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Sony Xperia 1 II Review- An Almost Perfect Smartphone

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Sony Xperia 1 II Review

When it comes to smartphones, companies that are at the forefront of innovation are Samsung and Apple. Although Sony has made a couple of smartphones, they are okay at best.

While Sony isn’t certainly a brand that you can count on from a naming perspective, it is a company that doesn’t shy away from doing some odd things that just work.

Today, I am going to review the Sony Xperia 1 II. Find out why I think this is an almost perfect smartphone by reading through the rest of this article.

Design

I know that the company’s way of naming its devices is not the best, but I am glad that Sony made the Xperia 1 II a pretty simple smartphone (and that is a good thing).

To put it simply, this phone has a boxy design without a notch. That means that you get a 95% screen-to-body ratio, providing you with ample screen real estate for all of your favorite content.

On the right side of the device, you will find the volume controls and the power button. The latter also acts as a fingerprint scanner and I have to say that it is one of the most accurate that you can find on a smartphone.

You can find a lone microSD card slot at the left-hand side and at the top, you will find a headphone jack (glad to see that Sony is not ditching this all-important port for audiophiles like me).

At the back, you can find its camera array, though I will discuss this later.

Display

Sony Xperia 1 II Review 2020

The Sony Xperia 1 II has a 6.5-inch HDR OLED display that has a resolution of 3840 x 1644 or 4K. It has a 21:9 aspect ratio and the fact that it has thin bezels on the sides just makes sure that you get a lot of screen real estate.

It is HDR10+ compliant which means that it can handle 4K HDR content with flying colors. Pictures are vibrant and punchy- something that you would expect from a company’s flagship device.

This phone also has an IP68 rating which means that the display can withstand some water splashes here and there and the device will still work fine.

Do keep in mind that while most of the flagship devices from other smartphone companies have a high refresh rate screen, the Sony Xperia 1 II’s display is still locked at 60Hz. I think Sony intends to create a phone that focuses more on video quality as opposed to snappiness.

Specs and Performance

  • CPU: Qualcomm Snapdragon 865
  • GPU: Adreno 650
  • Display: 6.5-inch HDR OLED, 4K resolution, 21:9 Aspect Ratio, Corning Gorilla Glass 6, 643 ppi
  • RAM: 8GB
  • Storage: 256GB Internal, 1TB Expandable
  • Cameras: 12-megapixel (f/2.2) Ultra-wide, 12-megapixel (f/1.7) Wide, 12-megapixel (f/2.4) Telephoto, 3D TOF Depth Sensor; 8-megapixel Selfie
  • Battery: 4,000 MaH, 21-Watt Qualcomm Quickcharge 4+, 15-Watt Wireless Charging
  • IP Rating: IP68

The performance is unsurprisingly good. It comes with the flagship Snapdragon 865 processor which is pretty much a staple of flagship phones this year. It is also coupled with 8GB of RAM and 256GB of internal storage with an option to expand up to 1TB with a microSD card.

Performance is pretty much what you can expect from a high-end phone. You will not experience any lags whatsoever and it can play any Android games you can throw at it without any hitch.

Camera

Now, you might expect something spectacular when it comes to the Sony Xperia 1 II’s camera, considering that Sony is a pioneer when it comes to dedicated cameras, but this phone’s camera setup is, to put it bluntly, subpar. That is at least when it is compared to its flagship competitors.

You see, I think that the company is focusing more on the speed of the phone’s camera as opposed to the overall picture quality. This is not to say that overall quality is bad but what I am saying is that it is okay at best.

It does have a snappy camera array though. What I mean is that whenever you fire up the camera app, you can instantly snap photos immediately thanks to its chip and processing package.

One of the best features of the Sony Xperia 1 II’s camera is its 20fps burst mode. The great thing about this is that you can actually take advantage of the device’s autofocus technology to capture images quickly and in real-time.

How about the camera apps? Well, the phone comes with two: The Photo Pro and the Cinema Pro apps.

Now, I am okay with all of the features that are built into these applications but what I am wary about is that it might be too complex for the average user. Sure, you can find many different options, but those are most likely not going to be to the benefit of the common man/woman.

Aside from that, most of the different camera lenses can only be toggled when you dig deeper into the app’s setting menu. It would have been nice if the ability to do so is set to the main interface, but it is what it is.

However, if you know how to utilize all of these apps functions, you could be on your way to uploading some of the best content on the fly.

Software

Sony Xperia 1 II

This phone comes equipped with the Vanilla version of Android 10 and I really love the fact that it doesn’t come with a lot of bloatware.

What’s more, you have all of the needed Google apps at the ready, including messages, maps, and so on.

Battery

The device has a 4,000 MaH battery which should last you for a whole day and then some. The only thing that I have to talk about here is that the included charger is only a 21-Watt charging brick. It would have been nice if it were faster than that, considering that the phone is equipped with a hefty battery.

The good thing, though, is that it is capable of wireless charging up to 15 watts so if you do not want to plug your device into its wired charger, you can top up the device wirelessly using a Qi charger.

Conclusion

The Sony Xperia 1 II is surprisingly good. The company hasn’t sold any noteworthy phones until now, so I am happy that this device ticks all of the right boxes.

It has a minimalist design that is coupled with software that is devoid of any bloatware and unnecessary things.

The phone comes with flagship specs and its battery can last a whole day without an issue. It would have been nice if Sony included a faster charger, but that is just nitpicking at this point.

Although its camera array is okay, it would have been nice if Sony had concentrated more on picture quality more than performance. Still, its included apps should provide you with the tools that you need to improve your photos and videos.

All in all, the Sony Xperia 1 II I think is a pretty good flagship phone in 2020. It is priced at $1,199 and should be available in all regions all over the world.

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Google Nest Audio vs Amazon Echo- The Battle of the New ‘Smart’ Speakers

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Google Nest Audio vs Amazon Echo

Smart home speakers are not as popular as mobile phones, but in my opinion, it actually should be.

You see, companies are slowly rolling out smart home devices so that your life will be so much easier given the convenience of having them.

That being said, I am going to be talking about the Google Nest Audio and Amazon Echo speakers because they are the ones that are at the forefront when it comes to smart home speakers. Which of these should you choose? Read on to find out!

Design

For those of you who do not know, Google Nest Audio is actually the Google Home speakers that were released just about a year ago. It seems that Google wanted to use a new moniker to denote that this particular thing can ‘nest’ your other smart home devices.

The Amazon Echo, on the other hand, refers to the medium-sized Bluetooth speaker that the largest online retailer sells. The company is set to release a new version of this device soon, so it would be interesting to see how well it performs.

Even though the new version of the Amazon Echo hasn’t arrived at our doorstep yet for an official review, this is not to say that we can somehow speculate what it can offer, especially considering that the company has provided us with some really good information about it.

With all of those out of the way, let’s talk more about the design first. The Google Nest Audio takes on a more cylindrical approach in that the speaker itself has a higher height than the Amazon Echo.

For that reason, you are getting a 75mm woofer and a single 19mm tweeter. Google touts the Google Nest Audio as a better sound solution compared to its original Google Home Speaker because of the changes.

On the other hand, the Amazon Echo, in my opinion, has better sound quality. That is thanks to its two 20mm tweeters and a huge 76.2mm woofer. Its design is more spherical but I am pleased (and surprised) that Amazon was able to include two tweeters on its Bluetooth speaker implementation.

At the base of the Amazon Echo is a blue light ring that changes the way it emits light depending on the current usage.

Both of these Bluetooth speakers are offered in various colors so you have different options to choose from.

Sound Quality

Amazon Echo

If you look at the design of both speakers, you could make a case that the Amazon Echo wins this round when it comes to pure sound quality. Its two tweeters compared to the single tweeter on the Google Nest Audio, provides it with a much better chance of delivering mid-high sound frequencies.

This is not to discount the fact that Google has some tricks up its sleeves because its AI technology is smart enough to adjust the sound quality on the fly when needed.

Both of the speakers have an adaptive sound feature wherein if it detects that the ambient noise is loud enough, it increases the volume of whatever content you are consuming at that moment to compensate. This is using both of the speakers’ microphones. The volume should normalize to the last known level after it detects that the ambient sound has quieted down.

Of course, this is only my opinion after looking at the spec sheet because I will have to get my hands on these things before I can give my honest opinion. But, my initial assessment would be that the Amazon Echo delivers better sound compared to the Google Nest Audio.

Smart Features

Google Nest Audio

To be able to provide you with ‘smart’ features, both the Google Nest Audio and Amazon Echo are equipped with processors that can handle just that.

The Google Nest Audio comes with the company’s TeraOPS A53 processor which is a quad-core chip that boasts of better performance compared to the company’s previous Bluetooth speakers.

On the other hand, Amazon’s own speaker is equipped with the AZ1 Neural Edge processor that, according to the company, should be more responsive to voice commands compared to previous versions.

It is hard to say who wins this round. You see, Amazon has Zigbee hub integration which means that your connected smart home devices have better compatibility with the said speaker because of this.

However, we all know that Google’s AI technology is so advanced (and even more accurate) than Alexa, so it could potentially provide you with better features overall compared to Amazon’s Bluetooth speaker.

Of course, I cannot truly say which one wins this round until I get to review these wireless audio solutions. In that case, stay tuned for more.

Availability

The Google Nest Audio will be available on October 5, while the Amazon Echo will not be released until later this month (October 22). That being said, both of these speakers will retail for $99.99, so stay tuned for our official product reviews to help you know which one you should ultimately choose for yourself.

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Apple iPad 8th Generation Review- An Iterative Upgrade

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Apple iPad 8th Generation Review

When it comes to ease of use and convenience, people like getting Apple’s products because of its more streamlined approach to everything. Sure, there is a lot to tinker on Android but that is also precisely the reason why the user experience, at least for the layman, is not as great.

That being said, the 8th generation iPad was just released after the new iOS 14 update was launched. But, if you already have a 6th or 7th generation iPad, should you upgrade to the new one?

Design

Apple iPad 8th Generation Review 2020

There is this saying that if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Well, although I would have liked to say that here, I just don’t think that that approach applies here.

You see, the design of the 8th generation iPad is identical to its predecessor. As in everything about its aesthetics are similar which means that if you want to imagine what the new iPad looks like, all you have to do is look at the 7th gen variant.

Like all things, it can be a good thing or a bad thing. It is a good thing because that familiar design should feel right at home, especially for people that already own an iPad. It is bad because, in this day and age, more and more mobile devices have slimmer bezels and the new iPad still has those atrociously huge ones.

Don’t get me wrong, there are practical uses to having large bezels as it allows you to hold the tablet better when using it in landscape mode, but if you are watching online content, you can’t help but be bothered by the huge sides.

There are two versions of the 8th generation iPad and that is one with WiFi only and the other one having LTE. Its dimensions are 9.8 x 6.8 x 0.29. The only difference between the WiFi and the LTE versions is that the latter is a bit heavier at 495 grams compared to the 490 grams of the former.

Thankfully, Apple didn’t remove the headphone jack but if you are going to utilize its built-in speakers, you are better off using a good Bluetooth speaker instead.

Display

Apple iPad 8th Gen

The 8th generation iPad has a 10.2-inch Retina Display with a resolution of 2160 x 1620 and 264 pixels per inch or PPI. It has a good peak brightness at 500 nits, though you can still experience some problems when you are outside and the sun is shining brightly.

You can utilize the Apple Pencil on this device and it is also quite accurate as well (just keep in mind that it is sold separately).

What I love about iPads, in general, is that their displays provide you with crisp and clear details. Whether you are working on your documents or perhaps watching your favorite movies and TV shows, they do not disappoint.

Specs and Performance

  • CPU: A12 Bionic
  • GPU: Apple GPU (4-core graphics)
  • RAM: 3GB
  • Storage: 32GB/128GB
  • Display: 10.2-inch Retina IPS LCD Display, 2160 x 1620, 4:3 aspect ratio, 500 nits brightness, 264 PPI
  • OS: iPadOS 14
  • Cameras: 8-megapixel (back), 1.2-megapixel (front)
  • Connectivity: WiFi 802.11 AC, Bluetooth 4.2
  • Battery: 32.4 Wh

So, if the 8th generation iPad has an identical design to its predecessor, what has changed here? Well, I am glad you asked. The only notable difference here is that the new model comes with the A12 Bionic chip and that’s pretty much it.

While you could be unhappy with the change, the new CPU actually beats its predecessor by a lot. By using Geekbench 5, single-core scores are about 60% higher than the 7th gen iPad and about 100% better in multi-core tasks than the previous model.

Granted that the said benchmark is relatively old, you couldn’t argue that the new processor is indeed way better than its predecessor.

Even when you are just using the tablet the way it should be used, you can really tell the difference. This is more evident if you are going to play some games

Now, do not worry about the 3GB of RAM because the iOS ecosystem is quite streamlined and efficient that you normally wouldn’t need more than that.

It should also go without saying that the included cameras are just there for show and they do not really do anything special, so I don’t think that covering them is warranted here.

Apple iPad 8th Gen Review

Verdict

Sure, the new 8th generation iPad doesn’t bring a lot to the table, but its new processor is leaps and bounds better than its predecessor. Does that justify buying the new one? Probably not, especially if you already own the 7th generation model.

However, if you own an older iPad and you want better performance across the board, then you could probably spend your money to get one.

My gripe here is that there are only two storage options to choose from. You can get the 32GB variant for only $329 but in this day and age, 32GB is not a lot of storage space.

If you want more storage, you will need to spend an additional $100 premium just to get the 128GB model. In fact, I would go on to say that you should be buying this particular model compared to the 32GB variant. I just don’t like that the company is gouging you another $100 ($429 in total) just to get one.

The 8th generation iPad is disappointing in a lot of ways and its only redeeming quality is its new processor. It would have been nice if there is a redesign or that the lightning cable is changed to USB-C, but there is just not a lot of things to talk about here.

Therefore, I should say that the 8th generation iPad is just an iterative upgrade. Whether you want to buy it or not is entirely up to you.

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Amazon Echo Studio Review- The Bigger ‘Echo’ Speaker That Competes

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Amazon Echo Studio Review

Amazon, the biggest online retailer in the world, has created its own AI implementation in the form of the Amazon Alexa.

It is actually quite polished and it can go against Apple’s Siri and Google’s own AI. That being said, the company has released some ‘Echo’ speakers that not only act as Bluetooth audio devices but as smart devices as well.

Today, I am going to be reviewing the Amazon Echo Studio. Does this thing really have what it takes to compete with the others?

Design

One of the biggest criticisms of Amazon’s Echo speakers of the past is that although its smart features are okay, their sound output leaves much to be desired. As a way of addressing the issue, Amazon has built the Echo Studio.

The Amazon Echo Studio is pretty big. It is 8 inches in height and 7 inches wide so this is indeed a pretty hefty audio solution. In fact, I would go on to say that this is one of the biggest Bluetooth speakers on the market.

Its design is pretty much akin to the Amazon Echo speakers of old. You get a fabric mesh design that encapsulates the speaker itself with all of its button controls situated at the top of the device.

You also get a blue ring light that will pretty much add to the aesthetic appeal of the unit. The microphone is also placed at the top and it is always on ‘listening mode’ so that whenever you want to interact with Alexa, it can do so at a moment’s notice.

Although you cannot see it, the Amazon Echo Studio is actually powered by a subwoofer, a tweeter, and four mid-range speakers that are mounted at the top and the sides. This thing is a beast as it can output 330 watts of power when needed, which is ample enough even for home cinema setups.

Audio Performance

Amazon Echo Studio Review 2020

The Amazon Echo Studio is quite a powerful Bluetooth speaker. No matter what genre of content you’d like to consume, this thing can output the necessary sound to make your viewing experience more immersive.

I am usually keen on an audio solution’s performance when it comes to playing music and I am happy with the Echo Studio’s prowess.

Although it favors the lower frequencies more than the mids and the highs, it does so without drowning the latter two, which is something that you normally do not see on large Bluetooth speakers.

An interesting feature that the Amazon Echo Studio has is its support for 3D Audio. You will need to sign in to your Amazon Music HD account before you can get a hold of this feature and it is the only platform that supports the Echo Studio’s 3D Audio. Amazon did mention that it will hand out support for other streaming platforms at a later date though.

So, how is the speaker’s performance on that front? Well, I am not really sure what to think about it as I have mixed feelings about the said feature.

3D audio is meant to provide a more immersive listening experience but I can hardly tell the difference between traditional Hi-Res audio and this one.

I guess you could say that for tracks that have a more melodic tone that you can discern a 3D audio-enabled track from a regular track, but other than that, non-audiophiles can hardly tell the difference.

To be fair, the said feature is still not polished yet, so expect it to improve in the years to come.

The Amazon Echo Studio also has seamless integration with the Amazon Fire TV Stick, though it does support all other streaming services like Netflix and Hulu as well.

You are also given the option to link up another Amazon Echo Studio speaker so that you can have them work in tandem to provide you with even better sound. I do not have a second unit though, so I cannot really tell anything about this. But, the feature is there if you want to get another unit.

Features

Amazon Echo Studio

Aside from 3D audio, the Echo Studio also acts as a control hub for your smart devices. You can use Alexa to turn off your lights at a specific time of the night or you can have it play your favorite track if you want. The possibilities are endless.

Do keep in mind that while it should support most of the smart home devices that you can buy on the market, there are some products that do not play ball. 

For instance, some smart locks can only be supported using Apple’s Siri, so you cannot control that using this device.

You can also link up a second Echo Studio speaker if you have one and you can use both of them to provide you with an even more powerful and more immersive listening experience.

You can control the speaker’s features by manually tapping on the buttons at the top of the device or by downloading its companion app.

Conclusion

Amazon has finally solved the issue of the Amazon Echo speakers of the past by giving you a relatively large speaker that can do a lot of things.

The Amazon Echo Studio has support for 3D audio, but you will need to have an Amazon Music HD account to get a hold of the said feature.

You can also use the speaker to control your smart home devices which is pretty nice. The microphone is always on listening mode so that you can call Alexa’s attention at a moment’s notice.

Normally, I would expect a product like this to cost more than $300, but the Amazon Echo Studio actually costs just $199. I guess getting another one is not too far out of the equation, eh?

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Sony Xperia 1 II Review- An Almost Perfect Smartphone

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Sony Xperia 1 II Review

When it comes to smartphones, companies that are at the forefront of innovation are Samsung and Apple. Although Sony has made a couple of smartphones, they are okay at best.

While Sony isn’t certainly a brand that you can count on from a naming perspective, it is a company that doesn’t shy away from doing some odd things that just work.

Today, I am going to review the Sony Xperia 1 II. Find out why I think this is an almost perfect smartphone by reading through the rest of this article.

Design

I know that the company’s way of naming its devices is not the best, but I am glad that Sony made the Xperia 1 II a pretty simple smartphone (and that is a good thing).

To put it simply, this phone has a boxy design without a notch. That means that you get a 95% screen-to-body ratio, providing you with ample screen real estate for all of your favorite content.

On the right side of the device, you will find the volume controls and the power button. The latter also acts as a fingerprint scanner and I have to say that it is one of the most accurate that you can find on a smartphone.

You can find a lone microSD card slot at the left-hand side and at the top, you will find a headphone jack (glad to see that Sony is not ditching this all-important port for audiophiles like me).

At the back, you can find its camera array, though I will discuss this later.

Display

Sony Xperia 1 II Review 2020

The Sony Xperia 1 II has a 6.5-inch HDR OLED display that has a resolution of 3840 x 1644 or 4K. It has a 21:9 aspect ratio and the fact that it has thin bezels on the sides just makes sure that you get a lot of screen real estate.

It is HDR10+ compliant which means that it can handle 4K HDR content with flying colors. Pictures are vibrant and punchy- something that you would expect from a company’s flagship device.

This phone also has an IP68 rating which means that the display can withstand some water splashes here and there and the device will still work fine.

Do keep in mind that while most of the flagship devices from other smartphone companies have a high refresh rate screen, the Sony Xperia 1 II’s display is still locked at 60Hz. I think Sony intends to create a phone that focuses more on video quality as opposed to snappiness.

Specs and Performance

  • CPU: Qualcomm Snapdragon 865
  • GPU: Adreno 650
  • Display: 6.5-inch HDR OLED, 4K resolution, 21:9 Aspect Ratio, Corning Gorilla Glass 6, 643 ppi
  • RAM: 8GB
  • Storage: 256GB Internal, 1TB Expandable
  • Cameras: 12-megapixel (f/2.2) Ultra-wide, 12-megapixel (f/1.7) Wide, 12-megapixel (f/2.4) Telephoto, 3D TOF Depth Sensor; 8-megapixel Selfie
  • Battery: 4,000 MaH, 21-Watt Qualcomm Quickcharge 4+, 15-Watt Wireless Charging
  • IP Rating: IP68

The performance is unsurprisingly good. It comes with the flagship Snapdragon 865 processor which is pretty much a staple of flagship phones this year. It is also coupled with 8GB of RAM and 256GB of internal storage with an option to expand up to 1TB with a microSD card.

Performance is pretty much what you can expect from a high-end phone. You will not experience any lags whatsoever and it can play any Android games you can throw at it without any hitch.

Camera

Now, you might expect something spectacular when it comes to the Sony Xperia 1 II’s camera, considering that Sony is a pioneer when it comes to dedicated cameras, but this phone’s camera setup is, to put it bluntly, subpar. That is at least when it is compared to its flagship competitors.

You see, I think that the company is focusing more on the speed of the phone’s camera as opposed to the overall picture quality. This is not to say that overall quality is bad but what I am saying is that it is okay at best.

It does have a snappy camera array though. What I mean is that whenever you fire up the camera app, you can instantly snap photos immediately thanks to its chip and processing package.

One of the best features of the Sony Xperia 1 II’s camera is its 20fps burst mode. The great thing about this is that you can actually take advantage of the device’s autofocus technology to capture images quickly and in real-time.

How about the camera apps? Well, the phone comes with two: The Photo Pro and the Cinema Pro apps.

Now, I am okay with all of the features that are built into these applications but what I am wary about is that it might be too complex for the average user. Sure, you can find many different options, but those are most likely not going to be to the benefit of the common man/woman.

Aside from that, most of the different camera lenses can only be toggled when you dig deeper into the app’s setting menu. It would have been nice if the ability to do so is set to the main interface, but it is what it is.

However, if you know how to utilize all of these apps functions, you could be on your way to uploading some of the best content on the fly.

Software

Sony Xperia 1 II

This phone comes equipped with the Vanilla version of Android 10 and I really love the fact that it doesn’t come with a lot of bloatware.

What’s more, you have all of the needed Google apps at the ready, including messages, maps, and so on.

Battery

The device has a 4,000 MaH battery which should last you for a whole day and then some. The only thing that I have to talk about here is that the included charger is only a 21-Watt charging brick. It would have been nice if it were faster than that, considering that the phone is equipped with a hefty battery.

The good thing, though, is that it is capable of wireless charging up to 15 watts so if you do not want to plug your device into its wired charger, you can top up the device wirelessly using a Qi charger.

Conclusion

The Sony Xperia 1 II is surprisingly good. The company hasn’t sold any noteworthy phones until now, so I am happy that this device ticks all of the right boxes.

It has a minimalist design that is coupled with software that is devoid of any bloatware and unnecessary things.

The phone comes with flagship specs and its battery can last a whole day without an issue. It would have been nice if Sony included a faster charger, but that is just nitpicking at this point.

Although its camera array is okay, it would have been nice if Sony had concentrated more on picture quality more than performance. Still, its included apps should provide you with the tools that you need to improve your photos and videos.

All in all, the Sony Xperia 1 II I think is a pretty good flagship phone in 2020. It is priced at $1,199 and should be available in all regions all over the world.

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Google Nest Audio vs Amazon Echo- The Battle of the New ‘Smart’ Speakers

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Google Nest Audio vs Amazon Echo

Smart home speakers are not as popular as mobile phones, but in my opinion, it actually should be.

You see, companies are slowly rolling out smart home devices so that your life will be so much easier given the convenience of having them.

That being said, I am going to be talking about the Google Nest Audio and Amazon Echo speakers because they are the ones that are at the forefront when it comes to smart home speakers. Which of these should you choose? Read on to find out!

Design

For those of you who do not know, Google Nest Audio is actually the Google Home speakers that were released just about a year ago. It seems that Google wanted to use a new moniker to denote that this particular thing can ‘nest’ your other smart home devices.

The Amazon Echo, on the other hand, refers to the medium-sized Bluetooth speaker that the largest online retailer sells. The company is set to release a new version of this device soon, so it would be interesting to see how well it performs.

Even though the new version of the Amazon Echo hasn’t arrived at our doorstep yet for an official review, this is not to say that we can somehow speculate what it can offer, especially considering that the company has provided us with some really good information about it.

With all of those out of the way, let’s talk more about the design first. The Google Nest Audio takes on a more cylindrical approach in that the speaker itself has a higher height than the Amazon Echo.

For that reason, you are getting a 75mm woofer and a single 19mm tweeter. Google touts the Google Nest Audio as a better sound solution compared to its original Google Home Speaker because of the changes.

On the other hand, the Amazon Echo, in my opinion, has better sound quality. That is thanks to its two 20mm tweeters and a huge 76.2mm woofer. Its design is more spherical but I am pleased (and surprised) that Amazon was able to include two tweeters on its Bluetooth speaker implementation.

At the base of the Amazon Echo is a blue light ring that changes the way it emits light depending on the current usage.

Both of these Bluetooth speakers are offered in various colors so you have different options to choose from.

Sound Quality

Amazon Echo

If you look at the design of both speakers, you could make a case that the Amazon Echo wins this round when it comes to pure sound quality. Its two tweeters compared to the single tweeter on the Google Nest Audio, provides it with a much better chance of delivering mid-high sound frequencies.

This is not to discount the fact that Google has some tricks up its sleeves because its AI technology is smart enough to adjust the sound quality on the fly when needed.

Both of the speakers have an adaptive sound feature wherein if it detects that the ambient noise is loud enough, it increases the volume of whatever content you are consuming at that moment to compensate. This is using both of the speakers’ microphones. The volume should normalize to the last known level after it detects that the ambient sound has quieted down.

Of course, this is only my opinion after looking at the spec sheet because I will have to get my hands on these things before I can give my honest opinion. But, my initial assessment would be that the Amazon Echo delivers better sound compared to the Google Nest Audio.

Smart Features

Google Nest Audio

To be able to provide you with ‘smart’ features, both the Google Nest Audio and Amazon Echo are equipped with processors that can handle just that.

The Google Nest Audio comes with the company’s TeraOPS A53 processor which is a quad-core chip that boasts of better performance compared to the company’s previous Bluetooth speakers.

On the other hand, Amazon’s own speaker is equipped with the AZ1 Neural Edge processor that, according to the company, should be more responsive to voice commands compared to previous versions.

It is hard to say who wins this round. You see, Amazon has Zigbee hub integration which means that your connected smart home devices have better compatibility with the said speaker because of this.

However, we all know that Google’s AI technology is so advanced (and even more accurate) than Alexa, so it could potentially provide you with better features overall compared to Amazon’s Bluetooth speaker.

Of course, I cannot truly say which one wins this round until I get to review these wireless audio solutions. In that case, stay tuned for more.

Availability

The Google Nest Audio will be available on October 5, while the Amazon Echo will not be released until later this month (October 22). That being said, both of these speakers will retail for $99.99, so stay tuned for our official product reviews to help you know which one you should ultimately choose for yourself.

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Apple iPad 8th Generation Review- An Iterative Upgrade

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Apple iPad 8th Generation Review

When it comes to ease of use and convenience, people like getting Apple’s products because of its more streamlined approach to everything. Sure, there is a lot to tinker on Android but that is also precisely the reason why the user experience, at least for the layman, is not as great.

That being said, the 8th generation iPad was just released after the new iOS 14 update was launched. But, if you already have a 6th or 7th generation iPad, should you upgrade to the new one?

Design

Apple iPad 8th Generation Review 2020

There is this saying that if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Well, although I would have liked to say that here, I just don’t think that that approach applies here.

You see, the design of the 8th generation iPad is identical to its predecessor. As in everything about its aesthetics are similar which means that if you want to imagine what the new iPad looks like, all you have to do is look at the 7th gen variant.

Like all things, it can be a good thing or a bad thing. It is a good thing because that familiar design should feel right at home, especially for people that already own an iPad. It is bad because, in this day and age, more and more mobile devices have slimmer bezels and the new iPad still has those atrociously huge ones.

Don’t get me wrong, there are practical uses to having large bezels as it allows you to hold the tablet better when using it in landscape mode, but if you are watching online content, you can’t help but be bothered by the huge sides.

There are two versions of the 8th generation iPad and that is one with WiFi only and the other one having LTE. Its dimensions are 9.8 x 6.8 x 0.29. The only difference between the WiFi and the LTE versions is that the latter is a bit heavier at 495 grams compared to the 490 grams of the former.

Thankfully, Apple didn’t remove the headphone jack but if you are going to utilize its built-in speakers, you are better off using a good Bluetooth speaker instead.

Display

Apple iPad 8th Gen

The 8th generation iPad has a 10.2-inch Retina Display with a resolution of 2160 x 1620 and 264 pixels per inch or PPI. It has a good peak brightness at 500 nits, though you can still experience some problems when you are outside and the sun is shining brightly.

You can utilize the Apple Pencil on this device and it is also quite accurate as well (just keep in mind that it is sold separately).

What I love about iPads, in general, is that their displays provide you with crisp and clear details. Whether you are working on your documents or perhaps watching your favorite movies and TV shows, they do not disappoint.

Specs and Performance

  • CPU: A12 Bionic
  • GPU: Apple GPU (4-core graphics)
  • RAM: 3GB
  • Storage: 32GB/128GB
  • Display: 10.2-inch Retina IPS LCD Display, 2160 x 1620, 4:3 aspect ratio, 500 nits brightness, 264 PPI
  • OS: iPadOS 14
  • Cameras: 8-megapixel (back), 1.2-megapixel (front)
  • Connectivity: WiFi 802.11 AC, Bluetooth 4.2
  • Battery: 32.4 Wh

So, if the 8th generation iPad has an identical design to its predecessor, what has changed here? Well, I am glad you asked. The only notable difference here is that the new model comes with the A12 Bionic chip and that’s pretty much it.

While you could be unhappy with the change, the new CPU actually beats its predecessor by a lot. By using Geekbench 5, single-core scores are about 60% higher than the 7th gen iPad and about 100% better in multi-core tasks than the previous model.

Granted that the said benchmark is relatively old, you couldn’t argue that the new processor is indeed way better than its predecessor.

Even when you are just using the tablet the way it should be used, you can really tell the difference. This is more evident if you are going to play some games

Now, do not worry about the 3GB of RAM because the iOS ecosystem is quite streamlined and efficient that you normally wouldn’t need more than that.

It should also go without saying that the included cameras are just there for show and they do not really do anything special, so I don’t think that covering them is warranted here.

Apple iPad 8th Gen Review

Verdict

Sure, the new 8th generation iPad doesn’t bring a lot to the table, but its new processor is leaps and bounds better than its predecessor. Does that justify buying the new one? Probably not, especially if you already own the 7th generation model.

However, if you own an older iPad and you want better performance across the board, then you could probably spend your money to get one.

My gripe here is that there are only two storage options to choose from. You can get the 32GB variant for only $329 but in this day and age, 32GB is not a lot of storage space.

If you want more storage, you will need to spend an additional $100 premium just to get the 128GB model. In fact, I would go on to say that you should be buying this particular model compared to the 32GB variant. I just don’t like that the company is gouging you another $100 ($429 in total) just to get one.

The 8th generation iPad is disappointing in a lot of ways and its only redeeming quality is its new processor. It would have been nice if there is a redesign or that the lightning cable is changed to USB-C, but there is just not a lot of things to talk about here.

Therefore, I should say that the 8th generation iPad is just an iterative upgrade. Whether you want to buy it or not is entirely up to you.

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Phone

Amazon Echo Studio Review- The Bigger ‘Echo’ Speaker That Competes

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Amazon Echo Studio Review

Amazon, the biggest online retailer in the world, has created its own AI implementation in the form of the Amazon Alexa.

It is actually quite polished and it can go against Apple’s Siri and Google’s own AI. That being said, the company has released some ‘Echo’ speakers that not only act as Bluetooth audio devices but as smart devices as well.

Today, I am going to be reviewing the Amazon Echo Studio. Does this thing really have what it takes to compete with the others?

Design

One of the biggest criticisms of Amazon’s Echo speakers of the past is that although its smart features are okay, their sound output leaves much to be desired. As a way of addressing the issue, Amazon has built the Echo Studio.

The Amazon Echo Studio is pretty big. It is 8 inches in height and 7 inches wide so this is indeed a pretty hefty audio solution. In fact, I would go on to say that this is one of the biggest Bluetooth speakers on the market.

Its design is pretty much akin to the Amazon Echo speakers of old. You get a fabric mesh design that encapsulates the speaker itself with all of its button controls situated at the top of the device.

You also get a blue ring light that will pretty much add to the aesthetic appeal of the unit. The microphone is also placed at the top and it is always on ‘listening mode’ so that whenever you want to interact with Alexa, it can do so at a moment’s notice.

Although you cannot see it, the Amazon Echo Studio is actually powered by a subwoofer, a tweeter, and four mid-range speakers that are mounted at the top and the sides. This thing is a beast as it can output 330 watts of power when needed, which is ample enough even for home cinema setups.

Audio Performance

Amazon Echo Studio Review 2020

The Amazon Echo Studio is quite a powerful Bluetooth speaker. No matter what genre of content you’d like to consume, this thing can output the necessary sound to make your viewing experience more immersive.

I am usually keen on an audio solution’s performance when it comes to playing music and I am happy with the Echo Studio’s prowess.

Although it favors the lower frequencies more than the mids and the highs, it does so without drowning the latter two, which is something that you normally do not see on large Bluetooth speakers.

An interesting feature that the Amazon Echo Studio has is its support for 3D Audio. You will need to sign in to your Amazon Music HD account before you can get a hold of this feature and it is the only platform that supports the Echo Studio’s 3D Audio. Amazon did mention that it will hand out support for other streaming platforms at a later date though.

So, how is the speaker’s performance on that front? Well, I am not really sure what to think about it as I have mixed feelings about the said feature.

3D audio is meant to provide a more immersive listening experience but I can hardly tell the difference between traditional Hi-Res audio and this one.

I guess you could say that for tracks that have a more melodic tone that you can discern a 3D audio-enabled track from a regular track, but other than that, non-audiophiles can hardly tell the difference.

To be fair, the said feature is still not polished yet, so expect it to improve in the years to come.

The Amazon Echo Studio also has seamless integration with the Amazon Fire TV Stick, though it does support all other streaming services like Netflix and Hulu as well.

You are also given the option to link up another Amazon Echo Studio speaker so that you can have them work in tandem to provide you with even better sound. I do not have a second unit though, so I cannot really tell anything about this. But, the feature is there if you want to get another unit.

Features

Amazon Echo Studio

Aside from 3D audio, the Echo Studio also acts as a control hub for your smart devices. You can use Alexa to turn off your lights at a specific time of the night or you can have it play your favorite track if you want. The possibilities are endless.

Do keep in mind that while it should support most of the smart home devices that you can buy on the market, there are some products that do not play ball. 

For instance, some smart locks can only be supported using Apple’s Siri, so you cannot control that using this device.

You can also link up a second Echo Studio speaker if you have one and you can use both of them to provide you with an even more powerful and more immersive listening experience.

You can control the speaker’s features by manually tapping on the buttons at the top of the device or by downloading its companion app.

Conclusion

Amazon has finally solved the issue of the Amazon Echo speakers of the past by giving you a relatively large speaker that can do a lot of things.

The Amazon Echo Studio has support for 3D audio, but you will need to have an Amazon Music HD account to get a hold of the said feature.

You can also use the speaker to control your smart home devices which is pretty nice. The microphone is always on listening mode so that you can call Alexa’s attention at a moment’s notice.

Normally, I would expect a product like this to cost more than $300, but the Amazon Echo Studio actually costs just $199. I guess getting another one is not too far out of the equation, eh?

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