Sunday, March 4, 2018

Xiaomi Mi Robot Vacuum 2 Review Specs, Price, Release Date

It has not been long since Xiaomi launched its first robot vacuum cleaner and it's even less than when we tested it in our review . Today, however, we have the opportunity to tell you what changes in the new model that comes out on the market not Xiaomi brand but with its original brand or Roborock . However, you will find it in the Asian stores associated with the famous Xiaomi brand, taking advantage of the fact that it is still a product linked to the Xiaomi / Mijia home automation brand, compatible with the Mi Home application.

Mi Robot Vacuum 2 arrives in the classic brown cardboard packaging and inside we find a fairly standard equipment, but with few spare parts (that is only replacement water nozzles). Then we have the charging base, much smaller than the previous one, and a new cable with Italian plug (even if you save something by buying the Chinese version). In addition to this you will also find a transparent plastic base useful to attach to the charging base so as not to wet the floor when the robot is being recharged. Finally the manual: the nice surprise is that for the first time it is already in English.

The robot has a design very similar to the previous model, with a white circular body and front shock absorber. Above we find a small white "turret" with an orange sonar inside that will rotate very quickly during use to scan the space around us. Half of the top is then opened to allow free access to the drawer where the dirt will be collected. This drawer is completely washable, as well as its filter. The drawer is not as big as the previous one but can still collect a large amount of dirt. The advice is however to empty it after every cleaning to maximize the suction power.

At the front and bottom, there are also proximity sensors to recognize obstacles and steps. Compared to the previous model approaches with much more delicacy obstacles , without ever hitting them with "violence" but always more slowly. At the bottom we find the most classic components: brush, two wheels of good size plastic and front wheel that can rotate. On the other hand, we have a start / power button, a return key at home, and a timely cleaning key. The cleaning speed is almost unchanged, while the power is just higher, while the ability to climb over objects is slightly lower. Objects of 2 centimeters are declared overtaken, but we found it stuck to the stools in the kitchen several times. The previous model was one of the very few cleaning robots that almost always managed to overcome them.

But let's talk about the Mi Home application for iOS and Android, which is definitely the strong point of the Xiaomi robots compared to most of the competition. Unfortunately, it is currently compatible with Chinese servers only. No limits in use (the application is still in English) but longer loading times for maps and greater variability on these same loading times.

It is possible from the application to start cleaning the entire house and after the first cleaning you will find yourself with the map of the entire house in the application. Provided that you do not disconnect the charging base from the power this map will become the basis for future cleaning. You can also choose the cleaning power by increasing or decreasing from the balanced use mode set by default . This whole house scanning feature will allow the robot to not waste time and optimize cleanliness and autonomy. You can send the robot to a specific point in the house and choose to perform a cleaning nearby. Convenient if you have water crumbs or have you soiled in the kitchen.

The biggest news from the software point of view is certainly the ability to select one or more areas of your home to be cleaned , even with multiple repetitions (up to 3). This was a very expected feature that allows you to become independent of the "virtual walls" (but still physical, having to buy the tape ). Unfortunately it is not possible to do the inverse, ie select an area where you do not clean, a feature that would be much more convenient for those who only wanted to eliminate areas from cleaning the entire house.

Finally from the settings you can program daily or weekly cleaning and choose to let the robot automatically increase the power on the carpets. Carpets that recognizes well and that does not drag even when very thin. From the settings you can then check the status of the filters and the cleaning of the sensors.

The autonomy is very good, as for the previous model, succeeding without too many problems to overcome the total hour and a half (with which it can clean around 150 square meters non-linear) and approaching two hours.

The second big news is the presence of a drawer that contains the water to be hooked on the lower back of the robot to which in turn connect one of the two supplied cloths. During cleaning the two nozzles continue to moisten the cloth . This will allow you not to replace the cleaning with a mop but to significantly raise the level of cleanliness offered by any robot vacuum cleaner. Pass a damp cloth on any freshly cleaned floor with a vacuum cleaner and you will find that there is always something to clean. The cloth should be replaced every 30 minutes but there is no automatic function to remind you. At the end of the cleaning, just rinse the cloth under the tap to clean it. Unfortunately, the cloth will remain wet even over the carpets.

Saturday, March 3, 2018

Final Fantasy XV Windows Edition: Tested In 4K With A NVIDIA GTX 1080

On March 6 will arrive on PC a highly anticipated title and that has had a great success on consoles. We are talking about Final Fantasy XV , which with the arrival on computer changes slightly name and adds the suffix " Windows Edition ". Not only a change of name, but also a large graphic update compared to the console counterpart, possible thanks to the collaboration with NVIDIA , which closely followed the project. The final result of this work we will analyze it better in the review, but today we can start to get an idea of ​​how the title turns on a high-end RIG, thanks to the widespread benchmark in the past hours from Square-Enix, a very useful tool to understand if your PC is ready to welcome the adventures of Noctis and companions.

It is certainly not the first time that the release of a PC game is anticipated by a benchmark to test its potential and technical requirements. In this case, however, the approach chosen by Square-Enix is different from the usual. Rather than through the frame rate, the score reached by a PC is expressed through a numerical score, to then be applied to a table that provides a more detailed feedback on the hardware requests. As we will see, these values ​​should be taken a bit with pliers, unless your goal is to make the game run at the highest level in 4Kalways at 60 fps. Object very difficult to judge from our tests, but with some minor compromise, more in the frame rate that in detail, we are confident that PC players will enjoy the title in the best in Ultra HD.

But let's go in order and see the requirements for playing Final Fantasy XV on PC. The minimum ones include an Intel i5-2500 or FX-6100 from AMD, along with a GTX 760-1050 graphics card or an AMD R9 280, 8 GB of RAM and 100 GB of disk space. Definitely more balanced the recommended requirements, which include an i7 3770 or an AMD FX-8350, an NVIDIA GTX 1060 GPU with 6 GB of RAM or a Radeon RX 480, all with 16 GB of RAM. A configuration that should ensure good performance in Full HD, but if you focus on the 4K is much more. In this case, the CPU rises to an i7 7700 or a Ryzen 1600X , while Square indicates the GTX 1080 Ti to fully enjoy the high resolution, all seasoned with 16 GB of RAM and 155 GB of disk space. A high-end gaming machine, in fact, today very expensive due to the increase in GPU and RAM memory.

In any case, to understand if the indicated requirements are plausible, we tested the benchmark of the game with well-bodied PC, whose configuration includes an Intel i7 7820X processor , Asus Prime X299-A motherboard, NVME M.2 disk from 480 GB, 16 GB of RAM at 2400 GHz and a GTX 1080 licensed MSI.

As we anticipated, the Final Fantasy XV Windows Edition benchmarkreturns a numeric value instead of frames per second averages as a final result. To understand the meaning of this value you can refer to the table that you find in this article. If the test returns a value from 0 to 1999 then it means that the minimum requirements are not met. Between 2000 and 2499 instead it is possible to start the title but with strong limitations; however, playing with resolution and graphics settings everything should be at least usable. Same thing, but with fewer limits, between 2500 and 2999. If instead your score is in a range from 3000 to 4499 means that you can play safely, but do not push the settings as much as possible. This increases up to scores above 12,000, which allow uncompromising use. Compromise that, needless to say,they are also necessary for a machine like the one used for the test.

The 4K gaming on PC requires many computational resources to be managed, thanks to the large amount of pixels on the screen, in a much higher number compared to Full HD. Regardless of the numbers indicated by Square-Enix, is it really possible to play in 4K with a test setup? The answer is yes, since the benchmarks we have done have returned in any case a sufficient frame rate, with some compromise, but without too obvious drops. All this without the possibility of fine tuning of the graphic parameters, which will only come with the complete title. In this case the only available settings concern only the resolution and the " High " presets , "Standard "and" Lite ", nothing more.

The first test took place in Full HD resolution and with settings on "High", returning a score of 7696. This value, according to the comparison table, indicates that the title should run well and with high details, which actually happened. The frame rate has never dropped below 60 fps, remaining for most of the benchmark above 70 fps, with peaks of 90. No problem in Full HD , but then the 1080 is a GPU designed for higher resolutions. In 4K the scenario changes, but the final result is still appreciable. With the settings on " Lite " the benchmark returns a score of 5765, for a frame rate that has never dropped below 50 fps, maintaining an average close to 60 fps, but with peaks of 75 fps.

On ""the drop is noticeable, it goes to an average of about 37 fps during the demo, with the negative peak that reached 34 fps. In this case the score assigned by the benchmark is 4162, described by the comparative tebella with a simple " You can expect performance in the media ." Finally, even with high-quality graphics on "High", the title was potentially playable, despite the score of 3396 and an average of about 30 fps, with a negative peak of 23 fps, however only a few moments during a frenetic fight.

In short, the requirements indicated by Square-Enix for its title seem plausible, and with a 1080 Ti instead of the standard 1080 used for testing the benchmark would certainly have returned a more stable average frame rate around 30 fps also in 4K and maximum detail. So if you understand how much your PC is ready for Final Fantasy XV Windows Edition, this benchmark will certainly do it for you, making it a useful indication, albeit not very precise, on the final performance of the game.

Friday, March 2, 2018

Samsung Galaxy Note 8 review: Champion in his own class

The Samsung Galaxy Note 8 enters a heavy legacy and must make forget the disgrace of the Note 7. In the test, we also wanted to know whether the Mega-Phablet can convince even note newcomers.

Actually, my colleague Franzi should test the Galaxy Note 8, as she is the Samsung expert in the editorial department. However, due to their tight schedule, the stylus with the stylus landed on my desk, and for the first time ever, I had the honor of focusing on a device from Samsung's famous range of notes.

Reference class in design

With a screen diagonal of 6.3 inches, the Note 8 is one of the "biggest" smartphones of all time and I was really worried about how well the Phablet would feel in my hand. But even when unpacking the relief came: The Galaxy Note 8 is by no means as monstrous, as the display dimension suggests and it is also very good in the hand thanks to its excellent ergonomic design.

Samsung's design is very much based on the Galaxy S8. So the front of the smartphone is almost completely covered by the huge AMOLED display. The side edges are bent like the Galaxy S8 Plus, creating the illusion of a truly borderless screen. In fact, there is a slim metal frame that wraps around the device. Up and down, the Note 8 has very narrow edges, leaving no room for a Home button or a Samsung logo. Since the display is held in the format 18.5: 9, the smartphone has an almost slim and elongated shape.

The back is also completely covered with rounded glass on the side and is only loosened up by the dual camera and the fingerprint sensor. The latter is as on the Galaxy S8 right next to the camera, but this time much better to feel. However, his position is problematic and uncomfortable for left-handers. Here I would have found a more practical design better. Overall, however, the look and finish of the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 are the absolute benchmark and, with the exception of the Galaxy S8, no other smartphone out there.

The most beautiful display of the smartphone world

The title says it all: In the Super AMOLED display of the Note 8, the South Koreans once again outdone themselves. No other screen at the time of the test offers similarly intense and vivid colors and such a good contrast ratio. Thanks to HDR support, owners of the Note 8 can even stream corresponding content from Netflix and YouTube and make the most of every pixel.

Hardware power and software

For the hardware I would like to not at this point lose too many words, because this is almost identical to the Galaxy S8 except for the large memory of 6 GB of RAM. This means in practice a top performance with decent power reserves even for demanding games. You find the exact Specs in the info box under the test.

Samsung has really surprised me in some ways with the software. So I find the revised user interface of the Galaxy Note 8 really chic, clear and very stylish. Gone are the days of colorful and overloaded interfaces at Samsung.

It is a pity, on the other hand, that there is still a lot of bloatware on the Note 8. Sure, there are the usual Google and Samsung apps, with some still doubling. But then there is also Facebook, which I almost never use on my smartphone and a folder with Microsoft apps such as Word, Excel, PowerPoint and LinkedIn. The latter are good in themselves, but certainly not for every user. All the more annoying is that they can not be uninstalled.

The S Pen and its functions

One feature that has always distinguished the Note range from the mass of smartphones is clearly the S pen stylus, based on the technology of graphics specialist Wacom. The pen can be like the predecessors pull out of the bottom right bottom. As soon as this happens, the Note 8 automatically switches to a separate input mode for the S Pen and presents the compatible apps. Personally, I mainly used the notes app to write things down and maybe garnish them with a little graphic. Incidentally, short notes can also be made when the screen lock is activated.

The use of the pen is wonderfully intuitive and with a little practice you can even write and draw really well on the screen. However, I have noticed that the S pen is not a killer feature for me, but I'm not the one who takes many notes in everyday life. For people who often use their smartphone as a digital notepad, there is no device more suitable than grade 8.

Smartphone security: Unlock as desired

As for the biometric unlocking of the Galaxy Note 8, Samsung is launching heavy guns. It does not matter if it's a fingerprint, iris scan or face scan - the Phablet offers its users a wide variety of options for easy unlocking.

The fingerprint is still the fastest and most reliable method because the scanner is not affected by light or brightness. Just stupid that the scanner was placed comparatively unfortunate next to the camera. Why Samsung has not decided similar to Huawei, LG or Google for a placement below the camera, remains a mystery.

The iris scanner is probably the best replacement for the fingerprint and also does a good job. In the test, the technique worked well in almost all cases and only took a little longer to unlock the Note 8 in some very bright environments. However, one disadvantage is that the smartphone always has to be held in front of the face in a certain minimum distance to unlock it.

As a third option, Samsung finally also offers a face recognition. How safe and reliable this method really is, I still can not say after my multi-day test. Feels like it works a bit more inaccurate than the iris scan, but at least I did not manage to trick the scanner with a photo.

Also, you can combine the different biometric unlocking methods and I would use the Galaxy Note 8 longer in everyday life, then I would probably put on a combination of iris scanner and fingerprint sensor: the iris scanner as standard and the fingerprint, if this once failed.

Class dual camera with many features

If in addition to display and design in recent years, there was an area where Samsung was really strong, then the camera. The Galaxy Note 8 is no exception and even offers more features than its predecessors or the current S8 models thanks to the dual camera . All in all, the two 12-megapixel sensors capture a lot of light and create sharp photos with very natural colors. Especially in weaker light conditions, Samsung once again shows the assembled competition where the hammer hangs.

The combination of different focal lengths with wide-angle lens and telephoto lens, the Note 8 offers a double optical zoom, as it has, for example, the iPhone 7 Plus. The game with the depth of field dominated Samsung: Just like the iPhone, the Huawei P10 or the Nokia 8 can take pictures with bokeh effect. The sharpness or blurring level can be fine-adjusted even after the actual photographing via the software. However, I found the use of this feature unusually cumbersome, simply because Samsung had hidden it for my taste a bit too good in the system.

Incidentally, video fans will also get their money's worth. For the first time in a smartphone with dual camera both lenses have an optical image stabilization. What this technique does in practice is more than just a bit impressive and should impress hobbyists. But a real gimbal can not replace image stabilization.

In my personal top list of the best smartphone cameras, the Galaxy Note 8 is still at the top and only has iPhone, Pixel and HTC U11 next to it. Even in the age of dual cameras, Samsung is thus the manufacturer to beat it once.

Some minor weaknesses

After the battery disaster on the Galaxy Note 7, Samung apparently opted for a conservative approach this year, using a slightly smaller battery. With a capacity of 3300 mAh, the battery of the Note 8 is anything but small-sized, but it is also a large device with a giant display and many features. The battery life is therefore only average overall.

Annoying is also that the separate Bixby button can not be freely occupied. I understand that Samsung wants to offer its own language assistant for markets in which Google is not particularly active. Why the company thinks it's a good idea, however, to tie the untranslated software to Note 8 buyers in Germany is a mystery to me. Another negative: stereo speakers, such as the current iPhone, does not have the grade 8. But this is actually only relevant for those users who like to use their smartphone as a Beatbox replacement. I definitely do not belong.

Conclusion: A champion in his own class

Could the Galaxy Note 8 convince me in the end? Well, partly already. For example, after my test, I'm convinced that we're dealing with one of the best smartphones ever built. Overall, performance, camera and features are clearly a reference class and probably never was a smartphone so elegant yet idiosyncratically designed.

The only major weakness I could make the only average battery. Other things, such as the somewhat unfortunate placement of the fingerprint scanner and the fact that Bixby is still pointless in Germany, did not succeed in disrupting the overall positive impression.

However, I was not completely convinced by the S Pen. But that's not because this feature would be bad, it's just not for me. If I had to choose, I would probably rather buy the slightly smaller, but meanwhile much cheaper Galaxy S8 Plus .

Overall, the note in the eighth generation is no longer a smartphone that hovers over things. The competition from Apple, Huawei or LG offers its own top phablets with some outstanding performance data. Samsung remains with the Grade 8, although just about the class leader now calls with just under 1000 € but also a more than proud price. What makes the Phablet continue to shine unrivaled, is the S Pen. There is simply no comparable device in the market for pin fans. The Galaxy Note 8 is thus virtually the champion in its own class.

Sony Xperia XA2 Full Specs, Review and Price

With the Xperia XA2, Sony has launched a new mid-range smartphone with neat upgrades compared to its predecessor. These include a Full HD display, a modern and efficient processor and 4K video support. Is that enough to show the taillights to the competition? The Xperia XA2 offers, according to Sony, a "smart design" and "simple elegance" with a "borderless design". Almost borderless is the smartphone but only on the sides. On the top and bottom, on the other hand, the edge is actually quite thick. This is not practical from a practical point of view, because thanks to the reduced width of the 5.2-inch smartphone is very good in one hand. Stable Gorilla Glass 4 meanwhile protects the display.

The frame of the Xperia XA2 is made of metal and the back of plastic. The fingerprint sensor is located under the back of the camera and is easy to reach. Overall, the smartphone makes a very stable impression and the design is indeed elegant thanks to the almost seamlessly merging into the frame display. However, some users may be bothered by the 16: 9 format, since the narrower 18: 9 format is the trend, or they are bumping up and down the large frame.

The Xperia XA2 is sturdy, self-contained and practical. With current trends like 18: 9 and a thin frame up and down Sony makes (yet) not, which is anyway a matter of taste and also has disadvantages.

Equipment and Performance: Fine upgrade with gaps

The 5.2-inch IPS display resolves at 1920 x 1080 pixels, which can be compared to the 1280 x 720 pixels of the five-inch predecessor Xperia XA1 . The internal memory is 32 GB and the RAM is 3 GB. The processor is now the Snapdragon 630 from the middle class, which ensures fast and fluid operation. The battery has a capacity of 3300 mAh and allows a very good battery life, which extends over a day in mixed use. In the test, we never had to worry about the battery, which is recharged very quickly via Quick Charge 3.0 anyway.

Audio and Cameras: Great sound and good main camera

Unfortunately, Sony has not installed a stereo speaker, but the mono speaker is quite loud and delivers a good sound quality. Even a little bass is, atypical for smartphone, to make out. The sound quality via the jack connection is even excellent, even if the volume is not high enough for more sophisticated headphones. Even the supplied in-ears already deliver a decent, punchy sound. On top of that, the XA2 supports Bluetooth 5.0 including aptX HD, so even the friends of compatible Bluetooth headphones can enjoy a great sound.

The main camera with IMX300 sensor and 23-megapixel resolution Sony uses a while ago in its higher-class smartphones and recently in the Xperia XA1. As a flagship camera, she disappointed, but as a mid-size specimen, she can be seen. Compared to the predecessor succeed despite identical sensor better photos, probably due to software updates. Details are accurately captured in good light conditions, dynamics and color reproduction are appealing - except in the HDR mode, which captures the photos oversaturated. Night photos succeed comparatively neat, unless you look at the details in the highest resolution.

At the edges, the sharpness of photos and videos unfortunately always visible, which is due to the wide-angle lens. Thanks to object tracking during video recording, moving objects such as the subway and running people are also captured. The electronic image stabilization called SteadyShot works well and the videos convince with striking contrast, accurate colors and decent dynamic range.

For the 4K clips look better than their Full HD counterparts, but not outstandingly sharp, but rather soft and mediocre detail. Also the sound should have been recorded in better quality. After all, the 4K clips can be stored in the new H.265 codec and thus require less space.

The selfie wide-angle camera with a resolution of 8 megapixels, unfortunately, in contrast to the selfie cam of the Xperia XA1, on the auto focus. So it is difficult to get sharp selfies and details will be missed. For some reason, the selfies 120 degrees wide mode also appear warmer and better exposed than in the 80 degree mode. But we've also experienced far worse selfie cams.

Conclusion: Convincing middle-class smartphone

It looks quite as if Sony would jump with its upcoming flagship smartphones on the 18: 9-train. If you want to see a classic Sony design at its best, you should take a closer look at the Xperia XA2. Thanks to thin edges on the sides, it fits well in one hand, the smartphone is sturdy and in his way, as Sony rightly says, practical and elegant.

The upgrades are noticeable compared to the predecessor, especially the Full HD display. A real highlight is the flagship-worthy sound quality via jack and Bluetooth headphones. The main camera also delivers a very good quality for its class and the battery lasts for a very long time. A 4 GB larger RAM and 64 instead of 32 GB of internal memory would have made the Xperia XA2 an optimal mid-range smartphone, but even so it remains a highly recommended device. An alternative is the Bq Aquaris X Pro, which is roughly equal in price for the same price of 350 euros.