Gadget news
Spotify had a record 205 million premium subscribers at the end of 2022
9:33 pm | January 31, 2023

Author: admin | Category: Mobile phones news | Comments: Off

Spotify posted its financial report for the final quarter of 2022 and there is some good news and some bad news. First, the good news. It beat expectations and had 205 million paying subscribers at the end of the year, making it the first streaming service to cross the 200 million mark. Its monthly active users (MAU) reached 489 million, this includes the subscribers using the ad-supported tier. For comparison, Spotify had 195 million premium tier subscribers at the end of Q3 last year and 456 million MAU. The addition of 33 million MAU was Spotify’s largest-ever Q4 growth. Now for...

High-res images of Nothing Ear (2) leak, personalized ANC tipped
8:01 pm |

Author: admin | Category: Mobile phones news | Tags: | Comments: Off

We have a better look at the Nothing Ear (2), which first surfaced via renders last year. The images below, courtesy of Steve H. McFly (@OnLeakds) and SmartPrix show Nothing's next high-end buds in detail and come with a bit of information. Nothing Ear (2), image source: OnLeaks and SmartPrix The Nothing Ear (2), which company CEO Carl Pei has said would come in the second half of 2023, appear to have mostly kept the design. One notable change is the placement of the noise-canceling microphone from the back of the buds to the side. Otherwise, the design of the buds themselves...

Razer Leviathan V2 Pro review: wide soundstage, head tracking and a whole lot of rumble
7:05 pm |

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Razer Leviathan V2 Pro: One-minute review

Not that there's a lot riding on the Razer Leviathan V2 Pro. But with blow-you-away computer speakers like the SteelSeries Arena 9, whose true 5.1 system may have changed the way we consume media and play games on our computers, the pressure is certainly on. Especially because Razer is also going for that immersive 5.1 experience — only it’s attempting to do so with just a soundbar and a sub. 

Is it fair to compare it to SteelSeries' 2022 release? Well, yeah. In a lot of ways, Razer is making the argument here that you can experience that same level of immersion without taking up a whole lot of space. With the Razer Leviathan V2 Pro, it's telling gamers that they don't need the hassle of setting up two front and two rear speakers plus a sub to feel like they're in the middle of the action. All they need is this soundbar-and-sub combo, and it's much easier to set up. And to do that, they need a compelling product. 

So, how does the Leviathan V2 Pro fare? Don't get me wrong; I absolutely love the SteelSeries Arena 9. But, for someone who uses a lot of peripherals and doesn’t really have enough space to accommodate them all, I do think that Razer’s offering makes a pretty compelling case.

Razer Leviathan V2 Pro: Price and availability

  • How much does it cost? ‎$399.99 / £399.99 (about AU$600)
  • When is it available? Available now
  • Where can you get it? Available in the US, the UK, and Australia
Razer Leviathan V2 Pro: SPECS

Frequency range: 40Hz - 20kHz
Drivers: 5x 2-inch full-range drives, 1x 5.25-inch downward firing sub
Supported Connectivity: Bluetooth
Audio Inputs: USB
Outputs: 3.5mm

The Razer Leviathan V2 Pro might not seem like an affordable proposition. Who wants to spend $399.99 / £399.99 (about AU$600) on a computer speaker set? But, for what you’re getting, I’m actually surprised that it doesn’t cost more. After all, the SteelSeries Arena 9 comes with a $549 / €599 / AU$599 price tag. Even Razer’s own Nommo Pro, which is just a 2.1 system, is pricier at $599.99 / £529.99 / AU$999.95.

That’s without factoring in what you’re getting, which is a fairly space-saving audio solution that delivers a great immersive sound and a whole lot of rumble — just the ticket for your gaming and movie watching needs.

  • Value: 4 / 5

Razer Leviathan V2 Pro on a desk setup

(Image credit: Future / Michelle Rae Uy)

Razer Leviathan V2 Pro: Design and features

  • Soundbar is fairly compact
  • Nice, accessible controls and RGB lighting
  • Versatile with both USB and Bluetooth

While I prefer the more offbeat designs over traditional ones, I also thought the Razer Leviathan V2 Pro a thing of beauty when I took it out of the box. The grille on the soundbar looks premium, the controls are gloriously accessible and straightforward, and while the subwoofer is on the bigger end, the soundbar itself is fairly compact. Plus, the RGB lighting is a nice little extra.

Razer Leviathan V2 Pro on a desk setup

(Image credit: Future / Michelle Rae Uy)

I also love the fact that there’s a decent amount of clearance underneath, thanks to its longer feet. That space underneath allowed me to slide the soundbar over my monitor’s base, saving me even more desk space. As someone who has way too many devices and peripherals on her desk — and I currently have a pretty spacious desk — having the soundbar fit neatly over my monitor’s base while still sitting in front of the panel is extremely satisfying.

Razer Leviathan V2 Pro on a desk setup

(Image credit: Future / Michelle Rae Uy)

Of course, the sub, being fairly sizable, does take up a bit of space underneath. But, considering it’s out of the way and doesn’t have to be situated directly in front of me, its size is really a non-issue.

Razer Leviathan V2 Pro on a desk setup

(Image credit: Future / Michelle Rae Uy)

Back to the soundbar, there are four buttons on top flanking the power button-cum-volume dial on either side. There’s the EQ preset button, 3D button that lets you change audio modes, input button, and the RGB on/off button.

In front of these are 10 LED indicator lights, five on each side of the infrared camera that sit right in the middle where they’re best positioned to track your head and make sure you’re experiencing consistent audio (more on that later).

These LED indicator lights are pretty good at keeping you apprised of which setting you're adjusting and at what level that setting is. When you’re pressing the EQ preset button, for example, which allows you to cycle through the five EQ presets, each light essentially represents each preset.

You can’t really see the drivers behind the grill on the soundbar, but Razer says that there are five 2-inch full-range drivers in there and (sadly) no tweeters. Meanwhile, the subwoofer has a 5.25-inch downward firing one.

The Razer Leviathan V2 Pro does have software support, offering decent customizability via the Razer Synapse and Razer Chroma apps. The Razer Synapse app is, of course, the most important one here, offering users a 10-band EQ for fine-tuning the audio, choosing between the different audio modes, and quickly making RGB lighting adjustments.

  • Design: 4.5 / 5

Razer Leviathan V2 Pro on a desk setup

(Image credit: Future / Michelle Rae Uy)

Razer Leviathan V2 Pro: Performance

  • Power sub that deliver a lot of rumble
  • Very full mid range, high end a little lacking
  • Great sound imaging, wide soundstage

There are a couple of things that I do wish the Razer Leviathan V2 Pro would be better at. For example, the absence of tweeters on the soundbar means that the high end is a little lacking. That’s apparent when I’m playing Kena: Bridge of Spirits, which has a lot of sparkly audio effects like the sounds of chimes, for example. The game still sounds  good, but it also sounds a little dull due to the lack of high end.

I have also found it to be very mid-forward, and there are instances where it sounds a little muddy because of it. When I’m watching Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery, for example, the mid range sounded nicely full. However, when I put Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, the dialogue in the movie sounds a little muddy due to the mids being almost too full.

Those are the “bad” bits, which aren’t really deal-breakers. I have found that I’m not overly bothered by the lack of high end when I’m watching blockbusters. And being mid-forward isn’t necessarily always a bad thing.

Razer Leviathan V2 Pro on a desk setup

(Image credit: Future / Michelle Rae Uy)

Plus, the Razer Leviathan V2 Pro makes up for those with its bass performance, great sound imaging, and wide soundstage. Even on Stereo mode with a flat EQ, the sub at 3 out of 7, and the volume set to 50, I have found that the sound imaging in both the Glass Onion and Wakanda Forever is pretty good and the soundstage is wider than the soundbar (extending to about five to six inches further on each side of it).

Razer Leviathan V2 Pro on a desk setup

(Image credit: Future / Michelle Rae Uy)

Turn that sub up to 5, and the sub delivers a massive uptick in bass and rumble in Glass Onion. That isn’t the case in Wakanda Forever — I’ve found that jumping from 3 to 5 only delivers a slight uptick in sub bass, but I suspect that’s only because there’s already a lot of bass in the movie at 3 so going to 5 doesn’t make a massive difference.

The Razer Leviathan V2 Pro also has a lot of volume on tap — enough, I think, for a small home theater setup. So, use that volume dial with caution.

Two of the four audio modes on hand are excellent. I like Stereo, of course, but the Virtual Speakers mode, which according to Razer beams audio “to seven virtual speakers to deliver a wide soundstage that is always centered around you” and is best for multi-channel sound, is great as well. You’re betting bigger bass, crisp audio, clearer dialogue, and a wide soundstage.

The Virtual Headset mode is impressive in its own right. Described by Razer as audio that “is beamed directly to your ears in an immersive soundstage to deliver an immersive soundscape with pinpoint positional audio traditionally found in headsets,” it‘s a little less detailed. However, it sounds a little wider, the audio extending about eight inches further on each side of the soundbar, and its sound imaging is very accurate.

My head doesn’t have to be completely centered to get the full experience, either. When I sit in front of the soundbar and move from side to side, I always feel like I’m centered in the soundstage, which is pretty impressive.

That’s thanks to its built-in infrared camera that boasts AI tracking, which intelligently detects where you are in relation to the soundbar. It then uses beamforming technology to adjust the audio so that you feel like you’re right in the middle of the action, even if you’re off a little to one side. It does such a good job of it too that I don’t even hear the audio adjusting.

  • Performance: 4.5 / 5

Should I buy the Razer Leviathan V2 Pro?

Razer Leviathan V2 Pro on a desk setup

(Image credit: Future / Michelle Rae Uy)

Buy it if...

Don't buy it if...

Also consider

If our Razer Leviathan V2 Pro review has you considering other options, here are two more computer speakers to consider...  

Razer Leviathan V2 Pro: Report card

  • First reviewed January 2023

How I tested the Edifier G2000

We pride ourselves on our independence and our rigorous review-testing process, offering up long-term attention to the products we review and making sure our reviews are updated and maintained - regardless of when a device was released, if you can still buy it, it's on our radar.

Read more about how we test

Tecno Phantom X2 Pro teardown shows us the protruding telephoto lens up close
6:43 pm |

Author: admin | Category: Mobile phones news | Comments: Off

The Tecno Phantom X2 Pro is one of the more memorable phones in recent memory thanks to its unique retractable telephoto/portrait lens. We’ve wondered how the phone looks on the inside and luckily PBKreviews has us covered with his latest teardown video. The plastic back cover is removed after taking out the SIM tray and applying some heat to the back. Removing a total of 17 screws frees up the cameras and gets us a close-up of the telephoto module (1:15 mark in the video). Unclipping a few more cables frees up the mainboard and gets us a closer look at the three rear cameras,...

Xiaomi sold over 1 million devices in India during the Republic Day Sale
5:47 pm |

Author: admin | Category: Mobile phones news | Tags: | Comments: Off

India celebrated Republic Day last Thursday, a holiday that is often paired with big discounts by retailers and brands. Xiaomi did well for itself as it announced that it has sold over 1 million products during its sale. The so-called Republic Day Sale actually spanned several days, January 16 to 20, and covers a variety of categories – Xiaomi makes everything from headphones to smart TVs. The company doesn’t reveal which products sold the best, but we can take a guess. Xiaomi sold over 1 million products during the Republic Day Sale • Redmi Note 12 series sales surpass ₹5...

Apple HomePod 2 review: rich sound, but doesn’t fix the original’s problems
5:00 pm |

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Apple HomePod 2: Two-minute review

The HomePod 2 is a surprising relaunch for Apple's smart speaker, because at first glance, it doesn't appear to offer much that’s different to the original model. And after taking a much deeper glance (and listen), I can report that it does not, in fact, offer much that’s different to the original.

The HomePod 2 is a fairly compact speaker (smaller than most of the best wireless speakers, though obviously larger than the dinky HomePod mini) with a lot of speaker power built in – and you can hear it. It's energetic, bursting with detail, dynamic, and underlined with natural and resonant bass. For its price, no single speaker sounds quite as good – and combining two in a stereo system makes for even bigger and bolder sound.

But access to this power is frustratingly limited. The only ways to play audio are through the Siri voice assistant, or Apple AirPlay 2 system via Wi-Fi. There's no Bluetooth, no Chromecast, no Spotify Connect, and no aux-in. The only way to send audio to the speaker is from Apple devices, so if anyone in your house doesn't have one, you'll have to decide if you’re okay with excluding them from being able to use the speaker in the same way that others can.

Siri can work with multiple music services now, and can connect to your Apple account to do things like add calendar entries; but it's not as smart as Alexa or Google Assistant for generally interpreting your questions well, so if you're looking for one of the best smart speakers, it may not be top of your list.

However, if you sit in the sweet-spot demographic for the HomePod – an all-Apple house, with Apple Music to take advantage of its upgraded Dolby Atmos skills – the HomePod 2 is perhaps the best-value speaker out there. It’s cheaper than what you get from the hardcore hi-fi brands (such as the Naim Mu-so Qb 2), and with a more full sound than the Sonos One can deliver.

And its new smart-home skills are welcome too, though we'd flag them as 'nice bonuses' rather than 'reasons to buy in the first place'.

Apple HomePod 2 review: Price & release date

The HomePod 2 is released on Friday February 3, 2022.

It costs $299 / £299 / AU$479, which is pretty much what the previous model cost by the time it was discontinued. It's the same price in the US, while it's slightly more expensive in the UK, but that's no surprise given recent currency exchange rates; it's AU$10 more expensive in Australia.

The price is high compared to most of the best smart speakers – even the Amazon Echo Studio, the most expensive Alexa speaker, is nearly half the price. The Sonos One is also much cheaper.

However, there are plenty of much more expensive wireless speakers, including the likes of the Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin (2021) or the mighty Naim Mu-So Qb 2nd Gen

So the HomePod is in the middle of the market overall – it's just definitely beyond the high end of what most people will pay for something like this. But then, the HomePod mini covers the more affordable end.

Apple HomePod 2 review: Specs

HomePod 2 on shelf in a home

(Image credit: Future)

Apple HomePod 2 review: Features

  • Use Siri and AirPlay 2 to provide music
  • Dolby Atmos support, including from Apple TV 4K
  • Matter smart home support, with temperature and humidity sensors built in

The features of the new HomePod are very close to the original. It's a Wi-Fi-connected smart speaker based on Apple's Siri assistant, with the ability to also send music to it over Apple's AirPlay 2.

That means it's geared towards music in the Apple ecosystem very heavily. You can use Siri to request songs from Apple Music, though Siri now works with some other music services too. And while you can send music (or any other audio) to it over AirPlay 2 from Apple devices, though there's no Bluetooth, or aux-in, or other way to get audio into it – that means Android devices are left in the cold with the HomePod, as is your turntable.

If you're in an all-Apple house and have no plans to change this in the future, then that's okay. But if one of your two kids uses Android when everyone else uses iPhones, it makes the HomePod 2 a poor investment. There are lots of other speakers that support AirPlay and have options for Android – from the likes of Sonos, Audio Pro, Bowers & Wilkins, and Naim – see our guide to the best AirPlay speakers. If you're in a mixed-device house, you should think very hard whether HomePods are the best option for you, especially at this price.

The HomePod 2 works as part of AirPlay multi-room systems, naturally, and you can use one HomePod on its own, or two in a pair.

The new HomePod is geared up for Dolby Atmos music support from Apple Music, including Spatial Audio – it will bounce sounds off your walls to try to create the feeling of the music being separated into different angles, elements and layers.

And these Dolby Atmos skills will come in useful if you own an Apple TV, because you can use two new HomePods as an alternative to one of the best soundbars – the Apple TV can send all of its sound to the HomePod, including Dolby Atmos 3D audio.

The HomePod 2 also supports lossless audio from Apple Music, for higher-quality audio overall, if you're signed up that service. This is the only way it support Hi-Res music, though – Apple AirPlay 2 tech doesn't currently transmit it, so it's no good for playing stored FLAC files or anything.

The HomePod 2 has an ultra-wideband chip in, which means it can detect when an iPhone 11 or later is close to it, making it easy to beam music from your phone to the HomePod (or vice versa) by just bringing it close. 

This also makes setup very easy – turn on the HomePod 2, and bring your iPhone nearby. A pop-up will appear, asking you to bring the top of the HomePod into view of your phone's camera. Then the HomePod will play a sound to identify itself to the iPhone, and that'll be it. It'll be connected to your iCloud account, gaining access to your Apple Music subscriptions.

HomePod 2 on shelf in a home

(Image credit: Future)

For smart home lovers, the HomePod 2 is even better now. It supports Thread and Matter, which are the next-gen protocols that work with more accessories than ever – as well as Apple HomeKit – and it can trigger automations in your smart home when you're not there. 

It also has built-in temperature and humidity sensors, which are useful for climate-control smart home gear, or just for checking on your home's status. Open Apple's Home app and you can see this info in the 'Climate' option at the top, though during our time with the HomePod, the temperature always showed as being within a range (for example, 17-19°C) which is a bit odd. Sometimes the range is as low as 1.5°C, sometimes it was 3°C. It's not a huge deal, but it's unusual to see imprecision in temperature reporting. The humidity also tends to be in a range, but it was of just two percent in my experience (ie, 63-64%), which is close enough to not bother me.

It's easy to build these into an automation – you could trigger one of the best smart plugs connected to a dehumidifier to turn on if the humidity passes a certain point, for example – from the Automation tab in the Home app.

As for Siri – it works well technically here, being very quick and accurate to pick up commands, and answers from the internet come rapidly. But it still gives some strange responses to even pretty basic music queries, and that's supposed to be its raison d'être here. I asked it to "play Blue Monday". "Playing Blue Monday," Siri responded instantly. I was expecting New Order, but figured I'd maybe get a cover. Instead, I got a song called Here By the Grace of God by Greg Hester, from an album called American Story. This segued into a Bob Dylan song. I'm guessing it found me a playlist called 'Blue Monday'? But there's no way of knowing that for sure – I can see on my iPhone what is playing, but not why.

I asked Siri what the weather will be tomorrow, and it said that Location Services hadn't been activated yet (they had, but only a few minutes earlier, so we'll forgive that to a syncing issue), so it asked me where I wanted to hear the weather for. I told it my home city's name. It read me some facts about my home city and then asked me if I wanted to hear more. Yes! The weather!

Siri is good at taking very clear commands within certain structures. It can take requests to send messages you can ask it to add basic calendar entries (and it can differentiate voices, if you choose to set that feature up), and you can ask it for basic factual information. But it's alarming just how often it stumbles. It simply hasn't made the same progress that other smart assistants have, and should be thought of as a simple voice remote control for your speaker rather than a smart voice interface. And I'm fine with that personally, because audio quality is the draw here for me – if it's the smart part of smart speakers that interests you, look elsewhere.

  • Features score: 3/5

HomePod 2 on shelf in a home

(Image credit: Future)

Apple HomePod 2 review: Sound quality

  • Better suited to acoustic/classical than the original thanks to greater upper-mid clarity
  • Very full and well-balanced sound overall (but slightly slimmer bass than original)
  • Dolby Atmos is much more pronounced and effective, especially in a pair

Let's get something out of the way for people who used the original HomePod: the new version is not as loud as the original. I tested it directly against the original model, and the HomePod 2 at about 50% of maximum volume was equivalent to the original being at roughly 33%. Now, that's not really a problem, because it's still capable of going far beyond filling the average room in a house even with just one HomePod, let alone a pair – but still.

I've already mentioned several times that the audio quality is fantastic for the price. The high-end pops and hits with great clarity, the mid-range is fulsome and expressive, and bass is weighty yet controlled.

So to dig deeper into it, I'm going to compare it to the original HomePod directly. The first thing I noticed was that the top-end feels brighter, which is driven most by more pronounced upper-mids than the original. This is especially clear in higher-pitched vocals in song's like Foxes Gentleman and Haim's Don't Save Me, and in trumpets in Holst's The Planets. The vocals are lifted clearer of the rest of the mix, and it's also easier for denser collections of instruments at the top end to show you every detail.

At the other end, the bass is a little more resonant, but slightly less punchy. In M83's Midnight City, each synth bass beat rolls off slightly slower and feels more dispersed, which is great, but it also doesn't feel like it's hitting as hard – just a little less deep and guttural. Of note, though, is that when I tried it on one of my shelves, the new HomePods produced fewer vibrations into other objects on the shelf.

In South's Paint the Silence, which starts with strummed guitars and a bass line, the guitar pops out more and feels more natural in the new HomePod; but the bass line drops deeper and has more definition from the old HomePod. I would say the elevation of the guitar is more prominent, but I definitely noticed the difference in the bass.

In the mid-range, individual instruments get a little more room to breathe during especially dense moments. Not every song benefits from this, but it was fairly clear when one did – there's definitely more to chew on from the new model.

The sound is a little more forward and aggressive than from the original, which is energising, but also makes it feel more like it's coming from a small point. The original disperses stereo sound a little more, so it feels like it's coming from a corner of the room; the new one feels more like it's being delivered to you from a single unit. I found this clear listening to Dancing in the Dark – the original gave me a whole gritty wall of Bruce's voice hanging out at the back of the room, and the new one felt like the singing was directed right towards me.

This all comes together in The Prodigy's Firestarter in interesting ways. The piercing sounds at the start explode from the new HomePod 2 to grab your attention by the… ears far more than they do from the original HomePod. But then the new version's bass is relatively tame, and it's the original that can bang its head that little bit harder. And the heavily twisted and distorted guitars spread out more in a way that's interesting and enveloping from the original – again, it sounds more dispersed. They lash out excitingly from the new model, but I'm more into the what the original does with them.

I go back and forth on which I prefer when it's one single speaker against the other, basically on a song-by-song basis, and sometimes within the same song. Which is obviously not a problem in itself, but I had hoped for an AirPods Pro 2-style leap forward in audio quality.

However, that's all with stereo music (in Lossless or Hi-Res Lossless, from Apple Music). Switching to Dolby Atmos music allows the new HomePod 2 to reveal its real sound dispersal skills… depending on your positioning.

A single original HomePod doesn't do a ton with Atmos – but the new one is clearly positioning sounds in the mix. In Sweet Child O' Mine, the iconic guitar riff comes from the center, but when Axel Rose's voice is layered over itself, it's clearly coming from more than one angle. Lady Gaga's Chromatica album is a Dolby Atmos playground, and it's the same thing here – the HomePod 2 is able to steer sounds around in the mix in a way that's totally different to what you get from a stereo setup, and more than the original can.

However, Dolby Atmos music doesn't sound as natural as regular music from the HomePod 2. Ironically, adding more spreadable sound makes the sound feel boxier – a little more clipped, a little harder.

HomePod 2 on shelf in a home

(Image credit: Future)

Stepping up to a pair of HomePod 2 units combined into a stereo set gives the system an extra boost with all kinds of music. The forward-ness of the sound doesn't matter, because things are spread between the two anyway. And it feels like the bass gets to go a bit harder – I can't tell if that's just my perception or a freeing up of the system because one unit isn't trying to handle everything at once. Either way, I'm loving them as a pair even more than I liked using the originals in a pair.

And in Dolby Atmos, it's a totally different thing with two HomePod 2s. With them positioned in stereo in front of you, and in a room that's conducive towards sound being bounced around (ie, with walls not too far to the side of you), they can do some pretty incredible things with audio positioning. Instruments come from the side or even slightly behind you, which is a feat that even some of the best Dolby Atmos soundbars can't manage convincingly without actual rear speakers. It's a little spooky, and quite convincing. The joy of Dolby Atmos music is that it makes your favorite tracks a surprise again, and you can really get that with a pair of HomePod 2 speakers.

This largely follows through to using a pair with an Apple TV 4K as Dolby Atmos speakers for movies – an alternative to a soundbar. The HomePods are great at adding height in terms of positioning sounds to match the action on the screen (even a 65-inch screen), though can't quite manage the exact 'above you' Dolby Atmos height that the best soundbars can produce. There's not a lot of precision to it – just sort of generically high. It's the same with a lot of side or rear effects – they don't sound very precise from movies. Yes, it's clear there's width and that you're being roughly 'surrounded', but without the precision that would make it totally convincing. 

Where it can't get behind you, though, it often does a great job with layering the sound instead. In BlacKkKlansman, responses to Brother Kwame's speech echo around, clearly coming from a different source to his words – without real rear speakers, this is as good as you can do, and it works well.

The problem is that the HomePods are so damn tall. Unless you have space to place them past each end of your TV (which I don't, personally), or on a bench under a wall-mounted TV, they will absolutely block part of the screen.

I tried a direct comparison with a Sonos Beam 2nd Gen, which costs around 75% of the price of two HomePod 2s. I would say that the HomePods were marginally superior – the width of their sound expanded further past the edges of the screen, they had more pronounced height, and they're a little more dynamic – but when it came to the core positioning of sounds to the screen, vocal clarity and general sound balance, I think the Sonos delivered 90% of the HomePod 2s' performance… for movies. For music, the HomePods were the winner, especially with Dolby Atmos music.

Going back to looking at the HomePod as just a single standalone unit, and speaking of Sonos… compared to the Sonos One – our other favorite small wireless speaker that goes in an easy multi-room setup – the HomePod 2 remains a clear step up in vibrancy, dynamic range, richness around the mid, and especially in bass. But then, you can get two Sonos One SL units for a little more than one HomePod 2, and (as with the Beam) as an individual speaker you're definitely getting more than half the performance.

And compared to the HomePod mini, it's obviously a big step-up here, too, in every conceivable way. More volume, more clarity, more range… the HomePod Mini is really good for a smaller room, but for anything larger, the HomePod 2 really comes into its own. 

  • Sound quality score: 4.5/5

HomePod 2 on shelf in a home

(Image credit: Future)

Apple HomePod 2 review: Design

  • Lovely fabric exterior in Midnight (black) or white
  • Swirling lights on top are fun
  • Short cable (five feet), but you can swap it

The new HomePod 2 looks almost the same as the original HomePod, with its round shape and fabric-covered exterior. I like this design a lot – it looks nice when you focus on it, but it's also great at just blending into the background when you're not, because it feels very neutral. The fabric looks nicer than plastic or a similar finish, and doesn't reflect light. The black (sorry, 'Midnight') and white finishes are lovely and neutral, though I would've liked to see some funky colors like the HomePod mini has.

On top, there's a swirling colored 'screen' (it doesn't show info, it just shows when Siri or music is active). On the original HomePod, this was just a small dot in the center, but now it's the whole top, just like on the HomePod mini. The top is also sunken slightly 'into' the fabric.

The new model is the same diameter as the original at 5.6 inches / 142mm, and is nearly the same height – it's imperceptibly shorter at 6.6 inches / 168mm rather than 6.8 inches / 173mm.

One useful change is that the power cable isn't permanently attached any more – you can just pull it out the back, which can help with installing it on a set of shelves or something. Even more usefully, it means you could swap the annoying short included five-foot cable out for a longer one, because it's a standard figure-eight connector (though you'd need to made sure that one you buy will fit in Apple's hole).

The inside of the HomePod 2 is very different, even though a lot of the principles are the same. For example, there's still a big four-inch high-excursion woofer at the top to handle mid-range and bass. Being 'high-excursion' means the driver moves especially far forward and back (20mm, in this case), so it can displace more air and produce a bigger, deeper sound.

And there's still a ring of higher-frequency tweeters underneath the woofer, but now there are five tweeters instead of the seven in the original HomePod, and they're placed at the bottom of the unit and angle upwards, to help avoid audio reflections from the surface the HomePod is placed on.

  • Design score: 4/5

HomePod 2 on shelf in a home

(Image credit: Future)

Apple HomePod 2 review: Value

  • Sound quality for the price is excellent
  • Limited inputs harm overall value
  • It'll depend partly on how Apple-mad you are

I am the perfect target for the HomePod 2. I use Apple Music as my main music source. I use Apple TV 4K for movies. Everyone in my household has an iPhone. I don't need a single set of speakers to be able to connect to a turntable or other more traditional music source. And I don't have a lot of spare space – for me, their mix of big sound from a small package is ideal. I think they're great value in my situation, even if I think Siri is practically a bit vestigial at this point (I do use it to request music, but that's pretty much it, and I've been using HomePods since 2018).

However, despite offering me a huge amount of options and nice features, the HomePod 2's inflexibility outside of that can't be ignored. I think of the Apple TV 4K (2022), which is really popular with people who have no other Apple products, because it's simply the best streaming device on the planet, and doesn't require other Apple devices to function. With Bluetooth and/or an aux-in, the HomePod 2 could be the same for music – the best-sounding speaker for those who want more than they can get from the best Bluetooth speakers, but without spending serious hi-fi money.

As it is, its value is a bit all-or-nothing. It's either a great buy for all-in Apple users, or a poor buy for everyone else. So the score below for the people who actually should consider buying it – it's great value, but it'd be even better with some extra options.

  • Value score: 4/5

Should you buy the HomePod 2?

Buy it if…

Don't buy it if…

Apple HomePod 2 review: Also consider

How I tested the HomePod 2

  • I listened to the HomePod 2 for about 12 hours overall
  • I listened mainly to music from Apple Music, and movies from Apple TV 4K
  • I tested and reviewed it as a single unit mainly, but also tested it in a stereo pair

I tested the HomePod 2 at home, where I've used other wireless speakers including the original HomePod, HomePod mini and Sonos One. To prepare my HomePod 2 units for testing and allow them to run in, I allowed them to play music for about 12 hours before I listened with any judgment.

While testing, I switched between multiple genres of music, and primary listened through Apple Music, because it provides lossless audio as well as Dolby Atmos support (and, y'know, it's what the HomePod 2 is built to work with).

I compared it directly with the original HomePod for some forensic level analysis, placing both speakers next to each other, and playing the same track on both, switching between them. For most of my listening time, the HomePods were placed on a wood-fibre shelving unit, to avoid vibrations.

For testing their movie skills, I used them with an Apple TV 4K (2021), playing movies from Apple's own store that included Dolby Atmos soundtracks. To compare with the Sonos Beam, I connected the Sonos Beam to my TV over HDMI eARC, and played the exact same movies via the Apple TV.

Exclusive: Amazfit GTR Mini first-look
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Author: admin | Category: Mobile phones news | Comments: Off

Amazfit has yet to launch a new smartwatch this year but we have some new images of the upcoming GTR Mini. Following up the GTS Mini line, Amazfit will expand the smaller form factor to the GTR lineup with the A2174 model bearing the internal codename “Leiden”. Amazfit GTR Mini Amazfit GTR Mini will offer a 1.28-inch 2.5D AMOLED touchscreen display and stainless steel casing with a single button on the right side of the watch. Other features include an onboard GNSS receiver with support for GPS, QZSS, BEIDOU, GALILEO and standards. Amazfit GTR Mini...

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Author: admin | Category: Mobile phones news | Comments: Off

Sony is preparing to launch its second generation VR headset on February 22 and an important part of those preparations is announcing that the PlayStation 5 supply issues are finally over. Fans in the US, UK, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg can pick up a PS5 online from, which also offers games and accessories like the newly launched DualSense Edge controller. This site also has pre-orders for the PSVR2 headset and the Horizon Call of the Mountain bundle. Of course, the PlayStaion is available through select retailers as...

Sony solves PlayStation 5 supply issues ahead of PSVR2 launch
4:01 pm |

Author: admin | Category: Mobile phones news | Comments: Off

Sony is preparing to launch its second generation VR headset on February 22 and an important part of those preparations is announcing that the PlayStation 5 supply issues are finally over. Fans in the US, UK, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg can pick up a PS5 online from, which also offers games and accessories like the newly launched DualSense Edge controller. This site also has pre-orders for the PSVR2 headset and the Horizon Call of the Mountain bundle. Of course, the PlayStaion is available through select retailers as...

Garmin Instinct Crossover review: The smart Casio G-Shock of my dreams
3:56 pm |

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

Two minute review

The Garmin Instinct Crossover is a Garmin Instinct 2 with an upgraded chipset and analog hands, and I love it. It’s one of my favorite activity watches of 2022 based on the novelty factor alone, although the fact it uses the excellent Garmin Instinct 2 as a base means it’s a very capable adventure watch, not just a one-and-done gimmick. It's definitely one of the best Garmin watches out there and the best hybrid outdoor watch I've tried, although it falls slightly short of perfect as it's overpriced for what you get.

The hands are based on a technology Garmin calls ‘RevoDrive technology’. Revodrive ensures that if the watch takes a big knock, moves into a different timezone, or undergoes any other event which would cause an ordinary analog watch to display inaccurate time, RevoDrive will automatically calibrate the watch using its satellite technology. 

This technology is also what allows users to actually make the most of the Garmin Instinct 2’s smarts. A simple press of any of the function buttons (other than the light) will stop the watch’s analog timekeeping and swivel the analog hands to form a horizontal line between the 9 o’clock and 3 o’clock positions. 

Information and workout statistics are generally presented in list form, so you can scroll through the info and see it clearly, even though the analog hands are in the way. When you’re done, return to the home screen, and RevoDrive will return the analog hands back to the correct time. 

Overall, there are a few improvements in the Instinct 2’s hardware, which we’ll cover later, and all the usual Garmin stuff is as good as ever, including Body Battery functionality, route tracking with TracBack, excellent running metrics, and all the usual health-tracking features, such as heart rate variability. 

The only issues preventing the watch from earning an elusive five stars is the increase in price as a result of the analog hands, which pushes it into the same territory as Garmin watches with more functionality, such as the Forerunner 955

Garmin Instinct Crossover: Price and availability

 The Garmin Instinct Crossover is available pretty much everywhere you can get Garmin watches, including at Amazon and direct from the Garmin website. It’s priced at US$499.99 / £479.99 / AU$999.99 for the base version, although the solar-charging model costs $549.99 / £529.99 / AU$1,049.99. A tactical version of the Solar, with stealth mode and a kill switch to clear all user data instantly, is also available at an additional premium, although the extra features are unlikely to appeal to anyone outside of the military or those with a love of 'tacticool' gear.  

Garmin Instinct Crossover

(Image credit: Garmin )

Garmin Instinct Crossover: Design

  • Great integration of analog elements
  • Rugged exterior
  • Very thick – maybe too thick?

The Instinct 2 was already one of the best-designed rugged watches available at its price point. It’s cheap enough to feel like you can throw it around without worrying about spoiling a four-figure watch, yet expensive enough to carry lots of Garmin’s best features and use premium materials in its construction. Garmin hasn’t reinvented the wheel here, with chemically strengthened glass on the non-solar version (the solar version gets Garmin’s Power Glass), and the fiber-reinforced polymer/stainless steel case and bezel that are also present on the Instinct 2. Garmin has also swapped chipsets, from the Instinct 2’s Sony to an Airoha, which expands the watch’s GPS options.

It’s still a 45mm watch, but slightly deeper at 16mm compared to the 14mm Instinct. This adds additional wrist protrusion to an already very chunky watch, but it’s easy to see why: Garmin has added the analog hands, which have a super-Luminova glow-in-the-dark coating, inside the case of the Instinct. This requires that extra 2mm of space, although we imagine future iterations will be able to streamline the tech somewhat, and bring it down to 14mm or even 12mm. As is, thanks to the rugged bezel, thick silicone strap and analog hands, the whole thing gives off real Casio G-Shock vibes. 

Until, that is, you press one of those function buttons and the watch bursts into life. Considering that it’s built like a tank, the way the hands are designed to interact with the smart elements of the watch – rotating with the touch of a button to be as unobtrusive as possible when reading the information on the screen – is surprisingly elegant. In the words of Futurama’s Zapp Brannigan, it’s built like a steakhouse but handles like a bistro. 

The satisfying whirr of the motor as the hands buzz around to form a straight line doesn’t really get old. I’ve been using the Instinct Crossover for around a month, and I’m still not tired of showing people. It’s like I said when reviewing the blood-pressure strap on the Huawei Watch D: I love that innovations in smartwatches are getting physical again. Tech should be fun as well as functional, and it needs to look good. Despite the depth of this watch, face-on it’s a really attractive beast, as good-looking as any other analog adventure watch I’ve come across. It’s like a Garmin had a baby with a G-Shock Mudmaster, and I wholeheartedly love the design. 

I’m a longtime Garmin user, so I already love the design of the Garmin Connect companion app. It’s easy on the eye, and intuitive to navigate for the most part, although I’m still using my thumb to hit the wrong portion of the screen occasionally after a workout, slamming my thumb directly below the stat I want to expand rather than switching tabs. I love the heat map the app generates after a run, with different colors depending on my speed and exertion during particular parts of the course – it’s one of Garmin’s most useful features, and an example of beautifully-presented data. 

  • Design score: 4/5

Garmin Instinct Crossover watch

(Image credit: Matt Evans)

Garmin Instinct Crossover: Features

  • Great health and fitness tracking
  • Good adventure credentials
  • Lack of screen space means certain features are missing

There are tons of functions and features here, pretty much all of which have already featured on the Instinct 2. Activity tracking features abound, providing notifications on floors climbed, distance traveled and steps taken, as well as other health metrics, such as a sleep score and Garmin’s very useful Body Battery score, which monitors your recovery and tells you how prepared you are for your next adventure. There’s no Training Readiness though, which is essentially a more advanced version. 

The Instinct Crossover measures your heart rate 24/7. It also offers a heart rate variability measurement (which watches for irregularities while you sleep), and an estimated respiration rate to help monitor your exertion during exercise. It’s a really terrific watch for the outdoors in particular, offering environmental information such as sunrise and sunset from the watch face, as well as GPS coordinates, elevation information, and your distance from a designated destination, which you can set up in the app. 

The sports profile I use the most often is running, and I’ve given that an extensive go with the Crossover up to around 14 miles. There’s great GPS integration, on-wrist running power, and TracBack, which can help you return to the start of a route.  The autolap feature works well whenever I pass the kilometer marker, as Garmin Connect provides an update in my earbuds with a few stats such as time and average pace, just like most conventional running apps. 

The cycling and swimming profiles offer similar functionality, with speed, cadence, lengths and stroke counts replacing granular running information like stride length. Like the Instinct 2, this is a perfectly good triathlon watch, and if you’re looking for something a bit stylish and quirky that’ll still give you all the info you need, the Crossover might be an ideal fit. 

There’s no onboard music on the watch, just music control, which is disappointing at this price point. In fact, there are a few features here that are missing. The Garmin Forerunner 955, which you can get for around the same price, offers onboard music storage, a Training Readiness score, a daily Morning Report push-notification digest, Pace Pro advanced pacing tools, and topographical maps. I can appreciate that it’s hard to include maps with the analog hands, but it’s a feature that’s really missed here, especially as so many of the Instinct Crossover’s features are geared towards the great outdoors. 

In its haste to raise prices, Garmin has done the Crossover a disservice by placing it above the Instinct. It’s now in the ballpark of the premium Forerunner and Fenix ranges, all of which specialize with topographical map functionality and dedicated sporting features. The Instinct 2 is a phenomenal watch at its current price, and the Crossover is a wonderful alternative to it, but it can’t compete with Garmin’s other watches in the $500 / £500 / AU$1,000 space. 

  • Features score: 4/5 

Garmin Instinct Crossover and Forerunner 955 watches

Left: Garmin Forerunner 955. Right: Garmin Instinct Crossover. (Image credit: Matt Evans)

Garmin Instinct Crossover: Performance

  • Accurate GPS and health tracking
  • RevoDrive works a treat
  • Quite bulky for everyday wear

During my tests, the GPS was highly accurate, and comparable to the Garmin Forerunner 955 Solar, as well as the Apple Watch Ultra, when it came to measuring my overall speed in time per kilometers covered, and comparable heart rate measurements. I’m completely satisfied with its accuracy, having tested it alongside other high-standard watches, and I’d have no qualms about using it as an everyday running watch. 

As mentioned above, I love the heat-map design of the routes shown in the app, and as usual, the watch fed my data into Strava and uploaded my runs automatically. LiveTrack, the feature which allows friends and family to monitor your runs remotely, works a treat.

I personally don’t need onboard music and maps, as I generally use Spotify, stick to the roads, and keep my phone on me, but habitual trail runners might like to make use of both features, in which case they’d be better off with a Forerunner. I can see why people might need these features, but I’ll be keeping my phone on me as a matter of course – as a runner with asthma, I may one day need to stop and call my wife to pick me up, although that’s not happened yet.

The watch was big and bulky, and took a little getting used to. As good as it looked, its extra thickness was very noticeable, bulging under my sleeve when I wore it during the day, and it’s big enough to feel obtrusive when worn at night. However, it wasn’t an uncomfortable wear; Garmin’s silicone straps are generally very good, and this watch was no exception. It’s just big. 

It provided me with a good selection of Garmin’s baseline health metrics, with all the detail I’ve come to expect, from daily stress scores broken down into minutes of rest, low, medium and high energy, to continuous heart rate monitoring and an HRV score. 

You can pick your watch face configuration to show the information you want, and although the 176 x 176px monochrome display is quite basic, that’s part of the charm: the idea of having an analog watch is to make sure you’re not as connected as you would be with a full smartwatch, and the hybrid offers you the best of both worlds by limiting your interactions with yet another screen. The Crossover’s display reminds me of a Casio LCD screen, which is just another part of its retro charm – I really did fall in love with it, and the RevoDrive technology never showed me an inaccurate time despite my constant flitting between modes. 

  • Performance score: 4/5

Garmin Instinct Crossover: Battery Life

  • 28 days in smartwatch mode
  • 25 hours in GPS mode
  • 70 days for solar-extended unit

Garmin claims the battery life for the standard Instinct Crossover is up to 28 days in smartwatch mode, or up to 25 hours in GPS mode. On average, with moderate GPS usage, that will take you down to a hair under three weeks, which is pretty much exactly what I found – I used my Instinct Crossover for around 18 days before the battery depleted, and charged it up in a little under an hour. 

The Solar version offers a longer battery life, with 70 days of solar-extended use provided that you spend around three hours a day outside to make the most of its Power Glass technology. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the Solar version (or 70 days) to test it. 

  • Battery life score: 4.5/5

Garmin Instinct Crossover: Buy it if…

Garmin Instinct Crossover: Don't buy it if…

Also consider

First reviewed: January 2023

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