Tekken 7 PC Performance Review

 

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Tekken 7 on PC is cheaper than it is on PS4 or Xbox One
  • Its graphical settings are barebones
  • Tekken 7 PC specifications are lenient

Tekken 7 is the first mainline entry in the long-running fighting game franchise to see a release on Windows PCs. With its debut on the PS1 in 1995, developer Bandai Namco has kept the PC gaming community waiting almost 22 years. Has the wait been worth it for PC gamers? We tell you everything you need to know about Tekken 7 on Windows.

Tekken 7 PC price

Unlike most new releases on Steam that have been priced similar to their console counterparts, Bandai Namco seems to have taken a more generous approach. Tekken 7 PC price for Indian gamers is Rs. 989, while the Tekken 7 PC Deluxe Edition costs Rs. 1,608. The latter comes with the base game, a new character called Eliza, and access to the game’s Season Pass that brings a host of cosmetic items. In the US, the game costs $50 for the standard edition and $75 for the deluxe edition. This makes Tekken 7 cheaper in India, especially when compared to Bandai Namco’s previous releases such as Dark Souls 3 and Tales of Berseria that were priced at Rs. 4,299 and Rs. 3,284 respectively.

 Tekken 7 PC Performance Review

Tekken 7 PC minimum system requirements

•CPU: Intel Core Intel Core i3-4160 @ 3.60GHz or equivalent
•GPU: GeForce GTX 660 or 750 Ti, or equivalent
•RAM: 6GB
•OS: Windows 7, Windows 8.1 or Windows 10 (64-bit versions)
•HDD: 60GB free space
•DirectX: Version 11

Tekken 7 PC recommended requirements

•CPU: Intel Core i5-4690 3.5 GHz or equivalent
•GPU: GeForce GTX 1060, or equivalent, or higher
•RAM: 8GB •OS: Windows 7, Windows 8.1 or Windows 10 (64-bit versions)
•HDD: 60GB free space
•DirectX: Version 11

tekken 7 settings pc tekken_7_pc_review

Tekken 7 PC graphics options

It’ll be clear from the above-mentioned specifications that you don’t need the latest and greatest to run Tekken 7 on PC. Nonetheless, the level of customisation on offer isn’t that huge as recent releases such as the excellent Prey. As you can see from our screenshot of Tekken 7’s in-game settings, it seems to have the bare minimum you’d expect from a game on Steam. There’s nothing out of the ordinary and in some cases with just three options of anti-aliasing (off, low, and high); while the lack of support for the 21:9 aspect ratio being down right anaemic.

Tekken 7 PC frame rate and image quality

On our test PC consisting of an Intel core i5 3470 at 3.2GHz, 16GB RAM, 500GB SSD, and an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 8GB, obtaining a fluid 60 frames per second at 1920×1080 (1080p) was easily achieved at Ultra settings. Ramping it up to 3840×2160 (4K) we saw a consistent 45 to 47fps with minor dips to the high 30s when special moves were being executed. Be it fur on characters like Panda, or the coat on the game’s central character Jin Kazuma, Tekken 7 looks good enough with very little out of place. Even the stages, ranging from the icy almost desolate Arctic Snowfall to Arena – a vibrant octagonal ring complete with a vociferous audience are graphically superb. However, the level of detail and difference between Tekken 7 PC at 4K and 1080p wasn’t tremendous and we found ourselves reverting to 1080p for a consistent 60fps experience.

One crucial option that’s nestled in the display options and not the graphical settings is motion blur. Switching it off nets you additional frames. Useful if your gaming PC is on the lower side of Tekken 7’s PC requirements.

Tekken 7 PC controller support

We tried Tekken 7 with three different controllers and came back with mixed results. As you’d expect, the Xbox One controller worked fine, as it does with most PC games. Our PS4 controller, however, was not fully recognised. While button presses register, navigating with the use of the directional pad or analogue stick did not work. Surprisingly plugging in a Nacon Revolution Pro PS4 controller worked just fine. But much like most PC games, controls are displayed only for the Xbox One controller. This means you won’t see the familiar set of cross, triangle, circle, and square icons, only A, B, X, and Y. You’d think that with Steam supporting the Dual Shock 4 natively, more game creators would as well, but evidently this is not the case.

tekken 7 rage mode tekken_7_pc_review

Is Tekken 7 worth buying on PC?

Given how cheap the game is in India (starting at around $15), it would seem like a no-brainer purchase if you live in a country where Tekken 7 is more affordable than what it costs in the US (starting from $50). Having said that, there are some strings attached if you decide to get it on PC.

For one, if you’re the sort looking to play it competitively, most of the fighting game community is on the PS4. Granted there’s the Tekken World Tour Mode that has events for the PS4, Xbox One, and PC but given how Street Fighter V and Killer Instinct have fared – it appears that the console version of fighting games tend to outlast their PC equivalent.

If you’re not a pro player, there are some other disadvantages. VR mode is exclusive to the PS4 and Xbox One owners get Tekken 6 free with purchasing Tekken 7. There’s no sort of uniqueness tied to the PC version of the game in terms of content. It doesn’t help matters that Tekken 7 on day one does not have Survival or Battle Modes, two well-received inclusions from previous games.

With threadbare customisation options, a lack of content, and questionable controller support, Tekken 7 PC’s price and performance are the only things it has going for it, making it feel like the best and worst version of the game at the same time. The lower price alone could be enough for many. If you’re a little more discerning though, you might want to give Tekken 7 on PC a miss.

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Vanquish PC review – Platinum port

 

There must be many gamers nowadays that associate Sega only with PC strategy games, a fate that would have seemed inconceivable during the heyday of the Mega Drive. It’s not as if most of those strategy games aren’t very good, but they’re as different as it’s possible to be from the arcade style games Sega was originally known for. Vanquish though is like being back in the good old days.

Recently there’s been whispers that Sega may be planning to start making new games in its old style, although we’ve had that false hope before. But they are definitely taking a renewed interest in their back catalogue at the moment, and after Bayonetta this is the second PlatinumGames title in as many months to be ported to the PC. And ported extremely well too.Game review: Vanquish on PC is another Platinum classic

Vanquish was originally released in 2010 on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, part of a five-game publishing deal with Sega that included MadWorld, Bayonetta, Anarchy Reigns, and DS title Infinite Space. Vanquish is a third person shooter directed by Resident Evil creator Shinji Mikami and shows clear influences from both Resident Evil 4 and the now almost forgotten P.N.03. Vanquish itself is barely any better known amongst most mainstream gamers, but hopefully that will change with this new PC version.

Game review: Vanquish on PC is another Platinum classic

Vanquish’s rather tepid plot involves a resurgent Russia taking over a U.S. space station and microwaving San Francisco. You play the game as DARPA agent Sam Gideon, accompanying a group of marines trying to stop any more cities going the way of the ready meal. Storytelling has never been Platinum’s strong point though, and while everyone’s gruff-voiced seriousness almost seems like parody you quickly realise the plot and characters really are as one-note as they appear.

The real star though is not Sam, but his high-tech suit – which makes him look like a slimline Master Chief. But it does far more than just protect him from stray bullets and make him look cool in screenshots. For a start, there are rockets in the boots and arms which allow you to skid along the floor at high speed, zipping into cover in an instant or passing between the legs of larger enemies to shoot at them from behind.

The rockets are powered by a quickly recharging energy bar, which also powers the suit’s enhanced melee attack and the game’s core gimmick: bullet time. Not, it may seem, a very inspired feature but no game has ever exploited the concept quite like this. The slow motion effect is initiated in one of two ways, the first being automatic if you are severely injured – giving you just enough time to get to cover or deal with whoever’s attacking you.

The second method is manual, but only works when you perform a roll or dodge. Vaunting over the top of a barricade, turning on the effect, and then scoring three headshots before Sam’s feet have even hit the floor is a very special feeling, and has still never been bettered by any other shooter.

Vanquish (PC) - short but sweet
Vanquish (PC) – short but sweet

There is a cover system, but you’re gently discouraged from relying on it, as you can’t use the bullet time effect when simply ducking up and down. The game is actually very good at encouraging you to use the full range of your abilities at all times, with levels and enemies proving almost impossible if you try to play the game as a bog standard shooter.

There’s great variety in the weapons too, from a simple assault rifle and rocket launcher to a lock-on laser and a gun that fires bubbles of energy through obstacles. We were a little disappointed by the lack of bosses though, which is usually Platinum’s forte. Especially as the one in all the trailers turns up multiple times and most other encounters lack a similar gravitas.

But that’s a rare fault in what is an otherwise superbly crafted campaign mode. The real problem is simply that it’s unlikely to last you more than five or six hours. What’s there is perfectly designed, but there’s very little visual variety, and once you get a hang of the mechanics it’s not particularly difficult on normal difficulty.

There’s also very little else to the game. Higher difficultly modes of course, and some unlockable challenge levels, but nothing like the variety of extras in Bayonetta. There’s also no multiplayer.

 

Tivoli Audio Model One Digital review: Big sound from a small footprint

 

If you looked at Como Audio’s Duetto tabletop radio and couldn’t swallow its $399 price tag, Tivoli Audio’s Model One Digital sounds about as good and costs $100 less. The Tivoli lacks a number of features compared to its competitor, but you might not miss them.

Like the Duetto, the Model One Digital is equipped with an FM radio, but it’s primarily designed for streaming digital music. There’s Bluetooth support, of course (although aptX support is conspicuous in its absence), or you can connect it to your Wi-Fi network and play the music you own via a DLNA server.

There’s also support for most of the major streaming services, including Spotify Connect, Tidal, Deezer, and the lesser-known (in the U.S., at least) QQ Music. There’s TuneIn support for Internet radio stations, but Apple Music is not supported, and neither is Apple’s AirPlay technology.

Tivoli Model One Digital

Michael Brown/TechHive

Kudos to whoever designed Tivoli Audio’s app.

You control the radio mostly from Tivoli’s app, which is available on Android and iOS devices. You can also perform basic functions with the volume/power knob and the aluminum ring encircling the radio’s 3-inch display. Turning the ring changes stations and presets on terrestrial radio, and scrolls through playlists on streaming media. Pushing the ring in pauses and resumes a stream.

I expected to encounter a bit of play in the larger ring, but the way the volume control knob wiggles under your fingertips feels disappointingly sloppy. The rest of the radio feels so precise in comparison. The circular display shows basic information, such as the track and artist name, the current source, the status of your network connection, and the time. But the only way to view album art is on your device, via the app.

Michael Brown/TechHive
The Tivoli Model One Digital has elegantly retro styling, but its largeish display is underutilized—no album art.

As does Como, Tivoli has its own multi-room audio ecosystem, with several other speakers that can be networked and controlled from the app. The Model One Digital has a “party mode” button on its back that can instantly stream the same music to all the compatible speakers at once. It’s on this point that Tivoli offers a significant benefit over Como: Buy Tivoli’s $60 ConX, and you can transform any speakers into a Tivoli network node. Or you can use the same device to stream music from any audio device—a turntable, for example. That’s pretty cool.

Michael Brown/TechHive
The 3.5-inch slot port helps the Tivoli Model One Digital deliver impressive bass response. But the paucity of inputs and outputs is disappointing.

Features Como offers that Tivoli doesn’t

This is a good time to sum up the features that Como Audio includes in the Duetto that you won’t find on Tivoli’s radio: I’ve already mentioned two of them: aptX codec support and the ability to display album art on the radio itself. The Model One Digital also lacks NFC support, for quick-and-easy Bluetooth pairing; a headphone output; an optical digital audio input, a line-level output (there is an analog Auxiliary input); a USB port for playing music from USB storage, which can also be used to power a Chromecast dongle or an Amazon Echo Dot; and hardware radio preset buttons.

Tivoli Model One Digital top

Michael Brown/TechHive

The cabinet is made from furniture quality wood, with a tweed-like cloth grill. The ring around the display has multiple function.

You’ll need to decide for yourself, but that’s a lot of features to give up to save a hundred bucks. Fortunately for Tivoli, it doesn’t sacrifice audio quality. The diminutive Model One Digital sounds fabulous, reproducing music in high fidelity at volume levels that are entirely disproportionate to its size: Crisp highs, a well-defined midrange, and surprisingly robust bass response, thanks to a 3.5-inch slot port in back. I no longer have the Duetto to make an A/B comparison, but going by memory, I’d say audio quality is a tossup at worst. Having said that, however, I think the Duetto earns its price premium.

 

Amazon Dash Wand review: A home shopping device made for a not-too-distant future

 

Amazon will sell you groceries, one way or another. Case in point: The day before it announced plans to buy Whole Foods for a cool $13.7 billion, it released Amazon Dash Wand, a small Alexa-powered gadget that will likely be just as integral to the company’s produce push.amazon dash wand button

Amazon’s new scanning stick is Jeff Bezos’s latest attempt to link the virtual world with the physical one. But even though it’s not Amazon’s first shot at a home shopping assistant, it’s definitely the first fully formed one. Combining the ease of a Dash button with the versatility of the relatively unknown Dash scanner and the smarts of an Echo, Dash Wand could be the thing that finally streamlines the way we buy groceries, and eliminates checkout lines, empty refrigerators, and even trips to the store. But that’s going to take a while.

For today, Dash Wand has too many quirks and shortcomings to be considered a threat to your local supermarket. While it’s cheap enough to be an impulse buy, it probably won’t do much to enhance your existing Amazon-Alexa experience, at least not yet.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

  • Dash drawbacks
  • Simple scanning
  • Alexa lite
  • A marathon, not a Dash

Dash drawbacks

Amazon’s wand is basically Dash 2.0. Like the company’s first bar-code scanner, which was limited to Amazon Fresh customers, the 6-inch stick has a rubberized loop at the top for hanging purposes, but this time around it’s also magnetic. Unlike the Echo, the Dash Wand needs to be within reach—keeping it in a drawer will severely cut down on its use and usefulness—and its refrigerator-friendly design is definitely one of its best qualities.

amazon dash wand batteriesChristopher Hebert/IDG
Dash Wand’s releiance on AA batteries cuts down on Alexa’s usefulness.

Even with Alexa built in, Dash Wand is very much an active device, in that it doesn’t respond to a wake word. Like the Echo Tap and the Alexa Voice Remote for Fire TV, you need to press the button to activate it, a consequence of Dash Wand being powered by a pair of AA batteries. Amazon kindly includes a set in the box, but with Wi-Fi, a bar-code scanner, and an AI assistant, I have to assume it will burn through them pretty quickly.

While your Dash Wand will likely live on your refrigerator, for most customers, what’s inside the icebox is off-limits. Unless you live in one of the areas served by Amazon Fresh—currently limited to the Seattle, Northern California, Southern California, New York, and Philadelphia areas—produce and other perishables won’t be added to your Amazon cart when you scan them.

amazon dash wand scannerChristopher Hebert/IDG
The bottom of Dash Wand contains a laser bar-code scanner.

That’s a deficiency that’s likely to be corrected within a year or two, once the fruits of Amazon’s Whole Foods purchase begin to be realized. It might have been a coincidence that Dash Wand was released the day before the announcement of Amazon’s Whole Foods purchase, but the Dash Wand is clearly built for a grocery store. It’s not hard to imagine a day when you can scan some items and have them show up within an hour, or even take your wand to your local Whole Foods store to do your own scanning.

Simple scanning

As far as the other items in your house, Dash Wand will work pretty well, eventually. My wand struggled to read bar codes the first time around, but after a reset it performed much better. Thankfully, the setup process is a snap, requiring little more than signing into your account and typing in your Wi-Fi password, both of which are done via the iOS or Android app. (Note that the Dash Wand works with 2.4GHz networks only.)

amazon dash wand scanChristopher Hebert/IDG
Scanning items with your Dash Wand is as easy as it as at a grocery store.

To use it, you need only press its button and the bottom bar-code scanner springs to life, ready to read whatever’s placed in front of it. It struggled occasionally with bar codes that were curved and some itemsds didn’t show up at all, but for the most part it worked as well as a department store price checker kiosk. I tested a variety of items, from salad dressing to soda to a Sonos Play:1 speaker, and the wand dutifully added them to my cart, though when head over to the app or site to check out, make sure to pay attention to what’s inside it.

If Amazon doesn’t sell the exact item in question (which happens more than you think), it will offer an alternative. For example, when I scanned a can of Goya Red Kidney Beans, it offered an 8-pack or a bag of dry beans instead. This is fine, but you’ll need to pay close attention to the cost. Amazon often suggested items that were priced outrageously high. In the case of the red beans, the price for a case of eight cans was $19.59, a surcharge of 150 percent over the average supermarket price of $0.99 a can.

 

VeraPlus Advanced Home Controller review: This expensive hub fails to deliver

 

Samsung SmartThings, Wink, and to a lesser degree, Iris by Lowe’s. Vera Control, Ltd. seems to be targeting the hardest of the hard-core enthusiast, boasting that its VeraPlus Advanced Home Controller is certified to work with more than 1700 smart devices. But I had trouble getting two of the three products they sent along with the VeraPlus to work at all. Installing the VeraPlus itself wasn’t a cakewalk either.

As with many smart home hubs, the VeraPlus connects to your router via an ethernet cable. Once you’ve done that, you’re walked through a setup routine—either via a web interface or a downloadable app. I performed the initial setup over the web, but used both approaches to set up sensors and smart devices. The trouble started on the first screen, as the setup routine was unable to auto-discover my new VeraPlus unit.

Instructions told me to type in serial numbers and MAC addresses printed on the bottom of the device, after which I was able to proceed. Again, setup was tedious and a little arcane (this is the first time I can recall having to type out “California” in a setup field), with multiple validation emails/text messages and the ever-popular firmware update—in this case, two of them. That process oddly erased about half of my account information, placing me in Alabama but also the time zone for American Samoa.

Veraplus error message

Christopher Null/IDG

If you don’t understand what it means to “exclude” and “include again” a Z-Wave node, the VeraPlus isn’t the right smart-home hub for you (and it might not be even if you do).

I put it all behind me, because now it was time to set up some devices to work with the VeraPlus. The hub supports all the important smart-home protocols—802.11ac Wi-Fi, Z-Wave Plus, ZigBee, Bluetooth LE, and even Insteon—and with a universe of 1700 certified devices, you shouldn’t have trouble finding popular brands, right? Yeah, not so much. Honeywell’s Lyric and all Nest thermostats are supported, but First Alert is the only certified smoke/carbon-monoxide detector you’re likely to recognize.

You can connect a Philips Hue bridge for lighting control, but many other popular smart bulbs—LIFX, Cree, and TP-Link—aren’t listed as being certified. Prefer in-wall controls? GoControl is well represented, but not Leviton or even GE Jasco (only that company’s plug-in modules are listed). There’s a Z-Wave doorbell—and dozens of sensors—from Aeotec, but the Ring Video Doorbell isn’t listed. You’ll see lots of Samsung smart appliances, but no other brand is represented.

 

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

 

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.

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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

 

HP Spectre x2 review: It beats the Surface Pro on value, if not performance

 

Our review of HP’s Spectre x2 12.3-inch 2-in-1 tablet begins with a simple question: Can HP continue its tradition of being an elegant, yet durable alternative to Microsoft’s Surface Pro flagship?

The answer is Yes. HP took the best bits from its Elite x2 tablet and the first-generation Spectre x2 tablet (2015), then updated the new Spectre x2 with the latest Kaby Lake chips. The Spectre x2 gives you more features for the money than the Surface Pro: Our $1,300 review unit included both the keyboard and the stylus right in the box (hear that, Microsoft?). It’s a shame this solid value is let down by middling battery life and a pesky fan.

 HP Spectre x2 2017man / ID

TABLE OF CONTENTS

  • Specs: Kaby Lake and an outstanding display
  • Kickstand, pen loop anchor the productivity
  • Extra software
  • Performance: Marred by mediocre battery life
  • Conclusion: Good value despite a few flaws

Specs: Kaby Lake and an outstanding display

HP will offer one $1,300 retail version of the Spectre x2 (the one we tested):

  • Model name: Spectre x2 12-c012dx
  • CPU: Core i7-7560U
  • RAM: 8GB  LPDDR-1600
  • SSD: 360GB PCIe NVMe

Four more SKUs will be available via HP.com:

An entry-level Core i5 version for $1,150:

    • Model name: Spectre x2 12t
  • CPU: Core i5-7260U
  • RAM: 8GB LPDDR-1600
  • SSD: 128GB PCIe NVMe

An entry-level Core i7 version for $1,230:

    • Model name: Spectre x2 12-c052nr
  • CPU: Core i7-7560U
  • RAM: 8GB LPDDR-1600
  • SSD: 256GB PCIe NVMe

Two higher-end Core i7 versions have these starting configurations and can be upgraded. This one starts at $1,670:

  • CPU: Core i7-7560U
  • RAM: 16GB  LPDDR-1600
  • SSD: 512GB PCIe NVMe

The highest-end one starts at $1,970:

  • CPU: Core i7-7560U
  • RAM: 16GB  LPDDR-1600
  • SSD: 1TB PCIe NVMe

 

Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 review: The best Android tablet you can buy

 

Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 review: It is a high-end tablet with a stunning display, and superior build quality.

A few years ago, tablets were looked as the next big thing in computing. I still remember how difficult it was to get the third-generation iPad. People were queuing up all day to get Apple’s swanky gadget. But tablets haven’t really made that huge dent on the laptop industry as large smartphones have been able to. In fact, the big screen smartphones have taken away the thunder of a lot of tablets. Despite this, Apple and Samsung have continued to release new models. Apple has recently updated its iPad Pro lineup and released an iPad Pro 10.5, while Samsung has a rival tablet to offer in the Galaxy Tab S3.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 is a high-end tablet with a stunning display, and superior build quality. But the Galaxy Tab S3 isn’t pitched as a mere tablet device. The idea is to support an optional keyboard so that you can quickly edit documents or send a presentation without any delay. The tablet also comes bundled with the S Pen like the Galaxy Note series to enhance productivity on a mobile device.

However, the question remains whether or not you need to invest in a tablet that’s going to cost Rs 47,990. Samsung may be bragging about the Galaxy Tab S3, but is it up to the job? I’ve tried to find the answer after testing the device for more than week, and here’s my verdict.Samsung Galaxy Tab S3, Galaxy Tab S3 review, Galaxy Tab S3 price in India, Galaxy Tab S3 Android tablet

Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 specifications 9.7-inch QXGA Super AMOLED (2048 x 1536) | Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 (quad-core, 1.5GHz + 1.6GHz) | 4GB RAM | 32GB storage| 13MP rear camera + 5MP front camera | 6000mAh | 4G LTE | Android 7.0 Nougat

Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 price in India Rs 47,990

Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 Design, display

Ever since Samsung introduced the Galaxy S6, the company’s emphasis on design and build quality has improved a lot. Pull the Galaxy Tab S3 out of the box and the first thing you might observe is its metal and glass unibody design. The Galaxy Tab S3 seems to be a bigger version of the Galaxy S7. It looks and feels premium in every sense. My review unit came in a silver colour, but the Galaxy Tab S3 is also available in Black.

The device has no sharp edges, and with rounded corners, it is easy to hold the tablet for an extended period of time. It measures 6mm in terms of thickness and weighs 434 grams, which means this has an advantage when it comes to portability.

But the glass back is not as durable as the aluminum, making the tablet more fragile. Also, the glass back is more prone to fingerprints and scratches. Which means you might end up cleaning the tablet several times a day. This is why you need to invest in a case the day you buy the Galaxy Tab S3.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S3, Galaxy Tab S3 review, Galaxy Tab S3 price in India, Galaxy Tab S3 Android tabletThere’s a dedicated port for the keyboard, which comes as an optional accessory.

Under the display is the home button which doubles as a fingerprint scanner. There are four speakers on board as well, which I will talk about later in the review. A 5-megapixel front-facing camera for video calls is placed on top of the screen, a power and volume button on the right side, and a dedicated port for the keyboard. Meanwhile, the headphone jack and the USB Type-C port are placed at the bottom of the tablet. The rear houses the Samsung logo and a 13-megapixel camera with LED Flash.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S3, Galaxy Tab S3 review, Galaxy Tab S3 price in India, Galaxy Tab S3 Android tabletThe rear houses the Samsung logo and a 13-megapixel camera with LED Flash.

Overall, I liked the Galaxy Tab S3 for its design, but it lacks a slot to hold the S Pen which will be crucial for the Pro user Samsung is targeting. This could be a big miss.

Samsung packs the Galaxy Tab S3 with a 9.7-inch QXGA (2048 x 1536) Super AMOLED display. No doubt, the tablet’s vibrant screen is also its biggest highlight in my opinion. The display is extra bright, colors are vibrant and vivid, and black is black. When viewing a 1080p trailer of Spider-Man: Homecoming on the Galaxy Tab S3, I could easily make out a range of colours which I otherwise don’t see on my iPad Air. If you watch a lot of movies or play games, the Galaxy Tab S3 might be the perfect option for you. Samsung has been touting the Tab S3’s HDR video playback capabilities, but unfortunately, Netflix doesn’t offer HDR playback on a mobile device.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 audio performance

Unlike most other tablets (barring Apple iPad Pros), Samsung has placed a total of four speakers, two at the top and two at the bottom on the Galaxy Tab S3. So essentially, no matter how you place the tablet, you’ll always end up getting good volumes. I do watch a lot of movies and shows, especially after I come back from office. Having four speakers on a mobile device is always an advantage. In theory, this placement should have resulted in a better audio performance too. But the quality of the sound, however, is not that impressive, even though Samsung worked with AKG (a premium audio brand by Harman Kardon) for an immersive audio experience.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 hardware, battery

On the hardware front the Tab S3 is powered by a quad-core Snapdragon 820 processor with Adreno 530 GPU , along with the 4G LTE connectivity. Even though the chipset isn’t new, in everyday use, the tablet was zippy and switched quickly between apps. The tablet also has 4GB RAM, which I think is good enough for an everyday use.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 has no trouble in running games, or streaming videos over the YouTube, thanks to 4GB RAM. However, I did notice that the tablet’s processing capabilities fell short when it comes to running high-quality games like the Batman: The Telltale Series. Sometimes I do wonder that the Samsung could have packed in more RAM for an added boost.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S3, Galaxy Tab S3 review, Galaxy Tab S3 price in India, Galaxy Tab S3 Android tabletOn the hardware front the Tab S3 is powered by a quad-core Snapdragon 820 processor with Adreno 530 GPU.

It’s surprising to see that the Samsung is not offering the choice of different storage configurations for the Tab S3. The tablet only comes with the 32GB standard storage, which you’ll quickly fill up if you’re downloading movies or lots of apps. However, there is a microSD card slot for memory expansion. I’d have ignored this, had the tablet cost Rs 10,000. A tablet like the Galaxy Tab S3 should have come with more storage, especially since the company has been talking a lot about the tablet’s multimedia prowess.

A long battery life is needed, if you intend to use the tablet as your go-to device. In case of the Tab S3, it features a 6,000mAh battery, which the company claims should last up to 12 hours on a single charge. In my testing, it lasted somewhere around 9 hours over Wi-Fi. Gaming will surely shorten the average battery life, but I mostly used the tablet to watch videos, edit documents, scroll through Facebook, browse the web, and streaming music. On the other hand, recharging the battery is extremely fast. I was able to recharge the battery in an hour from 0 to 100 per cent.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 camera performance

Samsung Galaxy Tab S3’s 13-megapixel camera on the back captured colorful and detailed shots in a natural light. However, the performance dips in low light conditions. A 5-megapixel front shooter looks okay for video calls, which I think should be your purpose.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S3, Galaxy Tab S3 review, Galaxy Tab S3 price in India, Galaxy Tab S3 Android tabletSample shot from Samsung Galaxy Tab S3. (Image resized for web).Samsung Galaxy Tab S3, Galaxy Tab S3 review, Galaxy Tab S3 price in India, Galaxy Tab S3 Android tabletSample shot from Samsung Galaxy Tab S3. (Image resized for web).

Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 software, S Pen

I have a mixed feeling whether Android is the right choice or not for a tablet device. Android works so well on a smartphone, but the same cannot be said on tablets. The Galaxy Tab S3 can handle everything because it’s being promoted as entertainment device. But when it comes to productivity, Android isn’t the best option I can think of.

The Galaxy Tab S3 runs Android 7.0 Nougat with Samsung’s UI over the top. The software experience largely replicates what you get on the Galaxy S8 or any Samsung Galaxy smartphone for that matter. Logically, the user interface should have been tailored for a 9.7-inch screen, but unfortunately, it always reminds me that I’m using a smartphone.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S3, Galaxy Tab S3 review, Galaxy Tab S3 price in India, Galaxy Tab S3 Android tabletThe tablet also comes bundled with the S Pen like the Galaxy Note series to enhance productivity on a mobile device.

And that’s where the problem starts. I wish Google had more apps optimised for tablets beyond a few. In fact, many of of these apps simply look like a blown-up offering of the phone version.

Apple have been facing the same problem in the past , but iPad owners will find the iOS 11 to be a significant upgrade. Although iOS 11 is a continuation of iOS 10 than an all-new version, it does introduce some noteworthy changes that can expand what your iPad can achieve. In case of Samsung, this doesn’t apply because Google controls the software, the South Korean company is just a hardware partner.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S3, Galaxy Tab S3 review, Galaxy Tab S3 price in India, Galaxy Tab S3 Android tabletThe S Pen has been one of the favourite features of the Galaxy Tab S3. And I’m glad it comes bundled in the box this time.

The S Pen has been one of the favourite features of the Galaxy Tab S3. And I’m glad it comes bundled in the box this time. The S Pen has a diameter of just 9.4 mm, while the pen tip measures only 0.7 mm, which makes handwriting feel natural. It supports 4,096 pressure sensitivity levels. Thankfully, Samsung has made a slew of apps which takes advantage of the S Pen capabilities.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 verdict

The Galaxy Tab S3 is no doubt a great entertainment device. It get many things right, especially when it comes to consuming content. For example, the 9.7-inch display is simply the best I’ve ever seen on a tablet. I also really like the implementation of the S Pen; and yes, it comes in the box, so you won’t have to pay extra to get it. The overall performance and the quality of sound from the quad speakers is okay, if not the best.

In my opinion, Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 is the best Android tablet you can buy right now. Clearly, the company’s intent is to make an iPad Pro rival, not a Surface Pro 4 competitor. That distinction should be remembered when you consider the Galaxy Tab S3.

 

HTC U11 Review: A ‘Squeezable’ Smartphone Designed to Flaunt

 

Quick Question: What’s common between an orange, a forearm exerciser and HTC’s new primo product called U11?

Answer: You can squeeze all of them!

Yes, that’s what HTC claims to be the U11’s UPS, “the squeezable smartphone”.

PS: Sorry for the lame forearm exerciser joke!

https://giphy.com/embed/3o7TKPdUkkbCAVqWk0via GIPHY

Yes, the HTC U11 looks something out of HTC’s top drawer, but the company seems to be trying too hard to make up for the shortcoming of the HTC U Ultra and U Play.

Does the HTC U11 really make you squeeze that extra buck out of your pocket? Let’s take a look.

Snapshot

Click here to collapse

Pros:

  • Great display
  • Battery life is good
  • Camera clicks excellent pictures
  • Clean UI
  • Beautiful mirror finish
  • Edge Sense
  • Water-resistant

Cons:

  • Attracts smudges & fingerprints
  • Slippery in the hand
  • No 3.5mm headphone jack

What’s Good?

The fact that I could squeeze and play with the phone instantly made me like the HTC U11. The ‘squeeze’ feature acts like a shortcut gesture, something like what we have seen with Moto’s flick gesture or OnePlus’ Alert Slider. Although, I feel HTC’s gesture squeeze is the most intuitive.

The HTC U11’s Edge Sense feature allows you to squeeze the phone where the pressure sensors on the phone’s sides helps you interact with different applications of the phone.

You have options like “short squeeze” or “squeeze and hold”. The company has said that they will add more gestures in the future. The liquid glass surface design looks beautiful and I loved the way it reflects different colours in different lights.

(Photo: The Quint)

The 5.5-inch quad-HD display is fantastic! HTC didn’t stretch this one, unlike the S8 or the G6 display and stuck to the traditional thick bezel design. It offers great viewing angles and performs well even under direct sunlight.

The phone is running on the latest Snapdragon 835 chipset coupled with 6GB of RAM. A standard in today’s flagships. Performance is great and really didn’t have any problems with the phone. HTC has kept the phone devoid of bloatware which gives some extra points to the U11 and also makes the Android Nougat experience much better.

HTC U11 runs on Android 7.0 Nougat
HTC U11 runs on Android 7.0 Nougat (Photo: The Quint)

The HTC U11 comes with IP67 water-resistance, which means that the phone can be completely submerged underwater.

Apart from the 64GB of on-board storage it comes with an option to expand and we always like that. The same woofer and tweeter combo gets carried forward from the HTC 10 but this time the audio via the speakers sounds much more refined and louder.

Also, despite the fact that the 3.5mm jack has been removed from the setup, audio via the USB type-C headphones was remarkable. The headphones also offer noise cancellation so that makes the deal more sweeter.

The 12-megapixel rear camera on the HTC U11 is one of the best out there.
The 12-megapixel rear camera on the HTC U11 is one of the best out there. (Photo: The Quint)

Camera quality is excellent. It’s rated to be the best camera according to the DxOMark ratings. Snaps in daylight look excellent via the 12-megapixel rear camera. The 16-megapixel front camera is also ‘wow’. Just to round it up, you won’t have any complaints with the camera on the U11.

3000mAh battery on the HTC U11 is enough to last you the entire day
3000mAh battery on the HTC U11 is enough to last you the entire day (Photo: The Quint)

Despite the fact that 3000mAh on paper might look underwhelming that HTC U11’s battery performed really well. After a complete days use there was still enough charge at the end of the day for your evening Youtube matinee.

What’s Bad?

This list is going to be very short because it was really tough finding anything wrong with the U11. To start with, the liquid surface design might look beautiful but it attracts a lot of smudges and fingerprints so always carry a cleaning cloth if you want to flaunt this phone.

Although the HTC Sense squeeze feature is pretty innovative, it is prone to a lot of accidental activation. Sometimes you might accidentally trigger the application inadvertently by gripping the phone too hard (happened with me). Though not a deal breaker, it has to be used carefully.

On-board you have three virtual assistants like HTC’s Sense UI, Amazon’s Alexa and even Google Assistant. Okay, Alexa isn’t in India yet, but isn’t one assistant enough?

Also, photos in low light settings have overblown highlights. It is clear that the camera tries to overcompensate for the dark areas.

Worth Buying?

At Rs 51,990 the HTC U11 is the most aggressively priced flagship in India. It has the wherewithal to hold its own and compete shoulder to shoulder with the likes of the S8 and the Sony Xperia XZ Premium.

No 3.5mm headphone jack on the HTC U11
No 3.5mm headphone jack on the HTC U11 (Photo: The Quint)

The only thing working against HTC is that they are still under the spotlight because the HTC U Play and Ultra weren’t a huge hit and customers are now weary about the U11 the same way. Don’t worry people, the U11 is a much better gizmo and justifies its price tag appropriately.

 

HTC U11 review: A flagship device that’s well worth the money

Rating: *****

Price: Rs 51, 990

Specifications: 5.5-inch IPS LCD (2560 x 1440 pixels), Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor, 6GB RAM, 128GB storage (expandable), hybrid dual SIM, 12MP primary camera with OIS, 16MP front camera, 4G with VoLTE, dual band WiFi ac, Bluetooth 4.2, NFC, fingerprint scanner, dual speakers, IP67 certified, USB Type-C, Android 7.0, 3,000mAh battery, 169 grams.
HTC’s U series of smartphones (U Ultra and U Play), did not receive a favourable response, which we think was due to the steep pricing. Now it seems that someone at HTC has had a change of heart. This is probably why the recently launched HTC U11 — their latest flagship smartphone — is priced at an aggressive Rs 51,990.

With the U11, HTC continues with the ‘liquid glass’ surface design that we saw on the earlier U series devices. It has a mirror-like surface which gives the phone different hues depending on the ambient light. Obviously, this also makes it prone to fingerprints and smudges. You will need to use it with a case and helpfully, HTC provides a transparent soft case in the box. The rear has a slight curve which makes it comfortable to hold and at 169 grams, the U11 feels well balanced. The 3.5mm jack is gone (much to our chagrin) but HTC does provide a USB type C to 3.5mm adapter in the box.

One of the headlining features on this HTC flagship is ‘Edge Sense’. The phone has a pressure sensitive frame (the bottom half on both sides) that can be setup to perform a function when you ‘squeeze’ the phone. This works even if the phone is locked. You can change how hard you need to squeeze it for the action. Set it too light and it might trigger when you normally hold the phone. Too hard and you’ll need your full grip strength. Using this squeeze function, you can choose to launch the camera, take a screenshot, turn on the flashlight and so on. In advanced mode, you can set one function for a short squeeze and another for squeeze and hold. It sounds like a gimmick but it works really well once you identify the squeeze force level comfortable for you. Kudos to HTC for this perfect implementation of a new method of interaction with a smartphone.

Up front is a 5.5-inch 2k display (super LCD 5) with slim bezels, excellent brightness and vivid colours. As is usual with HTC devices, the screen is great for watching videos, browsing the web, reading text as well as playing games. Even though this is protected by Gorilla Glass 5, we recommend you get a screen protector from the start. Under the screen is the physical home button with integrated fingerprint scanner, flanked by the recent/back buttons. The fingerprint scanner is one of the best we have used — works from any angle and unlocked the phone 10 out of 10 times in our usage.

HTC U11 review: A flagship device that's well worth the money

The U11 is a powerhouse in specifications – you get the top-of-the-line Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor, 6GB RAM and 128GB internal storage. It runs HTC’s Sense UI based on the latest Android 7.1. As for benchmarks, it performs at par with the OnePlus 5’s 8GB variant — this is one of the fastest Android phones around. Needless to say, it will deliver seamless performance with real world usage. We faced no issues in playing any game, 4k video, running multiple apps (over 30 apps simultaneously) and switching between them. The battery back up from 3,000mAh battery was as expected too — a full day with normal use. With heavy usage, you might have to charge the phone by the evening. Thankfully it supports QuickCharge 3.0 and HTC bundled a QC 3.0 adapter in the box. With the supplied cable and charger, it goes from 10% to 75% in an hour.

Camera test specialists DxOMark have given the HTC U11’s camera a score of 90 — the highest awarded to any smartphone till date. The U11 has a 12MP rear camera with OIS, f1.7, phase and laser autofocus — all of these combined deliver stellar results. Daylight, indoors or lowlight: it does not matter with the U11. It consistently delivers crisp photos with good details and rich colour. On the software front, there is a pro mode (with RAW format support), panorama mode and auto mode for photos while for videos you get normal, hyperlapse and slow motion.

Video recording quality is also best in class along with 3D audio recording, courtesy the 4 microphones. With the ‘acoustic focus’ audio feature, you can zoom in on a particular audio source while recording video (to record audio from only that source instead of 360-degree sound). In our opinion, the HTC U11’s camera stands neck and neck with our current favorites: SamsungS8/S8+, iPhone 7 Plus and Google Pixel. The front wide angle 16MP camera is no slouch either — the image quality is fantastic with minimal noise.

There are several other features on the HTC U11 that deserve mention. The loud dual loudspeaker output, IP67 certification for water and dust resistance, support for Google Assistant, HTC Sense Companion, bundled USonic headphones with active noise cancellation and up to 2TB storage expansion support. These features make the U11 stand out from the current crop. It doesn’t have an IR emitter though — would have been a welcome addition.

The aggressive pricing is a sensible move from HTC. At Rs 51,990, this is a flagship well worth the money. Yes, the OnePlus 5 does offer better specifications (you can get 8GB RAM for `37,999), but the HTC U11 has a number of advantages. With the Samsung Galaxy S8 still priced at Rs 57,900 (4GB RAM, 64GB storage), the HTC U11 has no other competition. We highly recommend it to anyone looking for a flagship device.