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OnePlus Nord CE 3 Lite review
7:25 pm | November 9, 2023

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

OnePlus Nord CE 3 Lite two-minute review

OnePlus has been using its budget Nord line to shake things up compared to its top-end numbered line. And its latest phone finds another way to be different; while the likes of the OnePlus 11 have nice and simple names, the OnePlus Nord CE 3 Lite opts to instead have a ridiculously bloated title.

‘Nord’ is the budget arm of OnePlus, ‘CE’ is the budget arm of Nord and ‘Lite’ tells you that this is an even budget-ier phone than its budget brothers. Confusing etymology out the way, the OnePlus Nord CE 3 Lite is a pretty standard Android phone, with its only noteworthy feature being its obnoxious name.

This handset is partly an affordable alternative to the OnePlus Nord CE 3, with a similar design and software but weaker specs in a limited few areas. But it’s just as easy to call it a successor to the OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite from 2022, with a few upgrades and several curious features carried over. It’s also seen a relatively major price jump from that previous handset.

Admittedly the Nord CE 3 didn't launch in many regions, making the Lite a bigger opportunity for OnePlus to get people to give its CE line a fighting chance.

The price increase here is an issue because costing £299 (around $350 / AU$520), the OnePlus Nord CE 3 Lite is bumping heads with some (relatively) super-spec’d similar-price rivals, and it’s not a favorable comparison given the competitive nature of phones at this price point.

The OnePlus Nord CE 3 Lite on a table

(Image credit: Future)

One of the selling points of the phone is its 108MP main camera, making the Nord CE 3 Lite the first CE handset to use a high-res main camera like this. Functionally this doesn’t change much, but it does give you the option to eat through your storage space at an even faster rate.

A new feature that’s actually useful is the 67W fast charging; Nord phones generally come with luxuriously big batteries, but with the slow charging taking ages to power them to full. Now, however, you’re getting a day’s worth of power from just half an hour of charging.

Most of the best parts of this phone are carried over from the Nord CE 3 too like the aforementioned big battery, as well as the large display and microSDXC card slot. However, some of the downgrades are where the phone is weakest: its chip is weak for gaming, it misses out on an ultra-wide camera and the screen uses LCD tech instead of OLED.

Curiously, these were all some of the weakest points of the Nord CE 2 Lite – clearly, OnePlus missed a memo somewhere.

So the handset is a mixed bag with some useful features but a few too many weak areas to make the device recommendable over similar-priced rivals.

OnePlus Nord CE 3 Lite review: price and availability

  • Released in April 2023
  • Costs £299 (around $350 / AU$520)
  • Unavailable in US or Australia

The OnePlus Nord CE 3 Lite on a table

(Image credit: Future)

The OnePlus Nord CE 3 Lite went on sale in April 2023, in Europe at least because OnePlus doesn’t sell its CE models in the US.

The OnePlus Nord CE 3 Lite costs £299 (around $350 / AU$520), and for that price you’ll get 8GB RAM and 128GB storage – in the UK, this is the only variant available, though you can pick between Pastel Lime and Chromatic Gray.

At that price, the phone straddles the line between ‘budget’ and ‘mid-range’ mobile, Some other phones at this price point include Xiaomi’s impressive Redmi Note 12 Pro or the Poco X5 Pro, two handsets explored in the comparisons section later.

  • Value score: 2.5 / 5

OnePlus Nord CE 3 Lite review: specs

The OnePlus Nord CE 3 Lite is your typical budget smartphone in most regards when it comes to specifications:

OnePlus Nord CE 3 Lite review: design

  • Standard chocolate-bar phone
  • Mostly-reliable fingerprint scanner
  • 3.5mm headphone jack and USB-C port

The OnePlus Nord CE 3 Lite on a table

(Image credit: Future)

OnePlus has opted to use the same rough design for the Nord CE 3 Lite that it uses for basically all of its budget mobiles. That means it’s your standard ‘chocolate-bar’ style smartphone.

The back of the handset has circular camera bumps, which don’t protrude too much, so the phone won’t wobble a lot when put down on a flat surface. The fingerprint scanner is mounted on the right edge of the OnePlus, built into the power button – it was fairly reliable to use, but there were occasions when it didn’t pick up a print. Then on the opposite edge is the volume rocker, with both a USB-C port and 3.5mm headphone jack on the bottom frame of the device.

This Nord CE 3 Lite is big, as smartphones go, with dimensions of 165.5 x 76 x 8.3mm, though weighing 195g it’s not especially heavy. Still, don't opt for this mobile if you want a nice compact phone, as it could be hard to use – in fact, even fairly average-sized hands and will see you stretching to reach the fingerprint scanner.

Both the frame and the back panel of the CE 3 Lite are made of plastic, a common material for budget mobiles. While it doesn’t lead to a premium feel in the hand it does make the handset a little more durable. An official IP rating would add to that durability but unfortunately there isn’t one – don’t get this device wet!

Sadly, OnePlus has followed the mainstream phone trend of using a flat frame, which means that when you’re holding the phone – especially if you’re stretching your hand to do so, it can dig into your hand a little bit and get uncomfortable.

There are two colors to the phone: green and gray. TechRadar's test unit was the former, a vibrant lime hue that’s a little more exciting than the options you see in many other Nord devices.

  • Design score: 3.5 / 5

OnePlus Nord CE 3 Lite review: display

  • Giant 6.72-inch screen
  • FHD+ resolution fit for games or movies
  • LCD screen means colors aren't bold

The OnePlus Nord CE 3 Lite on a table

(Image credit: Future)

The OnePlus Nord CE 3 Lite’s display is nice and big, with its 6.72-inch screen giving you plenty of viewing room for social media or your streaming service of choice. Plus, its resolution is 1080 x 2400 or FHD+, so unlike some low-budget mobiles you won’t have to drop any pixels.

The display also has a 120Hz refresh rate, so the image updates 120 times per second, making motion look nice and smooth on the display.

The downside to the display is that it’s LCD, which means colors aren’t quite as bold and bright as they would be on another phone – LCD used to be reserved for budget phones but nowadays many use OLED too. If you care about screen quality this may be a reason to spend a little more on the AMOLED-touting Nord CE 3.

  • Display score: 3 / 5

OnePlus Nord CE 3 Lite review: software

  • Phone runs newest Android software, Android 13
  • OnePlus' OxygenOS laid over the top
  • OxygenOS brings useful extra tools like Zen

The OnePlus Nord CE 3 Lite on a table

(Image credit: Future)

As with all OnePlus phones, the Nord CE 3 Lite uses Android with OnePlus’ own user interface laid over the top. In this case, it’s Android 13 on the base with OxygenOS 13.

OxygenOS is a popular user interface for Android fans, even though in recent years it’s lost its unique identity due to it blurring together with Oppo’s ColorOS (a merger several years ago made OnePlus just one part of Oppo). 

Some of the unique features of the software include a Zen Space app that lets you limit the phone to focus when you’re working, and a Smart Launcher that dynamically adjusts your home page widgets and apps to help your workflow.

Coupled with the 120Hz refresh rate display, the software made navigating the phone feel smooth and easy, which is certainly something you can’t say often for handsets at this price point. That’s despite OxygenOS 13 feeling a little more cluttered than earlier versions of the software.

In TechRadar's OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite review, the reviewer criticized its app bloatware, a complaint critics have been leveling against cheap phones since the dawn of time, but usually to little avail – until now. The CE 3 Lite has barely any pre-installed apps that aren’t the default system ones, adding to OxygenOS’ clean feel.

  • Software score: 3.5 / 5

OnePlus Nord CE 3 Lite review: cameras

  • High-res but mid-performance 108MP main sensor
  • Two 2MP auxiliary cameras add nothing
  • Decent 16MP selfie camera

The OnePlus Nord CE 3 Lite on a table

(Image credit: Future)

OnePlus has upgraded its Nord CE main sensor to 108MP in the OnePlus Nord CE 3 Lite. But that numerical upgrade certainly doesn’t transform this device into a budget camera powerhouse.

Photos taken on this main camera were detailed and often fairly bright, so they’ll be fit for purpose for social media use, although the automatic AI optimization sometimes made questionable decisions in tweaking white balance, so we’d recommend keeping that off. There’s an example of this in the camera samples section below.

You’re not getting as vibrant colors or adept night shooting as on a more premium sensor, but that’s a sacrifice you make by buying a budget smartphone. Snaps are pixel-binned into 12MP shots, to save you from burning through the storage space, but you can get 108MP shots if you want.

Joining the main camera is a 2MP macro camera and another 2MP depth sensor, and these add nothing to the photography experience, as has almost always been the case with budget mobiles that have this duo tacked on.

With no telephoto camera you’re left to rely on digital zoom which loses quality quickly. There’s also no ultra-wide camera, which is a surprise given that the vast majority of budget mobiles come with these.

On the front of the phone is a 16MP f/2.4 selfie camera. Snaps taken on this appear a little naturalistic compared to equivalents on the top-end phones of the day, largely because of the AI processing’s light touch, but depending on your taste you might prefer this look over super-processed selfies.

Video recording on both the front and rear cameras is available at 720p or 1080p, so there’s no 4K recording here. Other modes on offer cover the basics: slow-mo, time-lapse, Pro and macro, as well as the full-resolution main camera mode previously mentioned.

OnePlus Nord CE 3 Lite camera samples

Image 1 of 6

OnePlus Nord CE 3 Lite camera sample

A church captured on the OnePlus Nord CE 3 Lite's main camera. (Image credit: Future)
Image 2 of 6

OnePlus Nord CE 3 Lite camera sample

A tennis racquet and balls captured on the OnePlus Nord CE 3 Lite (Image credit: Future)
Image 3 of 6

OnePlus Nord CE 3 Lite camera sample

A wider landscape OnePlus Nord CE 3 Lite (Image credit: Future)
Image 4 of 6

OnePlus Nord CE 3 Lite camera sample

A building with a distant skyline captured on the main camera of the OnePlus Nord CE 3 Lite (Image credit: Future)
Image 5 of 6

OnePlus Nord CE 3 Lite camera sample

A 3x zoom picture of a building, with AI off, to compare to the next image. (Image credit: Future)
Image 6 of 6

OnePlus Nord CE 3 Lite camera sample

A 3x zoom picture of a building, with AI on, to compare to the next image. (Image credit: Future)
  • Camera score: 2.5 / 5

OnePlus Nord CE 3 Lite: performance and audio

  • Snapdragon 695 chip is rather sluggy
  • Phone doesn't manage gaming well at all
  • Lots of space for storage

Powering the OnePlus Nord CE 3 Lite is Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 695 chipset, which can be seen in quite a few budget phones over the last few years. It’s quite an old component and quite a weak chip, not suitable for intensive purposes or power users.

The phone was tested on common games like Call of Duty: Mobile and New State, and found that the chip just couldn’t manage average-intensity titles like these. When playing online, the games would stutter and grind to a halt frequently, which isn’t ideal for competitive online games.

Basic games functioned fine, and if the extent of your gaming passion is the likes of Mini Metro or Candy Crush, you’ll be fine. But don’t expect to use that spacious 6.7-inch screen for shooter action.

There’s at least lots of space on the phone. While the version of the mobile readily accessible online has 128GB storage, there’s a microSDXC card slot to expand that space, perfect for if you save lots of files or like to load your mobile with apps.

There’s a single down-firing speaker on the OnePlus. But music fans will be happy to hear that there’s a 3.5mm headphone jack, so you can plug in wired headphones to listen to tunes. There is of course Bluetooth connectivity, with Bluetooth 5.1 on board.

  • Performance score: 2.5 / 5

OnePlus Nord CE 3 Lite review: battery life

  • Big 5,000mAh battery
  • Phone lasts over a day per charge
  • 67W charging gets you to 80% in 30 minutes

The OnePlus Nord CE 3 Lite on a table

(Image credit: Future)

If there’s one thing that a budget phone reliably does better than a premium one, it’s its lasting power; cheap phone manufacturers strip out loads of features to cut the handset’s price, but compensate by shoving in a huge battery, leading to a phone that’ll last for ages on a single charge.

That’s certainly the case with the OnePlus Nord CE 3 Lite – as with most of the other CE models, there’s a chunky 5,000mAh battery here, and it means the device will breeze through a day without needing to be charged.

In fact, even with some heavy use – photo shoots, Netflix binges, the aforementioned failed attempts at gaming – the handset was at no risk of running out of power after a day of use. You’d need to use the phone very sparingly to get it to two, but either way, it’s a reliable device.

The charging speed is 67W, and OnePlus claims that the phone will get from empty to 80% in half an hour. That’s a speed that makes your iPhone or Samsung Galaxy look sluggish.

  • Battery score: 4.5 / 5

Should you buy the OnePlus Nord CE 3 Lite?

Buy it if...

You want a long-lasting mobile
With a 5,000mAh battery, this mobile will last you for easily a day before you need to charge it, and possibly two days if you're using it sparingly.

You love the headphone jack
OnePlus has opted to keep the 3.5mm headphone jack here, and is generally good at retaining the audio port on its Nord devices.

You want a side-mounted fingerprint scanner
Side-mounted fingerprint scanners are getting rarer on mobiles, even budget ones, despite how easy they are to use. If it's your preferred way of unlocking your phone, the CE 3 Lite is here for you.

Don't buy it if...

You have small hands
With its large display and size, you'll find the Nord CE 3 Lite tough to use if you have small hands, with the screen extremities and fingerprint scanner in particular hard to reach.

You're a mobile gamer
With its Snapdragon 600-series chipset, the OnePlus Nord CE 3 Lite just isn't a good device for playing action-packed games.

You're a photography fan
You're going to be hard-pressed to take award-winning pictures on a single 108MP rear camera, especially with the phone's questionable AI processing choices.

OnePlus Nord CE 3 Lite review: Also consider

As we've mentioned in this review, the low-price Android phone market is a competitive one. Here are some other mobiles you might want to consider:

Xiaomi Redmi Note 12 Pro
With a more powerful chipset, improved main and additional cameras and better-looking screen, Xiaomi has made a fantastic budget mobile here that rivals the OnePlus in terms of price.

OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite
The CE 3 Lite's predecessor isn't much weaker than the older model, but it's now a little older and therefore cheaper, so it's definitely a good budget alternative. Just be aware you might struggle to find it on sale. 

How I tested the OnePlus Nord CE 3 Lite

  • Review test period = 2 week
  • Testing included = Everyday usage, including web browsing, social media, photography, video calling, gaming, streaming video, music playback
  • Tools used = Geekbench 5, Geekbench 6, Geekbench ML, GFXBench, native Android stats

I tested the OnePlus Nord CE 3 Lite in its lovely green model, as you can see from the pictures. And the test unit featured 8GB RAM and 128GB storage space.

Due to receiving the review unit two weeks prior to the testing period, I activated it then to let the battery use settle. This period isn't included in the two-week test period cited above.

Much of the review period saw me using the phone as you would, using it for social media, photography and streaming, and I tried many times to use it for gaming too, though that was never a fun experience.

I used to work full-time for TechRadar both as a writer and editor in the phones team, and so have several years of experience covering phones, tablets and wearables. I've reviewed previous OnePlus phones as well as the plentiful rival budget Chinese phones on the market, so know what's best to compare the Nord to.

Read more about how we test

First reviewed July 2023

Casabrews 5700Pro review: an espresso one-stop-shop
8:10 pm | August 3, 2023

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

One-minute review

The Casabrews 5700Pro is an espresso machine that features an automatic, built-in grinder and steam wand, so you can use your favorite beans to make coffeehouse-style drinks at home. It’s relatively easy to use – and even those new to espresso machines will be able to learn quickly – although making a shot is a bit more involved than it would be with a pod machine or a basic coffee maker. But the rich, flavorful results are worth the effort. Just be prepared for some trial and error with the settings to achieve your perfect shot of espresso. 

Casabrews was founded in 2020 and deals exclusively in coffee machines, making sleek yet functional options for a variety of budgets. The brand has gained some notoriety on TikTok, and having used the 5700Pro for the past few weeks, I can see why it’s received some social media love – especially when you consider its low price. You’ll also find other budget-friendly alternatives in the Casabrews range, which drop features such as the built-in grinder or the LCD panel, for example, to come in at a more competitive price. 

If you’re looking for a commercial espresso machine experience, but without having to part with a fortune, the Casabrews 5700Pro is a sleek, compact alternative. The grinder offers 15 different grind sizes, and you can select the time for which the grinder distributes grinds into the portafilter for a more hands-off experience. Admittedly, the LCD and control panel are slightly confusing to use at first, but most should become familiar following a few uses. A weighty distributor and tamper are included, too, making the ground coffee ready to brew. 

When brewing an espresso, the machine heats up quickly and is ready to pull shots in about one minute. It takes some strength to slot the portafilter into the brew head, but once done, it’s ready to brew. The LCD panel displays the brew time and pressure, and if you fail to pull perfect results with your first shot, making adjustments is simple. Note, however, that the whole brewing process can be noisy, and I’ve experienced issues with vibrations moving my espresso cup – so be prepared. 

A steam wand is on hand to heat and foam milk in under 30 seconds, while the same wand can deliver hot water – with a little too much water pressure, in my opinion – for americanos or teas. 

Overall, if you love espresso or espresso-based drinks, the Casabrews 5700Pro is one of the best espresso machines available, especially when you consider the price and features. Experts and novices alike will appreciate its capabilities. 

Casabrews 5700Pro with its accessories on the floor

(Image credit: Future)

Casabrews 5700Pro review: price and availability

  •  List price:  $899.99
  • Only available in the US

You can purchase the Casabrews 5700Pro direct from the Casabrews website; it’s currently on sale for $459.99. You can also pick it up from third-party retailers such as Amazon and Home Depot, but the best deals are on the Casabrews website.

There’s no doubt that with a list price of $899.99, the 5700Pro espresso machine is expensive. With features such as a built-in grinder and steam wand, it has plenty going for it; but models such as Breville’s Barista Express Impress offer the same features for less. That said, I’ve yet to see the Casabrews 5700Pro selling at its list price, so if you manage to pick it up for $500 or less, it’s a great deal.

The 5700Pro is the top-of-the-line model in Casabrews’ range, so if you’re looking to spend less then there are several alternatives available. The 3700 Gense costs around $150 and comes with a steam wand and pressure gauge, but no built-in grinder, while the 5700 Gense retails for slightly less than the 5700Pro, yet comes with almost all the same features; there’s no LCD screen, though.

  • Value score: 4/5

Casabrews 5700Pro: specifications

Casabrews 5700Pro LCD controls screen

(Image credit: Future)

Casabrews 5700Pro review: design and features

  • Sleek, durable build with stainless steel finishes
  • Straight-forward, relatively simple setup
  • LCD and controls are difficult to navigate

The Casabrews 5700Pro arrives in a large, pretty bulky box. Inside, you’ll find a number of accessories, which could prove overwhelming for those who haven’t used an espresso machine before and remain unaware of the purpose of these different components. Luckily, an instruction manual and a shorter-length operation guide are on hand to enlighten you.  

Setting up the Casabrews 5700Pro is more straightforward than it might first appear. Most of the machine is already put together, including the grinder – a spare is provided, in case you damage the original.  The only parts you need to attach are the 0.4-gallon bean hopper, the 91oz water reservoir, and the filter holder bracket – which proved the trickiest. Nevertheless, it took about 10 minutes to get the machine set up for first use, which included washing and drying many of the parts before assembly.

Before the first use, you’re supposed to run through a brew cycle, to flush out the machine. Likewise, with the steam wand. I flushed the machine many more times than the one time recommended, however, since the water had a strange fishy smell. After several run-throughs, the smell dissipated. 

The machine itself is quite heavy, weighing a whisker over 20 lbs, so it’s not something you’ll want to be moving around a lot. Size-wise, it’s on par with other espresso machines offering similar functionality, at 12.8 x 11.2 x 16.5 inches with the bean hopper on top. It takes up a good deal of space on my counter, and only just fits under my cabinets, making it better for those with more spacious kitchens. 

The Casabrews 5700Pro’s finish is almost exclusively stainless steel, with its sleek, polished look matching many of the other appliances in my kitchen. Given its price, I expect its build to stand up to a good deal of use, and so far, I have no complaints in this regard. It’s easy to clean, too. The drip tray and plate that slot into the bottom of the machine offer a similarly sturdy feel, and the tray features a tab that will pop up when it needs to be emptied; it holds a good deal of water, requiring me to empty it only once during a week of use. It’s simple to take out and put back in. 

The plastic water reservoir slots into the back of the machine, which makes it slightly challenging to get to when it needs to be filled; Casabrews recommends filling it with “fresh, cold tap water before each use.” I’m lazy, adding water only when the level went below the minimum fill line on most days. I didn’t notice any difference between “fresh” versus “days old” water, but it could play into the longevity of the machine. There doesn’t appear to be any type of filter at the bottom of the tank, which is disappointing. It means that calcium buildup as a result of hard water could lead to issues down the road. 

Casabrews 5700Pro having its portafilter inserted

(Image credit: Future)

As mentioned, this machine comes with a grinder preinstalled. You can select a grind size of between 1-15, simply by turning the notch. Be sure to never get the grinder wet; Casabrews puts a stunning amount of warnings about this. For cleaning, the grinder can be removed and replaced easily, with the machine's LCD panel indicating if it isn’t properly in place. 

Speaking of the LCD panel, the Casabrews 5700Pro’s generously sized screen displays such information as grind time for filling the portafilter, time of extraction, pressure, and more. Admittedly, I found this screen difficult to master. There are several well-labeled controls sitting below the panel, such as a dose dial and menu button, plus a Single and Double espresso button. And while it is possible to adjust the temperature of the espresso shot and the volume, the process for doing so is a bit convoluted and super confusing. I kept most of the settings as is, other than adjusting the grind time for filling the portafilter. 

The final attachments include the steam wand and a knob. The knob is more straightforward to use; you simply turn to choose the available settings – steam ready, steam, off, or hot water. The wand moves fairly easily while still feeling securely attached to the main body of the machine. However, I do wish that there was a separate water dispenser rather than having to rely on the wand, which delivers water with a bit too much pressure. 

As for the other accessories you’re likely to use daily, there’s a portafilter offering two filter sizes – single and double – that are easy to pop in and out. There’s also a distributor, which helps spread the coffee grounds evenly,  and a tamper to apply pressure, while a small rubber mat is included to support the portafilter as you perform these tasks. I just wish there was somewhere to store these accessories on the machine so they don’t get lost. 

Also included are a milk jug for steaming, a coffee spoon, cleaning utensils, and a decorating pen – all of which I’ve rarely used, if at all. 

  • Design score: 4.5/5

Casabrews 5700Pro-made espresso with golden crema

(Image credit: Future)

Casabrews 5700Pro: performance

  • Produces flavorful espresso with a thick, golden crema
  • Noisy, strong vibrations in use
  • Steam wand heats milk fast with long-lasting foam

The Casabrews 5700Pro is fairly easy to use. However, do keep in mind that if you haven’t used an espresso machine before, there’s a bit of a learning curve. An instruction sticker on the machine itself, as well as a more in-depth guide of how to make espresso, can be found in the manual that accompanies the machine.  In reality, though, achieving your perfect shot of espresso involves a lot of trial and error, especially when it comes to finding the best grind size for your brews. 

Adjusting the grind size is easy enough, with Casabrews recommending you start at setting 8, turning the grinder up or down to make it coarser or finer, depending on the bar pressure and brew results. This is a 20-bar pressure machine, although you’ll never want your espresso to hit that level. The ideal number is around 9. My first few espressos were above that, and while they still tasted rich and bold, the crema was lacking.

With my beans of choice, I settled on a sweet spot of a grind size of 6.5 and an 11-second timer for the grinder using the single shot filter.  It’s possible to engage the grinder and stop it automatically by setting the time on the LCD using the Dose dial. Otherwise, if you find the filter is getting too full, you can push the portafilter back in to stop grinding. It’s possible to set different timers for the single or double filters, which is extra handy.  

The espresso brewed with these settings resulted in a shot with a nice, bold flavor, a tiny hint of acidity and some sweetness – something that I welcome. There was beautiful, thick golden crema on top that reformed when cut with a spoon. I added a teaspoon of sugar to the top of the crema to see how it held up; it rested on top for a few seconds before dropping to the bottom – all signs of good espresso. 

The time to get these results wasn’t very long. It took about 1 minute for the machine to preheat, time I used to ground the beans. Next, it’s recommended that you use the distributor, to spread the grounds evenly in the portafilter. This isn’t a tool I’ve seen included with other espresso machines I’ve used, but it works surprisingly well. Once you’ve applied a bit of pressure to the beans using the solid, metal tamper, you’re good to slot the portafilter into the brew head. Note that this does take a bit of muscle. It took one hand to hold onto the machine while the other locked the filter into position. Then it was simply a matter of placing a cup under the machine and pressing the “single” shot button. 

Be aware that this machine gets quite noisy, hitting 65dB in use. There’s also a good deal of vibration; I found the espresso cup I was using started to move around a fair bit, leaving splashes all around the outer rim of the cup. The LCD times the espresso as it brews and lets you know the pressure bars. After 22 seconds, hitting the perfect nine bars, I had about 30ml of espresso at a temperature of 135°F.  While it isn’t possible to brew another shot immediately after, the machine will be good to go again inside a minute or so. 

Getting the portafilter out of the machine was as difficult as getting it in, and neither does the Casabrew machine come with a tool to easily remove the used grinds. I used a spoon, or hit the portafilter hard against my garbage can to get the puck out. While I never had an issue with the filter falling out as I did this, the process did sometimes get a little messy. I wish there was a better solution. Nevertheless, at least the actual espresso results were successful and tasty. 

If you’re looking to double the amount of espresso you brew, simply swap out the single filter for the double. As I mentioned, you can save the grind time of the double dose as well, so about 18 seconds procured the ideal amount of grounds for the brew. Having followed the same steps and selecting the “double” shot button, it took the machine 27 seconds to pour an espresso with similar attributes to the first.  Only this time, I had 60ml of espresso to sip on or use in specialty drinks. Note that the 5700Pro will also evenly distribute the espresso into two separate vessels, if you want to make separate drinks. 

Casabrews 5700Pro steam wand in action

(Image credit: Future)

The Casabrews 5700Pro comes with both a steam wand that was a joy to use and an easy-to-turn dial on the side of the machine. To get frothing, simply move the dial to the steam-ready notch until the indicator light is steady, which takes about 20 seconds. Then you steam the milk using a metal steam jug and steam wand. I heated 2% milk until it was too hot to touch the jug, about 52 seconds. This process is loud, hitting 75-80dB with the pump thumping every couple of seconds. However, this isn’t unusual with espresso machines in this price category. 

The resulting steamed milk had a temperature of 145°F  and a good layer of thick, foamy bubbles on top. Five minutes later, the foam was still intact and held its shape following a dusting of cinnamon powder on top, making it perfect for cappuccinos and lattes. I tested Oatly oat milk as well with similar results, though it was slightly less foamy than the 2% milk. It’s important to note that you can’t brew espresso at the same time, and there’s a slight delay before you can brew a fresh shot of espresso after steaming. I never found this to be an inconvenience, though. 

When adding the espresso, steamed milk, and foam in a ⅓ ratio, I made cappuccino on par with a good deal of coffee shops I frequent. The coffee taste still cut through the milk, making a tasty, warm beverage to enjoy. My latte tasted similar, although I preferred the extra foamy cappuccino I created. 

The Casabrews also delivers hot water for making an americano or tea through the steam wand. The water runs out with a good deal of pressure, annihilating any of the crema on the espresso – which I found disappointing, since an americano is my go-to everyday drink. A separate spout that didn’t push water out so fast, such as that included in the Breville Barista Express Impress would have been better.  

You get a cup full of hot water each time you turn the knob, or turn it back to “off” to stop the water flow. It takes about 45 seconds to get a cup full of water around 160°F – while not an ideal temperature for tea, it will work when you’re in a pinch.  

There are a few other settings you can play around with on the Casabrews, although I didn’t find them particularly helpful. For example, you can make the espresso shot with warmer or colder water, but not set an actual temperature. Scrolling to the setting took a while, and in testing, it only made the temperature different by 10°F – not enough to make a noticeable difference, in my opinion. According to the instruction manual, you’re also able to set the volume of the espresso shots, with the single shot being 20-60ml and double from 60-120ml. I’ve yet to figure out how to do this, however. 

As far as maintenance goes, The Casabrews 5700Pro is on a par with similar espresso machines. There are two cleaning modes: flush and descale. You can access both using the same process as changing the water temperature. It’s recommended you flush the machine through every week, which simply involves a water clean that takes one minute and minimal effort on your part. Descaling is a similar process, but you add a descaling agent to the water – vinegar is my favorite affordable option. 

The only other component that may occasionally need maintenance is the grinder, and the Casabrews 5700Pro will alert you when it’s time to do so via the LCD. There is a cleaning brush to help with the process, and the manual provides very clear instructions for all the cleaning processes. 

  • Performance score: 4.5/5

Casabrews 5700Pro counting down as it grinds beans

(Image credit: Future)

Should I buy the Casabrews 5700Pro?

Buy it if...

Don’t buy it if...

Also consider...

If you’re not sure about the Casabrews 5700 Pro, here are a couple of other options to consider...

How I tested the Casabrews 5700Pro

  • Tested for three weeks
  • Used all settings on the machine

I tested the machine for three weeks, with several different varieties of coffee beans to compare performance. I used both the single and double filters on the portafilter, and I made several cappuccinos and lattes, testing the abilities of the steam wand. 

The Casabrews 5700Pro took the place of my usual Breville Barista Express. It proved to be a worthy replacement for that machine. 

Dyson Purifier Hot+Cool Formaldehyde HP09: a powerful all-in-one air purifier
1:53 pm | April 21, 2023

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

One-minute review

The changing seasons can make it difficult to precisely predict the indoor temperature and air quality, yet with the Dyson Purifier Hot+Cool Formaldehyde HP09 you can prepare for any eventuality.

At this point, we all know Dyson is king when it comes to all things air, from making some of the best vacuum cleaners to its prolific Dyson Airwrap. Now, it adds the Dyson Hot+Cool Formaldehyde to its collection of bladeless fans, an all-in-one air treatment device packed with smart functionality and wonderful design features.

This makes for a convenient and sophisticated device that removes the need for you to own separate heating, cooling and air-purifying appliances. However, it should come as no surprise that, with it being a sophisticated Dyson product, the Hot+Cool Formaldehyde comes with a fairly hefty price tag – which is one of our biggest gripes with the device. 

However, for that high price it delivers good bang for your buck. Not only can this air purifier destroy the carcinogenic formaldehyde, but it can do so without the need for a replacement filter; its catalytic filter is self-sustaining, trapping formaldehyde molecules into water and CO2. The rest of the filtering is handled by two pairs of replaceable filters: HEPA H13 particulate filters and carbon filters that Dyson claims work with its catalytic filter to remove 99.95% of particles from the air down to 0.1 microns. 

Standing at 30 inches / 764mm tall, the Hot+Cool Formaldehyde is smaller than some of Dyson’s other air treatment appliances, and its 8.6in / 220mm diameter base is pretty space-friendly, meaning it can sit happily on a table or the floor. The fan can be tilted, too, and offers 350 degrees of oscillation, making it easy to optimize airflow regardless of where you position the device.

As you’d expect, the Dyson Hot+Cool Formaldehyde is aesthetically beautiful, with a futuristic – yet not obtuse – design. It’s a little bit of a shame there are no alternative colorways, though; the bronze base and matching remote might not suit every home. 

The Hot+Cool Formaldehyde comes with a remote that attaches to the top of the unit magnetically, but there’s also a sophisticated, easy-to-use app that allows remote control. The latter offers generous insight into the air quality in your home, tracking not only the temperature and humidity, but also the levels of pollutants and particulate matter (PM2.5, PM10, VOC, NO2, HCHO). You can also check on the status of the Hot+Cool’s filters via the app, ensuring they’re replaced in good time. 

Aside from the hefty price, our only real criticism of the Dyson Hot+Cool Formaldehyde is that it lacks the ability to automatically switch on when it detects changes in the air. Otherwise, it’s an absolute dream to have and use around the home, comprehensively caring for your lungs in ways you might not even know you need.

If you prefer to have an appliance which circulates air that is cooled over time then head to our best fans guide. All those featured have been reviewed by a member of the Homes team, and some are more affordable than you may first thing.

Dyson Purifier Hot+Cool Formaldehyde HP09 review: price and availability

  •  List price: $769.99 / £699.99 / AU$1,149.00 
  • Available in the US, UK and Australia 

The Dyson Purifier Hot+Cool Formaldehyde HP09 will set you back $769.99 / £699.99 / AU$1,149, and is available online at the Dyson store, on Amazon, as well as some local retailers such as Best Buy in the US, John Lewis and Currys in the UK, and JB Hi-Fi in Australia. In the UK, it’s only available in its Gold / White colorway, but in the US and Australia, you can opt for a Gold / Nickel variant.

It comes with a remote and a set of HEPA + carbon filters ready for installation. Replacements cost $79.99 / £65 / AU$99, which Dyson recommends you do once every 12 months to ensure optimal performance.

Price: 3.5/5  

Dyson Hot+Cool Formaldehyde air purifier review: Specs

Dyson Purifier Hot+Cool Formaldehyde HP09 review: Design

  • Compact and easily moved 
  • LCD screen 
  • Bladeless fan 

As is to be expected from Dyson’s high-tech and futuristic devices, the Hot+Cool Formaldehyde is a stylish and svelte unit, taking the form of many of the rest of Dyson’s bladeless air treatment products. 

dyson hot+cool has a bladeless fan design

(Image credit: Future / Josie Watson)

Measuring 30 inches x 8.6 inches / 764mm x 220mm (H x D), the Hot+Cool Formaldehyde is pretty compact, especially considering the number of features it houses. It’s light enough at 12.6lb / 5.5kg to be moved around your home fairly easily, and the 5.9ft / 1.8m cable is a decent length to ensure it can be positioned where you need it.

The base of the unit is encased in matte gold, with holes through which air is drawn in to be filtered, moving to the top-mounted bladeless ovular fan. It’s here that you’ll find the HEPA and carbon filters; the catalytic filter sits deeper within the machine, filtering out pollutants and particulate matter from the air.

base of the dyson hot + cool is encased in matte gold

(Image credit: Future / Jennifer Oksien)

The fan offers 350 degrees of oscillation, and can be tilted up or down. Note, too, that the airflow can be set to move both forward and backward, for those occasions you don’t want the air directly projected at your face. Just beneath the fan is a small LCD that displays live data.

lcd display on the dyson hot+cool

(Image credit: Future / Josie Watson)

The Hot+Cool Formaldehyde arrives with a matching gold remote, which, rather handily, attaches to the top of the fan magnetically. It’s pretty easy to knock off, though, especially when the fan is tilted.

Design: 4.5/5

controller of the hot+cool dyson fan is gold

(Image credit: Future / Josie Watson)

Dyson Purifier Hot+Cool Formaldehyde HP09 review: Performance

  • Quiet night mode setting
  • Rapid purification 
  • No automatic features

On test, I was super-impressed by the Dyson Purifier Hot+Cool Formaldehyde HP09, which performed brilliantly for heating, cooling and purifying. 

The fan offers 10 power settings, allowing you to customize the speed of airflow, which spans from a soft waft to a powerful blast of cold or hot air. It’s surprisingly quiet in operation, too; in night mode, the fan auto-adjusts to the soft, quiet level 4, and its lowest setting is whisper-quiet, registering just 40db on our decibel meter – which is the equivalent volume of a quiet library. Even on its highest setting, the Hot+Cool Formaldehyde registered 60dB, which is about as loud as a spoken conversation.

With the app and the controller, you can adjust the Hot+Cool Formaldehyde’s oscillation, rotation, and direction – all of which are incredibly useful if, like me, you find yourself needing to tweak your environment throughout the day.

My apartment is often victim to sudden changes in temperature, and so I was a big fan of its auto mode as a way to keep my workspace at a consistent, comfortable temperature. The device can heat up to 98°F / 37°C (pretty quickly, too), taking my flat from 21°C to 23°C in 15 minutes on its max setting (8.5ft / 2.6m per second airflow) and oscillating by 45°, cooling it quickly and effectively back down to a less uncomfortable temperature.

On the purifying side, I tested the capabilities of my Hot+Cool Formaldehyde by spraying my dry shampoo aerosol near the unit. The device quickly detected the change in air quality, indicating that the level of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) had risen on both the LCD panel and in the app. 

Next, I tried lighting incense and a candle to see how the Hot+Cool Formaldehyde handled the particulate matter. Just a meter away from the purifier, the candle and incense stick spiked the air quality from “Good” to “Very Poor” according to the Dyson app – slightly alarming – but it managed to restore healthy levels within 10 minutes of the purifier being turned on. When I repeated the test without turning on the purifier, it took an hour just to clear the “Very Poor” range.

air quality reading after lighting a candle and incense

Air quality and PM10 levels after lighting a candle and incense. Left curve is with the purifier on, right curve without (Image credit: Future / Josie Watson)

Dyson doesn’t achieve a full home-run with the Hot+Cool Formaldehyde in my books, largely due to the absence of automatic features. While the device can be toggled within the app to continuously manage the air quality, frustratingly it can’t be programmed to switch on when it detects low air quality. I’m sure there are clever ways to retrofit this feature using home hubs, but not having this as a native feature feels like such a missed opportunity – and it’s a concern that users have raised with previous Dyson air treatment devices.

However, overall I was really impressed by how responsive and rapid the Dyson Hot+Cool Formaldehyde was on test. Since my home has some issues with mould and damp, and is situated right next to a major road, having greater visibility and control over my home’s air quality is a huge boon.

Performance: 4.5/5

Dyson Purifier Hot+Cool Formaldehyde HP09 review: App

  • Device maintenance options
  • Remote air purifier contrl
  • Near-live air quality data

The remote control is great, but it’s the app that swayed me on the overall effectiveness and usefulness of the Dyson Purifier Hot+Cool Formaldehyde HP09.

Connected to the Dyson app, as per other Hot+Cool and air treatment products from the manufacturer, you can keep track of the air quality and temperature within your home, the  lifespan of the filters, and also make use of several fantastic smart features. 

These include the timer and schedule, which will be handy for those looking for a low-maintenance device. In addition, you can also turn on continuous monitoring exclusively through the app, if you want round-the-clock insights into the air quality in your home. Control of the Dyson Hot+Cool Formaldehyde using Siri and Alexa is also possible, making this a fantastic addition to your smart home setup. It’s a little annoying that you have to set this all up in the Dyson app; I much prefer using my Apple Home application and seeing all of my devices in one place. 

It’s a wonderfully easy-to-use and slick app, complete with a virtual controller for those occasions you don’t want to grab the physical one, delivering lots of value-adding information, right down to the levels of specific pollutants in your home. This was best seen via the dry shampoo and flame tests, during which the app presented an overview of the overall air quality, PM2.5, PM10, and VOC levels to help determine how I should treat my air. 

air quality monitoring on the dyson app

(Image credit: Future / Josie Watson)

I particularly enjoyed the app’s fan direction control, which allowed more granular control than the physical remote. It’s impressively low latency, too.

When testing the responsiveness of the Hot+Cool Formaldehyde to pollutants, it was a little daunting watching the live data numbers slowly tick up as the volume of particulate matter in my home increased.

App: 5/5

Should I buy the Dyson Purifier Hot+Cool Formaldehyde HP09?

Buy it if...

Don't buy it if...

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How I tested the Dyson Purifier Hot+Cool Formaldehyde HP09

  • I used the Dyson Purifier Hot+Cool Formaldehyde HP09 and its partner app for 2 weeks
  • Stress testing with various substances and measurements

I had the Dyson Purifier Hot+Cool Formaldehyde HP09 in my home for two weeks, and every day I used the device to manage the temperature and air quality within my home. I tried all of the various settings available through the app, as well as checking out the device maintenance options.

To test the air purification monitoring and speed, I sprayed heavy particulate aerosol (dry shampoo), lit a scented paraffin candle and also lit a scented incense stick. I also measured the volume with a mobile phone decibel meter and tracked the changes in room temperature through both the Dyson app and my in-home thermostat.

Read more about how we test.

[First reviewed April 2023]

Insta360 X3 review
6:59 pm | March 1, 2023

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

Two-minute review

The Insta360 X3 is a great all-rounder action camera. Its strength clearly lies as a 360-degree video shooter, although it can capture decent 4K footage with a standard action camera field of view, too, beating the GoPro Max for single-lens clarity. That said, if you mostly shoot single lens videos, dedicated offerings from DJI, Insta360 and GoPro in our best action cameras guide fare better. 

You can use a Insta360 X3 mounted to bike handlebars or a helmet, or you can just hold it and shoot video as you would with a phone. Handheld use is the part Insta360 X3 nails better than a GoPro, which feel like they should be attached to a selfie stick at the very least. The Insta360 X3 also has major usability benefits over any Insta360 camera released to date, mostly thanks to the unusually good screen. 

Insta360 has also nailed one of the most important parts of the pocket 360-camera workflow – editing your footage is a blast, and only takes a few minutes for shorter clips once you have a grip on the fairly intuitive and wide-ranging tools.

Insta360 X3 specs:

Sensor: Dual 48MP 1/2'’ sensors

Video: 5.7K 360-degree, 4K up to 30fps

LCD: 2.29-inch touchscreen

Video modes: Active HDR, Timelapse, Timeshift, Bullet time

Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5.0, USB-C

Memory card: MicroSD UHS-I

Size: 114 x 46 x 33.1mm

Weight: 180g

Battery: 1800mAh

Sure, there are some problems. You can’t view all kinds of clips from the camera itself. It takes a beat to start capturing video, and some elements of the image processing aren’t at the same level as GoPro’s. 

However, the Insta360 X3 is one of the best options if you want an action camera that can “do it all”. But is it worth the upgrade for Insta360 X2 owners? We think there’s plenty of life left in that older camera, and the main improvements are a much larger screen and a great new Active HDR mode that avoids blown highlights like a pro. 

Insta360 X3 front view on white background

(Image credit: Future)

Price and availability

  • Launched in September 2022
  • $449/ £459 / AU$799 RRP
  • Seven different kits available

The Insta360 X3 was released in September 2022, two years after the Insta360 X2. It costs $449 / £459 / $799AU, making it just slightly more expensive than its predecessor was at launch. It costs slightly less than the GoPro Max, although you can generally now find that dated camera for less online, while the Ricoh Theta X seems extortionate by comparison. 

Insta360 also offers a bunch of kits for different mounting scenarios — adding in a bunch of accessories. Kits include the Get-Set Kit for $496 / £510 / AU$800 that includes an invisible selfie stick, a 64GB memory card and a lens a cap. Others available include the Snow Kit, Motorcycle Kit, Bike Kit, Bullet Time Kit, Ultimate Kit and Virtual Tour Kit and more details can be found on the Insta360 store

  • Price: 4.5/5

Insta360 X3 side view on white background

(Image credit: Future)


  • Large, clear display
  • Includes a 1/4-inch threaded port for a selfie stick
  • 10M water resistance

The Insta360 X3 is an upright, stick-like camera, just like its predecessor. There’s a threaded mount point on the bottom, should you want to attach a selfie stick. 

It fits comfortably in the hand, despite the lack of room for any ergonomic grip contouring. And for those interested in the materials used, the sides are plastic with a diamond embossed texture, for extra grip. The front and back are soft touch plastic. No surfaces have the rubberised feel of a GoPro, but the parts you end up worrying about are the glass areas. 

That’s the display glass and, much more important, the lenses. The fear factor is unavoidable with 360-degree cameras, so you might want to buy a lens cover (not included with the standard bundle) or Insta360’s accidental damage insurance. There are no removable, replaceable outer lens elements here. 

Back to the fun stuff, the Insta360 X3 feels right at home in your hand. Just below the screen are buttons that start capturing video and flip between front and rear lens views. In action these are a bit like the navigation keys on an Android phone. Very handy. 

Insta360 X3 on white background main menu on touchscreen

(Image credit: Future)

The Insta360 X3 has four physical buttons: two up front, two on the side. But it is largely a touch-led interface, and one that uses a couple of gestures you will need to bed into. 

Flick right and you reach the shooting mode screen. But flick right from the very end of the display and the Insta360 X3 brings up your captured clips instead. It’s the one quirk of the Insta360 interface: needing to disambiguate between horizontal swipes and similar swipes that begin at the screen’s end. 

Once you’re accustomed to that, the Insta360 X3 is largely a breeze. And it looks clear on the 2.6-inch screen. 

The Insta360 X3’s screen is probably the single most important design upgrade here. The modular cameras have tiny little square screens, while in the Insta360 One X2 there is a small round porthole instead. This camera’s portrait aspect screen seems huge in comparison, and is also larger than the GoPro Max’s display. 

Insta360 X3 screen close up showing main menu

(Image credit: Future)

You do need to manually max out the brightness to make it hold up in bright sunlight, but it gets roughly as bright as the GoPro Max’s own. The large screen is better for previewing the picture than the last gen model, and makes navigating around the menu system easier. Its interface also just looks a lot glossier and more high-end. 

The style of the Insta360 X3’s screen is geared more at influencers and content creators than the classic action camera audience, though. It’s an upright screen, offering the framing you’ll typically see in videos shared on social networks. The orientation doesn’t auto-rotate if you turn the camera around either. 

However, look a little deeper and you’ll realize this is an entirely sensible move. Holding the camera sideways is only going to bring your fingers closer to the lenses if you’re rolling without a stick. And when you shoot in the single-lens mode, the only drawback when shooting at 16:9 is the preview image is smaller. 

If you are desperate for that full-screen preview, you can get the Insta360 X3 to shoot in 9:16 instead and turn the camera on its side. 

Image 1 of 4

Insta360 X3 on a plynth with blurred cityscape background

(Image credit: Future)
Image 2 of 4

Insta360 X3 on a plynth with blurred cityscape background

(Image credit: Future)
Image 3 of 4

Insta360 X3 on a plynth with blurred cityscape background

(Image credit: Future)
Image 4 of 4

Insta360 X3 on a plynth closeup with blurred cityscape background

(Image credit: Future)

The Insta360 X3 has double the water resistance of the GoPro Max, at 10m/33ft, and matches the GoPro Hero 11 Black. Those planning to dive at anything like a depth of 10m should get the Insta360 Dive Case, though. The additional pressures involved when moving through water means anything below fairly surface-level capture is a bit risky. 

Insta360 achieves the X3’s water resistance using single layer rubber seals around the charging socket and the battery, which pops out when you release its two fastening sliders on the side. 

Our review period did not, unfortunately, coincide with any trips to the beach. Walking and running around with the Insta360 X3, we noticed it does tend to get warm pretty quickly. But not uncomfortably so. We saw no overheating messages after filming constantly for 45 minutes at 5.7K.

  • Design 4.5/5

Features and performance

  • Stabilization smooths out action a treat
  • Powerful editor for modes like timelapse
  • Slow start up time

The Insta360 X3 uses an 1800maH battery, notably higher capacity than the 1600mAh of the GoPro Max. Insta360 claims this can last 81 minutes in the 360-degree, 5.7K resolution mode. 

After 15 minutes the Insta360 X3 dropped from 100% to 87%, suggesting it could actually last a lot longer than 81 minutes. However, following 45 minutes of capture it was at 49% battery, closer to the claim. 

What we have here is somewhat non-linear battery reporting. The Insta360 X3 holds onto a 100% charge reading for a little too long, a popular tactic in consumer electronics. It’s not helpful in a more tool-like gadget such as this, but may change over the weeks as the battery settles (and more firmware updates arrive). And the important part: Insta360’s 81 minute battery life rating is not a work of fiction. 

The Insta360 X3 stood on a white desk with  its battery removed and port cover open

(Image credit: Andrew Williams)

Stabilization used to be one of the classic action camera battlegrounds. It still is at the low-end, but discussing it in Insta360 cameras has now become quite boring. Its FlowState stabilization has been excellent for ages now, and continues to be so. The Insta360 X3 is great for sporty use, or extreme sports use, as long as you don’t mind the way its tall shape will stick up from the mount a bit. 

The 360-degree view means there’s basically infinite scope for stabilization, and the Insta360 X3 has horizon leveling to make this effectively automatic. You can also switch on a feature called Direction Lock when editing your clips, which counters any twisting of the camera so it appears as though you were holding the X3 straight the whole time. 

The Insta360 X3 has a built-in TimeShift mode, which is a form of Timelapse shooting designed to let you use the camera handheld. It doesn’t have the smarts of GoPro’s version, which can automatically shift the footage’s speed up and down based on whether there’s anything interesting going on in the scene. But it’s a quick way to make sped-up clips. 

We do think you get better results by shooting at standard speed and turbo-charging footage in the edit, as Insta360 offers good-looking motion blur and better control over the speed of playback. 

The Insta360 X3 stood on a white desk taking a photo of a jar of coins

(Image credit: Andrew Williams)

There are parts for Insta360 to address in a future camera or, fingers crossed, a software update. The Insta360 X3 takes a solid couple of seconds to actually start recording clips, and the GoPro Max feels instantaneous by comparison. 

Like most Insta360 launches, we’ve also come across a few bugs. It has frozen on a few occasions, and one low-light mode clip was rendered unreadable for some reason. However, these mostly cropped up when handling footage after a shoot, not actually during capture. 

The Insta360 X3 also has several interesting modes we’ve not discussed yet. Me Mode is one of the neatest. This leverages the slight overlap of the lenses’ vision to produce a flat clip in which a stick used to mount the camera becomes invisible. You’ll still see your arm holding it, of course, but it’s great for no-fuss dramatic shots. Insta360 uses someone jumping into the sea, and snowboarding, as a couple of examples. 

You can capture stills at up to 72MP resolution, in the 360-degree mode. Again, this process is quite slow, but the results are solid — if not as impressive as those of a good phone when trying to capture a more ordinary field of view. 

insta360 X3 close up of main lens on white background

(Image credit: Future)

Insta360’s editing tools are fun and fairly easy to use as well. We tried both the phone app and Insta360 Studio on Mac for this review, and their tool sets are largely similar. 

When re-framing 360-degree footage, you set key frames along the timeline, and Insta360’s software generates smooth transitions between them. You pinch and drag the view in the phone app to perfect each of these key frames, but rotational control is kept separate. This can initially seem a bit confusing, but does make key frame manipulation feel simpler than GoPro’s more free-wheeling approach.

We found the process fastest on a laptop, as mouse control just feels that bit more precise than on a phone-size touchscreen. 360-degree edited clips are set at 1080p when exporting from the phone app or Insta360 Studio, which may seem too limited when maximum res is 5.7K.  However, we saw little obvious benefit after manually changing this to 4K resolution in the desktop Insta360 Studio software. And if you’re looking to produce remotely normal-looking videos, you’re not going to be using all of that raw 5.7K information anyway. 

There’s also a plug-in for Adobe Premiere Pro, but we haven’t tried this as part of the review.

  • Features and performance: 4.5/5

Image and video quality

  • Active HDR deals with blown out highlights
  • Strong 360-degree image quality with limited cropping
  • Single-lens videos look better than the GoPro Max

The Insta360 X3 has two 48-megapixel cameras with 1/2-inch sensors and f/1.9 aperture lenses. These are larger and higher-res than the 17MP, 1/2.3-inch sensors of the GoPro Max, and those of the One X2. 

However, these numbers aren’t really aspects to focus on, beyond the one key mode they may help to enable. This is 4K video when shooting with a single lens, rather than in the 360 mode. 

Single lens videos require zero editing – you can pull the resulting MP4 files straight off the camera, ready to go. Its sharpness is significantly better than the single lens mode of the GoPro Max, which is limited to 1080p. Sure, there’s a 1440p mode in the GoPro, but this is 4:3 capture, meaning it’s the same quality as 1080p, just with a taller frame. 

So, are single lens videos a match for those in single lens cameras from GoPro and Insta360? Not even close. We only had the GoPro Hero 9 Black for direct comparison, but that older model has prettier color and much better detail at 4K, particularly out of the center of the frame. These flat videos become quite muggy and basic-looking at the corners of the shot, and look much more like 1080p captures than 4K. 

This was always going to be the case. The Insta360 X3 lenses have to capture a full 180 degrees, the GoPro Hero 9 Black’s do not, and this mode crops into their view substantially. Don’t buy the X3 if 360-degree capture is a “nice to have” extra. 4K flat videos are also limited to 30fps, with 60fps available at a lower-quality 2.7K resolution. 

360-degree video is the main event, and here the Insta360 X3 and GoPro Max find a form of parity. The X3 shoots 360 clips at up to 5.7K resolution, 30 frames per second. Insta360’s secret weapon is Active HDR, which you don’t get in GoPro cameras. This doesn’t affect the frame rate either. 

Action cameras have a bad habit of leaving video clips with odd-looking gradients in skies as the frame errs closer to the sun. Or leaving very significant blown out areas in clouds on bright days. It’s because the small sensors of these cameras have relatively low dynamic range. The Insta360 X3’s HDR mode all but fixes this, at least compared to the standard shooting mode, by merging two exposures per frame. 

Sometimes the results are quite brilliant, and give you loads more highlight detail to play with in the edit. It’s extremely useful when you’re shooting outdoors, or when there’s partial tree cover up top – one of the tricky parts of shooting 360 video is the exposure level is not just judged on what’s in front of you, but your entire surroundings. 

You won’t want to use HDR 24/7, though. It’s no good for low light conditions, because it restricts the exposure time for each frame. And while it has real image quality benefits, I’ve noticed more aberrations in HDR clips, like very obvious noise in a plain blue sky towards the side of the frame — even on a sunny day. 

HDR also has a color character that reminds us of the earlier 2013-2015 days of phone HDR, sometimes leading to unnatural-looking tonality and a slight flattening of contrast. However, this can be fixed in video editing software. Insta360’s own software offers a couple of color and clarity boosting options. I haven’t noticed any ghosting in Active HDR, though, which is the classic issue of HDR video where combined frames are shot sequentially, leading to “afterimage” doubling of moving subjects. 

GoPro currently only offers tone mapping, which is nowhere near as powerful as “active” HDR. But when you get a bit more ambitious with your 360-degree editing, you can’t avoid the slight deficiencies of Insta360’s image processing. 

Zoom in significantly and fine detail can become unconvincing. Tight textures like gravel, tree leaves and the patina of old walls get filled in with too many unnatural-looking straight and horizontal patterns. GoPro tends to avoid these, instead often looking softer, but more natural. 

This is an effect of Insta360’s sharpening, which can be dramatically reduced by simply dropping it down from the standard “high” setting. But it’s a balance. If you want to edit down to a field of view less than 180 degrees, footage does become quite soft-looking with no sharpening at all. 

Night shooting is, as in most other action cameras, quite poor. The larger sensors bring a slightly improvement over the Insta360 One X2, but not a dramatic one. However, there is a timelapse style night mode that dramatically improves results, called StarLapse. You’ll need to use a tripod for it, but it can be perfect for YouTuber-style B-roll footage. 

  • Image and video quality: 4/5

Also consider

Testing scorecard

Sony A7C review: Tiny full-frame with compromises
6:00 pm | February 19, 2023

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

Two minute review

Sony needs little introduction as a major player in the mirrorless camera market. Not only did the company release the first-ever full-frame mirrorless camera with the A7R, it also briefly laid claim to having the world’s smallest and lightest full-frame mirrorless camera with the Sony A7C when it was announced in September 2020, before that honor was taken by  Sigma with its fp and fp L models. This camera is completely different to other full-frame Sony cameras, with looks and handling more comparable to the A6000 series of APS-C cameras. And while the A7C may not be one of the best cameras available, it could comfortably be one of the best travel cameras currently available.

While from the outside the A7C looks like a slightly larger Sony A6600, the internals are almost identical to those of the Sony A7 III. Much of the performance is identical, and both cameras feature the same 24.2MP full-frame BSI Exmor R CMOS sensor, which is capable of producing excellent image quality. Continuous shooting is available at up to 10fps, which is pretty impressive for a camera that’s aimed at vloggers and content creators.

Sony A7C on top of a wooden table

(Image credit: Future)
Sony A7C Specs:

Sensor: 24.2MP full-frame BSI Exmor R CMOS sensor (35.6 x 23.8mm)
AF points: 693-point hybrid AF
Video: 4K up to 30fps
Viewfinder: 2.35m-dot
Memory cards: SD, SDHC, SDXC, UHS-I/II
LCD: 2.95-inch vari-angle touchscreen, 921k-dot
Max burst: 10fps
Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, USB-C
Size: 124.0 x 71.1 x 59.7mm
Weight: 509g (with battery and SD card)

With those users in mind, the A7C is capable of capturing 8-bit 4K video at up to 30fps. While this is sufficient for producing videos for sharing on YouTube, it’s a little underwhelming, and possibly rules the camera out of a professional video workflow. That said, you can capture Full HD video at up to 120fps for slow-motion footage, although this is only going to be attractive if you typically output videos at 1080p.

The A7C is an intriguing option that will likely divide opinion. It may be a couple of years old now, but it can still hold its own against the competition and remains Sony’s smallest and lightest full-frame camera. It’s arguably a bit too expensive for what it is, however, at £1,850.00 / $1,799.99 / AU$2,399.00 body-only. 

Let’s take a closer look at what it has to offer so that you can make up your own mind about whether this is the Sony camera for you.

Sony A7C release date and price

  •  Announced in September 2020 
  •  Costs £1,850.00 / $1,799.99 / AU$2,399.00 
  •  Launched alongside the FE 28-60mm f/4-5.6 kit lens 

The Sony A7C was announced in September 2020. The camera body is available with a silver top plate, which was the only option at launch, or in all-black which is arguably the more appealing of the two options.

The price of the A7C has naturally come down since its launch, and it’s now available body-only for £1,850 / $1,799.99 / AU$2,399. The camera shares many features, and indeed its sensor, with the Sony A7 III, which has now been superseded by the A7 IV; the A7 IV isn’t a great deal more expensive than the A7C, but offers much more in terms of performance and handling.

Sony A7C at an angle

(Image credit: Future)

 The A7C was released alongside the FE 28-60mm f/4-5.6, a compact lens that’s the perfect partner for the camera on account of its size and weight; typically for a kit lens it has a variable maximum aperture and a limited focal range, and there are many vastly better FE optics available to be paired with the A7C, although they’re mostly a lot bigger than the 28-60mm. 

Rating: 3 out of 5

Sony A7C: design

  •  Follows the APS-C A6000-series design 
  • Vari-angle LCD screen 
  •  Weighs just 509g body-only with a battery and SD card 

Measuring 124.0 x 71.1 x 59.7mm, and weighing just 509g with a battery and SD card, the A7C was the smallest and lightest full-frame camera at the time of its launch, which is impressive given that the A7C is, to all intents and purposes, a smaller and lighter A7 III. The smallest full-frame mirrorless camera title has since been claimed by the Sigma fp and fp L models, but where the Sony A7C does have the edge is that it features a built-in viewfinder – more on that later.

The small and lightweight body means it’s best to pair the camera with smaller FE lenses that naturally balance well with it. This isn’t a huge compromise, because while you could shoot sport and wildlife with the A7C, it’s more suited towards travel, landscape, portrait, and street photography. For sport and wildlife, there are much more capable models available in the Sony A-series lineup, most notably the Sony A1 and Sony A9 II.

The first thing you notice about the A7C is that it looks like the Sony A6600. This is a rangefinder-style design, with the electronic viewfinder positioned at the top-left of the camera’s rear, the LCD touchscreen below, and several direct-access controls to the right. On the top of the camera, you’ll find the mode dial, exposure compensation dial, video record button, and shutter button on the top of the small grip.

Sony A7C on top of table with flip out screen out to the side

(Image credit: Future)

The overall design, which includes a small and awkward-to-use viewfinder, alongside the 2.95-inch vari-angle touchscreen and top-mounted shutter button, suggests that the A7C is designed more for use with the LCD screen than with the viewfinder. The EVF is clear enough in use, but the display is simply too small for a full-frame camera and is uncomfortable to use. In bright conditions especially, it’s better to have than not, but a larger viewfinder with increased magnification would make a world of difference here.

Conversely, while the 2.95-inch vari-angle touchscreen only has a resolution of 921k dots, it’s comfortable to use for shooting both photos and video. Plus, it can be swung outwards to change the angle, and rotated forwards, making it ideal for vlogging. This is also useful for general video shooting and, of course, for stills, enabling you to comfortably shoot from high or low angles.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 

Sony A7C: features and performance

  •  Real-time AF tracking and Eye AF 
  •  Up to 10fps continuous shooting 
  •  5-axis in-body image stabilization 

While the A7C is undoubtedly a camera that’s capable of producing excellent image quality, the feature set is, on the whole, rather underwhelming. The features on offer can’t be complained about, but there’s nothing that makes this camera stand out or gives it the ‘wow’ factor. To put it bluntly, if the A7C was a car it might be a Toyota Corolla; it’s dependable, and does everything you need it to do, but it’s far from being exciting. 

For the many photographers who make minimal use of all of the bells and whistles their cameras have to offer, this will be ideal. That said, let’s take a look at a few areas where the A7C provides features that even the most demanding photographers would be happy with, and the first is autofocus performance, with 693 hybrid AF points covering approximately 93% of the frame.

Birds eye view of Sony A7C top plate

(Image credit: Future)

Autofocus locks positively onto subjects most of the time thanks to 693 phase-detection and 425 contrast-detection AF points; the number of active points is naturally reduced when shooting in APS-C mode. Then there’s Real-time AF tracking, where the camera uses AI to track moving subjects for both photos and video. Another useful AF feature is Real-time Eye AF for both humans and animals, which performs well, and makes shooting portraits at wide apertures incredibly easy.

When it comes to performance, 5-axis in-body image stabilization provides up to five stops of compensation for both photos and video. For stills, you can shoot handheld at shutter speeds of up to five stops slower than you would normally for a given lens/focal length. For video, image stabilization helps to provide smoother footage when shooting handheld.

For photographers who enjoy shooting at high frame rates, the A7C offers up to 10fps continuous shooting. Sony claims that you can capture around 215 continuous shots when shooting in JPEG Extra Fine, or around 45 uncompressed raw files. Another potentially useful feature, and one that’s more commonly found in professional cameras, is wireless tethering to a computer over 2.4GHz and 5GHz Wi-Fi. This allows you to transfer images for instant viewing and/or editing, which can be useful when shooting in a studio.

  Rating: 3.5 out of 5 

Sony A7C: image and video quality

  •  24.2MP full-frame BSI Exmor R CMOS sensor 
  •  Video features could be better 
  •  Excellent high-ISO handling 

There’s one area where no one is going to be complaining about the A7C, and that’s image quality. Photos can be captured in 14-bit raw, with compressed and uncompressed options available, alongside JPEG. Dynamic range is good, particularly at the base ISO of 100, with the camera able to capture detail throughout reasonably high-contrast scenes. Dynamic range, like all cameras, naturally reduces as ISO levels are increased, with the best results in a wider sense up to ISO 1600.

The native ISO range covers ISO 100-51,200, with an expanded range of ISO 50-204,800. In terms of noise handling, the A7C is a great performer with usable results up to ISO 25,600. ISO 12,800 is markedly better, with the best results at ISO 100-1600, although even up to ISO 6400 images retain impressive levels of detail, with low color and luminance noise.

Back LCD screen of Sony A7C onto of a table

(Image credit: Future)

Video quality is good overall, as you’d expect from a Sony A-series camera, but it’s not breathtaking, and some of the specs in this area are mediocre at best, especially when you consider that the camera is aimed at vloggers and content creators. On the plus side, the A7C offers S-Log2, S-Log3 and HLG modes as well as both microphone and headphone sockets.

As you’d expect, you can shoot video at up to 4K, but this is limited to 8-bit, 30fps at 100Mbps. This is perfectly adequate for producing videos for YouTube, but it wouldn’t stand up in a professional workflow. 10-bit 4K at 60fps or higher would be beneficial, but to put this into perspective even the new Sony A7R V only offers this level of video, which also seems lacking for such a high-end camera. On the plus side, 4K video is oversampled 6K, and you can shoot at up to 120fps in Full HD to capture slow-motion footage.

 Rating: 4 out of 5 

Should I buy the Sony A7C?

Sony A7C on to pf the table with lens attached

(Image credit: Future)

Buy it if....

Don't buy it if....

 Also consider

Sony A7 IV
The Sony A7 IV will cost you a bit more at £2,399 / $2,498 / AU$3,499, but for your money you get a newer 33MP sensor, and 4K video up to 60fps in 10-bit. It’s a slightly bulkier camera that weighs more, but the onboard technology and the handling are significantly better. Plus, the viewfinder is leagues ahead of the A7C’s, and the vari-angle LCD screen provides the same level of convenience.View Deal

Fujifilm XT-5
If you’re looking for a small and lightweight camera that punches well above its weight, the Fujifilm XT-5 is worth considering for both photography and video. The 40.2MP BSI X-Trans sensor is APS-C, but Fujifilm cameras are well known for being able to match, and in some cases exceed, the performance of full-frame mirrorless cameras. The body-only price is the same as the A7C, but it’s packed with the latest Fujifilm technology. View Deal

How I tested the Sony A7C

I tested the Sony A7C over several days, with a focus on travel and the outdoors, to put the camera through its paces in situations it’s been designed for. I took photos in a variety of lighting conditions in order to test factors such as dynamic range, autofocus, ISO handling and, of course, how easy and comfortable the camera is to use for its intended purpose, alongside more general shooting.

Most shooting was handheld as this fits with the travel aspect of the camera while necessitating the use of a variety of settings to achieve correct exposures. Photos were taken in different shooting modes according to the subject being photographed – for example, Shutter Priority for panning shots and Aperture Priority for general shooting. I used several different lenses to assess how well they balanced with the A7C’s lightweight design.

With nearly 30 years of photographic experience and 15 years working as a photography journalist, I’ve covered almost every conceivable subject, and used many of the cameras that have been released in that time. I’ve also used and reviewed almost every full-frame Sony A-series camera since the launch of the A7R, so I have first-hand experience of the development of the system.

Sony ZV-1F Review: vlogging simplified
12:00 pm | February 5, 2023

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

Two-minute review

The Sony ZV-1F is designed for anyone who wants to create quality video content, but doesn’t perhaps have the most advanced camera knowledge. It’s neat, fits easily into a pocket, and offers great 4K video footage, making it a brilliant choice for beginner vloggers

It’s ideal for anyone wanting to move away from shooting video on their smartphone, and will absolutely hold its own if you’re wanting to make the move into videography to upload to YouTube or social media. 

Canon EOS R6 II specs

Sensor: 20.1 Megapixel 1" CMOS
AF points: 4,897 point Dual Pixel CMOS AF II, 100% coverage
Video: UHD 4K at 24, 25, 29.97 FPS, HD at 24, 25, , 29.97, 50, 59.94, 100
LCD: 3-inch LCD vari-angle touchscreen, 921,600 Dot
Memory card: Single Slot: SD/SDHC/SDXC
Max Burst: Up to 16 fps
Connectivity: Micro-HDMI Output, 1/8" / 3.5 mm TRS Stereo Input, USB-C Input, USB-C (USB 2.0) Data Output (Shared with Power Input), Wi-Fi, Bluetooth
Size: 105.5 × 60 × 46.4mm
Weight: 256 grams  (Battery and Memory Card)

You can adjust the settings on this camera as little or as much as you’d like; you’ll get fantastic results either way. It features Intelligent Auto modes, which read the scene you’re shooting and makes the decisions for you like how bright the picture is, or you can set it to manual mode where you have control of all the settings and exposure levels.

Photography is possible, but it plays second fiddle to video. If you do want to delve into the menus and you’re new to Sony, be warned that its cameras take getting used to; many users can be overwhelmed and confused by the dense menus. Much of the time it's easier just to set the custom buttons to what you want, then stay out of the menus as much as possible. 

Sony ZV-F1 with flip out screen out placed on a bench

(Image credit: Future)

Other than that this is an incredibly intuitive little camera. It will turn on as soon as you flip the screen open, making it very quick and easy to get recording, and it has three main modes – video, S&Q (Sony’s ‘slow’ and ‘quick’ in-camera modes for videos such as timelapses and slow motion), and photo — all accessible with just the press of a single button on the top of the body.

Image stabilization is super impressive, while the face and eye tracking is second to none, as is standard for Sony cameras.

Sony claims you can easily transfer all your images and videos over to your smartphone or computer using its Imaging Edge smartphone app – but anyone who's actually used this app will tell you it’s… not great. If Sony could put as much effort into its app as it does in its cameras and autofocus, then it would make sharing your images an awful lot easier.

This is definitely a camera for vloggers rather than photographers, though, as it doesn't have raw capture capabilities. Also, its lens isn't interchangeable, and while the 20mm lens is decent for video, it limits your photography options somewhat.

Sony ZV-F1 on a tripod in the middle of a frozen field

(Image credit: Future)

Sony ZV-1F: release date and price

  •  Benefits from optional accessories like the GP-VP2BT grip 
  •  Cheaper in the US 
  •  Accessory bundles not available in all regions 

The Sony ZV-1F was released on October 17 2022, and you can buy it now for £550 / $499 / AU$845. 

An accessory and travel bundle that includes memory cards, a flexible tripod, a pouch to keep your camera safe and dust free, and cleaning supplies is available on Amazon US priced at $598, but it didn’t appear to be available in the UK or Australia at the time of writing.

The handling of a vlogging camera like the Sony ZV-1F is enhanced with optional accessories like the GP-VP2BT grip (£170 / $139.99 / AU$249), which gives more stability when vlogging. This grip can be used both as an extension of your arm and as a mini tripod. 

  • Price Score: 4/5

Sony ZV-F1 showing side connectivity

(Image credit: Future)

Sony ZV-1F: design

  • Small and lightweight at just 256 grams 
  • Optimized for auto rather than manual shooting
  •  You’ll likely need to use a grip if you don’t have small hands 

The Sony ZV-1F probably isn’t going to be the best-designed camera you’ve ever come across, but it does have some great features which lend themselves to the types of shooting you’d likely be doing with this camera. 

Part of the beauty of the Sony ZV-1F is its small size — it weighs just 256 grams and measures 10.5 x 6 x 4.6cm, making it incredibly easy to travel with, or to just stick it in your pocket when you’re out and about and want to access it quickly. 

That said, while nobody wants to lug a heavy camera around all day, its small size could be a disadvantage, depending on the user. It’s a tiny little camera, and it doesn’t have the biggest front grip, meaning it could be fiddly to hold onto if you don’t have small hands. You can alleviate this potential issue by using it with the aforementioned GP-VPT2BT grip, however, that does involve spending more money.

Sony ZV-F1 held in the hand showing back of the camera

(Image credit: Future)

The Sony ZV-1F has been built with partly recycled plastic material as part of Sony’s Road to Zero environmental plan, and the fibers of the windscreen are made exclusively from recycled polyester. 

It’s designed to be dust-proof and moisture-resistant, but it isn’t weather sealed. This does make it a less than ideal proposition for traveling as, obviously, you can’t control the weather, but – unless you’re a storm chaser – you probably won’t be using it much in wetter weather anyway, so it’s not a huge deal breaker for us. Additionally, if you’re looking at this camera after handling some top-of-the-line stills cameras, it’s going to feel plasticky and flimsy in comparison. 

On the top of the camera is a button to switch between photo, video, and S&Q shooting modes, a video record button and a camera shutter button with a zoom toggle, and a Background Defocus button (great for showcasing products). On the back of the camera body there are the standard function, menu, playback and delete buttons, along with a control wheel via which you can access the ISO, timer, drive modes and exposure compensation — although these can all be reprogrammed to perform other functions. 

  • Design 3.5/5

Sony ZV-F1 placed on a countertop showing top plate and windscreen

(Image credit: Future)

Sony ZV-1F: features and performance

  • Decent eye and face tracking for humans and animals 
  • Versatile touch-screen 
  • Impressive SteadyShot

For such a small camera, the Sony ZV-1F can actually do quite a lot once you delve into its settings and features. Although the Intelligent Auto mode works a treat, you can also shoot fully in manual if you want to, as well as in Aperture and Shutter Priority, plus a few other modes. 

There’s also a Background Clear/Defocus button on the top of the camera, which is great for showcasing products or focusing on a certain person in your shot. In photography terms, this is basically a quick and easy way to change your aperture to create a nice bokeh effect. You can also change the aperture manually when the camera is in the right shooting mode, with the available range running from f/2 to f/8. 

When I was out reviewing this camera, I was very impressed and pleasantly surprised with how effective SteadyShot is, particularly when shooting video. When I looked back at the footage it was obvious that I was walking around with the camera, but those movements didn’t ruin the footage and overall it did seem very smooth. Matters would be improved even further if you were to use the camera with a gimbal.

Sony ZV-F1 showing flip out screen

(Image credit: Future)

I’m primarily a stills photographer with little video experience, so I’m very much in the target audience for the ZV-1F. At a Christmas market, I found it’s quick to take out when needed, and switches on as soon as you flip the screen out, so I was able to start shooting almost instantly. 

One frustration every photographer is familiar with: you see something happen that you want to capture, but by the time you’ve got your camera out of your bag, done the bag up again, turned the camera on and selected the right settings, the moment you wanted to shoot is long gone; so this was a nice change. I’m also quite a clunky walker, and I noticed just how good SteadyShot was when the video footage wasn’t going all over the place. 

Even in the dark, Sony’s incredible autofocus was brilliant. One odd limitation of this camera is that it uses an older contrast-detection system, rather a hybrid setup that includes both contrast- and phase-detect technology, which makes it slightly less reliable than its predecessor. 

Having said that, when I was walking around the market I noticed the AF automatically recognizing and tracking people’s faces as they walked across the frame, even when they weren’t looking directly at the camera. There’s animal recognition too, although when I tested this on a couple of camera-shy black cats it didn’t seem to detect and track their faces unless I focused myself by tapping on the screen, so it seems that its effectiveness depends on the lighting, and the color of the animal you’re working with. 

  • Features and performance 4/5

Sony ZV-F1 held in the hand

(Image credit: Future)

Sony ZV-1F: image and video quality

  • Better suited for daytime or well-lit shooting 
  • Can only shoot JPEG images 
  •  Good audio, but you’ll need an external mic for the best results 

While it’s not the most powerful, all-singing all-dancing camera in the world, the Sony ZV-1F does actually produce great image and video quality. It has a 1-inch sensor with 20.1MP resolution which isn’t bad at all, and can record 4K video and slow motion in Full HD with its wide and sharp 20mm lens. 

We found that the ZV-1F performed better during the day than in lower-light situations, so that’s something to keep in mind if you’re planning on shooting content at night. Looking at the footage we shot of a Christmas market, overall the camera handled the contrasting light levels pretty well.

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Sony ZV-F1

(Image credit: Future)
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Sony ZV-F1

(Image credit: Future)
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Sony ZV-F1

(Image credit: Future)
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Sony Zv-F1

(Image credit: Future)

You can see in our sample images and videos that well-lit subjects and scenes were captured very well, although with the occasional blown highlights; the darker skies had noticeable noise and grain - something we’d expect from a 1-inch sensor.

The ZV-1F is designed to capture your voice clearly, whether you’re shooting inside or outdoors. It’s perfect for recording dialogue, as it features a built-in directional three-capsule microphone. It also comes with a windscreen to eliminate any muffling from winds, which can make or break a video. We found the sound was captured very well for casual day-to-day vlogging, but for anything more professional you’ll definitely need an external mic for better audio quality.

Another thing worth noting is that when it comes to photography, this camera can only shoot JPEGs. While the images that came out of it were very good, you don’t have as much detail, or editing headroom, as you get with raw files. That said, if you just want to snap quick images that you can upload quickly with little or no editing, this camera will be absolutely fine. 

  • Image and video quality 3.5/5

Should I buy the Sony ZV-1F?

Sony ZV-F1

(Image credit: Future)

Buy it if...

Don't buy it if...

Also consider

If our Sony ZV-1F review has you wondering about alternatives, here are three rivals to consider:

Sony  ZV-1F: testing scorecard

First reviewed: January 2023

Canon EOS R6 II review: hybrid just got better
8:00 pm | January 27, 2023

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

Two-minute review

If you’re buying into Canon’s EOS R mirrorless system, you might well be weighing the do-it-all EOS R6 II against the more expensive and high-powered EOS R5. Plenty chose the original EOS R6 for its price, low-light capability, burst shooting and video features, and the R6 II removes one remaining barrier – the original model’s 20MP resolution. 

The Mark II’s resolution increase will may not make much difference to the detail rendition, but it’s an important psychological bonus which puts the Canon on a par with rivals like the Lumix S5 (and now the S5 II), Nikon Z6 II and Sony A7 III (though not quite the A7 IV).

Canon EOS R6 II camera on a tripod  with no lens and image sensor visible

(Image credit: Future)

The R6 Mark II’s burst mode frame rates are doubled to 40fps with the electronic shutter but stay at 12fps with the mechanical shutter, and while the AI-powered AF subject recognition has been extended with more subject types, the original was pretty good already.

Canon EOS R6 II specs

Sensor: 24.2MP full frame CMOS
AF points: 4,897 point Dual PIxel CMOS AF II, 100% coverage
Video: 4K UHD up to 60p, FHD up to 180p
Viewfinder: OLED 3.69m-dot
LCD: 3-inch vari-angle touch 1.62m-dot
Memory card: 2x SD/SDHC/SDXC UHS-II
Max Burst: 12fps mechanical shutter (1,000+ JPEG, 110 RAW/1,000 CRAW), 40fps electronic shutter (190 JPEG, 75 RAW/140CRAW)
Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Mic, Headphone, HDMI Type D, USB 3.2
Size: 138.4 × 98.4 × 88.4mm
Weight: 670g (inc. battery and SD card)

For video, the original 30-minute recording limit has been scrapped and Canon reckons the R6 II can shoot for over 40 minutes at 4K 60p, and up to 6 hours at 4K 30p. It also has Canon C Log 3 and can capture 6K ProRes RAW over HDMI.

These things are all great, but they are incremental rather than revolutionary improvements, and they make for a pretty expensive camera that’s only worth it if you need everything that it does.

The EOS R6 II is nice to use and captures very attractive stills and video, but the 8-stop IBIS system will not necessarily deliver that in real life and does not have the fluency for smooth camera movements in video. The EOS R6 II feels like one of the better cameras in its class, but not necessarily the best and definitely not the cheapest.

Canon EOS R6 II: release date and price

  • About the same price at launch as the old R6, which is welcome
  • Much more expensive in the UK than the US
  • Seems expensive compared to the Sony A7 IV and Lumix S5 II

New Canon cameras typically arrive with premium price tags relative to the competition and take a while – sometimes a very long while – to move back down to a more competitive price point. Launch price for the Canon EOS R6 II is $2,499.99 / £2,799 / AU$4499 body only, and $3,599.99 / £3,999 / AU$6399 bundled with the RF 24-105mm F4 lens.

It’s no surprise then, that the EOS R6 II immediately looks expensive compared to its rivals. These include the Nikon Z6 II, Sony A7 II and the brand new Panasonic Lumix S5 II, all of which are around $500 cheaper. Indeed, even the 30MP Sony A7 IV currently costs less than the Canon. And if you’re thinking of getting the R6 II and 24-105mm f/4 lens bundle, that’s almost the price of an EOS R5 body.

Canon EOS R6 II in the hand of reviewer

(Image credit: Future)

So is the EOS R6 II good enough to make it worth the extra compared to its direct rivals? At this level, you commit to a system rather than a specific camera, and if you’re starting from scratch you’ll need a lot of trust in the Canon brand to pay the extra for the R6 II. If you’re a Canon shooter, the R6 II might make a logical upgrade for existing kit, but if you already use Sony, Panasonic or Nikon gear, it’s hard to see why you would switch.

  • Price Score: 3.5/5

Canon EOS R6 II: design

  • Curved shapes and smooth materials make it nice to handle
  • Very good EFV and rear display
  • Some minor control niggles

Canon does make very nice-handling cameras. When other makers seem to be favoring hard-edged rectilinear designs, the EOS R6 II has comfortable curved contours and soft, grippy surfaces. Your little finger is still left dangling at the bottom of the grip and it does feel overbalanced by bigger lenses – we tested it with the RF 24-105mm f/4 – but it’s more comfortable than its rivals.

The three-dial control layout does take some learning, since the dial functions depend on the mode and in some modes two dials do the same thing, but it’s all part of learning a sophisticated camera.

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Canon EOS R6 II video and photo mode dial close up

(Image credit: Future)
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Canon EOS R6 II top plate from above

(Image credit: Future)
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Canon EOS R6 II shooting mode dial and controls close up

(Image credit: Future)

It would have been nice to have had dedicated ISO and WB buttons, and why doesn’t the stills/video lever on the far left of the top plate have a continuous shooting option? It’s something this camera is especially good at, so it’s a bit annoying to have to dig around the the interface to find it.

And you might wish there was some quick way to disable the subject-recognition system for when you want to choose the focus point – though you could do that with the C1, C2 and C3 settings on the main mode dial.

It does feels as if Canon has gone away from the idea of a camera that has buttons and dials you can see, to a camera you customize and program yourself.

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Canon EOS R6 II in the hands of reviewer

(Image credit: Future)
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Reviewer taking a picture with Canon EOS R6 II looking through the viewfinder

(Image credit: Future)
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Canon EOS R6 II with memory card door open and SD card

(Image credit: Future)
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Canon EOS R6 II ports door held open revealing USB-C and HDMI out ports

(Image credit: Future)

The EVF offers superb clarity, definition and contrast, though it can also be a bit jittery as you move the camera, and while the vari-angle rear screen is equally excellent, could Canon not have stretched to a 3.2-inch display rather than 3-inch?

If you like cameras with power levers around the shutter release, right where your forefinger is, you won’t like the R6 II’s big Off-Lock-On lever further back on the top plate. There must be some ergonomic reason why you should need one hand to hold a camera and another to switch it on and off. Answers on a postcard.

There’s no status panel on the top plate, but the menu system, although extensive, is very clear and easy to navigate. The video record button on the on the top plate looks to be in a random position but it’s actually quite easy to find with your index finger.

  • Design 4/5

Canon EOS R6 II: features and performance

  • Really good AI autofocus and tracking
  • Operation all-round is smooth, responsive and satisfying
  • We didn’t get Canon’s claimed 8-stops of IBIS

Canon’s latest AI autofocus system is very impressive – mostly because you can set its subject-recognition to auto and let it get on with it. Almost always it figures out what your subject is and focuses on it without you having to do a thing. It’s especially effective with animals and humans, but it’s also very good at identifying cars.

If you choose Zone AF or single point AF, it will still show you what it’s recognized in the EVF or on the rear screen, but it will respect your area/point AF choice, which saves you getting into a fight with the camera over what to focus on.

Canon EOS R6 II profile and outside on a tripod

(Image credit: Future)

The eye AF and tracking is very good, and ideal for one-person vlogging crews filming themselves. In our tests it tracked us doggedly as we walked about talking to the camera, and only failed with sudden frame entries for fast and erratic movements. Basically, as long as you’re not deliberately trying to trip it up, it doesn’t put a foot wrong.

It was also excellent for tracking squirrels in our local park. With a squirrel face-on it didn’t quite figure out the eyes, but with the squirrel sideways it got the focus bang on.

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Canon EOS R6 II rear screen with subject tracking AF active

(Image credit: Future)
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Canon EOS R6 II white balance menu on rear screen

(Image credit: Future)
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Canon EOS R6 II subject tracking AF menu on rear screen

(Image credit: Future)

The 8-stop (claimed) IBIS is less convincing. It’s quoted with the RF 24-105mm lens at 105mm, which is just how we tested it. We got an acceptable hit rate at around 4-stops compensation, but pretty poor results after that.

We didn’t find it great for video or long lenses, either. For static filming it’s excellent, but for any kind of camera movement it does too many ‘jump-resets’ for reliable footage in the hands of all but the most skilled operators. We tried it with the RF 800mm f/11 super-telephoto and got the same results – if you can’t keep this lens’s movement under tight control, the stabilizer just jumps from one ‘stable’ position to another, making accurate framing very difficult.

  • Features and performance 4/5

Canon EOS R6 II on a tripod outside with no lens and sensor protector active

(Image credit: Future)

Canon EOS R6 II: image and video quality

  • Very attractive color rendering for both stills and video
  • Excellent high-ISO image quality
  • 24MP resolution enough for most but unremarkable

The JPEGs we got from the R6 II are really attractive. The auto WB seems to judge the lighting and the colors of the scene perfectly, and the evaluative exposure metering seems to know exactly how you would want a scene rendered. We shot both JPEG and raw, but the exposure system and the JPEG rendering proved so effective that the raw files were largely superfluous.

The resolution was no better and no worse than we’d expect from a 24MP full frame camera with an anti-aliasing filter. For resolution, the EOS R6 II is good but utterly unremarkable. At least it’s not at a megapixel disadvantage compared to most rivals, unlike its predecessor.

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Canon EOS R6 II gallery seaside town reflected in the ocean on calm sunny day

(Image credit: Future)
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canon eos r6 II gallery season toiwn reflected in ocean with overcast weather

(Image credit: Future)
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canon eos r6 II gallery dilapidated pier on a sunny day

(Image credit: Future)
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canon eos r6 II gallery squirrel in sharp focus

(Image credit: Future)
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Canon EOS R6 II wildlife squirrel picture with back focusing

(Image credit: Future)
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canon eos r6 II gallery close up of colourful graffiti

(Image credit: Future)
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canon eos r6 II close up of buddhist statue

(Image credit: Future)

The low-light, high-ISO performance is extremely good. We set up a test scene with the same subject shot at a range of ISOs with the camera on a tripod and operated with the self-timer to eliminate any possible shake. The results were very good indeed right up to ISO 6400, when it was possible to start seeing some loss of detail and image smoothing, but it wasn’t until ISO 12,800 when we felt there was any significant quality loss.

This was all done by comparing JPEGs. The danger of comparing raw files is that different raw converters handle noise differently.

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Canon EOS R6 II sequence of studio images of a Leicameter this one at ISO 100

(Image credit: Future)
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Canon EOS R6 II sequence of studio images of a Leicameter this one at ISO 400

(Image credit: Future)
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Canon EOS R6 II sequence of studio images of a Leicameter this one at ISO 1600

(Image credit: Future)
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Canon EOS R6 II sequence of studio images of a Leicameter this one at ISO 6400

(Image credit: Future)
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Canon EOS R6 II sequence of studio images of a Leicameter this one at ISO 25600

(Image credit: Future)
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Canon EOS R6 II sequence of studio images of a Leicameter this one at ISO 102400

(Image credit: Future)

The video quality was very impressive too. We shot 4K 30p and 4K 60p in-camera in standard mode (no log flattening) to see what the R6 II could do straight out of the box. Detail was sharp, the color rendition was rich and natural and the exposure – as with stills photography – gave enough dynamic range for most needs and lighting conditions. The AF kept up well too, with smooth shifts for changing subject distances.

The IBIS was less convincing, failing to properly smooth out walking footage and not handling long focal lengths or smooth camera movements (or as smooth as we could make them) particularly well.

The IBIS could get you out of a hole if you’re shooting handheld and you don’t have your tripod or gimbal but, realistically, you need those supports to really get the best from this or any camera.

  • Image and video quality 5/5

Should I buy the Canon EOS R6 II?

Don't buy it if...

Canon EOS R6 II outside on a tripod with 24-105mm lens attached

(Image credit: Future)

Don't buy it if...

Also consider

If our Canon EOS R6 II review has you wondering about alternatives, here are three rivals to consider.

Canon EOS R6 II: testing scorecard

First reviewed: January 2023

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