Organizer
Gadget news
Nintendo Switch Lite review
5:17 pm | January 30, 2023

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

The Nintendo Switch Lite takes the standard Nintendo Switch console but presents a compact alternative, which is ideal for gamers who spend more time playing handheld than docked. Without straying too far from the original, there are still several features of the Nintendo Switch Lite to appreciate and acknowledge that help it carve it's own identity.

The Nintendo Switch Lite is significantly lighter and slightly smaller than the standard console, making it super convenient to take with you wherever you go. However, if you appreciate the flexibility of playing the Nintendo Switch or Nintendo Switch OLED handheld or docked, then the Nintendo Switch Lite might be a perfect match.

But if you’re a gamer on the go, there are a lot of perks with the Nintendo Switch Lite. It has the potential to offer a fantastic alternative to the standard console due to its lighter weight and smaller size. But as with any new release, there are pros and cons to consider before you make the Switch.

Nintendo Switch Lite: cut to the chase

  • What is it? A more compact, handheld-only version of the Nintendo Switch
  • When does it come out? Out now
  • What does it cost? $199.99 / £199.99 / AU$329.95

Nintendo Switch Lite: price and release date

Nintendo Switch Lite launched over two years on from the original Switch model. Arriving on September 20, 2019, the Lite may have ditched the ability to dock your Switch to a TV, but it came with a significant price cut too.

Unlike the standard Switch, which these days retails for £259.99 / $259.99 / AU$435, the Nintendo Switch Lite comes in at $199.99 / £199.99 / AU$329.95. So, if you can accept this trade-off in the long term, a substantial saving can be made by opting for the handheld-only model.

Fortunately, Nintendo has advised that there won't be a price hike just yet for the Nintendo Switch Lite, unlike the recent ones for Oculus Quest 2 and PS5 that were blamed on global inflation. So, if you've not yet picked up a Switch Lite, there's no need to rush.

Nintendo Switch Lite: design

Nintendo Switch Lite review

(Image credit: TechRadar)

The main difference between the Nintendo Switch Lite and the original Nintendo Switch is that the Switch Lite is solely a handheld device. Therefore, the Switch Lite is much more compact and lighter than its predecessor. That comparison also applies to the Nintendo Switch OLED, which is slightly larger than the original Switch.

The Switch Lite measures 91.1mm x 208mm x 13.9mm and weighs 275g, compared to the 102mm x 239mm x 13.9mm dimensions and 297g weight of the original Switch. This means the device comes with a smaller LCD touch screen, measuring just 5.5 inches but still providing 1280 x 720 pixels.

In other words, it's a smaller screen than the original Switch's 6.2 inches, but with the exact resolution – so you're not losing anything regarding picture quality. In fact, this gives the Switch Lite a pixel density of 267 pixels per inch (ppi), a bit sharper than the original Switch's 236 ppi.

However, the trade-off is that it can sometimes be difficult to read small in-game writing on a smaller screen. We had to hold the console closer to our faces to read some text. It's a minor issue but slightly odd for onlookers on a morning commute.

Where the Switch Lite truly shines is that it feels more comfortable as a handheld device. Due to its smaller size, it's more portable and convenient to use on the go than the original Switch: you need less elbow room, and it could probably fit in quite a large pocket.

As someone with small hands, this writer is aware that the original Switch can be uncomfortable to use in handheld mode; while relatively compact, it's still large by handheld standards. By contrast, the Lite is considerably more portable and fits snugly in your hands. However, it remains wide and doesn't feel quite as comfortable as the 3DS did.

Nintendo Switch Lite review

(Image credit: TechRadar)

In addition, the Switch Lite comes with integrated controls rather than Joy-Cons. While you can connect up to four separate Joy-Cons wirelessly, you won't get an additional pair out of the box with the Lite. 

Despite the controllers being fixed, they offer mainly the same buttons as the original Switch – except the left, right, up, and down buttons, which have been replaced by a D-Pad, or Plus Control Pad, as Nintendo calls it. The D-Pad replacement feels natural, like it's always been there – and is undoubtedly more suited to handheld play.

The ZL and ZR triggers feel perfect and help cement that snug fit. However, the L and R buttons are thinner than on the original Switch. Arguably a bit too thin, as we sometimes found our fingers slipping off them. Both models also allow wireless connectivity, Bluetooth headphones, and MicroSD cards to increase the 32GB internal storage.

So, you aren't losing too many features aside from docked mode – which means no TV play. Due to the Switch Lite only being a handheld device, the console doesn't come with a dock, HDMI cable or kickstand. All you get in the box is the device itself and a charger – simple. The Switch Lite isn't meant to connect to a TV – and while we tested it out with our own HDMI cable anyway, Lite doesn't support this.

The Switch Lite also comes in turquoise, coral, blue, and yellow models – shaking up the gray and neon Switch models we've been eyeballing for the past two years. For anyone after something a little more special, Nintendo's also put out various special editions over the years, like the Dialga and Palkia variant for Pokemon fans.

Nintendo Switch Lite: performance

Nintendo Switch Lite review

(Image credit: TechRadar)

The Nintendo Switch Lite has essentially the same performance as the Switch, except that the Lite has a slightly longer battery life of 3-7 hours, about 30 minutes more than the original Switch, and 1-2 hours less than the upgraded Switch model entering stores (although Nintendo warns that this depends on the games you play).

However, it is definitely worth noting that the Switch Lite does not come with HD Rumble or an IR Motion Camera. The device is made to play handheld games solely, and will therefore only play the best Nintendo Switch games that support handheld mode.

That's not to say you can't play games which don't support handheld mode, but you would have to wirelessly connect Joy-Cons for this to work (and buy them plus their charging grip separately). We found that connecting Joy-Cons allows you to use HD Rumble. 

Nintendo Switch Lite review

(Image credit: TechRadar)

At a hands-on preview event, a Nintendo representative explained that the console would be compatible with more devices than just the Joy-Cons, but what exactly would not be revealed until a later date.

The following games are unsuitable for the Switch Lite: 1-2 Switch, Super Mario Party, and Nintendo Labo accessory kits. While games which require Rumble could be played with Joy-Cons attached, we found that trying to play with more than one person on the Lite's small screen isn't exactly practical - so we wouldn't advise trying to take on party games as the device wasn't built for this.

Despite missing these two features, the Switch Lite still has an accelerometer, gyroscope, and brightness sensor. That means you can still use gyro controls in games like Breath of the Wild – tilting the console to aim the bow, for instance – and the screen's brightness adjusts depending on your surroundings. 

Wireless online play still means you can play with friends (not necessarily couch co-op), as we could easily play Mario Kart 8 Deluxe online. If anything, all the games we played felt less clunky due to the compact nature of the device.

Nintendo Switch Lite: verdict

Nintendo Switch Lite on top of a regular Nintendo Switch

(Image credit: TechRadar)

The Nintendo Switch Lite is the perfect console for those who prefer comfortable handheld gaming and have never been sold by the Nintendo Switch's docked mode. The compact and lighter device feels considerably better than its predecessor and is much less clunky. 

When it comes to portable gaming, the Switch Lite is easier to transport, takes up less elbow space on commutes and fits in your hands much more snugly. It's not quite as comfortable as the 3DS, but packing in the same performance as the Switch means we can let that slide.

However, anyone thinking about picking up the Switch Lite needs to focus on the fact that it is intended to focus on solo, portable play, and the number of games which are compatible with the device is slightly less than the original Switch. It is not simply a smaller Switch model.

But suppose you're looking for a more comfortable, lighter and overall better-looking handheld device (and a range of snazzy colors) and don't particularly care about losing the few games we've listed. In that case, the Switch Lite is likely for you. 

Nintendo Switch Lite: recent updates

Nintendo’s continued building upon the Switch since the Lite's launch. Alongside the Nintendo Switch OLED launch, it's also seen continued system updates.

Between reminding us to use our Nintendo Switch reward points and adding Nintendo Switch software folders to better organize our library of games, a Nintendo Switch Online achievements system also went live. Elsewhere, you can now add friends through the Nintendo Switch Online companion app, available on iOS and Android mobiles. It means adding friends is easier than ever on Nintendo Switch.

There’s no end of upcoming games to look forward to, but if you’re after the older classics, fear not. Thanks to the Nintendo Switch Online subscription service, there’s a continually growing library of NES and SNES games to play. If you’ve opted for the Expansion Pack, there’s Sega Genesis/Mega Drive and more N64 games are coming. We'd say keep your Nintendo Switch Online subscription for now.

Looking for advice on how to connect Nintendo Switch to your TV? After some recommendations for Nintendo Switch SD cards? We've got you covered.

Shark Stratos Upright Vacuum review: a powerful vacuum cleaner for busy homes
4:18 pm |

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

I attended the launch of the Shark Stratos Upright Vacuum in fall 2022, where it was introduced among other cordless and corded stick companions. Having taken them all for a spin around the room, putting them to task on some scattered oats and fluff, it was the upright model that caught my eye, given its size, power and attractive green hue.

Shark is renowned for creating some of the best vacuum cleaners around, with its models delivering for quality, innovation and power. Having enjoyed decades of success in the US, the brand now has global recognition. Dedicated to developing premium household appliances, from vacuum cleaners to steam mops, air purifiers and even some of the best hair dryers, Shark appears to be delivering what customers want.

Shark Stratos is the brand's most advanced range of vacuum cleaners. Shark's says these models deliver the best ever hair pickup, combining the Shark's signature DuoClean floorhead and new Anti Hair Wrap Plus. Some models in the range, such as the Shark Stratos Upright Vacuum, even feature revolutionary anti-odor technology, which leaves your home and vac smelling fresher after a clean.

On test I found that there was a lot to love about this vacuum cleaner. Its power, hair and debris pickup, and dust cup capacity were all very impressive. However, I did feel a little tethered to the mains with only an 8m cord, and although emptying the dust cup was easy, I did need to reach inside it to free trapped fluff.

Shark Stratos Upright Vacuum review price & availability

  • List price: $429/£399
  • Available in US & UK

Known as the Shark Stratos Upright Vacuum in the US and Shark Stratos Anti Hair Wrap Plus Anti-Odour Upright Vacuum [NZ860UK] in the UK, this vacuum is available either direct from Shark or through resellers for prices in the region of $429/£400. In the US, you'll find it from Best Buy, Target and Walmart, while in the UK head to Amazon, Argos and John Lewis.

Its price is on a par with other ranges in the Shark collection. If you have pets then opt for the Shark Stratos Upright Vacuum with TruePet for $499.80 in the US, or pick up the Shark Stratos Pet Pro Anti Hair Wrap Plus Anti-Odour Upright Vacuum [NZ860UKT] for £429.99 in the UK. Both models come with a dedicated pet hair removal tool. 

Other vacuum cleaners in the Shark Stratos range include a cordless stick and corded stick cleaner.

  • Price: 5/5

The specs of our Shark Stratos Upright Vacuum review unit

  • Price: £399/ $429
  • Dust cup: 0.28 gallon / 1.3L
  • No. of speeds: 3
  • Hose length:  5ft / 1.5m
  • Cord length: 26.2ft / 8m
  • Weight: 17.2lbs / 6.7kg

These specs are the same for US and UK Shark Stratos Upright Vacuum models.

setting up the shark stratos upright

Setting up the Shark Stratos Upright (Image credit: Future / Jennifer Oksien)

Shark Stratos Upright Vacuum review design

  • Floorhead glides over carpets and hard floors
  • Odor tech in floorhead releases a pleasant smell
  • Easily transforms between an upright to portable vacuum

The overall design of this upright vacuum is super-impressive. It comes with a number of features I've come to appreciate about Shark vacuums over the years, alongside a couple of new things that are unique to the Stratos range.

The first is Shark's signature DuoClean floorhead, made up of two motorized brush-rolls in the unit. It glides satisfyingly across carpet and hard floors, picking up all manner of dirt and debris. The Anti Hair Wrap Plus tech also means the vacuum picks up any hair from floors, without it ever becoming tangled around the brush rolls.

shark stratos upright close up of duoclean floorhead

Close up of the Shark DuoClean floorhead with LED lights, Anti Hair Wrap Plus and Anti-Odor tech (Image credit: Future / Jennifer Oksien)

One of the new features that's worthy of mention is the anti-odor technology. Although not something I've paid much attention to before having tested this vacuum, it certainly will be now. An anti-odor dial can be inserted into the floorhead of this cleaner, with the dial rotated to select an odor intensity. The aim is to stop any dust cup odors filling the air; and I did notice a more pleasant smell following a session of vacuuming. Note that the dial isn't available in an array of smells, with the sea breeze-type smell the only one currently available. Sharks recommends replacing the cartridges every six months, with replacement cartridges available for £14.99 (2 pack) direct from Shark. At the time of writing, we couldn't find replacements in the US.

The floorhead here is also home to another signature Shark feature: LED lighting. Helping to illuminate dust and help light up lower-lit areas of the home, such as the hallway, these lights are both functional and stylish.

In use, the Shark Stratos vacuum performed brilliantly for cleaning floors. However, it's pretty heavy at 17.2lbs / 6.7kg, which made it tricky to clean the stairs. Fortunately, you can detach the main unit from the floorhead and attach the wand to use it in its Powered Lift-Away mode. This makes it easier to clean under furniture, which isn't so easy in its upright form.

using powered lift away on the shark stratos

Using Powered Lift-Away mode with the Shark Stratos to vacuum under the couch (Image credit: Future / Jennifer Oksien)

With the floorhead detached, I also gave the crevice and multi-surface tools a whirl. The crevice tool was good for reaching into the corners of the ceiling and cleaning along the top of the skirting, whereas the multi-surface tool was great for removing biscuit crumbs from the couch and bed. Usefully, there's storage space for both of these tools at the rear of the upright vacuum.

More generally, a slider switch on the handle allows you to choose between three floor settings: hard floors, low-pile carpets and thick-pile carpets or area rugs. The power button is also on the handle.

The 8m power cable wraps around the side of the vacuum on two hooks; one is next to the handle, while another sits next to the base of the dust cup. The dust cup offers a decent 1.3-liter capacity, which meant I didn't have to empty it after every cleaning session, and emptying is a simple matter of pressing the "dust cup release" button.

pressing the button to remove bin on shark stratos

Releasing the dust cup (Image credit: Future / Jennifer Oksien)

This upright vacuum also has an anti-allergen complete seal, which captures and traps 99.9% of dust and allergens inside the vacuum. Although this is difficult to test, my husband or I did notice that we didn't start sneezing and suffer watering eyes while this vacuum was in use – something that we can be sensitive to – so we'll take that as a win.

  • Design: 4.5/5

Shark Stratos Upright Vacuum review performance

  • Impressive vacuuming
  • Easy to transform into a portable vac
  • Love the odor emitted

I've been using the Shark Stratos Upright Vacuum as my main cleaner in my three-bedroom home for the past month. The ground floor has ceramic floor tiles in the kitchen, plus wooden floors and rugs elsewhere; the first floor is mainly carpeted. With a toddler, and life in general, this upright vacuum has certainly been challenged over the past month of testing.

On the hard floors, the Shark Stratos performed well, picking up rice crispies from the floor in a single pass. I kept it on the hard floor setting, and the cleaner worked perfectly. Our kitchen floor is also home to a rag rug, which I quickly learnt was best avoided with this vac; passing over it with the Shark Stratos, the cleaner would simply start to suck it up. However, most vacuum cleaners struggle on this rug, so it wasn't a problem.

Transitioning between the hard floors and the other rugs was seamless. I'm a big fan of the DuoClean floorhead – a tough one to beat in my opinion. While it performed perfectly fine on rugs with the hard floor setting, for a deeper clean I'd switch to the carpet / low-pile setting – and I could soon see fluff bunnies doing circles in the transparent dust cup.

With the floors cleaned, I next moved onto the cobwebs in the corner of the sitting room. I transformed the Shark Stratos Upright Vacuum into its Powered Lift-Away mode and attached the crevice tool. While I managed to reach up into the corners of the room, it did prove a bit of a stretch with the 5ft /1.5m hose in our period property with high ceilings.

shark stratos in powered lift away mode

Using Powered Lift-Away mode on the stairs (Image credit: Future / Jennifer Oksien)

While the main unit was removed from the floor head in Powered Lift-Away mode, I attached the floorhead to the handle to vacuum the stairs. I had the Shark Stratos Upright Vacuum plugged in not far from the bottom of the stairs, so I was confident that I'd have enough reach to clean to the top of the 13-step staircase – and so the 26.2ft / 8m power cable proved sufficient. It wasn't as easy to vacuum the stairs as it was using one of the best cordless vacuums, for example, it was certainly more manageable in this more portable vacuum mode than as an upright vacuum because the weight was more balanced.

On the first floor, vacuuming carpets, the Shark Stratos Upright Vacuum excelled. Upright vacuum cleaners are known for being more powerful than cordless and handheld units, and this Shark vacuum cemented this fact further. I set it on "thick carpet / area rug" and moved the vac back-and-forth around the floor until all (reachable) areas had been vacuumed. By the time I'd finished, the dust cup was almost full – which was so satisfying – and my home smelt so much fresher.

This method of vacuuming my home was repeated every three to four days throughout the testing period of the Shark Stratos Upright Vacuum. 

Thankfully, I never needed to empty the dust cup mid-clean. Although the 0.28 gallon / 1.3 liter isn't the largest I've seen, it's still pretty generous and proved sufficient capacity for cleaning my entire home. A slight niggle was with regards to emptying, where debris (mainly fluff) would become wedged at the top of the dust cup, requiring me to reach my hand inside to free it – which isn't a very pleasant job.

shark stratos with full dust cup

The dust cup is full after a vacuum around the house (Image credit: Future)

In terms of other maintenance, the dust cup will benefit from a wipe clean inside every now and then to keep it looking, and smelling, fresh. The filters will also need to be rinsed; these can be accessed after releasing the dust cup. Thankfully, the Anti Hair Wrap Plus tech means the one job you won't have to do is untangling any hair around the brush bars.

Shark duohead floorhead on Shark Stratos  after use

No hair tangled around the Shark Stratos brush bars thanks to Anti Hair Wrap Plus (Image credit: Future / Jennifer Oksien)

For noise, this vacuum cleaner measured between 81dB - 100dB depending upon the mode (portable or upright) it's in, which is loud considering the majority of vacuum cleaners tend to have a noise level reading of around 80dB.

  • Performance: 4.5/5

Should you buy the Shark Stratos Upright Vacuum?

Buy it if...

Don't buy it if...

Shark Stratos Upright Vacuum review: also consider

If you want a Shark vacuum but not an upright, here are a couple more options to consider...

How I tested the Shark Stratos Upright Vacuum

  • I used the Shark Stratos Upright Vacuum as my main vac for one month
  • It was used to vacuum the floors, stairs and harder-to-reach areas

I've been using the Shark Stratos Upright Vacuum as and when it's been needed for around one month. It's been my main vac, although I've also been reviewing the DreameTech L10s Ultra (a robot vacuum) at the same time.

The Shark Stratos Upright Vacuum has been used three-to-four times a week to  deep clean the carpets, stairs and into high-up areas around my three-bed home. I've used all the key features of the upright vacuum including the DuoClean floorhead, Powered Lift-Away mode, and all three levels of suction. I emptied the dust cup several times throughout the duration of the review, with the majority of the collection being wool fluff from the carpets.

I've been actively reviewing vacuum cleaners for three years, although my experience working with home appliances extends past a decade. My lessons over the years have taught me what's important in a vacuum cleaner, and what are the best features to have.

Read more about how we test

First reviewed January 2023

Nintendo Switch review
3:14 pm |

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

The Nintendo Switch is the first step in bridging the gap between handheld and home consoles, which makes it an incredibly valuable addition to the family of Nintendo consoles while still maintaining the same charm of previous Nintendo Consoles and some superb capabilities within its hybrid nature. 

The design of the Nintendo Switch has helped Nintendo to continue its high reign in household consoles with something entirely unique, especially running off the back of the Nintendo Wii and the Nintendo 3DS, even the experimental second screen of the Wii U was pretty revolutionary when it launched. So, even six years on, and with the competition of the Nintendo Switch OLED, there is a good reason the Nintendo Switch remains as popular as always.

What we have here is significantly different from what we've seen before and the Nintendo Switch provides the best of both worlds. You can game on the go at your own behest or cutch down at home to make the most of the chill Nintendo Switch atmosphere. As the list of best Nintendo Switch games gets bigger with exclusive party games and top-tier third-party titles.

Whether you've already made your purchase or not, it's hard to deny that the Nintendo Switch is a fine idea, mixing some of what made the Wii and Wii U appealing for gamers (even if developers had a more challenging time figuring out how to make the most of the latter device).

The Nintendo Switch brings with it a central idea that can benefit literally every game, not just the select few that can use motion control or a second screen. Who hasn't at one time wanted to pack up their console and take it with them? Essentially, the Switch delivers on this hybrid idea. You'll find it a solid, premium handheld that can flip into docked mode and work as you'd expect a home console.

At the same time, the Nintendo Switch certainly isn't perfect: most of the issues it has are a consequence of the way that it dares to try and do everything at once, and it doesn't always get the compromise right.

Those who aren't sold on its hybridity and want that classic Nintendo handheld experience will no doubt be interesting in the compact, lighter alternative: the Nintendo Switch Lite, which offers a solely handheld Switch gaming experience. For those after something more premium, there's also the Nintendo Switch OLED, which mainly improves the portable aspect of play.

Nintendo Switch: price and release date

An Animal Crossing Nintendo Siwtch

(Image credit: Nintendo)
  • What is it? Nintendo's hybrid console
  • When did it come out? March 3, 2017
  • What does it cost? $259.99 / £259.99 / AUD$435 

The original Nintendo Switch launched over five years ago, arriving on March 3, 2017. While it previously cost $299.99 in the US, £259.99 in the UK, and $469.95 in Australia, Nintendo gave this a small price cut after the Switch OLED model arrived October 2021. 

Nowadays, you'll find it going a new RRP worldwide of €269.99 / £259.99 / $259.99 / AU$435. Thankfully, Nintendo has confirmed there won't be a price hike just yet for the Nintendo Switch in the wake of rising global inflation, unlike the recent hikes for Oculus Quest 2 and PS5. So, if you've not yet picked up any of the Nintendo Switch family, there's no need to rush.

Nintendo Switch: design

Nintendo Switch review

Nintendo Switch review (Image credit: TechRadar)
  • Three form factors: handheld, console (docked) and tabletop
  • Lots of accessories, which are at risk of being misplaced

In the box with your shiny new Nintendo Switch, you get the main console, two detachable controller sides (Joy-Cons), a grip which enables you to combine these controller portions into a more traditional gamepad, two straps which can make them into two individual controllers, and a dock for plugging the console into your television. 

You also get a USB Type-C power cable (with a non-detachable power brick) and an HDMI cable for connecting the device to your TV. If you think that sounds like a lot of accessories, then you'd be right: we suspect many Nintendo Switch owners will have misplaced at least one or two of these within a few months.

We've wrapped our Joy-Con straps around our Joy-Con grip just to keep everything together, but we'd love some way of attaching them to the console, so they don't end up getting misplaced. It's a pretty novel (not to mention somewhat complicated) setup, so it's worth delving into each of the different ways you can use the console. 

Nintendo Switch: handheld mode

Man holding a Nintendo Switch

(Image credit: Shutterstock/Niphon Subsri)
  • Bigger than traditional handhelds
  • Slightly cramped for the right hand due to right analogue stick
  • Split D-pad on the left side

First in the Nintendo Switch modes is the handheld mode, the form factor most like the hardware devices that came before the Switch. In this configuration, you attach the two controller portions (the Joy-Cons) to the left and right edges of the screen, then game much as you can with the PlayStation Vita.

In fact, the size and shape of the console's analogue sticks make it feel a lot like a modern Vita, though it's not as solid because of the joints that exist between the Joy-Cons and the screen. Along the top of the Nintendo Switch is a slot for game cartridges, a headphone jack (Bluetooth headphones are now supported after a post-launch update), a volume rocker and a power button. 

The bottom of the device is less busy. You've got the kickstand for tabletop mode (more on this later), which conceals a small microSD slot for expandable storage. Internal storage on the Nintendo Switch is limited to just 32GB, so if you're planning on downloading games rather than buying them, you'll want to invest in a Nintendo Switch SD card (capacities up to 2TB are theoretically supported).

Check out our unboxing video of the Nintendo Switch below.

The detachable Nintendo Switch Joy-Cons have a lot going on. The right-hand side has the classic A, B, X, and Y button configuration, an analogue stick (slightly awkwardly placed underneath the face buttons) and two shoulder buttons. A small plus-shaped button is the equivalent of the Wii U's 'Start' button and a home button for reaching the console's system-level menus. 

Across on the left, Joy-Con, it's a very similar story, as you would expect. You've got a minus button that acts as the console's 'Select' button, a share button for taking screenshots and video (in selected titles), an analogue stick, two shoulder buttons, and the most un-Nintendo D-pad we've ever seen. 

Instead of the classic cross D-pad Nintendo utilized since the NES, the left Joy-Con has a set of four circular buttons that are identical in shape to the face buttons on the right Joy-Con. This design decision, which appears very odd at first glance, is so the left Joy-Con can be used as an individual controller, with the D-pad acting as face-buttons in this configuration (again, more on this later).

Nintendo Switch: console mode

Nintendo Switch review

Nintendo Switch review (Image credit: TechRadar)
  • Connects to your TV via an included dock
  • Docking process is seamless, and can be done mid-game

The second Nintendo Switch form-factor is console mode. You place the main portion in the included dock, which connects the device to your television – you're then free to detach the Joy-Cons to control the Switch from a distance.

The way the console transfers the viewing experience from its own screen to the television is as seamless as it could possibly be, and you don't even have to pause your game. Everything happens in real-time. Detaching the Nintendo Switch Joy-Cons can be a little fiddly, admittedly: it's done by holding small buttons on their backs and sliding the controllers up.

The TV dock is roughly the same size as the Nintendo Switch's middle portion. Around the back, you've got a USB Type-C port to provide the console with power, an HDMI port to connect it to your television, and a USB Type-A port. On the left-hand side of the console are two additional USB ports, mainly used for charging your Switch controllers as you play wirelessly (more on this in a moment).

If you want to use the Nintendo Switch with multiple televisions throughout your home, you can buy additional Switch docks, which make it easy to transition from one screen to another, plug-and-play style. You can even use an OLED model's dock, which has a built-in Ethernet port.

Nintendo Switch: tabletop mode

Nintendo Switch review

Nintendo Switch review (Image credit: TechRadar)
  • Screen can also be detached and propped up on a table
  • Great for two-player gaming, but four players on the console's small screen is a push

The final form factor for the Nintendo Switch is what Nintendo calls 'tabletop mode'. Using the kickstand attached to the back of the screen, you can prop the console up on a table and then detach the Joy-Cons for some semi-portable gaming.  In theory, this is perfect for long journeys on public transport where you have a tray table to place the console on; in reality, we found it a bit of a mixed experience. 

We do like being able to use the Nintendo Switch Joy-Cons in the grip rather than having them attached to the console – the grip provides just enough extra plastic to make the controllers much more comfortable in the hands, and having the console a little further away means your sitting posture can be a lot more natural. 

Tabletop mode is also great for multiplayer on the Switch. Detaching both Joy-Cons to allow two people to play against one another is a pleasure: it makes the Nintendo Switch perfect for whipping out at small gatherings where you'll already have everything you need for a multiplayer session. However, a couple of issues prevent the console from fully capitalizing on this intriguing tabletop mode.

First is the kickstand. Although it's rubberized, which means that the Switch doesn't slide around, it only supports the console at a single height. If your tray table is a little closer to you, then there's no ability to prop the console up so that it's facing you more directly, and instead, you'll be stuck with the screen pointing at your chest rather than your face. 

Second is the Nintendo Switch charging port, which is inaccessible when you use it in tabletop mode. During a recent train journey, this meant that although we were in the perfect situation to use tabletop mode, we ended up using the console as a handheld to charge it up. 

Finally, the Nintendo Switch screen is just a little too small for multiplayer gaming for more than two players. Four-player Mario Kart is almost impossible due to the size and resolution of the display (we found ourselves putting our faces inches from the console to be able to make out distant details). 

Overall, tabletop mode on the Switch feels better suited to short periods of use, which is a shame when it feels like it should be the de facto way to use the Nintendo Switch over long periods. 

Nintendo Switch: set-up

Nintendo Switch review

Nintendo Switch review (Image credit: TechRadar)
  • Set-up is simple enough
  • Console needs to be told whether Joy-Cons are being used together or separately

Setting up a brand new Nintendo Switch is refreshingly simple; you'll be pleased to learn. If you're using the device as a handheld, attach the Joy-Cons, press the power button, and... er... that's it.

If you want to play Nintendo Switch games on your TV, you need to plug the dock into the TV via HDMI, then hook it up to some power via the included USB Type-C power lead. The console then easily slips into the dock.

Pairing the controllers is a little more complicated than with other devices because of the fact that they can either be paired or used separately. The way you tell the Switch which controllers you're using is to press both the L and R shoulder buttons in whichever configuration you've opted for. So if you're using the Joy-Cons individually, you press the buttons on the Joy-Con straps to indicate this is the case. 

On the software side, the console asks for the standard combination of Wi-Fi details and user account set-up info. These details are a doddle to input on the console's touchscreen – the keyboard isn't quite as good as a phone's, but it's much better than a typical console experience. Afterwards, games can be played off a cartridge or the Nintendo Switch's internal memory.

Nintendo Switch: recent updates

Nintendo’s continued building upon the Switch since the Lite's launch. Alongside the launch of the Nintendo Switch Lite and Nintendo Switch OLED, it's also seen continued system updates.

Between reminding us to use our Nintendo Switch reward points and adding Nintendo Switch software folders to better organize our library of games, a Nintendo Switch Online achievements system also went live. Elsewhere, you can now add friends through the Nintendo Switch Online companion app, available on iOS and Android mobiles. It means adding friends is easier than ever on Nintendo Switch.

There’s no end of upcoming games to look forward to, but if you’re after the older classics, fear not. Thanks to the Nintendo Switch Online subscription service, there’s a continually growing library of NES and SNES games to play. If you’ve opted for the Expansion Pack, there’s Sega Genesis/Mega Drive and more N64 games are coming. We'd say keep your Nintendo Switch Online subscription for now.

Looking for advice on how to connect Nintendo Switch to your TV? After some recommendations for Nintendo Switch SD cards? We've got you covered.

Let's not forget Nintendo has designed some absolutely classic controllers in its time – the original NES controller wrote the blueprint that console controllers have followed ever since, the N64 was the first console to have a controller with an analogue thumb-stick, and the Wii (for better or for worse) introduced the world to motion-controlled gaming.

With the Nintendo Switch, Nintendo has attempted the seemingly impossible in creating a system that's simultaneously one whole controller and two separate controllers, while also functioning as controllers in the handheld mode.

Nintendo Switch Joy-Cons: general impressions

  • By trying to do many things at once the Joy-Cons don't do anything perfectly
  • HD Rumble tech is impressive – but developers need to find a use for it

Ultimately these multiple roles mean the Nintendo Switch controllers end up being jacks of all trades and masters of none. None of the controller configurations are unusable, but we've used more comfortable controllers in the past that have had the advantage of only having to do one job very well. 

The left Joy-Con's D-pad sums up the problem in a nutshell: rather than going for the cross D-pad that Nintendo has been using since the NES, the D-pad is instead split into four separate buttons to allow them to be used as face buttons when the Joy-Con is utilized as an individual controller. The result is a D-pad that you're not going to want to use for classic games that rely on it a lot, such as Street Fighter.

Nintendo Switch review

Nintendo Switch review (Image credit: TechRadar)

The Nintendo Switch analogue sticks also feel like a compromise between form factors: too small for a traditional gamepad, yet big enough that we wouldn't want to throw the device too carelessly into a rucksack for fear of one of them snapping off. 

You do have the option of buying separate accessories which don't have these issues (the Nintendo Switch Pro controller being a prime example), but in this review we're going to limit ourselves to talking about what you get in the box, since this is the primary way most people are going to be using the console – at least initially. 

One part of the Switch controllers that we absolutely love are the face buttons. They're a little smaller than those on other consoles, but they've got a really satisfying click to them that we really appreciate. The Joy-Cons feature an interesting form of rumble, which Nintendo has dubbed 'HD Rumble'. From what we've seen so far this isn’t just a marketing gimmick – it feels like a step forward for rumble tech. 

One mini-game in the launch game 1-2 Switch has you milking cows, sure, but it also counts the number of (virtual) balls inside a Joy-Con. It's impressive just how well the HD Rumble creates the impression of there being real balls inside the controller.  Another mini-game impresses by tasking you to crack a safe by feeling the click of a dial as you turn it. 

Both mini-games have us excited for the possibilities of HD Rumble in the future, but the success of the technology depends on the ability of Switch developers to make use of it – the potential is there, but we're still waiting for a killer app. Nintendo made practical use of the feature in the Switch 3.0 OS update –  if you've lost one Joy-Con but the two are still paired, you can make the other vibrate to find it. 

There were initially reports of connectivity issues with the left Joy-Con on the Nintendo Switch, something which we experienced ourselves. The problem is that sometimes during gameplay, the left Joy-Con's connection just drops out completely. Fortunately, Nintendo is now offering a Joy-Con repair service for any broken ones, so we'd advise sending yours in if you experience connectivity issues of any kind. 

Nintendo Switch Joy-Cons: handheld

Nintendo Switch review

Nintendo Switch review (Image credit: TechRadar)
  • Handheld controls are a little cramped and awkward
  • Right analogue stick in particular is uncomfortable

It's in the handheld configuration that the Nintendo Switch controller's deficiencies are most apparent. The main problem is the low positioning of the right analogue stick, which we found very difficult to operate comfortably. 

Either you hold the Switch precariously on the tips of your fingers in order to operate the analogue stick with the tip of your right thumb, or you hold the device more tightly and operate the thumbstick with the inside of your thumb knuckle, which feels rather cramped and awkward. 

Looking back, the Vita layout is very similar, but the increased weight of the Nintendo Switch makes it much more difficult to comfortably hold on the fingertips. It's a mode that we think works in small bursts, but it's not comfortable over longer periods. 

If you're gaming on Nintendo Switch on a flight, for example, we'd expect most people to opt to put the console in tabletop mode on the tray table in front of them. We are, however, fans of the shoulder buttons, which manage to feel big enough without impacting on the depth of the console too much. 

Nintendo Switch Joy-Cons: grip

Nintendo Switch review

Nintendo Switch review (Image credit: TechRadar)
  • Analogue sticks smaller than traditional controllers
  • Overall the controller is comfortable and nice to use
  • Clicky face buttons are especially appealing

The main way we expect people will play with the console when it's docked is by combining the two Joy-Cons together into a single controller. This is done by using the included Joy-Con grip, which the two sides slide neatly into. 

We were initially concerned when it was revealed that the Joy-Con grip that comes with the Nintendo Switch is unable to charge the two controllers – this means that if you want to charge your controllers you'll need to plug them back into the console's screen.

The Joy-Cons' battery life is rated at 20 hours, so we'd be surprised if they ever run out of battery mid-game; at the same time, having to dismantle our controllers after every play session is somewhat annoying. A grip that charges the Joy-Cons is available, but this is sold separately. Aside from charging concerns, we were surprised with how the Nintendo Switch controller feels when assembled in the grip. 

Although the analogue sticks are a little small, we found them perfectly usable for lengthy Breath of the Wild play sessions, and the addition of a little more plastic massively helps the ergonomics of the controller as a whole. 

It's just a shame that the controller doesn’t have a proper D-pad on its left side: as it stands you're going to need to buy the Pro controller if you want that traditional Nintendo controller feel on the Nintendo Switch.

Nintendo Switch Joy-Cons: individual controllers

Nintendo Switch review

Nintendo Switch review (Image credit: TechRadar)
  • Oddly positioned buttons due to having to work as a combined controller
  • A nice option to have if you want a friend to join you for multiplayer

Split the Nintendo Switch Joy-Cons apart and they can work as individual controllers complete with an analogue stick each, four face buttons, and (if you attach a Joy-Con strap) two shoulder buttons.  It's this configuration that feels like it's required the biggest compromise in Nintendo's pursuit to make them work in multiple ways. 

On the left Joy-Con the D-pad/face buttons are in the centre of the controller, which means your right thumb is uncomfortably far over, and the same is true of the analogue stick on the right Joy-Con. The asymmetrical configuration also makes describing controls to another person very difficult, since the control buttons have different names between the two Joy-Cons. 

The lack of hand grips is also prone to causing cramp if you use the controllers over long periods, especially if the game you're playing relies heavily on the Joy-Con's shoulder buttons. As a final point, the shoulder buttons can feel a little stiff to press, which adds to the discomfort of using them over long periods. 

So while this configuration might work in a pinch if you want to let a friend join you for a couple of rounds of Mario Kart, we don't see it being something you'll want to spend a lot of time with. Additionally, you'll need to remember to carry the Joy-Con straps with your Nintendo Switch if you want to use the shoulder buttons, which will be an annoying inconvenience for most people. 

Alternatively, you can use the two Joy-Cons as a single controller while split apart. Here they function identically to when they’re assembled into the Joy-Con grip, although we found it much less comfortable because of how cramped the right analogue stick ends up feeling.

Again, this feels like a compromise, this time for when you've forgotten your Joy-Con grip. We can't see ourselves using this configuration much at all unless a motion-controlled game specifically calls for it in the future.

Nintendo was a little late to the online party. While Microsoft stormed ahead with its Xbox Live service and Sony got to grips with the PlayStation Network, Nintendo was languishing with inconvenient friend codes and limited voice chat options. 

After a lengthy initial wait, Nintendo Switch Online is in full swing. As you're probably aware, it brings with it the ability to save games in the cloud, access to a host of classic NES games, and of course online multiplayer. The downside is you have to fork out £3.49 / $3.99 to Nintendo every month for the basic plan.

Nintendo Switch: online multiplayer

Splatoon 3

(Image credit: Nintendo)
  • Basic service has been online for a while
  • Full service launched in October 2018

Online multiplayer was available in some games from the launch of the Nintendo Switch, but now it's here in full – if you're willing to pay for it. We've already had a play around with the console's companion app, which was compatible with Splatoon 2 right away.

You could invite friends to matches, and voice chat with them, even if the whole process was rather cumbersome. Using a separate device isn't ideal, and connectivity usually wasn't perfect. Since the full Nintendo Switch Online service launched, things improved with direct in-game invites, but these aren't often utilised.

What we can tell you is that regular updates to the Nintendo Switch companion app and the firmware on the console itself have continued to introduce some very welcome features – such as the ability to add friends directly from your 3DS and Wii U Friend Lists.

Nintendo Switch: local wireless multiplayer

  • Easy to set up and join other players
  • Supports up to eight Switch consoles

Local wireless multiplayer within a game such as Mario Kart 8 Deluxe works very well in our experience. We used three Nintendo Switch consoles to have six people playing at once and found the entire process simple to set up, with no lag or connection problems. 

To set up an online multiplayer game using local wireless, players simply start up Mario Kart and select local wireless mode for either one or two players within the game itself. After this, one player will set up a room which the other players then join, and the player who set up the room selects the race rules. 

Each player will be given the chance to vote for their track preference and the game will randomly choose a track from those that players have voted for, much like online play works. If you have two players to one console, then the screen will split for each of you to see your place in the race, but you won't see what everyone else is seeing on their screens unless their consoles are in front of you.  

In the specific case of Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, the maximum number of players that you can have in a single race over local wireless is eight, with one or two players per Switch. You can also do LAN matches with up to 12 players. However, if you don't have multiple consoles then up to four friends can play on a single Nintendo Switch console in TV mode, or in tabletop mode.

Alternatively, if you have a lot of friends and a lot of consoles to hand, up to 12 consoles in TV mode can be connected via LAN Play, with one or two players per connected Nintendo Switch. However with each player required to have their own USB Ethernet adaptor, it's unlikely that many outside of tournaments will end up using their Nintendo Switch consoles in this way.

Nintendo Switch Online

Nintendo Switch review

Nintendo Switch review
  • Limited functionality at launch
  • Full service arrived in October 2018

Nintendo Switch Online certainly looks better than what it's offered in the past, but it still falls short of what competitors Sony and Microsoft are doing. The service costs $3.99 / £3.49 / AU$5.95 if you're paying month by month, with the monthly cost dropping slightly if you commit to more months at once.

And remember those are the prices for one user. If you've got a family on your Nintendo Switch then you'll be looking to sign up for the more expensive family plan which costs £31.49 / $34.99 per year. It seems like a fair bit more, but it does allow up to eight accounts across multiple consoles, meaning you get a decent discount if you know a few people with Switch consoles who are willing to split. 

Large parts of the service function through an app on your phone, so you'll have to have it on you if you want to use some of the online functions. The service also offers its own somewhat limited version of Sony's PlayStation Plus free games and Microsoft's Xbox Games with Gold, giving players access to a small library of 20 NES games at launch (with modern features like online multiplayer). 

Nintendo has continued adding NES and SNES games regularly but if you opt for the more expensive Expansion Pack, there’s Mega Drive and N64 games too.

Something a lot of people have been waiting for has also arrived with the online service: cloud saves. Those who subscribe to the online service can finally back up their saves for the games they've plugged hundreds of hours into (though they do have to pay for the privilege).

Though the Switch launched without the popular video streaming apps like Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime we've come to expect from consoles. Nintendo was quick to promise that these services would come to the console 'in time', though five years on, this remains sparse.

Hulu is the first of these services to have launched. It's US-only, but we're hoping this is a good sign that other streaming services will be arriving soon. YouTube and Crunchyroll have since arrived, too. 

Nintendo Switch: eShop online store

Nintendo Switch eShop

(Image credit: Nintendo)
  • eShop available at launch with modern games
  • Retro games available through Nintendo Switch Online

Like the Wii U before it, the Nintendo Switch features an online store that will allow you to download games rather than buy them in-store. 

If you're looking to download your games instead of buying them in a physical format, you should buy a microSD card for your Nintendo Switch. The console's internal memory is limited to 32GB, an amount which is already too small for one game, Dragon Quest Heroes.

As for the Virtual Console seen on previous Nintendo devices, that's not coming to the Nintendo Switch. Instead, retro games are available through the online subscription service we've already mentioned. We like the eShop's minimalist design. Along the left are sections for Recent Releases, Coming Soon, Charts, Current Offers and Redeem Code, alongside some search functionality too. 

You can add upcoming games to your Watch List, and there's also a section for downloading previously purchased titles to your Nintendo Switch. Nintendo is clearly planning to continue to add to the store as time goes on, too.

This original review was based on the Nintendo Switch model released at launch. However Nintendo has since updated its standard model to one which boasts a longer battery life.

With the Nintendo Switch having to work as a handheld as well as a home console, we were initially worried that the console's graphical abilities would be limited. Internally the Switch is using an Nvidia Tegra X1 chip, which is broadly similar to what was found in the Nvidia Shield

That's not exactly a bad thing considering the Shield is a 4K-capable set-top box, but you have to remember that as a portable device the Switch needs to make compromises to ensure decent battery life.  At launch, concerns over graphical horsepower appeared to be partly borne out, but we wouldn't call them deal-breakers.

Nintendo Switch: graphical performance

Nintendo Switch review

Nintendo Switch review (Image credit: Nintendo)
  • Roughly equivalent to Wii U
  • Not on a PS4 or Xbox One level
  • Strength of Nintendo's art direction makes up for technical shortcomings

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, for example, runs at a resolution of 720p on the Wii U, while this is boosted to 900p on the Switch when docked and outputting to a Full HD screen (4K output isn't supported). 

On the surface this suggests the Switch has the graphical edge on the Wii U, but we experienced frequent frame rate drops when playing the game on our television. Meanwhile, when played on the Switch's own 720p screen, the game maintained a consistent frame rate. 

These observations would suggest that we're looking at a new console with roughly equivalent power to Nintendo’s last-generation system, but we'll see how the situation improves as developers continue to get to grips with the new hardware. 

Nintendo has never been one to push the graphical envelope though, not really. Past games such as the Wii U's Mario Kart 8 have certainly looked good, but this has been more as a result of their distinctive art style than the technical prowess of their graphics. We're thankful then that this has tended to be a strong suit of Nintendo's in the past. 

The look of the games (in handheld mode at least) is also helped by the quality of the Switch's screen. Although it's only a 720p resolution, the screen is bright and its colors are vibrant. It's not up there with the best smartphones on the market, but it's definitely a step above Nintendo’s past handhelds. 

We'll have to see what the Nintendo Switch achieves in the graphical department going forward, but this certainly isn't a console to rival the likes of the PlayStation 4 or Xbox One. Since the release of Sony and Microsoft's new generation successors, the PS5 and Xbox Series X/S, that technological gap has only widened further.

Still, the games we've played look very good for handheld games, but as console games they don't quite have the same fidelity of current-generation games on other consoles. 

Nintendo Switch: battery life

Nintendo Switch review

Nintendo Switch review (Image credit: Nintendo)
  • As low as 2.5 hours for graphically intensive games
  • Enough for a commute, but longer journeys might prove problematic
  • Ability to charge over USB allows use of portable battery packs

Much has been made of the Switch's battery life, which Nintendo has claimed will last between 2.5 and 6 hours. In our experience this claim has rung true. When actively playing Zelda we got around 2.5 hours, which was enough to cover our commute to and from work in a single day before we charged the Switch overnight. 

If you're looking to use the console for a longer period, such as on a flight, then there are a couple of things you can do to squeeze some more battery life out of the console – turning on airplane mode for example (although this prevents you from detaching the Joy-Cons), and dimming the screen. 

Additionally you're able to use portable battery packs, but this is hardly ideal, and we found that the Nintendo Switch draws so much power that at best they prevented the battery from dropping during play, rather than actively recharging it. 

It's difficult to compare this battery life to previous handheld consoles, as even on the Switch itself this battery life will vary massively between different games, but we've seen a rest-mode comparison that put the Switch ahead of the Vita and PSP, while losing out to the DS and GameBoy Advance. 

The bottom line is that this is a console that should be able to deal with your daily commute, but might struggle with longer journeys.

Update: This page originally covered the games that launched alongside the console. However after five years on sale, the number of games on the Nintendo Switch has increased significantly – check out our guide to the best Nintendo Switch games for a constantly-updated list of the games you absolutely need to pick up. 

  • Plenty of good games over the first 12 months
  • Eventual success will rely on third-party developers
  • Lack of graphical parity may harm long-term support

The Nintendo Switch's launch lineup comprised a combination of ports of existing games such as Shovel Knight, World of Goo and I Am Setsuna, new entries in existing franchises like The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Super Bomberman R, and all-new games like Snipperclips, 1-2 Switch and Fast RMX. 

All in all it wasn't a bad launch lineup, but the first 12 months that the Nintendo Switch was on sale also saw big new releases in the form of Super Mario Odyssey, Xenoblade Chronicles 2, Splatoon 2 and Arms. 

Nintendo of America's now-former president, Reggie Fils-Aime, said in an interview that we could see more of Nintendo's big first party titles come to the console in one form or another. Since then, we've seen fan favorites like Super Smash Bros Ultimate, Luigi's Mansion, Kirby, Advance Wars and Mario Strikers: Battle League arrive.

How this will continue playing out isn't fully clear, but Fils-Aime did say that a main Nintendo development philosophy is to have at least one of its classic franchises on every platform. In its first year, the console received ports of big games like Minecraft and FIFA. Though hardly new, these remain important for consumers who don't plan on using the Switch as a second console, but their primary gaming device. 

The real test in the long term will be how third-party developers (i.e. those not financed by Nintendo directly) embrace the console. Although its graphics are good for a handheld, we worry that a lack of graphical parity with PS4 and Xbox One will prevent developers from easily supporting the console alongside those devices, which may harm the number of game releases it gets in the future. 

So far there have been some positive signs for third-party support on the Nintendo Switch. Rocket League developer Psyonix brought the game to the console, for example, and Snake Pass' launch suggests games can be brought over to the Switch without too many compromises

Mario and Zelda have always been excellent games. Still, without the likes of franchises with more regular release schedules like Call of Duty, Assassin's Creed and Far Cry, you might find yourself lacking games to play in the long run. Thankfully, Nintendo usually releases at least one first-party game each month, so there's never a major drought.

We've had the chance to try out a select portion of the console's games at launch, so read on for our thoughts. 

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

Nintendo Switch review

Nintendo Switch review (Image credit: Nintendo)
  • Impressive modernization of a classic franchise

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild was undoubtedly the jewel in the crown of Nintendo Switch's launch lineup. Although the game also arrived on Nintendo's older Wii U console, the thought of being able to take a full-on, modern Zelda on the go was always going to be a compelling proposition. 

But quite apart from being the best handheld Zelda game ever made, the game is also up there with being one of the best in the series too. It feels fantastically broad and open, with dozens of weapons to find, items to craft, and environments to explore. 

Yes, the game breaks with tradition in so many ways but the experience still ends up feeling quintessentially Zelda, with all the charm that this entails. If you're picking up a Nintendo Switch or have done already, then Breath of the Wild is an absolutely essential purchase. It won't be long before its direct sequel, The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom, also arrives. 

1-2 Switch

Nintendo Switch review

Nintendo Switch review (Image credit: Nintendo)
  • An interesting showcase of the hardware, but doesn't quite have the staying power of Wii Sports

Like the Wii before it, the Nintendo Switch introduces new technologies to gaming that haven't been explored before.  Whereas the Wii had Wii Sports to show off these new concepts, the Switch is banking on 1-2 Switch to demonstrate what the new hardware is capable of. The result is a mini-game collection, which cover everything from sword-fighting, Wild West gunslinging, and cow-milking. 

It's a fun collection of games, but we don't think it has the same 'replayability' as the classic Wii Sports did. The fact this isn't a pack-in game and requires a separate purchase doesn't help it, either.

The games are more about performing in front of your friends than outright winning. For example, one game has you pulling yoga poses and trying to keep as still as possible for as long as you can, but since the Joy-Con is only tracking the movement of one hand, there's nothing forcing you to actually hold the pose specified by the game (aside from drawing the ire of your friends). 

There's also no single-player mode for you to practise with when you're away from a group of pals. Overall the game is a bit of a mixed bag, but it's a fun one to use to show off your new Nintendo Switch to friends. 

Snipperclips

Nintendo Switch review

Nintendo Switch review
  • A great little co-op indie game

One of the nice surprises of the Switch launch event way back when was Snipperclips, a small puzzle game in which two players solve puzzles by cutting sections out of each other and changing their character's shapes.

It’s a delightful, charming, little game, and with its budget price tag we think it's another essential purchase for anyone who owns a Nintendo Switch.

Just Dance 2017

Just Dance

(Image credit: Ubisoft)
  • A competent entry in the series

You've almost certainly heard of Just Dance, the dancing series that first premiered on the Wii way back in 2009. 

The game tasks you with completing various dance routines, either on your own or with a friend, and judges your progress based on the movement of a Joy-Con in your hand (unfortunately there doesn't appear to be a way to use two Joy-Cons simultaneously). 

Much like 1-2 Switch, there's little to stop you cheating and not dancing with your whole body, but (also like 1-2 Switch) this is meant as a party game, so social niceties will hopefully stop you from spoiling the fun. 

It's not the most feature-packed or technically advanced game in the world, but if you've enjoyed Just Dance games in the past then this appears to be a very serviceable version for the Nintendo Switch.

By all accounts the Nintendo Switch has had an amazing start to life, with a number of excellent exclusive games and solid sales. However, the complete package (including Nintendo Switch Online) has only recently become available, so we'll have to reserve judgment on that part of the wider Nintendo Switch experience for the time being.

We liked

When compared with the handheld consoles that have come before it, the Nintendo Switch blows them out of the water with its graphical quality, which comes close to the last generation of consoles. This is helped by its impressive screen which is bright, crisp, and colorful. 

Providing the console with a controller that also doubles as two individual controllers is a very neat inclusion, and should mean that you're always able to join a friend for a quick multiplayer game while you're out and about. 

We're pleased to report that the Nintendo Switch docking and undocking process is impressively seamless too, with games that don't even need to be paused before being plugged into a television. We also like the pattern of regular updates that Nintendo has established: Fortnite has just been added, for example, and the  online service seems set to shake things up once again.

Nintendo Switch review

Nintendo Switch review (Image credit: TechRadar)

We disliked

The phrase "jack of all trades and master of none" may sound negative, but the impression the Nintendo Switch has left us with is that sometimes compromise is necessary and good. 

Yes there are better home consoles out there with controllers that can be good at doing just one thing, and yes there are handhelds out there that have better battery life and a more compact form-factor, but no other piece of gaming hardware has attempted the sheer number of things as the Nintendo Switch does – and then delivered so competently on so many of them. 

The graphics aren't the best around, but they're good enough that they don't feel dated. The controller isn't the most comfortable, but it never feels outright difficult to use. The battery life isn't the best, but it's enough for daily use. 

Final verdict

All of these trade-offs have been born out of compromise and an attempt to make something that works in so many situations, and on that final point the Nintendo Switch is a great success. 

What remains to be seen is if, in the years ahead, its games library can shape up to be something you'll want to play both at home and on the go, and whether its online service can compete with the existing efforts from Sony and Microsoft. If both of these play out well, Nintendo will have found a set of compromises worth making. 

So is the £259.99 / $259.99 / AU$435 asking price justified? At this point, the answer seems to be a resounding yes. Nintendo has released excellent game after excellent game for the system, and the hardware does a great job of making these games come alive. 

Nintendo Switch OLED review
2:49 pm |

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

Nintendo Switch OLED two-minute review 

Although the Nintendo Switch OLED appears like a regurgitation of the existing model, it has enough features to separate it from it's predecessors without losing any charm of the original. Perfect blacks and vivid colors on it's impressive 7-inch display are a significant upgrade on the LCD panel of the standard Nintendo Switch, alongside it's super-slim bezels to make the most of it's appearance. 

Outside of the display, the Nintendo Switch OLED has further differences to make it pop. The enhanced speakers make gameplay without headphones far more enjoyable, and diving into the best games on Nintendo Switch has never sounded more crisp.  

In addition, the console has twice the amount of storage than the original Switch and Nintendo Switch Lite, with a total of 64GB. However, it's still a miserable amount compared to the PS5 and Xbox Series X, which offer far faster storage at significantly higher capacities. However, Switch games tend to be significantly smaller, and the console has a Micro SD slot, so you can always add more if needed.  

So far, so good, then... but Nintendo has shamelessly overlooked one of the three core pillars of the Switch experience – TV mode – and the new console is a hard sell as a result. Despite redesigning the console’s dock, adding smoother edges, more breathing room, and even a LAN port for those who like to play online, the OLED is surprisingly bare in this crucial sector.

Another great disappointment for Switch players playing on their televisions is that you’re still capped to a 1080p output; there’ll be no 4K upscaling. So whenever you dock the Nintendo Switch OLED, all of its major selling points miraculously disappear. This boggles my mind considering that this is a console that’s supposed to cater equally to three types of play. 

The lack of 4K output subsequently leads to a question that Nintendo cannot avoid when it comes to the Switch OLED: why are the internal specifications the same as the original Nintendo Switch and Nintendo Switch Lite? If you're hoping for a Nintendo Switch Pro, you won't find that here. Production problems have dashed dreams of this.

Everything about this feels entirely at odds with the console's more premium feel. Countless titles and developers could have benefitted from a refresh of the Switch's aging components, so it's a shame Nintendo didn't respond to the clamor from both developers and consumers with the console approaching its sixth anniversary.

So who is the Nintendo Switch OLED model for, and is it worth splashing the cash to upgrade if you already own the original Switch or handheld-only Switch Lite? Well, if you’re new to the Switch line, the answer is a definite ‘yes’ – this is the best version of Nintendo's ingenious console to date and one that corrects many of the faults of the original model. 

If you play the Switch in handheld or tabletop mode, then nothing stops you from upgrading to the OLED. The OLED has much to offer thanks to the gorgeous 7-inch OLED screen, amazing speakers, and redesigned kickstand. However, if you currently have a Switch and use it primarily in TV mode, we can confidently say that the Switch OLED would be a luxury and unnecessary upgrade.

You can watch our Nintendo Switch OLED video review below:

Nintendo Switch OLED price and release date 

  • What is it? The fourth iteration of Nintendo's hybrid console
  • When did it come out? October 8, 2021
  • What does it cost? $349.99 / £309.99 / AU$539.95

The Nintendo Switch OLED launched on October 8, 2021, and it's the fourth iteration of Nintendo's home console. It costs $349.99 / £309.99 / AU$539.95, so it’s slightly more expensive than the original Nintendo Switch, which retails for $299.99 / £259.99 / AU$469.95, and it’s obviously a more considerable investment than the Nintendo Switch Lite, which costs $199.99 / £199.99 / AU$329.95.

The Nintendo Switch OLED model's higher price tag seems reasonable, however. The upgraded console comes with a larger, 7-inch OLED display, enhanced speakers, double the internal storage and a wider kickstand, and you also get a slightly improved dock that includes a LAN port for more stable online play.

Thankfully, Nintendo has confirmed there won't be a price hike just yet for the Nintendo Switch OLED, unlike the hikes for Oculus Quest 2 and PS5 that were blamed on global inflation. So, if you haven't picked up an OLED model yet, there's no need to rush.

Nintendo Switch OLED design

Nintendo Switch OLED with Joy-Con detached

(Image credit: Future)
  • Three modes: TV, handheld, and tabletop
  • Same detachable Joy-Con controllers
  • It comes with various accessories

If it weren't for the larger screen and new pristine white Joy-Con controllers, you'd be hard-pressed to notice any design differences between the Switch OLED and the original Switch. However, look a little closer, and several changes can be found. 

The new 7-inch OLED display is the most prominent new design feature, and it's surprisingly impactful, despite only being 0.8 inches larger than the original Switch's 6.2-inch screen. As a result, the Switch OLED is slightly bigger than its predecessor: it's 0.1 inches longer, at 9.5 x 0.55 x 4 inches (W x D x H), but it still feels immediately familiar in the hands. 

The Switch OLED has a bit more heft about it, though. It weighs 422 grams with the Joy-Con attached, about 22 grams more than the Nintendo Switch. Thankfully, we didn’t find that the added weight caused any fatigue when playing, but it's worth bearing in mind if you already feel like the Switch is a touch on the heavy side.

You'll find the same Nintendo Switch accessories we're used to seeing in the box: two Joy-Con controllers, a pair of Joy-Con straps, and a Joy-Con Grip. 

You also get the redesigned Nintendo Switch dock, which includes the new LAN port, which is slightly longer but not quite as deep as the original dock. There's a bit more wiggle room inside, too, which should allow for more efficient airflow and lessens the chance that you'll gradually scratch the Switch's screen by repeatedly putting it in and taking it out of the dock. The dock is also a touch lighter, not that you’ll be moving it very often, and it contains one fewer 2.0 USB port.

Nintendo Switch OLED in the dock

(Image credit: Future)

It's also worth noting that the Nintendo Switch OLED will work in the old dock, and the original Nintendo Switch will work in the new one. Both may require a system update, but it's pleasing to know that your old dock won't be rendered entirely useless.

Other Switch OLED design changes include a repositioned microSD slot, which sits behind the wider kickstand and is easier to find, a slightly more recessed power button that’s now oval-shaped, and a wider volume rocker. It also features smaller slits for the fans to exhaust hot air, which help to give the Switch OLED a more modern appearance. You also get a headphone jack, as on the other Switch models.

Nintendo Switch OLED stacked on top of the older Switch

(Image credit: Future)

Aesthetically speaking, the Nintendo Switch OLED hides the older Switch's product information and warnings. While it's a small addition, the back of the Switch now looks much cleaner as a result, with the info tucked discreetly away behind the new stand.

While we mostly welcome the Nintendo Switch OLED's more minor design touches, we severely dislike one change: the new Game Card slot. The little indentation on the original Switch's Game Card slot is gone, making it almost impossible to open if you don't have any fingernails. We found ourselves scratching at the Game Card's new slot countless times in an attempt to pry it open, and frankly, we can't understand why this change was made when it’s objectively worse.

Nintendo Switch OLED: handheld mode

Nintendo Switch OLED Splatoon 3 Edition

(Image credit: Nintendo)
  • The new 7-inch OLED display is a revelation
  • Still not the most ergonomic design
  • Joy-Con durability concerns remain
Vivid or Standard mode?

Press image of the Nintendo Switch OLED

(Image credit: Nintendo)

The Nintendo Switch OLED lets you choose between two screen settings: Vivid and Standard. Vivid is the default setting and provides extremely punchy and vibrant colors, which many will find pleasing. Standard, meanwhile, is more akin to the original Switch's color setting and provides a more natural and accurate picture. By heading to System Settings > System > Console Screen Vividness, you can see which suits you best.

Nintendo's Switch OLED model shines in handheld mode thanks to the vibrant new display. The 7-inch panel makes it easier to track the action in fast-paced games like Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, and the high-contrast display breathes new life into Mario Kart 8 Deluxe. Metroid Dread is an excellent showcase, too, as its dimly lit levels and alien-like color palette benefit from the OLED’s incredible contrast ratio.

Compared side-by-side with the new display, the original Switch’s LCD panel, almost looks washed out. Everything looks punchy and enticing on the OLED model – blacks, in particular, are inky and inviting on the OLED, whereas on the original, they look muted and gray.

The Switch OLED's display is still only 720p; however, games and text still looked sharp and legible when using the console in a comfortable position. We didn't encounter any motion blur issues, and the display was suitably bright, even in daylight conditions.

We still don't think the Nintendo Switch OLED is the most ergonomic gaming device we've ever used. The flat and wide console shape can lead to hand cramps during longer play sessions, and Joy-Con controllers use the same design as the original console, which is five years old, meaning durability concerns remain. The Joy-Con still tends to move up and down ever so slightly when attached to the console, too, which we’ve always found concerning since they’re supposed to lock in place.

Nintendo Switch OLED: TV mode

Nintendo Switch OLED rear view of dock

(Image credit: Future)
  • No 4K support, still the same 1080p output
  • No HDR support either

Unfortunately, the Nintendo Switch OLED offers zero improvements over its predecessor in TV mode. Yes, the new dock includes a LAN port for more stable online gaming compared to playing over Wi-Fi, but you still get the same 720p UI and a max output resolution of 1080p. Even then, you could plug a LAN adapter into your Switch dock.

With 4K TVs now commonplace in most households, it seems like a massive oversight not to include any 4K support with the Switch OLED. Even the Xbox One S, a console released in 2016, can output at 4K.

Nintendo Switch OLED and old dock compared

(Image credit: Future)

The Nintendo Switch OLED also doesn't include support for high dynamic range or HDR as it's commonly known. Again, we've seen last-gen consoles like the PS4 and Xbox One offer this functionality for years, so it would have been great to see Nintendo implement some modern-day display technologies to boost TV TV mode.

Nintendo Switch OLED: tabletop mode

Nintendo Switch OLED adjustable stand

(Image credit: Future)
  • Adjustable stand is a vast improvement over the original
  • OLED display offers better viewing angles
  • Enhanced speakers make a difference

Another plus point of the Nintendo Switch OLED is its performance in tabletop mode. Thanks to its wider, redesigned kickstand, it's far easier (and safer) to use the Switch in tabletop mode, perfect for impromptu multiplayer sessions. The hinge is far more robust and makes a satisfying thud when closed – we don’t have any concerns about it loosening over time and failing to snap into place like the old one.

As on the original Switch, Joy-Con controllers can be detached from the side of the unit, allowing you to prop the console on a table or other surface to play with a friend (or stranger) at a moment's notice. 

But where the old kickstand limited you to one viewing angle, the Switch OLED's adjustable stand can be positioned in multiple ways. It makes for a far more enjoyable viewing experience, and the excellent viewing angles of the OLED display mean you don't need to huddle together when facing off in Mario Kart 8 Deluxe.

Nintendo Switch OLED compared to old Switch kickstand

(Image credit: Future)

The Nintendo Switch OLED's enhanced speakers also really come to life in tabletop mode. Our favorite games sounded punchy and clear, without distortion at higher volumes, which is essential when you can't reach for a pair of headphones.

Nintendo Switch OLED stand as low as it can go

(Image credit: Future)

Nintendo Switch OLED performance

Nintendo Switch OLED side by side with old Switch

(Image credit: Future)
  • Exactly the same tech specs as the original Switch 

Even though the original Nintendo Switch was approaching its fifth anniversary when this released, the Nintendo Switch OLED model offers no performance boost whatsoever. The enhanced display aside, the best Switch games look and play the same as before, with the new console having the same Nvidia Custom Tegra X1 processor and 4GB of RAM as its predecessor.

This will disappoint those who were hoping for a more powerful Switch model, which has often been dubbed a "Nintendo Switch Pro". Most Switch games still play perfectly well, of course, but there's no doubt that the console's hardware is beginning to show its age. That's especially true that the PS5 and Xbox Series X are on the market.

Games will at least look prettier thanks to the console's new high-contrast display, and for some, that might be enough – but we were hoping for more here. Thankfully, battery life is on par with the Nintendo Switch (2019) version, so expect between 4.5 hours and nine hours, depending on the game you're playing.

Nintendo Switch OLED game library

Nintendo Switch OLED showing Celeste and old Switch showing Sonic Mania

(Image credit: Future)
  • Exceptional library of titles to choose from
  • More big releases are on the way

Of course, the main reason to pick up a Nintendo Switch OLED is to play games, not just to ogle the new hardware. And it's here where the Switch excels. The Switch's library of games is jam-packed with some timeless classics, like The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Super Mario Odyssey, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, Animal Crossing: New Horizons, and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.

And it's not just Nintendo's first-party lineup that makes the Switch an appealing prospect; the console is also home to fantastic indie games such as Hades, Celeste, and Spelunky 2, many of which feel far more enjoyable to play untethered from the TV.

It means there's a game to suit every player's tastes, and many more blockbusters will come, including The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom and Metroid Prime 4. You'll have plenty of titles to play on the Nintendo Switch OLED.

Should you buy the Nintendo Switch OLED?

Buy it if...

Don't buy it if...

FAQs

What is an OLED display?

OLED stands for ‘Organic Light Emitting Diode’. OLED panels bring you better image quality (blacker blacks and brighter whites), reduced power consumption, and faster response times. OLED panels emit their own light when an electric current is passed through, whereas cells in an LCD-LED display require an external light source, like a giant backlight, for brightness. It means individual pixels can be turned on and off, preventing the display from exhibiting backlight bleed, bloom, or haloing that can occur in other display technologies.

Is the Nintendo Switch OLED prone to burn-in?

One of the most common concerns regarding OLED displays is that they can be susceptible to burn-in. Burn-in is a term used to describe permanent image retention on OLED displays that can occur from looping logos or static HUDs. When such elements are displayed for hours, it can permanently scar the panel's pixels, leaving residual 'ghost' patterns that can't be turned off.

Thankfully, OLED panel manufacturers have made great strides in negating burn-in. LG uses 'screen shift' technology, which subtly moves static images onscreen to ensure individual pixels aren't outputting the same information for sustained periods.

But could the Nintendo Switch OLED be susceptible to burn-in? Nintendo told TechRadar: "We’ve designed the OLED screen to aim for longevity as much as possible, but OLED displays can experience image retention if subjected to static visuals over a long time.

"However, users can take preventative measures to preserve the screen by utilizing some of the Nintendo Switch console’s included features, such as using auto-brightness to prevent the screen from getting too bright and enabling the auto-sleep function to put the console into “auto sleep” and turn off the screen after short periods of time."

Nintendo Switch OLED: Recent updates

Nintendo’s continued building upon the Switch OLED since it launched last October, thanks to continued system updates. 

Between reminding us to use our Nintendo Switch reward points and adding Nintendo Switch software folders to better organize our library of games, a Nintendo Switch Online achievements system also went live. Elsewhere, you can now add friends through the Nintendo Switch Online companion app, available on iOS and Android mobiles. It means adding friends is easier than ever on Nintendo Switch.

There’s no end of upcoming games to look forward to, but if you’re after the older classics, fear not. Thanks to the Nintendo Switch Online subscription service, there’s a continually growing library of NES and SNES games to play. If you’ve opted for the Expansion Pack, there’s Sega Genesis/Mega Drive and more N64 games are coming. We'd say keep your Nintendo Switch Online subscription for now. 

Looking for advice on how to connect Nintendo Switch to your TV? After some recommendations for Nintendo Switch SD cards? We've got you covered.

Xbox Series S review
1:50 pm |

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

Xbox Series S two-minute review

The Xbox Series S can be slightly challenging to separate from Microsoft's flagship console, the Xbox Series X, but once you start reading between the lines there are several blatant differences to differentiate the pair. The Xbox Series S is designed to take the same generational leaps as the Series X, like including ray tracing, hosting super fast load times, and showcasing higher frame rates, but due to it's smaller price tag, some notable compromises are bound to happen. 

The Xbox Series S is praised for its digital-only build, but surprisingly there is significantly less storage than the Xbox Series X. The console also targets a 1440p resolution rather than 4K, with the opportunity to upscale when connected to an Ultra HD display. But, the console is designed to run at lower resolutions, which is another essential element to consider should you want to experience gaming at it's very best. 

Microsoft's more affordable Xbox also does away with the 4K HD Blu-Ray drive of the Xbox Series X, making this a digital-only affair. If you've amassed a large library of the best Xbox Series X games over the years, this alone could be a deal-breaker, and means you're at the mercy of Microsoft's store pricing when it comes to buying new titles.

Xbox Series S one year on

Xbox Series S against a black background

(Image credit: Shutterstock/m.andrei)

We've updated our Xbox Series S review to reflect our impressions after using the console for nearly two years. Microsoft has rolled out a few welcome improvements to the Series S, and we now finally have exclusive titles that take full advantage of the hardware's power like Halo Infinite and Forza Horizon 5.

These cutbacks might be too much for some users, then, but it makes the Xbox Series S a much cheaper and less hefty device as a result. Crucially, it's still capable of playing new-gen games, making this a great entry point into the Xbox ecosystem.

During our time with the Xbox Series S, we tested dozens of games – from last-gen Xbox Series X/S optimized hits including Halo: The Master Chief Collection, Forza Horizon 4, Doom Eternal, and Gears 5, to launch titles like Yakuza: Like a Dragon.

Each one impressed us, with smoother frame rates, increased resolutions (when compared to Xbox One, and Xbox One S), and faster load times, even if the games didn't look quite as pretty as they did running on the Xbox Series X. But that's mostly due to Xbox Series S targeting a lower resolution.

That said, for gamers who have no qualms about buying games digitally, or subscribing to Xbox Game Pass, you’re getting the full suite of next-gen features on Microsoft's cheaper console: Quick Resume, Auto HDR, 120Hz, you name it. The Xbox Series S is a great option for those wanting to experience new-gen gaming, without the sizable financial outlay required to own a full-blown console.

Xbox Series S photo from the top

(Image credit: Future)

As we've alluded to already, there are drawbacks to consider. If you prefer to purchase games physically, or have amassed a large collection of Xbox One games over the years, the Xbox Series S's lack of disc drive may put you off. 

You only get a 512GB SSD, too, as there's no higher-capacity option. And while the console's SSD is dramatically faster than the old mechanical drives in the Xbox One X and Xbox One S, it can fill up fast. The five games we mentioned above almost took up the entire 512GB SSD on our review unit (you only get 364GB of usable space), leaving us with just 30GB of storage to play with. 

That means if we wanted to install a game of that size to the system's internal drive, we'd likely have to delete something first (or additionally purchase the Seagate Xbox storage expansion card, which costs nearly as much as the Xbox Series S itself).

Xbox Series X review

Xbox Series X

(Image credit: Future)

The Xbox Series X utilizes its powerful specs to significantly reduce load times and increase overall game performance and visual fidelity. But, while features such as Quick Resume, Smart Delivery, and backward compatibility give it that extra boost, it's hard to deny that it’s lacking in key areas, notably significant UI improvements and captivating exclusive launch titles.

Read our Xbox Series X review

What may deter people from buying Microsoft's more affordable Xbox is the fact that it outputs at 1440p for gaming. This lower resolution is a firm favourite in the PC gaming space due to the superior image quality it provides over 1080p, and the lower amount of graphical grunt it requires from developers to achieve. This has allowed Microsoft to create a lower-spec machine that still boasts next-gen features. 

If you own an Xbox One X, the drop to 1440p from native 4K can be noticeable. The Xbox One X could deliver games like Forza Motorsport 7 at 4K/60fps and is still capable of some sumptuous visuals. It's easy, then, to think that the Xbox Series S is a step back – however, it's capable of a lot more than Microsoft's aging Xbox One X, even if it doesn't always beat it in terms of resolution. 

Looking at the system internals, the Xbox Series S separates itself from the One X with its vastly more powerful CPU and more technically capable GPU, courtesy of AMD's RDNA 2 architecture which enables cutting-edge features like ray tracing. Yes, the Series S has fewer teraflops than the Xbox One X (four compared to six), but teraflops are no longer the defining factor in how GPU power is determined. 

For Xbox One owners looking to upgrade without breaking the bank, the Xbox Series S is a great option, if you can accept what it's been designed to achieve. If you've already got the Xbox One X and a 4K display at home, however, we suggest considering the Xbox Series X instead. Read on for our full Xbox Series S review.

Considering the bigger sibling? Check out our Xbox Series X video review below.

Xbox Series S: price and release date

  • Xbox Series S release date: Out now (released November 10, 2020)
  • Xbox Series S price: $299.99 / £249.99 / AU$499
  • Can be bundled with Xbox Game Pass Ultimate for $24.99 / £20.99 / AU$33 a month

The Xbox Series S is available now for $299.99 / £249.99 / AU$499 and was released on November 10, 2020. That's the same release date as the Xbox Series X, though the price is significantly cheaper than the Series X's price of $499 / £499 / AU$749. Thankfully, Xbox won't follow PlayStation with price hikes, so while Xbox doesn't rule out future price hikes just yet, this isn't changing anytime soon. 

Keep in mind however that, without a disc drive, you won't be able to buy used games or trade games with your friends: you're dependent on the Xbox Store for any purchases, which means you won't always get the best deal. 

That issue is negated somewhat if you subscribe to Xbox Game Pass (a separate expense, but exceptional value nonetheless), or if you only buy the occasional game at full price around launch. Still, it's not ideal for those who rely on physical game sales or trade-ins to fund their favorite pastime.

Xbox Series S is also available on Microsoft's Xbox All Access subscription service in select regions, including the US, UK, and Australia. Xbox All Access bundles the console with Xbox Game Pass Ultimate on a 24-month plan (giving you access to the latter for the duration) for $24.99 / £20.99 / AU$33 a month, with no upfront costs – that's a good deal which proves cheaper than buying the console and 24 months of Xbox Game Pass Ultimate separately.

Of course, Microsoft isn't the only one with newer hardware out. Sony released the PS5 and PS5 Digital Edition soon after the Xbox Series S and Series X dropped, so if you're still on the fence then it's worth checking out our PS5 review before committing.

Xbox Series S standing vertically next to a TV

(Image credit: Future)

Xbox Series S review: design

  • Looks great when placed horizontally or vertically
  • Can comfortably fit into any setup
  • The console and controller look great in white

While the hardware powering the Xbox Series S is brand-new, the Xbox Series S design is reminiscent of the now-discontinued Xbox One S All-Digital Edition.

The Xbox Series S has a distinctive black fan vent, almost like a speaker grille, on the top that breaks up the swathe of white which encases the rest of the console, and it's where the majority of heat is exhausted. It's the smallest Xbox that Microsoft has ever made, with a plain front face that sports a single USB port and a power button. It's a clean, understated, and functional design.

For ports, you’ll find an HDMI 2.1 output, two USB 3.2 ports, an Ethernet port, a storage expansion slot, and an AC input. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the Xbox Series S doesn't have a port for Kinect, Microsoft's now-defunct motion-sensing camera, or a HDMI input for cable boxes. However, that the Xbox Series S only ships with a High-Speed HDMI cable, not an Ultra High-Speed HDMI cable.

With weight and size, the Xbox Series S measures in at 6.5 x 15.1 x 27.5cm and 4.25 pounds (around 2kg). Its size should ensure it easily fits into most entertainment center cabinets and on TV stands, and it's light enough to pack up and bring to a friend's house or take with you on vacation.

As we mentioned above, the Xbox Series S is smaller than the Xbox One S. That's an impressive feat considering that it’s packing a 4 TFLOP GPU and an octa-core Custom Zen 2 CPU that needs to be cooled.

While some might not like the way Microsoft has aped its own design from the last generation, we're okay with it. It's nice to have some continuity, especially in products that are advertised as a family of devices, although it is fairly straightforward and industrial-like in its appearance. 

Xbox Series S showing the back ports and top fan

(Image credit: Future)

Xbox Series S review: performance

  • Upscaled 4K looks great, and native 1440p is a nice compromise
  • Offers smooth and fluid 120fps gameplay
  • Xbox Velocity Architecture is fast… but not instantaneous

The Xbox Series S's strong suit is its value proposition – it's a compact powerhouse. It can offer either upscaled 4K gaming, native 1440p resolution, or a 1080p picture. 

Its GPU, while not as powerful as the one in the Xbox Series X, can upscale games to 4K (in a similar way to the Xbox One S) and still run games at 120fps at 1440p, but you'll need a HDMI 2.1-compliant TV if you want to keep the resolution at 1440p. It's also capable of ray tracing, and loads games faster than ever, thanks to Microsoft's Xbox Velocity Architecture. 

Combine Velocity Architecture with the 10GB of GDDR6 memory and built-in SSD, and you’ve got all the makings of a powerful console. Better still, Microsoft recently gave a performance boost for Xbox Series S games, which frees up hundreds of additional megabytes of memory. Crucially, this should help improve graphics performance.

Xbox Series S specs

CPU: 8-core 3.6GHz (3.4GHz with SMT) custom AMD 7nm
GPU: 4 teraflops at 1.565GHz
RAM: 10GB GDDR6
Frame rate: Up to 120fps
Resolution: 1440p with 4K upscaling
Optical: No disk drive
Storage: 512GB NVMe SSD
Usable storage space: 364GB

But do you actually need a 4K TV? And furthermore, do you need one that supports HDMI 2.1 for its 120Hz refresh rate? Let’s walk through all the scenarios.

If you're using a 1080p TV, the Xbox Series S uses a technique called supersampling to create better-looking images, even on less-capable displays. Supersampling is a complex process, but the basic idea is that the game is rendered at a higher resolution, and then the console downscales the image to match the output of your TV. 

The end result is a noticeable boost in image clarity and anti-aliasing (the removal of jaggies and pixelated edges) and means that gamers who aren't using a 4K or 1440p -capable screen will still benefit from improved image quality from the Xbox Series S. 

Most folks though, we expect, will be pairing the Xbox Series S with a 4K HDR TV – potentially one with a 120Hz native refresh rate, although the majority of displays sold over the last few years are likely to only support 60Hz at 4K and 1440p. If you do have a capable display, here's how to enable 120Hz on Xbox Series S.

Hook the Xbox Series S up to a 4K panel, and the console uses a technique called upscaling to convert a non-native 4K signal to 4K. While there's a stark difference between rendering in 4K, and rendering in 1440p and then upscaling to 4K – especially if you've got a keen eye for detail – it still makes games on the Xbox Series S look better than if the console was locked to a 1440p output. 

It's worth noting that the Xbox Series S can render some games in native 4K if a developer chooses to enable that option. Just be aware it's done on a game-by-game basis, and isn't something you’re going to see on every game on the system.

The upshot here is that the console can utilize HDR (high dynamic range), which enables a wider color palette, higher peak brightness, and better contrast levels. Skies look bluer, the grass looks greener and colors pop in every scene. If you haven't had the opportunity to game in HDR yet, you're in for a treat.

If you are fortunate enough to have a display that's compliant with HDMI 2.1, you can enable 120fps at 1440p without having to drop down to 1080p resolution. To enable 120fps, simply pop into the console's audio and visual settings, where you can choose from various frame rate and resolution options. 

It's pretty straightforward, but it's worth noting that not all games can hit 120fps, though Microsoft has amassed a handsome collection of titles since launch including Halo Infinite, Gears 5's multiplayer, and Call of Duty: Vanguard. Check out the full list of Xbox Series S games with 120fps support

Even if you don't invest in a new TV, you're still going to see the benefits of the new SSD and Microsoft's Xbox Velocity Architecture. The latter is a multi-step solution that combines the Series S's custom NVMe SSD, hardware-accelerated decompression blocks, a brand-new DirectStorage API layer, and Sampler Feedback Streaming (SFS).

That's a lot to parse, but the gist of it is that data is stored in a more efficient way, and can be loaded into memory faster thanks to both the physical storage medium and the software algorithms that Microsoft has implemented to load the data. 

Xbox Series S with Xbox Series X and controllers

(Image credit: Future)

The result is significantly faster load times compared to Xbox One X – we're talking about games that now load in a matter of seconds. The SSD also enables features like Quick Resume, which we’ll get to shortly.  Of course, the one area that's less impressive here is the meager 512GB of storage capacity, which most people will fill up fast. 

While 500GB was sufficient early on during the last console generation, game file sizes have expanded exponentially in the years since, making anything less than 1TB of storage seem like a raw deal. It gets worse when you realise that you can't access the full 512GB of storage. The system OS takes up 148GB of space, meaning you've only got 364GB of usable storage to play with from the outset. 

By the time you've installed four or five games, you'll need to start thinking about what to uninstall, which is never a fun experience. While Microsoft claims that games on Xbox Series S will be up to 30% smaller due to not having 4K texture files, this won’t stop the system's internal drive from rapidly filling up.

The good news is that Microsoft has released an add-on storage solution at launch, in partnership with Seagate, that can add 2TB, 1TB or 500GB of extra storage if you run out of room. The bad news? The 1TB Seagate Storage Expansion Card costs $219.99 / £219.99 / AU$359 – money that could be spent on buying an Xbox Series X instead, which has 1TB built-in storage and better 4K support.

Xbox Series S review: controller

  • More tactile than before thanks to careful refinement
  • Triggers are shorter, controller is easier to grip thanks to new textured finish 
  • Share button is a welcome addition, and the 360-degree D-pad feels great
  • Still uses AA batteries, unfortunately

Coming from the Xbox One Controller, you'd be forgiven for thinking that the Xbox Wireless Controller for Series X/S isn't that different. However, it's now more comfortable and easier to use than ever before, due to subtle changes in the controller's ergonomics. 

Its overall dimensions have been tweaked ever so slightly, reducing the size of the controller as a whole, but not to the point where it's noticeable to the average user. It means more hand sizes can use the new Xbox pad comfortably. Other changes include a textured and matte finish on the handles, triggers, and bumpers, that help you get more purchase on the controller during tense gaming sessions.

Probably the biggest change for the controller itself, though, is the new D-pad, which has been revised to be a full 360-degree pad that feels great on the thumb. Each direction clicks with a satisfying sound and tactile feedback (though some might find it noisier than they'd like). Its smooth finish makes pulling off half-circle sweeps in fighting games a real pleasure.

Another minor change is that the triggers have been shortened to make them more accommodating for smaller hands. These triggers still have haptic feedback in the form of rumble motors, but it's not the same as the adaptive triggers in the PS5 DualSense controller, which can change resistance on the fly.

The new Share button does exactly what you'd expect – it captures and shares moments in your game for posting in your Xbox Feed or on social media. One click takes a snapshot, while holding the button down longer captures a 15-second video (you can adjust the duration in the Capture settings). 

It's much easier than on the Xbox One, where you had to press the home button twice and then X or Y, but it takes some getting used to if you’re accustomed to the old way. 

Xbox Series S controller leaning against the console

(Image credit: Future)

Overall though, it's mostly what you remember, with two asymmetrical analog sticks, the menu and view buttons that fill in for start and select, and the four face buttons (A, B, X, Y).

The Xbox Series S controller keeps its 3.5mm audio jack and expansion port at the bottom, but it now uses a USB Type-C charging port instead of microUSB. You'll also find the pairing button at the top, which you use to sync the controller to the console, or for pairing when using Bluetooth.

The new Xbox pad is still a comfortable controller to play with, but its biggest weakness is the fact that it still uses AA batteries. That's instead of a rechargeable lithium-ion cell like the Xbox Elite Wireless Controller or Xbox Elite Wireless Controller Series 2 houses. We found a pair of AA batteries lasted for around 10 days or so of heavy gaming.

If you're appalled by the idea of a controller using AA batteries in 2020, you can also pick up Microsoft's play-and-charge kit, which comprises a rechargeable battery and USB-C cable, for $24.99 (£20.99 / AU$29.95 ) to save you money in the long term (you can also use rechargeable AAs).

While the kit is obviously an extra expense that may irk some, there's an element of flexibility at least – and you're also not at the mercy of a lithium-ion cell battery, which can degrade over time, and which is more costly to replace should anything go awry.

Our advice? Pick up rechargeable batteries, or Microsoft's play-and-charge kit, if you plan on doing more than 40 hours of gaming a week.

Xbox Series S review: features

  • User interface feels a bit overcrowded and, in some places, slow
  • Quick Resume feels really cutting-edge
  • Smart Delivery ensures you get the best possible version of a game
  • Good selection of streaming apps, plus Dolby Vision and Atmos support

If it's been a few years since you bought an Xbox console, and you're worried that the process of setting it up might be confusing, don't be. Setting up the Xbox Series S proved to be a streamlined process, thanks in no small part to the new-and-improved Xbox app for Android and iOS. We've even seen Discord become available for all Xbox Series S players.

You’ll need to download the Xbox app from the App Store for iOS or Google Play Store on Android devices, and log in to your Microsoft account. Once you're in, power on the console and type in the code you see in the app, which appears on your TV screen – this pulls in all your data without you having to type it all in. You'll still need to enter a few details via the console, like Wi-Fi password, but then you're off to the races after waiting for an update to land.

The UI that greets you when you’ve finished setting up the Xbox Series S will be instantly familiar to anyone who's used an Xbox One in the last three months. The 'new' Xbox Dashboard rolled out in August 2020, and is the same across both Xbox Series X and S and the older hardware. It isn’t the most intuitive of interfaces, though. 

There's a lot of information on display at once, and it's fair to say there's a small learning curve when it comes to figuring out how to navigate the UI effectively.  The downside to the new consoles having the same user interface as the One series is that the Xbox Series S doesn't feel any different right away. It doesn't feel that new, even if navigating the dashboard feels snappier than before thanks to the extra power underneath the hood. 

Moreover, the new UI still presents some of the same problems we've noticed in the past with Xbox One's interface: some images on the screen take a few seconds to load as content is pulled from the internet, and it's generally a bit too busy for most tastes, with far more information on the screen than you actually need at one time. Look past the UI, however, and you'll begin to see some areas where the Xbox Series S really innovates, though they're admittedly more subtle. 

We can expect further changes to come for the UI, too. If you're an Xbox Insider, Microsoft recently rolled new Xbox Series X homepage layouts but fans aren't happy. While this introduces some quality of life changes, some players weren't so keen on the "tile clutter" this introduced, while others aren't fond of ads still taking up homepage space. As a feature currently in beta testing, this could change, so we'll keep this updated as we learn more.

Xbox Wireless controller laying on top of the Xbox Series S

(Image credit: Future)

Smart Delivery from the Xbox Store means you'll always get the best possible version of a game when you download it, or if it's upgraded in the future. Your save data also carries over seamlessly, even if you jump back and forth between your old Xbox One / One X / One S and new Xbox Series S. It's simultaneously backward and forward compatibility, which is reassuring.

Jumping between multiple games is now possible thanks to Quick Resume, a new feature that allows the Xbox Series S to hold multiple game states in the memory at one time, so you can jump back and forth between games without having to reload them. 

The number of games that can be suspended varies – we had as many as eight in rotation at one point – and it won't work with every title, especially those with ever-changing online worlds, like Sea of Thieves. It's a handy, time-saving feature that's only possible thanks to the console's SSD, and game states are preserved even if the console is completely powered down. 

Lastly, we have to talk about the console's multimedia capabilities. As a streaming device, the Xbox Series S carries most major services. That goes between Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Disney Plus, and others that are available on existing Xbox One consoles, plus some that are new to the platform, including Apple TV Plus. There's also region-specific apps such as Hulu in the US, and Sky Go in the UK. 

Accessing these requires navigating to the Apps section of your library. Or, if you frequently use particular apps you can pin them to the home screen or create a specific group that can be accessed from the Xbox guide. We noticed that, like games, apps stayed in a suspended state when we flicked between them.

It's important to note that while the Xbox Series S only outputs at 1440p resolution when you're gaming, the console is capable of displaying streaming apps in 4K HDR. That means the likes of Netflix, Disney Plus and Apple TV Plus will output in 4K if you're using a compatible display.

As on the Xbox One X, some of these services are available in Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos, giving you access to advanced HDR and 3D surround sound respectively, but you may have to pay for a higher subscription tier in order to access those formats.

Xbox Series S review: game library

  • Scarce launch lineup with few exclusives
  • Backwards compatibility with three generations of Xbox consoles
  • Xbox Game Pass is a great way to instantly build up your library

We won't mince words here: the Xbox Series S's game library got off to a bad start. With the delay of Halo Infinite, there weren't any first-party exclusives available at launch on the Xbox Series S, other than titles that have previously been available on Xbox. 

More third-party and first-party exclusives have since arrived like The Medium and Microsoft Flight Simulator, but Microsoft's first-party output is slowly catching up. Halo Infinite, Forza Horizon 5, Psychonauts 2, Grounded, and As Dusk Falls are all now available.

Instead of releasing new experiences on day one, Microsoft mainly opted to improve the existing library of games via Xbox Series S optimizations. Games like Gears 5, Forza Horizon 4, Ori and the Will of the Wisps, and Sea of Thieves have all been optimized to either increase their base resolution or frame rates or to offer greater visual fidelity. 

If you want to quickly see which games have been optimized for the Xbox Series S, head to 'My Games & App' > 'Games' > and then select 'Group by console type'. You can then see all the games optimized for Xbox Series X/S at a glance.

If you're someone who loves having access to the entire library of Xbox games past and present, the Xbox Series S will be appealing because it supports four generations of Xbox titles, stretching all the way back to the original Xbox. Being able to jump back and forth between Xbox 360 classics like Viva Piñata and Red Dead Redemption to more modern-day blockbusters is comforting.

It's nice not having to break out the old hardware or track down an old CRT TV but the caveat here is big. Because the Xbox Series S doesn't have a disc drive, you'll need digital versions of those older games in order to play them – and for that reason alone, Xbox Game Pass is great. 

On it, you'll find over 100 games available to download on the Xbox Series S, with a mix of new first-party titles like Halo: The Master Chief Collection, Gears 5, and Forza 7, and some indie gems from the Xbox 360 era. If you're someone who loves the Xbox Games with Gold program but wished you had a few more options to download, Game Pass is really satisfying.

While Game Pass can't make up for that lack of exclusives, it does enable you to pad out your library and gives you a chance to see some of the best previous-gen games in a new light. You also get access to all of Microsoft's first-party games the day they release, which represents a huge long-term saving in itself.

Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscribers can also stream games via Xbox Cloud Gaming. It means that rather than take up storage space, you can play games instantly without having to wait. This is a great option if you simply want to try something out, but we still prefer gaming natively as opposed to via the cloud due to increased input latency and some image issues that can occur.

If you're hoping to get Xbox Game Pass Ultimate for an even cheaper price, we've got good news. While this is currently being trialled in just the Republic of Ireland and Colombia, Microsoft is looking to launch an Xbox Game Pass family plan, allowing you and four players to jump in for a monthly cost of €21.99 – which comes to around $21.99 / £19.99 / AU$32.99

Should I buy the Xbox Series S?

Controller on top of the Xbox Series S console

(Image credit: Future)

Buy it if...

Don't buy it if...

Also consider

First reviewed: November 2020.

Edifier G2000 computer speakers review: mini yet mighty
7:00 pm | January 29, 2023

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

Edifier G2000: One-minute review

The Edifier G2000 proves one thing, at the very least: that those PC-setup Instagrammers do have taste. Of course, it’s kind of hard to put your faith in folks who make a living promoting products. After all, they’re going to say good things about them since they’re being paid to do so. But, if you aren’t going to take their word for it, at least take Edifier’s. Hasn’t the audio brand already proven its prowess in making affordable yet great-sounding audio devices?

I have tested more than my share of Edifier products over the years, and rarely have they disappointed me. Although I must admit, I was curious about these mini-yet-mighty computer speakers more because of how they looked than their audio performance. Can you blame me? I mean, look at them! Plus, I love that they come in pink – and no, that’s not just because I’m a woman, you gender norm-endorsing philistines.

So, admittedly, I was mildly surprised at the quality of audio that blasts out of these things. Considering their size and price, it’s actually impressive that they're able to deliver a full sound with fairly-balanced mids, a clear high end, and a decent low end. That’s on top of the connectivity options they offer, a sub out port so you can hook them up to a sub for that missing deep rumble, and customizable LED lighting.

They’re not going to rival the likes of the SteelSeries Arena 9 or the upcoming Razer Leviathan V2 Pro, clearly. But, if you want a pair of affordable speakers with a great audio performance and an appealing design, they’re an absolute ace.

Edifier G2000: Price and availability

  • How much does it cost? ‎$109.99 / £89.99 / AU$119
  • When is it available? Available now
  • Where can you get it? Available in the US, the UK, and Australia
Edifier G2000: SPECS

Frequency range: 98Hz - 20kHz
Drivers: 2 ¾-inch
Supported connectivity: Bluetooth
Audio inputs: Bluetooth, USB sound card, 3.5mm
Outputs: Sub out

One of the cheapest computer speakers I’ve tested, the Edifier G2000 will set you back $109.99 / £89.99 / AU$119. Some might say that they could be a little cheaper, but considering the sound performance, multi-connectivity options, and design, I actually think that’s terrific value. Besides, anything you’ll find under $100 / £100 will likely be a disappointment in sound quality.

Although, to be fair, the Creative Pebble Plus 2.1 has proven to be quite an adversary with its sub-$75 / £75 price tag and a subwoofer included in that price. The Logitech Z407 also offers a bit more value, sitting at the same price point and also coming with a sub. Then again, the Edifier G2000 is superior, design-wise. So, it really boils down to your preference.

  • Value: 4 / 5

Edifier G2000 in pink on a table

(Image credit: Future / Michelle Rae Uy)

Edifier G2000: Design

  • Compact, hexagonal form factor in different colors
  • 12 light effects
  • Bass port in the back of each satellite

There are likely a lot of people out there who, just like me, would want the Edifier G2000 solely for their looks. Besides their compact and space-saving form factor of about four inches wide and five inches tall, these computer speakers are hexagonal in shape and tapered towards the back, giving them a unique and attractive look. They also come in several colors, including pink and red.

Edifier G2000 in pink on a table

(Image credit: Future / Michelle Rae Uy)

Adding to their design are three customizable lighting areas on each satellite – two on either side towards the rear and a larger one in the back. By customizable, I just mean you can cycle through 12 lighting effects using the LED light effects switch you’ll find on the side of the right satellite. While you can’t actually personalize them, the lighting on these speakers still adds to your immersion, whether you’re playing a game or watching a movie. That’s especially true if you're an RGB enthusiast.

Edifier G2000 in pink on a table

(Image credit: Future / Michelle Rae Uy)

Speaking of switches, there are two multi-use buttons and a volume lever situated on the side of the right satellite. The top button is both the power button and the input mode switch, while the bottom button functions as both the LED light effect switch and the sound effect modes switch. In the rear of this same satellite you’ll find the ports: there’s a USB port, an aux in, and a sub out port.

Finally, there’s a bass port in the back of each satellite. This bass port is small, naturally, about half an inch in diameter, but it does help boost the bass, which I’ll discuss in detail below.

  • Design: 5 / 5

Edifier G2000 in pink on a table

(Image credit: Future / Michelle Rae Uy)

Edifier G2000: Performance

  • Full sound for its size
  • Fairly-balanced mids, clear high-end
  • Sound imaging could be better

The Edifier G2000 PC speakers have a surprisingly full sound for small stereo speakers with 2.75-inch drivers. There’s no sub-bass, of course, but there seems to be a boost in upper low-end, allowing them to sound like there’s more low-end than there actually is. This is most apparent when listening to hip hop or watching a blockbuster where there’s supposed to be some low-end rumble. You do miss that deep low-end, but there’s enough bass to keep the audio sound fuller, thanks in part to the bass port in the back of each satellite.

Edifier G2000 in pink on a table

(Image credit: Future / Michelle Rae Uy)

The mids on the Edifier G2000 are fairly balanced but not rich-sounding. Considering the size of these speakers, that’s probably for the best. Because they’re tiny and don’t have separate tweeters, the mids would likely drown everything else out if they were really mid-heavy. Besides, small speakers don’t typically have a lot of mids, so it’s already mildly impressive that these have enough of it.

Meanwhile, the high-end doesn’t sound veiled or muffled and is clear enough to satisfy most listeners, even if it’s not exactly audiophile-level detail. Considering the price of these speakers, that’s actually pretty good.

Finally, the soundstage. As long as you place the Edifier G2000 so that each speaker is angled towards each ear, the soundstage should feel wide enough. When it comes to actual sound imaging, they’re fine but not super precise. When watching Zack Snyder's Justice League, which obviously has a lot of action, it was hard for me to pinpoint where everything was. Most of the sound seemed to just sit in the middle.

  • Performance: 3.8 / 5

Should I buy the Edifier G2000?

Edifier G2000 in pink on a table

(Image credit: Future / Michelle Rae Uy)

Buy it if...

Don't buy it if...

Also consider

If our Edifier G2000 review has you considering other options, here are two more computer speakers to consider...  

Edifier G2000: Report card

  • First reviewed January 2023

How I tested the Edifier G2000

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

TCL 6-Series Roku TV (2022) review: a budget mini-LED with great performance
4:00 pm | January 28, 2023

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

TCL 6-Series Roku TV (2022): Two-minute review

 TCL’s 6-Series TVs are known for their combination of impressive picture quality and high value, and the latest version of the company’s flagship not just continues that tradition, but improves upon it. Available in 55- to 85-inch screen sizes, the new 6-Series arrived in late 2022, and it offers not just movie fans but gamers on a budget a great big-screen option.

Mini-LED backlighting is common in the best 4K TVs now, but TCL was the first to widely introduce it. In the 6-Series, mini-LED tech enables high brightness, while a quantum dot layer enhances color reproduction, and full array local dimming processing creates deep and detailed shadows. The set features Dolby Vision IQ to make high dynamic range images look good in both dim and well-lit environments, and HDR support extends to HDR10+ and HLG. 

Gaming features on 6-Series TV are enabled via a pair of HDMI 2.1 inputs, with onboard support for 120Hz, Variable Refresh Rate (up to 144Hz), and Auto Low Latency Mode (ALLM). FreeSync Premium Pro is also supported, making TCL’s flagship an obvious choice for gaming.

A new design with a sturdy center stand (55-, 65-, and 75-inch models only) improves the look of TCL’s 6-Series, and a vanishingly thin bezel creates an “all-picture” effect. The stand has adjustable height for soundbar placement, and can be elevated to accommodate all but the most chunky of bars.

That last feature is an important one because sound quality on 6-Series TVs is just average. Dialogue is clear, but there’s very little bass, and the thin overall audio balance can create ear fatigue (for me, at least). You’ll want to add one of the best soundbars to this TV, if only a basic two-channel one.

The set I tested uses the Roku smart TV interface (a version with Google TV is also available), which is one of the less cluttered and easy to navigate options on the market. A basic Roku remote provided with the set offers voice commands for searches and basic control, and the TV also works with Siri, Alexa, and Hey Google.

As far as value goes, the new 6-Series is one of the more compelling TV options on the market. This series is packed with great features and the performance is well above-average, especially given the price. TCL has once again made things look easy, rolling out a high-value TV lineup with a surprisingly high level of refinement.

TCL 6-Series Roku TV (2022) review: price and release date

  • Release date:  September 1, 2022 
  • From $699 at 55 inches

TCL’s 6-Series is the company’s top TV line, with screen sizes ranging from 55 up to 85 inches. The version I reviewed comes with the Roku smart TV interface, but similar 6-Series models and screen sizes are available with Google TV. TCL’s 6-Series is only available in the US.

Pricing for the 6-Series TVs is comparable to other budget TV offerings in the US such as Hisense and Vizio. 

The 55-inch 55R655 costs $699, the 65-inch 65R655 costs $999, the 75-inch 75R655 costs $1,499, and the 85R655 costs $1,999.

TCL 6-Series Roku TV (2022) review: Specs

TCL-6-series-2022 TV inputs

Back panel inputs include two HDMI 2.1 ports  plus two side-mounted HDMI 2.0b ports (one with eARC) and an antenna connection. (Image credit: Future)

TCL 6-Series Roku TV (2022) review: features

  • Roku smart TV interface
  • Dolby Vision, HDR10+, and HLG high dynamic range
  • HDMI 2.1 inputs with 120Hz and VRR

The TCL 6-Series (2022) model we reviewed features the Roku smart TV interface (Google TV is another 6-Series option). Roku’s interface has a clean layout that’s very easy to navigate, and it offers the best streaming services, including Netflix, Disney Plus, Amazon Prime Video, HBO Max, Apple TV Plus, Hulu, Peacock, and ESPN Plus. The TV Works with Siri, Alexa, and Hey Google and it has AirPlay 2 support for casting from an iOS device or Mac computer.

TCL’s 6-Series sets are QLED models that feature a quantum dot layer for enhanced color and brightness and they use a mini-LED backlight with full array local dimming (288 zones). The company’s AiPQ Engine handles video processing and high dynamic range support extends to Dolby Vision IQ, HDR10+, and HLG. 

Two of the set’s four HDMI inputs are version HDMI 2.1 with support for 4K 120Hz input, Variable Refresh Rate (up to 144Hz), and Auto Low Latency Mode (ALLM). One port supports HDMI eARC for a soundbar connection, and there’s an optical digital audio output and an RF input to connect an indoor TV antenna for use with the set’s ATSC 1.0 broadcast tuner. When viewing TV broadcasts, you can rewind live TV up to 30 minutes when a storage device is plugged into the set’s USB port.

Overall, the feature package is excellent for the price, with the TV’s mini-LED backlight and local dimming features, along with extensive HDR support, making it an excellent choice for movie viewing. And 120Hz, VRR, and ALLM support, along with FreeSync Premium Pro, make it a great option for gaming as well.

  • Features Score: 4.5/5  

TCL-6-series-2022 TV side view in living room

The 6-Series offers sufficient brightness to work in well-lit rooms. (Image credit: Future)

TCL 6-Series Roku TV (2022) review: picture quality

  • Rich color reproduction
  • Deep blacks with detailed shadows
  • Limited brightness for an OLED TV

The 65-inch 6-Series TV I tested offered up the impressive brightness you’d expect from a mini-LED TV, with standard dynamic range peak light output measured at 1,326 nits and high dynamic range at 1,317 nits. That’s a bit less than the 1,775 nits I measured on the Hisense U8H, another budget mini-LED model, but still well above what you’d get from an average QLED or OLED TV.

With the set’s High Brightness and and High Local Contrast settings selected, it was capable of displaying black at 0 nits to deliver “infinite contrast.” With the Local Contrast setting switched off, the set’s native contrast ratio was 5,965:1 – still a very good result for an LCD-based TV. For most of my testing, I set Local Contrast at High, which delivered the best black depth and black uniformity.

The TCL’s color balance in its default Warm color temperature setting was slightly reddish across the full grayscale, though that could be corrected for using the advanced picture settings in the Roku control app, along with Portrait Displays’ Calman color calibration software. Coverage of DCI-P3 (the color space used for mastering 4K Blu-rays and digital cinema releases) was 96.2%, and BT.2020 was 76.3%. Those results are very good, and basically match what I measured on the Hisense U8H.

Screen reflections from overhead lights were minimal on the 6-Series TV I tested. This, combined with the set’s prodigious light output, makes it a great option for viewing in a well-illuminated space. Picture contrast and color saturation faded when viewing from off-center seats, but that’s a common effect with LCD-based TVs.

Moving on to how the TCL looked with movies and TV, I started my viewing by watching some high-definition documentaries broadcast on a local PBS channel, and the set’s 4K upconversion was impressively clean and crisp. Soccer games streamed via ESPN Plus looked somewhat softer, but overall the picture quality was very good for sports streamed in HD resolution. The Bond film No Time to Die has a scene where the camera does a long slow pan across a craggy hillside, and this appeared mostly smooth on TCL’s 6-Series TV. (I’ve seen that scene literally vibrate with judder on some other sets.)

Streaming the The Last of Us on HBO Max in Dolby Vision, the set’s Dolby Vision IQ processing presented a well balanced picture packed with subtle yet powerful highlights. In a scene where Joel, Tess, and Ellie wander outside an abandoned museum, for example, the golden sunlight hitting them and their surroundings made the ravaged landscape look almost beautiful. Detail in this scene was also rich, with the CGI-created textures of the fungi crisply rendered.

All Quiet on the Western Front, a 2022 Oscar Best Picture nominee, also looked fantastic on the TCL when streamed in Dolby Vision from Netflix. Shadows in the film’s many dark scenes came across as a deep, inky black, and there was a good amount of detail in the dark trenches where the French and German soldiers do battle. I did see a small degree of backlight blooming, mostly on the black letterbox bars at the top and bottom of the picture when flares or some other very bright object appeared. But instances of this were minimal and I only noted it when specifically looking for it.

Overall, I was very impressed with the TCL 6-Series TV’s picture quality. Its light output proved to be more than enough for my regular dark room viewing habits, and I ended up scaling it back considerably for most shows I watched.

  • Picture quality score: 4.5/5

TCL 6-series 2022 TV back cable management close-up

A flap on the back of the TV stand provides holes for cable management. (Image credit: Future)

TCL 6-Series Roku TV (2022) review: sound quality

  • 2 x 10 watt speakers
  • Dolby Atmos support
  • Thin sound quality with most modes

The 6-Series’ audio features are very basic, with a pair of downfiring speakers each powered by 10 watts, handling sound chores. TCL’s specs state Dolby Atmos support, but that’s limited to virtual Atmos from the set’s speaker pair.

I cycled through the TV’s multiple sound processing modes, including Theater and Bass Boost, but couldn’t find one that didn’t have thin audio quality. You do get the option to turn on virtual surround sound for all programs or just for ones with Dolby Atmos, and when used with Atmos soundtracks there is a notable sense of spaciousness to the sound.

Dialogue was very clear with all programs I watched, even ones with medium-loud soundtracks. Even so, this was a case where I felt almost desperate to add a Dolby Atmos soundbar to the TV, and when I did, the sound filled out and made dialogue more balanced with other elements like music and effects. 

  • Sound quality score: 3.5/5

TCL-6-series-2022 TV stand close-up

A highlight of the new 6-Series design is an aluminum plate center-mounted stand. (Image credit: Future)

TCL 6-Series Roku TV (2022) review: design

  • FullView edge-to-edge glass design
  • Aluminum base with center placement
  • Roku remote control with built-in mic

The 6-Series has a great look for a budget TV line. TCL’s FullView edge-to-edge glass design, along with an extremely thin bezel, means there’s an “all picture” appearance, and the aluminum base at center screen provides a sturdy foundation for it to rest upon. 

The base has adjustable height, and after setup there was plenty of space between the screen’s lower edge and my TV stand's surface to accommodate a rather sizeable soundbar – always a plus with a TV. Around back, the set has a cable management system, and you can use this to route wires from connected components located on shelves beneath to the inputs section on the TV’s side. 

The Roku remote used to control the set will be familiar to anyone who has used that company’s streamers. It has a simple button layout, including quick keys to easily access apps like Netflix, and a button to activate the built-in mic for voice searches. It’s basic enough to use in a dark room and provides all the controls needed for accessing inputs and picture and sound adjustments via the onscreen menu. 

  • Design score: 4.5/5

TCL-6-series-2022 smart TV interface

The easy-to-navigate Roku smart TV interface combines apps with input selection and other settings. (Image credit: Future)

TCL 6-Series Roku TV (2022) review: smart TV & menus

  • Roku TV interface
  • Works with Siri, Alexa, and Hey Google
  • Picture adjustments require lots of scrolling

A Roku product was my very first streamer, and I had used several of them over the years before making a switch to the Apple TV 4K. It’s a great interface – easy to navigate, and with extensive app support. One of the issues I have with smart TV interfaces is that they’ll often be missing several key apps that I use on a regular basis (Criterion Channel and ESPN Plus among others), but Roku always seems to have it all and more. Unlike other smart TV platforms like Google TV and Amazon, the Roku interface also isn’t overloaded with ads and program options being “pushed” at you.

Voice searches can be easily carried out by pressing the mic button on the remote control, and the TV also “Works with” Siri, Alexa, and Hey Google when you add your own device for those platforms. AirPlay 2 is supported for streaming, letting you cast video and music to the TV from your iOS device or Mac computer.

Having never tested a set with Roku baked in before, it took some time to get used to the TV functions being embedded in the long-familiar streaming interface. You navigate and select inputs the same as you do with streaming apps, and a press of the remote’s star button calls up the picture settings menu. TCL makes it easy to get up and running, with basic and very general categories like TV Brightness, Local Contrast, and HDR Picture modes (with Dark and Bright settings). But you’ll need to keep scrolling, a bit annoyingly, to the Picture Fine Tune menu to access other adjustments like Brightness, Contrast, and Color. There’s also a more advanced picture menu with 11-point color temperature adjustments located in the Roku control app (iOS and Android).

When using the set’s built in ATSC 1.0 broadcast TV tuner, you’ll get program guide-like on-screen overlays with details about the show you’ve selected, and you can edit the channel list to limit it to just the ones you regularly watch. A neat feature is Live TV Rewind, which lets you scroll back up to 30 minutes when a storage device is plugged into the set’s USB port.

TCL 6-series 2022 TV remote control in a hand

The Roku TV remote control has a basic layout and limited button count, but it gets the job done. (Image credit: Future)
  • Smart TV & menus score: 4.5/5

TCL 6-Series Roku TV (2022) review: gaming

  • VRR up to 144Hz, ALLM, FreeSync Premium Pro support
  • Low 10.1ms input lag
  • Auto Game Mode

TCL says its 6-Series TVs have Game Studio Pro. And while what that exactly means is unclear, it appears to be an umbrella term for the set’s many gaming-related features. Of these, the most notable is VRR with up to 144Hz support. Another is ALLM, along with FreeSync Premium Pro. These are all great gaming extras to find in an affordable TV.

The 6-Series sets also have Auto Game Mode, which basically means that the TV automatically switches over to settings optimized for gaming when it detects an input from a compatible console. Otherwise, there’s no “Gaming Dashboard” similar to the ones on LG’s TVs, or the Gaming Hub interface found on Samsung’s sets.

I measured input lag in the set’s Gaming picture mode at 10.1ms using a 4K test meter. That’s a great result, and one that ranks the 6-Series among the the best gaming TVs when combined with its impressive feature-set.

  • Gaming score: 4.5/5

TCL 6-Series Roku TV (2022) review: value

  • Affordable for a mini-LED TV
  • Great picture quality for the price
  • Gaming features rival those found on expensive TVs

This is the second budget TV I’ve tested with a mini-LED backlight (the first was the Hisense U8H), and I’m astonished at the difference that feature makes, and that it can be incorporated into such an affordable set.

The 6-Series TV I tested delivered the kind of deep, rich blacks I’m used to seeing on much more expensive models, and its impressive local dimming ensured that visible artifacts like backlight blooming were kept to a minimum. Overall, this TV delivers a very clean and punchy looking picture for the price.

If you’re a gamer, the value of the 6-Series goes up even further. (Unfortunately, our value scale only extends to 5, so I can’t give it higher points.) It offers the kind of gamer-oriented features normally found in pricier TVs, and in key ways appears specifically designed to cater to the gaming crowd.

  • Value score: 5/5 

TCL-6-series-2022 TV Netflix interface

Netflix is one of the many apps available in the Roku smart TV interface. (Image credit: Future)

Should I buy the TCL 6-Series Roku TV (2022)?

Buy it if...

Don't buy it if…

Also consider...

Hisense U8H mini-LED
Hisense’s U8H series sets are another example of a budget TV lineup with mini-LED backlighting and high brightness. The U8H series also has gaming oriented features like 4K 120Hz and VRR, though its local dimming isn’t as effective as the 6-Series. 

How I tested the TCL 6-Series Roku TV (2022)

Test pattern displayed on TV screen in living room

(Image credit: Future)
  • I spent about 15 hours measuring and evaluating the TCL 6-Series Roku TV
  • Measurements were made using Calman color calibration software
  • A full calibration was made before proceeding with subjective tests

When I test TVs, my first step is to spend a few days using it for casual viewing for break-in and to assess the out-of-box picture presets. The next step is to select the most accurate-looking preset (typically labeled Movie or Cinema) and measure the white balance (grayscale), gamma, and color point accuracy using Portrait Displays’ Calman color calibration software. The resulting measurements provide Delta-E values (the margin of error between the test pattern source and what’s shown on-screen) for each category, and they allow for an assessment of the TV’s overall accuracy.

Along with those tests, I make measurements of peak light output (recorded in nits) for both standard high-definition and 4K high dynamic range using a 10% white window pattern. Coverage of DCI-P3 and BT.2020 color space is also measured, with the results providing a sense of how faithfully the TV can render the extended color range in ultra high-definition sources.

For the TCL 6-Series Roku TV, I used the CalMan ISF workflow, along with the advanced picture menu settings in the Roku control app, to calibrate the image for best accuracy with SDR and HDR sources. Once done, I watched a range of reference scenes on 4K Blu-ray discs that I’ve gathered after years of TV and projector testing to assess the TV’s performance, as well as new Dolby Vision-encoded material streamed from sources like Netflix and HBO Max.

Flexispot Ergonomic Chair BS11 Pro review
2:31 pm |

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

Having the right equipment can make all the difference when setting up a home office, or establishing a specific place in your home to get some work done. A good office chair alongside a standing desk can be a cornerstone of this setup, but picking the right one for your needs can be tricky. 

We've all been told about the harmful effects of sitting for long periods, so the Flexispot BS11 Pro offers a range of customization options to make sure you're sitting in the most comfortable, but also benficial position. Along with using a standing desk to try and be more active throughout your workday, an effective office chair focusing on ergonomics can help you correct your posture and avoid slouching.

With a focus on ergonomics, the Fleixspot BS11 Pro is the company's latest push to make sure its customers are staying comfortable and healthy when working from home, but how did it stand up to our tests?

Pricing and availability

The Flexispot BS11 Pro is currently only available on the company's UK website for £429 (around $530) in grey, black and light blue color options with free shipping. However the company is currently running a promotion whereby anyone signing up to the Flexispot newsletter can get 6% off their next purchase - which could save you a few pounds.

Users are free to return the chair within 60 days of receipt, and Flexispot offers a 60-day risk-free policy to all items. The company provides a five-year warranty on the chair - and for more information, you can check out the Flexispot website.

Design and build quality

The Flexispot BS11 Pro is available in several color options, with our chosen black on offer alongside grey and light blue alternatives.

Flexispot Ergonomic Chair BS11 Pro

(Image credit: Future / Mike Moore)

Described by the company as "the jewel in our crown", the design of the BS11 Pro is modern and professional, with a smart black cushion and back section supplemented by the same color arm and head rest.

The cushion and back section are made of a breathable mesh that provides far more comfort than typical plain plastic chairs, and with its ergonomic focus, the BS11 Pro is designed to be sat in for longer periods.

Setup and assembly

The Flexispot BS11 Pro arrived in a single 20kg large box, with all the various parts separated into different packets and smaller boxes. It isn't initially clear where to start building the chair, with the assembly instructions hidden in a box alongside the wheels and assembly screws.

Flexispot Ergonomic Chair BS11 Pro

(Image credit: Future / Mike Moore)

The instructions are quite plain and basic, and we felt that a bit more guidance could have been offered in order to make the build a simpler process. It often wasn't clear which screws were needed for which step, or which way round a particular component was meant to go, causing quite a bit of confusion.

Flexispot Ergonomic Chair BS11 Pro

(Image credit: Future / Mike Moore)

All in all, the chair took us around 45 minutes to build, significantly longer than many other competitors tested on TechRadar Pro, so be prepared to block out some time. Once complete though, the chair is ready to go, and you can start adjusting the height of the seat and the arm and head rests straight away.

In use

Luckily, all this time spent assembling feels very worth it once you sit in the chair for the first time. As you might expect from an ergonomic chair, both the seat and the backseat initially feel very odd to sit on, with the shape almost pushing you forward. However after a few minutes, your posture changes, moulding slightly to fit with the shape of the chair, and instantly feeling more comfortable.

Adjusting the height of the chair and the angle of the back is done via two levers underneath the seat, with a further lever on the other side locking your preferred settings into place. You can choose from a range of seat heights, and recline or raise the back of the seat as much as you'd like, quicjly and easily.

Similarly, the arm rests are raised and lowered by a small lever built into the arms of the chair, with a variety of height options available for your pleasure. Once set, the arm rests are comfortable enough to rest and lean on, even for long periods of time.

Flexispot Ergonomic Chair BS11 Pro

(Image credit: Future / Mike Moore)

The chair feels solid and sturdy, but on smoother floors (our test area was shiny wooden flooring), it did tend to roll backwards unexpectedly if we moved slightly. On carpet, this might not be too much of an issue, but for those of us with slippier floors, watch how you roll.

Overall though, the Flexispot BS11 Pro is incredibly comfortable to use over long periods, and we definitely feel better for sitting in it.

The competition

With hybrid working more popular than ever, the market is full of office chairs to help users set up a home working space.

TechRadar Pro recently reviewed the Branch Ergonomic Chair, describing it as "the perfect office chair upgrade for you, especially if you’ve been feeling fatigued or in pain while sitting in front of a computer for long periods of time." Our reviewer also praised the range of adjustability options and color schemes available.

Another option at around the same price point, is the Vari Task Chair, available for $330 - although it’s only available in either black or grey, with the grey model being slightly more expensive at $360. If you consider a headrest a must, Vari also sells the Task Chair with Headrest starting at $385.

Final verdict

If you're looking for a final piece to the home office puzzle, then having an ergonomic chair is likely to solve that problem.

After our initial struggles with the setup, the Flexispot BS11 Pro Ergonomic Chair proved to be a comfortable addition, offering a useful range of customization options that allowed us to get the chair just how we like it.

The price tag may be a little higher than some of the competition, but if you're looking to splash out on a long-lasting, sturdy ergonomic office chair, this could be the one for you.

Looking for something else to boost productivityt? Check out our roundup of the best laptop stands

Cleer Audio Scene review: a cheaper Bluetooth speaker with great sound
2:00 pm |

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

Cleer Audio Scene review: One-minute review

Despite ‘Cleer Audio Scene’ sounding like three words you’d hear yelped in a coffee-induced haze after too long on a stressful film set, it’s actually the name of a refined mid-range Bluetooth speaker which is looking to upset some premium rivals.

We can’t get beyond the second paragraph of this Cleer Audio Scene review without mentioning the JBL Flip 6, a 2022 speaker which received 4.5 stars in our review and currently sits on our list of the best Bluetooth speakers, as the Scene seems designed to rival it – this new speaker has a slightly lower price tag, a similar design, and a few extra features to sweeten the deal.

In large part, the Cleer Audio Scene does a good job of distinguishing itself – the fact it has a lower price speaks for itself, but the addition of a microphone for calling, useful extra ports for aux-in and top-notch audio clarity makes for a strong device.

Still, as the imperfect score shows, the Cleer Audio Scene does have a few rough edges that might mean it's not the best choice for you.

The Scene is bigger and heavier than the JBL Flip, so it’s a little less convenient to carry in a bag or pocket; in fact, the only area where it’s not heavy is its bass, with the focus on definition resulting in a less bass-heavy experience than on rival devices. And if those points sound minor, you’re going to hate our final gripe: the turn-on and Bluetooth-pairing jingles are plain annoying.

Sure, those are petty points, but there’s only so many times we could roll our eyes at this speaker.

Cleer Audio Scene on wooden table, showing the logo and light on the front

The Cleer has a smart indicator light on the front. (Image credit: Future)

Cleer Audio Scene review: Price & release date

  • Released in December 2022
  • Officially priced at $79.99 / £99.99

The Cleer Audio Scene went on sale in most areas at the beginning of December 2022, just in time to hit the Christmas playlist rotation, though it took a little while to hit store shelves in some regions.

The speaker officially costs $79.99 / £99.99 (about AU$170 – it's listed on Cleer's Australian website, but without an official price at the time of writing), and the fact it sits below the triple-digit barrier may well turn heads for people looking for an inexpensive speaker.

That price roughly puts this as a mid-range speaker, with more affordable options like the Tribit Stormbox Micro 2 or pricey rivals like the B&O Beosound A1 offering fewer or greater features depending on how much you’re willing to spend on your Bluetooth music machine.

As we said, Cleer Audio’s speaker is most comparable to the JBL Flip 6, but undercuts the $129.95 / £129.99 price of that comfortably.

Cleer Audio Scene review: Specs

Cleer Audio Scene on wooden table, close-up on buttons

The Cleer Audio Scene's buttons are raised just from the surface. (Image credit: Future)

Cleer Audio Scene review: Features

  • Battery life lives up to expectations
  • Easy pairing and good connection quality
  • Microphone quality is clear

The Cleer Audio Scene is a Bluetooth speaker, using Bluetooth 5.0 – that’s a slightly older standard of wireless connectivity, so you might get weaker connection over long distances compared to some new products released, but from our testing we never had issues.

You’ll find the basic selection of ports here – a 3.5mm jack for aux in, as well as a USB-C port for charging – and there’s also a power, Bluetooth, volume up and volume down button.

The speaker delivers up to 12 hours of battery life, which is roughly par for the course for a portable speaker. The JBL Flip 6 has that same figure, and from our testing, both hit it. (The B&O A1 v2 delivers 18 hours without being larger, if you want more.)

Pairing a device to the Scene is incredibly easy, because you’re not required to download complicated apps or perform an impromptu tech ritual to connect your phone or tablet. It took us seconds to pair our iPad to the speaker, both for initial pairing and for subsequent sessions.

One minor gripe we had is that the power-on and power-off jingles were quite annoying – both sound surprisingly like an odd knock-off of Berlin’s Take my Breath Away, something you don’t necessarily want to hear every time you’re putting on some tunes. A deal-breaker this is not, but we prefer the simplistic noises of other brands’ devices.

A nice feature in the Scene is the presence of a microphone, so you can conduct calls using it. From our testing, our voice was clear on video and voice calls, but using a loudspeaker as a mic was such a bizarre concept that we didn’t choose to use it outside of our tests.

  • Features score: 4/5

Cleer Audio Scene on wooden table

The back of the Cleer Audio Scene houses its boring-but-important parts. (Image credit: Future)

Cleer Audio Scene review: Design

  • Wave-like design
  • IPX7 waterproofing
  • Bigger than JBL Flip 6

The design of the Cleer Audio certainly seems to evoke its JBL rival, because its build waves to the cylindrical look of the Flip 6, but with a few changes. ‘Waves’ is the key word there, as the Scene has one pinched side, which makes the speaker look like a crashing wave. You can almost imagine a surfer in the middle there.

Despite the Scene aiming to have a more refined design than the utilitarian Flip, this design change has some unfortunate consequences: the speaker is harder to easily slip into packed bags or cluttered shelves. You also have to lie the device horizontally, while the Flip is a little more versatile with fitting into little spaces.

The Scene is also bigger and heavier than the Flip, again making it less portable, and when packing for a picnic, we’d rather save our bag space for more hummus.

There’s a mesh covering over most parts of the speaker, it comes in red or black, and it’s IPX7 rated. That means it’s protected against splashes of water, but won’t fare so well from fine particles like dust and sand.

  • Design score: 3.5/5

Cleer Audio Scene on wooden table

The radiators on the side help with the low-end. (Image credit: Future)

Cleer Audio Scene review: Sound quality

While we may have been critical of elements of the Cleer Audio Scene’s design, its sound quality will redeem it… for most people.

The Scene has dual 48mm drivers and passive radiators, which will be enough to tell you it's serious about audio quality before you’ve even started the tunes. But when you press that ‘play’ icon you’ll be really impressed with the speaker – the brand’s name is no lie, it really is clear audio.

The speaker puts out music with great clarity, with the treble and bass waltzing hand-in-hand over different genres of music.

This refined audio was a particular blessing as we like to flit between genres of music – while some speakers specialize in bass-filled rock music, and others fare better in treble-focused instrumentals, the Scene fared equally well when we indulged all the whims of Shuffle Mode.

So why did we say it’ll only impress ‘most people’? That’s because, while many portable Bluetooth speakers emphasize heavy bass, the Scene focuses more on even definition in all areas, which means the bass is tighter – possibly too tight and refined for some.

Sure, that fits the Cleer Audio mantra of detailed sound, but if you prefer your Lil Nas X to your Liszt, a balanced bass won’t quite give Old Town Road its edge. If you like your bass-booming parties, this speaker might not be right for you – and it's worth noting that bass is easily lost when listening outdoors and there's wind noise around you, so more is often better. There's a reason other portable speakers often go heavy on it.

But if you a speaker more for using flexibly around the home, the Cleer's audio is great, and well-balanced.

  • Sound quality: 4.5/5

Cleer Audio Scene viewed at an angle on wooden table

The blue color helps with the wave-like look. (Image credit: Future)

Cleer Audio Scene review: Value

If you prefer balanced audio to a bass experience, the Cleer Audio Scene will be a great-value option for you – it performs very well for its price, and is a preferable option for people who don’t want to slam out party tunes.

If you’re looking for an all-around cheap speaker and don't need top-notch audio definition, there are definitely more affordable options – but we think it's worth stretching to the extra clarity here.

  • Value score: 4/5

Cleer Audio Scene on wooden table

The Cleer is bigger than the competition, but is still easily held. (Image credit: Future)

Should I buy the Cleer Audio Scene?

Buy it if…

Don’t buy it if…

Cleer Audio Scene review: Also consider

SanDisk Professional G-DRIVE SSD review
1:29 pm |

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

SanDisk Professional G-DRIVE SSD: Two minute review

SanDisk Professional G-DRIVE SSD Spec

Interface: USB 3.2 Gen-2 (10Gb/s)
Capacities: 500GB, 1TB, 2TB and 4TB
Casing material: Aluminium and TPU
Quoted Speeds: 1050MB/s read and 1000MB/s write
Operating temperature: 5-35C
Warranty/support: limited 5-year warranty with free technical support
Compatible with: macOS 10.13+ (Time Machine compatible), Windows 10+ (via reformat)
Encryption: 256-bit AES-XTS hardware encryption
Dimensions: 90 x 50 x 15 mm
Default format: APFS
Weight: 90 g
Warranty: 5-year limited
Box Contents: G-DRIVE Desktop Drive, PSU, USB-C to USB-C Cable, Quick Start Guide

The transition to SSD from conventional hard drive storage has been a gradual one. But with the limits of 2.5-inch drives being about 5TB currently, the SSD looks likely to overtake legacy technology this year in both speed and available capacities.

The G-DRIVE range of external SSDs, under the SanDisk Professional branding, offers a selection of robust external drives ranging in size from 500GB to 4TB. And, of these, the SanDisk Professional G-DRIVE SSD is the lowest rung on this ladder.

Where other drives offer Thunderbolt technology, this drive is exclusively USB 3.2, and the best port for it is one with USB 3.2 Gen 2 level bandwidth.

The drive is contained within a block of milled aluminium covered in a TPU skin, providing a useful level of durability and water/dust resistance. According to SanDisk, the protection is IP67 standard (not water submersion), and the enclosure can withstand 2000lb of crushing force alongside a drop of 3M onto a carpeted concrete floor.

The PRO-G40 from the same source has higher crush resilience and IP68 dust/water resistance, but the G-DRIVE SSD should be able to handle some knocks and environmental encounters. Though, this isn’t a device we’d take swimming.

Included in the box are two 50cm cables, one each for USB-C and USB-A connections, allowing it to be connected to most computers that support USB.

While it will work with USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 (aka USB 3.1), to get the best transfer speeds from it requires a port with USB 3.2 Gen 2 10Gbit/s.

For those that own an Apple Mac, just connect the drive and then use it to manually copy files or configure it for Time Machine use.

As it comes pre-formatted for Apple APFS, Windows PC owners will need to understand how to use the Management Console and volume management to reformat the drive to a file system that Windows will understand.

That SanDisk doesn’t include any cross-system boot sector with a utility to configure the drive for any OS is disappointing, and they also provide no software for this drive or others in the same range.

Considering the cost of this hardware, it is remarkably short on added value.

One area it does shine is that the NVMe inside has the capability for 256-bit AES-XTS hardware encryption, enabling the contents of the drive to be secured effectively.

Though, the owner must provide encryption tools to lock and subsequently unlock the contents stored on the drive, if they want to use this functionality.

SanDisk Professional G-DRIVE SSD: Price and availability

SanDisk Professional G-DRIVE SSD

(Image credit: Mark Pickavance)
  • How much does it cost? From $94.99 / £138.99
  • When is it out? It is available now
  • Where can you get it? Widely available from the larger online retailers in most regions and directly from Western Digital.

Bought directly from the makers, the 500GB, 1TB, 2TB and 4TB are £138.99, £227.99, £356.99 and £673.99 in the UK. In contrast, US customers are offered the same capacities for only $94.99, $129.99, $209.99 and $429.99.

Based on current exchange rates, UK customers pay, on average, between 80% and 120% more for the same capacity directly from Western Digital.

Even with VAT factored in, UK customers are getting a remarkably raw deal. And online retailers such as Amazon aren’t undercutting Western Digital by any significant amount.

And for those wondering if this high pricing is Brexit related, it isn’t. The prices for this range in France are equally inflated, being €163.99,  €264.99, €410.99 and €769.99.

Since this drive is only USB Gen 3.2 Gen 2 capable, there are many brands and products that offer the same capacities and performance levels for significantly less.

A good example is the Crucial X8 4TB, a similarly robust design with similar performance over USB. In the UK, this costs £274.58, including VAT, and in the USA, it's $279.99. And Crucial also makes the X6 which is ten dollars cheaper for the same 4TB of space.

That you can buy two Crucial X8 for the price of a single SanDisk Professional SSD that isn’t any faster suggests that either Crucial is underselling its line or SanDisk has entirely lost the pricing plot.

Making it somewhat water/dust resistant and hardware encryption doesn’t justify more than doubling the cost, unfortunately.

  • Value: 2 / 5

SanDisk Professional G-DRIVE Desktop: Design

SanDisk Professional G-DRIVE SSD

(Image credit: Mark Pickavance)
  • Tough enclosure
  • Both USB-C and USB-A cables
  • No carry case

The milled aluminium and rubberised coating provide a sturdy home for the NAND module mounted inside the SanDisk Professional G-DRIVE SSD.

Given the IP67 rating, it should handle the odd splash of water, being dumped in the dust and, with 2000lb of crush resistance, accidentally driven over by a family car.

One curiosity is that the drive can supposedly handle being dropped 3 metres, but in the fine print, that’s onto concrete covered in carpet. The carpet requirement seems to be something of an odd detail, as the world wasn’t fully carpeted when we looked last.

Where this drive is better than the more expensive PRO-G40 is that it at least comes with both the USB cables most customers will need, and they are also a decent length.

But the same as that counterpart, SanDisk doesn’t provide a pouch or case to carry the drive and its cables, a niche that some third party will undoubtedly fill.

The only feature of the drive is a small white LED on the bottom that flashes to indicate activity, and that’s the only detail.

SanDisk Professional G-DRIVE SSD

The new G-DRIVE Desktop (2022) uses less metal in a few places than the drive it replaces  (Image credit: Mark Pickavance)

For those wondering if the enclosure could be repurposed, there appears to be no obvious way inside. And, while it might be possible to dismantle, there are no guarantees that the NAND flash module inside uses a standard M.2 slot.

But we can say with some certainty that any attempt to open it would immediately invalidate the five-year limited warranty.

Overall, this is a very nicely engineered and constructed external drive that looks able to cope with abuse that might be expected to kill those external SSDs that are made mostly of plastic.

  • Design: 3 / 5

SanDisk Professional G-DRIVE SSD: Features

  • Up to 4TB options
  • Apple Pre-formatted
  • No software

Probably the best aspect of this design is the available capacity, as many of the other SanDisk Professional SSDs are capped at 2TB, where 4TB of storage is available.

For those purchasing the G-DRIVE SSD for their Apple Mac, all they need to do is connect it to a recent Apple Mac computer, as the drive is pre-formatted with APFS.

Microsoft Windows-using customers will need the technical knowledge and confidence to use the Windows management console to delete the existing partition and create a new NTFS or exFAT volume.

Why they didn’t use exFAT and a utility that runs on both platforms to reformat the drive for both groups is a mystery. Because that’s normally what Western Digital does, the overarching business that owns the SanDisk brand.

What Western Digital also usually provides with its My Passport drives are some Windows software utilities that copy user files to the drive or install new firmware releases.

The G-Drive SSD comes with none of these, regrettably. We can only conclude that those who designed the G-Drive SSD assumed that it would be mostly Apple macOS users purchasing this drive, and they have Time Machine and don’t need any other tools.

Whatever the thinking, for those that don’t own a Mac, this is another compelling reason not to buy this solution.

SanDisk Professional G-DRIVE SSD

(Image credit: Mark Pickavance)
  • Features: 2 / 5

SanDisk Professional G-DRIVE SSD: Performance

SanDisk Professional G-DRIVE SSD

CrystalDiskMark 8.0.4 Benchmark (Image credit: Mark Pickavance)
  • Good USB speeds on Gen 2
  • Gen 1 equal to SATA SSD
  • Solid benchmark scores

Inside the G-Drive SSD is an NVMe stick, probably much like the ones that most people use in their laptop or desktop systems.

We know this because the performance here is at least twice that of a SATA SSD, at around 1,000MB/s.

Obviously, transfer speeds at this level are only possible if the host machine has an SSD that’s at least capable of that speed, if not marginally quicker, and USB 3.2 Gen 2 ports.

The port type is critical because USB 3.2 Gen 1 only offers 5Gbit/s of bandwidth, which equates to roughly 500MB/s, or the same speed as SATA SSDs can achieve.

Therefore, for those with USB 3.0 (USB 3.2 Gen 1) ports, there is little point in purchasing this drive over cheaper options because you will never see its actual performance.

When connected to a PC using USB 3.2 Gen 2 ports, our speeds topped out at around 1,050MB/s reads with 1,000 MB/s writes on CrystalDiskMark 8.0.4, irrespective of USB-A or USB-C.

The less optimistic AJA System test presented 881MB/s reads and 871MB/s writes using a 16GB test file.

The fine irony of these numbers is that the NVMe inside can undoubtedly go quicker, but the USB connections are the limiting factor here.

As a USB drive, these numbers are solid and equivalent to those that we’ve seen from the Crucial X8 and its like. There are faster USB drives that use the USB 3.2 Gen 2x2 standard, such as the PNY EliteX-PRO and Kingston XS2000. For those curious, Thunderbolt-connected SSDs can be three times these speeds, something to consider for those that have that port and can afford those drives.

In short, the performance of this drive is acceptable within the context of the USB interface it supports, but it’s hardly anything special.

SanDisk Professional G-DRIVE SSD

(Image credit: Mark Pickavance)
  • Performance: 4 / 5

The G-Drive brand strongly hints at delivering something special, above and beyond what others are offering. Often in terms of performance, but also the warranty and reliability.

But problematically, many brands are offering the same USB 3.2 Gen 2 performance and 5-year warranty as the SanDisk Professional G-DRIVE SSD, and most aren’t asking this much for those things.

This hardware is beautifully made, and in five years’ time, it is likely to still look good and be working well due to its resistance to water and dust. But will the 1TB, 2TB, or 4TB capacity seem like a large amount of space then, and will 1,000MB/s transfer speeds be fast enough?

Given the speed of change we’ve seen in the past five years, the answer to both those questions might well be no.

SanDisk Professional G-DRIVE SSD: Report card

Should you buy a SanDisk Professional G-DRIVE SSD?

SanDisk Professional G-DRIVE SSD

(Image credit: Mark Pickavance)

Buy it if...

Don't buy it if...

Also consider

Next Page »