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Braun TriForce / PowerBlend 9 blender review
11:41 am | June 10, 2024

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

Braun TriForce Power Blender: two-minute review

This blender has slightly different names and product codes in different territories:

US: Braun TriForce Power Blender JB9040BK
UK: Braun PowerBlend 9 jug blender JB9040
AU: Braun PowerBlend 9 Jug blender JB9042

We tested the UK version. Be aware there may be minor differences between different countries' models.

The Braun TriForce Power Blender (known as the Braun PowerBlend 9 in the UK and Australia) brings all the benefits of the best blenders with a few extras, such as a hot Soup mode and Chop function, thrown in. It's a highly customizable appliance, offering 18 preset blending options – six presets with three texture settings for each – plus 10 manual speeds, a Pulse feature and Clean mode. It comes with 2-liter triangular Tritan jug, a fixed blade and tamper.

The TriForce Power Blender is the flagship model in Braun's countertop jug blender range. Its unique triangular, 2-liter jug sets it apart from other blenders I’ve used. Not just in terms of design, but also because this shape makes sure food rarely gets stuck to the sides. Everything is pulled towards the blades and blended quickly – up to four times faster than rival models, according to Braun. 

It offers a wide range of intuitive presets – Smoothie, Soup, Chop, Ice Crush, Frozen Dessert, and Spread – making it super easy to not only make a selection of drinks, dips, butters, desserts at the touch of a button, but to get your ideal consistency time and again. During my tests, it produced an almost perfect smoothie in seconds, despite some tiny flecks of kale; its Spread setting is brilliant for making hummus because it cycles through blending and pulsing; and its Ice Crush feature worked as expected. The ice wasn't as powdery as on other blenders I've tried, but it wasn't far off. 

Braun TriForce Power Blender on a kitchen counter

(Image credit: Future)

Elsewhere, you can easily set or change the consistency of anything you make by cycling through the different textures – Smooth, Medium and Coarse – and the manual speeds are varied enough to bring an extra level of precision. The hot soup function is also a pleasant surprise. It turned cubes of vegetables and stock into warm, tasty, comforting soup in less than six minutes. Minimal hassle, minimal mess. 

Speaking of mess, the TriForce Power Blender's Clean mode works really well, which is a welcome feature considering you can't remove the blades to clean underneath them. You can also put the jug safely in the dishwasher. 

Despite its wide array of features, the TriForce is surprisingly compact, fitting neatly under my cabinets and light enough to move around and store easily. It measures 16.9 x 7.9 x 7.9" / ‎43 x 20 x 20 cm (H x W x D) and weighs 10.1lbs / 4.6kg. The anti-slip feet and tidy cord storage are thoughtful touches that make it practical and safe for everyday use. 

Ice cubes in the Braun TriForce Power Blender

(Image credit: Future)

This blender can get loud, especially at higher speeds, reaching as high as 105db. This is equivalent to having a car horn blasting in your kitchen, which can be uncomfortable at times. But since it blends so quickly, at least it’s a short-lived racket.

In sort, if you're looking for a high-performance blender that can do it all and a little more, and are happy to invest a bit more to get it, the Braun TriForce Power Blender is a great choice. It's a powerful, intuitive addition to your kitchen and while it's far from cheap, it is at least good value, specially if you can get it for one of the many discounts being offered regularly from third-party retailers. That's the short version – read on for my full Braun TriForce / PowerBlend review.

Braun TriForce Power Blender review: price & availability

  • List price: $249.95 / £199.99 / AU$299
  • Available in US, UK and Australia

There are three Braun countertop blenders – the $99.95 entry-level Braun PureMix Power Blender (JB7200), the standard $249.95 Braun TriForce Power Blender (JB9040BK) and the $299.95 TriForce Power Blender with Smoothie2Go accessory (JB9040BK). This accessory turns the jug blender into a personal blender for an extra $50. I reviewed the standard TriForce model. 

As 2-liter jug blenders go, the TriForce is one of the more expensive models on the market. Few countertop blenders exceed the $200 mark with the exception of those from high-end brands such as Vitamix and Smeg with the $649 Vitamix A3300 Ascent Series, or the $429.95 Smeg Professional Blender. The closest Braun rival, in terms of size and features is the Ninja HB150C/HB152 Foodi Heat-iQ Blender and this sells for $198. It's slightly smaller, but has more automated settings.  

In the US, you can buy the TriForce Power Blender from Braun directly, or via a number of third-party resellers including Walmart, Amazon and Target. At the time of writing, the TriForce Power Blender was being sold across these third-party sites for as much as $70 less than its RRP. In fact, only Braun was selling it for its full price. 

In the UK, and Australia, the appliance is known as the Braun PowerBlend 9 and you can buy it directly from Braun, as well as Amazon, Debenhams and AO in the UK. In Australia, you can buy it from Braun, Harvey Norman and Appliances Online. Again, few sites in the UK and Australia regularly sell the PowerBlend 9 for its RRP and some regularly sell it for ~£100/AU$150 less. 

The Braun TriForce Power Blender is a powerful appliance with a wide range of features that elevate it beyond a simple jug blender. From a hot soup function to a food processor-style chopping feature.  As a result, it has a price to match. There are cheaper blenders that perform well against the Braun, but there are also more expensive models that don't live up to its performance. So, while $249.95 seems a little high, it is decent value and you get some of the benefits of multiple appliances for the price of one. Plus, with a number of sites regularly dropping the price, you could get a really good deal. 

  • Value for money score: 4 out of 5

Braun TriForce Power Blender specifications

Braun TriForce Power Blender review: design & features

  • 1600w motor, 2 liter BPA-Free Tritan jug
  • 10 manual blending speeds + 6 presets, 3 textures, Pulse and Clean
  • Triangular jug with fixed blades

The first thing I noticed about the Braun TriForce Power Blender is its triangular, 2-liter jug. Most jug blenders have circular or boxy jugs yet Braun has deliberately designed its jug in a way that means food rarely gets stuck to the sides. This is because the sides bring the food closer to the blades, and thus it's constantly being pulled back towards the center due to the centrifugal force. Braun claims this guarantees "faster blended results in less time."  

The BPA-Free Tritan triangular jug then slides and locks into place on top of a rubber triangular base, while the jug's lid, complete with small, detachable cap, locks onto the base via two large clips on each side. 

Circular cap on the Braun TriForce Power Blender's lid

(Image credit: Future)

Below the jug is a touchscreen display and rotating dial. Along the display are each of the preset buttons – Smoothie, Soup, Chop, Ice Crush, Frozen Dessert, and Spread – and while I appreciate how self-explanatory they all are, I don't love the use of lowercase font throughout. It's a very minor, almost ridiculous complaint, but it makes the machine look less professional than its price would suggest.

Below these buttons are the Manual and Pulse buttons above the Clean button, on the right-hand side, and the Start/Stop button that doubles up as the control dial in the center. This dial can be used to set the manual speed, when Manual mode is selected, or used to switch between the blender's three iTexture settings: Smooth, Medium or Coarse.  

This mix of presets and textures takes the total possible number of automated settings to 18. This extends to 29 settings when you add in the 10 manual speeds and the Pulse function. This is a very impressive number and could feel overwhelming. However, by making every button and setting easy to use and identify, Braun has avoided over-complicating things. This intuitive design even encouraged me to experiment with different settings without fear of breaking it or something going drastically wrong. 

Controls on the Braun TriForce Power Blender

(Image credit: Future)

Despite its 2-liter jug and panel of impressive controls, the blender is surprisingly compact measuring 16.9 x 7.9 x 7.9" / ‎43 x 20 x 20cm (H x W x D). It should fit easily under most kitchen cupboards, even with the jug attached, and will sit neatly in a corner. 

It's a lightweight blender too. The base and jug together weigh 10.1lb / 4.6 kg and this makes it easy to move around your countertop, or if you want to store it in a drawer or cupboard. It then has anti-slip feet on the bottom of the base, and a 3ft / 1m cord. Such is its compact and portable nature, the blender was one of the few appliances I was able to leave out on my limited countertops when my kitchen was being remodeled.  

The use of black plastic and rubber follows suit with the majority of blenders on the market and while this means it will blend into most aesthetics, it's hardly groundbreaking. The only element that gives the TriForce Power Blender a touch of flair is the green light used to illuminate the Start-Stop button and speed dial. That's not to say it's ugly; rather if you want something with striking looks, this blender may not be for you.

It's also a shame that the blades aren't removable but, thanks to the built-in cleaning mode and the fact the jug is dishwasher-safe, this is another minor flaw that's easily remedied. 

  • Design score: 4.5 out of 5

Braun TriForce Power Blender review: performance

  • Almost faultless results across various blending tests
  • Blends quickly and effectively
  • Presets perform better than manual settings

For my first test of the Braun TriForce Power Blender, I made a kale, blueberry and banana smoothie with almond milk. I add all of the ingredients to the jug, pressed the Smoothie button, selected the Smooth texture, and pushed the Start button. In as little as 20 seconds, the drink looked smooth and well blended but I let the Smoothie setting run to its default time of one minute before pouring the drink. 

The resulting drink was almost velvety in texture. I could see tiny flecks of kale and blueberry skin when I looked at the drink, but they were so small I couldn't taste them. If you choose the Medium texture, the total blending time is 44 seconds, and for Coarse it's 42 seconds. I was impressed by how quickly the blender achieved these results, and in my experience it lives up to the brand's claim that it creates food "60% finer and four times faster" than other models. 

Making a kale, blueberry and banana smoothie in the Braun TriForce Power Blender

(Image credit: Future)

Next, I made hummus. I usually have to use a manual setting when making hummus on most blenders I review because they rarely have an appropriate, dedicated setting. On the Braun TriForce Power Blender I used the Spread setting, which the instruction manual says is designed for hummus, pesto and nut butters, and the blender ran for 2 minutes and 20 seconds cycling through a pattern of blending and pulsing. 

The resulting hummus was the perfect consistency. It was smooth but thick, making it ideal for dipping vegetable sticks into, while also coating the inside of my mouth with flavor. What's more, I didn't once have to stop the blender to scrape the mixture from the edges, or press it down using the tamper. 

Hummus made in the Braun TriForce Power Blender

(Image credit: Future)

Finally, I used the blender to make crushed ice using the Ice Crush setting. This setting causes the blender to operate in short bursts for 25 seconds to crush the ice to a powder. It worked well, in terms of quickly and effectively blending the ice cubes, but the result was less powdery than other blenders I've used. It was closer to the consistency of a sorbet. There is a very subtle distinction between the two, but whereas other blenders have turned the cubes to light powder, the Braun's crushed ice was more wet so stuck together in clumps. You can easily use it to make frozen drinks but I felt the texture was slightly off.

In addition to the above tests, I also wanted to put the TriForce Power Blender's Soup function to the test. The brand claims you can turn room-temperature ingredients into hot soup in almost six minutes. I tested this by adding chunks of cooked butternut squash, garlic, onion, carrot and a liter of vegetable stock to the blender. I pressed the Soup button, pushed Start and the blender began by chopping the ingredients, before blending and slowly heating them for five minutes and 45 seconds. The result was a slightly coarse, warm soup that lacked some of the depth of soup made on a stove, but was still tasty and comforting. 

Ice cubes in the Braun TriForce Power Blender

(Image credit: Future)

The only real downside to all of these pros is how loud the TriForce blender can be. On Speed 1 in Manual mode, it's relatively quiet, averaging 63dB.  It was easy to have a conversation with my partner or children while the blender was running at this speed. 

However, during my Smoothie and hummus tests, this sound jumped up to an average of 97db. This is equivalent to the sound of a motorcycle engine and feels uncomfortable in such a confined space like my kitchen. On Manual Mode, Speed 9, the average reading was 91db, and it jumped to an average of 105db when crushing the ice cubes. This is equivalent to a phone playing at full volume and just below the sound of a car horn. Any sounds over 85dB for extended periods can cause hearing problems. 

Thankfully, because the blender works so quickly and efficiently, these sounds run for less time than they do on other models so at least you don't have to be subjected to them for longer than necessary. 

Overall, the TriForce blender's performance is a little hit and miss but largely positive. I was worried, given its wide range of features, that it would be a Jack of all trades, master of none but this is far from the case. I also appreciate the different ways I can customise my drinks and food and this makes up for any of the blender's shortcomings in my opinion and experience. Mainly because if I want a different texture, or the presets don't work as I want, I have a range of ways to correct it and tweak it until they do. 

  • Performance score: 4.5 out of 5

Should I buy the Braun TriForce Power Blender?

Buy it if...

Don’t buy it if...

How I tested the Braun TriForce Power Blender

  • I used it to blend drinks, food and ice
  • I checked the noise level at different speeds
  • I assessed how easy it was to clean

I used the Braun TriForce Power Blender in my own home for four weeks, making smoothies, sauces, hummus, soup and crushed ice. 

I assessed how simple it was to set the blender up, how easy and intuitive it is to navigate the different presets and textures, how well it performed different tasks, its noise levels and how easy it was to clean. 

I’ve been reviewing home and kitchen appliances for more than 15 years and have a wealth of knowledge and experience to draw on when assessing how well a product such as a blender performs. 

Read more about how we test

First reviewed May 2024

Nutribullet Ultra blender review
12:38 pm | May 10, 2024

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

UK: view at Nutribullet.co.uk

US: view at Nutribullet.com

AU: View at Nutribullet.com.au

Nutribullet Ultra review: two-minute review

The Nutribullet Ultra is the brand's most advanced, and expensive, personal blender. Compared to the others in the range, it's more powerful, quieter, and boasts a touchscreen operation with 30-second and pulse functions, rather than the usual twist-to-blend approach.

I tried it out to see how it compared to the rest of the best blenders on the market right now. For this review, I tested the UK version. This model is also available in the US under the same name, and Australia as the Ultra 1200. (Note: there may be minor differences depending on territory.)

Overall, I was impressed. The lower-frequency noise it emits is certainly not whisper-quiet, but it is noticeably quieter than the model down (read about that one in my Nutribullet Pro 900 review). 

The 1200-watt motor and improved blade design worked as intended, blitzing ingredients instantly, creating silky smoothies and textured dips. It performed well for all recipes I was making, but I did have to intervene on occasion, with the ingredients lower down being blended smoothly, but those at the top never reaching the blades. On the occasions that this happened, I added more liquid and gave the cup a shake to get things moving again.

The design is still recognizably 'Nutribullet', but an updated version, complete with a glowing interface that only comes alive when the cup is clicked onto the base. Press the solid circle icon for a 30-second blitz, or hold the dashed circle to pulse. Although cool to look at, I found these controls a little too sensitive – I had to make sure my fingers didn’t accidentally touch them when I was putting the cup on the base.

At ticket price it costs $149.99 / £149.99 / AU$189.95, but there are discounts to be have if you buy at the right time. It's the priciest individual Nutribullet blender, but it looks and feels premium, and I think the upgrades are worth the expense. Read on for my full Nutribullet Ultra review. 

Nutribullet Ultra review: price & availability

  • List price: $149.99 / £149.99 / AU$189.95
  • Launch date: 2023
  • Availability: worldwide 

Nutribullet sells a wide range of personal blenders, jug blenders, food processors and juicers. The cheapest option, the Nutribullet Go portable blender, costs from $15.99 / £29.99, but the Nutribullet Ultra is the brand’s premium blender, and more expensive. At list price, it's $149.99 / £149.99 / AU$189.95, although at time of writing, discounts were available in some territories. At the time of writing, you can purchase it direct from Nutribullet, or via third party retailers like Amazon.

I think its price is reasonable for a personal blender that has a high-end finish. It feels well-made and the improvements over the rest of the Nutribullet range feel worth the extra investment. The blade is designed to last longer than an entry-level Nutribullet blender, so you could be making savings in the longer term, too. 

  • Value for money score: 4.5 out of 5

Nutribullet Ultra review: design

  • Redesigned 'Rapid Extractor Blade' for fast and effective blending
  • Includes two Tritan Renew cups, made from 50% recycled materials 
  • Stylish glow interface for pulsing and blending 

The Nutribullet is very easy on the eye. It comes with a sophisticated graphite finish base with touch interface (other personal Nutribullets don't have this), and it looks high-end on the countertop. Suction cup feet stop it from shifting about when in use. Setting up the Nutribullet is easy and intuitive – all the parts twist or click into place nicely.

It comes with a 1200-watt motor and a ‘Rapid Extractor’ blade, with a stainless-steel platform and titanium coating. This is designed to increase longevity of the blade – Nutribullet says it'll last for up to five years – as well as ensuring your blends are fast and effective. This blade is sharp, so you’ll need to take care when washing it, but its design makes it very effective at breaking up ingredients. 

Nutribullet Ultra blender in reviewer's kitchen

(Image credit: Future)

The included cups both come with to-go lids, which is great for smoothie-lovers who want to just blend and go, without having to decant to another container. They are at the larger end of Nutribullet's range – you don't get the single-serve 'Short' cup (18oz / 511ml), but you do get the 'Tall' (24oz / 680ml) and 'Oversized' (32oz / 900ml) cups. That's good news if you want to tackle larger blending jobs, but you can purchase all cups separately, so it shouldn't be a decision-maker when choosing which Nutribullet to go for. 

Cleaning

In terms of cleaning, the cups and blade are dishwasher-safe. However, it's worth rinsing everything off immediately after use, because if you leave food to dry on the blade, it can be tricky to get off. There have been times when I haven’t rinsed the cups before popping them in the dishwasher and they’ve come out dry with caked-on pancake mixture residue left on the inside, and the inner nooks and crannies of the blades are tricky to get into if food gets dried on, too (a small brush would be useful for this).   

  • Design score: 4.5 out of 5

Nutribullet Ultra review: performance

  • Quieter in operation than your average blender 
  • Excellent for smoothies and hummus, struggled a little with ice
  • Food can get stuck to the sides

The Nutribullet Ultra is one of the most satisfying personal blenders I’ve tried. It looks and feels premium, and this is reflected in the performance too. To give it a good trial, I made both homemade humus and a berry smoothie to see how well it could blend to a smooth finish and pulse for a more textured finish. The berries were frozen to get a good indicator of how well it crushes frozen ingredients, but I also tested it to see how well it could grind a batch of ice cubes too. 

Nutribullet highlights how quiet this blender is. While it's not something you’d want to turn on next to a sleeping baby, I did find the Nutribullet noticeably quieter in operation compared to other blenders I've tested. While making a berry smoothie on the 30-second blend setting I measured it at an average of 88.9 decibels using the Decibel Meter App. Comparatively, I measured the Nutribullet 1200 Pro+ at around 93.3 decibels on a similar blend, and my Ninja 3 in 1 Food Processor with Auto-IQ at a lofty 99 decibels.

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Nutribullet Ultra blender in reviewer's kitchen

(Image credit: Future)
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Nutribullet Ultra blender in reviewer's kitchen

(Image credit: Future)
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Nutribullet Ultra blender in reviewer's kitchen

(Image credit: Future)

I adapted Nutribullet's own recipe for Easy Hummus to see how well the Ultra performs when tackling chunky chickpeas, garlic and combining them with smoother ingredients such as tahini and oil. Unlike other Nutribullets I’ve tried, which start blending when you twist the cup and into place, the Ultra waits for you to press the start buttons before it turns on. If, like me, you’re someone who likes to go at their own pace when prepping in the kitchen, this is something you’ll no doubt appreciate. 

The blender has a ‘glow interface’ and the two touchscreen buttons appear when you click the cups into place on the base. It’s worth noting that the buttons are quite sensitive and I did find myself accidentally starting the blender on the odd occasion. The main blend setting only runs for 30 seconds, however, so if you do accidentally press it, it won’t run for long and is easy to stop. 

On my first go, the chickpeas got stuck at the top of the cup and I realized I hadn’t included enough liquid for it to blend effectively. After adding a bit more oil and a splash of water, I was able to tap the pulse setting to create short, intermittent pulses until the humus reached the semi-smooth texture I was aiming for. 

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Nutribullet Ultra blender in reviewer's kitchen

(Image credit: Future)
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Nutribullet Ultra blender in reviewer's kitchen

(Image credit: Future)
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Nutribullet Ultra blender in reviewer's kitchen

(Image credit: Future)

Next up, I made a Triple Berry Smoothie using frozen berries, almond milk, nut butter and banana. I popped in all the ingredients and pressed the blend button, which whizzed for 30 seconds. I made sure I put in enough liquid to stop the frozen berries getting stuck, although the spoonful of peanut butter wasn’t playing ball and got stuck to the side of the cup. I managed to scrape this off the side (unfortunately there’s no spatula in the kit) and pressed blend for another 30 seconds. The result was a super silky smoothie, with all the berries nicely broken down. 

Nutribullet Ultra blender in reviewer's kitchen

(Image credit: Future)

Finally, I filled the larger 900ml cup with a batch of ice to see how well the device could handle frozen cubes. I pressed the start button and within 30 seconds of blending only the base of the cup had managed to crush any ice. I gave it a shake, but the ice wouldn’t move, so a little water was needed to loosen the ice and ensure all the ice got crushed. 

  • Performance score: 4.5 out of 5

How do the Nutribullet personal blenders compare?

Should you buy the Nutribullet Ultra?

Buy it if...

You want a fast and quiet blender 

The 1200-Watt motor and base on the Nutribullet Ultra is designed to operate at a lower sound frequency. While it’s not completely silent, it’s one of the less offensive designs I’ve tried in terms of noise levels. 

You want to make smoothies for two

The Nutribullet Ultra comes with both a 900ml and a 700ml cup, which each have 'to-go' lids. A generous smoothie serving is around 300ml, so you've got room for two and blending space in there. Alternatively, one mega protein shake. 

You want a blender that looks stylish on the worktop

With its streamlined charcoal grey finish and touch interface, the Nutribullet Ultra looks and feels premium. Rather than hiding it away in the cupboard after use, it’s a design you’ll be happy to keep on display on the countertop.

Don't buy it if...

You're on a budget 

There are cheaper Nutribullet blenders available if you're happy to sacrifice the fancy touch interface, extra power and quieter motor. The original Nutribullet 600, for example.  

You want simple and fast control  

Other Nutribullet blenders start blending as soon as they're twisted into place, but the Ultra has two control buttons. This is a pro or con depending on how simple you want the blending process to be.  

How I tested the Nutribullet Ultra

I have tested an array of blenders before, including the Nutribullet 900, and know what makes for a good design – be it a personal blender or a traditional jug blender. To get a good feel for the Nutribullet Ultra, I used it to make a smoothie and dip. I was keen to see how well the hard ingredients such as chickpeas and cold ingredients such as ice and berries could combine in their respective recipes. The Nutribullet Ultra claims to have optimised blades for quieter blending so I also measured its noise levels using the Decibel Meter App on my phone to see just how quiet it can perform. Finally, I wanted to know whether the device was easy to maintain and so I washed each part after use and wiped down the base.

Read more about how we test

First reviewed May 2024

Shark HydroVac Cordless review: a very effective vacuum-mop
2:10 pm | May 7, 2024

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

Shark HydroVac Cordless review: two-minute review

The Shark HydroVac Cordless is a multipurpose cleaner that vacuums and mops at the same time. For this review, I tested the UK version, but there are equivalent models in the US and Australia (there are minor differences in specs, but essentially this is the same product):

There are plenty of reasons to admire this product. It’s powerful, and can tackle lots of different types of wet and dry debris on hardwood flooring, as well as freshening up door mats and rugs. This means you can do away with your traditional mop – should you be able to prize yourself away from it – and condense the number of cleaning tools you need. 

It cleans by sucking up the spillage as you push back and forth until the area is left looking clean and smelling fresh. It’s capable of tackling mess such as milky cereal, baked beans and biscuits. It works fast too. We'd expect nothing less from the brand behind many of the best vacuum cleaners on the market. 

It's not quite perfect. It doesn’t come with a crevice attachment, so you’ll need to use the vacuum’s head to get right up to the skirting and into corners, which can sometimes be tricky. And while it has a self-cleaning feature to keep the insides smelling fresh, you will also need to keep on top of the vacuum’s maintenance and clean and dry the dirty water tank and brush roll after every use, which can be a bit of a pain.

Overall, I was very impressed with pick up – both on finer dust and larger wet debris. I also like how easy the vacuum is to store on the charging dock so that it’s conveniently ready when you need it. It gives you a decent 25 minutes of runtime too – all in its handy cordless design. If you're on a tighter budget and don't mind a cable, there's a corded version that's cheaper. 

That's the short version – read on for my full Shark HydroVac Cordless Cleaner review.

Shark HydroVac Cordless Hard Floor Cleaner review: price & availability

  • List price: US$359.99 / £329.99 / AU$399.99
  • Launched: 2023
  • Available: worldwide

While Shark sells small appliances worldwide. The cordless model I tested is the UK version, which has a list price of £329.99. The US version (WD201) has a list price of $359.99, but at time of writing was discounted to a far-more-affordable $199.99. The Australian version (WD210ANZ) has a list price of AU$399.99.

 If you’re looking to spend a little less and don’t mind a corded model, you can get a corded version in the UK and US. In the UK, this is the WD110UK and costs £279.99, in the US it's the WD161 and costs $249.99. Note that Shark recommends that you replace the filter and brush roll every six months, which is an ongoing cost. 

Two-in-one vacuum cleaner/mops can vary quite a bit in price, with the cheapest starting around £150 / $190 / AU$285 and going up to around £350 / $440 / AU$665. While the Shark HydroVac isn't the cheapest option on the market, the design has a lot of premium features, and I'd say it's good value for money. 

While Shark offers discounts at peak sale times throughout the year including Black Friday and Cyber Monday, at the time of writing the product is being sold at full price.

  • Value for money score: 4 out of 5

Shark HydroVac Cordless cleaner specs

Shark HydroVac Cordless Hard Floor Cleaner review: design

  • LED headlights illuminate hidden debris
  • Ample 500ml water tank
  • Stylish charcoal grey design plus compact charging dock

The Shark HydroVac Cordless Hard Floor Cleaner WD210UK has a stylish charcoal grey finish and sleek body. The body is relatively light at 3.95kg, and the design includes an antimicrobial brush roll and a 500ml water tank.

Although you can't wall-hang this device, it does come with a docking station where the cleaner sits neatly when not in use. It’s the size of a standard cordless vacuum, so while it won't take up too much room, it helps if you have a large room or separate utility area to store it.

Shark HydroVac Cordless floor cleaner plugged in and charging

(Image credit: Future)

What I instantly liked about the two-in-one cleaner is how easy it is to get set up. Attach the body to the head by following the simple instructions provided. When it's ready to go, fill the tank with water and add some of the cleaning solution provided. The LED control panel on the cleaner is simple to read and provides info on battery life and cleaning solution levels.

This cleaner is designed for use on both wet and dry messes, and a variety of floor types. You start it up simply by leaning the handle of the device back.

Close up of dirty water tank on Shark HydroVac Cordless floor cleaner

(Image credit: Future)

There are two modes. In hard floor cleaning mode, it'll vacuum when you're pushing forwards and wash when you pull back. The device automatically starts in this mode when you turn it on. You can also switch to a freshen mode using the button at the top of the handle. In this mode, it seems to mop lightly in both directions. There's a self-cleaning mode that you can activate by pressing the start button once the device is on its stand. You’ll need to supplement this with your own cleaning, however – I'll get into that more in the Performance section.

Shark HydroVac Cordless floor cleaner with LED lights illuminating the floor

(Image credit: Future)

When the device starts, LED headlights illuminate to help you see hidden debris as you vacuum.

It’s worth noting that while the Shark HydroVac Cleaner can be used on low-pile carpets rugs, the brush roll won't work on plush/thick long pile. If you’re after a cleaner for a thicker carpet, you’re better off taking a look at the Shark CarpetXpert Deep Carpet Cleaner EX150UK.

  • Design score: 4 out of 5

Shark HydroVac Cordless floor cleaner review: performance

  • Effective cleaning on sealed hard floors
  • Quite noisy in use
  • Lightweight and easy to move about

If you’ve ever tested a cordless vacuum cleaner, you know how bulky they can sometimes feel. But I found this design reasonably lightweight and well balanced. It's easy to drive around the floor – both on hard flooring, mats and rugs. The head of the vacuum is wide enough to make good progress in just a few strokes, but not overly chunky.

On a full charge, it ran for 25 minutes, which was long enough for me to do a refresh of my hallway, dining room, living room and kitchen before needing to refill the water and pop it back on the charger.

Shark HydroVac Cordless floor cleaner on a wooden floor

(Image credit: Future)

In hard floor cleaning mode, the simple push-pull action is a joy to use, and perfect on the days that I simply needed to quickly pep up my dusty dark walnut hardwood flooring. I found it also worked well on tougher messes – for example when the kids had brought mud into the hallway, or spilt cereal under the kitchen breakfast table (Cheerios are the bane of my life!).

The HydroVac also managed to clean up baked beans on vinyl flooring within seconds, as well as sucking up digestive biscuit crumbs with ease, and always leaving a fresh smelling surface behind. The suction is powerful and I was impressed with just how quickly it got to work.

I also tried refresh mode on a doormat and my Persian carpet. I was a little apprehensive as I've tried wet-dry cleaners in the past that have left my carpet sodden wet. Luckily, the HydroVac didn’t leave too much residue behind. While it’s hard to tell whether it makes any real difference when freshening mats and carpets, I think the fact that it leaves behind a trace of multi-surface cleaning solution with odour neutraliser reassuring.

On the down-side, I found the Shark HydroVac could get quite noisy – ramping up to 83.1 decibels in use and really packing a punch for a minute or so when it’s in self-cleaning mode. Comparatively, I measured my Dyson V15 Detect Absolute at 76.4 decibels.

Maintenance

The HydroVac has a self-cleaning mode, which can be activated when it's back on its charging base. This helps freshen up the inside mechanisms and cleans the brush roll. That's useful because the antimicrobial brush roll can take a bit of a battering, depending on what you’re cleaning. Straight after cleaning up beans and biscuits it was looking rather dirty, for example.

Close up of brush roll on Shark HydroVac Cordless floor cleaner

(Image credit: Future)

That said, you will need to then empty the dirty water tank and also leave the brush roll out to dry for up to 24 hours before using it again. If you forget to empty the tank after use, the dirty water tank will start to smell as I found out on one occasion..

However, you'll also have to do your own maintenance work. After every use, I had to empty the dirty water tank and take off the brush roll (often clogged up with food or hair) to clean myself and leave it out to dry. While this is relatively easy, it is something to bear in mind if you think that the self-cleaning mode here does it all.

  • Performance score: 4.5 out of 5

Should I buy a Shark HydroVac Cordless?

Buy it if...

Don't buy it if...

How I tested the Shark HydroVac Cordless Hard Floor Cleaner

I used the Shark Hydrovac in my home for six weeks. In my home, walnut hardwood flooring runs through the hall to the dining room and living area and it’s prone to looking dusty if not cleaned regularly. I used the Shark Hydrovac to clean the floor daily. I also used it on the vinyl tiles in the kitchen and upstairs in the bedroom where we have laminate hardwood flooring.

I tested how well it did on targeted areas and scattered a section of the room with large oats – to mimic large debris – and a mixture of flour and crushed biscuits – to mimic finer dust. I was keen to see how quickly and effectively it could clean up the area. I also used it to clear up a baked beans spillage on the vinyl flooring in my kitchen and measured the noise levels of the vacuum using the Decibel Meter App on my iPhone. Finally, I also used it in freshen mode to clean the small carpets and doormats throughout the ground floor of my home.

Read more about how we test

First reviewed: May 2024

Moto G34 review
2:58 pm | April 25, 2024

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

Moto G34 two-minute review

Motorola has decided to continue its long-held siege on our list of the best cheap phones with its new Moto G34 — this was designed to be one of the most affordable 5G phones out there, and it’s a pleasantly surprising success.

One of the first 2024 entries into Motorola’s low-cost line of Moto G handsets, you quickly come to know what to expect from these handsets. They won’t hurt your bank account but generally deliver unimpressive specs, a poor camera performance and lackluster displays. Given that the G34 is being marketed on its low price, you’d expect it to tick all these boxes, but it manages to punch above its weight in a few departments.

A question I asked myself when I begun testing the phone was: “given that budget mobiles have weak specs to keep the price low, is 5G even useful on a handset of this price?” The answer I came up with is “in some use cases yes”.

The camera is a good example, because it’s actually okay for a super-cheap phone like this. Admittedly ‘okay’ isn’t a glowing recommendation, but it’s one of the kindest words I’ve ever used to describe a Moto phone camera. And with 5G, you can easily post snaps on social media, save them to a cloud or download an editing app to tweak them.

The Moto G34's Your Space menu

(Image credit: Future)

One small camera feature does damage the experience though: every time you take a snap, the phone spends ages processing it before it’s added to the camera gallery. This means you can’t see the finished product for while, which can be annoying if you want to know whether you’ve got the shot or need to try again.

The chip is, again, ‘okay’, but that’s great for a budget phone – the G34 wasn’t as sluggish, slow or prone to stuttering as many other handsets you could buy for the same price. You’re not going to be demolishing opponents in Call of Duty: Mobile any time soon but it’ll hold its own. I could download games on my bus ride into work thanks to the connection speeds as long as they were low-intensity gentle ones.

Plus the phone boasts nice, clean Android 14 with all of its personalization features, a chunky battery and up to 1TB of expandable storage, which is all appreciated.

It’s not all amazing, though. The Moto G34 has a relatively low-res display, with its LCD tech leaving colors looking a little washed out. If you’re buying a 5G phone to stream Netflix from out and about, you’d do better to just buy a same-price 4G phone with a better screen, or splash out a little more.

Plus, it’s really slow to charge, which admittedly is impossible to tie into the handset’s 5G features so let’s just list it as a standalone ‘con’ for the phone. 

So you’re getting what you pay for with the Moto G34 and a little bit more – not a lot more, but enough that the price tag is easy to palate.

Moto G34: price and availability

  • Released in January 2024
  • On sale in the UK, possibly AU in future, unlikely in US
  • Costs £149.99 (roughly $190, AU$290)

The Moto G34 camera app

(Image credit: Future)

The Moto G34 was unveiled to the world in December 2023, but it went on sale in the UK a month later in the new year.

The handset costs £149.99 for its sole 4GB RAM and 128GB model, though you can choose between black, green and blue versions. In some regions there are variants of the mobile with more RAM or various amounts of storage, but that’s not the case in the UK. 

No US or Australian availability has been announced for the handset but the cost converts to around $190 or AU$290 – Moto typically sells different mobiles Stateside so the G34 likely won’t go on sale in America, but given precedent, it could reach the Australian shores.

That price puts the Moto G34 almost without equal in the realms of 5G phones, as most cost at least 25% more (well, until sales come). Instead, the handset is bumping elbows with some 4G competitors from Samsung, Xiaomi and even Motorola itself, with brands offering you slightly better features for the same price if you don’t need 5G.

  • Value score: 4 / 5

Moto G34 review: specs

The Moto G34 has specs that match its budget: low-end. Here's the skinny:

Moto G34 review: design

  • Average-sized Android that's not too heavy
  • Camera bump doesn't stick out much
  • USB-C port and a 3.5mm headphone jack

The Moto G34 flat in a hand.

(Image credit: Future)

Like many phones from Motorola, the Moto G34 has a pretty utilitarian design: it’s another chocolate-bar phone.

The G34 measure 162.7 x 74.6 x 8mm and weighs 179g so it’s pretty lightweight as far as Android phones go, and not too big either. 

On the bottom edge is a USB-C port and 3.5mm headphone jack — remember those?! — and the right edge holds an easily-reachable power button and a slightly-less-reachable volume rocker. As this phone is roughly averaged-sized, it should be usable one-handed for all but the smallest hands.

Like many budget phones, the G34 has a flat edge, but unlike many other mobiles that use this feature (including some Moto offenders) it’s not too angular — this wasn’t an uncomfortable phone to hold. While that’s not exactly a compliment, it’s definitely not an insult either.

On the back of the phone is a slight protrusion that houses the two camera lenses. This doesn’t stick out too far, so you can put the handset face-up on a table without turning it into a seesaw.

As mentioned, there are three color options for the phone, and we used the blue one. The green option uses faux leather which presumably gives it a much more premium feel, though I didn’t test this one so I can’t say for sure.

  • Design score: 3.5 / 5

Moto G34 review: display

  • A 6.5-inch display, big but not huge
  • Fairly low-res 720 x 1600 resolution
  • LCD leads to colors looking washed-out

The Moto G34 laying face up on a wooden surface

(Image credit: Future)

You probably shouldn’t be picking the Moto G34 as your chosen phone if it’s to stream high-quality movies over the web, because the Moto might struggle to show you that ‘quality’ part.

The phone has a 6.5-inch display, so it’s fairly big and will show you lots of WhatsApp messages, big Instagram posts or lots of your video game. However it only has a HD resolution of 720 x 1600, so videos don’t look as crisp as they do on most other mobiles.

Moto has also opted to put an LCD screen on the phone, despite other low-cost mobiles using OLED which has better contrast, colors and brightness. At least the 120Hz refresh rate makes motion look nice and smooth.

  • Display score: 2 / 5

Moto G34 review: software

  • Stock Android 14, but only one software update
  • Lots of customization options
  • Moto's Quick Actions make navigation easy

The Moto G34 app drawer

(Image credit: Future)

Not only is the Moto G34 one of the cheapest 5G phones, but it’s one of the most affordable ways you can get yourself a handset with stock Google-designed Android.

The Moto comes on Android 14, the newest version of the popular operating system. Moto has only promised one update though, with three years of security updates, which software aficionados might find lacking.

Stock Android is a nice clean operating system, mostly free from bloatware and with an easy-to-access swipe-up app drawer so that your home screen remains nice and clear until you customize it.

Android 14 in particular is great for customization options to help you design your interface, though some usual Moto additions are missing. You can change the font, color scheme, app icon shape and more though, so there’s still a lot you can do.

Moto does bring its stalwart quick actions, which let you bring up certain apps just with gestures: you can do a double karate chop to turn on the torch or a twist to open the camera app, for example. Once you get the knack of these, they become really convenient navigation options.

An addition which is relatively new to Moto phones is the Moto Unplugged app which lets you temporarily pare back your handset when you want to go distraction-free for a while. It was pretty handy for when I wanted to focus on writing this review — until I realized that I needed to use the phone for the review, that is!

  • Software score: 3.5 / 5

Moto G34 review: cameras

  • 50MP main and 2MP macro cameras
  • 16MP selfie camera for self portraits
  • Slow photo processing provides photography pain

The Moto G34's camera bump

(Image credit: Future)

As you can see from the images, the Moto G34 boasts two rear cameras, though only one is worth talking about. They’re a 50MP f/1.8 main and a 2MP f/2.4 macro snapper. They’re joined by a 16MP f/2.4 selfie camera on the front.

If your expectations for the camera prowess of a budget phone like this are very low, then you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the G34. That’s not to say it’s good, but it’s fine, and at this price that’s all you can ask for.

In decent lighting conditions, snaps have sufficient detail, though they can look a little washed-out in terms of color. In low-lighting conditions – I don’t mean night-time, and the cookie picture below shows that even household lighting doesn’t cut it – snaps lose a lot of detail and often seem a bit muddy. Plus, the phone didn’t handle contrast well, with darker areas during daylight shooting losing loads of detail.

That may sound overwhelmingly negative, but pictures taken on the Moto G34 did retain more quality, light and color that snaps taken on other similarly priced phones I’ve tested in the past, so I wasn’t disappointed by its performance.

Using digital zoom, you can close the distance up to 8x, but images get very grainy past 2x so I wouldn’t recommend it.

Selfies are a small cut above, and I found that the front camera would cope better if my face wasn’t beautifully lit up. Portrait mode was surprisingly good at working out what it shouldn’t and shouldn’t blur too, and even messy bed hair couldn’t fool it.

Macro mode is… well, pretty dreadful, actually – I found it impossible to take a close-up shot with sufficient lighting and detail to exceed the capabilities of the main camera. Most of the time, my macro shots were blurry out-of-focus messes. Avoid!

The usual crowd of extra modes are here: photographers can use portrait mode, Pro mode, spot color (which turns a photo monochrome except for one color), dual capture, night mode and ‘Photo Booth’ which takes four pictures a few seconds apart, like you’re in an old-school photo booth. Videographers can enjoy some of the same including dual capture and spot color as well as a slow-motion mode. 

One annoying aspect of the G34 is that, when you take a photo, the device will spend a while processing it. This sometimes took over a minute and I couldn’t find a way to turn the processing off — this all just meant you can’t see the proper image for a while after taking it. Ironically, the processing barely made a difference to image quality, so this isn’t as big of an issue as it otherwise would be.

Moto G34 camera samples

Image 1 of 6

Moto G34 camera samples

A creme egg cookie batch photographed on the Moto G34's main camera. (Image credit: Future)
Image 2 of 6

Moto G34 camera samples

An overcast park scene shot on the Moto G34's main camera. (Image credit: Future)
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Moto G34 camera samples

A latte in a well-lit coffee shop on the Moto G34's main camera. (Image credit: Future)
Image 4 of 6

Moto G34 camera samples

A catbug model photographed in a lightroom on the Moto G34. (Image credit: Future)
Image 5 of 6

Moto G34 camera samples

A selfie captured in fairly well-lit conditions on the Moto G34's front camera. (Image credit: Future)
Image 6 of 6

Moto G34 camera samples

A Portrait Mode selfie captured in fairly well-lit conditions on the Moto G34's front camera. (Image credit: Future)
  • Camera score: 2.5 / 5

Moto G34: performance and audio

  • Snapdragon 695 is fit for purpose
  • 128GB storage can be expanded up to 1TB, plus 4GB RAM
  • 3.5mm headphone jack for wired audio

The Moto G34 has a surprising chipset for its price: the Snapdragon 695 it uses often shows up in pricier (though still low-end) mobiles, and Motorola could have got away with sticking a weaker processor in its mobile.

This is paired with 4GB RAM and 128GB storage, though both are expandable. You can increase your storage by 1TB thanks to the microSD card slot, and use RAM expansion to temporarily turn unused storage space into extra power.

The Moto G34's personalize menu

(Image credit: Future)

Using the Geekbench 6 benchmark test, the Moto returned a multi-core score of 2,035. That’s roughly around the score of 5-year-old flagships like the Samsung Galaxy Note 10 (2,092) and Huawei Mate 20 (2,134). For recent handsets, some budget mobiles from the last few years have similar scores including OnePlus’ Nord N20 (1,962) and Nord CE 2 Lite (1,952), both of which also have the Snapdragon 695 chipset.

When it comes to gaming, I was pleasantly surprised by how the Moto could hold its own through intensive games of Call of Duty: Mobile and other titles. There were startlingly few stutters or lags during online play; if it weren’t for the display and speaker quality, I could just have well been playing on a mid-ranged gaming phone.

Audio fans will love to see the Moto G34 boasting a 3.5mm headphone jack, so you can use wired headphones, microphones and more using the port. It also has Bluetooth 5.1 for wireless headphones if you prefer.

The G34 also has stereo speakers for audio; they’re nothing to write home about and don’t compare with those on pricier mobiles, but are fine for if you misplaced your headphones. 

  • Performance score: 3 / 5

Moto G34 review: battery life

  • Big 5,000mAh battery
  • Phone easily lasts a day of use, and almost two
  • Slow to charge at 18W

The Moto G34's USB-C port and headphone jack.

(Image credit: Future)

It wouldn’t be a Moto phone if it didn’t have a battery the size of a small baby, would it? The G34 boasts a 5,000mAh battery, just like the vast majority of other mobiles from the company, which is a big power pack for a phone.

A battery like this would keep even a juice-hungry mobile powered for a long time, but between its HD screen and mid-tier chipset, the Moto G34 really makes the most of this battery. It easily lasts a day on a full charge and, in our testing, often came close to hitting two days of stopping power on a single charge.

It’s good that you don’t have to power up the phone frequently, though, because it’s not fast to charge. At 18W powering, it takes a glacial hour or more to power from empty to full, which will certainly have you sitting by the charger and twiddling your fingers.

As with almost any phone at this price, there’s no wireless charging or reverse wireless powering in sight. 

  • Battery score: 4 / 5

Should you buy the Moto G34?

Buy it if...

You want low-cost 5G
If you just need to connect to 5G networks by any means, then the Moto G34 is one of your cheapest options for doing so.

You need lots of storage space
It's not everyday that we see a budget phone that can reach up to 1TB expandable storage, so if you want a portable hard drive that can make calls, it's a good option.

You're a super-low-budget gamer
If you really can't afford a mid-ranged gaming phone, the Moto G34 is actually decent for playing mobile games, at least compared to its same-priced rivals.

Don't buy it if...

You stream movies and TV shows
With its 720p LCD display, the Moto G34 isn't exactly an entertainment fan's powerhouse. If you want to stream on the go, pick a device with a 1080p screen.

You need quick charging
Moto phones' big batteries makes charging less important, but if you're a fan of snappy powering, you really won't enjoy the G34.

You want several years of updates
With only one guaranteed software update, the G34 won't get new Android features for years to come. At least you're getting three years' security updates.

Moto G34 review: Also consider

If you want to make sure you're getting bang for your buck, here are three other smartphones you might want to consider instead of the Moto G34:

Moto G54
Only a small sum more upgrades your G34 to a G53 with a higher-res display, better speakers and more in-built storage. It's the same in most other ways, except is somehow even slower to charge, and comes on Android 13 instead of 14.

Samsung Galaxy A15
Samsung's ultra-low-price 5G Galaxy phone has a fantastic display, as well as decent cameras and pretty fast charging for the price. Just make sure you buy the 5G variant and not the 4G one.

How I tested the Moto G34

The Moto G34's rear, as it's held in a hand.

(Image credit: Future)
  • Review test period = 3 week
  • Testing included = Everyday usage, including web browsing, social media, photography, video calling, gaming, streaming video, music playback
  • Tools used = Geekbench 6, Geekbench ML, GFXBench, native Android stats

As you can tell, I tested the blue version of the Moto G34, in its sole 4GB and 128GB variant. I did not use the expandable storage in testing.

To write this review, I used the Moto G34 for roughly three weeks, not including the time I left the phone running prior to testing to normalize its battery. This testing involved lots of photography, a fair amount of gaming and a little bit of streaming movies and music too. 

Please note that the product photography was undertaken prior to the testing period, hence why it looks like the phone has barely been used; it hadn't! 

I've been reviewing smartphones for TechRadar for over five years now, starting with another budget Moto phone back in 2019. I've used countless handsets from the company and all its major competitors, as well as some of the other gadgets Moto has tried out (anyone remember the Moto 360?).

Read more about how we test

First reviewed March 2024

Ninja Woodfire Pro Connect XL BBQ Grill and Smoker review
3:00 pm | April 6, 2024

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

Ninja Woodfire Pro Connect XL: two-minute review

Ninja’s near-relentless mission to become king of all appliances continues with the launch of the Ninja Woodfire Pro Connect XL, its first smart Woodfire offering huge capacity and the same delicious flavors. 

We loved the Ninja Woodfire, scoring it a perfect five stars in our review. Nevertheless, on a personal level, I’d remained largely unconvinced by Ninja’s outdoor cookers – until now. Adding smart features such as the app-connected thermostat and a higher capacity for catering to larger groups, the Ninja Woodfire Pro Connect XL stands to make a grill master out of me yet. 

Delivering delicious smoky flavors, convenient smart cooking features, and fantastic ease of use, there’s very little to complain about with the Ninja Woodfire Pro Connect XL BBQ Grill and Smoker. If I’m nitpicking, I’d say the hefty ‎40.2lb /18.3kg weight warrants the inclusion of the Ninja Woodfire stand, especially if you have a wooden table as I do and are concerned about it buckling; but that might have driven up the price enough to discourage prospective grillmasters, so I understand the logic. 

At 16.1 x 22.4 x 20.1in / ‎41 x 57 x 51cm, it’s a little larger than the 13.4 x 18.1in x 18.1in / 34 x 46 x 46cm  (h x w x d) standard Woodfire model, and enough so to offer 30% greater capacity according to Ninja. In practice, it offers some (much-needed) headroom, plus space for another portion or two of food – which, in my opinion, is more than enough to justify the meager $ / £50 / AU$ price difference. In addition, there’s the included smart thermostat, which can connect with the Ninja app to ensure perfect results every time. 

With that logic in mind, I’d go as far as to say the Ninja Woodfire Pro Connect XL BBQ Grill and Smoker is far more than a capacity upgrade to the original model. It might not quite qualify as a next-generation device, but it iterates enough upon the success of the original to stand on its own four feet. 

Ninja Woodfire Pro Connect XL on a table with the lid open

(Image credit: Future)

Ninja Woodfire Pro Connect XL review: price & availability

  • List price: $449 / £499 
  • Available in the US and UK, no confirmation on AU release 

Available for $449 / £499 directly from Ninja US and Ninja UK, as well as third-party retailers such as Amazon, the Ninja Woodfire Pro Connect XL is a fairly pricey purchase, coming in at around double the cost of a standard, basic BBQ – but you get a whole lot more for that price. 

It arrives with a sample pack of robust blend pellets, plus a pack of all-around blend wood pellets, which you can purchase separately for $32 / £30 for two 2lbs / 900g bags. Also included is the Ninja smart thermostat, which you can buy separately for $19.95 / £19.99, as well as a pellet scoop, a crisper basket, the grill plate, and the grease tray. 

There are a few further accessories you might need, however. The Ninja Woodfire Pro Connect XL is water resistant to IPX4, but to keep it in good condition if storing outdoors, you’ll want the waterproof cover that costs an additional $25 / £25. 

While the outdoor cooker’s underside is heat-safe and won’t damage surfaces, it’s a fairly heavy piece of kit, so you might prefer to shell out for Ninja’s collapsible grill stand, too, which will set you back a further $150 / £130.

If you want the full assortment of accessories, there are a variety of bundles available through both Ninja and Amazon. 

Considering the original Woodfire sold for $370 / £350 at launch in 2023 and now is available for $399 / £399, the relatively slim price difference between the original and the new XL version makes for a compelling argument to spend a little more for a whole lot more.

  • Value score: 4.5 out of 5

Ninja Woodfire Pro Connect XL on a table with the lid open

(Image credit: Future)

Specifications

Design

  • Bigger capacity than the original 
  • Handy smart thermostat storage tray 
  • IPX4 water-resistant for rainy days 

It’s pretty hard to make a BBQ, grill and smoker multicooker look sexy, but Ninja has certainly tried – and to great effect. Available in an attractive blue colorway, it’s a fairly robust device, weighing 40.2lbs/ 18.3kg and measuring 16.1 x 22.4 x 20.1in / ‎41 x 57 x 51cm.

One of the biggest design departures from the original Woodfire is the layout of the control panel, which has been entirely revamped. From left to right, you’ll find the seven cooking functions (Grill, Smoker, Roast, Bake, Dehydrate, Air Crisp, and Broil), which can be easily navigated using the Mode button, as well as the Woodfire Flavor button to the left, the LCD panel and temperature/time controls in the center, and the control dial, start/stop and thermometer buttons to the right. This offers a significant improvement over the original model, which we found difficult to navigate for our original review. 

Ninja Woodfire Pro Connect XL

(Image credit: Future)

Above the control panel is the lid handle, which stays cool even after longer cooking periods. A surprising omission, given the increased weight of the Pro Connect XL, is the handles – meaning it’s a little more difficult to maneuver than the original Woodfire. Thankfully, however, there are still small grips on either side to help you lift and maneuver the Woodfire Pro Connect XL. On the right-hand side of the device, you’ll find the wood pellet tray, and underneath the control panel is a slot that houses the smart thermostat when it isn’t in use.

One of the biggest drawbacks of the entire Woodfire product line is that none of the accessories are dishwasher-safe. This isn’t too much of an issue when it comes to the grill and grease tray, which are relatively easy to clean by hand; but the crisper basket is quite a chore to clean off after use. At least all of the accessories are non-stick, but due to the increased size of the Ninja Woodfire Pro Connect XL, they’re just a little too large to soak in the sink.

Plate with Wood smoked ribs, chicken, asparagus and beans

(Image credit: Future)

Performance

  • Delicious, smoky flavors 
  • Very easy to use 
  • Smart thermometer app pairing and features work well 

As someone who isn’t really a fan of a BBQ, I was pleasantly surprised by how consistently and deliciously well the Ninja Woodfire Pro Connect XL performed on-test. In terms of its cooking capabilities, it’s as successful as the original Woodfire; both smoked and unsmoked dishes were bursting with flavor and cooked to perfection. 

It’s easier than ever to smoke your meals with the Ninja Woodfire Pro Connect XL. Simply throw in one level scoop of pellets, preheat the grill, and you’re set to throw on whatever you’re cooking. For my test, I tried chicken, ribs and asparagus with the robust blend wood pellets, using the smart thermostat to primarily test the internal temperature of the chicken. Following Ninja’s instructions, I set the Pro Connect XL to cook for one hour at 275°F / 135°C. 

Both the ribs and chicken cooked faster than the app had suggested, but it’s worth noting both were pretty lean to begin with. Regardless, the speed with which Ninja’s Woodfire cookers can work while still creating delicious food is incredibly impressive.

The results overall were spectacular. Enriched with smooth yet smoky flavors, the wood pellets had clearly done a fantastic job of imparting flavor to the meat. I loved that I barely had to interact with the cooker, freeing me up to speak with guests, tidy up the kitchen, or even file my taxes. 

I turned my food halfway through for this test, given it was a whole (albeit small) chicken we were cooking. For the next meal, I made chicken wings, where I didn’t see as much benefit from the flavor when left unturned – which is pretty similar to my experience with the original model. 

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Cooking results from Ninja Woodfire Pro Connect XL - chicken on a plagte

(Image credit: Future)
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Cooking results from Ninja Woodfire Pro Connect XL - chicken on a ribs

(Image credit: Future)
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Plate with Woodfire smoked salmon

(Image credit: Future)
Image 4 of 4

Plate with Woodfire smoked halloumi and vegetables

(Image credit: Future)

Even the non-smoke-enhanced cook settings work fantastically, netting me some deliciously grilled burgers, immaculately air-fried potato wedges, and crispy asparagus full of flavor – and moisture. We tried and enjoyed baking brownies in the previous model, and while I wouldn’t normally bake in my garden, having the ability to do so is useful if only for the Pro Connect’s app controls.  

If you opt to use the Woodfire technology for non-smoking settings, you really don’t need to use the recommended level scoop of wood pellets; better to be conservative with these fairly pricey pellets and opt for a half-scoop instead.

While the Woodfire Pro Connect XL is undoubtedly larger than the original, it’s nowhere near big enough to cater for larger groups. In terms of branding, Ninja would have been more accurate with “large”, since there’s nothing extra about this smart cooker when you’re feeding more than six people. 

All in all, the Woodfire Pro Connect XL is a spectacular addition to any patio, porch or plot, offering impressive (albeit sometimes unnecessary) versatility, fantastic flavor, and blistering cooking speeds.

Should I buy?

Buy it if...

Don't buy it if...

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How I tested the Ninja Woodfire Pro Connect XL BBQ Grill and smoker

  • I used the Ninja Woodfire Pro Connect XL BBQ Grill and Smoker to cook a variety of meals over several weeks 
  • I tested all of its different cooking functions on vegetables, meat and fish 
  • I used the smart thermostat and app to test the functionality 

I put the Ninja Woodfire Pro Connect XL BBQ Grill and smoker through its paces by cooking a variety of different meals over the course of my three-week testing period – including chicken, ribs, salmon, pepper, asparagus and beans. 

I tried all of the different settings, including the Woodfire mode where appropriate, and used both of the sample flavor packs that came with the device. I compared the results to my previous experience with standard BBQs as well as the original Ninja Woodfire, evaluating how well it delivered on flavor and ease of use.

While I’m no grill master, I’ve been cooking on BBQs during the rare bouts of summer sun in the UK for years, and I’ve also tried a host of electric cookers, both indoors and outdoors during that time. 

Withings Body Scan review – a new high in performance (and price)
3:33 pm | January 10, 2024

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets Home Smart Home Smart Scales | Tags: , , , | Comments: Off

Withings Body Scan: One-minute review

The Withings Body Scan sets a new benchmark for the capabilities of modern smart scales. It's both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth enabled, has a build quality and design that sets it apart from the pack, a clear and responsive display, and can provide more in-depth analysis of a user's body composition and physical well-being than its major competitors like Eufy, Wyze, Fitbit and Garmin. 

When used with the Withings Health Mate app, the Withings Body Scan can not only provide you with an analysis of your body composition, the ratio of fat-to-muscle-to-bone that makes up your body but also outline where your measurements sit in comparison to healthy averages. Using this information, it can identify trends in changes to your measurements over time, letting you know if you're gaining or losing weight and how you compare to averages for your age and gender.

For those needing specialized data readings – for example, if you are pregnant or an athlete – the Withings Body Scan can adapt its measurement methods accordingly, to ensure readings are as accurate as possible whilst remaining safe and impressively efficient for the user. In pregnancy mode, it'll tell you the approximate size and weight of your baby depending on how far along you are.

The Withings Body Scan's key drawback for most people will be the price tag. Sitting at nearly £200 more than the next-cheapest Withings smart scale, there aren't that many reasons to spend that much more on a scale. However, if you are looking to take a deep dive into your body composition, take steps to improve your long-term health and habits, or are a keen fitness enthusiast looking to get the most out of your workouts, the value-for-money will show itself in the long run. 

Withings Body Scan: Specifications

Withings Body Scan: Price and availability

  • $400 in the US
  • £350 in the UK
  • Only available via resellers in AU territories

The Withings Body Scan is on the considerably pricier side for a smart scale. However, the unique measurements and level of accuracy you receive for the price mean that if you're looking for an all-in-one health station, it's almost understandable. 

The Withings Body Scan is currently available for $399.95 / £349.95, Users in Australia can't get it from Withings directly, so prices may vary there.

  • Value score: 3.5/5

Withings Body Scan: Design

Withings Body Scan smart scale on wooden surface

(Image credit: Rob Dunne)
  • Stylish and robust
  • Handles up to 200kgs of weight
  • Wall mount for handle included

As with all products that come from Withings, the Withings Body Scan is an undoubtedly stylish and robust device. You can get the Withings Body Scan in either a white or black color, both of which feature lighter banding across the scale which is used to send small electrical signals through your body to gather your body measurements. 

The Withings Body Scan features a 3.2-inch color LCD display, measures 12.8 inches in both length and width, and only comes 1.1 inches off the floor thanks to its extremely thin base pads which run along either side. These also help give the Body Scan a very sturdy feel across the base when taking measurements. The device also uses a tempered glass panel on the front of the scale, and weighs around 4.8kg overall, giving the device a premium feel despite the plastic used across the underside of the scale. 

Thanks to the tempered glass front, as well as the overall sturdiness of the build of the Withings Body Scan, the smart scale can handle weights up to 200kg / 440lbs / 31.5 stone, all while retaining the device's impressive 50g/0.1lb weight reading accuracy. 

Some of the key design features of the Withings Body Scan revolve around the handle which acts as one of the key improvements over other Withings body scales. The handle, and its on-scale holder, are made of the same plastic used across the rest of the device, and use a well-braided cable to attach one to the other. 

The handle and cable are light enough that you should experience no issues while holding them, whilst also not being so light that they feel cheap or underdeveloped. The electrodes on the handle are also usefully positioned to allow easy access for your thumbs on both sides.  

Given the importance of the handle to the improved metrics the Withings Body Scan can provide, these steps have been well considered, even to such an extent that, with your smart scale, you also receive a wall mount for your handle, which means should you struggle leaning down to reach it from the scale itself, you can simply mount it to the wall and use it from there. 

It should be noted, however, that should you choose to mount your handle to the wall, Withings asks that you set this up in the app to ensure the device still gives as accurate readings as possible. This is a simple enough process and takes a matter of seconds.

  • Design score: 4/5

Withings Body Scan: Features

Withings Health Mate stats

(Image credit: Future / Rob Dunne)

The features of the Withings Body Scan smart scale are where the device really comes into its own. To give you a sense of just how much the Body Scan does whilst you're on the scale, here's everything your smart scale is measuring while you're stood on that piece of glass, it measures:

  • Weight
  • BMI
  • Basal Metabolic Rate
  • Metabolic Age
  • Segmental body composition analysis including:
    • Muscle Mass (across five zones) 
    • Fat Mass (across five zones)
    • Bone Mass 
    • Visceral Fat Index
    • Lean Mass
    • Water Mass
  • Nerve health
  • ECG
  • Pulse Wave Velocity 
  • Heart Rate
  • Vascular Age

And that's before everything else you can integrate into the app! If you integrate your Apple Health, Google Fit, or most other fitness apps, your Withings Health Mate app can become a hub for everything from your vascular age to your sleep quality, you can keep all your data in one place and utilise it to better your daily routines, workouts, sleep, eating and long term health. 

When testing the Withings Body Scan, the only two of the many measurements above that we struggled with were Pulse Wave Velocity and Vascular Age. These measurements required a slightly more specific positioning on the scale which proved tricky to master, and the scale required five complete readings before it could start giving you data, which resulted in a greatly reduced amount of data compared to other areas.

Getting all of this data is one thing, understanding it is another, and this is an area where, once again, Withings has hit the nail on the head through the Health Mate app. Through the app, not only are you able to turn on recommended zones and see average data and how you compare to the average in each measurement, but you can also find guides explaining what each measurement means, so if, say, you don't understand what vascular age means, you can find a guide explaining everything you need to know about where it should be, and how it can be improved. 

If you are working with a trainer or health professional, you're also in luck, as the app allows you to create a shareable report of your health that you can give to anyone who might benefit from it, a simple, but effective addition to the app.

  • Features score: 4.5/5

Withings Body Scan: Performance

Withings Body Scan smart scale on wooden surface

(Image credit: Rob Dunne)
  • Simple and efficient setup
  • Eight different profiles full of detail
  • Export data to/from Apple Health or Google Fit

Straight out of the box the simplicity and efficiency of Withings products is as present as ever. Setting up the device takes a matter of minutes through the Withings Health Mate app. If you are new to Withings and don't have an account, the setup of an account plus getting your Withings Body Scan ready takes a maximum of 15 minutes. 

In that time, you'll also be able to import health data from services such as Apple Health or Google Fit, as well as receive a full tutorial on how to properly use your new smart scale and set some goals in the app. 

There are a wide array of tutorials available on additional features within the app, some of which – the at-a-a-glance health improvement score and library of how-to workout/recipe/health management content – are unfortunately locked behind a Withings+ subscription.  This costs $9.95 / £9.95 / around AU$18 per month, but none of it affects the usage of the scale in any way – still, it'd be nice to have after spending this much on a smart scale. 

Once your Withings Body Scan is set up, utilizing it for not only your own, but your family's health is simple. The device can support up to eight profiles, which it can automatically detect. If however, a number of you are of similar weights, the device shows each profile as a list, which you scroll through by balancing on the foot of the direction you wish to scroll, so to go along the list, you simply need to put your weight on your right foot. 

Withings Body Scan black on wooden surface

The Withings Body Scan also has a black variant  (Image credit: Daniel hessel)

The process of attaining your measurements takes around a minute, most of which is taken up by one of the unique features of the Withings Body Scan, the 6-lead ECG (echocardiogram). The ECG takes 30 seconds to complete and is one of the key benefactors of the Body Scan's unique handle. 

Each step of the measurement process is displayed for you on the 3.2-inch display, showing you the results of each test as they are collected, as well as some general daily info such as weather and air quality. You can customize the steps your Body Scan shows on the smart scale through the app, meaning if, understandably, you don't want to know the weather when you're weighing in, you can remove that from your slides. 

The display (and device) are noticeably responsive, and the bright LCD makes it easy to see everything you need as and when it comes up. Once you are finished, your results will already be waiting for you in your Withings Health Mate app, meaning it's quick and simple to access the more in-depth data with no waiting around. 

Overall, using the Withings Body Scan is extremely simple, everything you want to know can be seen on the smart scale itself during your weigh-in, and more detailed information can be found in the app once you are finished. The accuracy of measurements taken is extremely high, with weight having an accuracy of up to 50g/0.1lbs thanks to the four weight sensors spread across the scale, as well as featuring patented position detection technology and 'Position Control' technology. The Body Scan's segmental body composition capabilities are equally impressive thanks to the device's BIA (bio-electrical impedance analysis) multifrequency technology, which during testing was able to provide consistent results across five different bodily segments. 

  • Performance Score: 4/5

Withings Body Scan: Scorecard

Withings Body Scan: Should I buy?

Buy it if...

Don't buy it if...

Also consider

Withings Body Comp

As the next offer down from Withings, the Body Comp offers a great alternative for those looking to access the various benefits of the Withings Health Mate app whilst sacrificing some of the more accurate and more detailed measurementsView Deal

Garmin Index S2

An alternative suited to Garmin users. The Index S2 offers a number of Garmin-tailored features, for a reduced price, whilst sacrificing some of the accuracy and detailed measurements offered by the Withings Body ScanView Deal

Huawei Watch GT 4 review: Huawei’s best smartwatch yet could use third-party support
7:22 pm | October 20, 2023

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

Huawei Watch GT 4: One minute review

I really like the Huawei Watch GT 4. It’s an impressive-looking device with a wide variety of materials and colorways available, and every one of these iterations looks fantastic. The big AMOLED screen’s refresh rate is nice and smooth, colors pop, and the speaker is loud – embarrassingly loud, if you leave workout notifications on during a class. 

It’s functional too, with highly accurate metrics. TruSleep tracking was accurate and the metrics in the Huawei Health app were pleasantly detailed, although I was missing some actionable advice on that front. Huawei’s TruSeen 5.5+ algorithm offers great heart rate tracking that extends to workout tracking, too, and the GPS was comparable to the best smartwatches (we tested it against an Apple Watch Ultra 2), so you’ll get great results on runs and rides. 

Having said all that, I won’t be using it again. Under normal circumstances, I’d be giving such a watch a glowing review, perhaps even full marks, but it’s languishing on 80% here. The watch itself is fantastic, but it’s impossible to ignore the frustrations that come with it being saddled with Huawei’s baggage. 

The limits imposed by the US and every smartphone manufacturer, and Huawei’s refusal to abandon its AppGallery store, which most phones will only support in-browser, means you have a watch that can’t interface with lots of popular apps. Apple Pay, Google Wallet, Spotify, and more are on the no-go list, although others like Strava were fine. 

However, if you can get over these flaws, you’ll find a gorgeous watch waiting to be loved. If you already have a Huawei phone and are used to a few workarounds, it’s probably the best smartwatch for you. 

Huawei Watch GT 4: Specifications

Huawei Watch GT 4: Price and availability

Huawei Watch GT 4

(Image credit: Future)
  • From £229.99 in the UK
  • From €249.90 euros in the EU 
  • Unavailable in the US and AU

For starters, let’s address the elephant in the room: Huawei technology is unavailable in the US or Australia, due to ongoing disputes with the Chinese telecoms manufacturer (and the Chinese government) over security concerns. 

The UK has removed Huawei devices from its 5G network but hasn’t banned the sale of these devices entirely. The EU still allows Huawei devices to be sold. While UK and European fans can access Huawei tech, some functionality, such as NFC contactless payments, is limited. 

It’s a shame because the Watch is terrific value. Both the 46mm with silicone black strap and the 41mm with silicone white strap cost just £229.99 in the UK and €249.90 in the EU, which is a great price for a chunky fitness watch with a stainless steel case. Prices rise with a variety of different options, including a rose gold version with Milanese straps or leather straps on the 46mm. 

The most expensive is the 41mm steel-and-gold edition watch, which costs £349.99 / €399.90 euros, followed by the stainless steel 46mm with stainless steel strap, which costs £299.99 / €369.90 euros. It’s a very well-priced watch that looks gorgeous and could be an absolute powerhouse with the right support; it’s just a shame about the lack of availability. Unless you’re an existing Huawei user, there’s almost always a better option.

  • Value score: 3/5

Huawei Watch GT 4: Design

Huawei Watch GT 4

(Image credit: Future)
  • Seven different looks
  • Beautiful, premium designs belying price
  • OS is simple enough to use

From an external style standpoint, Huawei watches as a whole have virtually no consistency. When comparing the Watch GT 4 models to the thick, boxy, plastic cases on the gimmicky Huawei Watch Buds and Huawei Watch D, it’s like night and day. Whereas the Watch D and Watch Buds were quirky at best and unsightly at worst, Huawei Watch GT 4 models look fantastic, with in-built microphones and speakers allowing you to take and receive calls on-wrist. 

These watches evoke different styles of traditional watches, from delicate circular fashion and dress watches to field and diving units. The unit I tested, the 46mm with stainless steel strap, looked very much like an analog dive watch when I picked the right face. Like all the GT 4 models, it has a circular digital crown on the top right and a secondary button on the bottom right, which combined with the very responsive touch-screen, made it easy to navigate around the watch. It was a pleasure to use. 

The screen gets a lot of real estate, and it’s a fantastic screen on both sizes of the watch. The full-color AMOLED screen offers a fantastic refresh rate, ensuring a smooth swiping action, and pops with color. The AMOLED screen was better than many Garmins (although not quite up to Apple’s Retina Display) and output around 600 nits of brightness. This is enough for most people, though it’s a far cry from the Apple Watch Series 9, which can output an impressive 2,000 nits. 

Some watch faces (the free ones, at least) are pretty dross, but I found one I liked that echoed an analog watch face and carried several on-face complications, including step count, the moon’s current phase, and a calendar. It echoed a classic chronograph and complemented the stainless steel aesthetic. 

Speaking of the stainless steel, I have to share a grievance about changing the band. It might be because of my short nails, but after removing the silicone band, applying the stainless steel band to the watch took 15 minutes of effort, accompanied by lots of grunting and profanity. It was not a painless experience, but the watch looks ace with it on. 

  • Design score: 5/5

Huawei Watch GT 4: Features

Huawei Watch GT 4

(Image credit: Future)
  • Lots of workout profiles
  • Lacking payments in many regions
  • Forced to sideload apps

The Huawei Watch GT 4 is entirely dependent on the Huawei Health app, which isn’t available on the iOS or Google Play store, but can be easily downloaded via your browser and the QR code provided. From there, you can customize your watch faces, toggle various notifications streams on and off, and view all your health data in greater detail. The Huawei Health app is excellent at what it does, showing you comprehensive information and offering actionable advice on your workout and sleep.

For example, I am a light sleeper, so Huawei Health recommended I cut out caffeine in the evening before bedtime – not groundbreaking advice, but nice to have. The Watch GT 4 has a load of workout profiles, from outdoor and indoor cycles to pool and open-water swims that count your strokes and lengths as you go. 

The workout profiles interact with Huawei Health nicely and offer bonus features like AI-generated plans to help you train for specific goals in common exercises such as running, which you can follow along on your watch. TruSleep and TruSeen 5.5+ sensors offer advanced heart rate monitoring and ECG functionalities. A temperature sensor, blood oxygen measurement, and a stress metric round up the useful suite of health features on offer here.

All the Huawei-native stuff is great: it’s the lack of compatibility with other phones and operating systems that’s the problem. You can get WhatsApp and email notifications, but not respond to them, and good luck trying to use apps like Gmail without considerable sideloading jiggery pokery. Want Google or Apple Maps on your watch? Tough, you’re stuck with Huawei’s own Petal Maps. Unless you live in a country that supports Huawei NFC payments, you won’t be able to use contactless cards on your watch either. As I used the watch, I noticed more and more features either missing or not gelling, and while getting a Huawei phone would go some way towards solving this (if you don’t live in the US or Australia), in the UK you can’t use Huawei telecoms devices on a 5G network, so the phone won’t live up to its potential. 

  • Features score: 3/5

Huawei Watch GT 4: Performance

Huawei Watch GT 4 vs Apple Watch Ultra 2

(Image credit: Future)
  • Great battery life
  • Excellent sleep/workout metrics
  • GPS matched an Apple Watch Ultra 2 for accuracy

During my time testing the Huawei Watch GT 4, the battery life performed as expected. I tested it over five days, and each day the watch depleted between five and 10 percent, depending on GPS usage. I’m very satisfied the watch lives up to its bold claims of up to 14 days, and I can see the average user getting 10 days out of the watch with a few GPS workouts thrown in. 

Sleep and workout metrics held up very well, and I was happy with the results I got. Running Ability index, Training Load and Training index metrics take a lot of your stats (if you’re a runner, of course) and boil them down into simple numbers. Running Ability will tell you if you’re running, for example, 44% better than users of a similar age, gender, height, and weight. Huawei is good at condensing complex statistics into easily accessible nuggets of information – it’s reminiscent of the best Fitbit watches in this way.

When I tested the GPS tracking against an Apple Watch Ultra 2, the main noticeable difference was that the Huawei Watch GT 4 took far, far longer to connect to a network. The Apple Watch Ultra 2 was almost instantaneous, while the GT 4 took at least two and a half minutes, during which it encouraged me to be in an open area, probably at the place the workout is starting. It doesn’t sound like much to ask, but you either stand stationary for around 150 seconds in front of your house before you start running, or you just run and the watch starts tracking you halfway through your first kilometer. 

Other than that, the Watch GT 4 matched the Ultra 2 closely in terms of both heart rate and distance covered when I wore them simultaneously, so I’m satisfied with the watch’s accuracy.   

  • Performance score: 4/5

Huawei Watch GT 4: Scorecard

Should I buy?

Buy it if...

Don't buy it if...

Also consider

Google Pixel Watch 2 review: lighter, faster, and maybe better
6:20 pm | October 4, 2023

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

Google Pixel Watch 2: One-minute preview

Google Pixel Watch 2 essentially steers the same course as its well-received first version, and that's mostly a good thing.

At a glance, the new smartwatch's design is unchanged. Google did redesign the digital crown a bit to enhance ease of use. Otherwise, the screen and dimensions are the same as they were on the original Google Pixel Watch. However, looks can be a bit deceiving. The cover glass is thinner (Google insists it's just as strong) and the body is now made of lightweight, recycled aluminum. Together, they decrease the weight by what Google insists is a noticeable amount.

More importantly (and maybe more noticeably) this watch has new components and a major platform update. It has a new quad-core processor and Wear OS 4.0, making it probably the best Wear OS watch around right now, if not one of the best smartwatches period.

There are critical new features like the new Personal Safety Check, and, finally, auto-recognition of when you start and stop working out. Google Pixel Watch 2 might also do a better job of recognizing your workout performance thanks to the watch's new multi-path heart rate sensor on the back.

This is just our first impressions of the Google Pixel Watch 2. If you want more from this year's October Made by Google Event, you can check out our early Google Pixel 8 review and our early Google Pixel 8 Pro review.

Google Pixel Watch 2

(Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)

The display still has that too-large black bezel around its bright 320ppi face, but the screen is now running in Always On mode by default, while still maintaining 24-hour battery life (according to Google).

If you're up for sleeping with the watch (remember it's lighter for more bedtime comfort), you may appreciate that it can charge a lot faster now thanks to four physical charging pins on the back, which is a switch from the induction charging found on the last model.

Google claims you can get a 50% charge in less than 30 minutes, which means if you want a quick charge before bedtime and maybe don't want to charge up again when you wake up and head out to work, it's possible with the Pixel Watch 2.

Also, if you're looking for more sleep data, the Pixel Watch 2 has you covered with a new skin temperature sensor. And for when you're awake, the new continuous electrodermal activity (CEDA) sensor could help detect signs of stress

Overall this looks like a smart, albeit safe update. Google didn't attempt a wholesale redesign but they've basically changed almost everything else, from the CPU to most of the key sensors and even the charging methodology. With Wear OS 4.0, safety enhancements, and some new Fitbit capabilities, this may be the smartwatch update to watch.

Google Pixel Watch 2: Specifications

Google Pixel Watch 2: Price and availability

Google Pixel Watch 2

(Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)
  • Starts from $349 (WiFi) $399 (LTE)
  • Prices £349 and £399 in the UK, AU$549 and AU$649 in AU
  • One size: 41mm

Google unveiled the new Google Pixel Watch 2, along with the new Google Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro, on October 4. 

The Google Pixel Watch 2 starts at $349 in the US, £349 in the UK and AU$549 in Australia for the WiFi-only model. With LTE connectivity, it costs $399 / £399 / AU$649. 

Preorders started on October 4 and the watch ships on Oct. 12.  It's available in four color combinations: Polished Silver/Bay, Polished Silver/Porcelain, Matte Black/Obsidian, and Champagne Gold/Hazel.

Google Pixel Watch 2: Design

Google Pixel Watch 2 HANDS ON

(Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)
  • Maintains elegance of original design
  • Lighter aluminum body
  • Redesigned digital crown 

Google's original Pixel Watch was one of the best-looking smartwatches on the market and its successor, the Google Pixel Watch 2, measures up to that standard.

The newly thinner glass cover and recycled aluminum body still look like they were poured out together. Its gumdrop shape looks and generally feels good. While lowering the overall weight by about 10%, Google didn't touch the dimensions of the one-size-fits-all 41mm watch.

There is one change that does incrementally improve the aesthetic appeal: Google redesigned the digital crown, mostly by changing the stem that leads to it, to give it a more watch-like look and more importantly make it easier to use it.

Google didn't make any changes to the sometimes challenging band attachment system, but there are some new bands, including six fitness bands. I didn't get to wear them but I can report that the material felt nice.

Google Pixel Watch 2: Features

Google Pixel Watch 2

(Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)
  • New Safety features
  • Skin temperature sensing
  • New watch faces and complications
  • Better heart rate sensor

While I didn't get to spend much time with the new Pixel Watch 2, it's safe to assume that the new quad-core processor should result in smoother operation. However, some of the biggest changes will surely come from the new Wear OS 4.0.

The system change will bring new core apps like Calendar, Gmai, and an updated Google Assistant.

On the Health and Fitness front, the Pixel Watch 2 will match the Apple Watch Series 9 and Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 to automatically recognize when you start and stop working out. it's one of my favorite Apple Watch features and I'm happy to see it here.

There's a new heart rate zone for runners that can help with pace coaching and alert you when you drop in and out of your personal zone.

Google Pixel Watch 2

(Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)

Speaking of heart, the new multi-path heart rate sensor is actually multiple sensors that, according to Google, can much more accurately track your heart rate during more vigorous workouts (Google claims it's up to 40% more accurate than the original Pixel Watch's optical heart rate sensor, just like the Fitbit Charge 6's 60% improvement on the Charge 5). It does this by taking the single-point sensor contact of the original Google Pixel Watch and multiplying it into four points of wrist contact.

There's also a new sweat detector (the CEDA) that the watch can use to measure your stress level.

In addition to all these health and activity adjustments, the Google Pixel Watch 2 now includes Personal Safety features. With Safety Check, you set a timer and if you have not responded by the end of it, the watch can automatically send a message to your emergency contact with your real-time location.

Normally, this feature would require not only an LTE version of the Pixel Watch 2 but a monthly carrier contract, as well. Google will be offering it, though, as a free feature for Fitbit Premium customers. Naturally, Fitbit Premium is not free – it normally costs $9.99 / £7.99 / AU$15.49 a month. However, all new Pixel Watch 2 customers get six months of Fitbit Premium for free.

I got a walkthrough of the new Safety Features and thought they looked clear, concise, and useful.

Google Pixel Watch 2: Early verdict

Having only spent a couple of hours with the new Google Pixel Watch 2, it's way too soon to offer a verdict. 

Still, I'm generally pleased with the look, feel, and function of Google's new smartwatch.

While I wish Google had enlarged the display, the new watch faces are packed full of information and much of the interface appeared clean and responsive.

I'm a little surprised that Google chose to swap out inductive charging capability for four physical pins, but the reasoning is sound. Who wouldn't want faster charging so they can get back to bed with their smartwatch for accurate sleep and temperature tracking?

The new quad-core processor and updated Wear OS 4.0 should make it a more responsive and easier-to-use wearable.

Google held the line on pricing though I can't help but think that the Pixel Watch 2 could be a best-seller if it drops the WiFi model price to $299.

More to come in our full review.

MSI Stealth 16 Mercedes-AMG Motorsport A13V review: a fast, creative Ultrabook that goes the distance
9:50 am | September 13, 2023

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

MSI Stealth 16 Mercedes-AMG Motorsport A13V: One-Minute Review

MSI has partnered with car company Mercedes AMG on a customized Stealth 16 Studio A13V laptop dubbed the Stealth 16 Mercedes-AMG Motorsport A13V. This sleek 16-inch ultra-portable is technically pitched at creative professionals, with studio drivers and Windows 11 Pro, but it’s a blurry line at best since MSI is also happy to boast about it’s gaming prowess. 

There’s a 16-inch OLED screen with 4K resolution up front that will work equally well for professional video and color work, as it will for immersive single-player gaming. It is only 60Hz capable however, so it won’t suit every play style, but full DCI-P3 color and a bright display is perfectly suited to creative visual work. 

The device uses conservative thermal design power maximums to keep weight down to a total of 1.88kg. This also means you’ll get reasonable battery life lasting up to 7 hours and 8 minutes, but it also means that performance doesn't match the workstations that aren’t trying to maintain a slim and light form factor. 

You’ll get 100 frames-per-second averages running games at FullHD Ultra settings, but you’d definitely want to run titles in QHD or 4K in order to utilise the power on offer from the Intel Core i9-13900H CPU and a 105W Nvidia GeForce RTX 4070 GPU. 

You can get slightly thicker gaming Ultrabooks with better performance for notably less, but you’ll generally take a solid hit in battery life. This is a premium device for those that want great performance and the best possible battery life in an extremely portable and professional-looking package. 

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MSI laptop on a car

(Image credit: Future - Joel Burgess, Sharmishta Sarkar)
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MSI laptop on a car

(Image credit: Future - Joel Burgess, Sharmishta Sarkar)
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MSI laptop on a car

(Image credit: Future - Joel Burgess, Sharmishta Sarkar)
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MSI laptop on a car

(Image credit: Future - Joel Burgess, Sharmishta Sarkar)
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MSI laptop on a car

(Image credit: Future - Joel Burgess, Sharmishta Sarkar)
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MSI laptop on a car

(Image credit: Future - Joel Burgess, Sharmishta Sarkar)

MSI Stealth 16 Mercedes-AMG Motorsport A13V review: Price and availability

  • Retails for $2,899 / £2,399 / AU $5,499
  • Available now in the US, UK and AU

The Stealth 16 Mercedes AMG Motorsport A13V is available now in one main configuration for the US, UK and Australian regions. The recommended retail price lands at $2,899 / £2,399 / AU $5,499 and comes with a bundle of exclusive merch' including a gaming mouse, mousepad, a dual USB, a pouch (for some important things), and a cable tie for either the power brick or your Lewis Hamilton-styled man bun. 

The price is more expensive than many competitor's, with Razer and Asus both offering similar configurations for less. The MSI  Stealth 16 Mercedes-AMG Motorsport A13V does offer additional battery life over the competition, but you do have to pay extra for it. 

  • Value score: 3.5 / 5

MSI Stealth 16 Mercedes-AMG Motorsport A13V: Specs

On the whole this is a well balanced spec sheet. The 4K display may have been an issue if this was a dedicated gaming laptop (since it’s only got a 60Hz refresh rate), but it’s perfectly suited to someone wanting to use it for creative work. 

The CPU is powerful, but only draws 45W (unlike some of the top higher core 13th gen i9 chips) and it pairs nicely with the 105W Nvidia RTX 4070 GPU to offer power without totally disregarding battery life. 

The 32GB RAM allocation will be adequate for many professional workflows and the 2TB SSD is fast and expansive enough for a modern creative pro.  

A more detailed specs list like this:

MSI Stealth 16 Mercedes-AMG Motorsport A13V review: Design

MSI laptop on yoga mat

(Image credit: Future - Joel Burgess, Sharmishta Sarkar)
  • 4K OLED screen
  • Powerful components
  • Good battery

The Stealth 16 Mercedes-AMG Motorsport A13V is an ultra-portable 16-inch professional laptop with a discrete Nvidia GeForce RTX 4070 graphics card and a 13th generation Intel i9 processor. Usually having this much power leads to laptops that are bulkier and have limited battery life, but the A13V has a generous 99.9Wh battery and a 4.2lbs (1.88kg) total weight, so it’s designed to be easy to work with on the go. 

This portability focus extends through the exterior design, offering a premium feeling magnesium-aluminum chassis that keeps the device rigid at just 0.85 inches (2.2cm) and a power brick that isn’t as large as you might expect from a laptop this powerful. 

The Mercedes branding is muted enough to be palatable for those that are indifferent to the partnership, and there aren't any outlandish design tweaks since the most notable changes are cosmetic golf-ball-dimples added to the edges and rear vents, and a chequered flag effect on the space bar. 

The keyboard is a reasonable membrane-based setup with enough travel to be comfortable to type on and quiet enough to work in communal spaces. It does still include MSI’s coveted RGB per-key backlighting array so you can customize how you want your keyboard to look. 

MSI used Mercedes' audio component manufacturer Burmester to produce the speaker array for the laptop and the 6 speaker array sounds great for media playback. This is, of course, complimented by the 4K OLED display with Vesa DisplayHDR 600 color and brightness certification to make it an exceptionally appealing device to watch (and create) audio-visual content on. 

The device comes with a 1080p webcam that can manually be shuttered and an infra-red camera for quick Windows Hello sign-in. It’s also got the other standard business feature of a fingerprint reader and offers a wide range of ports and interface options for a modern laptop.   

  • Design score: 4.5 / 5

MSI Stealth 16 Mercedes-AMG Motorsport A13V review: Performance

MSI Stealth 16 playing F1 on a yoga mat

(Image credit: Future - Joel Burgess)
  • Balanced workstation performance
  • Fast interface options
MSI Stealth 16 Mercedes-AMG Motorsport A13V: Benchmarks

Here's how the MSI Stealth 16 Mercedes-AMG Motorsport A13V performed in our suite of benchmark tests:

3DMark: Port Royal: 7,171; Time Spy Extreme: 5,599; Time Spy: 11,709;
GeekBench 5: 1,996 (single-core); 18,934 (multi-core)
Cinebench R23 Multi-core:
19,278 points
Cyberpunk 2077 (1080p, Ultra): 92 fps;
RDR2 (1080p, Ultra): 95fps;
Crystal DiskMark 8 (Read/ Write):
6473/4707 MB/s
PCMark 10 (Home Test): 7,083 points
Battery Life (TechRadar movie test): 7 hours, 8 minutes

An Intel Core i9-13900H CPU and a 105W Nvidia GeForce RTX 4070 GPU is a pretty powerful system configuration that’s capable of impressive creative performance. The CPU isn’t the most powerful available on a laptop today, outpaced by Intel’s unlocked 13th gen i9 and i7 processors (which have more performance cores) and AMD’s Ryzen 9 7940HS, but it is still very competent and will be capable of handling demanding workloads. 

The same could be said about the 105W RTX 4070, which is outperformed by systems willing to divert additional power to the graphical capabilities, but which still offers respectable frame rates of around 100 fps on modern titles using 1080p settings. This level of GPU output offers close to 60% better performance than an Apple MacBook Pro 16 and the Stealth 16’s lower wattage GPU is able to keep up with a 140W RTX 4070 on a Razer Blade 14 for most synthetic benchmarks.

This performance will drop back with more consistent loads since higher powered 4070 GPUs offered 5% to 8% higher framerates across gaming benchmarks, but it’s not as big a difference as you might expect. 

The SSD manages read speeds of 6473MB/s and write speeds of 4707MB/s which isn't exactly breaking records, but it is the latest spec of PCIe internal drive, meaning transferring large files can happen surprisingly quickly. Combine that with Wi-Fi 6E or the direct Gigabit ethernet connection and you’ve got a setup that can move content as quick as anything. 

  • Performance score: 4 / 5

MSI Stealth 16 Mercedes-AMG Motorsport A13V review: Battery life

MSI Motorsport laptop on car seat

(Image credit: Future - Joel Burgess)
  • 7 hour 8 minute work lifespan 
  • 6 hour 36 minute movie playback
  • Sub 2 hour gaming lifespan

Battery life is one of the main drawcards of the Stealth 16 Mercedes-AMG Motorsport A13V. Sure it’s not the almost 20 hours you’ll get on a MacBook Pro 16, but it’s a heap more than the 4-ish hours you’ll get from a standard gaming laptop.

We got a very reasonable score of 7 hours and 8 minutes of light work using PCMark 8 Home battery benchmark, which translates into 6 hours and 36 minutes for 1080p movie playback.

You should expect these lifespans to drop to under 2 hours when engaging the GPU, so if you need to do intense work we wouldn’t recommend leaving the charger behind. 

  • Battery life score: 3.5 / 5

Should you buy the MSI Stealth 16 Mercedes-AMG Motorsport A13V?

Buy it if...

Battery life is important
You need something powerful that can last close to a full day for light work tasks if needed.  

Don't buy it if...

You need uncompromising performance
You want the absolute pinnacle of laptop power. You can get more powerful devices if you’re happy to trade out some battery life.  

Also consider

How I tested the MSI Stealth 16 Mercedes-AMG Motorsport A13V

  • I tested it using both benchmark tests and video game benchmarks
  • I stress-tested the battery using the TechRadar movie test

I ran the MSI Stealth 16 Mercedes-AMG Motorsport A13V through our standard suite of benchmarks to get a feel for the laptop's peak performance and to see how it compares with the best on the market.

In addition to our standard suite of testing, I also tested the device using it for a day of work to see how it fares when typing, web browsing, working and for light photo and video editing tasks. 

The screen was analysed using TechRadar's standard movie test and was compared against other screens running standard web browsing and movie editing software. 

The battery life was benchmarked with two tests to simulate different battery life scenarios.

Read more about how we test laptops and desktops.

First reviewed September 2023

Asus Vivobook Pro 16X OLED (2023) review: this creative workstation is a MacBook Pro beater – at a third the price
12:26 pm | August 30, 2023

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

Asus Vivobook Pro 16X OLED (2023): Two Minute Review

Asus’ Vivobook Pro 16X OLED is a complicated range that isn't afraid to use the best components and play to their strengths, even if it makes messaging complicated for a consumer. 

The 2023 Vivobook Pro 16X OLED I’m covering here is a 16-inch creative workstation with a 13th gen Intel based processor that prioritises performance over battery life.

The 2022 version, however, which is still sold alongside the current update, uses an AMD processor and a slightly different 4K display that isn’t particularly powerful, but which will net you over 10 hours of battery during light work tasks.

What these devices have in common is that neither have much concern for conforming to an ultra-portable thin and light form factor. Admittedly, the Vivobook weighs a very manageable 1.9kg, but at 2.2cm thick it’s half a centimetre thicker than devices like the MacBook Pro 16 and this combines with the lightweight plastic keyboard surround to give it a decidedly gaming-laptop look. 

The powerful components on offer here may be more than capable of smoothly firing up your favourite games after work, but the Vivobook Pro 16X OLED is designed for work – a fact highlighted by the bundled Windows 11 Pro OS and Studio Driver pre-installed on the Nvidia GeForce RTX 4060 GPU. 

The Vivobook Pro 16X OLED (2023) has an impressively powerful (and power hungry) 105W, 24 core Intel Core i9-13980HX CPU that can boost to 5.6GHz for results that will considerably outpace a top spec Apple MacBook Pro 16 (M2 Max) and often doubles the results of the 2022 AMD based Vivobook Pro 16X OLED (2022). This is perfect for creatives that need their machines to do more, but it combines with the discrete graphics to draw a lot of power. This means battery life is only around 4.5 hours during light work tasks — A deal breaker for those that need to work on battery. 

Supporting these powerful components is an impressive 16-inch, 120Hz, OLED display that competes with the best OLED screens available on any laptop. This larger 3200 x 2000 pixel display also has a peak 600 nit brightness, Vesa DisplayHDR True Black 600, 100 percent DCI-P3 colour validated by Pantone and an ultra-fast 0.2ms response rate. 

The Vivobook Pro 16X OLED (2023) is a different beast to the on-the-go work offering of the MacBook Pro 16, but when you get a more powerful laptop with 32GB of RAM and a 1TB SSD slot for $1,800 /  £1,699.99 / AU$3,399, it’s a pretty compelling alternative. 

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Asus Vivobook Pro 16X OLED in various positions

Asus Vivobook Pro 16X OLED in various positions (Image credit: Future - Joel Burgess)
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Asus Vivobook Pro 16X OLED in various positions

Asus Vivobook Pro 16X OLED in various positions (Image credit: Future - Joel Burgess)
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Asus Vivobook Pro 16X OLED in various positions

(Image credit: Future - Joel Burgess)
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Asus Vivobook Pro 16X OLED in various positions

(Image credit: Future - Joel Burgess)
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Asus Vivobook Pro 16X OLED in various positions

(Image credit: Future - Joel Burgess)
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Asus Vivobook Pro 16X OLED in various positions

(Image credit: Future - Joel Burgess)
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Asus Vivobook Pro 16X OLED in various positions

(Image credit: Future - Joel Burgess)

Asus Vivobook Pro 16X OLED (2023): Price and availability

  • $2,000 / £1,700 / AU$3,399
  • Available now
  • Available in the US, UK and AU

The Asus Vivobook Pro 16X OLED is available in the US, UK and Australia right now with a few different variations offered in different regions. 

The 2023 Vivobook Pro 16X OLED comes with a 3K 120Hz OLED panel and shouldn’t be confused with the 2022 Vivobook Pro 16X OLED devices that have Intel 12th gen or AMD 5000 series processors. All these devices are being sold in some markets side-by-side, but while they might be priced similarly enough they can be very different offerings. 

The Intel based Vivobook Pro 16X OLED tested here features a 13th Gen i9- i9-13980HX CPU, 32GB RAM and a Nvidia GeForce RTX 4060 GPU for $2,000 / £1,700 / AU$3,399. 

  • Price score: 4.5 / 5

Asus Vivobook Pro 16X OLED (2023): Specs

The Vivobook Pro I was sent to review is listed below. There are earlier generations still available to buy and some regions offer 6000 series AMD alternatives. Some regions will also offer a few different GPU configurations. 

  • Specs score: 5 / 5

Asus Vivobook Pro 16X OLED (2023): Design

Asus laptop on table

(Image credit: Future - Joel Burgess)
  • Pro OLED screen
  • Powerful components
  • Good port selection

The design of the Vivobook Pro 16X might seem a little counterintuitive at first. Its chassis is made largely out of plastic rather than the usual high-end unibody aluminium you might expect on a premium work device and the keyboard features a fluro-orange escape key and highlighted command keys that you’d usually only see on gaming laptops. 

If that wasn’t enough there’s also fluorescent rubber feet and a thicker-than-ultrabook 2.2cm profile with gaming styled air-vents, a sci-fi dog tag badge and and a hinge cutaway that mean this laptop looks more like a gaming laptop than many gaming laptops

Fortunately, it’s subtle enough that you could easily still pull it off in a work setting and the lightweight chassis and bolstered cooling mean you can easily push into demanding creative tasks without any issues. 

The screen is undoubtedly the standout attraction as far as the design goes, offering a 16-inch 3.2K OLED panel that is capable of a 600 peak brightness. This combination of OLED blacks and a brighter-than-usual screen make this display on offer one of the best we’ve ever seen on a laptop. 

The screen also offers Pantone Validated full DCI-P3 color and a Delta-E of less than 2 to make it the perfect laptop for video editing, using it as a photo editing laptop, or any other creative color work. It also comes with Dolby Vision HDR that’ll allow you to playback media in vivid HDR and the 120Hz refresh rate and low latency 0.2ms response rate means games and other moving media will appear smoother and more immediate.

Asus includes DialPad functionality on the Vivobook Pro 16X OLED’s trackpad, allowing you to quickly change a wide array of settings in creative applications. It’s also got a fingerprint sensor, number pad, physical webcam shield, and a wide array of interface options including; Ethernet, HDMI and an SD Card slot, to ensure you can conveniently work in a range of formats.  

The Harmon Kardon designed speakers are Dolby Atmos compatible and compliment the impressive screen, and Asus has harnessed the new AI capabilities of this 13th gen Intel chip to offer onboard AI background noise cancellation for web meeting audio, and can blur backgrounds and change focus settings for video.

  • Design score: 4.5 / 5

Asus Vivobook Pro 16X OLED (2023): Performance

Asus Vivobook Pro 16X OLED in various positions

(Image credit: Future - Joel Burgess)
  • Excellent CPU performance
  • Solid GPU performance
Asus Vivobook Pro 16X OLED: Benchmarks

Here's how the Asus Vivobook Pro 16X OLED (2023) performed in our suite of benchmark tests:

3DMark: Port Royal: 5,538; Time Spy Extreme: 4,989; Time Spy: 10,356;
GeekBench 5: 2,115 (single-core); 18,934 (multi-core)
Cinebench R23 Multi-core:
28,443 points
Cyberpunk 2077 (1080p, Ultra): 90.77 fps;
RDR2 (1080p, Ultra): 144.94 fps;
Crystal DiskMark 8 (Read/ Write):
3,952/2,957 MB/s
PCMark 10 (Home Test): 7,781 points
Battery Life (TechRadar movie test): 4 hours, 35 minutes

Performance is a standout feature of the Asus Vivobook Pro 16X OLED (2023). The Vivobook Pro 16X OLED has an impressive 105W, 24 core Intel Core i9-13980HX CPU that can boost to 5.6GHz and can push between 25 and 90 percent performance bumps over the M2 Max – A pretty serious performance achievement in a similarly sized laptop.

The 4060 on the model tested is also capable of graphical benchmark performance 28 percent more than a top-spec MacBook Pro 16 on Geekbench 5 OpenCL benchmark and can almost double the Apple unit’s Sid Meier's: Civilization VI frame rates.

This graphical performance is also roughly double what I had on file for the ASUS Vivobook Pro 16X OLED (2022) with a Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050 Ti across a range of gaming and synthetic benchmarks. A performance jump that makes it a very different offering to its predecessor. 

The only disappointing element we found in the performance of the Vivobook Pro 16X OLED (2023) was in SSD speed. At just 3,952 MB/s sequential read and 2,957 MB/s sequential write, it's close to half what you'll get from many competitors on the market. You're unlikely t notice it when transferring media since you're generally bound to whatever interface you plug in with (we could transfer from an external PCIe SSD over thunderbolt at a max speed of 1,600 MB/s), but it's an unfortunate omission for something that's supposed to be the pinnacle of power. 

  • Performance score: 4.5 / 5

Asus Vivobook Pro 16X OLED (2023): Battery life

Asus Vivobook Pro 16X OLED in various positions

(Image credit: Future - Joel Burgess)
  • 4h35min work lifespan 
  • 4h13min movie playback

This device's impressive performance is driven by a much bigger 245W peak power draw on the Vivobook compared to around 35W on the MacBook Pro. This means that while you’ll get around 4 hours and 35 minutes of battery using the Vivobook Pro 16X OLED for light work tasks, you won’t be able to really push the device with heavy workloads unless you’re close to a powerpoint. Running a game for example will net you only around an hour and a half of run-time on a full charge. 

The lifespan for 1080p movie playback lasting a total of 4 hours and 13 minutes. This is more than enough to get you through a film, but it's not ideal for those trying to use it for any reasonable length of time away from power. 

It's also disappointing against the 10-plus hours I've benchmarked on earlier AMD powered iterations of the Vivobook Pro 16X OLED for the same tests. It is low enough to make it an entirely different kind of offering to the 20-ish hours you might be able to stretch from a MacBook Pro 16, even if you're dabbling in graphical work. 

  • Battery life score: 3.5 / 5

Should you buy the Asus Vivobook Pro 16X OLED (2023)?

Buy it if...

Performance is critical
If you want workstation performance from a creative Windows laptop then it’s hard to look past this exceptionally powerful device. 

Don't buy it if...

You need something that runs on battery
The Asus Vivobook 16X Pro OLED does not have a long battery lifespan, even by gaming laptop standards, so if you want to work on the go it’s best to look elsewhere. 

Asus Vivobook Pro 16X OLED (2023): Also consider

How I tested the Asus Vivobook 16X OLED (2023)

  • I tested it using both benchmark tests and video game benchmarks
  • I stress-tested the battery using the TechRadar movie test

I ran the Asus Vivobook 16X OLED through our standard suite of benchmarks to get a feel for the laptop's peak performance and to see how it compares with the best on the market.

In addition to our standard suite of testing, I also tested the device using it for a day of work to see how it fares when typing, web browsing, working and for light photo and video editing tasks. 

The screen was analysed using TechRadar's standard movie test and was compared against other screens running standard web browsing and movie editing software. 

The battery life was benchmarked with two tests to simulate different battery life scenarios.

Read more about how we test laptops and desktops.

First reviewed August 2023

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