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JLab JBuds Lux ANC review: budget headphones that are all about that bass
3:00 pm | April 21, 2024

Author: admin | Category: Audio Computers Gadgets Headphones Wireless Headphones | Tags: , | Comments: Off

Jlab JBuds Lux ANC: Three-minute review

The JLab JBuds Lux ANC's sound is more bass-heavy than most over-ear headphones. It's something I've come to expect with most JLab products and means your mileage will depend on how bassy you want your music to be. 

JLab is mostly known for its budget headphones and earbuds, but with the JBuds Lux ANC it’s making inroads into the ‘luxury’ headphone market – that descriptor is a word JLab chose, and not my verdict, for reasons we’ll get into later. That’s not to say that the JBuds Lux ANC are premium devices – they cost less than $100 / £100. The brand's just trying to give buyers on a budget something to buy that feels like a top-end rival.

In some ways, it’s a successful venture. As with most other JLab audio devices, these headphones pack a bassy punch, with the 40mm drivers treating your ears if you’re a fan of thumping tunes. 

The JBuds Lux ANC also pack lots of features you’d expect from premium alternatives. As the name suggests, they have active noise cancellation (that’s the ANC) which works very well in its standard setting (although the ambient mode leaves something to be desired). They also have Bluetooth Multipoint so you can jump between different devices, spatial audio for improved movie or TV show watching and Google Fast Pair so you don’t have to spend ages setting up the device.

That’s not to mention the 70-hour battery life (when ANC is off, it’s reduced to 40 hours when it’s on), handy on-cup button controls and the ability for you to fold them down. These are all handy quality-of-life features that we like to see.

There are a few rough edges though. As previously stated the sound is bass-heavy, but this is at the deficit of other aspects of the sound – treble and especially the mid-range felt a little bit lacking. Your music preference will dictate whether these are great for you, or a poor choice, and in the interest of fairness it’s worth mentioning that I’m not a huge fan of this bass-heavy approach to sound.

Something which is less dependent on taste, and more on the shape of your head, is the fit and comfort of the JBuds Lux ANC. I personally found them rather uncomfortable to wear for long periods of time, and also a little less grippy than many of their close rivals – they were fine when sitting still or even walking, but they wobbled on the many occasions I found myself running for a bus. As I write this, I’m having to have a little break from the JBuds Lux due to my ears aching from wearing them. Like I said, ‘luxury’ is JLab’s description, not mine.

Overall, these are decent for their price, undercutting even our top budget pick for the best over-ear headphones, but your taste is a more important factor when it comes to buying them. That’s unless you like to judge a product based on its name: the JLab JBuds Lux ANC aren’t buds and aren’t luxury, so they only score 2/4 for that metric!

JLab JBuds Lux ANC review: Price and release date

The JLab JBuds Lux ANC close-up on the JLab logo

The signature JLab logo is very prominent on the JBuds Lux ANC. (Image credit: Future)
  • Released in February 2024
  • Priced at  $79.99 / £79.99 (roughly AU$120)

The JLab JBuds Lux ANC were announced in January 2024, and went on sale during the month afterwards. You might have trouble buying them though. At the time of writing, two months after their release, they’re already sold out in some regions.

The JBuds Lux ANC sell for $79.99 /£79.99 (roughly AU$120). That’s pricier than almost every other pair of headphones sold by JLab and is in line with the Studio Pro ANC, which will set you back $80 /£80 / AU$99 at the time of writing. The brand sells plenty of wireless headphones for less, though.

The sub-$100 / £100 / AU$130 headphone market is a fiercely competitive one, with many other brands trying to convince you that you don’t need to pay top dollar for great headphones. At the bottom of this review you’ll find some of our favorite similarly-priced headphones that you should consider alongside the JLab JBuds Lux ANC.

JLab JBuds Lux ANC review: Specs

JLab JBuds Lux ANC review: Features

The JLab JBuds Lux ANC's port and buttons.

On the side of the JBuds Lux ANC, there's a USB-C port, as well as buttons for power, volume and noise cancellation.  (Image credit: Future)
  • Battery life reaches 70 hours, 44 with ANC
  • Three ANC modes, standard works but ambient doesn't
  • App brings some handy extra features

As the name suggests, a key feature of the JLab JBuds Lux ANC is the active noise cancellation, which blocks out surrounding sounds while you’re listening to music. This isn’t a given in the best cheap headphones, so it’s welcome here, but even more welcome is the fact that it’s actually good!

The standard noise cancellation mode is great at isolating and removing background sound, great for if you’re sick of the inane chatter of nearby teams in the office or the rumble of the bus every day on your commute. You can turn it off if you want to hear these sounds, plus there’s a third option called Be Aware.

Be Aware is effectively an ambient mode, so that annoying noises (babies crying) are removed while important ones (large vehicles bearing down on you) remain audible. Unfortunately this didn’t work too well: I found that sounds Be Aware let in were given a tinny make-over, so they were even more annoying to hear than if I’d just turned ANC off. I didn’t use this for long.

The JLabs have a fantastic battery life, you love to see it. With ANC turned off, they’ll last for up to 70 hours without needing to be charged, though with ANC or Be Aware turned on that drops to a still-impressive 44 hours. You can charge them via USB-C cable.

The JLab JBuds Lux ANC with a phone running the JLab app.

You can completely customize the sound performance of the JBuds Lux ANC via the JLab control app.   (Image credit: Future)

Downloading the JLab app onto your smartphone offers a few extra features. You can control the noise cancellation and change what the buttons do, but you can also set a volume limit, changing between ‘movie’ and ‘music’ modes and also fiddle around with an equalizer. 

This latter lets you jump between three presets: ‘JLab Signature’, ‘balanced’ and ‘Bass Boost’, but there’s also a custom mode for if you feel comfortable messing around with sliders to personalise the tone.

Most headphone smartphone apps tell you the battery percentage, so you can accurately gauge how long they’ll last for before needing a charge. Curiously, the JLabs one doesn’t, beyond showing you a vague battery icon, which is an annoying omission. 

  • Features score: 4/5

JLab JBuds Lux ANC review: Design

The JLab JBuds Lux ANC laying on a textured surface

You can pick up the headphones in four colors: Graphite (black), Cloud (white), Sage (green) or Mauve (uh… mauve). (Image credit: Future)
  • Handy on-cup controls
  • Uncomfortable to wear for long periods
  • Folds up but no IP rating

The JLab JBuds Lux ANC are supposedly comfier to wear than most budget headphones, hence the ‘lux’ in its name. This adjective is exhibited by the use of soft fabric at the arch of the headband, and soft foam ear cups to settle on your ears.

Several people who’ve used the JBuds Lux and reported back online have called them comfortable to wear, but I don’t concur – no matter how much I extended or retracted the band to adjust its size, I found that they pinched a little too much. It wasn’t too noticeable in the moment, but wearing them for more than an hour in one sitting brought about mild earaches. The fact that not everyone has found this issue suggests that it depends on your head size, though I must point out that it’s not something I often find with headphones.

The headphones didn’t sit totally still either. When I was relatively inactive – say, relaxing on the grass in the warm sun, or sitting at a desk to write this review – there were no issues, but vigorous movement caused them to wobble and sometimes resulted in a cup falling off my ear. By ‘vigorous movement’ I mean running for a bus or jumping down stairs, and I daren’t not even attempt to use them for runs or workouts. Again, I can see this as being a head size issue, but I’d be remiss not to point it out. 

The JLab JBuds Lux ANC held above on a textured surface

The JBuds Lux ANC fold up, making them ultra portable and perfect for travel.   (Image credit: Future)

Weighing 235g, these aren’t too heavy, though they’re not among the lightest headphones we’ve seen either. Like the best travel headphones, at least you can rotate the cups, extend the band and fold in the cups to make the JLabs more portable, which is a little more versatility than we see in all pairs of wireless headphones. There's no IP rating though.

On the right cup you’ve got the USB-C port for charging as well as a power button, a volume rocker and a noise cancellation toggle (between off, on and Be Aware mode). Each of these was easy to locate and press when wearing the headphones, though when I first started testing the headphones, I did mix up the power and noise cancellation buttons a few times.

As mentioned, there are four color options, and our review unit was mauve. All four options are fairly subdued, so you’re not getting anything too lurid whatever you pick.

  • Design score: 2.5/5

JLab JBuds Lux ANC review: Sound quality

The JLab JBuds Lux ANC on someone's head.

Unfortunately, for me, the fit was a little too tight.  (Image credit: Future)
  • Bass-heavy sound
  • Treble lost in the mix
  • Lots of peaking at high volumes

When going into the sound section, it bears repeating that the JLab JBuds Lux ANC are low-end headphones, and as such the best they can aim for is ‘decent’ or another similar synonym. And that target is basically hit, although more so than for most headphones, taste will be the most important judge.

Headphone or earbud fans probably know JLab’s reputation for creating bass-heavy audio devices, which is either draw you or put you off depending on what you like in your music. 

If you want as much bass as possible to enhance your music, you’ll get on well with the JBuds Lux; it’s clearly the focus of the sound mix of the headphones and it pounds through in all the songs it can. It can provide a nice warm sounds if you listen to the right type of music.

The JLab JBuds Lux ANC laying on a textured surface

(Image credit: Future)

This all comes at the cost of balanced audio, though, with treble lost in the mix, even when you try to eke out as much as possible from the app equalizer. I frequently struggled to hear, say, rhythm guitars, piano countermelodies or vocal harmonies that are usually fairly audible.

Like an unsuccessful mountaineer, the JLabs often felt close to peaking, especially when you turn the volume high. However at medium and low volumes I didn’t often hear noises get outright distorted.

I did miss the soundstage and bright audio of some of the JLab’s rivals when testing these, but then again I’m not one who prefers a bass-heavy sound. Your mileage will vary.

  • Sound quality: 3.5/5

JLab JBuds Lux ANC review: Value

  • Affordable over-ear headphones
  • The ANC is competitive 

The JLab JBuds Lux ANC close up on the JLab branding.

(Image credit: Future)

You’re getting what you pay for in the JLab JBuds Lux ANC. These are some affordable headphones that deliver the kind of sound quality and feature set that we often see in similarly-priced products.

The noise cancellation does compete with higher-end headphones, so if that’s your metric for value, you’re getting it here. But in most other categories, the JBuds Lux basically match the price.

  • Value: 3.5/5

Should I buy the JLab JBuds Lux ANC?

The JLab JBuds Lux ANC's side buttons.

(Image credit: Future)

Buy it if…

Don’t buy it if…

JLab JBuds Lux ANC review: Also consider

How I tested the JLab JBuds Lux ANC

The JLab JBuds Lux ANC laying on a textured surface

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

I used the JLab JBuds Lux ANC for roughly two weeks prior to writing this review. They were the latest in a string of budget headphone reviews I've done for TechRadar, so I compared them directly to a few close rivals.

Testing was largely done at home or in the office, with some listening done while on walks in both busy and quiet areas. These all provided different tests for the ANC as well as the quality-of-life features for the headphones. To give the JLabs a fair shake, I tried to listen to a diverse range of music on them including rock, pop, classical, country, jazz and streamed TV shows from Prime Video.

I've been writing about tech for six years now including five for TechRadar, so I'm well versed in the headphone and tech space. As stated I've reviewed other similarly-priced headphones and I've also tested other JLab products.

  • First reviewed in April 2024
iFi iDSD Diablo 2 review: the red DAC’s more devilishly good second time around
1:00 pm |

Author: admin | Category: Audio Computers Gadgets Hi-Fi | Comments: Off

iFi iDSD Diablo 2: Two-minute review

There’s an iFi headphone amp/DAC at every price-point – but there was a strong case to be made for the original iDSD Diablo being the most cost-effective of the lot. So the iDSD Diablo 2 has a lot to live up to if it wants to become one of the best portable DACs around…

The design is tidier and more thoughtful than before. Specification has moved on a little, too, thanks to new facilities with Bluetooth 5.4 and xMEMS headphones. What hasn’t changed, though, is the iFi’s need to be paired with similarly upmarket headphones in order to do its thing to its full potential.

It’s worth it, though, because when partnered with some of the best wired headphones in the business, its 'full potential' is very impressive indeed. It’s a rapid, fully detailed and nicely balanced listen, able to organise a soundstage or a complicated mix until these sound as natural as can be. It communicates fluently, controls rhythms and tempos well, and can extract every scrap of information from your digital audio files without apparent effort.

Some listeners will hanker after greater low-frequency impact, and others (or maybe the same ones) will recognise that the iDSD Diablo 2 could have greater dynamic headroom. Despite this, though, the iFi is an admirable device and one that will take some shifting from very near the top of your wish-list.

iFi iDSD Diablo 2 seen from above, on a wooden table

Oh, it's red and no mistake  (Image credit: Future)

iFi iDSD Diablo 2 review: Price and release date

  • Release date: November 2023
  • Price: $1,299 / £1,299 / AU$2,199

The iFi iDSD Diablo 2 is on sale now, and in the United Kingdom it sells for £1,299. In America you’ll have to part with an only slightly more palatable $1,299, while in Australia it’ll set you back AU$2,199. 

No matter where you’re shopping, this is serious money for a piece of desktop equipment. 

iFi iDSD Diablo 2 review: Features

  • Balanced and unbalanced outputs
  • Dual-core Burr Brown DAC chipset
  • Bluetooth 5.4 with aptX Lossless compatibility

Both the price-point and iFi’s sense of itself within the market insist that the iDSD Diablo 2 be exhaustively specified, groaning under the weight of its list of features. And so it proves.

It’s not an especially small device, the iDSD Diablo 2, but nevertheless each end is crammed with connections and controls. At the front, there are 6.3mm unbalanced and 4.4mm balanced outputs – the latter is recommended for use with xMEMS solid state driver headphones, and there’s a switch directly above it to let the iFi know if it’s connected to xMEMS headphones or not. A three-position switch allows you to select a power mode – ‘normal’, ‘turbo’ and ‘nitro’ are available, and these are very excitable ways of describing the additional power output that might be required to drive headphones of particular sensitivity. An LED lets you know what’s going on as regards file type and size (if you’ve made a wired connection) or codec type (if you’re using Bluetooth). A relatively large analogue volume control (with sliding lock) completes the front fascia line-up.

The rear panel, meanwhile, features a button to initiate Bluetooth pairing (the iFi has Bluetooth 5.4 on board, and is compatible with every codec from SBC and AAC to LDAC and aptX Lossless – although, as we shall see, getting confirmation that you’re streaming aptX Lossless is considerably more of a palaver than it should be). There’s also a 4.4mm balanced line-level input, and a hybrid 3.5mm input for either optical or coaxial digital information. Two USB-C sockets complete the set – one if for connection to mains power or to charge the internal battery, and the other is for data transfer. This last is a big improvement on the original iDSD Diablo, which required an infernal (pun very much intended) arrangement of USB extension cables to make a connection. Although received wisdom says the battery is the cleaner and more effective way to power the Diablo 2, iFi also provides its iPower 2 power supply – it’s claimed to be ten times quieter than regular mains power supplies.

On the bottom of the chassis there’s a ‘IEMatch’ switch for use with in-ear monitors – the available positions are ‘4.4’, ‘6.35’ and off.

On the inside, the iDSD Diablo 2 is fitted with a dual-core Burr Brown digital-to-analogue chipset, providing support for digital audio files of every worthwhile type up to 768kHz and DSD512 as well as full MQA decoding. iFi has allied this formidable processing power to features it calls (with typical understatement) ‘PureWave’ (balanced dual-mono analogue amplification architecture), ‘Servoless DirectDrive’ (as direct and uncorrupted a signal path as possible) and ‘OptimaLoop’ (minimisation of distortion and phase sound).

iFi suggests the iDSD Diablo 2 has an enormous five-watt output, which would be more than enough to drive even the most recalcitrant headphones without any of the gain intervention options iFi supplies. Like so much in life, though, iFi’s claims for the power that’s on tap here are the subject of some debate. These five watts are a peak power measurement, rather than RMS continuous power – and iFi’s measurement window is not open for as long as is standard around the wider industry. Still, at this point the argument is academic – the way the Diablo 2 performs will dictate whether or not we should all get hung up on power ratings… 

Features score: 5 / 5

iFi iDSD Diablo 2 closeup, showing headphone jacks

Note the 'wings'  (Image credit: Future)

iFi iDSD Diablo 2 review: Design

  • 29 x 85 x 166mm (HxWxD)
  • 455g
  • Multiple positioning options

In absolute terms, the iDSD Diablo 2 isn’t an especially large device, but at 29 x 85 x 166mm (HxWxD) it still takes up valuable desktop space. So iFi has wisely made positioning it as flexible as possible, thanks to a reworked chassis that replaces the original Diablo’s smooth casework with an arrangement of 22 ‘rails’ that help cooling. Eight of these rails can each accept one of the four ‘wings’ supplied with the product, which allows it to be positioned either vertically or horizontally.

As well as these supporting ‘wings’, the iDSD Diablo 2 also comes with the iPower 2 power supply, short and long(er) USB-C cables, short USB-C / Lightning cable, USB-C / USB-A adapter, Toslink optical adapter and a 3.5mm / 6.3mm headphone adapter. It’s also supplied with an ‘iTraveller’ soft carrying case, into which almost all of these accessories will fit without problems.

Design score: 4.5 / 5  

iFi iDSD Diablo 2's underside, detailing the ports

Everything in its right place…  (Image credit: Future)

iFi iDSD Diablo 2 review: Sound quality

  • Direct, unequivocal performance
  • Detailed, quite lean sound 
  • Could conceivably be more dynamic

A desktop device like this requires a desktop, so the iDSD Diablo 2 is connected via USB-C to an Apple MacBook Pro (2020) running Colibri software in order to deliver properly high-resolution digital audio files. It’s connected to several pairs of headphones – the majority of this testing is conducted using Sennheiser IE900 in-ear monitors and a pair of Austrian Audio ‘The Composer’ over-ears, both using their 4.4mm cable. For the sake of good form, both iOS and Android smartphones are used to check out the iFi’s Bluetooth capability, too. 

But it’s safe to say that no matter the headphones or the source device, or in fact the sort of music that’s on the go (and my testing includes everything from 16bit/44.1kHz files of Doris Troy’s What-cha Gonna Do About It and Lambchop’s The Daily Growl to a 24bit/192kHz file of David Bowie’s Be My Wife and a DSD64 copy of Stevie Wonder’s Living for the City), the attitude and character of the iDSD Diablo 2 doesn’t really alter all that much. This is a swift, articulate and detailed listen, with the sort of muscle-mass of a distance runner and similar manoeuvrability. If you came for vaulting dynamism and/or overtly stocky low frequencies, you might want to look elsewhere. Everyone else, though, should listen long and hard…

At every turn, the iFi keeps a close eye on the fine details and the broad strokes, and manages to put every element of a recording into proper context. It travels from the bottom of the frequency range to the top in a smoothly convincing manner, and is able to generate a genuine sense of unity and ‘performance’ from a recording. It’s possible to tilt its frequency response just slightly towards the top end if you use unsympathetic headphones, but in almost every circumstance the iDSD Diablo 2 is a confident, balanced listen.

It creates a big, open soundstage and organises it well. It’s able to find space for the most transient aspects of a recording even in the busiest mixes, keeps every element of it at arm’s length from the others in order for it to have the necessary space to express itself - and yet ties it all together almost effortlessly. It’s almost fanatical in its attention to the small harmonic variations that lesser amplifiers are happy to overlook.

Control of the lowest frequencies is absolute – and the alacrity of their attack and decay means the iFi gives good expression to rhythms. There’s a lack of bulk or substance to the bottom end it produces, though – there’s no shortage of bass extension, but there’s not a huge amount of weight to the low end, and the iDSD Diablo 2 can sound relatively lightweight as a result. When it comes to the biggest dynamic shifts in volume or intensity, it doesn’t seem to have all that much reach either – possibly because this is a very loud amplifier even when it’s playing quietly. 

For all of its gain and sensitivity controls, the iFi sounds like it’s giving you everything it’s got right from the off – which just doesn’t leave it much headroom when the going gets louder still.

Sound quality score: 4.5 / 5 

iFi iDSD Diablo 2 and Sennheiser iE900, on a wooden table

The bulk of my testing was done with the Sennheiser IE900 or the Austrian Audio 'The Composer'  (Image credit: Future)

iFi iDSD Diablo 2 review: Usability & setup

  • Simple to operate
  • Some mild Bluetooth weirdness 
  • Short cables can be an issue

On a fundamental level, the iDSD Diablo 2 is a piece of cake to operate. Its controls are all physical, its volume dial operates at well-judged increments and the volume dial lock is a nice touch too. If you can plug a source of music and pair of headphones in, you’re in business.

The length of cables supplied are a minor irritation, though. To connect my MacBook Pro (2020) to the iFi, the USB-C / USB-C is required – but the braided cable is so short that there’s next-to-no ability to adjust its position on the desk. I have numerous USB-C / USB-C cables of various lengths in my home, I’ll admit, and iFi supplies a more useful length of much less impressive quality – but I can’t imagine it would carve into iFi’s profit margin too much to supply a braided cable, say, twice as long as this one.

Both my iOS and my Android smartphones see, and pair with, the iDSD Diablo 2 quickly enough. Once the connection is made, the LED on the iFi’s fascia glows yellow to indicate the AAC codec – because that’s iPhones for you. But an Asus smartphone gives every impression of streaming aptX Adaptive (green LED) even though it’s able to deal with aptX Lossless (white LED).  

Usability & setup score: 4/5

iFi iDSD Diablo 2 on its side, showing the file indicator light

This white light (for aptX Lossless) was oddly hard to come by when using sources able to handle it…  (Image credit: Future)

iFi iDSD Diablo 2 review: Value

It’s nigh-on impossible to suggest the iFi iDSD Diablo 2 isn’t a profound improvement on the sound to be achieved by plugging your headphones directly into a smartphone, say, or a laptop. 

As a desktop audio device, then, it makes a lot of sense if you’re the sort of person who takes listening this way seriously enough to have invested in capable headphones and a lot of high-resolution digital audio files. For ‘casual’ or ‘recreational’ listeners, though, a device that demands such equally accomplished (and correspondingly expensive) partnering equipment has to be considered overkill. 

Value score: 4/5

iFi iDSD close-up of the front fascia, on wooden table

Note the new 'rails' on the casework to help with cooling (Image credit: Future)

Should you buy iFi iDSD Diablo 2?

Buy it if...

Don't buy it if...

iFi iDSD Diablo 2 review: Also consider

iFi iDSD Diablo of the branding on the casework, silver on red

iFi makes strong design choices and you love to see it (Image credit: Future)

How I tested the iFi iDSD Diablo 2 review:

  • Various headphones
  • Various audio file types and sizes
  • Various sources of music

For an almost-unbroken week, the iFi iDSD Diablo 2 sat next to my laptop, and played music either from the machine’s memory (using a wired connection) or from one of a few smartphones (using Bluetooth). Music stored as MP3, FLAC and DSD files was used, and headphones from ‘moderately pricey’ to ‘extremely expensive’ were plugged into both the balanced and unbalanced outputs…  

First reviewed April 2024

JBL Quantum 910X review: great gaming audio, but some rough edges
6:00 pm | April 20, 2024

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

One-minute review

A high-end wireless gaming headset designed for Xbox, the JBL Quantum 910X falls just short of earning a place among the best Xbox Series X headsets. That’s not to say that it isn't still a formidable option, however, as it offers an excellent level of comfort that’s backed up by rich audio; it’s absolutely perfect for many of the best Xbox Series X games. In addition to Xbox, it’s also fully compatible with PlayStation, Nintendo Switch, and PC, making it a strong multi-platform choice.

Unfortunately, the flagship feature of the JBL Quantum 910X, its head-tracking 360 degree spatial audio, is a mixed bag. The head-tracking itself is exceptional, simulating your head motion perfectly, but the audio quality takes a substantial hit whenever the feature is enabled. The bass becomes almost non-existent, completely ruining the punchy action of first-person shooter (FPS) titles like Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, while the high end frequencies sound sharp and unpleasant. If your number one concern is high-quality spatial sound, no shortage of cheaper headsets like the SteelSeries Arctis Nova 7X, offer far superior spatial audio.

The microphone is the only other major area where the JBL Quantum 910X falls behind the competition. It lacks adjustability and leaves your voice sounding grainy and quiet. It’s by no means unusable, but this is nowhere near the level of performance that you would reasonably expect for this price. Whether this is the headset for you is therefore going to depend on whether these two shortcomings are a total deal breaker but, if they’re not, there’s still an awful lot to like here.

The JBL Quantum 910X resting on a wooden table.

(Image credit: Dashiell Wood / Future)

Price and availability

  • $299.95 / £219.99 
  • Available in the US and UK
  • Better value in the UK 

The JBL Quantum 910X costs $299.95 / £219.99 and is available in the US and UK directly from JBL or at retailers like Amazon. In the US, this comes in slightly cheaper than other high-end gaming headsets, such as the $329.99 / £279.99 Turtle Beach Stealth Pro, but is still firmly in premium territory. All things considered, it’s quite a reasonable price when you factor in the presence of high-end features such as active noise cancellation, not to mention customizable RGB lighting and the robust build quality.

Even so, UK price represents the best value of the two regions. At £219.99, the headset is a massive £60 less expensive than the Turtle Beach Stealth Pro, widening the gap between the two headsets and making the JBL Quantum 910X a much more tempting proposition.

Unfortunately, the JBL Quantum 910X is not currently available in Australia.

Specs

The left ear cup of the  JBL Quantum 910X.

(Image credit: Dashiell Wood / Future)

Design and features

The exterior of the JBL Quantum 910X is primarily constructed from a smooth black plastic. Its ear cups are covered in bright RGB lighting, illuminating in a ring around each ear in addition to an area with a small grill-like pattern and a prominent embossed JBL logo. The lighting is set to green by default which is perfect if you intend to use the headset with an Xbox out of the box. This lighting can be fully customized through the compatible JBL Quantum Engine software on a PC.

Each ear cup is connected to the headband with a clear plastic strip and a short braided cable, which is black with subtle green stripes. The clear plastic portion can be extended or retracted in order to customize the fit, engraved with numbers that indicate different sizing settings. The ear cups themselves then use soft black pleather cushions, which are a generous size and pleasantly soft.

The same cushioning is also found on the underside of the headband itself, which is topped with black plastic covered in a tactile grooved design. Although the JBL Quantum 910X is  notably heavier than many other gaming headsets, weighing a hefty 14.8oz / 420g, the comfortable cushions makes it surprisingly easy to wear for extended periods without discomfort.

Both ear cups of the JBL Quantum 910X wireless gaming headset.

(Image credit: Dashiell Wood / Future)

The microphone is attached to the left ear cup and can be raised or lowered. It’s muted by default in its raised position, indicated by a small red LED light near its tip. There’s also a separate dedicated microphone mute button on the back of the ear cup, which is handy if you want to quickly mute the microphone without having to raise it. This is positioned below a volume dial, a volume mixer dial (which changes the balance between in-game audio and audio from a connected mobile phone), and a switch which enables or disables the headset’s active noise cancellation. On the bottom of the left ear cup you will also find the USB Type-C port, which can be used for both charging and wired play. It’s next to a 3.5mm headphone jack and superb braided cables for both are included in the box.

Controls on the right ear cup are simpler, with a power slider that doubles as a switch to enable Bluetooth connectivity and a simple button that alternates between standard audio, spatial sound, and full head-tracking. Although it can be used out of the box, spatial sound can be further calibrated for enhanced precision in the JBL Quantum Engine software.

This is a simple process with clear on screen instructions, but does require an included detachable microphone to sit in your ear. Factor in the wireless dongle, which comes alongside a compact USB Type-A to USB Type-C converter and that’s a lot of separate accessories to keep track of. Luckily, the headset comes with an absolutely lovely plush gray bag which is perfect for keeping everything in one place.

The JBL Quantum 910X resting on top of its carrying bag.

(Image credit: Dashiell Wood / Future)

Performance

In its standard mode, the JBL Quantum 910X performs excellently on the whole. It offers punchy, rich bass, clear mids, and detailed high-end frequencies. While its overall audio profile might be a little too bass-heavy for audiophile music listening, it’s absolutely perfect for gaming and the range of titles I tested sounded superb. Shots in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 packed some serious punch on Xbox Series S, while the streets of Sotenbori in the PC version of Like a Dragon Gaiden: The Man Who Erased His Name felt impressively life-like.

The emphasis on bass is also an excellent fit for rhythm games and I enjoyed quite a bit of success challenging myself with “JITTERBUG” on Extreme difficulty in Hatsune Miku: Project DIVA Future Tone on PS5. The JBL Quantum Engine software offers a range of useful equalizer modes and is, on the whole, some of the best companion software that I’ve ever tested. It offers an impressive number of functions, features an intuitive and attractive UI, and is lightning fast while taking up just 255MB of space. A mobile app or a native application for Xbox would enable those without access to a PC to benefit from its features, but otherwise there is nothing to complain about here.

The software of the  JBL Quantum 910X.

(Image credit: JBL)

Returning to the headset, the on-board controls are well-spaced and responsive, while the active noise cancellation is a treat. It’s very effective and managed to block out almost everything that I could throw at it, ranging all the way from nearby conversations to loud passing vehicles. I also consistently managed to squeeze an impressive 32 hours of battery life out of the headset, which was more than enough for a full week of gaming sessions.

Unfortunately, the performance with the spatial audio mode enabled is a completely different story. The illusion of depth is there, but the bass instantly vanishes leading to an incredibly tinny sound that lacks any impact whatsoever. It’s like listening to a tiny pair of cheap speakers in a massive hall, an impression that is only further reinforced by the oddly echoey sound of any dialogue.

The optional head tracking, which sees the audio source shift as you look around, is incredibly accurate and well worth experimenting with for a few minutes, but the dramatic fall in audio quality means that it’s impossible to recommend using the spatial audio mode for any substantial length of time which is a huge shame.

The microphone performance is also disappointing. The physical microphone itself is unusually rigid and cannot be adjusted to be closer or further away from your mouth very easily. I found that this meant that my voice often sounded rather quiet and a little muddy. I was still easy to understand, once every participant of my calls had adjusted their volume accordingly, but this really shouldn't be necessary with such an expensive peripheral.

The JBL Quantum 910X on a wooden table placed next to a black Xbox controller.

(Image credit: Dashiell Wood / Future)

Should I buy the JBL Quantum 910X?

Buy it if...

Don't buy it if...

Also consider

If you’re not keen on the JBL Quantum 910X, you should consider these two compelling Xbox-compatible alternatives instead. 

How I tested the JBL Quantum 910X

  • Used daily for over a month
  • Tested with a wide range of platforms
  • Compared to other premium gaming headsets

I tested the JBL Quantum 910X for over a month, using it as my main gaming headset. During that time, I tested the headset with Xbox Series S, PlayStation 5, PC, and Nintendo Switch playing a broad range of titles. In addition to my usual favorites, I tried to focus on some modern games that offer rich sound, including the likes of Counter-Strike 2, Need for Speed Unbound, The Last of Us Part 2 Remastered, and Fortnite. In order to test the microphone, I used the headset for multiple online gaming sessions and recorded a number of audio files with Audacity.

Throughout my time with the headset, I was careful to compare the experience with my hands-on time with other high-end gaming headsets such as the SteelSeries Arctis Nova 7X, Astro A50 X, and Turtle Beach Stealth Pro .

Read more about how we test

First reviewed April 2024

Lenco L-3810 review: striking the perfect chord between analog and digital
2:00 pm |

Author: admin | Category: Audio Computers Gadgets Hi-Fi Turntables | Tags: | Comments: Off

Lenco L-3810: Two-minute review

The Lenco L-3810 proves that lightning can indeed strike twice. After all, this isn't the first time Lenco has delivered a product with the sort of specification and functionality that makes a bit of a mockery of its asking price. The L-3810 may not be the answer to an audiophile vinyl-fancier’s prayers, but if you’re thinking of dipping a toe into the vinyl water without a) chucking money at it or b) forgoing a nicety or two, it’s a solid option.

It’s not, strictly speaking, a plug-and-play device – but it’s not far off. The headshell must be fitted, but it already has its Audio Technica 3600 cartridge fitted and adjusted. You have to put the platter onto the spindle and the slip mat onto the platter, and set the counterweight and anti-skate controls. But really, apart from connecting it to the mains and to your amplifier or wireless speaker, that’s about it.

Specification is very impressive at the money, too. The L-3810 is a direct drive turntable, which will please any budding superstar DJs. It’s got pitch control, a target light and a stroboscope too – so it looks the part. And thanks to an integrated phono stage, it can be connected to pretty much any system with an analogue input. It even has an analogue-to-digital converter behind its USB-B socket, so archiving your vinyl as digital audio files can be done too. 

When it comes to the actual business of playing records, there’s plenty to like about the L-3810 that's comparable to the best turntables. It’s decently punchy and rapid, ties every element of a recording together confidently, extracts a fair amount of detail and summons a good amount of drive. It’s adept with rhythms and tempos, too. A lack of high-frequency extension and attack makes it sound rather duller than it otherwise would, though. 

Lenco L-3810 review: Price and release date

The Lenco L-3180 playing a record

(Image credit: Future)
  • Released in March 2024
  • Priced at $499 / £279 / AU$499

The Lenco L-3810 turntable was announced as a super affordable option for vinyl and mixing beginners in late February and went on sale in March 2024. In the US, you should expect to pay $499, while in the UK, it goes for £279 and in Australia it will cost you AU$499.

As far as functionality is concerned, there’s quite a lot here by turntable standards, and it demonstrably doesn’t cost an arm and a leg. So well done Lenco, you have already piqued everyone’s interest. 

Lenco L-3810 review: Features

the back of the Lenco L-3810 turntable with its ports visible

(Image credit: Future)
  • USB-B output
  • Switchable phono stage
  • Audio Technica 3600 moving magnet cartridge

It’s fair to say that the Lenco L-3810 is more fully featured than your average turntable. In fact, it makes your average belt-driven, one-function turntable look a bit remedial.

First of all, this is a direct-drive turntable, meaning the platter is connected directly to the motor that turns it. It’s an arrangement more commonly seen in pro/DJ equipment, because it offers both superior rotational stability and the ability to reach the correct rotational speed very quickly indeed. 

Lenco has taken a lot of other cues, where features are concerned, from the established ‘DJ deck’ specification. The L-3810 has a stroboscope to confirm its platter is turning at precisely 33.3 or 45rpm. It has a target light, to help when cueing up vinyl in dimmer conditions. And it has a pitch control slider (+/= 10%) in case you would prefer the platter to turn at a speed other than 33.3 or 45rpm.

The ‘J’-shaped tonearm has a bayonet fitting for the headshell, which is in turn supplied with a very acceptable Audio Technica 3600 moving magnet cartridge pre-fitted and -adjusted. 

At the rear of the chassis, along with the more usual input for power and stereo RCA outputs for connection to an amplifier, one of the best wireless speakers or what-have-you, there are two further features that serve to set the Lenco further apart from the mainstream turntable herd. One is a switch marked ‘phono/line’ – this switches the integrated pre-amplification on or off, depending on the type of system you’re connecting the Lenco to. The other is a USB-B output. Using this to connect to a PC loaded with the appropriate software (I like Audacity, but others are available) allows you to make digital copies of your vinyl in real time.  

Features score: 5/5

Lenco L-3810 review: Sound quality

The Lenco L-3180 on a table with speakers on either side of it

(Image credit: Future)
  • Good sense of rhythm
  • Punchy, quite driving presentation
  • Needs greater treble presence

First things first: if your current system doesn’t include any phono amplification, you’ll be very glad Lenco included some here. If it does, however, it’s well worth conducting an ‘A/B’ comparison between it and the L-3810’s phono stage – the amplification Lenco has fitted here is functional, certainly, but it’s nothing special.

Equally, if it’s the DJ-centric features that have caught your eye then you may need to temper your expectations a little. Yes, the direct drive arrangement here means the L-3810 comes up to speed nice and quickly when compared to a belt-driven alternative - but it’s not the instantaneous ‘go!’ of a true DJ design, and it can take a revolution or two before the platter is spinning at a stable and consistent speed. And that Audio Technica 3600 may be a very capable cartridge, but it won’t thank you for trying out a bit of scratching…

As a straight-ahead record player, though, the L-3810 has a fair bit to recommend it. It’s very ‘together’ in terms of its presentation, for starters – the sense of unity and singular it can create is impressive, and it makes a recording like The The’s I’ve Been Waiting For Tomorrow (All of My Life) sound like a performance, rather than a collection of individual events. This is one of the characteristics that the vinyl format is prized for, and the Lenco makes good on the promise.

It integrates the frequency range well too, and from the lowest frequencies to the top of the midrange it’s an even, quite detailed listen that strikes a nicely naturalistic balance. There’s a definite shortage of top-end extension and energy, though, a lack of treble sparkle or attack that can make the overall presentation sound just slightly dull and blunt. What treble presence there is integrates properly with the rest of the frequency information, mind you.

As far as dynamic headroom is concerned, the L-3810 plays things slightly safe – which, in the context of the system it’s likely to find itself part of, is probably sensible. It alludes to changes in intensity or sheer volume rather than pouncing on them, which makes for an easy listen that’s not quite as visceral with a recording like FKA twigs’ Two Weeks as it really should be. Harmonic variations are quite readily identified, though – as long as they don’t occur up at the top of the frequency range.

Low frequency grip and control of the FKA twigs album is good, though – bass sounds are straight-edged at the moment of attack, which means momentum is decent and rhythmic expression is straightforwardly good. There’s a reasonable amount of punch to the Lenco’s sound, and a fair amount of impetus as a result.

All of this applies, to a lesser or greater extent, to the digital copies the Lenco is capable of creating. Obviously the analogue-to-digital conversion process takes some of the heat (and some of the detail) out of the vinyl sound, and the lack of top-end confidence is always apparent – but if you’re after some digital versions of your favourite vinyl for use when you’re not sitting in front of your L-3810, you could definitely do worse.

Sound quality score: 3.5/5 

Lenco L-3810 review: Design

The Lenco L-3180 playing a record

(Image credit: Future)
  • Pastic chassis
  • Clear dust cover
  • Looks just like a record player

When it comes to the design of a turntable, every manufacturer has to make a binary choice: it either goes with the basic ‘rectangle with a circle on it, plus tonearm’ or ‘control-heavy alternative a la Technics’. There’s no shame in either. Lenco has gone for the second option – it’s decided its L-3810 should look like a junior SL-1200.

Without its clear plastic dust-cover, the L-3810 measures an unremarkable 151 x 450 x 365mm (HxWxD). The chassis (which is available in white or grey finishes) is made of plastic, the platter that supports your vinyl is made of aluminium, and the slipmat that sits between them is felt. The ‘J’-shaped tonearm is made of aluminium, too.

The main body of the turntable stands on four big, rubber-bushed plastic feet that have a degree of articulation.Which is handy both for helping the deck stay level, and also to isolate it a little from external vibrations.

There’s nothing luxurious about the way the Lenco L-3810 looks or feels, and its all-in weight of just over 4kg lets you know it’s not the last word in solidity. But then when you consider the asking price, compare it to the feature set, and then bear in mind the competence with which this record player is built and finished, ‘nothing luxurious’ seems absolutely fair enough.

Design score: 4.5/5 

Lenco L-3810 review: Usability and setup

A closeup of the stop/start button on the Lenco L-3810

(Image credit: Future)
  • Cartridge is pre-fitted and pre-adjusted
  • Controls are reliable and responsive
  • Phono stage is defeatable 

All you need to do to get the L-3810 ready to play is put the aluminium platter on the spindle and put the felt slipmat on top of it, attach the headshell, fit and adjust the counterweight, and finesse the anti-skate control. Or, at least, that’s all you have to do to get it ready to play a record - if you want to actually hear it, you’ll need to connect the stereo RCA outputs on the rear to your amplifier, speaker or whatever, and then establish whether or not the Lenco’s integrated phono stage needs to be switched on or off. 

Setup, then, is pretty simple. And usability is simple, too – the ‘power on/off’ dial, the ‘stop/start’ button, the pitch control and the speed selector all operate smoothly, and the manual tonearm lift feels robust, too. There’s really nothing here that’s going to create even a moment’s confusion. About the trickiest part of operating the Lenco is getting to grips with the third-party software that’s required if you’re going to make digital copies via its USB-B output. 

Usability and setup score: 5/5

Lenco L-3810 review: Value

The Lenco L-3180 playing a record

(Image credit: Future)
  • Great performance for the price
  • Not suitable for amateur DJs

There’s certainly no arguing with the functionality Lenco provides at the asking price, and it’s difficult to take meaningful issue with the way the L-3810 is built and finished either. 

It’s not a realistic proposition for anyone who takes DJing even half-seriously, of course – but when it comes to system compatibility, very acceptable digital versions of your vinyl and a politely forceful overall sound, the L-3810 offers pretty decent value for money.

Should you buy the Lenco L-3810 review?

Buy it if...

Don't buy it if...

Lenco L-3810 review: Also consider

How I tested the Lenco L-3810

The Lenco L-3180 playing a record

(Image credit: Future)
  • Tested for over a week
  • Listened by itself and with a reference pre-amp 
  • Made digital copies of vinyl on my MacBook Pro 

The Lenco L-3810 replaced my reference turntable on the top shelf of my home system, and it stayed there for well over a week while I listened to (and occasionally copied) records. 

It played via its internal phono amplification and via my reference pre-amp, and it was connected via its USB-B output to my MacBook Pro in order to see what sort of digital copies it makes.

Final VR500 review: unassuming wired in-ear headphones that have it where it counts
1:30 pm |

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

Final VR500: Two-minute review

The Final Audio VR500 are among the Japanese specialist’s most affordable headphones – but that doesn't mean they’ve missed out on the customary Final Audio attention to detail. The company wants to make the VR500 the default affordable wired headphone for gamers and music-lovers alike – and it’s given them every chance to succeed in the best wired headphones arena. 

Specification is good, inasmuch as the VR500 are fitted with proven full-range dynamic drivers. Build quality is solid, thanks to their neat ABS resin construction. The 1.2m cable a) is long enough for most scenarios, and b) features a one-button in-line remote with mic.

And in practice, the VR500 work very well indeed. Some listeners might hanker after more outright punch, but where detail retrieval, spaciousness, precision and fidelity are concerned, the Final Audio outperform their asking price quite comfortably. In fact, the VR500 are good enough that they give the established  go-to affordable wired in-ears from SoundMagic (namely the SoundMagic E11C) plenty to think about. 

Final VR500 on a wooden table, in the sunlight

Demure build, but the Final VR500 aren't shy about sound  (Image credit: Future)

Final VR500 review: Price & release date

  • Released February 20, 2024
  • $34.99 / £29.99 / AU$49.99

The Final Audio VR500 wired in-ear headphones have been on sale since February 20, 2024, and in the United Kingdom they’re a penny under £30. In America they’re a touch less than $35, and in Australia you get a tiny amount of change from AU$50.

This, it hardly needs pointing out, is not very much money for a pair of headphones from a company as auspicious and high-achieving as Final Audio – you only have to look at the price of the sort of headphones TechRadar routinely reviews to realise that. 

But everything’s relative, of course; there’s no point in spending this sort of money on a pair of wired earbuds if they don’t represent decent value for money. So let's get to that… 

Final VR500 review: Specs

Final's VR500 supplied ear tips, on a table

The level of care Final has delivered at this price point is unmatched (Image credit: Future)

Final VR500 review: Features

  • 6.4mm dynamic drivers
  • Oxygen-free copper cable
  • Five sizes of eartip included

Final Audio is keen to present the VR500 as ideal for gaming, and consequently has plenty to say about the earbuds’ ability to create a big, three-dimensional soundstage and place sound effects precisely on it. I’ll discuss the veracity of these claims in the ‘sound quality’ section, but what’s already for certain is that Final Audio has definitely specified the VR500 to do the business.

The cable connecting the earbuds to the three-pole 3.5mm jack is of oxygen-free copper. The earbuds themselves house a couple of 6.4mm dynamic drivers – they’re the same high-precision devices that feature in a couple of the company’s more expensive in-ear designs and offer full-range frequency response. And by including five different sizes of high-quality silicone eartip in the packaging, Final Audio has done its utmost to ensure your VR500 fit snugly and comfortably.  

  • Features score: 5/5

Final VR500 on a wooden table

The single button in-line remote feels good to use (Image credit: Future)

Final VR500 review: Sound quality

  • Open, spacious sound
  • Impressive levels of detail
  • Not the outright punch you might be after

In almost every respect, Final Audio has it the bull’s-eye where the sound of the VR500 is concerned. Its drive for clarity, spaciousness and good location of effects when gaming has been a complete success. By the standards of profoundly affordable wired in-ear headphones, the VR500 are basically as good as it currently gets.

In ultimate terms they’re fractionally lightweight, and short of the sort of low-frequency heft and impact that some genres of music can rely on. The bass presence they generate is swift and detailed, which allows rhythms good expression and keeps the sensation of momentum high – but if it’s out-and-out wallop you’re after, you may find the VR500 just slightly tentative.

In every other respect, though, they’re a straightforward pleasure to listen to. The soundstage they generate is big and well-organised, so both music and games are convincingly laid out. They retain and contextualise an impressive amount of detail, locate every element of a recording or a soundtrack confidently in respect to every other element, and unify even complex information into a persuasive whole.

There’s plenty of drive and attack available when it’s required, and more than enough headroom to give dynamics decent expression. But they’re also able to do ‘small-scale’ and ‘quiet’ very well too, keeping silences nice and dark while giving as much emphasis to spaces as is required. 

  • Sound quality score: 4.5/5

Final VR500 on a wooden table

Bijou branding and a compact design (Image credit: Future)

Final VR500 review: Design

  • 15g
  • ABS resin housing
  • 1.2m cable

I’m going to say it for the umpteenth time during the course of this review: everything’s relative. So while there’s nothing, really nothing, unusual about the design of the Final Audio VR500, it’s nevertheless a considered product where design is concerned and all the better for it.

An all-in weight of just 15g is a strong indication of how comfortable the earbuds are when they’re in position. The cable is tangle-resistant, and at 1.2m is long enough for all likely applications. The ABS resin the earbud- and 3.5mm jack housings are built from is smooth, nicely finished and seems helpfully resistant to scratching. The single button of the in-line mic feels positive in its action.

That’s it as far as ‘design’ is concerned, and I’m tempted to ask “what else were you expecting?”, because there’s nothing about the VR500 to suggest Final Audio has paid anything less than full attention.    

  • Design score: 5/5

Final VR500 review: Value

  • Properly built and finished
  • Impressively specified at the money
  • Enjoyable sound quality

There aren’t many products on the pages of techradar.com that cost less than £30, and fewer still that don’t feel like they’ve been overtly built down to a price. The care Final Audio has taken with the physical and performance aspects of the VR500 is really quite impressive.

  • Value score: 5/5

Should I buy the Final VR500?

Buy them if...

Don't buy them if...

Final VR500 review: Also consider

How I tested the Final VR500

  • Plugged into a laptop…
  • ...and a smartphone 
  • Used for games and for music

I used the VR500 for well over a week, and in a variety of situations. At home, connected to a laptop and a smartphone, where I listened to music and played a few games. And on an aeroplane, where they were again attached to my laptop but also to the in-flight entertainment system. 

And at no point was I anything less than impressed.

Revlon SmoothStay hair dryer review
12:00 pm |

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

Revlon SmoothStay hair dryer: two-minute review

The Revlon SmoothStay hair dryer – also known as the Revlon SmoothStay Coconut-Infused hair dryer is lightweight, flexible and budget-friendly, and it dries hair fast and effectively. Revlon is well-known for selling a wide range of hair and beauty products, and the SmoothStay is one of its latest hair dryer designs that’s both reasonably priced and versatile. If you're looking for the best hair dryer but don't have a lot to spend, this is definitely worth your consideration.

The Revlon SmoothStay Coconut-Oil Infused Hair Dryer box

(Image credit: Future)

The model features ceramic tourmaline ionic technology to help reduce static and frizz, and smooths your locks every time you use it; I certainly noticed that the heat flow left my hair feeling nicely dried and tame. The hair dryer also has a triple-coated ceramic coconut-oil infused grill to help enhance shine and achieve a frizz-free finish. It’s hard to know if this is entirely capable of adding that extra bit of shine, but having used the SmoothStay a number of times, I was pleased with how quickly it blow-dried my hair as well as the sleek results. 

At 1875W, the hair dryer is powerful, and if you’re someone who prefers that their hair dryer to be at peak temperature from the moment you press the button, you won’t be disappointed. There are two speed and three heat settings to choose from, depending on how hot you like the blast of air. The cool shot is also quick to chill, which means there’s no hanging around when you want to fix your hair to flick up the ends or set in specific styles.

Revlon SmoothStay Coconut-Oil Infused Hair Dryer with smoothing concentrator

(Image credit: Future)

I think one of the best features of this hair dryer is the unique concentrator nozzle that comes in the box, which is shaped like a comb. It’s designed to help you smooth your hair as you dry it and makes blow-drying easier. I found I had to use quite a bit of force to connect the nozzle to the body of the hair dryer at first, but I soon got the knack of snapping it firmly in place. I used the nozzle together in tandem with a wet brush to smooth out my wavy hair. There’s also a volumizing diffuser in the box that attaches easily and looks like a good size to define curls on both long and short hair. 

Revlon SmoothStay hair dryer review: price & availability

  • List price: $29.99 / £30
  • Available in UK and US

Unlike most powerful hair dryers that feature ionic technology, the Revlon SmoothStay comes in at an excellent price. We’ve found it on Amazon for a reasonable $29.99 / £30 (currently reduced to £20), and you can also pick it up directly from Revlon or at select local retailers such as Argos in the UK. In the box, you’ll find a concentrator comb nozzle and a volumizing diffuser to help enhance your finished results.

  • Value for money score: 4 out of 5

Revlon SmoothStay hair dryer specs

Revlon SmoothStay hair dryer review: design

  • Includes concentrator comb and diffuser
  • Hanging ring included
  • Removable end cap for easy cleaning

The SmoothStay Coconut Oil Infused Hair Dryer is finished in Revlon’s signature black colorway and features red accents. It matches the Revlon One Step Air Straight and the Revlon One Step Volumizer Plus 2.0 Hair Dryer and Hot Air Brush in terms of design.

I found the Revlon SmoothStay comfortable to hold. The even distribution of weight makes the hair dryer feel solid and robust, but it isn’t so heavy that you run the risk of suffering arm ache with extended use.

The SmoothStay features a good mix of controls, which is just what you would expect from a premium hair dryer. There are three heat and two speed settings conveniently placed on the inner side of the handle, plus a separate cool shot that seals hair cuticles when styling. The controls sit in place securely, so there’s no risk of accidentally knocking them while in use.

A hand holding the Revlon SmoothStay Coconut-Oil Infused Hair Dryer with accessories on show

(Image credit: Future)

The hair dryer is made from plastic and offers a good grip; I was able to hold the handle of the hair dryer comfortably. It also comes complete with a grill that’s triple-coated in ceramic infused with coconut oil, to help create a smooth and shiny finish to hair.

A hanging hook can be found at the top of the cable, making the hair dryer easy to store on display. While the 1.8m cable is ample, I’d have liked a little more length. I was previously using a hair dryer with a 3m cable, and a bit more room to maneuver with the Revlon SmoothStay would have been welcome.  

In the box, you’ll also find a concentrator comb nozzle and a volumizing diffuser.  I found the comb nozzle a little stiff – it required quite some force to snap it into place, although I’m sure it will ease over time. The shape of the nozzle is well designed, since you can use it like a comb to help guide the airflow for a smoother finish. The volumizing diffuser is also large enough to gather long hair.

A hand holding the Revlon SmoothStay Coconut-Oil Infused Hair Dryer to show the removable end cap

(Image credit: Future)

The removable end cap of the dryer is a nice touch, since it protects your hair while in use, but can be removed easily for cleaning. The diffuser can also be cleaned in warm, soapy water and rinsed when required. I used argan oil on my hair and managed to get some onto the body of the hair dryer, which resulted in noticeable fingerprint marks. Thankfully, these were easily wiped off with a damp cloth and buffed dry to remove all trace of the oil.

  • Design score: 4 out of 5

Revlon SmoothStay hair dryer review: performance

  • Ceramic tourmaline ionic technology for smooth results
  • Volumizing diffuser included in the box
  • Coconut-oil infused grille to limit frizz and add shine 

Having recently had my wavy, mid-length hair dyed a shade lighter than natural, it was left rather more dry and frazzled than usual and in desperate need of taming. When I first used the Revlon SmoothStay hair dryer, I was surprised by its power and pleased with how smoothly it dried my hair.   

As mentioned, there are three heat and two speed settings to choose from, with a cool shot close to hand, too. Unlike some hair dryers I’ve tried that take a while to get to temperature, the Revlon SmoothStay hair dryer reaches the desired temperature, whether hot or cold, instantly. It's good to know that while the hair dryer can get very hot, it does include a safety feature that will cut the power if the temperature exceeds the optimum drying level. 

The benefit of it getting hot quickly is that it produces fast results. When using the dryer on my own hair, I used the hottest level; but found this temperature a tad too hot when drying my 10-year-old’s hair, so I selected a more comfortable and steady level 1. Using the Decibel Meter App, I measured noise levels at 81.3dB on the hottest setting, which is around average.

Revlon SmoothStay Coconut-Oil Infused Hair Dryer with diffuser attachment

(Image credit: Future)

The hair dryer features ceramic tourmaline ionic technology, which is designed to reduce static and frizz, and enhance shine. My hair felt smooth after use and had a nice weight to it – possibly the result of the coconut-oil infused grille, which also helps to achieve sleek results. While I still had to resort to using my hair straightener after drying to further tame my wavy hair, the Revlon SmoothStay definitely made my hair feel more manageable.   

My favorite feature of this hair dryer has to be the concentrator comb nozzle. It helped to evenly guide the airflow to smooth and straighten my hair. Used alongside a wet brush, it offered greater control over the final result. 

  • Performance score: 4 out of 5

Should you buy the Revlon SmoothStay hair dryer?

Buy it if...

Don't buy it if...

Revlon SmoothStay hair dryer review: alternatives to consider

How I tested the Revlon SmoothStay hairdryer

I have tested a wide range of hair dryers over the past few years, as well as speaking to a number of hair stylists to find out what matters to them when choosing a hair dryer to use in their salons. With this in mind, I feel that I have gathered good insight into what makes for a decent hair dryer.

I have medium-length, wavy hair that’s prone to getting very frizzy when it dries naturally. I was keen to see whether the Revlon Smoothstay could calm my hair as it dried and leave it feeling salon fresh. I used it over the course of a month with the concentrator nozzle and a wet brush to blow-dry my hair. I also used it on my kids' hair – I was keen to see how well it could tackle the very straight flyaway hair of my young daughter and whether she found the noise levels comfortable.

Xiaomi 14 review: Bigger on the inside
7:15 pm | April 19, 2024

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

Xiaomi 14: Two-minute review

The Xiaomi 14 is unquestionably in the running to be one of this year's top compact flagships, even if it is a little larger than the iPhone 15 and Samsung Galaxy S24. The phone boasts Qualcomm's best and brightest Snapdrgon 8 Gen 3 chip, a camera system that's been developed in collaboration with Leica, and a sizable battery with impressively fast 90W charging.

Xiaomi was actually first to market with an 8 Gen 3-powered phone, with the Xiaomi 14 series first debuting in China back in October 2023. As of February 2024, the company confirmed that both the Xiaomi 14 and Xiaomi 14 Ultra would be going global (the Xiaomi 14 Pro isn't getting an international release, but that's not as much of a loss as you might think), with the phones touching down in late February and mid-March, respectively.

There's more than a passing resemblance between this phone and the Xiaomi 13 – both phones have a prominent square main camera bump, and they have near-identical dimensions, with the new phone's fractional weight increase a result of the larger rear camera system and bigger battery. Xiaomi's fit and finish is up there, but the mirror-polish straight-sided design is decidedly more iPhone 14, than iPhone 15, which won't be to everyone's taste.

The 6.36-inch display has received a gamut of nice upgrades – there's a resolution bump between generations, while the move to an LTPO panel facilitates a true 1Hz to 120Hz variable refresh rate for greater power efficiency. It's a significantly brighter panel too, also trumping the figures promised by Apple and Samsung's latest.

This marks the fifth generation of flagship phones (if you include the company's mid-year 'S' refreshes) on which Xiaomi has collaborated with optical specialists Leica. For the most part, the user experience offered up by the camera remains much the same as last year's – including the ability to shoot in Leica Vivid or Classic color profiles, but the underlying hardware has been upgraded significantly, with a larger 50MP main sensor sporting a wider aperture, and backed up by two additional 50MP sensors (an ultra-wide and a 3.2x telephoto), which collectively deliver better light, detail, dynamic range, and color reproduction than previously.

Xiaomi 14 review back angled upside down

(Image credit: Future | Alex Walker-Todd)

Even without flicking the 'high performance mode' toggle on, the Xiaomi 14 benchmarks among the top tier of the current Android pile, which translates to excellent real-world performance, whether multi-tasking or gaming. For all the raw grunt and software optimization the 14 clearly serves up though, the refreshed HyperOS user experience still falls foul of the same convolutions found in the previous MIUI; quirks that newcomers to the brand, and even some veteran Xiaomi users, would likely scratch their heads at when trying to perform certain actions or find particular features.

With this being 2024, there are also a raft of AI features that debut on the Xiaomi 14 series – from AI-generated portraits to semantic search in the gallery app – however, at the time of writing these features remain in beta, with access to them requiring approval from the Xiaomi Community admins, meaning most users won't be able to enjoy these new features and enhancements out of the box until later in the year.

Battery life is a highlight: for all that the Xiaomi 14 delivers, the increased capacity year-on-year also means the phone offer impressive longevity, surpassing the likes of the Samsung Galaxy S24 in terms of screen-on time, and leaving mainstream rivals in the dust when it comes to a full recharge, which takes a matter of minutes, rather than hours.

It's true that Xiaomi's new flagship starts at a higher asking price than both Apple's and Samsung's comparable models, the iPhone 15 and the Galaxy S24, but it also comes with twice the storage, meaning in like-for-like comparisons (using UK pricing for the 256GB model in each case), it's actually the best-value compact flagship of the bunch. One caveat is that despite having been given an 'international' launch, the Xiaomi 14 – like all of the company's phones – remains unavailable in the US and Australia, with third-party retailers or import being the only real way to get ahold of Xiaomi handsets in those countries.

Xiaomi 14 review: Price and availability

  • Priced from £849 / €999
  • Released October 2023 – China only, February 25, 2024 – internationally
  • Limited to no availability in US and Australia

Every time Qualcomm announces a new flagship mobile chipset, I'm always curious to see which phone maker will be first to market with a phone toting said cutting-edge silicon. In the case of the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3, it was Xiaomi, with the Xiaomi 14 and 14 Pro first debuting in China back in October 2023. However – as with previous generations of Xiaomi flagship – international audiences would have to wait.

It wasn't until a dedicated event in Barcelona in February 2024, ahead of MWC 2024 that we'd have a clear picture of the 14 series' international rollout. This event also served as a release announcement, with the phone being made available on February 25 across various markets, including the UK and Europe.

The Xiaomi 14 Pro didn't make it beyond China, but the gap between the 14 and 14 Pro in terms of specs and features is far smaller than it was with the previous 13 series, making the Pro's absence from the international stage far less of an issue this generation, especially with the Xiaomi 14 Ultra also available.

Despite throwing around words like 'international' and 'global' at the phone's February announcement though, Xiaomi's presence in the US and Australia only extends to smart home and lifestyle products, with its smartphones remaining distinctly absent. This means that, outside of importing or purchasing from fringe third-party retailers, you won't readily be able to pick up the Xiaomi 14 locally, and that's before taking into account whether it supports the carrier bands for local networks.

As for pricing, while a starting price in the UK of £849 places it well above the baseline price of key rivals like the iPhone 15 ($799 / £799 / AU$1,499) and Samsung Galaxy S24 ($799 / £799 / AU$1,399), those phones both come with just half the amount of storage (128GB).

In like-for-like comparisons against the £849 (equivalent to $1,070 / AU$1,640) 256GB base Xiaomi 14, both Apple's and Samsung's 256GB rivals actually cost more, at £899 and £859 respectively.

  • Value score: 5 / 5

Xiaomi 14 review: Specs

Xiaomi 14 review: Design

Xiaomi 14 review buttons

(Image credit: Future | Alex Walker-Todd)
  • Color choice affects finish
  • Squared, polished aluminum alloy frame
  • IP68-certified against dust and water

Fans of the Xiaomi 13 will appreciate what the company has done with the design of its successor – or rather what it hasn't done. The overall look of the two phones is much the same, although the 14 sports a hardier build, with tougher Gorilla Glass Victus and IP68-certified dust and water resistance, but elsewhere the dimensions to weight have remained consistent (a larger main camera system and battery have added a couple of grams).

Versus those aforementioned mainstream rivals, Xiaomi's latest is a little thicker and heavier by comparison, but is still small and comfortable enough to be considered a 'compact' flagship, and while the iPhone 15 series has embraced more rounded sides this generation, the Xiaomi 14 retains the iPhone 14 Pro line's straight-sided, mirror-polished aluminum surround, for better or worse, depending on your taste (I like the look but hate the fingerprints).

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Xiaomi 14 review Cloud de Paris design closeup

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The Clous de Paris guilloché detailing around the Xiaomi 14's camera

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Xiaomi 14 review Jade Green closeup

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A close-up on the Xiaomi 14's Jade Green glass back

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Xiaomi 14 review back straight

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The Jade Green variant featured in this review is the most head-turning colorway on the international stage, with the white model featuring a tasteful silver frame and the black option serving up textured – instead of polished – color-matched rear glass, which better repels fingerprints at the expense of a little grip. The only color that appeared in China but is missing from the global gamut of colorways is 'Snow Mountain Pink.'

Despite its similarities to the last model, Xiaomi has added interest around that new larger rear camera, with what it's dubbed a Clous de Paris (that's a hobnail pattern to you and me) to add a little interest. While it's not the only phone maker that has turned to classic analogue watch styling for design inspiration, this particular adornment is one I wouldn't every expect to find on a phone, and it serves as an aesthetic through-line with the recently-release Xiaomi Watch S3, too.

  • Design score: 4 / 5

Xiaomi 14 review: Display

Xiaomi 14 review front straight

(Image credit: Future | Alex Walker-Todd)
  • 6.36-inch Xiaomi 'CrystalRes' C8 LTPO AMOLED
  • 1Hz to 120Hz variable refresh rate
  • High-brightness mode: 1,400 nits (3,000 nits peak)

The flat 6.36-inch 'CrystalRes' C8 AMOLED fronting the Xiaomi 14 is a new panel of company's own design (manufactured by TCL), offering across-the-board upgrades over the same-sized screen on the Xiaomi 13, while also keeping it competitive against 2024 competitors.

First and foremost, it's sharper than the display on its predecessor, pushing past Full HD+ to a 1200 x 2670 resolution at the same size, upping pixel density from 414ppi to 460ppi, and making it as pin-sharp as the iPhone 15's Super Retina XDR OLED panel. It's also brighter – a lot brighter – with a peak of 3,000 nits (the Xiaomi 13 peaked at 1,900 nits) supports the Dolby Vision and HDR10+ standards. There's also a quoted full-panel high-brightness mode of 1,400 nits (up from the 13's 1,200 nits), which in real-world use ensures the screen is still comfortably visible against a bright sky. I just wish every phone adopted the reduced reflectivity of the Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra's display.

Regardless, the hits don't stop, with the move to an LTPO panel greatly improving power efficiency, as the refresh rate can now scale far more dynamically, depending on what you're doing on your phone. For context, the Xiaomi 13 could only switch between 60Hz, 90Hz, and 120Hz, so its successor's ability to rove anywhere between 1Hz and 120Hz is a welcome upgrade.

Xiaomi 14 review home screen closeup

(Image credit: Future | Alex Walker-Todd)

The screen serves up pleasing visuals across photos, video streaming, and gaming, and Xiaomi includes a wealth of controls for tinkering with the display experience. By default the phone is set to 'Original Color Pro', but there are additional color profile presets like 'Vivid' and 'Saturated' alongside the ability to force the display to operate in the DCI-P3 gamut or sRGB, and that's before you touch the independent sliders covering things like RGB values, hue, saturation, contrast, and gamma.

There are arguably too many display control on offer as, alongside the above, you can also tweak color temperature, toggle adaptive color temperature adjustment, which adjusts the color temperature relative to ambient lighting, toggle DC dimming for more comfortable low-light viewing, choose between multiple reading modes, add texture and color temperature controls to a grayscale viewing experience, and even have AI step in to upscale videos, enhance photos in your gallery, add HDR viewing to SDR content, and add frames to certain video content for smooth playback.

  • Display score: 4.5 / 5

Xiaomi 14 review: Software

Xiaomi 14 review Quick Settings

(Image credit: Future | Alex Walker-Todd)
  • First phone to debut HyperOS out of the box
  • Runs on top of Android 14
  • 4 years of OS + 5 years of security updates

MIUI is out and HyperOS is in, with the Xiaomi 14 series being the first of the company's phones to debut this revitalized user experience out of the box. If you watched the phone's launch, you'd be forgiven for assuming that HyperOS is something totally new, but in real-world use you'll be hard-pressed to spot any major differences with MIUI at a glance.

Xiaomi says that HyperOS follows a new 'Alive' design philosophy, boasting real-time rendering on certain graphical elements, alongside a color palette "based on natural hues" and while it's unquestionably more consistently fluid and responsive, the general look and feel still feels decidedly MIUI.

Nevertheless, that performance uptick across load times and animations might have something to do with the fact that despite its similarities to MIUI, Xiaomi has rebuilt HyperOS almost entirely. Not only does it take up almost a third less space on-device than its predecessor, it has new underpinnings to enable greater cross-platform interconnectivity with the company's wider product ecosystem, from its wearables and tablets, to its newfound push into automotive – even its debut car, the Xiaomi SU7, comes running its own build of HyperOS.

Back to the Xiaomi 14 though, and as before the user experience is feature-packed and serves up a decidedly different form than a lot of other smartphones out there. By default, there's no apps drawer, notifications and quick settings live behind swipe-down gestures from the top left and right corners of the screen, respectively (very iOS), swiping down on your home screen summons a device-wide search, while swiping up reveals Content Center, featuring links to news and YouTube video. There's a lot going on.

Xiaomi 14 review Security app

The Security app on the Xiaomi 14 does a lot more than just keep your device secure. (Image credit: Future | Alex Walker-Todd)

Provided that you're willing to put in some time to learn, HyperOS serves up a lot of flexibility and practically endless personalization too, although it's easy to get lost in disparate controls and settings screens. There's also a degree of bloat out of the box, with various third-party apps – like Booking.com – which can be uninstalled but ideally wouldn't be there to begin with. As for first-party apps, plenty of those could be considered bloat too, with multiple ways to perform seemingly the same action. The App Vault, Cleaner, Game Center and Security apps, for example, all help boost memory performance. Why do users need four different ways to access this feature, Xiaomi?

There are, of course, welcome additions too, like Game Turbo, which handles notification suppression, as well as relevant device controls (over things like brightness), when gaming and even includes a voice changer. Meanwhile HyperOS' Gallery app offers Google Photos integration native, which is a rare and handy bonus.

Xiaomi 14 review Sidebar

(Image credit: Future | Alex Walker-Todd)

Of course, this wouldn't be a 2024 flagship phone without some AI functionality thrown in, and Xiaomi has promised everything from generative fill when expanding the canvas of images to AI portraits, AI-generative subtitles, semantic search in the Gallery app, and more. Notice I said Xiaomi has 'promised' this suite of AI features, as at launch they remain in beta, meaning you have to sign up to be given access to unfinished iteration of what is one of the Xiaomi 14's headline upgrades.

There's good news, though – I did sign up for the beta once I'd mostly done testing the phone, and the AI features I tried worked as advertised and seemed stable (although wait times on processing for the AI Portrait feature surpassed an hour). So far Xiaomi has, unlike Samsung, made no mention of charging for the use of any AI functionality, although that's a policy that likely won't last forever.

To round things out, HyperOS on the Xiaomi 14 runs atop Android 14, with the company promising four years of update support and five years of security update support. That's behind market leaders like Apple, Google and Samsung, but should prove more than ample for the average smartphone user in 2024, ensuring that the Xiaomi 14 will continue to gain new features and remain secure for the duration of your time with it.

  • Software score: 3.5 / 5

Xiaomi 14 review: Cameras

Xiaomi 14 review camera closeup

(Image credit: Future | Alex Walker-Todd)
  • 50MP f/1.6 Xiaomi Light Fusion 900 main sensor with OIS
  • 50MP f/2.2 ISOCELL JN1 ultra-wide with 112-degree FoV
  • 50MP (32MP effective) f/2.0 ISOCELL JN1 3.2x telephoto with OIS
  • 32MP f/2.0 front camera with 89.6-degree FoV

While the camera system on the Xiaomi 14 isn't without its flaws, it looks to have the edge over compact rivals like the latest iPhone and Galaxy, with an across-the-board sensor upgrade compared to the Xiaomi 13, and ongoing input from optical specialists Leica.

You'll find an impressive-looking trio of 50MP sensors on the back, fronted by the new custom Xiaomi 'Light Fusion 900' (a tuned OmniVision OVX9000 sensor, with input from both Xiaomi and Leica), along with ISOCELL JN1 sensors for the ultra-wide and telephoto, collectively offering a focal range from 14mm to 75mm (although the telephoto's effective resolution is actually cited at 32MP and appears to kick in at 2.5x, which would suggest a shorter max optical range than Xiaomi claims).

AI Portrait... one of the most ambitious and unsettling AI features I've encountered on a phone to date

Leica's involvement, meanwhile, extends to branded 'Summilux' lenses, the 'Leica Vibrant' and 'Leica Authentic' color profiles the phone can shoot in, and the 'master lens system' of digital focal presets built into portrait mode.

Beyond that, the camera UI seems simple enough at first blush, but like the rest of HyperOS is absolutely jam-packed with features. The breadth of features on offer will be welcomed by those happy to spend the time required to learn of the nuances of the user experience, but will likely prove overwhelming for those who just want to tweak basic settings.

Stills shooting is primarily managed via Photo mode, or Pro mode if you want more control, while for video recording, Video and Movie mode are both on hand. More experimental modes include Short Film, which serves as a template complete with filters in which to capture footage; Director Mode, which lets you connect multiple cameras and even monitors wirelessly to orchestrate a multi-cam recording; plus Long Exposure, Supermoon, and more.

Xiaomi 14 camera samples

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Xiaomi 14 camera sample 0.6x Barcelona cathedral

(Image credit: Future | Alex Walker-Todd)

0.6x zoom (ultra-wide sensor)

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Xiaomi 14 camera sample 1x Barcelona cathedral

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1x zoom (main sensor)

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Xiaomi 14 camera sample 2x Barcelona cathedral

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2x zoom (main sensor)

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Xiaomi 14 camera sample 3.2x Barcelona cathedral

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3.2x zoom (telephoto sensor)

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Xiaomi 14 camera sample 60x Barcelona cathedral

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60x zoom (i.e. maximum lossy zoom range)

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Xiaomi 14 camera sample 0.6x city

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0.6x zoom (ultra-wide sensor)

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Xiaomi 14 camera sample 1x city

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1x zoom (main sensor)

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Xiaomi 14 camera sample 2x city

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2x zoom (main sensor)

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Xiaomi 14 camera sample 3.2x city

(Image credit: Future | Alex Walker-Todd)

3.2x zoom (telephoto sensor)

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Xiaomi 14 camera sample 60x city

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60x zoom (i.e. maximum lossy zoom range)

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Xiaomi 14 camera sample iPhone 15 Galaxy S24 comparison zoom range city

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Zoom range comparison: Apple iPhone 15 (top), Xiaomi 14 (center), Samsung Galaxy S24 (bottom)

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Xiaomi 14 camera sample selfie

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Front camera

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Xiaomi 14 camera sample iPhone 15 Galaxy S24 selfie comparison Sub10Xiaomi 14 camera sample iPhone 15 Galaxy S24 selfie comparison

(Image credit: Future | Alex Walker-Todd)

Front camera comparison: Apple iPhone 15 (left), Xiaomi 14 (center), Samsung Galaxy S24 (right)

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Xiaomi 14 camera sample Brie

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Xiaomi 14 camera sample Brie AI Expansion

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AI Expanded by 150%

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Xiaomi 14 camera sample Cheddar

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Xiaomi 14 camera sample dessert 1 artificial lighting

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Artificial lighting

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Xiaomi 14 camera sample dessert 2 artificial lighting

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Artificial lighting

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Xiaomi 14 camera sample low light blue neon

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Xiaomi 14 camera sample low light orange neon

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Xiaomi 14 camera sample low light group selfie

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Front camera

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Xiaomi 14 camera sample low light street

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Low light

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Xiaomi 14 camera sample Night Mode street

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Night mode

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Xiaomi 14 camera sample Pixel 8 Pro low light comparison

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Low light comparison: Xiaomi 14 (left), Google Pixel 8 Pro (right)

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Xiaomi 14 camera sample Pixel 8 Pro Night Mode comparison

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Night Mode comparison: Xiaomi 14 (left), Google Pixel 8 Pro (right)

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Xiaomi 14 camera sample low light building

(Image credit: Future | Alex Walker-Todd)

In side-by-side tests with the usual suspects (the iPhone 15 and the Samsung Galaxy S24), Xiaomi's distinct photographic look shone through. Leica Vivid (which all the Xiaomi 14 camera samples featured in this review were captured in) served up consistently brighter and and more vibrant results than rivals, with good detail captured across its entire (optical) focal range.

There's a pleasing consistency in terms of color, contrast and detail between shots captured with the ultra-wide and that new primary sensor, while telephoto shots adopt a bolder look, with stronger contrast that still equates to pleasing images, although with an unpredictability that the 14's competitors don't suffer from.

In more challenging scenarios, while the 14's macro capture offers good center-frame detail, chromatic aberrations, or color fringing, around the edge of subjects isn't always welcome, while low-light environments did result in exposure hunting from time to time. On the flip side, taking Night Mode shots results in great final images, with this phone only really falling short of category leaders like the Google Pixel 8 Pro.

The phone's stabilization is shown off to great effect in video footage (beyond the impressive capture controls mentioned earlier), while selfies also shine against similar photos from competitors, provided that you're comfortable with Xiaomi's heavier-handed beauty settings as standard – skin tones are accurately represented, but smoothing and blemish-removal algorithms are also clearly enabled by default. Interestingly, you'd assume that the 32MP front-facing sensor would pixel-bin down to 8MP final images, but the Xiaomi 14 unapologetically captures front-facing shots at the sensor's native resolution, and does so with aplomb.

AI camera features

Xiaomi 14 AI Expansion screenshots

Using AI Expansion on the Xiaomi 14 (Image credit: Future | Alex Walker-Todd)

There are also all of the aforementioned (beta) AI imaging abilities that debut on the Xiaomi 14 (practically all of which are accessed from the native Gallery app after capture). AI Expansion lets you punch out of a shot by up to 200% and have the phone's on-device AI processing try to generate new background content that's consistent with the original image. Each generative fill takes around 15 seconds to complete (with tests at 150%) and the results are hit-and-miss – but the fact that they hit as often as they do is what's surprising.

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Xiaomi 14 camera sample Brie

(Image credit: Future | Alex Walker-Todd)

Original image...

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Xiaomi 14 camera sample Brie AI Expansion

(Image credit: Future | Alex Walker-Todd)

...enlarged by 150% using AI Expand on the Xiaomi 14

Then there's AI Portrait, which is undoubtedly one of the most ambitious – and unsettling – AI features I've encountered on a phone. Once you snap around 30 selfies (or at least shots of the same subject with their face visible) and submit them to the AI Portrait creation wizard, it'll use off-device processing to construct an AI-generated simulacrum that – with the help of a written prompt – can be placed into all manner of scenes.

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Xiaomi 14 AI Portrait generation screenshots setup

(Image credit: Future | Alex Walker-Todd)

The processing time to create my (beta) AI Portrait avatar took over an hour...

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Xiaomi 14 AI Portrait generation screenshots results

(Image credit: Future | Alex Walker-Todd)

...but, once done, individual results with the completed avatar took only minutes to generate.

The developmental nature of the AI features coming (as at the time of review, they're still in beta, remember) to the Xiaomi 14 was made clear when the creation time for my AI avatar was cited at over an hour, but once I had it, prompts took around a minute to generate results, once again with varying degrees of success. The feature automatically served up prompts like 'beach resort' and 'northern islands' of its own accord but did a respectable job coming up with convincing images based on my prompt of 'in a kayak' too, as you can see above.

As for how useful this feature is, it's easy to imagine novel scenarios in which your AI Portrait could feature – hilariously implausible holiday snaps on Instagram, for example – but as with any AI-generated imagery, there remain unanswered and ungoverned ethical quandaries surrounding a technology that is evidently already in peoples' hands and will continue to improve in time.

With regards to Xiaomi's specific AI policies, the phone details which devices use solely on-device processing and which rely on the cloud, while the company's AI white paper goes into greater detail around training data-sets and the like. That said, unlike Samsung's Galaxy AI image tools, there's no obvious watermarking to help people discern which images have and haven't been created or altered by Xiaomi's AI, which is something the company should address in a future update, and on future products with AI-enhanced features.

  • Camera score: 4.5 / 5

Xiaomi 14 review: Performance

Xiaomi 14 review gaming Genshin Impact

Genshin Impact on the Xiaomi 14 (Image credit: Future | Alex Walker-Todd)
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 SoC
  • 12GB of LPDDR5X RAM on all models
  • Impressive thermal performance for a compact phone

Although the Xiaomi 14 has the distinction of being first to market with Qualcomm's latest and greatest flagship mobile silicon in the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3, its staggered release meant that by the time it made it to international audiences, rivals with that same cutting-edge chipset were already on store shelves. Even so, this remains one of the most capable phones currently on the market.

HyperOS – like MIUI before it – is pretty hands-on with performance management, with overarching power profiles that limit just how much apps and services can ask of the CPU/GPU/NPU; but even without switching 'performance mode' on, in artificial benchmarks the Xiaomi 14 holds its own against many of the other best Android phones right now – including the Samsung Galaxy S24 and Asus Zenfone 11 Ultra – while other flagships like the Pixel 8 Pro score far weaker across compute and graphical tests.

Real-world use shows that, between the processor and the optimizations HyperOS brings over MIUI, the Xiaomi 14 has more than enough clout to handle demanding everyday use, with the AI features being among the few instances where you'll still find yourself staring at a loading bar for a moment or two.

Xiaomi 14 review Game Turbo

(Image credit: Future | Alex Walker-Todd)

Gaming is a dream on the Xiaomi 14 too, as not only does the phone offer a great visual experience by being on the larger side (within the compact flagship space), but the engineering team has done solid work with the thermal management in spite of the phone's relatively small proportions. Even with Genshin Impact's graphical settings at 'overclocked' (namely by forcing 60fps gameplay) the Xiaomi 14 never got more than a little warm, even after 30 minutes of continuous playtime.

There are also the added benefits of Game Turbo, which can prioritize networking latency, touch response input and, of course, boost performance at the expense of power consumption.

  • Performance score: 5 / 5

Xiaomi 14 review: Battery

Xiaomi 14 review USB-C

(Image credit: Future | Alex Walker-Todd)
  • Larger 4,610mAh battery than predecessor
  • Up to 90W wired and 50W wireless charging
  • 8.5 hours of screen-on time per charge (using Balanced power profile)

Charging speeds and battery capacity have both received a generous generational upgrade, with the standard Xiaomi 14 now matching the Xiaomi 14 Ultra's impressive 90W fast wired charging and up to 50W wireless charging. This means a pleasingly-rapid full recharge is possible in just 40 minutes, while my tests found the phone consistently passed the 50%-charge mark after just 15 minutes. That's in stark contrast to the likes of the iPhone 15, whose 20W wired charging means a full recharge takes over two hours (based on our tests).

The phone doesn't give you its quickest speeds right out the box (although it's still quick to charge); as well as the (included) 90W 'HyperCharge' power adapter, you also have to enable the 'boost charging speed' toggle in the phone's settings menu. This ensures that maximum 90W speeds are made available, with the phone charging on a logarithmic curve – i.e., the lower your Xiaomi's 14's battery percentage is to start with, the faster it'll charge, slowing as it approaches 100%. This ensures that fast charging is most effective when you realize your battery is low and you only have limited time to charge it, while still protecting battery health over the lifetime of the phone.

As for longevity, the Xiaomi 14 puts in a superb effort – especially for a compact smartphone, doling out 8.5 hours of screen-on time in testing. That equates to up to two day's use; particularly if you're willing to toy with the aforementioned power profiles: Performance, Balanced, Battery Saver and Ultra Battery Saver – which limits apps access and background processes to maximize battery life. This is among the best longevity for its size right now, only falling short of the ever-enduring iPhone 15 (which in our tests mustered over 11 hours of screen-on time), however, the Xiaomi is probably the best compact flagship, when you collectively consider battery life and charging performance.

  • Battery score: 5 / 5

Should you buy the Xiaomi 14?

Buy it if...

You want a compact powerhouse
The Xiaomi 14 outpaces the big-name compact phones currently on the market in terms of both value and hardware prowess, so long as you're okay with the slightly shorter update support roadmap, compared to Apple and Samsung's rivals.

You like trying new things
The Xiaomi 14's hardware and software offer near-endless degrees of customization and functionality. HyperOS takes a very different approach to most Android-based smartphone user experiences, but if you put in the time it demands it's an incredibly rich offering.

Battery life and fast charging are high priorities
The Xiaomi 14 probably strikes the best balance of battery longevity and fast charging on the market right now, especially for a phone of its size.

Don't buy it if...

You want the stylish smartphone
Sure, aesthetics are subjective, and while the Xiaomi 14 isn't bad looking, it's squared design feels dated and unexciting. That's not to say it isn't well built and durable, however.

You like a clean easy-to-use OS experience
HyperOS might be far better optimized than MIUI ever was, but many of its predecessor's worst traits persist. The Xiaomi 14 has features upon features, and layers upon layers of menus, and while the breadth of functionality makes it a powerful and versatile phone, not everyone will want to spend time learning its seemingly convoluted way of doing things.

You want AI functionality, right now!
At launch Xiaomi promised a wealth of AI features destined for the Xiaomi 14 series, and while you can get your hands on some of them with a little tinkering, they're still in beta at the time of writing, and not easily accessible if you don't know how to unlock them.

Xiaomi 14 review: Also consider

The Xiaomi 14 has some clear strengths, but also some clearly-defined shortcomings. If you've got this far and think something else might be more your thing, why not consider one of these alternatives.

Apple iPhone 15
The iPhone 15 doesn't exactly need an introduction, but if you like elements of Xiaomi's HyperOS or just want a slimmer, smaller but equally-capable compact flagship, this might be your next phone.

Samsung Galaxy S24
Samsung and Google are arguably the biggest phone makers shouting about AI features right now, and the standard S24 condenses the company's suite of Galaxy AI functions into its most compact flagship form. A slim design, decent cameras and a killer display don't go amiss either.

How I tested the Xiaomi 14

Xiaomi 14 review back angled

(Image credit: Future | Alex Walker-Todd)
  • Review test period: six weeks
  • Testing included: everyday use including web browsing, social media, photography, video calling, gaming, streaming video, music playback
  • Tools used: Geekbench 6, Geekbench ML, GFXBench, native Android stats, Xiaomi 90W charger

Xiaomi was able to provide me with a sample of the Xiaomi 14 just ahead of its international launch, giving me plenty of time to get to grips with the hardware, software, generational upgrades and so on. With the abundance of time available, I've throughly tested the phone while using it as my daily driver over a course of weeks, taking it to social events for camera testing, using it for navigation in my car, gaming around the house and other general smartphone use, from smart home control to social media and web browsing.

It took longer to gain access to some features – namely its promised AI functionality – which I was only able to do once I signed in with my Xiaomi account to the brand's forums and registered for beta access, which then had to be approved, but after that I felt like I was fully able to experience what the Xiaomi 14 promised.

Benchmarking apps is never the be-all-and-end-all, but the results do at least provide an empirical indication of performance that some find useful as a comparison tool. As the user has control over the power state the phone operates in, these benchmarks were carried out in both Balanced and Performance modes, although numerous scores out-paced rivals with the need for Performance mode.

Having reviewed smartphones for well over a decade, including numerous Xiaomi phones, as well as devices from the company's key competition, I felt more than comfortable reviewing this latest Xiaomi flagship, in order to balance its strengths and weaknesses against the market in which it competes.

Read more about how we test

First reviewed March 2024

Xiaomi 14 deals

Onyx Boox Palma review: a tiny ereader like no other
3:39 am |

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

Onyx Boox Palma: One-minute review

There are plenty of 6-inch ereaders, but there’s nothing quite like the Onyx Boox Palma. It mimics a smartphone’s design, right down to a rear camera, side buttons and a speaker on the top bezel. 

With an aspect ratio of 2:1 on its 6.3-inch display as opposed to the roughly 4:3 (technically 8.9:6.7) of other 6-inch ereaders like the Amazon Kindle (2022) or the Kobo Clara 2E, the Palma doesn’t offer as much width while reading. It will, however, allow you to read in both landscape and portrait orientation, a feature that no other 6-inch ereader that I’ve tested offers. 

If you’re someone who regularly reads on your phone only to suffer from eye fatigue, then the Palma is an easy switch to make. For others, the screen might feel too small and narrow. Still, its size is perfectly suited for reading on the go, and it’s remarkably lightweight too. To give it a little more grip, Onyx also has cases that resemble the ones you’d buy for your own phone. 

Compared to a smartphone, the one thing the Palma really can’t do is make calls.

What it can do is get you access to the Google Play Store thanks to running on a lean version of Android 11. So you can download apps, including mobile games, news aggregators for RSS feeds, social media and even messaging apps. It’s got a speedy enough processor and a good amount of memory that allows those apps to run smoothly – although seeing them all displayed like black-and-white print takes a little getting used to.

There really is a case to be made for a device like this, but I think it’s a missed opportunity to not have added stylus support. That truly would have made the Palma unbeatable as a portable note-taking and digital reading device. I think there’s enough room for a stylus like Samsung’s S Pen to be added to the Palma; it would also make its price tag a little more palatable.

A page of a book on the Onyx Boox Palma

(Image credit: Sharmishta Sarkar / TechRadar)

Onyx Boox Palma review: Price and availability

  • Released August 2023; available to buy now
  • List price of $279.99 / AU$499 (around £259)
  • Cases available as part of bundles

At $279.99 / AU$499 (around £259) with a case in the box, the Onyx Boox Palma is an expensive device compared to other 6-inch ereaders, but to be fair, there really is nothing on the market quite like the Palma to compare. Its novelty alone might be justification enough for some users to splurge, but it would have been easier to recommend if it came with stylus support.

Even though access to the Play Store makes this a more versatile ereader than 6-inch alternatives from Amazon and Kobo, and it comes with more storage and a bigger battery than what the aforementioned brands offer, it’s still hard to justify the price. 

To compare, you can pick up the 2022 Kindle with 16GB of storage for $119.99 / £94.99 / AU$179 without ads at full price and the Kobo Clara BW for $129.99 / £119.99 / AU$239.95, with the latter getting you superior screen tech.

• Value score: 3.5 / 5

Rear of the Onyx Boox Palma with camera and flash

(Image credit: Sharmishta Sarkar / TechRadar)

Onyx Boox Palma review: Specs

Onyx Boox Palma review: Design and display

  • Smartphone-like looks with built-in speaker and flash
  • Very lightweight and comfortable to use
  • Rear 16MP camera not best for scanning

Available in both black and white colorways, the Onyx Boox Palma instantly gives up its ereader status thanks to its black-and-white screen. Out of the box you can tell it’s an e-paper display and it feels lighter than an iPhone or Samsung Galaxy handset of similar size.

The 6.13-inch E Ink Carta 1200 display is encased within a plastic body that features two buttons on the right edge (one for power and another for volume/page turns) as well as a customizable function button on the left. Above the function button is a microSD card tray that can add more storage to the 128GB already available on board, although Onyx doesn’t specify how much additional storage is supported. Considering the 6-inch Onyx Boox Poke 5 can support an additional 1TB microSD, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Palma can too.

The buttons and the card tray are silver on the white Palma colorway, adding a touch of color, but no such embellishments are on the black device. For this review, I was sent the white option.

The bottom edge has a USB-C port with OTG support, so you can plug a USB-C storage device directly into the Palma to access files. On either side of the charging port are what appear to be speaker grilles, although only one of them is for audio output, while the other is a mic. The latter might be handy for voice notes, but this device isn't really intended for more common mic needs, like video or audio calls.

USB-C port, mic and speaker grille on the Onyx Boox Palma

(Image credit: Sharmishta Sarkar / TechRadar)

Another speaker is on the top bezel, just where you’d expect to see one on a smartphone, alongside a light sensor. The latter, however, doesn’t seem to be associated with the screen’s auto-brightness, but to enable the LED flash located on the rear. The flash can also act as a torch, which can be switched on via the Onyx Control Center accessible by swiping down from the top right corner of the screen.

Above the flash is a 16MP rear camera that can be used to scan documents and, unlike most phones, isn’t housed in a bump. So the device can lie flat on a table, which is nice. The rear plastic panel is also textured to add some grip, but Onyx has cases (the devices ships with one in the box as a bundle) that add to the heft if you’re after a little more security.

If you’ve been using a grayscale ereader already, you’re probably familiar with ones like the E Ink Carta 1200 used here, which is both responsive and sharp. What's novel here is the screen's 2:1 aspect ratio – there's nothing like it among ereaders, and it'll likely best suit those who like reading on their phone, but it will help reduce the eye fatigue that can occur when staring at an LCD or OLED display for long. I personally find my phone’s screen too small for reading, and I largely felt the same with the Palma, but I have to admit that this little tablet (can you really call it that?) is pocketable and perfect for reading on the go. 

It’s also really light, tipping the scales at 170g without a microSD card, and comfortable to hold. That makes it the perfect travel companion, especially since its 128GB storage can store hundreds of books and audio files. Thanks to its all-plastic build, it might survive an accidental drop better than your phone, but there’s no waterproofing here, much like most other Onyx devices, which is another factor that makes the price point hard to justify.

• Design & display score: 4 / 5

Power and volume buttons on the side of the Onyx Boox Palma

(Image credit: Sharmishta Sarkar / TechRadar)

Onyx Boox Palma review: User experience

  • Simpler interface than other Onyx devices but still complicated
  • Runs Android 11 with access to the Google Play Store
  • Built-in browser and music player

As with other Onyx Boox devices that were released in 2023, the Palma runs a very slimmed-down version of Android 11. Yes, that version’s a little outdated, but Onyx only moved up to Android 12 with the 2024 release of the Onyx Boox Note Air 3 and, in any case, you won’t be using an ereader for anything too financially or personally sensitive – well, I wouldn’t – so there’s probably no need to worry about security issues.

The operating system gives you access to the Google Play Store, available directly on the home screen via its icon. You can download almost any Android app, including the Kobo and Kindle apps so you can log into an existing account and purchase ebooks and other content. There’s also a native browser that will allow you to do the same via other stores. 

You can even download a music streaming service like Spotify and listen without headphones – the Palma can get quite loud! Heck, you could even use a message app that works over Wi-Fi, but note that the device disconnects the moment it’s in Sleep mode, so it may not be the most ideal way to stay in touch with people.

A camera sample on the Onyx Boox Palma

(Image credit: Sharmishta Sarkar / TechRadar)

You can set the volume button to turn pages back and forth, and the function button on the other side can fulfil three different actions from a list of 15 via either a short press, double click or a long press.

The floating toolbar in the native library app on other Onyx devices isn’t offered here, but that’s arguably a good call, as it takes up precious screen space that the Palma can’t spare. A lot of the other customizations I’ve found to be overkill on the other Onyx ereaders have also been trimmed down, and yet there’s still quite a lot going on here. You can customize the home screen widgets, just like on a phone, add a wallpaper, change the power-off image and add a screensaver. I would recommend not bothering with the wallpaper however, as it can affect the way the home screen widgets appear.

The display renders text well and reading on the Palma is a pleasure… provided you like reading on a small screen. Pinch-to-zoom is available, which means you can change font size in the native library app easily.

The Control Center on the Onyx Boox Palma

(Image credit: Sharmishta Sarkar / TechRadar)

You can watch videos on this screen too and also adjust the refresh rate to be faster for specific apps, but don’t expect the refresh rate to match what you’d get from your phone. YouTube videos are, for the most part, fine to watch on the Palma, but it’s all obviously in black and white. It's a similar situation with playing mobile games on the Palma – while it's quite responsive and its processor handles graphics remarkably well, something that really impressed me, we can't imagine wanting to use this for anything other than simple games (like puzzle, word or card games) without much animation.

What didn’t impress, however, was the uneven screen lighting. There are random bits throughout the screen that aren't as bright as rest, which largely isn't an issue while reading, but can make a difference if you're, say, playing a game on the Palma. The Palma has the same Moon Light 2 tech used in other Onyx ereaders, and I’ve not had an issue with the smaller devices like the 6-inch Poke 5 and the Onyx Boox Page, so it’s a little surprising that the LEDs on the Palma aren’t as effective.

I would have also really liked to see stylus support here for writing and note-taking.

• User interface score: 4 / 5

Onyx Boox Palma review: Performance

  • Fast and responsive 
  • Good refresh rates for most tasks
  • Handles graphics well

The Palma has a decent processor in the form of a 2GHz 8-core Qualcomm CPU with integrated graphics. That’s a phone-grade chip that's plenty for most ereaders and, paired with 6GB of RAM, is enough to handle mobile games with some heavy graphics requirements. For example, I downloaded Sky: Children of the Light, which is a resonably graphics-intensive game and, despite the lack of colors, it was easy to play on the Palma. The device did get a little warm, but no more than what my iPhone 13 Max gets when playing the same game.

On-screen controls while playing were smooth, which is the same case when doing anything else that needs fast response times. Whether typing via the on-screen keyboard or navigating using gestures and taps, the display is responsive and peppy. I experienced no lag at any time during my weeks-long testing. 

Onyx Boox Palma display versus the Kobo Clara Colour

The Kobo Clara Colour alongside the Onyx Boox Palma (Image credit: Sharmishta Sarkar / TechRadar)

Onyx has an array of refresh rates it offers on most of its devices, which I’ve previously said don’t do much to reduce ghosting. That thankfully wasn't an issue on the Palma, as I experienced no ghosting while reading or when navigating between apps and screens.

As I’ve already mentioned, the speaker can get loud and doesn’t sound too bad – the sound quality and volume are similar to a lot of budget phones out there. I’d still pair a set of Bluetooth headphones with it though, as I personally like bass, which the Palma doesn’t offer much of. For listening to audiobooks and podcasts, however, that speaker is great.

Overall, the performance here is better than the brand’s own 6-inch Onyx Boox Poke 5 ereader, and a touch better than the 2022 Kindle or the Kobo Clara 2E. I’ve been testing the new Kobo Clara Colour alongside the Palma and, while I can’t compare the two devices as the screens are different, both devices are on par in speed and responsiveness.

The rear camera is intended to be used to scan documents; it isn't meant for taking actual photos like a phone can, and there's no native camera app. Unfortunately, it isn't great at scanning. The included DocScan app lets you take photos, which you can edit and export as PDFs. There is also OCR (optical character recognition) available within DocScan to convert words within the image into text, but the final results were quite garbled and nonsensical in my testing. I think I'd stick with my iPhone for quick document scans instead.

OCR on the scan app of the Onyx Boox Palma

(Image credit: Sharmishta Sarkar / TechRadar)

Battery life is where most Onyx Boox tablets shine, and that’s the case here as well. If you’re just reading on the Palma for say, 30 minutes a day, you can easily eke out two months of reading, if not more, on a single charge – even with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth on all the time. In my case, I used it to read, listen to music, play mobile games and browse the web, and I still got about 6 weeks of use, with the battery dropping to 20% from full – so I still had a ways to go before it ran dry.

Topping it up can take a while, depending on how low you let the battery level drop. It took over two hours to go from 30% to full when plugged into a 65W wall adapter and using a good quality USB cable, but then it is a larger battery than most such devices typically use. A progress notification is visible on the display when in Sleep mode as soon as you plug the Palma in for a charge.

A graphics-heavy game on the Onyx Boox Palma

(Image credit: Sharmishta Sarkar / TechRadar)

Should I buy the Onyx Boox Palma?

Buy it if...

Don't buy it if...

Also consider

It’s a little hard to compare the Onyx Boox Palma to other devices because it has no real counterparts. However, because it’s an ereader at heart, I’ve listed a few alternatives to consider if you’re not sold on the Palma.

How I tested the Onyx Boox Palma

Onyx Boox Palma wallpaper and apps

(Image credit: Sharmishta Sarkar / TechRadar)
  • Used every day for three weeks, intermittently for a more extended period
  • Used it to read, listen to music and play mobile games
  • Downloaded other apps from the Play Store to use

I’ve had the Onyx Boox Palma for a couple of months now and have used it on and off since it arrived. However, for the purposes of this review, I used it every single day for about three weeks to read, listen to music and audiobooks, and download apps from the Play Store.

These included the Kindle and Kobo apps so I could access my existing libraries on both platforms, but I also sideloaded some ebook titles to read via the native library application. The other apps I used were Dropbox and a notes application.

To test the device’s performance, I also downloaded a graphics-intensive mobile game and played it for about 20 minutes. The other content I had on the Palma included music files so I could test the native player, as well as the speaker performance.

To test the rear camera’s performance, I used it to scan a printout and a page from an appliance manual. I also tried the OCR feature on both and tested how easy it is to export or share these documents.

Read more about how we test

[First reviewed April 2024]

Bulk Crap Uninstaller Review
3:01 pm | April 18, 2024

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

Uninstalling software from Windows should be easy, but sometimes it is not. Windows 11’s built-in software removal feature can often leave traces of the uninstalled software behind. This might be registry entries, or hidden data within your Windows profile directory. 

As more and more of this orphaned data accumulates, your PC can slow down, which is where third-party uninstallers come in. One example is Bulk Crap Uninstaller, a utility that uninstalls software from Windows, including Windows Store apps.

While alternative tools are available from large software publishers, Bulk Crap Uninstaller is maintained by Marcin Szeniak, a solo Polish developer. 

Also known as BC Uninstaller and BCU, this is free and open-source software for Windows that is hosted on GitHub.

Bulk crap uninstaller: Plans and pricing

As noted, Bulk Crap Uninstaller is a free application, released under the Apache 2.0 open-source license. It is offered by the developer for use in private and commercial environments, with no obligations, providing the license is not breached.

Power users and organizations may wish to support development of the software. This is possible by making a donation, either by PayPal or Bitcoin, via the BC Uninstaller home page. You can also send a gift within the app via the Steam store.

Two versions of BCU are available: a standard version for installation, and a portable version that runs from a USB stick.

Bulk crap uninstaller: Features

Bulk Crap Uninstaller

(Image credit: Bulk Crap Uninstaller)

An incredible number of features are included in Bulk Crap Uninstaller, putting many paid alternatives to shame.

Installed application detection

If you’re removing software with a third-party utility, it needs to be able to detect everything that is installed on Windows. Bulk Crap Uninstaller can find normal apps, those that are hidden or protected, portable software, Windows Store/Universal Windows Platform apps, Windows updates, Oculus games and apps, and Steam games and apps. It can also handle software installed via the command line tool Chocolatey.

A restore point can be set, and a backup of the system registry made before software is removed. 

Automatic uninstalling

The main purpose of this tool is to remove software that you don’t want installed on your PC. Bulk Crap Uninstaller deals with pretty much anything, from single to batch removal of applications, with minimal user input if preferred.

Applications without uninstallers can be removed, and the tool can even uninstall software based on an app window, shortcut, or directory. Hanging and crashing uninstallers can be handled, and there is also a force removal feature for tough-to-shift software.

As soon as applications are removed, the BC Uninstaller checks for leftovers and prompts you to permit removal of these elements.

Startup manager

A useful startup manager is included in this utility, to see what software is running when Windows boots. While this information can also be found in Windows itself, this is a good way to quickly identify problematic software and remove it without switching between the two tools.

Portable version

As noted, there is a portable version of BC Uninstaller. This handles all of the same tasks as the installed version. To make the software portable, its settings are stored in a single file. It is, therefore, possible to make the “installed” version portable if necessary.

Built in manual

While similar tools have online documentation, they don’t usually provide information to the same depth as the manual provided with Bulk Crap Uninstaller. When you consider that this is the work of one guy, it’s quite an accomplishment. Better still, it’s very useful.

System requirements

Bulk Crap Uninstaller is designed to run on Windows 11, and any version of Windows since Vista. 32-bit and 64-bit versions are supported.

For use on older hardware, the minimum requirements are 300MB of RAM, 50MB of storage. It should run with any CPU. Note that Microsoft .NET 4.0 or above is recommended. The portable version has the same requirements.

BCU also supports multiple languages.

Bulk crap uninstaller: Support

First and foremost, Bulk Crap Uninstaller’s developer has provided a surprisingly detailed online user manual.

But what about actual customer support? This is a tricky factor to assess for open source software. No easy avenue for user support is available with Bulk Crap Uninstaller. Instead, you will need to open a discussion on the GitHub project page.

For most people, this will not be intuitive, as the environment is designed for developers and beta testers, rather than standard end users.

If you have technical insight, this shouldn’t be a problem; if you’re just looking for a friendly support assistant to guide you through, this isn’t the software for you. 

Bulk crap uninstaller: Competition

Perhaps the most surprising thing about Bulk Crap Uninstaller is that it seems to be the only such free and open-source tool for Windows. While software giants are issuing updates to their software year-on-year, with features (and even support) accessible only to premium users, BC Uninstaller is free, as in beer. 

That’s a major feather in Bulk Crap Uninstaller’s cap. But how does it compare on a functional level with tools like IObit Uninstaller or another free tool, Glarysoft Software Uninstaller?

Well, the sheer volume of free features here basically blows the other tools into the water. The alternatives are too numerous to mention specifics, but even against the two competitors mentioned above, Bulk Crap Uninstaller wins on features and ease of use.

But if you’re used to hands-on customer support, BC Uninstaller is not the tool for you. 

Bulk crap uninstaller: Final verdict

If you’re not used to the potential of open-source software, then Bulk Crap Uninstaller’s considerable scope of features may come as a surprise. After all, while there is open source software on Windows, there isn’t that much of it.

But it isn’t just the open-source status of this software, or that it is maintained by one person. Bulk Crap Uninstaller is simply brilliant at what it does, identifying applications and their uninstallers and removing them with as many (or as few) clicks as you want.

It isn’t as pretty as, say, CCleaner, and there isn’t anything that can be realistically described as customer support. But this is potentially the best software uninstaller for Windows that you will find, and it is as free as you want it to be.

Nike Ultrafly review: The carbon-plated off-road cruiser
2:05 pm |

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets Health & Fitness | Tags: , , | Comments: Off

One minute review

If you’re the kind of runner who prefers to head out to the trails for hours as opposed to tackling the same stretch of pavement, the Nike Ultrafly is made for you.

The Ultrafly is designed to handle up to ultra distances including racing, grabbing elements from Nike’s best running shoes like its ZoomX foam and a carbon plate, which on paper makes it sound like a Vaporfly for the trails.

I’ve used a bunch of Nike’s trail shoes including the long distance, off-road focused Nike Wildhorse 8 and the ZoomX-packing Nike Zegama Trail. While I’ve enjoyed my time in the new Ultrafly, it’s not quite the shoe I thought it would be: it's not zippy and quick like the Vaporfly is on roads, but it is a workhorse. 

Nike Ultrafly: Specifications

Nike Ultrafly: Price and availability

  • Priced at $250 in the US
  • £229.95 in the UK
  • AU$330 in Australia

The Nike Ultrafly launched in July 2023 in limited quantities before going on wider release in August, priced at £229.95 / $250 / AU$ 330. 

That put it around the same price as Nike’s Vaporfly road running shoe and also makes it pricier than standout trail shoes like the Hoka Speedgoat 5 and the Nike Wildhorse 8, another Nike trail shoe designed for long distance running.

  • Value score: 3.5/5

Nike Ultrafly: Design

Nike Ultrafly

(Image credit: Michael Sawh)
  • Vaporweave upper
  • Vibram Megagrip outsole
  • Nike ZoomX foam

While the Ultrafly is built for the trails, it definitely has the look of one of Nike’s road shoes. There’s just the two colourway options, both with a mostly white upper that thankfully hasn’t become caked in mud as the trails I’ve tested them on have been mostly the dry and hard kind.

Dealing with the key specs, it’s got a 8.5mm drop: that’s 38.5mm at the heel and 30mm at the forefoot, so it’s a chunky shoe. For comparison, the ultra-focused Nike Wildhorse 8 has an 8mm drop coming in at 35.5mm at the heel and 27.5mm at the forefoot.

Nike uses an upper made from Vaporweave, which is built from a mixture of plastics and is similar to the upper material used on its road running shoes like the Zoom Fly and the first generation Vaporfly. While the upper looks pretty low volume, there’s a nice bit of stretch to it and it’s nice and roomy up front, making it ideal for going long where feet can swell and you need that extra space.

While the Ultrafly opens up at the toes, it narrows at the midfoot and at the heel to offer a good lockdown with not overly generous padding at the heel collar to offer some comfort further back. The laces are the standard kind that sit on top of a skinny tongue that offers some padding on top to make sure you don’t feel those laces if they’re tightly tied.

For the midsole, Nike is using the ZoomX foam it uses on its successful Vaporfly, Alphafly and Invincible road shoes. That midsole is wrapped in fabric to protect the foam and is designed to make it feel more stable than Nike’s road shoes. Nike also places a Carbon Flyplate between that ZoomX and fabric-wrapped midsole to help deliver smoother transitions.

In an interesting move from Nike, it included a Vibram Megagrip outsole to deliver off-road grip. Nike typically uses its own outsole technology, which I’ve had mixed experiences with. The decision to go with Vibram on the Ultrafly seems like a wise move as it’s the same outsole technology featured on other standout trail shoes including the Hoka Speedgoat 5.

Weight-wise, the Ultrafly weighed in at 282g in my UK size 8, which is lighter than something like the Nike Wildhorse 8, which weighed in at almost 320g in a UK size 8. While not super-light, it definitely didn’t feel heavy during runs and was comfortable enough to walk around in as well.

  •  Design score: 4/5

Nike Ultrafly: Performance

Nike Ultrafly

(Image credit: Michael Sawh)
  • Smooth, stable and consistent ride
  • ZoomX isn’t bouncy like Nike road shoes
  • Outsole works well on moderate trails and roads

If you’re hoping that the Ultrafly is going to give you that feeling of running in one of Nike’s carbon racing shoes, then that’s simply not the case here. This isn’t an aggressive, speed shoe that delivers an extremely bouncy feeling. It’s different, but in a good way.

I haven’t run an ultra in it, instead focusing on getting as much time on my feet as my current state of running fitness permits, maxing out a couple of hours on a mixture of trail surfaces. I’ve also been mixing in some road time and taking in some lighter, more challenging trail terrain. The first thing you notice about the Ultrafly is that it doesn’t feel built like Nike’s other trail shoes. That’s largely down to the roominess of that toe box.

The ZoomX foam typically delivers a very bouncy ride, just like it does in the Vaporfly and Invincible, but things are slightly more tempered here. Unfortunately, it just doesn’t deliver the same lively ride. What it does instead is provide comfort and that’s really what you need over longer distances. 

As a package, it’s smooth and stable. It’s certainly not one that feels equipped for all-out speed and is better suited to cruising and moving at slightly more up-tempo speeds. It’s not super light or nimble, but it’s not overly heavy either to make it a taxing shoe to have on your feet as you roll through the miles.

It’s great to see that Nike has opted to plant on a Vibram outsole, which features on some of the best trail shoes in the business and feels like a step up in general on Nike’s trail shoe outsoles. The 3.5mm lugs aren’t exceptionally deep, which makes handling some road time in them absolutely fine, and in general, the grip was good across a mixture of terrain including mud, rockier surfaces, and tackling some hills. I do feel like on more technical trails and likely muddier ones, you’re going to want something a little more aggressive in the outsole department though.

In terms of protection on the trails, there doesn’t seem to be a huge amount going on here and plays into the idea that this is one best suited to lighter and more moderate routes as opposed to the more technical kind. Yes, the upper looks great and uses material that’s designed to prevent rips, but Nike does go pretty light on the protective features here.

Overall though, it’s a shoe that I’ve enjoyed spending time in. It does feel like a bit of a cruiser of a shoe that’s comfortable enough to wear outside of runs, and prioritizes offering a consistent feel from a not-too-heavy design that makes it ideal for long distance runs. It feels like a good start for the Ultrafly line with room to tweak things and for it to evolve to be a truly standout trail shoe to justify picking it up over other trail shoes that cost less.

  • Performance score: 4/5 

Nike Ultrafly: Scorecard

Nike Ultrafly: Should I buy?

Nike Ultrafly

(Image credit: Michael Sawh)

Buy it if...

Don't buy it if...

Also consider

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