Lenovo K8 Note Review

Lenovo K8 Note Review

There has been a sudden increase in the number of powerfully-specced smartphones in the sub-Rs. 20,000 market, and the new Lenovo K8 Note is the latest to join them. The new Lenovo device is targeted at buyers who love entertainment on the go and don’t want to compromise with performance or camera quality. The Lenovo K8 Note sports dual cameras at the back, a feature that has become very popular among Android manufacturers after the launch iPhone 7 Plus (Review) last year. There are already quite a few Android smartphones with dual cameras in the Indian market including the Coolpad Cool 1 Dual (Review), OnePlus 5 (Review), and Honor 6X (Review). We’ll find out how well K8 Note fares against its competitors.

Ever since completing its acquisition of the Moto brand, Lenovo has been on a roll in terms of smartphone shipments. Industry reports show that Lenovo has managed to become one of the top five smartphone vendors in India thanks to its vast portfolio of products. At the India launch of the K8 Note, Lenovo claimed that it has managed to sell 8.5 million K-series devices in the country so far.

With the Lenovo K8 Note, the company is also switching to a stock Android experience, ditching the Vibe Pure UI entirely, which is big move. On paper, the Lenovo K8 Note has some decent specs and features, but competition is stiff. Does it manage to strike a good balance between pricing and features? We find out.

Lenovo K8 Note look and feel
The Lenovo K8 Note’s metal body feels sturdy when you hold the phone for the first time. The Aluminium 6000 material offers a premium feel and a soft touch. While there’s no doubt that the K8 Note is one of the better looking phones in its category, the design is far from original, and strongly reminds us of the Xiaomi Redmi Note 4. It has 2.5D Corning Gorilla Glass spread across the front edges, which looks neat. Lenovo has used an anti-fingerprint coating on the screen which means you shouldn’t have to bother cleaning it very often.

The Lenovo K8 Note has capacitive navigation buttons at the front, which aren’t backlit. We often had trouble using them in the dark. The front camera has its own LED flash which has been a popular demand lately, according to Lenovo. The rear has the dual cameras which are placed one above the other, accompanied by a dual LED flash. The fingerprint sensor is right below the cameras, and was easily accessible at any point. The overall size and placement of physical buttons makes them easy to use. We liked the fact that power and volume buttons have been slightly low to easily fall under a thumb or forefinger depending on which hand you’re holding the phone in.

There are the familiar antenna bands on the top and bottom of the handset’s rear. The bands will match the phone’s colour, making them blend in. The Lenovo K8 Note will be available in Fine Gold and Venom Black, which we received for our review. Lenovo has gone with minimalistic branding on the K8 Note, which is good. You can find a logo at the back.

lenovo k8 note music key gadgets360 lenovo

The left panel has a dedicated “Music key” which is customisable for any purpose. Users can customise it via Settings > Music Key for playing/ pausing audio or video, toggling the flashlight, launching the camera, taking a screenshot, or opening a specific app. The Music Key has a red colour accent to make it stand out, with play and pause icons above it. There are also dedicated slots for two SIMs and a microSD card, which Lenovo stressed is one of the most demanded features in this segment. There’s a Micro-USB port at the bottom, with a speaker grille on either side. Unfortunately, there’s only one functional speaker, but this phone does support Dolby Atmos Audio enhancement. The other grille is just for show, much like on many other budget phones. The top has a 3.5mm audio jack.

We had no trouble using the K8 Note with just one hand. It measures 154.5×75.9×8.5mm and its rounded edges make it fit well in a palm. At 180g, this phone is a bit heavy compared to the likes of the Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 (175 grams) which should be seen as direct competition. Additionally, the Lenovo K8 Note has a water repellent design which help it survive light splashes, but don’t consider it to be equivalent to actual water resistance. Lenovo clearly points out that liquid damage will not be covered under the warranty.

When compared to the Lenovo K6 Note, the Lenovo K8 Note has a lot of improvements in terms of design that make it feel more premium for its price. In the box, you get a transparent plastic case, a USB cable, a 15W rapid charger, a SIM ejector, and instruction manuals. The Lenovo K8 Note is the company’s first smartphone to ship with a rapid charger. However, there are now no bundled earphones which might be a bit of disappointment for some buyers.

Lenovo K8 Note specifications and software
The Lenovo K8 Note features a 5.5-inch full-HD (1080×1920 pixels) display. Under the hood, it is powered by a deca-core MediaTek Helio X23 (MT6797) SoC with four cores clocked at 1.4GHz, another four cores at 1.85GHz, and two cores at 2.3GHz. The K8 Note has been launched in India in two storage and RAM variants: 3GB of RAM with 32GB of storage, and 4GB of RAM with 64GB of storage. We received the latter for our review. Storage expansion using a microSD card (up to 128GB) is supported.

lenovo k8 note camera gadgets360 lenovo

Lenovo is heavily marketing the dual camera feature on the K8 Note, which is the company’s first phone to offer this feature. There’s a 13-megapixel primary sensor and a 5-megapixel depth sensor for creating a bokeh effect. For selfie lovers, the K8 Note has a 13-megapixel sensor at the front with its own LED flash. There’s a 4000mAh non-removable battery, and this phone does support rapid charging. The K8 Note features 4G with VoLTE (voice over LTE). LTE Cat 6 speed means that you can get up to 300Mbps download speeds and up to 50Mbps upload speeds if your carrier offers that kind of performance. Other connectivity features include Wi-Fi 802.11 ac and Bluetooth 4.1.

One of the big changes Lenovo is making with its all-new K8 Note is in terms of software. The Chinese company shared the news first with Gadgets 360, and confirmed that all future Lenovo phones will run stock Android out-of-the-box. The Lenovo K8 Note runs on the recent Android 7.1.1 Nougat. This means Lenovo has entirely ditched its Vibe Pure UI. Running Android 7.1.1, the Lenovo K8 Note comes has the 3D Touch-like app shortcuts feature, which was rolled out in December last year. K8 Note users can perform contextual actions using any optimised app by simply long-pressing its icon. Our unit had already received the latest July security patch, and Lenovo promises that users can expect timely updates from now on. Some of the other notable Android 7.1.1 features on the K8 Note include GIF support directly in the keyboard, a wide variety of new emojis, split-screen multitasking, and Google Assistant.

You get all the standard Google apps including Duo, Play Movies and Play Music but the phone also comes with Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, which are removable. The interface is fluid, and you won’t feel the device stuttering even when many apps are running. Google’s Photos app becomes the default gallery which in our opinion is good, since you can sync all your photos and videos to the cloud.

lenovo k8 note screenshot gadgets360 lenovo

There are still some minor tweaks to the software. You can find the Dolby Atmos app preloaded on the handset for tweaking audio settings. There’s also TheaterMax VR support which was initially introduced with the Lenovo Vibe K4 Note. This time around, however, Lenovo doesn’t have an exclusive partnership with any headset maker. The company feels that there are enough VR headsets in the Indian market, and the Lenovo K8 Note with TheaterMax tech will support most of them.

We tried the TheaterMax mode on the K8 Note with a VR headset in our lab, and found that it worked flawlessly. The VR mode can be enabled by long-pressing the power button and tapping the TheaterMax option. This lets you enjoy media on a virtual large screen, with a 100-degree field of view. We had fun watching videos and TV shows using the K8 Note and a headset as it offered a cinema-like feel. We hope that Lenovo partners with content providers and does even more with its VR push.

Interestingly, Lenovo has already promised that the K8 Note will be receiving an update to Android O before end of this year which makes it an even sweeter deal at this price.

Lenovo K8 Note performance and camera
We had a good time using the Lenovo K8 Note, and found that stock Android was very welcome. We didn’t have any issues despite running up to 12 apps in the background, which can be credited to Android’s memory management. The K8 Note is being launched in 3GB and 4GB RAM options, and our suggestion would be to go with the 4GB version for a better overall experience if you can.

The only thing we noticed was that this phone got warm very quickly. You will start feeling heat if the camera app has been open for a few minutes or if you use GPS navigation even briefly. The same thing happened when gaming. A 20-minute session made the phone warm though not too uncomfortable to use.

lenovo k8 note design gadgets360 lenovo

[Source”cnbc”]

Honda City Hybrid spotted testing in Europe

Honda City Hybrid spotted testing in Europe

Honda’s popular selling sedan, the City, has been spotted on test in Europe. The test mule visually appears to be slightly longer than the regular model, thereby indicating a possibility that this might be the hybrid powertrain with twin motors version. The vehicle also featured a new set of alloy wheels that is commonly seen in the bigger Honda cars like the Civic and the Accord.

Japanese automaker, Honda, has been working on the hybrid system for nearly a year now. Moreover, the company has also used the technology in the Accord. Combined with a twin motor system, it is expected to be independently used on the front wheels. Technical details of the hybrid version is not revealed for now and it might be known in the coming months. Currently, in India, the Honda City is available in 1.5-litre i-VTEC petrol engine and 1.5-litre i-DTEC diesel engine options which generate 119bhp and 100bhp respectively. The petrol version is available in five-speed manual as well as CVT option, while the diesel version is limited to a six-speed manual transmission.

Honda is unlikely to get the City hybrid to India anytime soon due to heavy taxes on hybrids which currently stands at 43 per cent under GST. However, over a period of time with rising environmental concerns and most manufacturers progressing to greener alternatives, it will be only a matter of time before the government once again decides to offer benefits on hybrid cars

[Source”cnbc”]

Lenovo K8 Note Review

Lenovo K8 Note Review

There has been a sudden increase in the number of powerfully-specced smartphones in the sub-Rs. 20,000 market, and the new Lenovo K8 Note is the latest to join them. The new Lenovo device is targeted at buyers who love entertainment on the go and don’t want to compromise with performance or camera quality. The Lenovo K8 Note sports dual cameras at the back, a feature that has become very popular among Android manufacturers after the launch iPhone 7 Plus (Review) last year. There are already quite a few Android smartphones with dual cameras in the Indian market including the Coolpad Cool 1 Dual (Review), OnePlus 5 (Review), and Honor 6X (Review). We’ll find out how well K8 Note fares against its competitors.

Ever since completing its acquisition of the Moto brand, Lenovo has been on a roll in terms of smartphone shipments. Industry reports show that Lenovo has managed to become one of the top five smartphone vendors in India thanks to its vast portfolio of products. At the India launch of the K8 Note, Lenovo claimed that it has managed to sell 8.5 million K-series devices in the country so far.

With the Lenovo K8 Note, the company is also switching to a stock Android experience, ditching the Vibe Pure UI entirely, which is big move. On paper, the Lenovo K8 Note has some decent specs and features, but competition is stiff. Does it manage to strike a good balance between pricing and features? We find out.

Lenovo K8 Note look and feel
The Lenovo K8 Note’s metal body feels sturdy when you hold the phone for the first time. The Aluminium 6000 material offers a premium feel and a soft touch. While there’s no doubt that the K8 Note is one of the better looking phones in its category, the design is far from original, and strongly reminds us of the Xiaomi Redmi Note 4. It has 2.5D Corning Gorilla Glass spread across the front edges, which looks neat. Lenovo has used an anti-fingerprint coating on the screen which means you shouldn’t have to bother cleaning it very often.

The Lenovo K8 Note has capacitive navigation buttons at the front, which aren’t backlit. We often had trouble using them in the dark. The front camera has its own LED flash which has been a popular demand lately, according to Lenovo. The rear has the dual cameras which are placed one above the other, accompanied by a dual LED flash. The fingerprint sensor is right below the cameras, and was easily accessible at any point. The overall size and placement of physical buttons makes them easy to use. We liked the fact that power and volume buttons have been slightly low to easily fall under a thumb or forefinger depending on which hand you’re holding the phone in.

There are the familiar antenna bands on the top and bottom of the handset’s rear. The bands will match the phone’s colour, making them blend in. The Lenovo K8 Note will be available in Fine Gold and Venom Black, which we received for our review. Lenovo has gone with minimalistic branding on the K8 Note, which is good. You can find a logo at the back.

lenovo k8 note music key gadgets360 lenovo

The left panel has a dedicated “Music key” which is customisable for any purpose. Users can customise it via Settings > Music Key for playing/ pausing audio or video, toggling the flashlight, launching the camera, taking a screenshot, or opening a specific app. The Music Key has a red colour accent to make it stand out, with play and pause icons above it. There are also dedicated slots for two SIMs and a microSD card, which Lenovo stressed is one of the most demanded features in this segment. There’s a Micro-USB port at the bottom, with a speaker grille on either side. Unfortunately, there’s only one functional speaker, but this phone does support Dolby Atmos Audio enhancement. The other grille is just for show, much like on many other budget phones. The top has a 3.5mm audio jack.

We had no trouble using the K8 Note with just one hand. It measures 154.5×75.9×8.5mm and its rounded edges make it fit well in a palm. At 180g, this phone is a bit heavy compared to the likes of the Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 (175 grams) which should be seen as direct competition. Additionally, the Lenovo K8 Note has a water repellent design which help it survive light splashes, but don’t consider it to be equivalent to actual water resistance. Lenovo clearly points out that liquid damage will not be covered under the warranty.

When compared to the Lenovo K6 Note, the Lenovo K8 Note has a lot of improvements in terms of design that make it feel more premium for its price. In the box, you get a transparent plastic case, a USB cable, a 15W rapid charger, a SIM ejector, and instruction manuals. The Lenovo K8 Note is the company’s first smartphone to ship with a rapid charger. However, there are now no bundled earphones which might be a bit of disappointment for some buyers.

Lenovo K8 Note specifications and software
The Lenovo K8 Note features a 5.5-inch full-HD (1080×1920 pixels) display. Under the hood, it is powered by a deca-core MediaTek Helio X23 (MT6797) SoC with four cores clocked at 1.4GHz, another four cores at 1.85GHz, and two cores at 2.3GHz. The K8 Note has been launched in India in two storage and RAM variants: 3GB of RAM with 32GB of storage, and 4GB of RAM with 64GB of storage. We received the latter for our review. Storage expansion using a microSD card (up to 128GB) is supported.

lenovo k8 note camera gadgets360 lenovo

[Source”cnbc”]

Acer Swift 3 Review

Acer Swift 3 Review

When it comes to aggressive laptop pricing, it’s hard to beat Acer. The Taiwanese manufacturer has always offered cut-throat prices in India, especially when it comes to its premium offerings. The company’s new Swift 3 is yet another example of this. Acer sells a top-end variant of its new ultra-portable laptop for under Rs. 65,000, which is significantly lower than what similarly configured laptops from the competition cost.

The Swift 3 is essentially a Windows version of Apple’s MacBook Air but it also competes with other Windows offerings like HP’s Envy line, the Dell XPS 13 and Lenovo’s IdeaPad 500 series. This laptop comes across as a very good value offering for students and professionals looking for a thin and light laptop that doesn’t skimp on performance. So how has Acer managed to achieve this? And what sort of compromises has it made along the way?

Acer Swift 3 design and build quality

The Swift 3 uses high-quality materials for its construction which makes it durable, and also a bit heavy. The matte aluminium body offers decent grip and there’s no flex to the lid or in the keyboard area, which is very good. The display tilts 180 degrees backwards and the hinge has very good torsion so it can hold the lid firmly in pretty much any position.

The lower half of the Acer Sift 3 is wedge-shaped, but it’s thick enough to accommodate full-sized ports. On the left, we have HDMI, USB 3.0, and USB Type-C (Gen1, 5Gbps) ports along with the charging connector and LEDs for hard drive activity and charging. On the right, we have an SD card reader, headphone/ microphone combo socket, a USB 2.0 port and a Kensington lock. Acer has cleverly placed the intake and exhaust vents near the hinge so you never accidentally hamper air circulation. The edges of the Swift 3 are rounded so you don’t feel anything sharp when using it.

Acer Swift 3 flat open ndtv Acer Swift 3

The 14-inch LED-backlit display is one area in which Acer has had to compromise. Sadly, the resolution is also just 1366×768 and not full-HD or higher, which according to Acer, was a choice it made in order to keep the price as aggressive as possible. It’s disappointing that we don’t even have a full-HD option in India like most other countries. Colour reproduction is quite average and vertical viewing angles are weak. Thankfully, brightness is good enough and the matte finish means that reflections won’t interfere with your work. The display has fairly thick borders all around, which increases the footprint of the laptop a bit.

We like the chiclet style keys on the Acer Swift 3 as they are well spaced and are slightly sculpted so that your fingers don’t slip off when typing. Key travel is also good and they aren’t too noisy. We wish the spacing of the direction keys had been better. Also, the power button shouldn’t have been part of the standard keyboard cluster as it’s easy to mistake it for the Del key. The trackpad is large and spacious and you even get a fingerprint sensor on the right palm rest area. The stereo speakers are placed on the bottom of the Swift 3. The four rubber feet give the laptop decent elevation and grip when used on a flat surface.

Acer Swift 3 specifications and features

The top-end variant of the Swift 3 in India has an Intel Core i7-7500U processor, 8GB of DDR4 RAM, and a 256GB SSD. These are pretty solid core specifications for a thin-and-light laptop. Other specifications include Wi-Fi 802.11 ac, Bluetooth 4.0, an HD webcam, and a 4-cell battery. The Swift 3 isn’t easily upgradeable as it would require you to open up the entire base. You’re better off heading to an Acer service centre to avoid any warranty issues.

Acer Swift 3 keys ndtv Acer Swift 3

[Source”timesofindia”]

Samsung Galaxy On Max Review

Samsung Galaxy On Max Review

A good camera is a prerequisite for anyone buying a smartphone today. We keep getting asked by our readers to recommend smartphones at every price point that can take great photos. Phones priced well under Rs. 20,000 such as the Moto G5 Plus (Review), Xiaomi Mi Max 2(Review), and Oppo F3 (Review) can take good photos in daylight but usually can’t match the same level of quality in low light. Samsung claims that the Galaxy On Max is the answer to this common problem.

The smartphone was unveiled in India last month and supports Samsung Pay Mini, the company’s own mobile payments service. A few of its other highlights are the front flash, f/1.7 aperture, and Android Nougat. The Samsung Galaxy On Max has been priced aggressively to take on heavyweights in the sub-Rs. 20,000 price segment. Can Samsung pull off this impressive feat? We find out.

[Source”timesofindia”]

mAadhaar App Review: The New UIDAI App Is a Work in Progress

mAadhaar App Review: The New UIDAI App Is a Work in Progress

Carrying around the Aadhaar card, the biometrics-based unique identifier, recently became a lot easier when the supervisory agency UIDAI launched the mAadhaar app for Android devices. The app enables you to store all your Aadhaar details, such as name, date of birth, gender, address, etc. on your smartphone, instead of having to keep the physical card with you anymore. But the UIDAI clarified, the mAadhaar app is still in beta testing stage, and we quickly realised this to be true when we checked it out. Here we take a look at the mAadhaar app, its features, and areas where it can do with some improvements.

mAadhaar app: What is it?

For one thing, the features present in the mAadhaar app are still pretty limited. Using the app, you can download you Aadhaar details to your device, which can be used in place of the Aadhaar card itself. The downloaded details include your photo, name, date of birth, Aadhaar number, and a QR code that people can scan to get your Aadhaar information.

Beyond that, you can use the mAadhaar app for Android to see if your biometrics are locked or unlocked, and you can change this status. Of course, it was already fairly simple to lock and unlock your biometrics, via the UIDAI website, but having it available through an app on your phone should simplify things.

One more thing that you can do with the app is generate a time-based OTP (TOTP) through the app, which can be used instead of the SMS-based OTP. This is a useful feature given how unreliable SMS networks can be – if you’ve tried to authenticate anything (such as e-verifying your tax filings, perhaps) with your Aadhaar number, then you know how much of a delayed response this can lead to at times. Having a TOTP option should, hopefully, be much more reliable and faster.

maadhaar app review android google play how it works maadhaar_app_review_android_google_play_how_it_works

mAadhaar app is a work in progress, and has several areas of improvements for now

In fact, the mAadhaar app itself is a great example of why SMS OTP does not really work. That’s because, in order to use the app, when you enter your Aadhaar details, you’re verified via SMS OTP. Except of course, when we tried to use it, there were a huge number of issues. The SMS did not come and it took multiple attempts before we finally got it. The app tries reading the SMS automatically, except the app would freeze automatically, and we had to start over from the beginning.

This went on multiple times, with the app crashing rather than being willing to add us, until finally, with no real explanation, it worked and we were in.

mAadhaar app: Areas of improvement

Another issue with the way SMS OTP has been implemented with this app is that you can’t manually enter the OTP. You have to give the app access to your SMS inbox, and if you were thinking that you could keep the app on your tablet while getting the OTP on your phone – that’s not going to work. This also means that you can’t store your family members’ Aadhaar details using the Aadhaar app, as the number that’s linked to your Aadhaar should match with the SIM card in your phone. That’s quite likely intended as a security precaution, and thus not likely to change over time.

On the other hand, the mAadhaar app is expected to add new features over time, which would be great, because right now it’s of limited use. TOTP is one reason why we would want to have this app; unlocking biometrics quickly is another area which could be useful. But unless you’re using the Aadhaar for a lot of authentications, it’s not clear why you’d need to have these features on your phone.

5 things you should know about the mAadhaar app

Watch the video below to check out the five things you need to know about the new mAadhaar app, such as checking out the updated look of the Aadhaar card if you update some details, among others.

[Source”pcworld”]

Xiaomi Mi Max 2 Review

Xiaomi Mi Max 2 Review

Xiaomi’s Mi Max 2 is the company’s fourth smartphone launched in India this year after the Redmi Note 4, Redmi 4A, and Redmi 4. Much like its predecessor, the Xiaomi Mi Max 2 bets big on a large display, and a massive battery.

At the Mi Max 2 launch event earlier this week, Xiaomi claimed that it has grown massively in terms of revenue in India compared to same period last year. We can safely assume that these figures more or less reflect the popularity of the low-cost Redmi series. There’s no doubt that the Chinese company has seenpositive response to its recent Redmi series launches, but at the same time there hasn’t been any buzz around the higher-end Mi series in India. In fact, the company is yet to decide whether the Mi 6 flagship will even launch here. The Xiaomi Mi Max 2 is the first premium model that this company has launched in over a year, following the Mi Max in June 2016.

The original Mi Max stood out in the category of phones with screens larger than 6 inches, and now we have a few other choices including the Lenovo Phab 2 Plus (Review), at the same price level. Apart from its huge display and big battery, the Xiaomi Mi Max 2 offers decent set of specifications. The big question is whether a phone like this is right for you. Let’s find out.

Xiaomi Mi Max 2 design

There have been some significant design changes in the Mi Max 2 compared to the original Mi Max(Review), despite the fact that their screens are the same size. The all-metal body of the Mi Max 2 is more appealing and now features rounded edges that make it easier to hold. The 2.5D glass across the front gives it a more premium look, although the metal back is somewhat slippery. The antenna bands are more discreet, blending in with the colour of the back.

The Mi Max 2 is big for any kind of pocket, and we had some trouble carrying it around. We have used many 5.5-inch phones, and it was still hard to adjust to the Mi Max 2. During our time with this device, we found that it easily attracted people’s attention just because of its sheer size. Apart from its size, weight is sometimes an issue. At 7.6mm thick, the Mi Max 2 is sleek enough and offers good grip but 211g is a lot for a phone. This is something that might (or might not) bother you.

In our experience, it was uncomfortable to use this phone while walking or trying to juggle other work. We had to be extra cautious while holding it with just one hand during our review period. Typing with just one hand is a tough task, and we advise users not to try unless they are very sure of their grip.

The Xiaomi Mi Max 2 has backlit capacitive buttons at the front placed just below the display. There’s a front-facing camera and sensors above it, accompanied by the earpiece which also doubles up as a loudspeaker. The power and volume buttons are on the right, while the hybrid dual-SIM tray is on the left. The USB Type-C port is on the bottom between two grilles, but we noticed that only one was an actual speaker while the other was just a design element.

The phone has an Infrared emitter on the top panel, accompanied by the 3.5mm audio socket. We found that we could reach the fingerprint scanner on the back while holding the phone with just one hand, but we have to point out that people with smaller hands might have trouble with this.

In terms of construction quality, the Mi Max 2 looks solid. Fortunately, the back panel is not a fingerprint magnet, which means you won’t need to worry about wiping the phone from time to time. The Mi Max 2 has slimmer screen borders than the original Mi Max, and this means less distraction when watching videos.

Xiaomi has launched the Mi Max 2 only in black, and it looks stunning, but we can expect more colour options to be released over time. Inside the retail box, you get standard set of documentats, a SIM ejector tool, a USB Type-C cable, and a charger, apart from the phone itself. Xiaomi doesn’t ship earphones with any of its phones.

[Source”pcworld”]

Akitio Node Cabinet review: Real, affordable graphics for your laptop

akitio node cabinet primary

The Akitio Node external GPU cabinet is here to give your Thunderbolt 3-equipped laptop a big boost. This affordable unit—basically, a big steel box with a 400-watt PSU and a fan in front—lets you drop in most modern AMD or Nvidia graphics cards and then connect it to a laptop using PCIe over Thunderbolt 3/USB-C.

dsc04540

Gordon Mah Ung

The Akitio features one fan for the PSU, and one in front that offers plenty of airflow.

For the most part, when it works, it’s amazingly smooth. For example, we cracked open the Node, dropped in a Founders Edition GeForce GTX 1080 Ti card, then plugged it into a HP Spectre x360 13t. Once we had the latest drivers installed from Nvidia’s website, we were off and running. As these results from 3DMark FireStrike Ultra show, the tiny HP Ultrabook gives what-for to big, giant, fast gaming laptops.

spectre x360 egpu 1080 ti firestrike ultra overall

IDG

Yes, a sub-3lbs. laptop can hang with big fat gaming laptops–if you cheat like we did.

The score you see above, however, is the overall score for 3DMark FireStrike Ultra, which also counts CPU performance. The dual-core Kaby Lake chip in the tiny HP Spectre x360 13T isn’t going to compete with the quad-cores. In the 3DMark test that includes just the graphics performance, however, you’ll see a better spread from the GTX 1080 in the giant EON17-X laptop.

Yes, there’s a good chance the limited x4 PCIe Gen 3 could rob you of some performance over what you might get if the GPU were in a desktop. In fact, the same GPU will typically score in the 7,000 range when in a full x16 PCIe Gen 3 slot. But just remember: The alternative is being stuck with the integrated graphics in the laptop, unable to game at this higher level of performance.

spectre x360 egpu 1080 ti firestrike ultra graphics

IDG

The graphics score shows you just how serious the GeForce GTX 1080 Ti is even when constrained by a x4 PCIe Thunderbolt 3 connection.

Compatibility: No guarantees

It’s pretty much a no-brainer: If the Node works with your Thunderbolt 3-equipped laptop, go for it. But that ‘if’ is a really big question. Although we think Thunderbolt 3 is wonderful, support for external graphics is still pretty spotty. The problem, we’re told by vendors: Boot support for external graphics over Thunderbolt 3 isn’t quite standardized yet. That means the list of laptops with official support is pretty minimal. As of this writing, it’s Intel’s NUC, the HP Spectre x360 13T, and Razer’s Blade and Blade Stealth. Many who have purchased it using laptops not listed by Akitio have reported success too, though.

So how do you know if your laptop supports external graphics over Thunderbolt 3? One way to do that is to check the Thunderbolt 3 utility that should appear in the system tray. Click Settings and then Details to get this pop-up. If your laptop says it supports external GPUs, then it might work.

 

[Source”indianexpress”]

 

Dell XPS 15 (2017) review: Kaby Lake and a 4K display make a difference

dell xps15 4

Dell’s XPS 15 is proof that iterations—no matter how small—still matter. Externally, even owners of the previous XPS 15 would be hard-pressed to tell the difference between new and old.

The ports are the same, the keyboard and the trackpad are the same and, well, just about external thing with the XPS 15 looks identical. Yet the internal changes make this year’s XPS 15 a markedly better laptop than last year’s.

dell xps15 5

IDG/Gordon Mah Ung

The keyboard on the XPS 15 appears unchanged, which isn’t a good thing because it’s still slightly too small.

It’s what’s inside that counts

The main difference with the latest generation XPS 15 is, of course, inside. While the previous version sported a 6th-generation quad-core Intel Skylake CPU paired with an Nvidia GeForce GTX 960M, the latest iteration notches up to a quad-core 7th-gen Kaby Lake chip, and graphics upgrades itself to a GeForce GTX 1050.

Besides the Core i7-7700HQ CPU and GTX 1050, Dell has also given the XPS 15 an optional Windows Hello-compliant finger print reader. It’s not the horrible swipe-style reader of yesterday that always took four attempts to work. It’s a modern, full-fingerprint pad reader similar to what you’d find on phones and tablets.

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IDG/Gordon Mah Ung

There’s no Windows Hello camera, but a fingerprint reader (seen just below the right cursor key) lets you use Windows 10 Hello.

Our test unit comes equipped with a 15.6-inch 4K UHD screen. With its near edge-to-edge “InfinityEdge” display, and glossy Gorilla Glass NBT protective layer, the IGZO panel is truly stunning to behold. The near bezel-less design does, unfortunately, banish the integrated webcam to the bottom of the panel, as well as prevent the XPS 15 from integrating a near infrared (IR) camera for Windows Hello support. Consider the fingerprint reader your consolation prize.

Also featured in our test unit are 16GB of DDR4/2400 in dual-channel mode and a 512GB Lite-On CX2 NVMe M.2 SSD. The drive uses MLC flash rated at 2.5GBps reads and 1.2GBps writes. On CrystalDiskMark 5.2 we saw about 2.1GBps reads and 1GBps writes.

The other change from the prior generation is an increase in battery capacity, to about 97WHr from the previous model’s largest battery of 84WHr. That’s just shy of the largest lithium ion cell you can carry on a plane legally.

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IDG/Gordon Mah Ung

The port selection is unchanged from prior to current generation. This view of the right side shows an SD card reader, USB Type A, and Kensington lock port.

[Source”pcworld”]