The Eye Catchers
Check out the four new launches that will catch the attention of tech lovers for their form and design.
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Redmi K20/K20 Pro
Xiaomi makes a play for the budget flagship space with its new dynamic duo, the Redmi K20 and the K20 Pro. Visually, there’s little to tell the Pro and the K20 apart – both take a bold leap forward with a mesmerizing gradient rear panel pattern on the Glacier Blue and Flame Red variants, and the use of pop-up selfie cameras and an in-display fingerprint scanner gives both models a stunning all-screen fascia. The screen itself is a punchy 6.39-inch AMOLED display, which gives little room for complaint in terms of colours, contrast and brightness levels. Performance is where the K20 Pro dominates courtesy the top-shelf Qualcomm Snapdragon 855, making the Pro the most wallet-friendly way to buy into the top league of performance smartphones. Yet, the Snapdragon 730 on the K20 is no slouch, and you’ll only ever see the difference when you’re playing one of the latest games at the highest graphics settings. The camera performance on both phones is largely similar – the 48MP sensor shoots detailed images with wide dynamic range, but images with the telephoto and the super versatile ultra-wide-angle lens are a little softer on details. Battery life is pretty stellar on both, and the K20 Pro benefits from faster 27W charging (enabled by an additional charger purchase) while the K20 ships only with 18W fast charging.
Vivo S1 is an attempt by the brand to infuse a sense of fashion and design into its range and the formula seems to work, with the S1 coming across as a stylish piece of kit despite its all-plastic construction. A dedicated Google Assistant key and a triple slot (dual SIM, dedicated storage) are welcome additions, as is the snappy in-display fingerprint scanner. The AMOLED screen, with its waterdrop notch, looks great and offers great colors. FunTouch OS runs swimmingly well on the recently announced Mediatek Helio P65 chip, but the phone launches in a segment where it is readily outclassed in terms of future-ready hardware. The camera too, while impressive on paper with its trio of sensors on the rear, is soft on details and lacks the dynamic range and low-light performance its peers provide. Redemption is by way of large 4,500mAh battery and fast charging support, and the phone can last well past the two-day mark if you’re not a heavy user. Overall, a phone that fails to make a splash in its already-highly competitive segment.
Amazon Echo Show 5
Amazon’s Echo Show voice-controlled display just got a smaller sibling by way of the Echo Show 5, named so due to its 5.5-inch touchscreen display. It’s shrunken and way more adorable on a bedside or a table-top, and it’s also got a lower price point that will make it more accessible to someone looking to try out a smart display. Much like the bigger 10-inch version, the Echo Show 5 has a fabric-wrapped rear and the same lineup of physical buttons, but with one interesting addition – a physical shutter button that blocks the solitary front-facing camera. For a bedside device, this is key to make you feel better about having a pair of eyes in your home. The single speaker sounds good for interacting with Alexa and a little light music, but don’t expect it to blow your mind. Of course, as you’d expect, it packs the same Alexa skills that let you hail an Uber or start a meditation session, and you can also control specific smart home gadgets…though it does lack support for the Zigbee protocol that the larger Show packs in. Just bear in mind, the smaller screen doesn’t lend itself quite as well to watch a show on Prime Video, a sacrifice you’ll have to make for its cuter, diminutive footprint.
Dyson V11 Absolute Pro
How does a brand like Dyson one-up itself on its already innovative V-series of cordless handheld vacuum cleaners? The V11 Absolute Pro takes the regular household appliance to the next level not only by upping the levels of suction but also by introducing a new high-torque cleaner head that dynamically adapts between carpets and hard floors, adjusting the power (and therefore battery usage) based on the cleaning load it senses. A quick sweep across a seemingly clean room is a testament to the V11’s ability to pick up fine dust from carpets and crevasses – as good a sales pitch as it gets for a product in this category! Design is, as we’ve come to expect from Dyson, unique and futuristic, but the new circular LCD screen on the back of the filter case is particularly handy, since it provides a glanceable dynamic readout of how much battery life you have remaining with the current workload. Battery life is a much improved one hour on Eco mode and about 15 minutes with the motors going all out. That said, it’s about time Dyson offers a trigger lock for extended cleaning sessions, so that holding down the trigger button doesn’t get as tiring.
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