes off and back on when you flick between the different EQ presets, which isn’t the clearest way to show you’ve switched to a new mode). The shape is perhaps a little unorthodox – due to its triangular form, I couldn't fit it under my TV stand – so ensure you have enough space to play with if you’re planning on purchasing this soundbar. 

The DS6305 comes with a remote, which requires two AAA batteries (not included). It may seem like a small thing, but I was disappointed by the quality of the controller – particularly because lower-case 'i's on the buttons have backward-leaning accents (for some reason), and the use of capitalization across the different buttons is sporadic, to say the least. Grammar issues aside, the remote is responsive and enables you to adjust volume levels and switch between connectivity options (including digital optical, AUX, and Bluetooth). There are also button controls on the soundbar itself for ARC coaxial, which is a bit odd because it doesn’t come with a cable to support this. 

There’s no option to connect the DS6305 via HDMI, meaning you won’t be able to use your standard TV remote to control the soundbar’s volume levels. The lack of an HDMI port also means that setup isn’t optimal, but it was fairly straightforward to connect the soundbar to my TV via the included digital optical cable instead. 

Saiyin DS6305 remote on wooden surface

(Image credit: Future)

The Saiyin DS6305 soundbar impressed me in some departments but failed to inspire in others. If you want a super cheap solution to add a bit of bass and power to your setup, this could be worth taking a look at. The build quality is, of course, pretty unimpressive and the soundbar’s awkward shape makes it a little less ideal for those working with limited space, not to mention there’s no HDMI connectivity option, which is a shame. 

If you want a soundbar that offers slightly better audio quality at a price that’s easy to stomach, you’ll be better off selecting a product from our guide to the best cheap soundbar deals.

Saiyin DS6305 positioned below Amazon Fire TV

(Image credit: Future)

Saiyin DS6305 review: Price and release date

  • $59.99 for soundbar with subwoofer (US) on Amazon
  • £39.99 (about AU$75) for soundbar only (UK & Australia) on Amazon
  • Launched in March 2023

Saiyin doesn’t have its own online store, but you can purchase the DS6305 from Amazon – prices are, of course, subject to change. In the US, the DS6305 comes with a subwoofer and costs the ultra-low price of $59.99. In the UK and Australia, however, you purchase the soundbar on its own for what is still a very modest price of £39.99 (about AU$75).  

Saiyin DS6305 review: Specs

Reverse side of Saiyin DS6305 exposing 'power' and 'sub out' ports

(Image credit: Future)

Should you buy the Saiyin DS6305?

Buy it if...

You want a super-cheap soundbar
At £39.99 (about AU$75) you won't find many cheaper soundbars out there. The Saiyin DS6305 isn’t a phenomenal product, but if you’re on a tight budget and just want an improvement over standard TV audio, this could be worth it for you. 

You’re not overly fussy on quality
Of course, the DS6305 isn’t going to offer premium sound. In fairness, you’ll have to spend a bit more if you’re someone who values top-quality audio, and there are a lot of strong budget options sitting at around the $100 / £100 / AU$150 mark. However, this soundbar will give you a bit more power, especially in the low-end, so if you want to get a little more enjoyment out of blockbuster movies or gaming experiences, it could be a decent pick.  

Don't buy it if...

You want a sleek, stylish aesthetic
The DS6305 doesn’t look amazing due to a combination of its slightly awkward shape and cheap build quality. That’s not a massive problem for many, but if you’re the sort of person who prioritizes style, then it’s worth looking elsewhere. A budget alternative that has a more diminutive soundbar and even includes a subwoofer is the Ultimea Nova S50 – more on this later. 

You’re on the hunt for spatial audio
The DS6305 is a 2.0-channel soundbar so you won't get all the benefits of surround sound. There’s no Dolby Atmos or DTS:X at play either, so if you’re expecting expansive, three-dimensional audio, you’ll be disappointed. If you want to experience Atmos, then it may be worth selecting a soundbar from our guide to the best Dolby Atmos soundbars and speakers.

Saiyin DS6305: Also consider

Ultimea Nova S50
The Ultimea Nova S50 is another super cheap option for those looking to elevate their TV audio setup. It comes with an ultra-slim soundbar as well as a subwoofer, which means it'll be a bit more pleasing in the bass department than the Saiyin DS6305 and can add a bit more atmosphere to your viewing experiences. It doesn’t offer particularly great sound quality, and although it's labeled as Dolby Atmos compatible, you don’t really get three-dimensional audio. However, if you’re not too picky on quality, the Nova S50 could be a decent choice. Read our full Ultimea Nova S50 review here. 

Hisense HS214
It may be a few years old now, but the Hisense HS214 is still a solid soundbar for those on a tight budget. It’s a bit wider than the Saiyin DS6305 and has a built-in subwoofer. It doesn't have Dolby Atmos, so you won’t experience massively immersive audio, but you do get pretty clear vocals and decent build quality. 

Saiyin DS6305 review: How I tested

  • Tested over the course of a week
  • Connected to my Hisense U7K TV at home
  • Predominantly used the digital optical connectivity option

I put the Saiyin DS6305 to the test for a full week. I used the digital optical connectivity option to connect the soundbar to my Hisense U7K TV at home. 

I tracked performance across three key areas: video media; gaming; and music. When testing, I watched a variety of TV shows, videos, and movies on Netflix and YouTube, among others; played multiple video games on the PlayStation 5 and Nintendo Switch consoles; and listened to music from the TechRadar testing playlist via the PS5 version of the Spotify app.

YouTube Music review: no doubt it’s gaining on Spotify, so is it time to switch?
1:00 pm |

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

YouTube Music: two-minute review

YouTube Music is YouTube’s music streaming service. It works like rivals Spotify and Tidal, with an app that looks similar. However, it’s not as nice to look at or as intuitive to use as the best music streaming services, especially when it comes to creating playlists. 

Sound-wise, it’s similar to the Spotify experience but doesn’t have high-res streaming or boosted audio quality, in the way that Tidal, Qobuz and and Apple Music do. It also has recommendations in the form of “radio”, which generates a radio station with a selection of music like the track you’re listening to, and personalized playlists. They get to know you well, but don’t suggest the kind of eerily accurate recommendations (or bizarrely-named Daylist titles) that Spotify has become known for. 

Apologies for constantly comparing YouTube Music to Spotify, but it’s long been the best music streaming service for many – and the platform most people are familiar with. And when you do get into the weeds and compare the two side-by-side, you start to ask the question: why would someone use YouTube Music when better, more intuitive alternatives exist?

The thing is, nothing about YouTube Music is bad. You just find most things – audio, recommendations, app experience, connectivity – are better from rivals. However, there are two key things that make YouTube Music the best proposition for its 100 million subscribers (that includes both free and premium versions).

The first is that it comes with YouTube Premium. This is YouTube’s paid-for subscription that strips ads from videos. For people who already pay for that, it’s similar enough to other streaming services, so why pay twice for another service like Spotify too? 

Secondly, it has a dedicated base of users who want to have access to all of the music in its library. You’ll find everything uploaded to YouTube here too, which means user uploaded music (including your own), remixes, amateur music, recordings of live sets, more obscure tracks, emerging artists and much more. 

YouTube Music is also constantly rolling out improvements to its offering. For example, it added podcasts in late 2023 and recently announced a sing to search feature, which lets you literally sing into your phone and it’ll find the track for you. As well as a new prompt-generated AI radio trial. Which, to be fair, Spotify already does in the form of AI DJ and its more recent AI playlist generator which is (in Beta at the time of writing this review, but) really fun to use. 

Yes, Spotify got there first with some of these upgrades, but YouTube Music seems to be taking major steps to catch up. It would be a sensible moment to do so, given the fact some users are growing tired of Spotify’s promises, especially after the PR disaster when it bricked Car Thing earlier this year – and the fact it has yet to deliver on its hi-res Spotify HiFi promises, despite recent price hikes. Does YouTube Music have what it takes to compete? Read on for our full YouTube Music review.

Screenshots of the YouTube Music app on a smartphone.

Your Music Tuner is a feature within YouTube Music that allows you to select your favorite artists so it can quickly get to work preparing recommendations and getting to know your tastes. (Image credit: YouTube)

YouTube Music: what is it?

Before we get into what YouTube Music is, let’s get clear on YouTube’s different offerings. So firstly, there’s YouTube. We’re all familiar with this hugely popular video streaming service. There’s YouTube Premium, a subscription service that gives you more YouTube features, like playing music in the background on mobile devices and stripping away ads. 

Then there’s YouTube Music, a music streaming service that also incorporates regular YouTube’s music videos. It’s best to think of it as a mash-up of the original YouTube app and Google Play Music. Because YouTube is part of the Google ecosystem, it’s tied to your Google account.

There are a couple of ways to pay for YouTube Music. We’ll get into that in more detail below, but you can access it for free with some restrictions and there’s a premium version. One of the big benefits for YouTube Premium subscribers is that they’ll also get access to YouTube Music premium bundled into the deal. 

At the time of writing, YouTube has recently announced that there are now 100 million subscribers to YouTube Music, which includes both free and premium users. 

In terms of what YouTube Music offers, there are more than 100 million tracks. But it’s also home to anything users have uploaded to YouTube that’s classed as music, amateur content, unofficial content, more obscure content, you get the picture. This is one of the unique selling points of YouTube Music. Not only is there a lot here, but music you’ve uploaded can live among everything else you’re streaming. Good news for those who like everything neatly in one place.

Otherwise, YouTube Music looks and feels very similar to other streaming services. You’ve got a grid-like app with suggested music and personalized playlists packed with recommendations, and there’s the ability to save tracks, like them and add them to playlists.

YouTube Music review: pricing and subscription

  • A free version with restrictions
  • YouTube Music premium is $10.99/£10/AU$11.99 per month
  • Premium tier comes free with YouTube Premium

Just like Spotify, there’s a free version of YouTube Music. This has some restrictions. It’ll have ads and you can’t download tracks for offline listening. A YouTube Music Premium subscription is $10.99/£10/AU$11.99 per month and that rids the experience of ads and means you can download tracks, albums and playlists for offline listening. 

As we mentioned above, you can also access YouTube Music by paying for a YouTube Premium subscription. That costs $13.99/£11.99/AU$16.99 per month but you can test it out with a free trial, which at the time of writing is for three months. 

At $10.99/£10/AU$11.99 per month, YouTube Music is around the same price as most rivals, including Tidal, which is also $10.99/£10.99/$11.99. Spotify’s premium tier costs $10.99 / £10.99 / AU$12.99 a month, so YouTube Music is slightly cheaper. 

As we’ll get to later on, there are ways in which both Tidal and Spotify beat YouTube Music, which makes it seem as if it’s not good value. Then again, there are some key things YouTube Music offers users that rivals don’t, so everything starts to balance out – depending on what you’re looking for. 

A screenshot of youtube music app in browser

My Mix 2 is a playlist generated from my listening history, packed with tracks I've not listened to on YouTube Music but certainly aligns with my tastes. (Image credit: YouTube)

YouTube Music review: audio quality

  • No high-res
  • Spotify marginally better
  • Sounds the same as Spotify in testing

When you start using YouTube Music, you’ll automatically be listening to ‘Normal’ audio quality, which is a bitrate of 128kbps. If you want to save on data when streaming from your phone, you can go into the Settings in the app and change to ‘Low’ quality, a bitrate of 48kbps. If you’re on an unlimited monthly plan (you lucky thing you), you can select ‘High’, which is 256kbps. 

Even that highest bitrate is low compared to rivals though – especially rivals that offer hi-res and lossless listening, like Tidal. But even Spotify Premium allows you to stream music at 320kbps. It’s not just about the bitrate either, YouTube Music delivers AAC-compressed audio, which can lack the detail and clarity of the more hi-res audio file types.

However, there’s some speculation online (take a look at Reddit) about why YouTube Music sounds better than Spotify for some listeners. During my testing, I didn’t notice a major difference between the two. Despite Spotify’s minor quality bump, if anything, YouTube Music had a richer and more expansive sound. Then again, this is of course subjective and while I marginally favor YouTube's sonic presentation, it's also dependant upon how you listen; if you're streaming wirelessly via Bluetooth (which incurs compression) or using the DAC inbuilt in your laptop (rather than one of the best portable DACs hooked up to some of the best wired headphones, which would be largely wasted here anyway) you're unlikely to notice much difference. 

What matters most here is to note that like Spotify, you won’t get audiophile-grade sound from YouTube Music, but in a battle strictly between the two, there’s not much in it.

The Sessions tab in youtube music shows music videos and content that's been recorded live.

(Image credit: youtube music)

YouTube Music review: catalog

  • A huge selection of music
  • Live sessions and videos too
  • More obscure and unofficial tracks

Gone are the days of judging streaming services by the number of tracks they have in their library. With only a handful of exceptions, you’ll find more artists and types of music everywhere you look. 

However, if you’ve ever felt like Spotify and the like aren’t catering enough for your tastes, then YouTube Music could be a great choice for you. Most of what you’ll find on rivals like Spotify are official tracks. On YouTube Music, you’ll find all of the music uploaded to YouTube, which means you’ll get mixes, fan uploads, work from amateur artists, more obscure tracks, rare stuff, and so much more. 

It’s worth mentioning here that although this sounds great, it won’t be for everyone. For example, if you search for a track you often don’t get the official track served up first, but endless mashups and remixes. This will be, quite literally, music to the ears of those who have always craved more choice. But others will be overwhelmed and want to be spoon-fed the more mainstream, regular version – I’m not ashamed to say that although I found YouTube Music incredibly fun to use, I definitely fall more into this last camp.

As well as getting access to more music, there are a lot of extras here. You can easily tap to see the music video of anything you’re listening to if one exists – which you’d expect from YouTube. Although other streaming services do offer some video, it works seamlessly here. Great if you’re a fan of music videos, you’ll feel like you’re transported back to your teens watching MTV again.

You’re also able to add any music you already have, whether that’s on your Google Play Music library, iTunes or a hard drive, to your YouTube Music library. This is great if you feel like you’ve got pockets of disparate music and want what you own, and what you stream, to be in one place. FLAC, M4A, MP3, OGG, and WMA files are all supported and the process of uploading them is really straightforward, just go to your profile via the web and click ‘Upload music’.

Late in 2023, YouTube Music added podcasts to its offering, sort of folding in Google Podcasts, which is in the process of being discontinued. We can’t find an official number about how many podcasts are available through YouTube Music, but it seems that some of the big names and popular shows are here, but not everything. If you’re really into podcasts, especially those that don’t rake in the big viewer numbers, you’d be better off looking elsewhere. 

A screenshot of how the youtube music streaming service looks on the web when opened in the google chrome browser

Here's what the home page of YouTube Music looks like when you open it within a browser. (Image credit: youtube music)

YouTube Music review: platforms and apps

  • Main iOS and Android apps are good
  • Some clunky UI points
  • Rivals do it a little better

There’s an iOS and an Android YouTube Music app. It also works as a web player from your browser, on Sonos, some Fitbit and Garmin devices, Apple HomePod and on anything related to Google, like Wear OS smartwatches, Google Home and Nest speakers and Chromecast. Rivals like Spotify and Tidal have more connectivity options, but these are likely to be enough for most people. 

We tested YouTube Music using the iOS app. It’s functionally similar to rivals and, as it’s been updated over the past year, it looks like them too (especially Tidal). Expect black and grey styling and bright artwork for albums and recommendations. Content is presented in a scrolling, grid-like layout. It’s a design we’re familiar with but that’s fine because it works well and feels clean, simple and easy-to-use.

Wherever you use YouTube Music you’ll find slightly different variations of the same layout, just tweaked for different screen sizes. You’ll find Home, Explore and Library tabs. Home is where new tracks, recommendations and playlists, both generic and curated live. Explore contains more searchable content, recommendations and ways to find new tracks based on moods and genres. And Library is where everything you’ve saved and curated lives. 

Something about the experience doesn’t feel quite as slick or smartly designed as Spotify or Apple Music at times. But it’s still nice to use and we’re maybe nit-picking here. What we’re saying is, if you haven’t tried the others you would probably be content. If you have, there’s a sort of clunkiness that takes a few days to get used to. 

Screenshots of the youtube music app for ios

The home page shows you recommended tracks and albums YTM thinks you might like. There are also different moods across the top, I loved Feel Good for its top suggestions. (Image credit: Youtube Music)

YouTube Music review: playlists and recommendations

  • Solid recommendations
  • Plans to make them better
  • Spotify is still king here

Like all music streaming services, the more you use YouTube Music, the more it learns about your tastes and preferences. You can get recommendations in a bunch of ways. You can play the ‘Radio’ option from any track or album, which generates a radio station filled with similar tracks and artists. There are also a bunch of playlists that update regularly and are personalized to you, including Discover Mix, Replay Mix and New Release Mix. Over time, you’ll get even more to sit different moods, like Workout Supermix, Romantic Supermix and Focus Supermix.

There’s also the ability to create your own radio station. Through a feature called Your Music Tuner, which is located in the Home tab of the app, you can fine-tune a custom radio station experience. You select artists, artist variety and tweak other filters. When you’re done, the YouTube Music algorithm will build a custom station that you can continue to tune. 

After trialling YouTube Music for several weeks, I can confidently say it’s got to know me and my preferences. Many of the suggested tracks and artists are the kind of music I like listening to. I also love that mixes are created for certain moods and situations. But it doesn’t quite feel as good as Spotify. 

Now, I’m willing to admit this could be subjective and I’ve been using Spotify longer. But Spotify’s recommendations feel fresher to me. I have that eerie sense that new tracks and artists (and even new genres) are unearthed that I like but have never heard before. Whereas youTube Music serves up some of the same artists and tracks again and again. This is nice and still has a personalized touch, but doesn’t feel quite so effective for new music discovery.

Then again, I’m well aware we’re comparing YouTube Music to the best of the best. Although not everyone loves them, Spotify’s recommendations and generated playlists are one of the main draws of the music streaming service. 

As mentioned above in the intro, YouTube Music is making changes and adding AI to create better playlists. As far as I can tell (these features haven’t rolled out yet), they’re largely the same as Spotify’s offering, but it’ll be interesting to see how that pans out in future.

Another way YouTube Music wants you to find new music is with Samples. YouTube Music is going all in on this as it has a whole tab of its own in the mobile app. Think of Samples as TikTok for music. Click on the tab and you’ll be served a continuous feed of short form video clips to get you interested in new artist and tracks. This is a nice touch for integrating video and will take you back to the days of finding out about new artists from the likes of MTV and Kerrang. 

Want to create your own playlists? That’s easy too, with the same kind of look and feel as Spotify and Tidal. Simply add a track to a playlist then you can choose a name for it and select an artwork theme. YouTube Music will serve up suggestions for new tracks you can add, which I’m often doing instinctively now. The functionality doesn’t feel quite as natural as rivals, for example, you can’t search within a playlist. 

YouTube Music review: should you subscribe?

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  • First reviewed: July 2024
HP Z40c G3 WUHD IPS USB-C Curved Monitor review
10:46 am |

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

HP Z40c G3: 30-second review

The pure scale of the HP Z40c G3 WUHD IPS USB-C Curved Monitor is apparent as soon as the lid of the box is lifted, and even the assembly instructions highlight that the base should be fitted to the monitor prior to lifting and removal. Initial assembly is quick, with the stand clicking into position and the base screwing neatly into place before the monitor is lifted from the box and manoeuvred into its final position. 

Due to the size of the curved screen and gloss finish, a position had to be found to limit reflections and glare from overhead lighting, windows, or anything else that could cause issues, an issue all monitors have but amplified here due to scale. 

That aside, once the position was sorted and the monitor switched on, the HP Display Control and Device Bridge software solutions were installed before a DataColor SpyderX2 was used to calibrate the screen ready for use. 

Having tested the best monitors, as a standard display, the additional real estate offered by HP Z40C is instantly beneficial. It enables you to quickly shift screens and content around the screen rather than needing to close down windows, and it's a far neater solution than a dual monitor setup. What makes the use even more effective is the ability, through the HP Display control software, to snap windows to different areas of the screen. This effectively enables you to accurately layout all your windows at different sizes and positions, which is extremely useful if you're switching between jobs.

While the Display Control is useful, the Device Bridge takes things a step further, enabling you to utilise one keyboard and mouse across two systems as long as they're connected through USB Type-C. This system also enables two machines to be hooked up to the same display, and then through the OSD, you can select to split the screen to show the displays of the two different machines on the same display and to cross over the use of the keyboard and mouse, it's like a switcher but more advanced. 

After a while of using the monitor with a couple of machines, the actions through the OSD become more natural, and the benefits of using the monitor really help in terms of workflow. For general administration, Word documents, and office work, the monitor's benefits are obvious, and a single-screen base takes up far less space than multiple monitors. However, when you switch over to photography, the monitor's colour profile is limited to the P3 standard, and it only reaches 88% of the Adobe RGB scale. However, with several Gamut profiles, it is possible to switch between pre-calibrated options when needed quickly, including REC 709 for video. 

For a monitor of such scale and with the features to match, there is little not to like about the HP Z40c G3. Screen quality is superb as long as you avoid reflections, and for most general use, office, gaming, graphics, and video work, this monitor absolutely nails it.

HP Z40c G3: Price and availability

HP Z40c G3

(Image credit: Alastair Jennings)
  • How much does it cost? £1439 / $1699
  • When is it out? Available now
  • Where can you get it? You can get it from the HP website

The HP Z40c G3 monitor is available for purchase directly from HP's website and various authorized retailers. Prices typically range around $1,699, but may vary based on promotions and retailer pricing. The monitor includes a three-year limited warranty covering parts, labour, and on-site service. It is recommended to check HP's official website or trusted retailers for the most up-to-date pricing and availability information. 

  • Value: 4.5 / 5

HP Z40c G3: Specifications

HP Z40c G3: Design

HP Z40c G3

(Image credit: Alastair Jennings)

The monitor's scale and curved nature mean that every component needs solid materials and build to balance and support the weight. Thankfully, the all-metal base and mixture of plastic and metal used throughout the design give the monitor a high-quality look and feel.

However, anything of this size is going to need some careful manoeuvring, and HP has gone to lengths on the packaging, instructions and labelling to ensure that when the box containing the monitor arrives, you follow the procedure for removal. This makes what could be a tricky and weighty manoeuvre for the monitor into position into something that is actually quite easy, although a bit of muscle power or an additional pair of hands will make things easier. 

The monitor extraction process starts with the screen remaining in the box and then involves clicking the stand into the back of the still-seated monitor and then bolting in the base. This all takes a couple of minutes, and then, when secure, the monitor can be lifted out and positioned on your chosen desk. As always, it's worth having a good clear surface so you can easily attach the cables to the rear of the monitor, even more so here, with the scale of the monitor initially requiring as much space as you can give it. Once in place and it's time to connect up, there's a good selection of ports for HDMI and USB Type-C, as well as a Display port and, of course, the AC power, which is of the standard kettle lead type. 

The power and volume-up/down buttons are under the right side of the monitor, and a control pad on the rear right of the monitor gives you access to the extensive OSD.

Once plugged in through USB Type-C, the monitor fires to life; if you go through HDMI, then an additional USB Type-B can then be fitted with a more standard Type-A to go into your computer for the data connection. Otherwise, everything can be connected through USB Type-C, which makes it easier. The data connection enables the connection abilities to the HP software, which is essential if you are to make the most of what this monitor has to offer and to access some of the more advanced features, such as monitor splitting and window alignment. 

While there are obvious design differences between this large-scale curved monitor and a traditional flat example, there are other smaller design differences that are less apparent. Most notably, you can plug two machines or video sources into the same monitor and then split the screen so those sources display side by side. 

HP Z40c G3

(Image credit: Alastair Jennings)
  • Design: 4 / 5

HP Z40c G3: Features

The HP Z40c G3 monitor boasts a range of features that make it ideal for professional environments, especially those requiring large amounts of screen space or connection to multiple machines. Firstly, the physical dimensions are impressive, with the ultra-wide 21:9 aspect ratio screen measuring 39.7" and offering a maximum resolution of WUHD (5120 x 2160) on the IPS panel screen.

On arrival, the HP Z40c G3 comes with factory colour calibration, which achieves a Delta E of less than 2. This ensures that colour differences are virtually indistinguishable to the human eye and should provide incredibly accurate and true-to-life colours. This means that if you are a professional graphic designer, video editor, or another field where colour accuracy is important, you can start using the monitor without the need for calibration. In this test, we ran the SpyderX2 colour calibration on the monitor, and sure enough, the initial calibration was excellent.

Like many of the best business monitors, the large scale here makes it ideal for large video meetings, with plenty of space for everyone to appear on screen alongside presentations. As standard, the screen comes with Zoom certification that guarantees seamless integration with Zoom's software. Keeping things neat and backing up that Zoom partnership, the monitor features a built-in Mic, speakers and a webcam that pops out of the top of the screen and offers Windows Hello compatibility and a discrete IR sensor for additional security. Through the OSD, you also have the option to customise the webcam and audio settings, which enables adjustments to brightness, exposure, and volume with simple sliders.

This monitor really comes into its own if you work with multiple devices. Using the HP Device Bridge 2.0 software enables you to control two devices with one keyboard and mouse and even copy, paste, drag, and drop files between them. 

When it comes to sustainability, the Z40c G3 is made using 80% recycled plastics, and the packaging is 100% recyclable.

Another area that HP has invested in with this monitor is eye health. With the HP Eye Ease technology, this always-on low-blue light filter helps to reduce eye strain without impacting colour accuracy. Monitor position and adjustability are other important health factors, and here, the monitor enables adjustable tilt, height, and swivel settings.

Finally, the Z40c G3 offers extensive connectivity options, with most being positioned on the back; these include USB-C, HDMI, DisplayPort, and multiple USB-A ports, with two on the underside of the bottom of the monitor.

HP Z40c G3

(Image credit: Alastair Jennings)
  • Features: 4.5 / 5

HP Z40c G3: Performance

HP Z40c G3

(Image credit: Alastair Jennings)

The HP Z40c G3 is a versatile monitor that will suit a variety of settings, including an office environment. The large screen with plenty of real estate is ideal for laying out multiple documents, video conferencing, or working across two machines on one display. 

During our benchmarks, the monitor demonstrated decent overall performance, with a gamut score of 5/5, showing that it covers the standard sRGB and P3 colour spaces exceptionally well. This makes it suitable for most office applications, such as Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, where accurate colour reproduction is essential for creating visually appealing documents and presentations.

The tone response also scored a perfect 5/5, ensuring that the monitor delivers smooth gradients and detailed shadows. This is particularly beneficial for viewing complex spreadsheets and detailed charts in Excel, as well as for creating more graphically led PowerPoint presentations. The 21:9 aspect ratio and WUHD resolution provide a substantial amount of screen real estate, enabling you to multitask easily by having multiple windows open side by side. This wide-screen format is ideal for productivity, essentially reducing the need to switch between tabs and lessening the need to minimise windows.

The contrast ratio, rated at 5/5, ensures deep blacks and bright whites, enhancing the readability of text and clarity of images. The luminance uniformity score of 4.0 and colour uniformity score of 4.5 suggest that the display maintains consistent brightness and colour accuracy across the entire screen, which is crucial for prolonged use without causing eye strain. Again, eye health protection is further backed up with the HP Eye Ease technology.

While the white point score of 3/5 indicates that the monitor's colour temperature might not be perfect out of the box for your location, it can still be calibrated to meet personal preferences. This score is based on the ambient light temperature compared to your monitor and is an important consideration if you're working on colour-sensitive work. The built-in HP Eye Ease low blue light filter also helps reduce eye strain during extended periods of use, making this monitor a solid choice for office environments.

In a creative studio setting, the HP Z40c G3 offers mixed performance. Its large, curved display and high resolution make it one of the best monitors for photo editing and best monitors for video editing, benefitting from the expansive screen space. The ability to show and share content from two devices simultaneously using HP Device Bridge 2.0 is a huge boost to workflow and is almost worth the purchase just for this ability, enabling you to drag and drop files between a workstation and a laptop, for example.

However, the monitor's colour accuracy, rated at 4.0, is OK for most design tasks, but it does have limitations. The fact that it only covers the sRGB and P3 colour gamuts, and not the wider AdobeRGB, can be a drawback for photographers and graphic designers who require precise colour matching for print work. However, for video editing, the inclusion of REC 709 as a preset does make things easy, ensuring that video projects are edited with a colour space commonly used in the industry.

The HP Z40c G3's built-in features, such as the pop-up privacy webcam and integrated speakers, add to its appeal for a studio environment. They enable easy video conferencing and the ease of a laptop when it comes to making video calls with no need to search for where you've put the webcam, mic or speakers. The overall rating of 4.5 reflects its performance and versatility, although the limitations in colour gamut coverage should be considered depending on the specific needs of the creative professional.

HP Z40c G3

(Image credit: Alastair Jennings)
  • Performance: 4 / 5

HP Z40c G3: Final verdict

The HP Z40c G3 is a versatile and high-performing monitor that excels in both general office use and creative studio environments. Its impressive colour calibration for general use, expansive screen real estate, and stylish design make it a great option for general professional use. While it may not cover the wider Adobe RGB colour gamut, it performs exceptionally well within the sRGB and P3 spaces, making it suitable for most professional tasks. Overall, it offers excellent value for money.

Should you buy a HP Z40c G3?

HP Z40c G3

(Image credit: Alastair Jennings)

Buy it if...

Don't buy it if...


We tested out the best 4K curved monitors - and these are our favorites.

Miele Classic C1 vacuum cleaner review
9:00 am |

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets Home Small Appliances Vacuums | Tags: | Comments: Off

Miele Classic C1 Flex two-minute review

The Miele Classic C1 vacuum cleaner comes in three very similar and identically-priced options: a Junior version with a sectioned suction tube, a standard version with a telescopic tube and XXL handle, and a Flex version with a telescopic tube and  an extra long, flexible crevice nozzle for cleaning difficult-to-reach places. In this review I tested the Miele Classic C1 Flex vacuum cleaner.

Although the Miele Classic C1 Flex is very well engineered and comes with an enormous amount of suction power – 800 watts of it – one questions whether a corded cylinder vac of this nature still has a place in the 21st century, let alone among the best vacuum cleaners. Aside from having to keep plugging it into different power outlets around the home and the extra baggage of having a long suction hose that makes it tricky to carry, the most awkward facet of this vacuum cleaner is the static brush head that makes it very strenuous to push on anything other than smooth hard flooring.

Miele Classic C1 Flex and a cuddly toy

(Image credit: Future)

Budgetary concern may sound like a very valid reason for opting for a corded model like the Classic C1 Flex but when you bear in mind that today's marketplace is filled with many modern cordless alternatives from the likes of Shark, Samsung, Vax and Tineco that cost roughly the same while performing just as well on hard floor and even better on carpet, it starts to look like the Classic C1 Flex may have passed its sell-by date.

Miele Classic C1 Flex review: price & availability

  • Price: $349 / £199 /  AU pricing varies
  • Available in a few variants (C1, C1 Flex, C1 Junior) for the same price
  • Flex version only available in the UK

The pricing and options for the Classic C1 depend on where you live. In the UK, there are a few variants – the C1, C1 Flex, C1 Junior – all for the same price of £199. In the US, there's a Classic C1 for a list price of $349 or a C1 Turbo Team PowerLine for $469 (this one comes with an added 'Turbobrush' aimed at tackling pet hair specifically). In Australia the range isn't as clear-cut because it's not listed on the official Miele website, but there are various options available at third party retailers, at a range of prices.

In terms of value for money, it's acceptable but not amazing. There are plenty of competitors' options in a similar ballpark, which I think offer better performance. 

  • Value for money score: 3 out of 5

Miele Classic C1 Flex specs

Miele Classic C1 vacuum cleaner review: design

  • Excellent build quality
  • Easy to pull around
  • Disappointing multi-floor head

Ask any modern tech-savvy householder whether they would ever consider buying a corded vacuum cleaner and they will probably tell you that that ship has sailed. I would tend to agree given that I am now so fully invested in everything cordless, from my stick vacs and robot vac to every outdoor garden power tool I have in the shed, including the lawnmower. Let’s face it, a corded cylinder vac like the Miele Classic C1 Flex I have on review here could never match a cordless stick for outright convenience and the ability to quickly vacuum a room before guests arrive.

On the flip side, corded cylinder vacs are quite often cheaper to buy than their equivalently powered cordless brethren and they'll never run out of power, which means you could vacuum every floor of a country mansion and then do the gatehouse and the rest of the neighborhood while you’re at it. Try that with a cordless stick vac and see how far you get.

Miele Classic C1 Flex and accessories on a rug

(Image credit: Future)

When it comes to household items, Miele is unquestionably one of the most prestigious brands around, and this is due in no small part to the overall quality of everything the company’s design team turns its hands to. After all, German-made Miele products are known to last for years – decades even – and this is testament to both the quality of materials used and the way they’re put together.

Take the Classic C1 Flex. Miele doesn’t advertise the types of plastic used in its vacuum cleaner bodies, but take it from me, this model is tough enough to withstand a fall down the stairs. I know this because I accidentally pulled my test model down a short flight and the body survived unscathed, even after clouting the wall at the bottom.

However, I am also mindful that there are are couple of oddities with the Classic C1 Flex that I find disheartening given Miele’s generally impeccable design ethos. For instance, other Miele cylinder vacs I’ve reviewed or owned have always had a handy little hideaway area under the lid to store away the provided detail tools. By contrast, this one comes with a plastic tool holder that clips on to the base of the concertina hose.

The Miele Classic C1 Flex's cylinder

(Image credit: Future)

This not only looks incongruous but the tools have a tendency to fall off if snagged against furnishings when pulling the unit along. I have since resorted to removing the holder and storing the tools in a bag along with the other 1,001 detail tools I’ve gathered over the years. For the record, the Classic C1 Flex ships with a rectangular upholstery nozzle, a crevice nozzle, a dusting brush and, as the ‘Flex’ moniker suggests, a long flexible nozzle tool for cleaning in hard-to-reach places.

Another element I’m not at all keen on is the main brush head. This is a much more serious anomaly in my opinion because this sole item is key to how well the cleaner works and how easy it is to push and pull, especially when used on carpet. Where most modern vacs are equipped with an optimally-positioned motorized brush head that swallows most larger items while beating its bristles deep into carpet pile, the Miele Classic C1 Flex ships with an old-fashioned static head comprising a single layer of stiff bristles at the front and two flexible plastic strips just behind it.

Underside of the Miele Classic C1 Flex's floor head

(Image credit: Future)

I’ll tell you more about this floor head in the performance chapter but, in short, it is extremely grippy when used on carpet and very difficult to push without breaking into a sweat. Given that its stablemate, the Miele Complete C2 Cat & Dog, ships with an easier-to-push motorised head for just £40 more, it seems like a missed opportunity on Miele’s part to not to equip all of its corded vacs with a motorised floor head.

The Classic C1 Flex features six levels of suction power which are accessed via a dial on the rear. Each setting is illustrated with an icon – curtains, upholstery, rugs, energy-saving, carpet and hard floor – but you can ignore that and just go for the most suitable level of suction for the task in hand. You can also reduce suction power further by opening the vent on the handle, though this increases the vac’s volume from a standard 71dB in full-power mode to an unpleasant 84dB.

Since this is a mains-powered model, you get 5.5 meters of spring-loaded cable tucked away inside its rear housing and this amounts to an operating radius of around 9m. To release the cable you simply pull it out to your required length and it will lock itself automatically. When finished, give the cable a short tug to release the locking mechanism and it’ll scoot back into its housing with the speed of an angry snake. However, you’re advised to hold the main unit in position with your foot when pulling the cable on hard floors or the whole vac will roll towards you. This is because the spring mechanism itself is strong enough to counteract the vac’s three extremely smooth-rolling, multi-directional micro castors. It’s not ideal, I know, but virtually every self-retracting cylinder vac I’ve ever used has had this very same issue.

Mains cable housing on the Miele Classic C1 Flex

(Image credit: Future)

At 12lbs / 5.8kg, the Classic C1 Flex is light enough to carry from the under-stairs cupboard to its place of work and it can be stored either horizontally or vertically. Crucially, the floor head with ungainly hose attached can be clipped to the main unit in either orientation though it’s still a cumbersome package to transport from room to room.

One of the main highlights of all Miele cylinder vacs, including this one, is the way their stainless steel suction tubes can be lengthened or shortened by pulling on a sheath. It’s inarguably the most tactile element on this machine and a system I’d love to see on all vacs, including sticks.

Heading into the enclosed bin section, the Classic C1 Flex is fitted with a substantial 4.76qt / 4.5L microfibre HyClean GN dust bag and just behind it, Miele’s excellent AirClean filter which helps keep carpet dust smells to a minimum. As I explain in my Bagged vs Bagless article, I’m a big fan of bagged vacuum cleaners because they produce almost zero dust when emptying, are better at collecting fine dust particles like ash and they require very little filter maintenance. That’s true of the Classic C1 Flex. However, you only get one dust bag with this model and a set of four extra bags will set you back $22.99 / £13.99.

  • Design score: 2.5 out of 5

Miele Classic C1 vacuum cleaner review: performance

  • Excellent suction power
  • Too difficult to push on carpet
  • Dust-free emptying

I remember the days before cordless stick vacs took hold and you had to wrestle with a snake-like hose while pulling the main unit around behind you, which in turn was connected to a mains plug. It was a system of many foibles, including the cable getting snagged on furniture and the main unit turning turtle because you yanked it so hard out of frustration. You also had to keep unplugging it and plugging it back in every time you changed rooms.

Sorry to report, but this is one such model. However, the Miele Classic C1 Flex isn’t totally devoid of merit because it’s a sterling dust sucker on hard floors, even though it’s not great at collecting larger pieces of detritus like biscuit crumbs.

Power is something the Miele has in spades – all 800 watts of it. In fact, even in lower ‘carpet mode’, this vac’s limpet-like suction is strong enough to lift a rug off the floor. Which is why I say to ignore Miele’s power level guidance and just use the most suitable power level for the job in hand.

Miele Classic C1 Flex sucking flour and crushed biscuits off a wood floor

(Image credit: Future)

As per usual, my first hard floor test involved a good sprinkling of flour and crumbed biscuit with the main brush head set to ‘hard floor’ mode – i.e. with the front-mounted stiff bristle brush engaged. This brush is constructed like a castle battlement with nine small 5mm gaps positioned at regular intervals so larger items can slip through and up the suction tube.

Miele Classic C1 Flex sucking corn flakes off a wood floor

(Image credit: Future)

As anticipated, the floor head snowploughed most the flour and larger biscuit crumbs on the forward stroke so I simply lifted the rear of the head by a few centimeters and pulled it backwards. Everything vanished up the tube. I then tried it using a handful of Crunchy Nut corn flakes and, again as predicted, the head simply pushed everything ahead of it with no evidence of even a single flake making its way to the suction area. Again, I was able to collect every last flake when using the head in reverse and lifted at a short angle. No it’s not ideal, but that’s generally what happens when you don’t use a motorized head with a decent gap between the front of the head and the floor.

Miele Classic C1 Flex gripping a rug while trying to clean up flour

(Image credit: Future)

I then proceeded to perform the same test on a medium pile rug and had to reduce the suction to level three – two levels lower than the recommended setting – because the head was impossible to budge. Despite still being very stiff to push, the brush head made a surprisingly good fist of collecting most of the crumbs and all the flour, though I did have to perform a few back and forth sweeps to collect the cornflakes. I also tried the same test with the handle’s suction reduction vent open and this made it easier to push at the expense of a massive increase in volume – from 71dB to 84dB – that made it sound like a jet engine during take off.

As it stands, Miele’s universal floor head is perfectly useable on most hard floors bar, say, delicate polished concrete or premium wood. After all, it picked up all dust – right to the very edge – and most items smaller than an oat flake. However, I’m not convinced that this is the right type vac for carpets or rugs of any depth because it takes far too much effort to push. In fact, I can’t see anyone other than the very fittest managing to finish a single carpeted room without needing to have a little lie down. By comparison to most cordless stick vacs, this specific model’s brush head felt outdated and of another age.

On the plus side, the Miele has oodles of suction power for tasks like vacuuming down the side of sofa cushions, while its extra long and flexible suction tool is one of the very best for sucking up crumbs and crisps between car seats and the center console.

  • Performance score: 2.5 out of 5

Should you buy the Miele Classic C1 vacuum cleaner?

Buy it if...

You have a lot of hard flooring

The Classic C1 Flex is a decent performer on hard floors.

You have a lot of rooms to clean

This vac will vac till the cows come home.

You want reliability

Miele is renowned for the high quality of its products.

Don't buy it if…

Your home is mostly carpeted

The Classic C1 Flex’s static brush head is not suitable for carpet.

You don’t want to be tethered to a mains plug

You will need to keep plugging this vac in from room to room.

You don’t have much storage space

The hose and long suction tube make it ungainly to store.

How I tested the Miele Classic C1 vacuum cleaner

Having hauled all parts out of the box, I first tested this model on hard engineered wood flooring using a combination of fine flour and crumbed biscuits, a handful of raw porridge oats and some Crunchy Nut corn flakes. 

I then carried out the same test on a medium pile rug. I also gauged the amount of hassle it posed when using it, plugging it into various power outlets and carrying it upstairs and storing it away.

  • First reviewed: July 2024
Crucial Pro Overclocking DDR5 review: fantastic performance for the (current) price
2:45 am |

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

Crucial Pro Overclocking DDR5: Two-minute review

The Crucial Pro Overclocking DDR5 RAM kit is now going to be my default RAM kit on the test bench, it's really that good.

It's not so much about the style, which is in itself pretty fantastic with its oragami-inspired design and attractive white heatspreader. 

It's also not really about the price, especially since the current retail price for a 32GB (2x16GB) of $104.99 in the US (about £90/AU$150) is technically a discount from its list price of $164.99 (about £135/AU$240), which would make this kit a lot less appealing when compared to something like the TeamGroup T-Force Delta RGB DDR5 I reviewed in March if the Crucial Pro Overclocking ever went back up to its MSRP.

While those factors—design and price—are definitely relevant, it wouldn't mean anything if its performance wasn't up to par with the competition, and fortunately, the Crucial Pro Overclocking DDR5 can more than hold its own against its rivals.

As you can see above, there are areas where the Crucial Pro OC kit doesn't quite get to the levels of some other competing DDR5 kits like the TeamGroup T-Force Delta RGB or PNY XLR8 Gaming Mako, both of which also clock in at 6,000MT/s when running in overclocking mode, but unlike those kits, the Crucial Pro can do both XMP and EXPO, so its compatibility is fantastic.

This is especially true if you work on a lot of different systems and sometimes find yourself toggling between AMD and Intel frequently enough that you have a hard time keeping track of which RAM you're using (though that might just be a me-problem).

A Crucial Pro Overclocking RAM kit

(Image credit: Future / John Loeffler)

Currently, you can only get the Crucial Pro Overclocking in a 32GB kit (16GBx2) at 6,000MT/s, but honestly, you really don't need much more than that. Besides, the stock 5,600MT/s that you get out of the package is better than most competing kits, so if you want better stability you have the option of just plugging your RAM in and turning on your PC for great performance.

A Crucial Pro Overclocking RAM kit

(Image credit: Future / John Loeffler)

There are things that some might be missing, like the RGB aesthetic or even more control over overclocking voltages and speeds than the presets you get with the Crucial Pro Overclocking kit, but for the amount of money you're paying for what you're getting, this is currently the RAM kit to beat in this range.

Crucial Pro Overclocking DDR5: Price & availability

  • How much does it cost? $104.99 (about £90 / AU$150)
  • When is it available? Available now
  • Where can you get it? Available in the US, UK, and Australia

You can get the 32GB (16GBx2) Crucial Pro Overclocking DDR5 kit for $104.99 (about £90 / AU$150), though its does show a list price of $164.99 on Crucial's storefront where it has marked the price on this kit down considerably.

As it stands, this RAM kit is very competitive price-wise. If that ever changes, however, that will be a much bigger issue, as its performance to price ratio at its list price is genuinely terrible. You shouldn't spend more than $110/£90/AU$155 on this kit, as you can get a much better value elsewhere once you're in the $150/£120/AU$210 range.

Crucial Pro Overclocking DDR5: Specs

Should you buy the Crucial Pro Overclocking DDR5?

A Crucial Pro Overclocking RAM kit

(Image credit: Future / John Loeffler)

Buy the Crucial Pro Overclocking DDR5 kit if...

You want easy DDR5 overclocking
The best part about the Crucial Pro Overclocking DDR5 is that you plug it in and it just works.

You want great-looking RAM for your build
Between the stylish silhouette, this is some great-looking RAM.

Don't buy it if...

You want some RGB
This is strictly non-RGB, so if you want that sort of thing, there are other options out there.

It's priced above $110/£90/AU$155
This RAM has been selling for much less than its list price, but if that ever changes, there are likely to be better options out there.

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

First reviewed July 2024

AngelVPN review – expert analysis in 2024
9:27 pm | July 12, 2024

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

AngelVPN is a relative newcomer to the VPN industry, having only established its presence in the last two years.

Still, while it lacks the extensive history of industry giants like NordVPN and ExpressVPN, Angel VPN has carved a niche in a very competitive marketplace as a budget provider with power.

In this review, I'll showcase the surprising strengths of AngelVPN, such as its speed and unblocking capabilities, as well as a few issues you'll want to be aware of being committing to a subscription.

About AngelVPN

AngelVPN, established in 2022, is headquartered in London. The UK isn't an ideal place to host a VPN company, unfortunately - after all, it's one of the primary members of the Five Eyes data-sharing alliance.

This raises several questions about how well AngelVPN is able to deal with law enforcement requests and targeted spying from intelligence agencies.

I'll get into the details a little later, but his potential government interference combined with a less-than-stellar privacy policy means that AngelVPN might not be your ideal provider if you want to prevent third-party snooping in an overzealous surveillance state.

On a more positive note, AngelVPN has servers in 67 countries, and more than 80 locations, and even boasts coverage across 13 points in America.

Normally, I'd say this puts AngelVPN squarely in the middle bracket when it comes to server networks, but I noticed a few interesting locations in the server list.

In addition to plenty of spots in Europe, like the UK, France, Italy, and Germany, there are a few lesser-covered regions listed, including  Russia, China, Brunei, the British Virgin Islands, and the Cayman Islands. This kind of spread is pretty rare, so if you need a VPN that can unblock content in these locations, AngelVPN might be worth a look.

AngelVPN pricing plans

(Image credit: AngelVPN)

AngelVPN pricing plans

Like most VPNs on the market today, AngelVPN offers a monthly subscription plan and some discounted long-term plans which significantly reduce the price.

A monthly plan costs $9.95. This is fairly cheap for a top-tier VPN but no extra features are bundled into the subscription – you just get the VPN.

Going for the 6-month plan knocks the price down to $3.33 per month for a total cost of $19.99. While this represents a 66% reduction in the monthly cost, buying the 12-month plan only reduces the cost by another 6% or so for a monthly cost of $2.83 and a total of $33.99.

Each AngelVPN plan comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee that allows you to test out the service before you commit to a subscription.

I was a little worried when I checked out the Terms of Service on the app and saw that it said no refunds would be processed, but after confirming with AngelVPN staff, and processing a refund based on the money-back guarantee, I'm happy to say it’s a legitimate promotion.

AngelVPN also supports a range of payment processors. In addition to the usual credit and debit card providers, there's support for Paypal, GooglePay, and a range of cryptocurrencies through BitPay, including Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Litecoin.

Privacy and security

AngelVPN is a mixed bag when it comes to privacy. There's nothing to complain about on a technical level – and, in fact, AngelVPN scores above-average marks in terms of VPN protocol support.

The Windows desktop app uses IKEv2 by default, which is a little unusual but definitely not a negative. IKEv2 is known for providing fast, high-security connections, but it's usually favored by MacOS and iOS devices.

There's also WireGuard support, as well as OpenVPN over both UDP and TCP. All three of these protocols are battle-tested and open-source, so you shouldn't have any concerns connecting to the internet.

I put AngelVPN's kill switch through its paces, too, in a series of stress tests designed to see if data would leak while the VPN is disconnected. I'm happy to report that it performed well in all cases. One caveat is that the kill switch only works while the VPN is connected. If you choose to disconnect manually while the client is open, it won't protect you. 

One of the primary concerns I encountered with Angel VPN pertains to its privacy policy. Despite claiming to be a strictly no-logs provider, a closer inspection of its privacy policy reveals that it retains several significant data points that could potentially compromise your anonymity. These include details such as the user's city, ISP, connection timestamps, and the specific server being accessed. 

While Angel VPN states that it does not record the contents of user connections, the retention of such information could still potentially lead to user identification if a third party was able to access the data, especially in the event of a request by law enforcement. Given that AngelVPN is headquartered in the UK, which has a less-than-stellar privacy reputation, it's entirely possible.

I raised this issue with AngelVPN's support staff. In response, they indicated to me that they have intentions to commission a third-party audit of both their privacy policy and server architecture in the near future. This is a positive step forward, as an independent audit will provide clarity on how AngelVPN captures data and potentially lead to revisions in its privacy policy. 

However, it remains to be seen how this audit will impact its approach to user privacy. If online anonymity is your main concern, it may be worth holding out on AngelVPN until its privacy policy is updated following a third-party audit.

Netflix and global stream unblocking

AngelVPN works with every streaming site I tested, including Netflix in several regions (America, Japan, Canada, and the UK), Disney+, Amazon Prime, and Hulu, as well as regional streaming services such as BBC iPlayer, ITVX, and All 4.

In all cases, accessing the streaming service was instant. No buffering, no stalling mid-way through an episode, and no lockout screens. AngelVPN boasts that its services are optimized for IPTV, and it's evident from its performance that it's able to keep up with some of the bigger VPN providers when it comes to unblocking and streaming. 

AngelVPN performance

AngelVPN impressed me with its performance – especially when you consider that it's a cheap VPN. To test its speed, I connected to the UK London server using a 100 Mbps connection, with the actual speed test being carried out by Ookla Speedtest.

Connecting over OpenVPN gave me download speeds of 63.85 Mbps and upload speeds of 20.89 Mbps. These speeds are more than enough to connect to a 4K streaming service without buffering or lag – even with other users on the same connection.

The only real complaint I have is that connecting or changing servers using AngelVPN took slightly longer than I expected, but your mileage may vary.

AngelVPN apps

AngelVPN is available on all major platforms, including Windows, MacOS, Android, and iOS. Rather surprisingly for a smaller VPN provider, there's also a Linux client with a full GUI that works as well as the other desktop clients. 

The desktop app itself is pretty unremarkable. It's functional, but there's nothing here that would wow anyone who’s used a VPN before. It's simple and easy to set up, with a minimalist design that requires just a single click to get online. The P2P servers are clearly marked when you check out the location list, which is nice, but it'd be better to have a separate P2P tab.

AngelVPN customer support

AngelVPN's support is also better than I would've expected. The support staff stole the show – all of my queries got quick responses via the 24/7 live chat system and email. Each agent I chatted with was polite and knowledgeable, willing to have an in-depth discussion with me about both the scope of the VPN's streaming support as well as the shortcomings of its privacy policy.

Apparently, AngelVPN prides itself on having highly visible support channels and, as such, maintains an active presence on social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram. I like email tickets better, but if you've got a different preference, AngelVPN has you covered.

The AngelVPN support library is pretty extensive, too, and has Quickstart guides for all platform applications. The apps aren't hard to use, but it's great to see each function clearly documented in the support library, as well as an FAQ section that covers questions about billing and AngelVPN’s service, too. There's even a guide on how to retrieve your credentials for OpenVPN if you want to set up your own third-party app.

AngelVPN alternatives

ExpressVPN

ExpressVPN is a great pick for unlocking geo-restricted streaming content such as Netflix, DAZN, Disney+, HBO Max, and Peacock. With a huge server network covering over 100 countries, it's one of the most expansive VPNs on the market. No matter where you're connecting from, ExpressVPN's ability to bypass geo-blocks ensures you'll be able to access a wide range of content from different regions. This is all powered by its proprietary Lightway VPN protocol, which delivers high-speed connections for uninterrupted streaming. ExpressVPN also guarantees a strict no-log policy, which is regularly audited by KPMG to demonstrate that ExpressVPN really doesn't hold on to your data.

NordVPN

NordVPN is another exceptional choice if you're looking for top-tier security and high-speed performance. In addition to its ability to effortlessly unblock content worldwide, NordVPN integrates cutting-edge security measures to safeguard you from online threats. With its innovative Threat Detection integrated scanning service, NordVPN continuously monitors incoming traffic for non-malware files, providing proactive alerts to preemptively protect your device. NordVPN also comes with Meshnet, which operates as a decentralized network that enables peer-to-peer communication and file sharing without relying on traditional centralized servers. It's all powered by NordVPN's high-quality VPN tunnels, so you can chat and send files safely in the knowledge you're protected by the highest standard of encryption.

Surfshark

Surfshark has a flexible subscription policy, allowing you to safeguard an unlimited number of devices under a single account. It's also got an extensive suite of tools designed to enhance the VPN for additional security. With Surfshark One, you get a comprehensive three-pronged solution to protect yourself from viruses, malware, data leaks, and privacy threats. Surfshark Antivirus shields your devices from viruses and malware with real-time protection and customizable security features. Then there's Surfshark Search, which allows you to perform web searches in complete privacy, free from ads, logs, and trackers. Finally, Surfshark Alert notifies you of personal data leaks in real time, helping you prevent potential damage before it's too late.

Private Internet Access

Private Internet Access easily matches the speed and power of other top vendors. It's one of the only top-tier VPN vendors in the industry to offer a fully-featured Linux client with a GUI, offering the same experience as AngelVPN but with more features. It also offers unique features such as anonymous purchase options for dedicated IPs, enabling access to sites that commonly block VPNs. Its "MACE" blacklist also effectively blocks ads, trackers, and malicious sites, further enhancing your privacy. If that wasn’t enough, PIA's commitment to a strict no-logs policy has been proven by several third-party audits and in court.

AngelVPN review: Final verdict

AngelVPN is a budget provider that punches above its weight in key areas. While it's not quite as feature-rich as Surfshark, or as globe-spanning as ExpressVPN, it's a quality VPN posed at a price that won't break the bank. If you're trying to watch IPTV or streaming services while abroad, you could do a lot worse.

However, if you're looking for a rock-solid VPN that comes with some extra security capabilities you won't find anywhere, I recommend you give NordVPN a shot. 

TechRadar rating: ⭐⭐⭐½

How we test VPNs

Beside using the top recommended VPNs for our daily activities, we also conduct a thorough analysis of the top 30 VPN services every 6 months to keep track on how the software compares with other providers as new developments come in.

We start by reviewing each provider's website to double check if its claims and offering changed. We also look for any tracking cookies on the site and if/when they activate to see if the service tracks people using the site.

We then install and use each VPN service across a wide range of location servers and devices to see how they perform across the board. We go through all the settings to make sure all the features work as promised, while playing around with encryption protocols. 

Our reviewers actively challenge the software, too, in the lookout for any flaws. For example, we purposely make the VPN connection drop so that we can test if the kill switch does its job of preventing data leaks correctly.

From speed connections and streaming unlocking results, to customer support and app usability, we regularly make sure to test every aspect of the software that could affect the experience of our readers.

As issues arise during our testing, we make sure to investigate these even by digging into the source code or the contents of its RAM if necessary. Head to our dedicated VPN testing methodology page if you want to know more.

Tested by

Meet the experts behind our AngelVPN review:

Roku Pro Series TV Review: a flagship mini-LED TV for a reasonable price
4:00 pm |

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

Roku Pro Series: Two-minute review

The Roku Pro Series is the company’s new flagship TV offering. Roku has been a major player in our living rooms for a long time, starting out with streaming boxes and sticks. Those evolved to soundbars and wireless speakers, followed by last year’s initial foray into TVs with the Roku Select and Roku Plus Series. Building on those models, the Roku Pro Series takes things up a level with some interesting and unique design choices and useful features.

Considering the Roku Pro Series’ relatively affordable prices, starting at $899.99 for the 55-inch model, it’s certainly in the running for best TVs for those who are a little more price-conscious.

While the Pro Series is Roku’s premium offering, there are innovations on hand that make it worthy of consideration over Roku’s budget Select and mid-tier Plus TVs. For one, it offers better picture quality than those models thanks to a mini-LED backlight with local dimming. It also has 4K 120Hz support for gaming and side-firing speakers that provide superior sound quality.

This TV has some tricks up its sleeve feature-wise as well, such as the ability to switch picture modes not just between different forms of content but different scenes. A planned software update will also bring an artmode feature that turns the TV into a showcase for artwork when not in use, similar to Samsung’s The Frame TVs. Of course, the interface overall is a joy to use, as I’ll discuss later.

The TV’s design may be where I’m most impressed. There are TVs with similarly impressive picture quality for under $1,000 (the Hisense U8K Series TV comes to mind). However, no other TV that I know of is made to be intentionally thicker so that it mounts flush against the wall instead of precariously jutting out like most TVs, and there’s cable management to accommodate that installation. The upgraded second edition of the Roku Voice Remote Pro is pretty special as well, and not just because it has backlighting.

Everything about the Roku Pro Series TV follows an ethos that seems to permeate Roku products, and that is convenience. If you care about the absolute best picture quality, you might look elsewhere, though I think the Pro Series’ picture is more than good enough for most people. But setting this TV up, using it and its various features, and even dealing with how it integrates into your space, has been thought out in a way that most products this side of Apple aren’t.

Roku Pro series remote control held in hand

Roku's remote control features a backlit keypad (Image credit: Future)

Roku Pro Series review: Price and release date

  • Release date: April 2024
  • 55-inch: $899.99
  • 65-inch: $1,199.99
  • 75-inch: $1,699.99

The Roku Pro Series might be the company’s premium offering, but the price tag is in mid-range TV territory. The smallest of the Pro Series – it comes in three sizes (55-, 65-, and 75-inch) – retails for a surprisingly affordable $899.99.

If 55 inches is too small, stepping up to the 65-inch model is an extra $200, coming in at $1,199.99, while the 75-inch goes for $1,699.99. Despite the difference in price between models, they’re all the same other than size.

Roku Pro Series review: Specs

Roku Pro Series review: Benchmark results

Roku Pro series  TV rear ports

The Pro's connections include two HDMI 2.1 ports with 4K 120Hz support (Image credit: Future)

Roku Pro Series review: Features

  • Smart Home Ready
  • Auto-switching picture settings
  • Two HDMI 2.1 ports

Roku’s Pro Series TV is feature-filled. You can pair it with wireless headphones or with Roku’s lineup of wireless speakers. You can connect it with Google Home, Alexa, Apple Home, and Roku Smart Home. There’s even a mode that will be rolled out in a future software update to turn the TV into a piece of artwork when not in use.

Even without the smart home stuff, there’s plenty to get excited about. The TV comes with Dolby Vision IQ, which adjusts the picture settings based on the ambient light level in your room when watching. And there’s what Roku calls Smart Picture Max, a feature that automatically changes the picture settings based on the type of content you’re watching and can even make changes on a scene-by-scene basis. It’s also worth mentioning that the speakers are Dolby Atmos-certified.

If you plan on plugging in external devices, Pro series TVs have four HDMI ports including two HDMI 2.1 ports with 4K 120Hz support – something next-gen console gamers will appreciate.. There’s also a USB-A, useful in particular for charging the remote, and a USB-C port.

  • Features Score: 4/5

Roku Pro series  showing frog on screen

The Pro Series TV's picture has vibrant color and punchy contrast (Image credit: Future)

Roku Pro Series review: Picture quality

  • Good overall picture quality
  • Average peak brightness
  • Effective local dimming

You’ll see throughout this review that I’ve given the Roku Pro Series pretty high scores above the board. It can’t be perfect, can it? Well, it’s not. And, where it impresses least is in image quality. However, before you write it off, I will say that I found the image quality to be merely very good. That is to say, most people will find it pleasant to watch but will be more enamored by what it can do than by its stunning picture.

Still, the Roku Pro Series supports Dolby Vision IQ and HDR10+ HDR, and its Smart Picture Max automatic picture mode switching will show whatever content you’re watching in the best possible light.

When watching The Batman, a movie with a lot of shadows in it, I didn’t experience very deep blacks. Because it doesn’t deliver the deep contrast of an OLED screen, the picture could look a little flat at times. But at least I didn’t experience any backlight blooming thanks to the TV’s well-implemented local dimming.

The Roku Pro Series TV works fairly well with sports as well – I had to test with some Olympic Trial diving since I forgot to pay attention during the NBA finals. Colors generally looked good,  though skin tones came across as a tiny bit muted in the Movie picture mode. More importantly, the action was crisp and accurate without any blurring issues.

Watching Spider-Man: Across The Spider-Verse (again in Movie mode), this colorful animated movie was done justice, as the transitions between colors, particularly in backgrounds, were accurate and didn’t appear washed out. They could just pop a tiny bit more.

I felt similarly when playing games like Ghost of Tsushima in Game mode. This is a game with a fairly conservative use of color, so when you see something covered in red or purple, it jumps out. That was certainly the case with the Roku Pro series, however, it did seem a little more muted than I’d expect from a flagship TV.

Essentially, the Roku’s performance is nothing unusual for a TV at this price. It has an average peak brightness of 900 nits, for instance. And, if you look at the other benchmarks in our graph, you’ll mostly see average results there as well. There are also plenty of settings available for fine-tuning color saturation, color temperature, and even gamma correction in the TV menus.

  • Picture quality score: 4/5

Roku Pro series  being installed

Setting up the TV's stand is simple and requires no tools (Image credit: Future)

Roku Pro Series review: Sound quality

  • Thicker design allows for bigger speakers
  • Solid sound if a little light on the low end
  • Good enough to skip adding a standalone soundbar

The sound on TVs is typically thin and hollow. While some premium models try to correct this, there’s only so much you can do with thin display panels. Thanks to the thicker shadowbox-style design of the Pro Series TV, Roku was able to sneak in bigger speakers and it shows.

There’s certainly plenty of volume on tap, and the bigger speakers result in a fuller, less boxy sound. Details in the high frequencies retain body as well as clarity. The mids are nice and full. Really, the only thing missing is deep bass, though you could always pair one of Roku’s wireless subwoofers with the TV to fix that. 

It should be noted that the speakers are side-firing instead of downward-firing. This means that, instead of the audio waves traveling down and bouncing off whatever surface is beneath them, they travel outward with a direct path to the listener. This helps with clarity but also results in better steering of effects Dolby Atmos soundtracks.

Now, I’m not saying that the TV’s built-in speakers are going to beat or match one of the best soundbars. But, if your soundbar budget taps out at under, say, $300, you’ll be safe to skip it altogether.

  • Sound quality score: 4.5/5

Roku Pro series  cable management system

The Pro Series TV's cable managment system allows for a neat installation (Image credit: Future)

Roku Pro Series review: Design

  • Shadowbox design perfect for mounting
  • Has cable management
  • New, almost flawless remote

The Roku Pro Series might be the thickest TV to come out in a long time, and that’s by design. Using a shadowbox concept, this TV has about a 2-inch depth so that it can sit flush against the wall when mounted.

The back of the TV is molded to accommodate a cable management setup including straps. That’s not only for a tidy look but to keep those cables in place so that nothing gets in the way of the TV sitting flush when mounted. On top of that, the mounting set includes little kickstands that can be used to raise the TV off the wall for easy access to all the ports, which are situated on the back.

Even if you don’t mount the TV, this thicker design allowed Roku to install bigger speakers and better speakers. Also worth mentioning is that the stand installation is completely toolless, and there’s a button on the side of the TV to help find the remote if you misplace it. Press it and the remote will ping.

Speaking of the remote, the new 2nd-generation Roku Voice Remote Pro is a pleasure to use. First off, it has backlighting that turns on as soon as you pick it up, and turns off when you’re not using it. It also has two additional buttons – a guide button for live TV and a quick launch button. I do wish the quick launch (and really the live TV button as well) could be used to directly load an app of my choosing, instead of bringing me to a menu. However, it’s still more convenient than not. Also, the remote has a hands-free mode that can be toggled on so you can talk to it much like you would a voice assistant.

  • Design score: 5/5

Roku Pro series TV main Roku interface

The simple, elegant Roku TV interface (Image credit: Future)

Roku Pro Series review: Smart TV and menus

  • Intuitive navigation
  • Easy access to picture settings
  • Forthcoming Roku Backdrops turns TV into an artwork

The thing that has made Roku products stand out since day one has been the intuitive interface. Outside of accessing a few key features specific to the Pro Series TV, such as fine-tuning the picture or pairing wireless headphones, the interface is the same as it is on any other updated Roku device.

As far as accessing TV-specific settings, I appreciated that quite a few were available without having to exit the media I was watching or playing. Just pressing the star button on the remote let me adjust all sorts of picture quality settings like HDR and Gamma correction along with picture and sound modes, not to mention accessibility settings.

A feature that has yet to see the light of day called Roku Backdrops is sure to excite anyone who ends up accidentally leaving their TV on all the time the way I do. It will essentially make the screen go into art mode, replacing the screensaver with art, and is an especially nice feature if you plan on mounting the TV as a centerpiece in your living room. Roku Backdrops should be available on Roku Pro Series TVs in the second half of 2024.

Lastly, Roku has a lot of free content available, whether through its live TV portal or its own Roku channel. Yes, it may not be Netflix-level content, but some of it’s pretty good, especially if you’re a Weird Al fan.

  • Smart TV & menus score: 5/5

Roku Pro series  gaming

Gaming is fluid thanks to the 4K 120Hz support and ultra-low input lag (Image credit: Future)

Roku Pro Series review: Gaming

  • 4K 120Hz support
  • Automatic switching to console input and gaming picture mode
  • Good sound for gaming

Since the Roku Pro Series is the company’s premium offering, it makes sense that the company didn’t forget gamers when designing this TV. Unlike many cheaper TVs, Roku’s Select and Plus Series models included, it supports 4K at 120Hz for gaming with PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X consoles.

Along with that fast 120Hz refresh rate, VRR and ALLM (including FreeSync) are supported, and input lag clocks in at an ultra-low 9.4ms. If you’re a console gamer, you won’t feel left behind with the Roku Pro Series.

The TV’s local dimming helps deliver a consistent picture no matter how dark the game and its HDR support adds to the contrast and depth. Whether I was playing Red Dead Redemption 2, Ghost of Tsushima, or Uncharted 4, I never had issues making out enemies or details situated in darker parts of the screen.

Since the Roku Pro Series automatically switches picture modes, turning on the PlayStation 5 turns on the Game picture mode.I also appreciated that, when I turned on the console, the TV’s interface automatically switched from the main Roku screen to the PS5’s input – though this feature can also be disabled in the settings.

Since the sound quality on the TV sits above many modern-day TVs with their downward-firing speakers, that benefit extends to the gaming experience. Also, you can wirelessly pair the TV with Bluetooth headphones for late-night gaming sessions.

  • Gaming score: 4.5/5

Roku Pro series unboxed

The Roku Pro series TV unboxed (Image credit: Future)

Roku Pro Series review: Value

  • Priced closer to mid-range TVs
  • Design is unique to the Roku Pro Series
  • Significant upgrade over mid-range Roku TV

When you consider other mini-LED TVs such as the Hisense U8K Series, which is currently $699 for the 55-inch model, it helps put the Roku Pro Series TV’s pricing, which starts at $899.99 for the 55-inch model I tested, into perspective. Of course, the Hisense doesn’t have the shadow box design or updated remote, though it does have the hands-free voice command as well as smart home integration.

One of the best TVs for most people right now is the Samsung S90C. It comes with a QD-OLED screen with a beautiful picture that offers deep blacks and detailed shadows. But that model costs $1,599 for a 55-inch screen size. The Roku Pro Series might not reach the same picture quality heights as the Samsung, but it does come with things the Samsung doesn’t, such as Dolby Vision IQ, or that much more intuitive Roku interface versus Samsung’s Tizen.

It’s also worth comparing the Roku Pro Series TV to the company’s mid-range offering, the Roku Plus Series. That series also comes in the same range of sizes, but at a much lower price tag, with the 55-inch going for $499, the 65-inch going for $649, and the 75-inch going for $999. While the Plus Series has Dolby Vision, HDR10+, and HLG, as well as Dolby Atmos support, not to mention local dimming, it has a less bright standard LED backlight and is capped at a 60Hz refresh rate. Additionally, it doesn’t have the same shadowbox design and front-firing speakers, and also lacks the new remote and useful automatic picture mode switching.

  • Value score: 5/5 

Roku Pro series  TV showing creature on screen

(Image credit: Future)

Should I buy the Roku Pro Series TV?

Buy it if...

Don't buy it if…

Also consider...

Samsung QN900D showing test pattern

(Image credit: Future)

How I tested the Roku Pro Series TV

  • Used the Roku Pro Series TV for a couple of weeks
  • Tested with TV, movies, music, and games

I used the Roku Pro Series TV regularly for a couple of weeks with TV, movies, music, and games. I tested the various features to see if they work as advertised. I also spent time listening to the audio as well as paying attention to the picture quality.

After spending some time with this TV, it’s my humble opinion that this TV is ideal for two sets of people. The first is people who want a premium TV in a big, but not gigantic size, and therefore don’t want to spend too much. The second are those that hate the way most wall-mounted TVs look.

I’ve tested a lot of tech gear over the years from laptops to keyboards and speakers, and so have been able to use my expertise towards giving an honest and fair opinion, not to mention a critical eye, to any product I test.

You can read an in-depth overview of how we test TVs at TechRadar at that link.

Microsoft 365 email review
3:29 pm |

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

Another email offering from a technology giant, Microsoft 365 goes head to head against the likes of Google Workspace by offering much more than simply reliable messaging and related services. It’s a fully-fledged productivity suite, encompassing those well-known tools, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and more.

The entire ecosystem you can access when you become a Microsoft 365 subscriber, therefore, is a huge draw for individuals thinking of giving this service try. However, this review specifically looks at the email solution that comes with Microsoft 365 - in this case, the also well-known offering, Microsoft Outlook

We found that the email service that comes with Microsoft 365 is extremely powerful - especially if you are already a user of some of the other tools that are included in the service. For Microsoft 365 users, Outlook is incredibly secure and reliable. It is tightly integrated with 365’s other services to ensure that it is hugely effective if your business wants to take its efficiency or collaboration to the next step. For any organization that is already immersed in Microsoft’s digital ecosystem, it just might be.

Microsoft 365: Plans and pricing

While there are personal Microsoft 365 plans, the business packages can be split into four tiers. Customers can choose from Microsoft 365 Business Basic, Microsoft 365 Business Standard, Microsoft 365 Business Premium, and Microsoft 365 Apps for business. 

Subscribers who pay annually will save 16% compared to those who pay monthly. They will find that the Basic plan is priced at $6.00 per user per month, Standard will set them back $12.50 per month, and Premium starts from $22.00. Microsoft 365 Apps for business works a little differently in terms of what customers receive but costs $8.25 per user per month.

The other thing to note is all four Microsoft 365 plans come with a one-month free trial. After the one-month trial comes to an end, customers will find that their subscription automatically transitions into a 12-month paid subscription, with charges beginning immediately. This means that you will need to enter your credit card details to sign up for Microsoft 365, so keep an eye on when your trial finishes to ensure you only commit yourself financially if you’re happy with the service. 

You can also sign up for Microsoft’s new AI tool, Copilot, as an add-on, which is available to subscribers for all four of Microsoft 365’s payment tiers. Unsurprisingly, given the waves that AI has been making across the business world, impacting everything from cloud storage to CRM software, users of Copilot have been predominantly happy with the solutions. Keep reading to hear more about how Microsoft is applying it to Outlook.

Features

Microsoft Copilot combines the Microsoft 365 apps, Microsoft Graph and Artificial Intelligence. Isolated 3D logo on a surface

(Image credit: AdriaVidal via Shutterstock)

In terms of the features on offer with Microsoft 365, Basic customers get access to identity, access, and user management for up to 300 employees, web and mobile versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook, and 1TB of cloud storage per employee. In terms of the features that relate to email, specifically, they also get a custom business email and automatic spam and malware filtering. 

In addition, their a couple of other features, that while not directly applying to Outlook, will work alongside it to helo employees be more productive. For instance, the Basic plan comes with chat, call, and video conferencing with Microsoft Teams included. The rise of hybrid work means that this feature is boung to be appreciated by businesses. As is the ten-plus additional apps they gain access to for their business needs, which integrate nicely with Outlooks, including Microsoft Bookings, Planner, Forms, and others.

At other pricing levels, the features ramp up in ways you’d expect. With the Standard plan, you get everything that comes with the Baic plan plus additional features, including webinars with attendee registration and reporting, collaborative workspaces to co-create using Microsoft Loop, and offline apps. The latter is a notable highlight, especially if you want to check your Outlool account when you don’t have access to an internet connection. The Premium plan, meanwhile, mostly adds additional security protections and Microsoft 365 Apps for business lets companies enjoy offline versions of the company’s applications.

Finally, Copilot represents an interesting AI feature that applies to multiple Mirosoft apps within the 365 plan. Regarding Outlook, Copilot can be used to clear inboxes and draft replies in minutes, rather than hours and take AI meeting notes. Apparently, 70% of Copilot for Microsoft 365 users said they became more productive after using the tool.

Support

Microsoft 365 excels in terms of support, including for users that predominantly spend most of their time with Outlook. At every pricing tier, users can contact phone and online support anytime. There’s also a community forum for additional support. It means getting hold of technical support for installation, setup, configuration, or general usage is easy and timely. It’s nice that this is true even with the cheapest plan.

Security

As you’d expect given the company’s vast resources, Microsoft 365 takes security very seriously. Standard security and compliance features are included at every pricing tier, including cloud-based email filtering, access control and multi-factor authentication. 

At the Premium level, you will notice security features go up a notch. For instance, you get advanced identity and access management, enhanced cyberthreat protection against viruses and phishing attacks, and enterprise-grade device and endpoint protection. So if you want extra protection against incoming malicious emails, this is probably the subscription level for you. 

The competition

Microsoft 365

(Image credit: Currys)

The main competitor for Microsoft 365, if you’re focusing on its business email offering, would be Google Workspace. This is the main rival offering a fully productivity suite of tools in addition to email. Where Microsoft 365 has something of an advantage is in its offline functionality. 

Of course, if your business doesn’t need to plethora of other services that come with a Microsoft 365 subscription, there are plenty of smaller players offering excellent email hosting services, including the likes of ScalaHosting and DreamHost.  

Microsoft 365: Final verdict

Microsoft 365 comes with an excellent email service in the form of Outlook, bolstered by a range of other excellent business solutions. If we were being picky, we’d say that these features may not be exactly what smaller players are in need of, so the solution might be slightly overwhelming. But if already use some of the company’s solutions, this seems like an obvious choice for an email provider.

We've featured the best email hosting services.

Nutribullet 600 Series blender review
8:00 am |

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets Home Juicers & Blenders Small Appliances | Comments: Off

Nutribullet 600 Series: two-minute review

The Nutribullet 600 Series is a simple, affordable and effective model from the brand behind many of the best blenders on the market. It offers one blending speed and a twist-to-blend mechanism that works well, although some might prefer a good old-fashioned button instead. 

On test, I found it tackled frozen berries, fibrous fruit and nuts with ease, although wasn't powerful enough to crush ice. If that's a priority, you should opt for the 900 Series (which you can read about our Nutribullet 900 review), which is identical except for having a more powerful motor (900W vs 600W for the 600 Series), and being more expensive as a result.

It's not ideal for creating chunkier blends, because the single, fast speed means the lower ingredients immediately get pulverized into a paste, while the higher ones never reach the blades at all. I managed to use it to make a (rather wet) hummus, with a bit of shaking up in the middle on the process, but it was pretty useless when it came to pesto. (Really, blenders are designed to be used for creating liquids – if you want to be making salsas, pestos and the like, you're much better off reaching for one of the best food processors instead.)

The build quality is solid, as I'd expect from Nutribullet. And because it's a well-known brand that specializes in blenders, you have the benefit of a wide range of compatible accessories – cups of different sizes, and assorted lid options. Some are included with certain configurations of the 600, but if not they're available to buy if you need them. 

This budget model is pared-back in terms of functions and features, but it does the essentials (blending, even tough ingredients) really well. If you just want something reliable and effective for your morning smoothie, then it's a good shout. Read on for my full Nutribullet 600 Series review.

Nutribullet 600 Series review: price & availability

  • List price: $69.99 / £59.99 /AU$99.95
  • Available: US / UK / AU
  • Lower-middle of the Nutribullet range, and budget price bracket overall

Price-wise, the 600 sits towards the lower-middle of the Nutribullet range, and in the budget price bracket overall. For the price, I think it's excellent value. It's simple in design and function, but does the essentials well. 

In the US, there's only one option. It comes with a blending cup and separate takeaway cup with lid and handle, and has a list price of $69.99. 

In the UK, you can choose the 'starter kit' version with just the blending cup, which costs £59.99. Alternatively, the 600 Series comes with an extra takeaway cup and costs £69.99. I'd actually recommend this second version, because it's super useful to have a lid, and not to have to decant your smoothie into a separate cup. 

In Australia, the version with a cup is called the 'Essentials set' and costs AU$109.95, while the no-cup version is AU$99.95. The takeaway cup is a little different with that version compared to the UK and US versions. 

The main difference between the different Nutribullets is the wattage – which translates roughly to 'how powerful is it?'. The 600 Series has 600W of power. The Magic Bullet To Go is cheaper ($58.95 / £34.99 / AU$59.95) but has only 200W of power, which means it's for very basic blending jobs only.

The version up is the 900, with 900W of power, and a list price of $109.99 / £89.99 / AU$99.95 (read our Nutribullet 900 review for more on that one). Head to the comparison table in this review for a basic rundown of how the different models compare.

Small appliances often attract discounts around major shopping events like the Black Friday sales or Amazon Prime Day deals, so that can be a good time to shop if it suits when you need to buy.

  • Value for money score: 4 out of 5

Nutribullet 600 Series specs

Nutribullet 600 Series review: design

  • Twist-to-blend, no presets or pulse option
  • To-go cup / lid included with some packages, or can be purchased separately
  •  BPA-Free cup is dishwasher-safe, but blade isn't

The Nutribullet 600 Series has the classic Nutribullet design. The motor that powers everything is built into the base, while the extractor blade that does all the hard work comes in its own separate unit that screws onto the blending jug. The jug and blade then twist on to the base, which is weighty (so it won't go juddering across your countertop as you blend) but smartly designed. 

Rather than having buttons, this twisting mechanism is what starts and stops the blending. It's straightforward and works well, but some people might find a button easier to operate. If you're seeking presets or different blending speeds, you'll need to look elsewhere – this is an on/off situation only.

Nutribullet 600 Series in reviewer's kitchen

(Image credit: Future)

Nutribullet as a brand has a few different sized blending cup options, as well as handles, lids, sip rings (to cover the screw threads for more comfortable drinking) and drinking lids, that can be used with the Nutribullet blender range. Some 600 Series packages come with to-go accessories included, but if yours doesn't then they can be purchased separately to increase the versatility of your blender.

Cleaning

In terms of cleaning, the cups can be popped into the dishwasher on the top rack, but the blade isn't dishwasher-safe. Nutribullet recommends rinsing it under warm water to clean it, but I think this is one of the trickier blenders to clean. Mixture builds up around the edge of the blade section, and when the cup is removed, spills into the screw threads, which are very difficult to get properly clean. Food also gets stuck in crevices between the wide, flat blades. 

Hummus stuck in blades of Nutribullet 600 Series in reviewer's kitchen

(Image credit: Future)

Even if you rinse (or, as I find most effective, add water to the cup, screw on the blade, and vigorously shake) straight after blending, there'll often be a bit of residue left in the nooks and crannies. And if you leave food to dry on the blade... forget about it. 

  • Design score: 3.5 out of 5

Nutribullet 600 Series review: performance

  • Effectively blends frozen berries to a smooth consistency
  • Drier mixes often leave paste at the bottom and unblended mix at the top
  • Not powerful enough for making crushed ice

I tested the Nutribullet 600 by making a smoothie and some hummus. Let's start with the smoothie. I added a puck of frozen spinach, frozen blueberries and frozen banana, alongside almond milk. It blitzed the fruit fine, but struggled with the frozen spinach. I'm not surprised, as it was a fairly large and solid chunk. After leaving it to melt slightly, it managed to break the spinach up fine. I'd surmise from this that it would be powerful enough to create crushed ice. 

For the hummus, it worked effectively, but required just the right amount of liquid. Too little liquid and it blended the ingredients next to the blade too effectively, leaving a paste at the bottom and never reaching the ingredients at the top. I had the same issue with pesto. I tend to reach for a food processor (or even just a mini-chopper) when I need to create a chunky blend, and to be fair that is the tool that's designed for the job. 

I'd say the fact that this model is powerful enough to blend frozen berries to a smooth consistency means it'll be plenty powerful enough for most people's needs. If you're regularly needing to tackle larger chunks of hard ingredients, you might consider one of the models with higher wattage. Smaller, handheld models often don't have the power to tackle anything hard (so while I haven't tested the To-Go blender from Nutribullet yet, I suspect it wouldn't have enough blending power for frozen berries).

There's only one blend speed here, but it'll work for most blending jobs. It's also easy to 'pulse' by just twisting the cup quickly, although some people may prefer buttons and presets. 

Like all blenders I've tested, it's noisy, although it doesn't feel overly so, and it's not at a particularly ear-splitting pitch. If you're very sensitive to noise, the pricier Ultra is designed to be quieter and operate at a more ear-pleasing pitch, relatively speaking (read TechRadar's Nutribullet Ultra review for more on that model). 

  • Performance score: 4 out of 5

Nutribullet 600 review: comparison table

Keen on the Nutribullet brand, but not sure which model is right for your needs? Here's a quick run-down of the differences between them...

Should you buy the Nutribullet 600 Series?

Buy it if...

Don't buy it if...

How I tested the Nutribullet 600 Series

  • Made a smoothie, hummus and pesto, and tried crushing ice
  • Assessed how easy it was to clean
  • Compared performance to other blenders and choppers

To test the Nutribullet 600 Series, I used it to make hummus, a smoothie and pesto, as well as seeing if it could crush ice. I made a note of the consistency of results and whether it needed a mid-blend shake-up. I also assessed the build quality, how easy the blender was to use and if it was overly or unpleasantly noisy. I hand-washed the cups and blade after each test to see how easy it was to get clean. I compared my results to other blenders and choppers I've used.  

Read more about how we test

First reviewed June 2024

PureDome VPN review
11:28 am | July 11, 2024

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

PureDome is a capable business VPN from the people behind PureVPN, one of the most experienced consumer VPN providers around.

Signing up gets you all the benefits of PureVPN: easy-to-use Windows, Mac, Android and iOS apps; a vast network of thousands of servers spread across 60+ countries; WireGuard support for maximum speeds, a kill switch to protect you if the VPN drops, and plenty more.

Puredome

(Image credit: Puredome)

But PureDome adds business-friendly security, remote access and team management tools of its own. You can control who uses the service, and what they can do; Single Sign On support allows your team to access the VPN using their existing credentials; you can enforce your preferred VPN settings on users for maximum security, and even prevent users accessing the VPN unless, say, they're running your preferred antivirus

Puredome

(Image credit: Puredome)

In this review, we'll take an in-depth look at the VPN, its apps, speed and security, and especially its high-end business features.

But if you're mostly interested in PureVPN and its consumer features, you'll find more details on this in our full PureVPN review.

Puredome

(Image credit: Puredome)

Plans and pricing 

PureDome is fairly priced for monthly billing at $8.45 per user billed monthly, but this only drops to a relatively high $6.74 on the annual plan.

There's also a potential catch. PureDome has a minimum subscription of five team members, which means the least you can pay is $42.25 billed monthly, or $33.70 on the annual plan.

You can add a dedicated IP for $84 per month, but this can only be assigned to one of your users. 

If you need a unique and static IP for all your users, you'll need to spend a chunky $600 per month for a dedicated gateway (essentially, your own VPN server.)

Payments are accepted via card or PayPal.

PureDome is more expensive than some of the competition, but there is some positive news. Although PureDome asked for our payment details when we signed up, it doesn't charge until the end of the billing period. That effectively means there's a free 30 day trial, and as long as you cancel before that time is up, you won't be billed.

Puredome

(Image credit: Puredome)

PureDome apps

Business VPN apps are often underpowered, and with a range of usability issues. That's no surprise: business VPN providers might know how to create site-to-site network connections through every possible type of firewall, but developing quality apps requires very different skills, and it's often not a priority.

PureDome is a little different, because its apps are essentially based on PureVPN's range. That means a wide choice of platforms, with downloads for Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, Linux, even Chrome support. They include all the features you'd expect from a consumer VPN - WireGuard, IKEv2 and OpenVPN protocol support, a kill switch, split tunneling, location favorites and more - and yet they're also easy to use, even for the least experienced of users.

Our in-depth tests did highlight a DNS issue. When we connected using WireGuard or IKEv2 on Windows, our checks showed no DNS leaks, with PureDome using its own DNS server to resolve queries. But when we connected using OpenVPN, PureDome appeared to use Google DNS, which means information about your browsing is leaking outside of the tunnel. This probably won't have any practical effect (Google already has far better ways to track people than analysing DNS queries), but it is still a privacy concern.

PureDome's apps scored elsewhere, though. The Windows app kill switch correctly blocked our internet access, for instance, whenever we forcibly closed its VPN connection. That already outperforms many competitors (UTunnel VPN's Windows app doesn't have a kill switch at all.) 

There's another welcome plus in PureDome's new support for Single Sign On. That's good news, as it allows users to sign in with existing credentials, rather than create yet another account for PureDome. The service only supports Okta and Microsoft Azure AD right now, but the feature has only just arrived; hopefully Google and others will land soon.

Puredome

(Image credit: Puredome)

PureDome User control 

PureDome makes it unusually easy to give your team members access to the VPN. Tap a button, enter an email address, and you can send an invite with a click. Or if you've a big team, you can even import the full list in a CSV file, and send them all at once.

As usual, you're able to assign each user a Role which defines what they can do on PureDome. For example, by default, users are assigned the role Member, which allows them to use the PureDome app but nothing else. But you can also give them other roles which might allow them to, say, change your billing details, add or remove members or tweak network settings.

PureDome also supports organising users into separate teams: Sales, Accounts, Engineering, whatever works for your business structure. This allows you to restrict each team to its own gateway (Sales can't access the Accounts systems, say), and you can also apply different VPN access rules to each team (more on this below.)

While this all works as advertised, it's a little limited. We found PureDome couldn't show us which users were connected to the service right now, for instance. There's no connection history, and no information on the devices they use. PureDome is working hard on adding new features, and we've no doubt this will improve over time, but right now, at least, it doesn't have anything like the user control and logging options of the competition.

Puredome

(Image credit: Puredome)

App settings control 

As we've discussed above, PureDome's apps have all the most essential VPN settings. You can set an app to load and optionally connect when your device starts; choose your preferred protocol, enable the kill switch, show connection notifications, and more. 

We've seen more configurable apps, but PureDome has a handy plus: you can enforce particular settings on your users. 

If you want your team to leave the kill switch enabled for security, for instance, all you can do with most VPNs is send a group email and ask them nicely. But with PureDome, you can enable the kill switch, set your preferred protocol or whatever other settings you need, then enforce these settings on some or all of your users.

We set up some preferred app settings, then imposed them on our test MacBook, and tried a few tests on the app to see what happened.

The results were positive. We were able to force some or all of our users to keep their kill switch enabled, for instance, ensuring they always had the best possible security. That's a very welcome feature that we rarely see elsewhere, even with some major business VPN names.

Puredome

(Image credit: Puredome)

Device control 

PureDome includes a feature called Posture Check. This allows you to block or allow access to the VPN, depending on how the user's device is set up.

If users connect with Windows devices, for instance, you can choose to only allow access if they have your preferred antivirus, or a certain certificate installed; if it's using your preferred versions of Windows; if it has disk encryption enabled; if a particular file or Registry key exists, or a certain Registry key.

Mac users get almost the same level of control, but Android and iOS are far more basic. You can block rooted devices, but that's about it.

We were pleased to see that Posture Checks can run both when a user logs on, and at regular intervals (every 20, 40 or 60 minutes.) This makes it more difficult for users who might run a must-have program to connect to the VPN, but then close it down.

This system doesn't always work as well as we hoped. PureDome's Antivirus test can only check if the device is running one of an internal list of 11 antivirus tools, for instance. This excludes a lot of big names, so if you're running Avira, F-Secure, G-Data, Panda or Trend Micro, for instance, Posture Check won't be able to confirm that they're installed.

Still, PureDome says the Posture Check feature is in beta right now, so perhaps this will be addressed soon. Even right now, Posture Check gives you some useful ways to protect your server from dubious devices, and overall, it's a welcome plus for PureDome.

How fast is PureDome? 

We measured PureDome's performance by running multiple tests on several top speed test sites and apps, including SpeedTest.net, Measurement Lab and Cloudflare.

We ran our tests from a UK cloud PC with a speedy 1Gbps connection, giving us plenty of room to see what PureDome could do.

The results were very acceptable, with PureDome averaging 610Mbps on WireGuard connections. We've seen faster VPNs - NordVPN, Surfshark, Hide.me and others reached 950Mbps and more in recent tests - but, realistically, PureDome has more than enough speed for most networks, devices and applications.

Netflix and unblocking 

Like most serious business VPNs, PureDome largely avoids talking about common consumer features, such as its ability to unblock Netflix and other streaming sites. With some providers that's because they can't unblock anything at all, but is that the case here?

To find out, we checked PureDome's unblocking performance with eight streaming platforms, using locations around the world.

Netflix results were excellent, with PureDome getting us access to content in the US, UK, Australia, Canada and Japan.

The service couldn't get us into Disney Plus, but it worked with Amazon Prime, and successfully unblocked our other test platforms: BBC iPlayer, ITV and Channel 4 in the UK, and Australia's 9Now and 10Play.

That's a great unblocking result, but it could be a positive indicator in other areas, too. If streaming providers can't detect PureDome is a VPN, there's a chance that other websites will also miss it, and you'll see less 'click all the tiles containing a bicycle'-type CATCHAs.

Final verdict

Many business VPNs focus entirely on team management, permissions, auditing and high-level networking features, but forget about the usability basics. They'll have hugely powerful account management dashboards, but the most horribly basic apps.

PureDome is the opposite. It's based on the consumer service PureVPN, with its large network, decent apps and a good range of features. But it's a relative newcomer to business VPNs, and can't begin to match the best of the competition for management, access control or reporting tools.

This may not be a problem for everyone. If you're mostly looking for a VPN with easy team management, centralized billing and the ability to ensure everyone always has their kill switch on, then take PureDome's 30-day trial and see how it works for you.

But if you need fine-tuned user management, detailed audit reports or anything more advanced, we'd recommend looking elsewhere.

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