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Lenovo Legion Y540 Review: A Sleek Laptop with Great Performance

With ray tracing becoming more and more mainstream, gaming laptop makers are now embracing RTX graphics all over the place, across a variety of price points. I’ve reviewed a fair amount of RTX-packing gaming laptops over the last few months, and obviously they’ve all been good. However, when Lenovo sent over the Legion Y540 over to us for a review, it sort of blew me away. Part of that was simply because it just looks so good, and part of that is because this is one of the only laptops offering RTX-graphics in its price. So, if you’re looking to buy a gaming laptop with RTX graphics and you’re wondering if the Legion Y540 is worth its Rs. 1,19,990 price tag, well read on for our detailed review of this gaming laptop.

Lenovo Legion Y540: Specifications

Before we jump into the review of this laptop, let’s take a quick gander at the specifications.

Display 15.6-inch FullHD
Processor 9th-gen Intel Core i7-9750H @ 2.6GHz
RAM 16GB DDR4
GPU Nvidia RTX 2060 6GB
Storage 1TB PCIe SSD
Ports and I/O 2x USB 3.1
1x USB 3.1 Type C
Headphone/Mic combo
1x RJ-45 Ethernet port
1x HDMI port
1x Mini Display Port
Connectivity Bluetooth v4.2
Lenovo AC Wireless (2×2)
Battery 57Wh
Price Rs. 1,25,650

Design and Build

The Legion Y540 is simply a stunning looking laptop. The black plastic chassis looks insanely good, with a textured lid with the Legion logo, a great looking hinge, and the vents — all of which looks amazing.

Inside, the laptop continues to amaze, as far as design is concerned. The display has thin bezels on all sides but one, but that’s pretty much a standard thing on most gaming laptops out there. There’s the “Legion” branding on the bottom bezel, which is also where Lenovo has placed the web-cam. That’s a very weird place to put a webcam in, and Lenovo isn’t the first company to make this weird choice, neither will it be the last, however, it makes the webcam nigh unusable. That said, you wouldn’t be using the webcam much anyway, and if you’re thinking of starting your own Twitch streams, this 720p webcam wouldn’t have cut it even it was placed on the top bezel like it should’ve been.

What I really like on the design front with the Legion Y540 is the matte black finish on the palm rest and all around the keyboard of this laptop. It looks good, it feels great, and it doesn’t attract a lot of fingerprints. Although oily fingers will leave a mark, so forget snacking while you game. Or at least be ready to have smudges on your gorgeous laptop.

There’s a decently sized trackpad here as well, along with more Lenovo branding, an “audio by HARMAN” branding, along with the Intel and Nvidia stickers that I’m not really a fan of. The power button on the Y540 is smack dab in the center, and it has a white LED that turns on when your laptop is powered on. It’s not the coolest looking power button I’ve seen on a gaming laptop (that honor would go to the ROG G703GXR that I reviewed a while back)

It’s pretty impressive, the way Lenovo designed this laptop, and other than the webcam placement, I don’t have any complaints with it. I mean, sure I would’ve liked the entire “Legion” logo on the lid to glow up (only the Y-shaped design lights up instead), but that’s just me, I don’t think a lot of people would mind that, especially since it’s not even visible to the user when the laptop is being used.

The build here is great as well. Even though this laptop has a plastic chassis, it’s a sturdy, high quality plastic that Lenovo has used here, which is what you’d expect from a laptop priced at around Rs. 1,20,000. The Legion Y540 clearly looks like it can tolerate being poorly handled, if that’s something you tend to do with your laptops. I, personally, didn’t really drop it or bump it in my time using the laptop, so I can’t say with certainty how well it’d hold up in those situations, but it sure looks like it can take quite a bit of abuse, and that’s great for any clumsy users out there.

Display

The Legion Y540 comes with a 15.6-inch Full HD display, but you won’t get any fancy high refresh rates here. It’s a standard 60Hz panel, but that’s alright. It could’ve been Lenovo doing some cost cutting here, and I’m inclined to give them the benefit of the doubt considering this laptop is priced so well.

There’s a matte finish on here, which is great for reducing glare, but it also affects how bright and saturated the display looks. More often than not, displays with a matte finish end up looking slightly faded and having lower brightness. That, however, is not the case here. The display on the Legion Y540 is great at color reproduction, and is bright enough for sure.

Playing games on this screen, or just consuming media of any kind on the display is a wonderful experience. The colours are great, the display is sharp, and thanks to the matte finish, you won’t be annoyed by glare.

Performance

So yeah, the Legion Y540 comes in a great looking body, with really good build quality, and the display is great as well. Still, the most important aspect of a gaming laptop has got to be its performance. So let’s talk about that a bit.

The Lenovo Legion Y540 comes with the 9th-gen Intel Core i7-9750H CPU paired with 16GB RAM, a 1TB PCIe SSD for fast storage, and Nvidia’s RTX 2060 GPU with 6GB VRAM. With specs like that, you wouldn’t be wrong to assume amazing performance from this laptop, and thankfully, it delivers.

I ran a couple of benchmarks on the Legion Y540, and it performed great. In 3DMark Time Spy, the laptop got a score of 5,948 points, and in PCMark 10, the Legion Y540 scored 5,650 points.

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3DMark Time Spy
PCMark 10

In gaming as well, the laptop runs everything you throw at it with ease. I played a bunch of games on the Legion Y540, and it handled everything like a champ. In Far Cry 5 with High settings, the laptop got an average frame rate of 88FPS with a high of 103FPS and a low of 71FPS. I also switched the graphics quality to Ultra, and got an average frame rate of 85FPS with a high of 100FPS and a low of 66FPS, so that’s great. Just for the fun of it, I also tried testing the game with Low graphics, and with those graphics settings, the laptop got an average frame rate of 110FPS with a high of 126FPS and a low of 91FPS.

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Far Cry 5 Low
Far Cry 5 High
Far Cry 5 Ultra

I also played PUBG on this laptop and at high settings it easily got frame rates around the 175FPS mark, which is incredible.

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Also, since this is a laptop with an RTX GPU inside, I tried playing Battlefield with RTX turned on, and the laptop pushed a solid 75 to 80FPS at almost all times, which I think is pretty amazing.

Clearly, the Lenovo Legion Y540 is a beast when it comes to gaming performance. However, one great thing about the sleek design of this laptop, and of the fact that there’s no RGB here, is that it can double up as a great work computer. Naturally, I used this for my day to day work-related tasks as well, including writing articles, and the occasional Photoshop use for editing pictures, and I’m happy to report that this laptop handles everything like a charm. Multiple Chrome tabs? Done. Photoshop session to go along with it? Done. Spotify app running the background for music? Done and done. The Lenovo Legion Y540 doesn’t break a sweat at handling daily workloads and I’m very impressed by it.

Keyboard and Trackpad

Part of the reason I’m so impressed by the Legion Y540 as a daily driver and not just a gaming laptop, is the keyboard. Lenovo has put in a full sized keyboard on this laptop, including properly sized arrow keys (that’s something I really appreciate). The keys themselves have ample travel, are easy to type on, and don’t tire the fingers even after long hours of use — I can personally attest to that, having spent hours and hours typing on this keyboard for work.

Everything about this keyboard is great. It looks great, it has ample travel, it’s tactile but doesn’t make loud sounds when you’re typing fast on it. It’s just a really great keyboard.

The trackpad is good too. It’s smaller than what you might find on some other laptops, and that does annoy me, but it’s really responsive and doesn’t feel bad to use unless you’re going for gestures, in which case it can be slightly annoying. The dedicated left and right click buttons below the touchpad are good as well, they’re tactile, and the different texture on the plastic here makes it easier to identify them without having to actually look at it while you’re working.

Overall, I don’t really have any complaints with the keyboard or the trackpad on the Lenovo Legion Y540. The keyboard in particular is really good.

I/O and Ports

The Legion Y540 also comes with a bunch of useful ports, and even though there are not an overload of ports here, there are plenty, and you won’t run out of them. The Legion Y540 comes with 2x USB 3.1 Type-A ports, a USB 3.1 Type-C port, a miniDisplay Port, an HDMI port, an RJ-45 ethernet port, and a headphone/mic combo port.

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In my usage of the laptop, I mostly found myself only using the USB Type-A port to connect a mouse to, and occasionally a USB-C dongle when I needed to copy images off of an SD card since there’s no card reader in this laptop.

Audio

The speakers on the Lenovo Legion Y540 are “tuned by HARMAN” which should, in theory, mean that they sound really great. In my testing of the speakers, which included listening to a bunch of songs directly from the speakers, and also watching movies on Netflix and Prime Video, I’d say the speakers are fairly good.

They are not the loudest speakers out there, but the sound quality is above average for sure, and that’s great. That said, if you’re watching a movie or something, I’d suggest you connect a Bluetooth speaker because the volume might give you issues on this laptop.

Battery

The Lenovo Legion Y540 packs in a 57Wh battery, and with the Core i7 processor along with the RTX 2060 GPU, that does mean the battery has to do a lot of heavy lifting, and it shows. Lenovo claims a battery life of 5 hours on this laptop, but if you’re doing anything that’s even a little heavy on resources (and yes, multiple Chrome tabs count as that), expect something around the 3 to 3.5 hour mark for the most part. I’m sure you could push that to 4 hours if you reduce the brightness to the lowest it can be, turn off Bluetooth and WiFi, among other things, but it’s probably not worth the effort for an extra 30 something minutes.

The

As a gamer though, you’re likely going to connect the laptop to an AC outlet for optimal performance, but if you’re thinking of using this as your college or work laptop, keep in mind that you’ll need to carry the charger along, and it’s not a compact charger at all.

Pros and Cons:

Pros:

  • Great performance
  • Pricing is good
  • Nice keyboard
  • Sleek, understated, but cool design

Cons:

  • Webcam positioning is weird (don’t Skype with this, please)
  • Battery life is below par

Lenovo Legion Y540 Review: An Amazing Laptop for the Price

So yeah, the Lenovo Legion Y540 is a solid gaming laptop, but is it worth the Rs. 1,19,990 price tag? Well, yeah, it totally is. The Legion Y540 brings an amazing design, great build, really impressive performance across AAA titles, a nice selection of ports, and specs that are definitely future-proof. That said, there are other options you can consider.

There’s the Asus TUF FX505DV that comes with the Ryzen 7, RTX 2060, 16GB RAM, and a 512GB SSD for Rs. 1,04,990 (but is currently available for Rs. 95,990). There’s also the Asus ROG Strix Scar III G531GV that comes with all the same specs as the Legion Y540, but brings in a 144Hz display for Rs. 1,51,953.

So yeah, there are choices if you’re looking for a gaming laptop with an RTX-series GPU. However, while both of the options I’ve mentioned above are worthy, the Legion Y540 is just a much better looking laptop, and when compared to the FX505DV, it brings a bigger 1TB SSD instead, so those are things you should definitely keep in mind before you make a decision on which laptop to buy when it comes to Nvidia’s RTX-series GPUs.

Buy the Lenovo Legion Y540 from Amazon (Rs. 1,19,990)

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Reviews

Asus Vivobook 14 X403 Review: Insane Battery Life, Impressive Performance

Whenever we get a new laptop in to review at the Beebom office, I’m usually fairly excited. Sometimes, I’m too excited, and sometimes I’m not, but I am excited to a certain degree almost every single time. So when Asus sent us the Vivobook 14 X403 for a review a while back, I was definitely looking forward to using it as my primary laptop for a few days to see what it’s like. Well, I have used it fairly extensively over the last week, and if you’re wondering whether this is the laptop for you, and if it’s worth the asking price of Rs. 54,990, here’s my review of the Asus Vivobook 14 X403: the laptop with a terrible name, but a great… just about everything else.

Asus Vivobook 14 X403 Specifications

Before we jump in to the review, here’s a specsheet for the laptop that Asus sent over to us:

Processor 8th-gen Core i5-8265U
Display 14-inch FullHD
Graphics Intel HD Graphics 620
RAM 8GB LPDDR3 2133MHz
Storage 512GB PCIe SSD
Connectivity 802.11ac dual band WiFi;
Bluetooth 4.2
Ports and I/O 1 x USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-CTM
1 x USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-A
1 x USB 2.0 Type-A
1 x Audio combo jack
1 x HDMI 1.4
1 x SD card reader
1 x DC jack
Battery 72Wh
Price Rs. 54,990

Design and Build

Look, the Vivobook 14 X403 is a thin-and-light laptop aimed at productivity oriented workflows, and it looks perfect for that. It has a sleek design that looks great, and it comes in this Silver Blue colour, which just looks silver to me, which is a classic colour for these type of laptops, just like black is the classic colour you’d find on most gaming laptops, and that’s great.

It’s not the sturdiest of laptops I’ve seen and used, but then again, at this price point, it’s one of the sturdiest ones I’ve experienced. Thankfully, I didn’t drop it, so I’m not sure how that would’ve gone (and I hope you don’t have to find out for yourself either), but Asus claims that the laptop comes with military grade durability and reliability standards (MIL-STD 810G) and can, Asus claims, handle drops from as high up as 10cm with ease. It’s definitely a good rating to have, but once again, I didn’t test this out, so I can’t confirm whether it holds up to that claim or not, but there’s no reason why it shouldn’t.

Coming back to the design for a bit, the Vivobook 14 comes with the signature Vivobook thin-bezels that look stunning, and result in this laptop being a lot smaller than what you’d expect a laptop with a 14-inch display to be. In fact, it’s only very slightly bigger than my 13-inch 2017 MacBook Pro, which is just a little embarrassing to me, personally, because I used to love the thin bezels on the MacBook Pro, and this is just unfair. Jokes apart, I love the thin bezels on the Vivobook 14 X403.

The Vivobook 14 basically gets the design and build perfectly right. I honestly can’t seem to find anything really wrong with this laptop. It’s only slightly infuriating because I love being nitpicky about these things and Asus has done such an amazing job with this, that there’s really nothing to complain about.

Display

The fact that there’s nothing to complain about doesn’t really extend to the display though. The Vivobook 14 X403 comes with a nice 14-inch FullHD display which I really liked in my usage of the laptop. 14-inch looks like just the perfect screen-size to me, for the kind of work I do on a daily basis. It brings in just a little more screen-real estate, which is great, but it’s not massive, like 15-inch laptops usually are. 14-inches sounds like a reasonable screen size to have if your workflow mostly revolves around your laptop being big enough that things aren’t cramped in, and portable enough that you can carry it around to meeting rooms and, sometimes, to the cafeteria.

I digress though, let’s circle back to the display. So this panel in the Vivobook 14 is a decent display to have. It’s not the brightest, by far, but it’s not so dim that you wouldn’t like using it. Plus, it has a matte finish which I suspect makes the brightness levels worse. However, the thing I find weird on this display, is the contrast. Honestly, colours just look a little dull on this screen. Now I’m not sure why that is, and I tried everything I could to fix this, but that’s just how the display is. It basically turns every colour into a flat colour, which sounds like a good thing in theory, but can quickly get annoying because it just doesn’t look satisfying enough.

Still, get past that contrast issue, and the display is definitely not a deal-breaker. It does look good, it has decent viewing angles, and thanks to the matte finish, it reduces glare by a lot, which I love because there’s a light right behind where I sit and it drives me crazy with glare on a glossy display… like the one on my MacBook Pro.

Performance

If you’re reading this review, chances are you’ve spotted the “Impressive Performance” I put in the title, so you already know where this section is headed. The Vivobook 14 X403 comes with an 8th-gen Intel Core i5-8265U processor paired with 8GB of LPDDR3 RAM, and a 512GB PCIe SSD.

That translates to great performance that doesn’t let you down. Sure, the 8th-gen processor is a weird choice from Asus, but in practice, it wouldn’t make the kind of difference that would push this laptop to the bottom of the barrel, so to speak. Especially for the kind of workflow this laptop is meant to be used in. In my week-long usage of the Vivobook 14, I didn’t experience any lags, freezes, or annoyances of any kind. The laptop handles multiple Chrome tabs paired with a Photoshop session with ease, and doesn’t let up if you try to push it.

The same can be seen in benchmark scores posted by the Vivobook 14. In PCMark 10, the laptop scored 3,805 points, while in 3DMark Night Raid, the Vivobook 14 got a score of 5,840 points. I also ran Time Spy on this, even though I knew that would bring this laptop down to its knees, and it scored a silly 467 points there — what does that tell you? No gaming. Please.

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3DMark Night Raid
3DMark Time Spy
PCMark 10

Still, if you’re hell bent on playing something on this, games like CS:GO run fine on the laptop, albeit at a mix of low to medium graphics settings if you want playable frame rates. CS:GO assumed High graphics by default and then got frame rates of around 20FPS, which is just plain sad. However, switch the graphics to low, and you easily get around 50FPS on CS:GO. If you’re a gamer, you’re probably annoyed that 50FPS on CS:GO is acceptable to me, and you’d be right, but on a laptop that’s clearly not aimed at gaming, 50FPS in CS:GO means you can take breaks at work and get some AWP kills in Dust 2, which is what I did.. or at least tried to do.

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CS:GO High Settings
CS:GO Low Settings

Anyway, performance isn’t an issue on the Vivobook 14 X403, and the laptop will easily power through your workflow without hiccups, which is awesome.

Keyboard, Trackpad, and Fingerprint Scanner

Speaking of awesome, the keyboard on the Vivobook 14 is mighty good. It’s a backlit keyboard, with a standard white LED backlight that’s bright enough, and bleeds out from under the keys, but that’s not really annoying. Using the keyboard is fun, the keys have ample travel, the response is a little bouncy, but not so much as to fatigue your fingers, just enough to make typing feel like playing a game — I massively appreciate that because I type a lot.

The keys are laid out with a good amount of spacing in between, which is great because these keys aren’t even slightly curved to help guide your fingers, but I didn’t find that to be a problem at all, at least on this laptop.

The arrow key layout is compact on this laptop, but at least it’s still laid out in a way that you won’t accidentally hit the side arrow keys when you’re trying to hit the up arrow key. That’s something that happens to me often on my MacBook Pro, but it doesn’t on the Vivobook 14 and I love that.

My complaints arise with the trackpad. Asus has used a precision touchpad on the Vivobook 14, which is great. It brings handy and intuitive gestures, it responds quickly and well, and it would be a great touchpad… but, it’s just tiny. It really is. It’s a small trackpad and that means I can’t use the gestures as naturally as I would like to on this. Add to that the fact that there’s a fingerprint scanner on the top right corner of the touchpad, and things get even worse. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not a terrible experience, or even something I’d call a deal-breaker, but it’s mildly infuriating at times.

The fingerprint scanner though, that’s amazing. It’s a perfect size, not too small or too big, and it’s ridiculously fast. To be fair, I don’t have anything to compare this to, since I’ve not used laptops with fingerprint scanners enough to remember what that experience was like, but as my first true experience with a fingerprint scanner on a Windows laptop, this is heavenly fast. Unlocking the laptop is easy, and I don’t need to type in pesky passwords or PINs. You don’t understand how important that is to me, because I set some of the longest, most complicated passwords on my laptops (don’t judge me, they have all my personal stuff on them), and having a fingerprint scanner means I can keep my files safe, but not have to go to the trouble of typing that long, complicated password every time I unlock my laptop. Yay!

Ports and I/O

For a thin laptop, Asus sure packed in quite a lot of ports on this thing. There’s a USB-C port, two USB 3 ports, an SD card reader, and a headphone-mic combo port. That’s not too many ports, but it’s more than enough for what you will be doing on this laptop. Plus, the addition of a USB-C port is always a plus.

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In my usage, at least, I didn’t find myself looking for ways to add more ports to the laptop, but if you do need to, there are a ton of USB-C dongles that will easily bring more I/O options to your laptop. Plus, there are a lot of USB-C accessories that you can use with this laptop as well, thanks to the USB-C port.

Battery

So, the battery. I don’t know how Asus did this, but it managed to put in a massive 72Wh battery inside the sleek, tiny chassis of the Vivobook 14, and that big battery brings along a great battery life. I’m not talking 9 to 12 hours of battery life here, I’m talking “this laptop will get you through your work day, and have juice left over for watching Netflix back home without charging” levels of battery.

Asus claims a whopping 24 hours of battery life on the laptop. I know what you’re thinking “That’s insane”. I thought so too, because, like, how!? Then I read the 72Wh spec, and yeah it makes sense.

I wanted to test that out, obviously, so I left my charger at home and brought this laptop to work with a full 100% battery. I used it, all day, the way I use my personal daily driver, with varying levels of brightness depending on where I was sitting. It lasted through it. I got back home, watched Friends on Netflix (for the umpteenth time), and it lasted! In total, I got around 15 to 16 hours of battery life from the laptop, and that’s amazing. I love it.

The Vivobook 14 has no trouble keeping up throughout the day, and that’s exactly what I would want in a laptop I intend on using every day for work.

Pros and Cons:

Pros:

  • Amazing battery life
  • Great performance
  • Fingerprint scanner

Cons:

  • Muted colours on the display are a tad annoying
  • Small trackpad

Asus Vivobook 14 X403: An Impressive Work Laptop

So yeah, the Vivobook 14 X403 is a really impressive laptop, especially for work, and even for students who want a laptop that will last them throughout their day without needing a recharge. It has a great design, solid build that meets military grade durability and reliability standards, a good display, great keyboard, a super fast fingerprint scanner, and a battery life that puts almost every other laptop to shame. Plus, it’s powerful enough to handle all your work needs. At Rs. 54,990, the Vivobook 14 X403 is a laptop I have no trouble recommending to people who need it to handle productivity tasks. However, it is priced at Rs. 58,990 on Amazon for some inexplicable reasons.

That said, there are other options you can consider, all of them bringing similar specs to the table. You can go for the MSI PS42 Prestige that comes with an 8th-gen Core i5, 8GB RAM, 512GB SSD, and a fingerprint scanner as well, for Rs. 52,990. Or, if you want to play some games on your laptop, you can check out the Predator Helios 300 with an 8th-gen Core i5, 8GB RAM, 1TB HDD, 128GB SSD, and GTX 1050Ti for Rs. 59,990. Plus, unlike the Vivobook 14, both of these laptops offer extra memory slots that you can use to increase the RAM if you need to.

Buy the Asus Vivobook 14 X403 from Amazon (Rs. 54,990)

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Reviews

Asus ROG G703GXR Review: What Can’t This Thing Do!?

I’ve reviewed a lot of Asus gaming laptops, and while I’ve liked a lot of them a fair bit, I don’t think anyone of them comes close to the feeling that the ROG G703GXR evoked inside me. To use a cliché, it was like love at first sight. But at Rs. 3,99,990, the question that arises is this — does the G703GXR gaming laptop offer enough to justify that price, and should you consider buying this laptop? Well, that’s the decision I’ll be helping you make today with my review of the Asus ROG G703GXR gaming laptop.

Asus ROG G703GXR Specifications

Display 17-inch FullHD;
144Hz;
3ms;
Nvidia G-Sync
Processor 9th-gen Core i9-9980HK
RAM 32GB 2666MHz
GPU Nvidia RTX 2080;
8GB GDDR6 Memory
Storage 2x 512GB M.2 SSD;
1TB 5400RPM SSHD
I/O and Ports 1 x USB 3.2 Gen 2 (Type-C)/Thunderbolt 3
3 x USB 3.2 Gen 2
1 x mDP 1.4
1 x HDMI 2.0a
1 x RJ-45 Jack
1 x SD card reader
1 x 3.5mm headphone and microphone combo jack
1 x 3.5mm microphone jack
1 x Kensington lock
Connectivity 2.5Gb Ethernet;
Bluetooth 5.0;
WiFi 802.11ac
Price Rs. 3,99,990

Design and Build

The Asus G703GXR is a bulky laptop, let’s just get that out of the way right now. It’s not the most portable machine out there, but with specs like that, you wouldn’t expect it to be a thin and light machine anyway, now would you?

Keeping that aside, this is a well-designed laptop. Asus has gone with a curving body, which makes it look less menacing and more attractive than one might expect from a beast of a machine like this one. There’s a nice brushed metal finish on the lid, with gorgeous looking bronze accents which make the G703GXR look really pretty.

There’s a wide selection of ports and there are ample places for the laptop to cool itself down while under intensive workloads. The G703GXR features big vents on the sides and the rear which are pretty good at keeping the laptop cool while it’s running games.

All of those good looks carry on when the lid is opened, as long as you can forgive Asus for the huge bezels on this thing. Still, the black of the laptop, with silver accents looks nice, the keyboard is well laid out, with the macro keys on the top instead of the side, which I like, and a trackpad that’s big enough. Plus, I also really like the power button — it’s just different from most other laptops and it looks cool.

Still, objectively speaking, the bulkiness here is definitely a negative. After all, carrying this laptop is more a chore than anything else and that just shouldn’t be the case for laptops. They’re supposed to be portable, or at the very least, shouldn’t break your back if you haul them around in your backpack.

Display

Anyway, moving on from the design, let’s take a look at the display here. Apart from the giant bezels that wrap around the display on the G703GXR, the display itself is actually decently good. It’s a big 17-inch FullHD display, which means you get great sharpness in consuming media content and games. Textual content does look slightly rough, especially if you’re sitting close to the laptop as you’re likely to do, but otherwise, it’s a perfectly nice display.

It comes with a 144Hz refresh rate and a 3ms response time. Now I know, 3ms isn’t the fastest response time on a display, but for a laptop, 3ms is solid. Plus that 144Hz refresh rate makes for smooth animations and transitions across the board, and thanks to Nvidia G-Sync, supported games should run with minimal screen-tear and reduced input lag.

Apart from that, the colours look good on this screen, but it’s not the brightest panel out there. Also, the viewing angles are decent enough, but brightness drops really quickly once you move past something like a 45-degree angle.

So yeah, the display is a sort of a mixed bag. I don’t really mind the viewing angles much since I don’t look at my laptop from the sides often, but I would’ve liked a brighter display, and preferably one with thinner bezels.

Performance

Coming to things where I have absolutely no complaints at all, the G703GXR is an absolute beast when it comes to performance. The laptop packs in a 9th-gen Core i9 processor, 32GB RAM, 1TB SSD + 1TB HDD, and the RTX 2080 GPU. So yeah, if you’re thinking this laptop just flies through everything, you’ve basically summed up this section.

I ran a bunch of benchmarks on the laptop, just to get a measure of the performance this thing can push, and well, take a look. Here are scores from Geekbench, Cinebench R20, 3DMark Time Spy, and PCMark 10, and they all look really good.

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Geekbench
Cinebench
PCMark 10
3DMark Time Spy

In terms of actual, real-world performance, once again, the G703GXR doesn’t disappoint. In Far Cry 5 at 1080p Ultra, the laptop got a maximum frame rate of 140FPS, averaging at 113FPS which is insanely good. Switching graphics down to 1080p High got a maximum frame rate of 148FPS and an average of 119FPS — not much of an improvement, but there you have it.

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Far Cry 5 (1080p Ultra)
Far Cry 5 (1080p High)

PUBG saw a similar performance on this thing with the laptop getting well over 125FPS at almost all times. There were sudden drops to around 100FPS when the game rendered smoke, or explosions, but overall, PUBG runs smoothly on this at maximum settings which is great.

I also played Battlefield because, well, ray-tracing, and once again, the G703GXR did not disappoint. At maximum settings in 1080p with ray-tracing turned on, the laptop maintained frame rates well over 60FPS even in intense gunfights.

Keyboard and Trackpad

The G703GXR has a full-size keyboard, complete with a numpad. Now I, personally, don’t really use a numpad nearly enough to actually want it on a laptop, but hey, it’s not bad to have it and on a 17-inch laptop there’s definitely enough space to fit that in.

What I actually do appreciate is the full arrow key layout that’s present here instead of a compact arrow key layout. Plus, the keys have great travel as well. Sure, at Rs. 3,99,990 I expected a mechanical keyboard, but the chiclet keyboard on the G703GXR is not bad by any means.

Typing on this is quite fun, and it doesn’t get tiring even after long hours of playing games, or as was more often happening with me — typing.

Still, the fact remains that the G703GXR has a nice keyboard that’s good to type on, has ample travel to not be fatiguing but still have a tactile feeling, and since it’s not mechanical, it’s quiet enough too.

The trackpad too is decent on this laptop. It’s considerably big, which makes it great for gestures. Plus it’s a Windows Precision trackpad, so you get a bunch of intuitive and easy gestures that it supports which is always nice. Clicking isn’t as nice an experience on this trackpad, even with its dedicated left-click and right-click buttons, but that’s something I can say for most Windows laptops out there. Overall though, the trackpad on this laptop is one of the better ones on gaming laptops.

I/O and Ports

Moving on, the port selection on a laptop this thick should be impressive right? Well, take a look. There’s a USB-C/Thunderbolt 3 port, 3 USB 3.0 Gen-2 ports, a mini-display port, and HDMI 2.0a, an RJ-45 ethernet port, an SD card reader, a 3.5mm headphone jack/mic combo port, a 3.5mm mic port, and a Kensington lock. That’s definitely quite a lot of ports, and you wouldn’t really run out of options here.

Personally, I only found myself using one USB Type-A port, and the headphone/mic combo port (when I was gaming), and that’s it. Even if you do want to connect your laptop to an additional monitor, and maybe even an ethernet cable, you’ll still have plenty of ports on the ROG G703GXR to let you add more accessories should you need them, so it’s definitely more than enough.

Audio

One thing I really liked about the audio experience on the Asus ROG G703GXR is the fact that it has speakers right there in the bottom bezels of the laptop. That means, the speakers fire right at your face, and that should be pretty good. However, somehow, the G703GXR provides an underwhelming audio output. It’s not loud, it’s not good at bass, and it’s basically only decent at best.

That, at least, is the overwhelming response from most of the Beebom team that heard me while I was playing songs on the laptop to see what different types of music sound like on this laptop. It’s not good.

I would call these speakers decent for gaming, but then again, the fans are so loud that they easily overpower the speakers, and most gamers would be using headphones anyway, so the speakers don’t really matter much in that scenario.

Battery

What do I even say about the battery on this laptop. It was always fairly obvious that this laptop wouldn’t get anything close to a decent battery life what with all the hardware packed inside. There’s a 9th-gen core i9 processor, an RTX 2080 GPU, and those things by themselves would devour battery and that showed in actual usage of the laptop.

In casual use, with light browsing, and a bunch of tabs open, the Asus ROG G703GXR lasted somewhere in the ballpark of 3-4 hours, which honestly is not bad for a laptop with specs like this. However, it’s not great battery life either, and if you start gaming, well, that drops down to barely 60 minutes.

What I’m saying is that you will need to carry both the power bricks of this laptop if you intend on gaming with it, and yes, you read that right, there are two power bricks here. This beast of a machine needs all of that 560W of power input to run like butter, and man, does it run like butter then.

Pros and Cons:

Pros:

  • Top-notch performance. Just awesome.
  • 144Hz, G-sync display is great
  • Great design and build
  • Comfortable keyboard

Cons:

  • Big and bulky
  • Poor battery life
  • Audio performance is bad

Asus ROG G703GXR: Should You Buy It?

Honestly, the question here is not whether you should buy this laptop; it’s more about who would buy it. After all, at a price of Rs. 3,99,990 this laptop is clearly aimed at people who absolutely don’t want a desktop, or already have one but need a laptop with that sort of capability. If you’re one of those people, sure, get this laptop. It will get you desktop-grade gaming performance along with some semblance of portability. However, for everyone else, a laptop as bulky as this machine isn’t really something I would recommend going for. If you’re just looking for portable gaming, there’s the Asus ROG Strix Scar III G531GV that comes with the RTX 2060 for Rs. 1,54,990. There’s also the MSI GL63 9SEK with the RTX 2060 that comes in at Rs. 1,47,389, and believe me, the RTX 2060 will afford you great AAA gaming at less than half the price of the G703GXR.

It all depends on what you want out of your machine. If portability is not your top concern with a laptop, and if you’re looking for something that can absolutely crush every single AAA title out there at max settings, the G703GXR is one of the best laptops to get. However, if you want a great balance between high-end AAA performance, and portability, those other options I mentioned above are probably a better buy for you.

Buy the Asus ROG G703GXR from Flipkart (Rs. 3,99,990)

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Reviews

Sony SRS-XB12 Bluetooth Speaker Review: Loud Sound in a Tiny Package

I have used a lot of Bluetooth speakers, and for the most part, I have found that larger, usually more expensive ones offer better sound. However, they do compromise considerably on portability — that’s one of the reasons you might see me carrying around a JBL Go instead of my relatively bigger (but better sounding) Sony Bluetooth speaker. However, when Sony sent over the SRS-XB12 over to us for a review, I was immediately drawn towards it — it’s small, not as much as the JBL Go, but still relatively tiny, and my experience with Sony’s Bluetooth speakers suggested that it would have better sound quality than my usual JBL go-to; and so, in the last 10 days, I’ve had the XB12 dangling off of my bag, and I’ve used it for everything from listening to music at work and home, while watching movies, and everything in between.

At Rs. 3,990, the Sony SRS-XB12 is a Bluetooth speaker that seems to be priced just right, but the question I most often got with the speaker was “is it worth the price?” If that’s what you’re wondering too, here is my in-depth review of the SRS-XB12 Blueetooth speaker.

Design and Build

Like I said, the SRS-XB12 is a relatively tiny speaker, and that’s great for anyone looking to get a speaker that they can carry around; not only for random music sessions at work or college, but also on backpacking trips. It comes with the usual Sony design, with a plastic body that feels rubberised, it looks tiny, and yet, it’s a compact package that packs in quite the punch when it’s turned on.

I have no complaints with the design of this speaker. True, the light blue ‘Sony’ text and the similarly coloured strap on the side look awfully weird with the dark shade of the speaker, but when you look at this speaker as a whole, it’s a very well designed piece of audio equipment.

Even build-wise, Sony has not left anything to complain. It’s small but sturdy, it’s built . very well and can take hits — I should know, I’ve accidentally hit this speaker on handrails and car doors more times than I can count — it exudes a feeling of quality that you probably won’t find in a speaker in this price range, and even the wire-mesh covering the speaker on top is extremely strong. The buttons are not too out there, but they’re tactile, and the two ports on this speaker are covered with a rubber flap that’s just extremely satisfying to pull off.

What’s more, the speaker is IP67 rated, so not only can you use it for pool parties or on the beach, it will not die on you if you drop it in the pool either. Full disclosure, I didn’t drop this speaker in a pool, but I did throw a lot of water on it, and it works just fine.

Audio Quality

Sony’s Extra Bass line-up of speakers and headphones have always been about that bass, with some of them even featuring a dedicated Bass Boost button like my Sony MDR-XB950BT headphones. This tiny little speaker doesn’t come with a dedicated Bass Boost button, but it does come with solid bass output by default — true to its ‘XB’ moniker.

Sound quality from this speaker is awesome — it’s loud, and while it’s not as loud as some other Bluetooth speakers might get, it’s loud enough to easily fill a medium sized room by itself, which makes it great for house parties, plus you can pair it up with another XB12 speaker to form a stereo pair and get even better, louder, more vibrant sound output from the set up.

That impressive sound quality can be attributed to this — the SRS-XB12 comes with a monoaural speaker up top, right under that metal mesh, and a passive bass radiator on the bottom for an extra thump in bass heavy songs.

The highs and lows are clear, the mids are nicely balanced, and regardless of how quiet, or how loud you set this speaker to be, it doesn’t distort the sound at all, which is awesome, and not entirely something I was surprised by because like I said, Sony’s Bluetooth speakers are really good.

For a speaker as small as this one, I was surprised by the kind of sound this thing can produce, and that too without losing on clarity. If you’re looking for a Bluetooth speaker that you can carry around, and with which you can rock out with ease, the SRS-XB12 will not let you down.

Buttons and Ports

The SRS-XB12 also comes with quite a lot of buttons and two ports on its body. There are a total of 5 buttons here. There’s a power button you can press to turn the speaker on and off, or long press to enter pairing mode; there are the usual volume up/down buttons. Right next to those is the play/pause button which can also be used to answer calls, or, if you long press it, will launch the default assistant on your phone, and you can ask it to change songs or whatever, by talking to your speaker. Then there’s the ‘Add’ button on the right which is how you pair two of these speakers together to form a stereo pair.

To Sony’s credit, I’ve found the buttons on every Sony Bluetooth speaker that I’ve tried to be fairly tactile, even if they don’t look it, and the SRS-XB12 is no exception. Pressing these buttons is a remarkably tactile feeling, and I am guilty of fidgeting with these buttons quite often while at work, even without anything playing on the speaker.

Move slightly to the right from here, and there’s also a charging indicator LED, and a mic-hole below it. Further to the right is a rubberised flap that you can pull out to access the charging port, the AUX-in port, and the Reset button. The speaker charges via a micro-USB port which is standard on most Bluetooth speakers, but I really wish there was a USB-C port here instead.

Connectivity

In terms of connectivity, the SRS-XB12 comes with Bluetooth v4.2 on board, and yeah, it’s not Bluetooth 5.0, but really I’m fairly certain you can’t find a Bluetooth speaker with Bluetooth 5.0, at least in this price range. The reason I’m not complaining about this is simple — the speaker connects easily and the connection holds up well enough so I don’t have any complaints with Bluetooth 4.2 being here and not Bluetooth 5.

What could be a deal breaker to a lot of people, is the absence of aptX support on the speaker — that means you could’ve gotten better connection stability, and lower latency on the speaker, but for some reason, Sony has skipped out on it. Other than that though, the speaker supports all the major codecs you might want: A2DP, AVRCP, HFP, HSP, you name it, it’s got it.

Battery

Another thing I’ve noticed with a lot of Sony’s Bluetooth audio accessories, is that they offer insanely good battery life. The SRS-XB12 are no different; Sony rates them to have a 16 hour playback time on one charge, and I found that to be quite accurate. In my usage, the speaker easily lasts over 14 to 15 hours on a charge, even on high volumes. That’s really impressive, and you’ll only truly be able to appreciate it when you see just how small this speaker really is.

I have barely had to charge this speaker in my usage — the battery life is that good. However, the time that I did have to charge this felt like forever, because the speaker takes a long time to fully charge. Charging from almost 0% to full takes well over 4 hours, and it can get annoying.

However, the battery life is simply amazing on the SRS-XB12, and I don’t find 4 hours to be a big trade-off for getting over 15 hours of battery life from the speaker. You obviously might find that hard to swallow, what with smartphones charging in less than 90 minutes these days, but in my personal experience, I didn’t have to charge the XB12 as often as I would a smartphone anyway, so comparing them makes little to no sense.

Pros and Cons

Pros:

  • Portable, comes with a strap to hang it from your bag
  • Loud and clear audio quality with good bass
  • Excellent battery life
  • Tactile buttons
  • IP67 rating

Cons:

  • 4 hours+ of charging time

Sony SRS-XB12 Bluetooth Speaker: Should You Buy It?

All things considered, the SRS-XB12 is a Bluetooth speaker that checks off a lot of the boxes for a great Bluetooth speaker — it’s portable, it has great sound, the XB moniker is justified thanks to a good bass output, it has an IP67 rating, and it comes with a rather amazing battery life. The only real con I found with this speaker is the charging time, but like I said earlier, that can be overlooked thanks to the playback it offers. At Rs. 3,990, the Sony SRS-XB12 is pretty much the speaker to get if you’re looking for portability with great sound, and if you ask me, this is the speaker I’d suggest to anyone looking for a Bluetooth speaker under Rs. 4,000.

Buy the Sony SRS-XB12 Bluetooth Speaker from Amazon (Rs. 3,990)

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Reviews

Netgen Morgen Review: A Good Looking, Great Sounding Bluetooth Speaker

We get a lot of Bluetooth speakers here at Beebom, which is great because not only do I love listening to music, I also love checking out exciting new products. So when we received the Netgen Morgen Bluetooth speaker, I was excited. However, having preferred Sony speakers personally, I was carefully tempering my excitement with the Netgen Morgen, just in case I expect too much of it. Well, I’ve been using the Netgen Morgen for quite a while now, and at Rs. 5,999, it’s not the cheapest Bluetooth speaker out there. So, if you’re wondering whether it’s worth the price, here’s my review of the Netgen Morgen Bluetooth speaker.

Netgen Morgen: Specifications

Dimensions 232x153x65mm
Weight 1200g
Speakers 2x 10W Speakers
2x Passive Bass Radiators
Connectivity Bluetooth v4.0;
NFC
Ports AUX-in;
microUSB for charging
Battery 5,000 mAh
Price Rs. 5,999

Design and Build

When I first took the Morgen out of its box, I was pleasantly surprised by its design. Unlike most Bluetooth speakers that want to look and feel portable, the Morgen is clearly designed to stay in your home, and blend in with your decor. It’s classy, it’s built out of aluminium, and it’s clad in a soft cloth, not unlike a Google Home speaker.

Even so, the Netgen Morgen is by no means a huge speaker, or a heavy one, or something that’s cumbersome to carry around. In fact, even though I personally feel that this speaker demands to fit right in your house, the handle up top makes it incredibly easy to carry around, so you can take it on trips and to house parties at your friend’s place.

Thanks to its aluminium build, the Morgen doesn’t ever feel flimsy or weak, or something you need to be very careful around. In my usage of the speaker, which ranged from using it at work, to stuffing it in my bag and carrying it home, it’s not suffered any visible damage, and that’s really very impressive.

Netgen has also taken care of what could’ve been minor quibbles here; the bottom of the speaker comes with two big, round rubber patches to ensure the speaker doesn’t slip off your table, the Netgen branding, though placed up-and-center, is small-ish, and classier than what some other brands would’ve done. The only minor flaw I find here is the fact that the Morgen’s handle doesn’t fold over to make it easier to stuff into a bag; other than that, I’m very satisfied with the design and build here.

Audio Quality

Even though the design and build of the Morgen is really amazing, audio is where the speaker really shines. With a size this big, I was anyway expecting a pretty good sound quality, but even with my higher than usual expectations, the Netgen Morgen blew me away.

With two 10W speakers and two passive radiators, the Morgen can get pretty loud… really loud. However, loudness ceases to matter on a lot of Bluetooth speakers because they end up absolutely crushing the sound quality in exchange for loudness; not the Netgen Morgen, though. This speaker manages to sound amazing at all levels of volume. The bass doesn’t vanish at lower volumes, and the treble is always great. Even with the volume set to max, the speaker doesn’t distort, and it’s just overall a really great sounding package. What’s more, the soundstage is pretty wide, and music from the Morgen has a certain depth to it that is usually missing from a lot of Bluetooth speakers.

Features and Buttons

As if all that praise wasn’t enough for this speaker, the Netgen Morgen also comes with a bunch of additional features. Equalizers, for one. While the right dial on the Morgen is for adjusting volume levels, the left can be rotated to choose from one of four equalizer presets on the speakers. There’s Rock for when you’re listening to some classic rock songs, Jazz for setting the perfect evening with your significant other, Dance, and of course, there’s the Normal mode which works for everything. The active equalizer is illuminated by an LED light, so you’ll always know which setting you’re at.

Meanwhile, the right dial has gesture-support. When I say gestures, it’s nothing fancy, but it definitely comes in handy. You can swipe left or right on the right dial to skip between tracks, and that’s pretty much it, but personally, I found this to be more intuitive and easier to do than pressing and holding on a button, which is what most other Bluetooth speakers do.

There’s also NFC here, which makes pairing your NFC enabled smartphone with the speaker a breeze. Just turn on NFC on your phone, turn on the speaker, and tap your phone on the spot where the NFC logo is, and that’s it, pairing started.

Then there’s the power button, which, again, does more than just one thing. Obviously, it turns the speaker on and off, but it also puts the speaker into pairing mode with a long press, and it plays and pauses music with a short press.

Ports

Moving on, the Netgen Morgen doesn’t really have a lot in the way of ports — there are only two here. There’s an AUX-in port, so you can pick up a 3.5mm cable and use a wired connection between your phone and the speaker. I’m not sure why you’d want to connect a Bluetooth speaker to your phone using an AUX cable, but it’s nice to know Netgen gives us the option.

Other than that, there’s the microUSB port here, which, you guessed it, is meant to charge the speaker. I’m still uncertain why companies won’t move to USB-C on Bluetooth speakers too, but I’m holding out hope that we see that happen really soon.

Battery

Speaking of USB-C and charging, let’s turn towards the battery in this thing. The Netgen Morgen comes with a 5,000 mAh battery, which might sound big, but when it’s driving two 10W speakers, it’s only fair to have a battery that big. At around 70% volume, the Morgen lasts around 6 hours on an average, although you can comfortably use it at 50% volume most of the time and extend that by around an hour. It’s not a lot, but like I said, I personally feel that this speaker is better suited for in-the-home listening, which makes 6 hours sound pretty great.

Charging takes place via the microUSB port, and according to Netgen, the speaker charges at 5V/1A — that’s 5W charging, similar to what you’d find on an iPhone XS with the bundled adaptor, but knocks at iPhone aside, the speaker takes almost 4 hours to fully charge, and then it’ll last you another 6 to 7 hours depending on the volume you’re listening at. If you’re wondering about the battery performance at 100% volume, your guess is as good as mine because as loud as this speaker gets, I couldn’t test it at 100% long enough for fear of the neighbours complaining against me.

Connectivity

In terms of connectivity, the Netgen Morgen comes with Bluetooth 4.0 — sad, I know, since most speakers at least come with Bluetooth 4.2 these days, but it does claim (and live up to) a 10m connection range, which is definitely nice. What’s a bigger bummer here, is that the speaker doesn’t support aptX — now personally, I don’t mind that because the sound quality here is definitely good, but hell if there was aptX support here, things would’ve probably been even better, right?

Pros and Cons

The Netgen Morgen is a pretty solid Bluetooth speaker, but as strong a contender as it is for being one of the best in its price, it does have some shortcomings too, so let’s take a look.

Pros:

  • Good build
  • Great sound quality
  • Decent battery life

Cons:

  • No aptX support
  • Bluetooth 4.0

Netgen Morgen Bluetooth Speaker Review: Should You Buy It?

So, the Netgen Morgen is a pretty solid Bluetooth speaker. It brings great sound quality, a solid build paired with really nice design choices, and it looks like a solid speaker to consider. At Rs. 5,999, the Morgen does have some competition. There’s the JBL Flip 3, priced at Rs. 5,999, and there are a whole bunch of Bluetooth speakers from Sony in this price range as well. However, even with all of that, I would suggest you give the Netgen Morgen a try, because it’s honestly a really amazing Bluetooth speaker, and unless you want portability of the likes that is offered by something like the Sony SRS-XB12 (Rs. 3,650), the Morgen sounds better than most of its competitors.

Buy the Netgen Morgen from Amazon (Rs. 5,999)

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Reviews

BenQ Zowie XL2546 Gaming Monitor Review: Feature Rich but Slightly Flawed

If you’re in the market for a gaming monitor, you’ve probably come across a whole bunch of them at multiple price points. However, if you’re looking for a monitor that brings a ton of features, and comes in at a competitive price point, the BenQ Zowie XL2546 is probably one you would’ve seen. So, if you’re planning on buying this gaming monitor, and are doing your due diligence before making a purchase such as this, I mean, it’s priced at Rs. 37,690, we have you covered. Here is our review of the BenQ Zowie XL2546 gaming monitor.

Zowie XL2546: Specifications

Before we dive into the review, let’s get the specifications for this monitor out of the way.

Display Size 24.5-inches
Resolution 1920×1080 (Full HD)
Refresh Rate 240Hz
Response Time 1ms
Aspect Ratio 16:9
Brightness 320nits
Viewing Angles 170/160 degrees
Stand 90-degree pivot, 45-degree swivel, 140mm height adjustment, -5 to 20-degree tilt adjustment
Ports 1x HDMI 1.4
1x HDMI 2.0
1x DVI-DL
1x DisplayPort 1.2
1x Headphone Jack
1x Mic-in

Zowie XL2546: Design and Build

The Zowie XL2546 looks like most other expensive gaming monitors at first blush. It has a thick build to accommodate the plethora of ports, and things like the built-in headphone hanger, it doesn’t do a lot to hide its bulk, and it looks slightly intimidating, especially if you’re using it at work, like I am, and you’re surrounded by sleeker looking monitors.

That’s not bad though, because the Zowie XL2546 doesn’t try to make its way into fitting in at your workstation, even though, as I’ve found through my usage of this monitor over the past few weeks, it can fit in for all the work-related tasks you might need it to do. With this monitor, BenQ simply had gamers in mind, and that’s very obvious in a bunch of design aesthetics that the company went with.

One of those design aesthetics is the black and red color combination used throughout this monitor and its stand (which is included, by the way), but even so, BenQ doesn’t overdo it, and it looks nice, and adds not only a splash of color, but also some character to the set up. Then there’s the height marker running along the side of the stand. It goes all the way from 0 to 14cm, and comes with a small plastic marker so you can remember what height adjustment you prefer for gaming (and/or work). The stand also comes with tilt degrees marked on it, and the base has a set of markers to identify when the monitor is perfectly straight towards you.

What’s really good about the design here is that sheer number of configurations you can use this monitor in. It can be brought close to the desk, tilted up and down, swiveled around, and even rotated 90-degrees into a portrait orientation (that might come handy for streamers wanting to use a secondary display to show their Discord, Steam, or Twitch chat. Basically, the Zowie XL2546 is as versatile as it gets as far as configurability options are concerned, and I really like it.

There are relatively big bezels here though, which isn’t really something I personally like, but BenQ claims that it’s helpful to make gamers focus on the game without getting distracted by their surroundings — something that’s also done by the included shields that attach to the sides here. That said, these aren’t massive bezels, especially when put in perspective to the size of the display itself, and after an hour or so of using the monitor, you don’t really notice them anymore, unless you’re hunting for the buttons on the bottom right to adjust a setting on the display.

Moreover, the bezels certainly add more in the way of a sturdy construction, which is yet another thing that’s great about this display. It doesn’t feel weak or cheap; it’s made of high quality plastic and metal, and while it’s certainly a little on the heavier side, the included handle on top of the stand makes for easy portability should you need to move the monitor to a different location in your house, or, as was the case for me, in the office.

Zowie XL2546 Display and Picture Quality

This is a relatively difficult section to describe, because even though this monitor is aimed at gamers, I also used it as my daily display for work, and in those situations, this doesn’t seem to be the best display out there. Especially if you’re coming from a higher resolution laptop, such as my usual daily driver 2017 MacBook Pro with its 13-inch Retina display.

Still, since this is a gaming monitor, I’ll treat it as such, and not dock points for flaws that are really only visible when using this is a non-gaming display.

So this here is a 240Hz panel with a response time of 1ms, and those are specs you would expect from a display priced at Rs. 37,690. Does that make a big difference to games? Kind of. Does it make a big difference in daily usage — definitely. As long as your laptop or PC has a GPU that’s capable of driving 240Hz displays (and most modern GPUs will do), everything on this panel is pretty frikkin awesome. The animations are smooth, scrolling is a treat, and gaming is smooth and responsive. It’s all pretty great.

For testing this display from a gaming display point of view, I connected it to one of the many gaming laptops at our office, and yes, gaming on this display is fun. It’s definitely better than gaming on a standard laptop display, and the refresh rate and response time will certainly make a difference, especially in fast-paced shooting games like Fortnite, PUBG, or Battlefield V.

When I did connect the display to my MacBook Pro for general office-related work, I had to set the color profile to fix the otherwise washed out colors that the monitor defaulted to. However, that’s something I’ve noticed happen with a lot of displays so it’s not really something I’d attribute to this monitor itself. Other than that though, the Zowie XL2546 is a pretty solid display.

The colors here are nice, and while I do feel like the whites are a little less white than what they should be, it’s not a big difference, and general media consumption on this display is satisfying enough an experience. That said, I’d suggest staying at arm’s length from this display because a 1080p resolution on a 25-inch monitor will definitely show you pixels if you’re looking at it too close, and that can (and will) ruin your experience, even in movies, and especially if you’re using subtitles.

The one thing that I don’t like about this display are the viewing angles. Zowie claims the monitor has 170/160-degree viewing angles, but move your head even slightly off the center of the display and it takes on a yellow-ish almost sepia-like overlay which looks absolutely terrible. The only consolation to that is the fact that while gaming, you’ll not really be looking at your screen from the side, so it shouldn’t bother you while you’re engrossed in a match of PUBG.

Zowie XL2546: Ports and Connectivity

The Zowie XL2546 comes with a plentiful selection of ports on both the side, and below the bottom lip of the display. There’s quite a lot of stuff here, but mostly what you’ll be concerned with are the HDMI ports, and the USB 3.0 ports on the side.

There are 2 HDMI ports, one of which is an HDMI 1.4 port, and another an HDMI 2.0. There’s a DisplayPort, a DVI slot, a headphone jack, mic-in, USB-3.0 ports, and even a headphone hanger, which isn’t strictly a port, but it’s a handy addition to the monitor, so you can easily store your headphones when you’re done gaming, and pick them back up when you’re ready for more rounds of your favorite game.

Zowie XL2546: Features

As a gaming monitor, the XL2546 would be remiss if it didn’t offer features that are aimed specifically at gamers, and it offers quite a lot of them, so let’s take a look at them one by one.

1. DyAC

DyAC, or Dynamic Accuracy, is a feature that works more or less to reduce motion blurring on the display, making it easier for you to aim at moving objects in games. DyAC comes in three settings: Premium, High, and Off. While Zowie claims that High and Premium are considerably different in terms of performance, I found both of them to be pretty close, but DyAC does make a big difference because turning it off results in a very observable change in the way games look and feel on the display.

2. Black eQualizer

No I didn’t get the capitalisation wrong there, that’s how Zowie writes Black eQualizer. Think of this as the Pixel 3 Night Sight feature but for your display… almost. With Black eQualizer, the monitor will increase the brightness in dark areas in a game, but will maintain the white areas so they don’t become over-exposed. This can come in very handy for spotting enemies hidden in the dark, and in PUBG, it definitely helped me quickly take a look inside houses without having to actually properly look and check if there was a hidden enemy in the dark somewhere.

3. ColorVibrance

ColorVibrance, or CV, is another feature in the Zowie XL2546 that makes colors stand out better, and can help with spotting enemies easily. Personally, other than colors becoming more saturated, CV didn’t really feel like a very helpful gaming feature to me, and I found myself leaving CV at the default value of 10 throughout my usage of this monitor.

Apart from these features, the Zowie XL2546 also comes with Flicker Free technology which reduces screen flickers, and helps avoid strain on the eyes. There’s also the Shield here, which, contrary to what you might think, is not actually meant to add a little privacy to your gaming sessions. Instead, BenQ says that this helps gamers focus on the game better. Now, I’m not sure about that, but personally, after having used Shield on the monitor for a week or so, I can’t go back to using it without the Shields, so it definitely helps with concentration, and a more immersive, less distracting experience, which is awesome.

Zowie XL2546: S Switch

The Zowie XL2546 also has an additional accessory. Called the S Switch, this circular set of, well, switches, comes with 3 custom keys that you can program to quickly change the display settings on the monitor. You can simply change the settings to whatever you want, then press and hold on the 1,2, or 3 buttons on the S Switch for 3 seconds, and the setting will be saved. From there on out, you can simply press the button to switch display settings of the monitor to your liking, so you can create a setting that suitable to games like PUBG, one for something like watching movies, and yet another one for casual usage, and quickly switch between the three with just the push of a button.

I didn’t use this very often, but it was helpful to quickly be able to switch settings from game-mode, to something more suited for finishing off articles on the website. Plus, the base for the Zowie XL2546 comes with a dedicated place where you can keep the S Switch — that’s definitely a good touch, and, if you’re not using the S Switch, like I wasn’t, you can use that place on the base to keep your drinks, which is also pretty handy.

Zowie XL2546: Pros and Cons

The Zowie XL2546 definitely looks like a pretty solid gaming monitor, but as the age old adage goes, there are two sides to every coin, so lets take a quick look at the good and the bad of this monitor.

Pros:

  • 240Hz refresh rate
  • 1ms response time
  • S Switch makes it easy to switch profiles
  • Built-in headphone hanger

Cons:

  • Viewing angles are not good
  • 1080p resolution seems a little low for a big, 25-inch display, especially when using it close up.

Zowie XL2546: Worth the Money?

All things considered, the Zowie XL2546 is a pretty good gaming monitor. It’s packed with features, it comes with a 240Hz refresh rate, and 1ms response time, it brings a nice, versatile stand that can let users set up their monitor any way they want and more. However, at Rs. 37,690, the drawbacks of the Zowie XL2546, especially the shabby viewing angles, sound more jarring than they otherwise would. As a purely gaming display, the Zowie XL2546 is good, but there are other options out there. There’s the Acer Predator XB272 which is priced at Rs. 39,990 and brings 240Hz refresh rate, 1ms response time, and a Full HD 27-inch display. There’s also the HP 27XQ, which brings a 144Hz refresh rate, 1ms response time, and a 27-inch QHD display for Rs. 35,399. There are others too, and all of this just goes to show that the Zowie XL2546 has tough competition in this segment, and other than the added features that it brings to the table, major brands like HP and Acer will definitely bring the fight to it, and personally, they feel like better choices.

Buy the BenQ Zowie XL2546 from Amazon (Rs. 37,690)

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Reviews

Canon Pixma G3010 Review: An Affordable, Feature Rich Ink Tank Printer

As far as printers are concerned, my colleagues have all suggested that Ink Tanks are better than Ink Jets, and while I’ve not used a lot of Ink Tank printers, when Canon sent over the new Pixma G3010 to us for testing and reviewing, I was slightly more excited to check it out than I usually get about printers. So, if you’re in the market for a printer, and the Pixma G3010 (Rs. 12,623) has caught your attention, here’s my full review of the Canon Pixma G3010 all-in-one printer:

Pixma G3010 Specifications

Dimensions 445 x 330 x 163mm
Weight 6.3kg
Functions Print, Scan, Copy
Printing Resolution 4800 x 1200
Connectivity USB, WiFi, Canon Print app
Scan Speed ~19 seconds
Print Speed Color: ~17 seconds
B/W: ~11 seconds
Display 1.2-inch LCD

Design and Build

The Canon Pixma G3010 isn’t the most compact all-in-one you’ll find. However, it is definitely one of the better looking ones out there. The printer comes in a nice matte-black finish that just looks classy, and just overall this feels like a better built unit than most other printers in its price range.

The buttons are all arranged on the right side of the printer, which is also where you’ll find the LCD display. Not a lot can be said about these buttons, other than the fact that they get the job done. Personally, I didn’t find myself using the buttons all that much, since almost everything on this printer can be done using a smartphone (more on that later), but the times when I did use the buttons (mostly to turn the printer on or off), the buttons felt tactile, and definitely well built.

That’s not surprising, Canon’s products are well built (just take a look at their cameras), and the Pixma G3010 is no exception.

Other than that, the printer comes with the usual things — the extendable paper tray, and the (also extendable) paper output tray. The input tray is great, since it easily folds on top of the printer itself, so it can protect the internals of the Pixma G3010 from dust — that makes it easier to store the printer when it’s not being used.

The Pixma G3010 is also well designed in the way that Canon has arranged the ports on this thing. There’s the main power-input on the left hand side of the printer (which is also a reversible connector, and I love that. Brownie points to Canon), and there’s a USB port on the right hand side that you can use to create a wired connection between the printer and your system.

Setting Things Up

Setting up the Pixma G3010 might seem like a mammoth task if you take a look at the included manual with its really confusing drawings. However, it’s actually not that difficult to set things up. The most important things while setting up the printer is actually installing the cartridges in the print-head, and filling up the colors — Canon provides single bottles of all the colors you’ll need to fill the printer up inside the box itself, so you can get started with printing right away.

Once you’ve filled the ink, and set the cartridges, you can move on to connecting the printer to your PC and/or your smartphone — using a wired connection or a wireless one if you’d like. For the wired thing, you’ll have to use the USB-port on the right hand side with the included USB cable.

Connection and Compatibility

Even though the Pixma G3010 only offers a single USB port for wired connectivity, it does offer a plethora of ways to connect to a PC or a smartphone. There’s obviously the wired method that you can use, by connecting the printer to your PC with the included USB cable and installing the drivers, either from the Canon website, or from the included CD.

However, you can also use the Canon PRINT app (Android, iOS) to connect your phone to the printer and print photos, documents, scan items directly to your phone’s memory, copy, and even click pictures from your smartphone camera and directly print them out with the Pixma G3010.

You can obviously also make the Pixma G3010 available over your internet so all your local devices can access it wirelessly and send printing jobs to it. That makes it very easy to share the printer, especially if you’re in an office space with a bunch of systems, all of which might need access to the printer sometime or the other.

You will need the drivers for the printer in order to set things up, like I said, but there’s one interesting thing I noticed. So Canon says that macOS isn’t supported by the printer yet, and yes, if you try visiting the web-page mentioned in the manual for downloading drivers, you’ll not find a download button. However, I was able to get the printer working with my MacBook Pro running macOS Mojave by simply downloading the Pixma G3010 series drivers from this website.

I’m not certain if Canon would approve of that, but hey, I use a MacBook Pro and I wanted to also test this printer out with my laptop, so I did what I had to. The good news is that it works perfectly fine, so if you’re using a Mac, this is something you can do to get the printer working with your laptop as well.

Printing, Scanning, and Copying Performance

To test out the printing performance of the Pixma G3010 printer, I printed out an absolute ton of documents and images, both coloured and black-and-white, to see what things look like, and how good the printing quality on this printer actually is. I printed out documents, Photoshop files, even the Amazon listing for this very printer. I also scanned documents, took a picture from my phone and used the Canon PRINT app to print it out, and a lot more.

By doing all of that, the conclusion I’ve arrived at is that the Pixma G3010 will not let you down no matter what you’re asking it to print. It can print text files, images (both monochrome and coloured), pictures clicked from your smartphone, and even screenshots you may have taken, all with a decent speed, and good quality that’s at par with what other printers offer in this price bracket.

Unlike a lot of other printers, the ink doesn’t smudge if you touch (or even rub) the paper too hard immediately after it’s done printing, and there’s also no colour bleeding on the paper. I did notice once that there were some wet spots on a sheet, but that only happened that one time, and never happened again, even though I printed almost everything I read today, so I’m willing to write that off as a one-off error that will almost certainly never happen again.

For pictures, I didn’t have glossy photo quality papers on hand to actually test this out properly, but even on regular quality A4 sheets, the photos printed from the Canon Pixma G3010 look good. The printer doesn’t seem to mess up colours at all, and the photos turned out really nice, especially considering that I used regular A4 sheets to print them out. I’m fairly confident the print quality of pictures on actual photo-quality sheets will be a lot better.

Also worth mentioning is that while the printing speed here is decent, the printer does take a couple of seconds to start printing when you send a document or an image to print — this happens regardless of whether you’re printing over a wired USB connection, over WiFi, or sending a print job from your smartphone using the Canon PRINT app. It’s not too long a wait, but if you find yourself printing hundreds of documents every day, the wait might get annoying for you. However, this is something we’ve seen happen with a number of ink tanks in this price range.

Other than that, the Pixma G3010 can also scan documents and copy documents and both these functions work as you’d expect them to. You can either start a copy function by pressing the ‘Black’ or ‘Colour’ button on the printer, or you can start a copy job through the Canon PRINT app. Scanning also works really well, in fact, if you start a scan from the Canon PRINT app, you can even save the scanned copy to your smartphone directly, which is just really cool.

Pros and Cons

While I personally came to a positive conclusion about the Pixma G3010 printer, here are some of the most important pros and cons about the printer so you can get a quick overview of everything this printer does well, and things it could improve upon.

Pros:

  • Good build
  • Printing quality is nice
  • Scanning and copying work really well
  • Excellent mobile app available for both Android and iOS

Cons:

  • The buttons can be confusing
  • No official macOS support

Canon Pixma G3010 Review: Worth the Money?

So, the Canon Pixma G3010 is a pretty amazing all-in-one printer that brings quite a lot of features, including wireless support, for a pretty competitive price of Rs. 12,623 on Amazon, and personally, I think this is a solid printer to consider if you’re looking for in the Rs. 12,000 to Rs. 15,000 price range. It offers all the features you’ll need, WiFi printing, easy set up, good print quality, an amazing mobile app, and more. That said, there are other printers you can consider as well — there’s the HP Ink Tank 419 that my colleague reviewed, which offers a lot of these very features, for Rs. 13,150, but doesn’t look nearly as good. There are also options from Epson that you can check out, but at the end of the day, Canon is a name that’s pretty well known in the printing space, and keeping that in mind, I’d say the Pixma G3010 is definitely a printer worth considering.

Buy the Pixma G3010 from Amazon (Rs. 12,623)

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Reviews

Blaupunkt BTW-01 True Wireless Earbuds Review: Good, but Difficult to Recommend

I’ve used and reviewed quite a lot of earphones and headphones, and mostly because I really like checking out new earphones almost all the time, it’s kind of an obsession. So, when Blaupunkt sent over the true wireless BTW-01 Bluetooth earphones, I just had to check them out. Well, I’ve been using these earphones for the last week or so as my daily drivers, so this is my review of the Blaupunkt BTW-01 truly wireless Bluetooth earphones, and whether they are worth their Rs. 4,999 price tag.

Blaupunkt BTW-01 Specifications

Bluetooth Version Bluetooth 5.0
Profiles HFP, HSP, A2DP, AVRCP
Battery Life up to 6.5 hours (when using single earbud)
up to 5 hours (when using both earbuds)
Charging Time 1.5 hours (for earbuds)
1.5 hours (for case)
Weight Earbuds: 5.5g each
Case: 29g
Price Rs. 4,999

Design and Build

If there is one place where I have most of my concerns and complaints, its the design and the build of these earphones. So, the BTW-01 come in a decent looking case that also charges them when they’re inside it, but while the case looks decent enough, just a quick touch on the case gives away the feeling that it’s a cheaply made case. The plastic is cheap and flimsy, and opening the case is neither tactile, nor does it feel sturdy enough to handle being opened and closed multiple times, sometimes with excessive force when the user might be in a hurry.

I’m not sure why Blaupunkt would go for a case that gives off a distinctly less-than-premium feeling to these earphones, especially when the case is the first point of contact that a user will have with these earphones.

The fact that the case is cheaply made and leaves a bad first impression, is even more troubling because the earbuds themselves are actually built pretty well. They don’t feel flimsy or cheap, even though they’re made of plastic, and the design elements chosen by Blaupunkt are great, especially the ring surrounding the touchpad on each of the earbuds, which just lends them a subtle amount of bling, without being overdone.

I also really like the fact that the strength of the magnet inside the case is nice and the earbuds drop into place with a satisfying click — that’s something my Galaxy Buds don’t do, and it kinda sucks.

Speaking of things that suck, there’s still a microUSB charging port on the case here, which is sad because I feel like we should have USB-C on everything now, especially on accessories and smartphones. Right now, I use the same USB-C cable to charge my MacBook Pro, my Galaxy S10, and my Galaxy Buds. It’s easy, it’s elegant. However, while using these Blaupunkt earphones, I’ve had to carry a microUSB cable, and an additional adapter for it just to charge these things which is just something I find really annoying.

Overall, I think the design and the build on these earphones is only decent. There are some good things, like the strong magnet in the case, and the nice looking earbuds, but there are issues like the flimsy case, the microUSB port, and just the fact that the first impression you’re likely to get from opening the box of these earphones will be that of exasperation. Hopefully, that’ll fade away when you actually open the box and start using the earbuds themselves.

Comfort and Fit

Speaking of using the earbuds themselves, I found the Blaupunkt BTW-01 to be a fairly comfortable pair of truly wireless earbuds to use, even though it took me a while to be confident that they won’t just fall out of my ears while I bobbed my head along to music.

The thing is, the shape that these earbuds are, isn’t one of the best that I’ve seen. The bulk of the earbuds is towards the back, and they solely depend on the silicone earbuds to stay in your ear; there’s no earhook, or any other support for the earbuds when they’re in your ears.

If you’re like me and you’re used to wireless earbuds that come with earhooks, or are just shaped to get more support from your ear, putting the BTW-01 in your ears will make you constantly worry about them falling off. That said, they didn’t actually fall off in usual usage, but I’m confident I will not be using these at the gym, or while jogging in the park.

Once you get past the fear that these earphones will fall out of your ear, they are actually fairly comfortable to use as long as you put a properly sized earbud tip on (Blaupunkt gives different sizes in the box). I used these earphones a lot at work, and I didn’t feel any sort of fatigue in the ear, or anything uncomfortable, other than the occasional feeling that they might fall out of my ears.

I wouldn’t rate these earphones as being great as far as comfort and fit are concerned, but they are definitely good in comfort, and above average for the fit.

Audio Quality

Even with all the comfort and fit in the world, earphones will pretty much be useless to you unless they sound good, or at least acceptable, and at Rs. 4,999, the bar for ‘acceptable’ is pretty high. Fortunately, the Blaupunkt BTW-01 are well above that bar.

The earphones get pretty loud, and even then, I didn’t notice any distortion in the highs, which is great, because a lot of earphones start making the highs too loud at higher volumes and it just hurts the ears.

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The BTW-01 have ample bass, even though it’s not as deep as something like the Noise Shots X3 Bass, but it’s definitely nice and heavy without being too overpowering. The same can be said about the highs and the mids, the Blaupunkt BTW-01 have decently well defined highs and mids — they’re not the best, but they’re good and for Rs. 4,999 they’re one of the better ones.

Personally, I didn’t find any problems with the Blaupunkt BTW-01 as far as the audio quality is concerned, and I think if you buy these, you’ll not be disappointed by them either.

Interaction and Features

The Blaupunkt BTW-01 also come with touchpads on both the earbuds that come with support for multiple kinds of taps, and it works pretty well. Here’s what you can do with these earbuds:

  • Answer calls: single tap on the left or right earbud
  • Ending calls: single tap on either earbud
  • Rejecting calls: long press on either earbud
  • Voice assistant: triple tap on the touchpad on either earbud
  • Play/Pause: double tap on either earbud
  • Previous song: long press left earbud
  • Next song: long press right earbud

While these features are pretty self-explanatory, it’s important to note that the BTW-01 can be used individually as well, so if you’re only using the left earbud, you won’t get access to the ‘Next song’ function, and if you’re only using the right earbud, you won’t get access to the ‘Previous song’ function on the earbuds. All of the other features work via either of the touchpads so they’ll work regardless of whether you’re using both the earbuds, or only one of them.

Connectivity

Anyway, let’s move on to connectivity. So the Blaupunkt BTW-01 come with Bluetooth 5.0, which is amazing, and they also let you use them individually. So you can choose to use just one of the earbuds and keep the other one in the case if you want.

However, if there’s one issue I have with the connectivity here, it’s the fact that connecting these earbuds to your phone is more time consuming than it should be. Here’s a basic outline of how you’d connect the Blaupunkt BTW-01 to your phone:

  • Long press (about 5 seconds) on the left earbud to enter pairing mode, and pair the earbud to your phone.
  • Turn on the right earbud (long press about 2 seconds), and it should automatically connect to the left earbud.
  • You can now listen to music, take calls, etc using both the earbuds.

However, in case the earbuds don’t connect to each other, the procedure to actually clear the pairing list from both the earbuds and then letting them connect to each other is a complicated little issue that I don’t want to get into. All I’m saying is that I’d have really appreciated if I could just pop open the case, connect to the earphones, and use them without having to follow all these steps.

Anyway, at least the earbuds have decent range, and they are able to maintain sound quality over a distance, which is definitely nice, even though I tend to keep my phone in my pocket when I’m not sitting at my desk. There’s no aptX support here though, which is definitely something of a deal breaker to most people, but if it’s not a deal breaker to you, by all means, consider these earphones.

Battery

Then there’s the battery. While Blaupunkt doesn’t really give away the battery specs for these earphones, the manual does mention the expected battery life and charging time, and from my personal usage, the manual is pretty close to real world usage.

The earbuds lasted me around 4 to 4.5 hours of use, at maximum volume, and keeping the volume to around 60-70%, they lasted around 5.5 hours. I didn’t test the battery life while using just one earbud because that’s just not how I can ever listen to music, and I refuse to put myself through that. Still, judging by the fact that the battery life is close to what Blaupunk claims, I’m sure if you’re using these in single-earbud-mode, it should last you around 6 hours.

Charging the earbuds is taken care of by the case, so all you need to worry about is charging the case itself, which takes around 90 minutes to fully charge. As far as the charging is concerned, the Blaupunkt BTW-01 are pretty much what every other truly wireless earbuds are like — charge the case, and let the case charge the earbuds — and I don’t have a problem with that (other than the microUSB port here).

Pros and Cons

If you find the entire review too big to read, here’s a quick look at the pros and cons of the Blaupunkt BTW-01:

Pros:

  • Good sound quality
  • The earbuds look nice
  • Touchpad controls work easily and intuitively
  • Decent battery life

Cons:

  • Charging case is poorly built
  • microUSB port
  • Connecting the earbuds isn’t the easiest thing

Blaupunkt BTW-01 Review: Worth the Price?

So overall, the Blaupunkt BTW-01 are pretty solid earbuds that are only slightly let down by the poor build of the charging case, and the fact that connecting them isn’t as straightforward as you’d like it to be, but other than that, these are good earphones. That said, unless the Blaupunkt brand name is something you find irresistible, I think the Noise Shots X5 (Rs. 4,699) and the Noise Shots X3 Bass (Rs. 3,749) are worth checking out, although connecting them is equally unintuitive.

Buy the Blaupunkt BTW-01 (Rs. 4,999)

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Reviews

Asus ROG Zephyrus M GU502GU Review: For the Perfect Mix of Gaming, Portability, and Style

Gaming laptops have a reputation for being large, unwieldy machines that simply can’t be lugged to and from work or school everyday; or at least they shouldn’t. However, I really admire Asus for their ROG Zephyrus series of gaming laptops that bring high end gaming in machines that don’t look out of place in a non-gaming setting. So when Asus sent over the Zephyrus M GU502GU (Rs. 1,49,990) to us, I was excited to see what Asus had accomplished with this Zephyrus laptop. I’ve been using this laptop for well over a week now, and this is my in-depth review of the Zephyrus M GU502GU gaming laptop.

Asus ROG Zephyrus M GU502GU Specifications

First off, let’s get the on-paper specs out of the way. Here’s what you’ll find under the hood of the Zephyrus M GU502GU:

Processor Intel Core i7-9750H
GPU Nvidia GTX 1660Ti with 6GB GDDR6 VRAM
RAM 16GB 2666MHz
Storage Up to 1TB SSD
Display 15.6-inch Full HD IPS level panel;
144Hz Refresh Rate;
3ms Response Time;
100% sRGB Pantone Validated
Keyboard Backlit chiclet keyboard;
N-key rollover;
RGB lighting;
Aura Sync;
Hotkeys (Volume down, volume up, mute, Armoury Crate)
Audio 2 speakers with Smart AMP technology
Array Microphone
I/O Ports 1 x USB 3.2 Gen2 Type C DisplayPort™ 1.4 and Power Delivery
1 x USB 3.2 Gen2 Type A
2 x USB 3.2 Gen1 Type A
1 x HDMI 2.0b
1 x 3.5mm Audio Jack
1 x Audio Jack Mic-in
1 x RJ45
1 x Kensington Lock
Connectivity Intel® 802.11ac (2×2) Gigabit Wi-Fi
Bluetooth 5.0
Weight 1.9kg

Now that the specs are out of the way, let’s take a deeper look at the Zephyrus M GU502GU.

Design and Build

Like I mentioned earlier, I really admire the Zephyrus line up of laptops from Asus for bringing great gaming power in a sleek design, and the Zephyrus M GU502 is no different. It comes in a stunning looking chassis with a metal cover on the lid, a soft-touch material surrounding the keyboard and covering the palm-rest, and a great selection of ports rounding off the look of the laptop.

There’s the ROG logo on the lid which lights up in red and looks kinda nice on the brushed metal finish. Inside, the display is surrounded by thin bezels, giving the laptop a modern look, with the exception of the giant bottom bezel which holds the subtly done “ROG Zephyrus” branding, and a large sticker showing off the credentials and specifications of the display, which I hate. I dislike stickers on laptops as a general rule, and this one looks ugly too; but I guess you could remove it if you wanted to.

One issue here is that the Zephyrus M GU502 doesn’t come with a webcam, and while that’s not a deal breaker to me, since I never use the webcam, it might be a deal breaker to some of you out there.

Then there’s the keyboard and the finishing around it. This area gives a very nice rubberized feeling that’s just the perfect amount of grippy and satisfactorily soft to the touch to ensure I was comfortable using this laptop for hours and hours on end. Plus, I suppose this would also make it easier to keep my palms on the laptop during winters when my MacBook Pro gets so cold to the touch it’s uncomfortable to type on.

Overall though, the ROG Zephyrus M GU502GU is a well designed and well built laptop, and I have no real complaints with it so far. In fact, I really like the design and build of this laptop.

Display

The ROG Zephyrus M GU502 comes with a 15.6-inch FullHD IPS level panel with a 144Hz refresh rate and 3ms response time – both important numbers for gamers. Thanks to the high refresh rate, things look really smooth on the Zephyrus M. Even outside of games, the general animations, scrolling, everything just looks really smooth on this display and I’ve grown really fond of that. The 3ms response time might not matter to regular users as much, but for gamers this is a decently good response time to get.

Other than those two things, the display is wonderful in almost every other aspect too. It’s big and has a lot of screen real-estate to multi-task with ease. It’s Pantone validated, which results in great color reproduction all across the board, so watching movies and TV shows, and playing games on this display is a wonderful experience.

The one place where I do have a complaint with the display is brightness. The brightness levels for this display are very low, and to top it off it comes with a matte finish which, even though it helps avoid glare, makes the display look even less bright than it probably would with a glossy display. It’s decent for indoor use, but outdoor use, especially in bright sunlight is definitely a problem.

Other than that one (and kind of major) issue with the display, the laptop does everything else wonderfully, including, performance.

Performance

The Zephyrus M GU502GU comes with impressive specs – there’s a 9th-gen Core i7 processor, 16GB RAM, a 512GB SSD, and Nvidia GTX1660 Ti GPU. All of that results in amazing performance.

Regular tasks are obviously nothing to this laptop. You can multi-task all you want, open a load of tabs on Chrome (I had almost 20-30 open all the time), and even run an instance of Photoshop at the same time, and this laptop won’t break a sweat. It’s really great.

However, that’s expected from a laptop that costs as much as this one does, but this is a gaming laptop, so the more important metric for judging its performance is how well it handles gaming.

Well, I played a bunch of games on the Zephyrus M GU502GU including Unreal Tournament, Far Cry 5, and obviously, PUBG, and the laptop handles all of these games really well.

In PUBG, at High settings, the Zephyrus M got a frame rate of 85 to 100FPS easily, that would go higher if you played around with the graphics settings a bit, but a frame rate of 85FPS+ is good enough for me, and I didn’t feel the need to push it further, especially at the cost of graphical quality.

Even Far Cry 5 performed very well on this laptop. In Ultra graphics settings, the laptop pushed an average frame rate of 66FPS, going as high as 79 and as low as 53FPS.

Switching graphics to High resulted in a very slight improvement in performance, with the average frame rate settling at 69FPS, and getting a maximum of 80FPS.

I even tried switching the graphics to Normal just for the heck of it, and that got an average frame rate of 73FPS, going as high as 85FPS and as low as 57FPS.

Clearly, the laptop can handle Far Cry 5 on Ultra settings with ease. I even played Far Cry 5 for a bit on Ultra settings and it ran wonderfully, which is great.

Unreal Tournament, well, I installed the alpha version of Unreal Tournament from the Epic Store because I wanted to try it out, and the Zephyrus M was pushing around 75 to 80FPS on the game at all times which is great. Also, the game itself is great too.

If the gaming performance of this laptop wasn’t enough for you, or if you’re just looking for results from a standardized test, well, you’ll be glad to know I ran benchmarks too.

In 3DMark TimeSpy, the laptop scored 5,426 points which is pretty impressive, and in PCMark 10, the Zephyrus M GU502GU got a score of 4,772 points.

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3DMark Time Spy
PCMark 10

Overall, Zephyrus M’s performance is top notch and it won’t let you down whether you’re gaming, or taking it to work and doing regular office work. It’s just an all around wonderful performer and I’m very impressed by it.

Keyboard and Trackpad

Speaking of things I’m impressed by, let’s talk about the keyboard and trackpad here. The Zephyrus M comes with a keyboard that I can only describe as “very Asus” and I mean that in a good way. Most Asus laptops have good keyboards, and this one is no different. It’s not a mechanical keyboard, but it has ample travel without being too bouncy, the keycaps are flat instead of curved, but they’re still easy to hit accurately and they’re made of high quality plastic instead of the cheap feeling ones that a lot of other brands use.

The layout is also really good, and I especially love the full arrow-key layout instead of the compact layout that makes it very difficult to use the arrow keys without actually looking at them in the middle of a game. Plus, there are also four dedicated keys above the keyboard for increasing and decreasing the volume, turning the mic off, and for launching Asus ROG Armoury Crate software at the press of a button.

One additional thing I really liked about the keyboard is you can lock the Windows key to not open the start menu. This is really handy because I hit the Windows key a lot by accident while gaming and on most laptops it opens up the Start menu and I end up dying in my game, and that’s very annoying. On this (and probably other Asus laptops) I can simply press Fn + Windows to disable that functionality and I’m really happy that this feature exists.

Anyway, moving on, there’s the trackpad, and this is amazing as well. The Zephyrus M comes with a decently sized trackpad which is not too big, but it’s not small either. Plus, it supports Microsoft Precision drivers which just makes using it a lot better and brings support for intuitive gestures which is also pretty cool.

I/O and Ports

The ROG Zephyrus M also comes with a decent selection of ports and I/O that should suffice for all your needs. The laptop comes with 1 x USB 3.2 Gen2 Type C DisplayPort™ 1.4 and Power Delivery, 1 x USB 3.2 Gen2 Type A, 2 x USB 3.2 Gen1 Type A, 1 x HDMI 2.0b, 1 x 3.5mm Audio Jack, 1 x Audio Jack Mic-in, and an RJ-45 ethernet port.

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In my usage of this laptop I didn’t feel short on ports or connectivity options and I don’t think you will either. Plus, the USB-C port is definitely awesome to have, and with Power Delivery, it can fast charge USB-PD compatible devices, which is also cool.

Audio

If there’s one thing about this laptop that I found underwhelming, it’s the audio. The laptop comes with bottom firing speakers, which is probably why the sound is underwhelming, muffled, and honestly, not loud enough at all. I tried watching movies on this laptop, and it just doesn’t cut it.

As a gamer, I’m sure you’ll most probably be using headphones while you game, so you probably won’t have to deal with this too often, but if you think you can watch movies on this laptop without a Bluetooth speaker, or a wired external speaker, you’re in for a shock.

At the very least, I would’ve expected Asus to put the speakers slightly towards the sides, like they did with the TUF Gaming FX505DT, but alas, the Zephyrus M GU502GU is absolutely let down by its speakers.

Battery

Lastly, there’s the battery. The Zephyrus M GU502GU comes with a 76Wh battery that Asus claims lasts up to 6 hours on a charge, but the only time I noticed that happening was when I put a bunch of games on download and left the laptop to do its work while I played games on my PS4. Other than that, the laptop doesn’t last anywhere close to 6 hours on a charge. I was consistently getting around 3 hours of battery life from this laptop.

However, if you’re a gamer, you’ll most likely keep the laptop plugged in while gaming so the battery life shouldn’t be an issue. However, if you’re like me and you’re planning on using the laptop at work or in college, you’ll need to keep the charger handy.

Pros and Cons

So the Zephyrus M GU502GU is a pretty decent laptop, but it doesn’t get it all right. Let’s take a quick look at the good and the bad about this laptop.

Pros:

  • Excellent design
  • Amazing performance
  • Good keyboard and trackpad

Cons:

  • Battery life is sub-par at best
  • Speaker quality is not good

Asus ROG Zephyrus M GU502GU: Should You Buy It?

The ROG Zephyrus M GU502GU is a a pretty good laptop. It brings great performance packed inside a stylish chassis, a good keyboard and trackpad, along with a decently wide selection of ports and I/O options. However, at Rs. 1,49,990, the Zephyrus M is competing against the MSI GL63 9SEK gaming laptop (Rs. 1,47,500) which brings the same 9th-gen Core i7 processor, 16GB RAM, a 1TB HDD + 256GB SSD, and 6GB RTX2060 graphics. The only place where the MSI GL63 9SEK lags behind is the weight – it’s 300 grams heavier.

The thing is, if you’re looking for a gaming laptop for playing high-end games on, the MSI GL63 9SEK is a much better deal. However, if you’re looking for a laptop that can handle gaming and fit in at your office, maybe go with the Zephyrus M GU502GU.

Check out the Zephyrus M GU502GU (Rs. 1,49,990)

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Reviews

Jabra Elite 85h Noise Cancelling Bluetooth Headphones Review: Almost the Best

Active Noise Cancelling headphones can be pretty amazing, or pretty terrible, depending on how well they actually cancel noise in real-world situations, so when Jabra sent over their Elite 85h Active Noise Cancelling Bluetooth headphones (Rs. 28,999) over to us, I tested them the way I would test any pair of ANC Bluetooth headphones — while travelling. I’ve used these headphones for a considerable amount of time over the last two weeks, and I’m pretty impressed with them, so why did I put “Almost the Best” in the title? Well, read on to get a detailed look into the Jabra Elite 85h Headphones — their ups and downs, pros and cons, and more.

Jabra Elite 85h: Specifications

One of the best things about Jabra’s website is the fact that they give proper specifications for their headphones, as compared to a lot of other brands that simply mention “battery life” and “Bluetooth version”.

Dimensions 195 x 82 x 225 mm
Weight 296 grams
Bluetooth Bluetooth 5.0
Ports and I/O USB-C; 3.5mm AUX
Battery Life Up to 41 hours (without ANC)
Up to 36 hours (with ANC)
Number of Microphones 8 (4 used for ANC)
Price Rs. 28,999

Clearly, the Jabra Elite 85h bring a lot of impressive numbers on paper, but let’s take a look at how these translate into the real world.

Design and Build

If you buy these headphones, Jabra knows enough to send them packed with a carrying case, because with headphones this size (and at this price) you’ll want to keep them in a case when you’re not actively using them. Not that these headphones are flimsy or weak; if anything, the Elite 85h are pretty well built, and feel sturdy and premium to the touch — as they should.

The design is pretty straightforward, and Jabra has clearly not taken too much of a risk here, which is perfectly fine by me. These headphones look impressive and attractive, without looking overdone and flashy. The back of the earcups are covered with a mesh-fabric material, while the earcups themselves are made out of a leatherette material that’s soft to the touch, and really comfortable to use. There’s a blend of high quality plastic, ABS, PC and other materials that keep the weight low, while giving off a premium look and feel.

The Elite 85h also come with an interesting UX choice — folding the earcups to disconnect and opening them back up to connect. That’s very similar to what you’ll see in some magnetic Bluetooth earphones, such as the OnePlus Bullets Wireless earphones, and it’s really neat seeing this on a pair of headphones. To be honest, I wasn’t completely sold on this implementation, but I used it on my weekend trip to Nainital, all through the train and the cab journey, and I found myself loving the ease of use this brings. It’s incredibly quick to respond and very reliable in its functionality to make me want this functionality on all headphones.

Thanks to this functionality, along with an automatic power-off in 72-hours feature, Jabra did away with the power button on the Elite 85h — it’s simply not required. There are still a bunch of buttons here though, and we’ll talk about these in detail later, but one thing I really like on these headphones is the USB-C port for charging. I love USB-C, and thanks to this port, I just carried one charger on my trip for my laptop, my phone, my power bank, and my Bluetooth headphones. That’s incredible ease of use, and I love it.

Comfort and Fit

The Elite 85h are also amazing when it comes to the actual comfort while wearing them. True, at 296g they’re heavier than headphones like the Sony WH-1000XM3, but even so, Jabra’s offering doesn’t feel heavy on extended usage — and I should know, I used them continuously for over 7 hours on my train + cab journey to Nainital.

The earcups have a firm grip that puts just enough pressure to hold the headphones in place, without making it feel like the headband is pressing into the top of your head — something I’ve noticed happening with a lot of headphones. Along with that, the fact that the headband also has the same leatherette material used on the earcups helps with the headphones being comfortable when being used for a long period of time.

Audio Quality and Noise Cancellation

The Jabra Elite 85h come with impressive audio quality all around and while these are one of the best headphones I’ve used, they’re definitely not the best. Let me explain: the Elite 85h have impressive sound. They get quite loud if you push them, the sound doesn’t distort, and the bass is heavy enough to be thumpy, but not heavy enough to get overwhelming. Along with that, the treble is really well tuned — the elite 85h just offer a really nice blend of highs, lows, and mids.

the Jabra Elite 85h are the second best sounding pair of headphones I’ve tried in this price range.

However, if you’re listening to bass heavy songs on these headphones and you turn the volume to max, the bass sometimes does distort. I could clearly hear the bass distorting in some EDM songs that pump the bass exceedingly hard. For some reason this was even more pronounced when ANC was turned on the headphones. Turning ANC off, or reducing the volume to around 80% almost completely gets rid of this problem.

Apart from that one thing that bugs me though, the Jabra Elite 85h are the second best sounding pair of headphones I’ve tried in this price range. The first are obviously Sony’s WH-1000XM3 ANC headphones that are just so blissfully good at everything it’s almost wrong of Sony to not give others a chance.

Noise Cancellation

Anyway, coming back to the Jabra Elite 85h — these headphones are a very close second to Sony’s offering, and the sound quality on the Elite 85h is really impressive. Speaking of impressive, let’s talk about the Noise Cancellation.

The Jabra Elite 85h come with Active Noise Cancellation, and there are different modes:

  • Active Noise Cancellation On
  • Active Noise Cancellation Off
  • Hear-through

The effect of turning ANC on or off is pretty obvious, but Hear-through is a cool feature that I use at work a lot. With hear-through, the Jabra Elite 85h essentially mix your music with the ambient sound they take in from the microphones, so you can hear your surroundings while you listen to your music. This is most likely aimed at people listening to music while running or jogging, but it’s incredibly useful at work, because I can keep listening to music and still discuss things with my colleagues. One thing to notice here is that if you’re listening to music at anything higher than 60-70%, hear-through is basically useless since you won’t be able to hear anything.

Anyway, with Active Noise Cancellation On, the Jabra Elite 85h perform admirably, and if I compare them to the Sony WH-1000XM3, they’re very close. With ANC on, you can completely immerse yourself in the music, movie, or podcast you’re listening to — and I did this with all three of those while I was in the train. It’s pretty great, especially in trains and flights with little kids that keep creating a ruckus — I speak from experience.

That said, I did notice one odd thing with ANC on these headphones — if you’re travelling in a car with the windows rolled down, the ANC tries to compensate for the noise the wind creates, and sometimes the headphones just end up making a very loud and annoying static sound as a result. I found this out by accident, but it’s incredibly annoying and there’s no way to fix this unless you turn off ANC, or roll the window up. It’s an issue that’s very specific to a particular situation, but it’s annoying as hell. I’m not sure if the Sony WH-1000XM3 would also have this problem, but logic suggests that they might, considering how ANC works.

Connectivity

In terms of connectivity, the Jabra Elite 85h bring all the good stuff — there’s Bluetooth 5.0, which is something you wouldn’t get with Sony’s WH-1000XM3 headphones (those come with Bluetooth 4.2). However, the Elite 85h don’t come with aptX or aptX HD support, which is weird at this price range. In fact, Jabra isn’t even mentioned on the aptX website. Still, if you’re willing to ignore the absence of aptX on these headphones, the connectivity here is on point in every other way.

The headphones stay connected easily over 7-8 metres in a regular home-space which is pretty great, and there’s no signal drop or distortions. Also, you can connect two devices to the headphones at the same time, which can come in handy if you want to pair your phone and your laptop to your headphones at the same time to listen to music from your laptop and still be able to take calls from your phone straight on your headphones.

Connectivity wise, the Jabra Elite 85h are actually pretty great, and the only drawback I could find here is the missing aptX support, which, honestly, is something you would expect in high-end headphones like these.

Buttons and Ports

Moving on to the I/O on these headphones, the Jabra Elite 85h come with quite a lot of that. There are only two ports here — a USB-C port for charging, and an AUX-in port. The USB-C port is a personal favorite of mine, and I honestly can’t wait for even affordable headphones to come with USB-C — it’s faster, and just more convenient.

The AUX-in port, well, that’s a life saver if you ever run out of battery and want to listen to music. Simply connect the headphones in wired mode and keep listening. True, ANC won’t work, and neither will hear-through, but at least you can listen to music on these even if you manage to completely drain the battery (which is a task, believe me, but more on that in the battery section).

There are also a bunch of buttons here — there are the usual play/pause, and volume control buttons on the right earcup under the mesh-fabric material, that also serve the dual purpose of putting the headphones in pairing mode, and skipping tracks with long presses.

There’s also the Assistant button on here which you can use to activate the smart assistant on your phone, so you can send messages and stuff without having to take the headphones off.

Lastly, there’s this button without any markings on it — it basically switches between the various noise canceling settings:

  • ANC on
  • ANC off
  • Hear-through

There are helpful voice prompts when you switch between these modes as well, just in case you’re unable to figure out what mode you’re in. These modes can also be switched between from the companion smartphone app: Jabra Sound+ that’s available for free on the Play Store and the App Store.

Jabra Sound+ App

The Jabra Sound+ app is your one stop solution for managing and customising the Elite 85h. This app is where you’ll find settings like choosing Moments for your headphones. Moments can be thought of as customisable sound profiles. There are four:

  • Commute
  • In Public
  • In Private
  • My Moment

with each of these Moments you can choose between ANC on/off or HearThrough mode, you can adjust the Music equalizer, and you can choose a Music preset.

For example, I’ve set Commute to have ANC on, In Public to HearThrough, and In Private to ANC off. This way, I don’t have to listen to random kids on my commute, but I can still listen to my coworkers when I’m at work, and when I’m alone, I can save battery by turning ANC off.

You can switch quickly between these Moments from the notification the app puts into your Notification Center, but to actually utilise these to their full extent, there’s a feature called ‘SmartSound.’

With SmartSound enabled, your headphones analyse the sound in your surroundings and automatically choose Moments based on that. So they will switch automatically from Commute to In Public when you reach work, and from In Public to In Private when I’m back home. It’s pretty impressive, even though it does take some time to analyse ambient sounds and change Moments.

Other than that, the Sound+ app brings the Discover tab which is where you will find tips, tricks, news, and even firmware updates for your headphones.

Battery

The Jabra Elite 85h come with a battery that’s rated to last up to 41 hours with Active Noise Cancellation off, and up to 36 hours with ANC on, and that claim is pretty accurate. From a full 100% charge, these headphones have been used for almost 16-17 hours so far with ANC turned on all the time, and they’re at 60%. Clearly, they’ll last around 34-35 hours. That’s pretty damn impressive.

Plus, thanks to USB-C charging, I don’t have to worry about carrying a separate cable for the headphones either because my phone, my laptop, and now these headphones, all can be charged from the same USB-C cable. Charging the battery also doesn’t take too long; the headphones charge in around 2 to 3 hours, and, while I didn’t test this particular thing out, Jabra claims that a 15 minute charge can get them up to 5 hours of listening time, which is also pretty impressive.

Pros and Cons

So, the Jabra Elite 85h are a pair of really impressive headphones, but they too have some drawbacks and flaws. So here’s a handy list of the good, and the bad about the Elite 85h:

Pros:

  • Good sound quality
  • Excellent battery life
  • Bluetooth 5.0
  • Premium and sturdy build
  • USB-C

Cons:

  • No aptX support
  • Bass sometimes distorts at high volumes
  • ANC is not at par with competitors like Sony’s WH-1000XM3

Jabra Elite 85h: Should You Buy These?

So the question at the end of all this is should you buy these headphones or not. After all, at Rs. 28,999 these are a big investment. Look, the Jabra Elite 85h bring great sound quality, an amazing battery life, good ANC, and a lot more to the table, but even though these are a great sounding pair of headphones that offer a high level of comfort, they don’t quite parallel the offering from Sony in the WH-1000XM3 (Rs. 28,999) which are quite simply the best headphones I’ve used in this price. They offer better sound quality, a more balanced bass and treble output, and better noise cancellation as well. If I were you, I would go with the Sony headphones over these.

Buy the Jabra Elite 85h (Rs. 28,999)

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