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  1. What makes a smartphone great? Is it the performance? Its build quality or it's the ability to take incredible pictures? Usually, you would settle for one of these features but what if I told you can get all of them in one phone that doesn't cost a lot? Don't believe me? The Pixel 4a is here to prove you wrong. We've been using the phone for a week to play some casual games, browse the Internet and click photos; a lot of photos. It was by far our favourite thing to do with the Pixel 4a and here's what we think about the recently launched smartphone. Design And Display When you look at the Pixel 4a, you won't find any flashy design or a glossy back that most smartphones have started to adopt in 2020. Instead, you will find a design that looks like it came out of the German art school 'Bauhaus'. The bezels have been slimmed down considerably, the camera sensor is on the top right corner and it's got that polycarbonate finish that hides smudge and fingerprints. © MensXP/Akshay Bhalla The Pixel 4a is not particularly big as compared to any recent smartphone launched in the past three years and only comes in black. The phone measures around 5.7 (h) by 2.7 (w) by 0.3 inches (d) which makes it one the smallest and thinnest smartphones of the year. The smartphone can fit in almost every hand and feels kind of cute to operate. The back of the phone borrows the design from the Pixel 4 including the square camera module. However, it only houses one sensor. There's also a fingerprint sensor at the back that lands perfectly on your index finger when using the smartphone. © MensXP/Akshay Bhalla The smartphone also comes with a 3.5mm headphone jack and a USB-C port for charging. The left side of the phone has a distinct mint colour power button and the volume rocker. The design is quite standard here apart from the fact that it doesn't have any water and dust resistance. © MensXP/Akshay Bhalla The Pixel 4a has a 5.81-inch OLED display with a resolution of 2,340 by 1,080 pixels and 443ppi density. The display is easy to use in closed environments; however, the brightness could be better as it gets particularly hard to read the text under sunlight. We also noticed some issues with the auto-brightness feature as some of the shifts were too aggressive and not appropriate to the environment we were in. We instead chose to use the brightness slider manually. The display on the Pixel 4a is decent overall; however, we did notice a slight blue hue and colour than what we're used to with OLED displays in general. Having said that, the pixel density of the display is quite impressive and is a dream to watch video content in general. Camera The marquee feature on the Pixel 4a is its photography capabilities, thanks to Google's computational photography algorithm. While it uses the same 12.2 MP Sony IMX 363 that was used in Pixel 3; Google's computational photography makes it one of the best camera smartphones to own in 2020. © MensXP/Akshay Bhalla We tested the camera in multiple lighting conditions and we have to say that phone did not falter in delivering great results. The algorithm gets the colours right most of the time. However, you will notice a bit of oversaturation after the image has been processed. In good lighting conditions, the Pixel 4a can take some incredible shots, especially when capturing portrait images. The portrait mode worked incredibly well on my hairy dogs and even objects. Many phones can't do portrait shots of objects well but the Pixel 4a delivered every single time. Sure, sometimes it can get the details wrong since it isn't perfect; but we would pick the Pixel 4a's portrait mode over the iPhone 11 Pro and Samsung Galaxy devices any day. If you want a comparison with OnePlus phones, let's say it's not even worth doing because the recently launched OnePlus 8T doesn't even come close in almost every photography mode. © MensXP/Akshay Bhalla The Pixel 4a can even take some incredible night mode shots with its Night Sight feature. The phone excels in this department. When you are clicking a night-mode image from the Pixel 4a; you will find a lot of grain, noise and light flare which disappears after the Pixel 4a is done doing its magic. Check out some of our camera samples below to get a better idea about Pixel 4a's photography capabilities: Performance The Pixel 4a is powered by Qualcomm's Snapdragon 730G chipset and has been coupled with 6GB of LPDDR4x RAM. In our usage, the overall performance was quite impressive, although there were a few jitters when opening apps. However, that was quite rare and even when it happened it wouldn't hinder your overall experience. The smartphone also comes with 128GB of internal storage and cannot be expanded since it doesn't come with a MicroSD slot. © MensXP/Akshay Bhalla The other time you will notice some delay is when you click images on the smartphone. Expectedly, it takes a tad bit longer to process the image in the gallery which we weren't bothered by since the final result was quite impressive. In terms of gaming, the Pixel 4a performs on the same level as smartphones priced at the same category. We didn't notice any problems while playing Asphalt 8. However, with games with large environments such as Genshin Impact, we did notice some frame drops when the world was populated with multiple enemies. The chipset yielded a score of 469 (single-core) and 1179 (multi-core) in our Geekbench 5 benchmark test. The Pixel 4a has a 3,140 mAh battery that can be fast-charged using the supplied PD-charger or any other power delivery adapter. The smartphone can last longer than you would expect it to. We streamed video content in full HD on Netflix and it lasted about 7.5 hours on a single charge at full brightness. That's quite impressive given the size of the phone and it's battery. However, it's not the best when compared to the other options available in a similar price range. Software © MensXP/Akshay Bhalla The Pixel 4a ships with Android 11 out of the box and it delivers the pure Android experience Pixel smartphones are known for. Having said that, OEMs have spoilt Indian smartphone users with features that might make the Pixel 4a seem bland. Having said that, you get all the improvements Android 11 offers on the Pixel 4a and will keep getting the latest updates by Google for the next three years. The most loveable features on the Pixel 4a are the Android 11 features such as live captioning, voice note captioning and better texting experiences via the messages app. Live Captions comes most handy when you are listening to podcasts or watching videos and even phone calls. As of now it only works for the English language but we expect Google to add other languages soon. The Final Say If you're looking for a smartphone that can take incredible photos, isn't too big and gets all of Android's latest updates; then the Pixel 4a is a great option to consider. We particularly like the photography features and its performance that even puts 2020 flagship phones to shame. The Pixel 4a comes with Google's unparalleled image processing capabilities that nobody has been able to match yet. For Rs 29,999, you simply can't pass up this great smartphone. View the full article
  2. It hasn't even been full six months since the OnePlus 8 launched in India and the company has already come out with a new phone today. The OnePlus 8T was announced moments ago and we've been using the phone for about 10 days to see whether this new phone was even required to launch in such short notice. While OnePlus 8 and 8 Pro are still available to purchase as we speak, there isn't an 8T Pro model this year. This means the OnePlus 8T comes with some incremental upgrades, a familiar design and many features missing which you can find on the OnePlus 8 Pro. Usually, the “T” nomenclature of OnePlus phones come with the latest Qualcomm flagship chipset, however this is not the case with the 8T. The phone is powered by the same Snapdragon 865 chipset and not the plus variant of the SoC like the company did with the 7T last year. While it may not seem a big upgrade from the previous phones, the 8T is meant for users who've been using older phones like the OnePlus 7 or even older Android phones. Here's what we think about the OnePlus 8T at launch. Design and Display The OnePlus 8T resembles the OP8 quite a bit apart from one noticeable difference. At the back, the camera module has now been moved to the top left corner similar to Samsung Galaxy phones. However, it does not have a massive bump here. There is a very slight overhang, however it does not offset the phone when kept on a flat surface. The camera module houses four camera sensors which we will talk about in detail in the camera section of the review. © MensXP_Akshay Bhalla Additionally, the phone has a set of two logos at the back of the phone which we still don't understand why. There's the official OnePlus logo at the centre and another one at the bottom centre which spells the brand name on bold letters. We didn't like these logos on the previous phones and the case remains the same here with the OnePlus 8T. From the front, you will not notice much difference compared to the OP8 and OP8 Pro phones as it features the same punch-holder display. However, it does have a flatter design rather than being curved which we prefer more over the OnePlus 8 series smartphones. © MensXP_Akshay Bhalla The display is also the same size as the OnePlus 8, measuring at 6.5-inches and has a refresh rate of 120Hz. The phone does push the frames for better scrolling and gaming experiences however we would like to have seen OnePlus make some improvements in this department. While the 120Hz refresh rate display feels great to use, it affects the battery life. OnePlus should have by now implemented some form of dynamic refresh rates like the iPad Pro and the new Samsung Galaxy flagship smartphones. Not only does it help in saving battery life, but also puts less pressure on the GPU which results in longer life for the SoC. Having said that, we do have to talk about a problem we faced during our review period. Our review unit has a slight green tint problem which is quite common in AMOLED displays. The green tint was viewable in every menu, app, and video applications which meant it hindered our experience quite a bit. We can't talk much about the display since our review unit's display is faulty, however, we did reach out to OnePlus and here's what they had to say: “Under certain low-light settings, users may notice a slight discolouration around the edges of the display. This is likely a result of the circuit design and light-emitting characteristics of the AMOLED display and will not affect the daily use and durability of the screen. OnePlus has calibrated the display extensively and is committed to always provide a better user experience. Using software we did our best to address the issue.” © MensXP_Akshay Bhalla At the time of this review, no OTA update hasn't been rolled out yet that fixes the display issue at launch. We can expect OnePlus to calibrate the display before it goes on sale. However, for some reason, we suspect this has more to do with the hardware than software calibration. We could be wrong though as one can only be sure once an update is issued by OnePlus and we get to test it for ourselves. As for other assessments about the display, we can't give an opinion at the moment and will update this review if a fix is rolled out soon. Cameras © MensXP_Akshay Bhalla The OnePlus 8T comes with a quad-lens setup consisting of a 48-megapixel Sony IMX586 wide main camera, a 16MP ultra-wide camera, a 5MP macro lens and a 2MP monochrome sensor. Speaking from experience with the OnePlus 8, since it has the same setup, you will probably only use the main and ultra-wide sensor more. The macro lens doesn't work at all times and when it does, it doesn't capture all the right details. The monochrome sensor is just another filter lens you can use for your images, however nothing is stopping you from doing that in post with third-party applications either. © MensXP_Akshay Bhalla As far as the picture quality is concerned, it still has the same old problem as every OnePlus device that has launched prior. Some images have a blur effect going on and some images tend to be very dull. The camera also ignores a lot of the bright colours and the saturation levels don't match up with the asking price of the phone. There are times the camera algorithm boosts the saturation to levels that aren't worthy of being shared on social media. There's something seriously wrong with the way the camera works on the OnePlus 8T as you will always have hits or misses. If you just like to point and shoot like 90% of smartphone users out there, you will be disappointed. Portrait images look sub-par with very little accuracy around the edges and it doesn't work with objects. While there have been some improvements in OnePlus' night mode, it's still not at par with phones that cost less. You will be able to capture better night mode images with budget phones by Xiaomi or Realme than what the OnePlus 8T is capable of. If you are interested in looking at some of the camera samples, check out our gallery below: Performance and Battery Much like every other OnePlus phone, the OP 8T is impressive in the performance department. While it is powered by the same Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 chipset, it still delivers a flagship-level performance in games. Our review unit came with 12GB of Ram and 256GB internal storage. The 12GB RAM certainly played a crucial role in delivering a smooth and stable experience. It ran games and did everything at the highest setting possible with no frame rate drops whatsoever. In our Geekbench 5 test, the OnePlus 8T scored 883 in the Single-Core test and 3167 in the multi-core test. Oddly enough, the OnePlus 8T's benchmark scores are lower than the OnePlus 8 for the time being and that's probably because the phone runs on Android 11 and lacks the optimisations at launch. Nevertheless, the benchmark scores are still quite impressive and are at par with the iPhone 11 series. In our GPU test, the OnePlus 8T scored 1228 in the GFX Bench Aztec Ruins Vulkan test which is also less than the OnePlus 8. © MensXP_Akshay Bhalla Having said that, in real-world usage, the phone is capable of handling some of the most graphic-intensive games with ease. We played quite a bit of Genshin Impact, an RPG that has very high draw distances and highly detailed character models. We played the game in the highest settings for mobile platforms possible and it ran consistently on 60 frames per second apart from when we faced huge bosses. There was a slight dip in the frame rates when there were too many enemies and elements on the screen which was expected as it also happens on Apple's iPad Pro. When it comes to the battery, the second significant upgrade is probably the new 65W Warp Charge speeds. The phone's 4,500 mAh battery can be fully charged in about 40 minutes, however it only works with the new charger in the box. Previous chargers will not be able to deliver the same charging speed and instead charge at 30W. The supplied charger in the box is also a 'Power Delivery' charger which can be used to charge compatible devices like laptops, other PD phones, the Nintendo Switch and various other devices up to 45W. This means if you are looking for a capable PD charger, OnePlus' charger can be used with multiple devices making it easier to travel with less charging bricks. If you plan to use your PD charger with the OnePlus 8T, it will charge at 27W as well. Software Probably our favourite part of every OnePlus device is its Android skin. The OnePlus 8T comes with Oxygen OS 11 based on Android 11 out of the box. It has taken a lot of design cues from Samsung's OneUI which may not be your cup of tea. However, the core OnePlus experience stays intact here while also bringing more intuitive design changes. There are also new animations and a new Always-on display feature that fans have been asking for a while. You can personalise the content in the AOD settings to your liking by picking your preferred clock faces, battery status, screensavers and personal messages. You can even use your Bitmoji avatar in the AOD settings, however this feature is exclusive to OxygenOS 11 right now. There's also now more emphasis on one-hand touch controls similar to what you may have previously seen on Samsung OneUI devices. If you have to do a lot of paperwork and need to send scans of your documents, you can now capture an image of the document from the camera app and straighten the image from the Gallery. Besides, it sharpens the text, automatically detects the edges and makes it worthy of being sent as a scanned document. Other new additions include a new speech-to-text feature where it captions everything you are recording within the application. If you are a blogger, journalist, or a video content creator, this is a very handy feature to have for transcribing the text or creating captions for your video. © MensXP_Akshay Bhalla Zen mode has also been expanded where you can use the digital wellbeing feature with other users. The new mode is called the “group Zen Mode” where you and your friends can use the feature together on individual devices and focus more on your conversation at hand. There are five themes in the new mode, namely Ocean, Space, Grassland, Sunrise, and Meditation. The Final Say The OnePlus 8T retails in India for Rs 42,999 (8GB+ 128GB) and Rs 45,999 (12GB+ 256GB) which is not a bad price when considering the hardware inside. However, it does make it hard to recommend this phone especially since the OnePlus 8 will be cheaper and is almost identical to this phone. OnePlus 8 has already received the Oxygen OS 11 update and from our experience, even performs better than the OnePlus 8T. Having said that, if you are using a smartphone from 2018 or earlier, the OnePus 8T is a great upgrade to consider, thanks to the 120Hz display and the new battery charging tech. If you are slightly strapped for cash, you can always consider OnePlus 8 as it too is a great phone even right now. View the full article
  3. It’s exciting to be a PC Gamer right now as Nvidia unveiled its RTX 3000 series of GPUs that brings the second generation of ray-tracing tech and the new Ampere architecture. We got a chance to check out the latest GPU from Zotac and tested it to play different games in 4K, 2K and 1080p resolution. While many are excited about the latest PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X consoles, PC gaming has always been a step ahead and Zotac’s RTX 3080 Trinity is a part of that journey. © Zotac While there have been changes made to certain aspects of the new GPUs such as the 12-pin connector, it remains business as usual for Zotac users. The GPU does come with a converter of its own, however since we already own a Zotac 2080ti, we didn’t need it. As for the other aspects of the GPU, it uses a traditional design, albeit a bit larger than the Zotac 2080Ti, standard PCIe power connectors, and the FireStorm utility software for overclocking needs. Needless to say, it also runs all the proprietary GeForce services such as GeForce Now, Game Stream Shield devices and of course better ray-tracing. © MensXP/Akshay Bhalla The Zotac GeForce RTX 3080 Trinity is priced at Rs. 69,990, the same as the Founders Edition at launch and offers the same super-fast 4K gaming performance on recent games like Control and Death Stranding. The main difference between the Zotac GeForce RTX 3080 Trinity and Founder’s Edition at least from the outside is the triple-fan cooling system on the former GPU. Jumping from Zotac RTX 2080ti to Zotac RTX 3080 © MensXP/Akshay Bhalla One thing is clear, this next generation of GPUs is not only about graphic fidelity as both GPUs can run AAA titles in its highest settings. The main upgrade you will notice here are other aspects of PC games' performance such as resolution/frame-rate and better real-time ray-tracing. There is no doubt that the Zotac RTX 3080 Trinity is better at delivering higher frames in 4K resolution and better real-time ray tracing. While ray-tracing works well on the 2080Ti GPUs, the envelope has truly been pushed with the new RTX 3000 GPUs. ZOTAC GeForce RTX 3080 Trinity Architecture (GPU): Ampere CUDA Cores: 8704RT Cores: 68 Tensor Cores: 272 GPU Boost Clock: 1710 MHz Memory Capacity: 10GB GDDR6X Memory Bus: 320-bit Memory Clock: 19 GB/s TDP: 320W To achieve better performance in all attributes mentioned above, NVIDIA implemented additional RT cores that make it easier and faster for the GPU to render real-time ray-tracing. To run games smoothly, Tensor Cores have also been added which leverage NVIDIA’s DLSS AI tech to push better frames in every game that supports it. The DLSS 2.0 performance has been significantly boosted in RTX 3080 GPUs and it can be best noticed in Remedy’s Control as the game truly works in tandem with the GPU to deliver some astounding visuals and performance. © MensXP/Akshay Bhalla In the case of RTX 3080 Trinity by Zotac, you can’t get a better GPU that features a significant bump in the CUDA core count (somewhat graphic processors). The GPU takes full advantage of the new Ampere architecture, however it wouldn’t have been possible without the help of additional second-gun RT cores and third-get Tensor cores. If you were to think of a flagship GPU by one of the AIC (add-in card) vendors, then the RTX 3080 Trinity is one of the few. The GPU's design, construction, minimal RGB accents and the build quality is second to none. We compared it to our Zotac RTX 2080Ti AMP GPU (one of the largest form factors from the previous generation) to the review unit at hand, and the first thing you will notice is that the RTX 3080 Trinity is slightly larger. Its dimensions stand at 317.8mm (L), 120.7mm (H), and 58mm (W) which can be problematic for some mid-tower cases. If you plan on buying this GPU, we recommend getting a slightly larger case that can easily accommodate the dimensions of the GPU and leaves ample room for air-flow. © MensXP/Akshay Bhalla Speaking of cooling, the ZOTAC GeForce RTX 3080 Trinity uses a three-fan design and from what we have seen, it runs cooler than the founder’s edition even when we overclocked it. You will find that the GPU idles at around 45-degrees Celsius which is quite impressive given that other GPUs run at significantly higher temperatures. However, there is one drawback to having additional fans - the ZOTAC GeForce RTX 3080 Trinity can get loud especially when it is running at 100% in games like Death Stranding and Shadow of the Tomb Raider. Having said that, better cooling is always going to be our priority over noise levels and we don’t have anything to complain about in this department. Considering the new hardware, new high-speed memory in the form of GDDR6X and its capabilities, we were left quite impressed. Game Performance Benchmarks Having great hardware won’t mean a single thing if it didn’t deliver expected performance in games. In our two weeks of testing, the RTX 3080 Trinity was able to achieve some impressive numbers in various games in various resolutions. There were times we could not believe the frames we were getting in AAA titles even when the entire screen was populated by NPCs, enemies and big environments. From our testing, we concluded the ZOTAC GeForce RTX 3080 Trinity delivers exceptional performance in 4K and 1440p gaming. We tested the GPU with a Samsung 4K 120Hz TV and a 144Hz 1440P monitor. If you want to know how it performed in games in terms of frames per second and different resolutions, check out our graph below that mentions the games, resolution and FPS details. Do note, the higher the FPS number means the better it is: Hardware Used: GPU: ZOTAC GeForce RTX 3080 TrinityCPU: Intel i7-8700KMotherboard: Asus ROG STRIX Z370E G.Skill Trident Z 2x16GB RGB 3200MHz DDR4 RAM© MensXP/Akshay Bhalla © MensXP/Akshay Bhalla © MensXP/Akshay Bhalla From the graphs above, it’s clear that it proves what we’ve been trying to say in the entire review. ZOTAC GeForce RTX 3080 Trinity’s 4K performance is 33% better than my Zotac RTX 2080 Ti Amp GPU where it easily hits and maintains impressive frames in demanding games. I have also played these games in 4K on my 2080ti, where the performance isn’t as impressive. However, when turning down the resolution to 1440p, the gains don’t look as significant which is what we expected. As mentioned earlier, the new RTX 3000 series GPUs is all about pushing the gaming to 4K resolution and it does that effectively. Having said that, in lower resolutions i.e. 1440p, there were times when the 2080ti was faster than the 3080 variant. However, the clear advantage here comes when you switch on ray-tracing in games. DLSS is NVIDIA’s marquee feature here and no matter which resolution you play in, the RTX 3080 Trinity outperforms the 2080ti by at least 20% in almost every game. With ray-tracing set to high and turning on the DLSS, in games like Control, you can easily hit 60 FPS in 4K resolution. If you are wondering about ray-tracing performance specifically, the 3080 Trinity has a 45% gain in performance over the 2080ti in 4K resolution. The Final Say © MensXP/Akshay Bhalla If you’ve been wanting to upgrade your GPU and are looking for a flagship level offering, the ZOTAC GeForce RTX 3080 Trinity is a spectacular choice to consider. The three-fan design keeps the GPU extra cool and the minimal design makes it easier to blend in with any pc case out there. With great 4K gaming performance and a competitive price for Indian customers, the Zotac GeForce RTX 3080 Trinity GPU is hard to ignore for your next PC build. View the full article
  4. Zain and Shubham are finally here reviewing #BadBoyBillionaires, the much talked about #Netflix docu-series. From Vijay Mallya, Nirav Modi and Subrata Roy, the series explores the greed, fraud and corruption of India's most infamous tycoons. Have you watched it yet? View the full article
  5. Let’s just say Star Wars is the whole reason why I love science-fiction, video games and comic books. If it weren’t for George Lucas’ creation, I probably wouldn’t have this job right now and would be doing a normal desk job just like everyone else. The first role-playing game I ever fell in love with was Star Wars: Knights of The Old Republic and the first science fiction book that got me into reading was the Thrawn Trilogy. Ever since I saw the X-Wings in the first Star Wars movie, I always imagined flying one by myself. While Star Wars: Squadron is not the first game to flirt with the space-opera lore, it is the first game that comes close to replicating that feeling. © Electronic Arts What makes the game great is its control scheme which can be customised to your liking. You can fly X-wings, A-Wings, and the TIE fighters with custom load-outs as well. Even smaller details such as transferring power to your weapons or your shields have been incorporated in the gameplay. In the movies, we would just hear Luke or Obi-Wan take certain actions in the cockpit, but in Squadrons, you actually have to do it yourself. For example, you need to transfer all of your spaceship’s power to your weapons if you are about to get into a dogfight. Or when trying to destroy ‘Star Destroyers,’ you need to transfer all of your power to your shields as you will get bombarded with lasers as you try to approach them. © Electronic Arts If you want to take your experience to the next level, you can even play this game in VR mode on the PC and the PlayStation 4. I don’t personally own a VR headset but I’ve been told by peers that the game truly shines in VR mode. You can turn and look at the side out of the cockpit as if you are flying an X-Wing or a TIE fighter. The game is already highly detailed and one can only imagine how the simulation is taken to the next level in VR mode. © Electronic Arts Having said that, we did not like how some of the interactions with NPC take place in the game. There aren’t’ many cutscenes in the game and instead, you interact with characters in a one-sided expositional conversation. These conversations feel quite out of place almost as if it was phoned in by the voice actors. While the gameplay and missions provide you with a great experience you expect from a space combat simulator, the immersion is soon suspended by these NPC characters reminding you how EA did not follow through with high production values in this department. View the full article
  6. When it comes to smart speakers, there are plenty of options available in India right now. However, when it comes to the best budget smart speaker, many often sacrifice either good sound or features. Now that we have a new contender in the smart speaker space, all of those sacrifices are no longer something you will have to settle for. The Mi Smart Speaker launched last week in India and since then we’ve been using the device to control our smart lights, TV, Air Purifiers, Vacuum cleaners and any other device that is compatible with Google Assistant. Here’s what we think about the Mi Smart Speaker after using it for an entire week: Design © MensXP/Akshay Bhalla When you first look at the Mi Smart Speaker, you may think the design works well with your home decor. While that is certainly true, the design has been lifted from Sonos One smart speakers. The design is almost identical to the Sonos One with slight differences. Even though the design isn’t original, it works well simply because it is the best design fir for smart speakers. The cylindrical design helps in delivering 360-degree sound however, that is not the case for the Mi Smart Speaker due to the single audio driver. It is wider than the Amazon Echo Dot devices and thanks to its larger size, it delivers decent sound quality as well. The bigger size also means the speaker has a larger 63.5mm audio driver. The larger driver definitely helps in better sound tuning but we will talk about the sound quality later on in the review. © MensXP/Akshay Bhalla At the top of the speaker, you will find four buttons that can be used for audio playback, muting the microphone and volume control. The speaker’s microphone sensitivity can also be adjusted during the setup so that you don’t accidentally awake the speaker whenever you say “Google.” There are no ports on the speaker apart from an AC-In port for power. The speaker does not run on batteries so it needs to be permanently placed on the table and connected to a power outlet. We would have loved to see a 3.5mm line-in port in the speaker as it would be ideal for playing music via a wired connection simply because the music sounds better via an analog connection. Sound Quality © MensXP/Akshay Bhalla The Mi Smart Speaker has a Texas Instruments’ TAS5805M Hi-Fi audio processing chip which helps in tuning the sound of the smart speaker. The overall loudness is enough to fill up a room but do not expect it to be a great speaker to use during house parties. The sound is good enough for solo listening sessions, however with more people in the room, the sound does get overpowered. You can pair two Mi Smart Speakers to get over this problem and even set them up in stereo. The Mi Smart Speaker is meant to be used in small spaces so don’t go on using it in a living room as it won’t sound up to your expectations. For playing music, you can either use the standard Bluetooth connection or Chromecast to stream content from your Android device. You can also stream directly off the smart speaker using services like Spotify. Chromecast can also be used to stream audio content from Smart TVs which works well with Mi Smart TVs. We would recommend getting a pair of these speakers if you are not a big fan of soundbars. © MensXP/Akshay Bhalla In terms of sound quality, the Mi Smart Speaker does well in delivering sounds from the high and mid frequencies but lacks depth when it comes to the lower frequencies (bass). If you like extra bass in your speakers, then the Mi Smart Speaker may not be for you. However, considering the price, the sound quality on the Mi Smart Speaker is far better than the Echo Dot devices and even costs less. If you’ve been looking for a smart speaker that does everything you expect from it and even sounds decent, the Mi Smart Speaker fits that bill well. If you are expecting it to perform anywhere close to what the Sonos One sounds like, we don’t want to get your hopes high. The smart speaker costs Rs 3,599 and for that price, the Mi Smart Speaker is incredible. If you prefer to tune the sound yourself; you can mess around with EQ settings in the Google Home App. We boosted the mid frequencies and the lower frequencies a bit, for a more balanced sound than the default tuning. Smart Features The Mi Smart speaker works exactly like any Google Assistant smart speaker where you can speak into the two far-field microphones on the speaker. However, we found the microphones to be a bit inconsistent whenever we tried to carry out tasks. Sometimes the speaker wouldn’t hear us entirely or sometimes it would take too long to switch on/off a bunch of smart lights. We recommend turning up the sensitivity if you face this problem, however 90% of the times, you should be able to use the entire gamut of Google Assistant features. You can do everything you can while using Google Assistant such as setting reminders, alarms, control smart devices, and even play music directly off the speaker without connecting a smartphone. You can use the smart speaker in both English and Hindi since Google Assistant supports both languages. The Final Say If you’ve been wanting to purchase a smart speaker that sounds decent and does not cost a lot, the Mi Smart Speaker for Rs 3,599 is a great product to consider. The speaker isn’t at par with audio products from other brands in terms of audio quality, but for the price, it is a great speaker you can get for your home. The speaker's sound quality is not on the same level as some of the more expensive smart speakers but it gets the job done with decent sound quality meant for small to medium-sized rooms. View the full article
  7. We got the unique opportunity of checking out Samsung’s Galaxy Z Fold 2 and even though the phone is officially out, we only got to check it out for a few days. The Z Fold 2 is Samsung’s second attempt at making a foldable phone and after using it for a few days, we can say they absolutely nailed it. It may just be our phone of the year simply because we’re bored with every other phone and only Samsung is doing something exciting by pushing the envelope. The first iteration wasn’t really a great attempt by Samsung, simply because it was a new technology that needed more time to iron out teething problems. But now that Samsung has fixed everything that was wrong with the first Galaxy Fold, this may just be the perfect Foldable phone made yet. Design and Display © MensXP_Akshay Bhalla When it comes to the design, Samsung has changed quite a bit, both on the outside and inside as well. For starters, the front display now covers the entire screen while the inside display has gotten rid of the camera system, giving more room for the display. Instead, Samsung has used a punch-hole camera on both displays i.e. inside and outside. The reason why Samsung is investing in the foldable display is because people want bigger screens and after using the Z Fold 2, I can say I like this form factor more than the new Razr. For starters, it looks like a Nokia communicator when folded and a Kindle Oasis once opened. Playing games, watching movies and reading articles is a pure delight on the larger display while responding to texts is intuitive with the full-body display at the front. © MensXP_Akshay Bhalla There’s also a new sturdier hinge that was previously used on the Galaxy Z Flip. It has these little rubber brushes that expel debris which can harm the display. Samsung claims it is good for 2 lakh folds. But if you use it with more care, it can last even longer. We got to use the bronze variant, however you can get the phone in black and customise the hinge with blue, gold, red, or silver accents. © MensXP_Akshay Bhalla One thing we didn’t really like was the big fat camera module at the back which offsets the phone when kept flat on the table. You can put a cover to even it out but it will add some extra weight to the already heavy phone. There is also a fingerprint reader on the lock screen button on the right side which works as fast as most fingerprint sensors. This sensor made it easier to unlock the phone each time simply because of the size of the phone and the fact that it’s conveniently located. © MensXP_Akshay Bhalla The marquee features of the Z Fold 2 are its screens and this time around Samsung has got it right, The first Fold had a very small 4.6-inch display at the front which was just another glorified notification display. However, Samsung has now rectified that with a 6.2-inch screen at the front. It is still narrow and tall but at least now it can be used for typing messages and browsing the internet. The reason why the larger screen is better for users, is simply because you don’t have to open to the larger screen each time to carry out tasks. The bigger 7.6-inch internal display is the main attraction here and at first glance, you will notice it is gorgeous, bright and vivid. You can notice the slight crease in the middle from certain angles but it will not interfere with the overall experience. We would be lying if we said we didn’t open the screen every chance we got. I used it extensively for reading news on Flipboard, watching shows on Netflix and playing the recently launched Genshin Impact RPG. © MensXP_Akshay Bhalla In almost every case, we enjoyed the experience to the fullest and never once felt that this was a gimmick in any way. I even used the phone in Flex Mode where it puts the main content on the top panel and other content on the bottom. In the case of YouTube, you will see the video on the top screen panel and the comments section on the bottom. You can even use two apps at the same time and put them in either half while you are multitasking. © MensXP_Akshay Bhalla The sheer design of the phone also prompts users to say that the Z Fold 2 is also a perfect e-reader for books and comics. In fact, the screen-to-body ratio is perfect for reading Manga or reading an e-newspaper. The Z Fold 2 is the perfect size for almost everything that requires a large screen without having to invest in a tablet. PerformanceBeing a super-premium phone, the Z Fold 2 uses Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 865 Plus chipset instead of an Exynos chipset which is good news for everyone in regions other than the US. When it comes to the performance, the chipset has been paired with 12GB of RAM, making it the best smartphone for almost everything you do on a smartphone. It handles a graphic-intensive game like Genshin Impact flawlessly, does multitasking with breeze and even scores well in benchmarks. In our Geekbench 5 test, the Z Fold 2 scored 3,172 in the multi-core test that is amongst the highest amongst Android smartphones. It still doesn’t beat the iPhone’s A13 Bionic but the phone can do almost everything you need it too. © MensXP_Akshay Bhalla The Galaxy Z Fold 2 also comes with improved battery capacity. Last year’s Fold came with 4,380mAh battery capacity which has now been upgraded to 4,500mAh. It’s an incremental upgrade but a phone with these many screens, we’ll take any extra battery. Having said that, if you use the larger display more often than the smaller display, the battery will drain a bit faster. However, since the display has an adaptive refresh rate of up to 120Hz, it helps in keeping the battery usage as low as possible. You can fast charge the phone by using the supplied 25W fast charger or by using any Power Delivery charger that supports PPS protocol. If you prefer to use a wireless charger, the phone supports up to 11W fast wireless charging. You can even use the reverse wireless charging feature to juice up accessories like the Galaxy Buds or Buds Live. The Final Verdict If you’re looking for a groundbreaking phone that truly sets you apart from the herd, the Z Fold 2 is that phone to get. With great performance, killer looks and a gorgeous display, the Z Fold 2 may just be our phone of the year. Not just for doing the right things, but also breaking boundaries that will make smartphones interesting again. View the full article
  8. One major complaint I’ve always had is the fact that each year one has to shell out Rs 4000 or upwards for a game that largely plays, looks and feels the same. However, Konami seems to have solved that problem with PES 2021 that is an update for last year’s edition. It comes with a squad update, new kits and the same gameplay from last year’s game. In fact, why would you want to fix something that isn’t broken and that is the case for PES 2021. Having said that, the game does lack the necessary rights to make it feel like a full football simulation game. We've been playing the game for over a week to get a fair idea about PES 2021 and how it’s an incredible game. © Konami The fact, PES 2021 feels so similar to last year’s edition we don’t know where to begin. It feels like a double-edged sword as it keeps loyal players of the franchise satisfied with familiar gameplay but without actually making enough changes to make it look like a new game. That’s probably why the game is cheaper than FIFA 21 and comes as an update to FIFA 2020. Even the menus, player screens, presentation, team introductions and modes are identical to last year’s game which may get boring after a while. © Konami However, when you play your first game, you will notice subtle differences from last year’s game. For starters, the game feels a bit slower and not like an arcade football game like FIFA. The AI is far more difficult to play on higher difficulty settings that also translates well when playing online. PES has always been known for its gameplay but we can’t say the same about the FIFA franchise. © Konami For example, passing needs to be precise and in our opinion through balls feel even more accurate than ever before. Similarly, when playing against the computer, you won’t come off with a huge difference in the scoreline as attackers use every skill and tactic to score a goal. There was a time when I was playing against Southampton, and the team was able to score two goals against me with ease, even though I’m well versed with the mechanics of the game. PES’ Player ID AI shows how it can make the game challenging even for seasoned players who think they might just be getting a season update this year. Ball physics also plays a major role in making the game more engrossing from last year. The ball movement feels more natural and does not feel just another accessory to the game. We mentioned earlier passing needs to be precise and a lot of it has to do with the ball physics. Whether you want to curve the ball, cross it for a header and set up through balls, you need to be precise with the pass direction and power. If you make a slight mistake in higher difficulties, you will be punished with a counter-attack that will be super hard to defend. Speaking of defending, it isn’t as easy as you would find in the FIFA franchise. You will only be able to succeed at defending if you concentrate and have enough patience. Button mashing will not help in this situation as you do need to make the right move at the right time. If you tackle too early, your opponent will breeze through and exploit the space you’ve given. Do it right, you can defend a high momentum counter-attack with ease. There is a slight learning curve here as defending effectively will be crucial for victories, especially in online matches. Online Competitive Matches © Konami Even though Konami has improved its online matchmaking system, this mode still needs improvement. Not only do you need a stable internet connection, but there are also some other problems we noticed this year. For example, players still collide with each other quite a bit, albeit it has improved from last year’s experience. There is also a bit of clipping problem with character models that occur in-game which could be fixed with a patch soon. We also noticed that the referee AI system also needs improvement as some clear fouls went unnoticed. To test if the referee AI system needs to improve especially in online mode, we purposely committed fouls that were let go by the referee. We only got a yellow card after our third foul which can make online games a bit frustrating. © Konami Konami has also expanded on its ‘MyClub’ feature which is their version of FIFA’s Ultimate Team. However, in PES 2021, you can instantly get set up with a world-class team with icons that may require you to grind a lot more in FIFA. Apart from this main difference, everything remains the same where you need to acquire players, open packs and compete with other players for more in-game currency and packs. We haven’t spent a lot of time in this mode, however we should have a better idea in the coming months. Lack of LicensesThe only complaint football simulation game fans have is the lack of key license in any PES game. To be honest, it doesn’t bother me that much, however to many it matters a lot. If the game does not feel or sound like any real football game, it will put off a lot of people. Having said that, players do feel like their real-life counterparts in the game. Messi runs and dribbles like Messi, Neymar plays like Neymar, Van Dijk feels like a wall like he does in real life. Licensed teams and partner clubs also look realistic and amazingly detailed. However, some player characters models look like they've seen a ghost. PES 2021 is a hit and miss in this category but none of it affects the gameplay. The Final Verdict PES 2021 feels and plays like an incredible football simulation game that does everything right. With great gameplay mechanics and familiarity, PES players will feel right at home. The game costs half as much as FIFA 21 and has given us a good alternative to yearly full-priced games that don’t change much year after year. Having said that, the lack of key licenses could annoy people who are seeking the full football simulation experience. PES 2021 is the ultimate football experience if gameplay matters to you more than vanity. View the full article
  9. Before we get started with the review, we do have to give our respect to Samsung for trying out a new design for a pair of TWS earphones. It may look like rajma (beans) and may even look awkward to use at first, but for some reason, it works and it works well. I’ve been using the Buds Live for almost a week to consume content on YouTube, listen to music on Spotify and of course to cancel out unwanted noise around me. While I would have loved to test the Buds Live in a long flight, unfortunately, that is not possible at the moment. The TWS bean-shaped earbuds have active noise cancellation, better battery life than the Galaxy Buds and intuitive touch controls that is perfect for every Android user out there. Here’s what I think about the Galaxy Buds Live and how it sounded during our review period: Design © MensXP/Akshay Bhalla Let’s just say the design of the Galaxy Buds Live is daring and the risk may even pay off for them, considering it doesn’t look like anything out there. Sure, it may look weird at first, but the design works in ways that you probably have not experienced before with regular TWS earbuds. The fact that it is not an AirPods Pro clone deserves a point in our book because we’re kind of tired seeing copied designs by Realme, Xiaomi and all the other brands that have flooded the market with half-baked earphones. Due to the space of the earbuds, it fits in your ears perfectly and does not fall off even if you aggressively shake your head around. It is a bit weird to place them in your ear canal at first, but you get the hang of it after a few tries. The Galaxy Buds Live really do blend in with your ears as there’s nothing really protruding from your ear. In fact, this design also works well if you like to watch content in bed and lay down sideways. Since the Buds live don’t protrude, it doesn’t hurt your ears when using them laying down sideways. That’s the only complaint we had with the Sony WF-1000XM4 and we definitely prefer this design over bulky earphones. © MensXP/Akshay Bhalla Having said that, there is one disadvantage to this design, if you have small ears, this may be too big for your ears. You can still use them, but after a few hours, it can get a bit uncomfortable as mentioned by my partner. I have huge years so for me this design fits perfectly. However, if you have small ears, we recommend trying them first before purchasing. © MensXP/Akshay Bhalla The charging case on the Buds Live is also quite comfortable to hold and can easily be pocketed. It is larger than the Buds Live but the square design works in its favour. The charging case adds up to 21 hours of battery life which is more than enough for a long flight to the other part of the world. The charging case also supports wireless charging which means you can use it with any Qi-wireless charger or use a Samsung Galaxy S20 or Note 20’s PowerShare feature. Sound Quality And ANC © MensXP/Akshay Bhalla The Buds Live aren’t exactly your typical ANC TWS earbud as they have an open-back which does result in some sound leakage. It also means that the ANC feature is not perfect. However, we were quite impressed that Samsung still managed to get that feature working on the Buds Live. The ANC feature does not work as well as the Sony WF-1000XM3, but it gets the job done. I tested the buds in two scenarios; one being around extremely loud dogs and the other trying to block out noise during a product briefing. During the product briefing session, I amped up the volume on my laptop to full and sat right next to it. I was able to block off the other person’s voice after turning on the ANC feature which was quite remarkable. However, my loud dogs got the better of the feature as the Buds Live could not block out my dogs’ barks entirely. To be honest, the Buds Live will work perfectly in flights to block off the engine sound and in public transportation. However, if you are on a busy street, you will end up hearing ambient noise. Having said that, the sound quality on the Galaxy Buds Live is exceptional across all genres of music. The low-frequencies are represented well while the mid and high frequencies have enough headroom for clear sound. If you like listening to Hip-Hop or electronic music; the Buds Live are ideal for you. For live music, we would suggest turning down the bass a bit as it can overpower other frequencies. You can do that by Buds Live app and switching the equaliser to ‘Soft’. You can also use the ‘Dynamic’ EQ setting which basically tunes the buds automatically according to the content. It automatically switches sound profiles when you are listening to a podcast, watching a video or when listening to music. © MensXP/Akshay Bhalla The fact that you can adjust the equaliser right from the app also means that you can tune the Buds Live to your liking. You can even adjust certain actions on the touch controls. For example, you can touch and hold any of the earbuds to switch on or off active noise cancellation. You can assign to either both buds or just one, we assigned it to the left bud. Similarly, you can even access volume control by touching and holding provided you’ve assigned that action to an earbud. Other controls such as tapping the earbuds control music playback and skip tracks. You can even turn on an option that takes accidental touches into account. Other features such as reading notifications aloud also work as advertised. However, we do have one gripe with the earbuds. The music does not automatically pause when you take out the earbud. It does work at times but it isn’t as accurate as the Galaxy Buds. If you are into vlogging, then Samsung has also included an incredible feature for you. The microphones and the ANC feature is used in tandem with a Galaxy S20 or Note 20 device to record crystal clear audio recordings for your vlogs. So if you are a content creator, you can use the Buds Live as it removes most of the wind noise in the final recording and even traffic noises. We may just use these at events to cancel out unwanted noise in our recordings. The Final Say © MensXP/Akshay Bhalla For Rs 14,990, you don’t only get a quality ANC TWS earbud, you can potentially use it for making vlogs and become an influencer online very quickly. With great sound and a comfortable fit, the Galaxy Buds Live is the perfect accessory an Android user can buy today. If you are a Samsung user, whether a tablet or a phone, buying the Buds Live is a no-brainer. View the full article
  10. Whether you like crime or gangster themed games or not, Mafia: Definitive Edition reaffirms the thought of remaking games. While some games have stood the test of time, the very first Mafia game was in dire need of a remake. The game has been remade from the ground up by using modern lighting systems, with updated gameplay that is relevant today and cinematic experience that can give any AAA game a run for its money. Many people have never played the first Mafia game from 2001 or were probably too young to remember some of the key moments, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t play the remake today. Mafia: Definitive Edition was probably the biggest surprise for me simply because I had no expectations. However, once I got to preview the game, I couldn’t stop talking about how good it looked. Well, I got a chance to play the entire game before its release and here’s what I think about it. © 2K Games The game starts in a typical 1930s coffee shop where the main protagonist Tommy Angelo is approached by a typical looking detective. It seems like the meeting was arranged by Tommy to tell a story the detective may want to hear. It is soon revealed that you’re a wanted man who works for an Italian mob family in the city of ‘Lost Heaven.’ Angelo starts by telling his story to the detective right from the beginning when he was a Taxi Driver. The game then moves into a flashback style of storytelling where you narrate your escapades and how you're turned towards a life of crime. From here, you delve into the past and play through these flashbacks as Angelo. These flashbacks are usually missions that tell the story of how Angelo made friends, did certain jobs, made enemies and how his life changed. © 2K Games Mafia: Definitive Edition’s opening is nothing but spectacular where you start off doing errands for the Salieri family and one of them involves you racing a 1930s sports car on the racetrack. While you’re doing these missions, you can’t help but notice how well the game is aware of itself by showcasing traits that were only present in the 1930s. From small details such as clothing to how cars drove during that time, the believability factor remains intact throughout the game. While driving in the streets of Lost Heaven, you can’t help but make comparisons with New York City’s condition after the great depression. You can see everyone is struggling including mobsters and the citizens of ‘Lost Heaven’ are simply trying to make ends meet. If you want to play a game that truly makes the player invested in its story and suspend reality, Mafia: Definitive Edition does that effortlessly. © 2K Games If you’ve played the original, you will notice plenty of differences in almost every aspect of Mafia: Definitive Edition. From the brand new high-quality cutscenes to brilliantly voice-acted dialogues, the game truly feels like it is set in the prohibition era. The game is heavily dependent on cut-scenes for storytelling and I don’t mind that. These cutscenes are the reason why I was so immersed in the story even if it was predictable. If you’ve seen movies like Goodfellas or The Godfather, you won’t be too surprised with the story. We don’t want to spoil the story for you, however we can say the story has a very satisfying ending. A game would be nothing without its gameplay and this time around Hangar 13 has managed to overhaul the gameplay mechanics as well. While the gameplay mechanics have been overhauled, Hangar 13 has also managed to keep the immersion intact with details that are relevant to the period. For example, cars don’t run as fast as other open-world games that depend heavily on vehicles. Every car in the game runs and sounds like a car from the 1930s. They don’t go as fast nor do they handle as well as modern cars. © MensXP_Akshay Bhalla To add more to the immersion and make you feel like a proper criminal, the world also implements strict laws that will get you in trouble if you’re caught doing something illegal such as running over people or something as little as speeding. You can activate something called a ‘Speed Limiter’ so that you don’t go over the legal speed limit and attract unwanted attention. It’s not tedious as conversations between you and other members of the Salieri family keep you engaged. You can, however, turn off the limiter if you want to speed things up but it comes at a risk. Since driving is a major gameplay mechanic in the game, there are other innovative details that we want to see in future GTA games as well. The game implements road signs as a way to direct players to their destination. Instead of following the mini-map, you can simply follow these road signs that also make you pay more attention to the world around you instead of glancing at the mini-map each time you have to make a turn. Another thing we want to mention is that, since Mafia: Definitive Edition is strictly a single-player experience, you can check out the ‘Lost Heaven’ city in the ‘Free Ride’ mode from the start menu. © MensXP_Akshay Bhalla When it comes to the combat system, Mafia: Definitive Edition has overhauled the gunplay and how you interact with the world during tense moments. For starters, a cover-system has been added so that you can fight off enemies, a feature that was missing in the original game. We did feel the gunplay was a bit janky at times but most of the time it was quite enjoyable. Similarly, hand to hand combat is not that impressive as it gets old real fast. Overall, the combat system felt quite easy as the enemy AI wasn’t as challenging. We recommend playing the game without aim assist to add some form of challenge to your experience. © Hanger 13_2K Games When it comes to the performance of the game, it looks beautiful most of the time with the occasional lighting glitches in cutscenes. There were also instances when we experienced audio problems towards the latter half of the game which could be fixed by simply reloading the last checkpoint. There were also slight issues in the real-time world rendering on the PlayStation4 when you would go to the outskirts of the city. It’s not a frustum culling issue as it happens in your point of view as we didn’t notice this problem on the PC build of the game during our preview. However, we do expect it to be fixed with an update soon on consoles. Having said that, it is prudent to point that none of these glitches is game-breaking in any way and does not hinder your progress. The Final Verdict Mafia: Definitive Edition is a worthy remake that makes improvements that are meaningful and adds to the overall immersion of the game. With great cut-scenes, voice acting and a gripping narrative, Mafia: Definitive Edition is the ultimate mobster game that comes close to the movies they are inspired from. The game does have a few technical glitches that can be fixed with an update soon, however it doesn’t affect the overall game that much. Staying true to the 1930s vibe and making enough improvements in the game makes Mafia: Definitive Edition a worthy purchase for new and returning players alike. View the full article
  11. Synopsis: Lootcase is a complete family entertainer. The duration of the film is lengthy with a run-of-the-mill script but it can be overlooked for the blazing performances. It is a light watch full of quirky one-liners and perfectly-timed jokes. Here's our take on the film What happens when a quintessential middle-class man, striving hard to fulfill his family’s desires, stumbles upon a bag full of cash? Well, that is where the story of this much-awaited comedy drama begins. Also, there is no denying the fact that, Rajesh Krishnan, the director of this film, has brought together the perfect ensemble cast including Kunal Kemmu, Rasika Dugal in lead roles, and Ranvir Shorey, Vijay Raaz and Gajraj Rao among others in pivotal roles. In this two-hour-twelve-minute film, produced by Fox Star Studios, a middle-class printing press operator Nandan Kumar (played by Kemmu) stumbles upon an unattended suitcase full of cash in a dingy street while returning from a late-night shift and immediately walks away with it, after he asks “Last time pooch raha hoon, kiska suitcase hai?” and there comes no reply. This brings us to the main plot of the film where life takes an unexpected turn for the print staffer Nandan because of bringing home the ill-gotten cash left abandoned on the street Soon, this gets followed by mayhem where a Nat-Geo fan don (played by Vijay Raaz), an utterly corrupt politician (played by Gajraj Rao), and a strict cop (played by Ranvir Shorey) get on the trail in search of the missing suitcase oops “lootcase”. Then ensues the roller-coaster ride of a hilarious journey. Here’s the trailer Kunal Kemmu has an impeccable screen-presence and is absolutely relatable as a man next door. Similarly, Rasika Dugal, as versatile an actor she is, has done complete justice to the role of a homemaker, Lata, who keeps nagging her husband for not earning enough Well, what happens after Nandan brings home the bag full of cash? Does Lata find out about that? What do they do with the money? Well, you will have to watch the film to get answers to these questions. In fact, what’s more interesting is that every supporting character has an unique personality of their own. Like Rao, the corrupt politician, who manipulates his aides for his own benefit by blackmailing them every now and then; Raaz, the don who is insanely obsessed with National Geographic channel as he keeps drawing inferences from the jungle for his life problems; and Shorey, the cop who we don’t know if is good or bad till the end of the movie. Don’t worry we aren’t going to give you any spoilers. The ‘cat and a mouse’ chase between Nandan and the gangsters, who leave no stone unturned to find the suitcase, makes for the gripping narrative. However, a fast-paced storyline and a not-so-lengthy plot would have created a better impact for us - the viewers! Besides, some portions were bland too with slow-moving screenplay and cliche comedy. All in all, the realistic portrayal of an unexpected short-lived joy of a middle class man, who deals with an ungrateful workplace, a nagging wife and everyday struggles of life, makes us laud Kunal Kemmu. There was no dearth of good acting in this film because of such a promising cast. In most parts, Rao and Raaz totally stole the show with their seasoned acting. However, I'd like to pinpoint that the music wasn't that impressive. Once you finish watching the film you'd hardly remember any lines from the songs. Also, in my opinion, it would have been a delight to watch Dugal in more shades than one. It is definitely a one-time-hilarious-watch for the weekend with your family. You can stream it on Disney Plus Hotstar. View the full article
  12. Microsoft’s hardware division has started to churn out some incredible devices that were missing for quite a few years. Then the company announced the Surface series of laptops which not only combines great design but also explores the future with new chipsets, a stylus and a more integrated design. The new Surface X Pro is amongst one of those laptops from the Surface series that comes with a custom ARM chipset that may just be future of laptops and Microsoft tablets. This time around, Microsoft has made a more comprehensive laptop for everyday users who are always on the move. © MensXP_Akshay Bhalla While many have opinions about netbooks/tablets/laptops that are targeted towards “mobile workers”; the landscape has changed ever since the COVID-19 pandemic. People are working from home and not everyone needs a full-blown laptop for emails, basic image editing and using Microsoft office. Surface Pro X is the perfect offering for Windows users who are looking for the most portable laptop that can last all day, has a sexy design and can always stay connected with mobile internet connectivity. Here’s why we think the Surface Pro X may just be the future of portable computing machines: Design If you are looking for something sexy, beautiful and eye-catching, you cannot go wrong with the Surface Pro X. We’ve tested quite a few laptops at MensXP and the Surface Pro X may just the most gorgeous laptop we’ve used all year. The laptop has extremely thin bezels on the sides, a curved aluminium body and a beautiful 13-inch display. It looks very much similar to the Surface Pro 7 however there are some design aspects that make the Surface Pro X stand out. While the entire body is made of metal, the back of the laptop is a major fingerprint magnet. A laptop with a design that is more in-line with a tablet; you will be holding this laptop quite a lot and subsequently have a lot of fingerprint at the back. You can’t really avoid this problem unless you use some form of skin to cover up the back of the laptop. As we mentioned earlier, the Surface Pro X has a very tablet-like design, you can draw comparisons with Apple’s iPad Pro. It is 7.3mm thin and has a premium feel to it similar to the iPad Pro. It is particularly light and weighs only 775 grams which is lighter than most laptops you can buy today. © MensXP_Akshay Bhalla In order to give a more of a laptop vibe to the Surface Pro X, the laptop comes with a keyboard cover that is at par with modern keyboards on laptops. We loved the fact that the keyboard case is quite lightweight and doesn’t make the total weight of the laptop as heavy as the iPad Pro. There are magnets to keep the cover in pace and doesn’t come out even if you try aggressively shake it off. Additionally, the outer layer of the keyboard cover has a black Alcantara fabric that has a very similar texture as suede. Additionally, the keyboard cover also comes with the Surface Slim Pen and is not sold separately unlike the Apple Pencil for the iPad Pro. © MensXP_Akshay Bhalla For people wondering about the ports and connections, there aren’t many on offer as the design resembles more of a tablet than a laptop. Due to space constraints, the Surface Pro X comes with two USB-C ports that can be used for charging, data transfers and display out. Having said that, we couldn’t ignore the fact the Surface Pro X does not have a headphone jack and neither a microSD slot to expand storage. You can use a USB-C to 3.55mm dongle for audio output if you’re not a fan of Bluetooth audio but we would have loved to see that flexibility. Having said that, you can install a physical SIM card for LTE connectivity or alternately use the e-sim feature via Windows 10. If you plan to use e-sim; do note that currently, only Airtel and Reliance Jio have support for the new form of connectivity. You will find the SIM tray below the kickstand that can be popped and is highly accessible making it easy to switch SIM cards if you are always travelling internationally. © MensXP_Akshay Bhalla Finally, in order to use the Surface X Pro, there is a small wedge at the back from which you can take out the metal kickstand that lets you rest the Surface Pro X on the table. While this the kickstand design is great to use practically anywhere; it isn’t comfortable to use on your lap. If you don’t use your laptop on your; you know lap; using the Surface Pro X won’t be an issue. However, if you want to relax and work at the same time let’s say on a bed or a recliner; you will find it difficult to use as the laptop needs a flat surface for the kickstand to rest on. Display As we mentioned earlier, the touchscreen display on the Surface X Pro is absolutely gorgeous and has a resolution of 2880 x 1920. However, the display does not have a few features that are now part of modern laptops and tablets. For example, the display does not have support for high-dynamic-range (HDR)/Dolby Vision or wide-colour gamut. The display also does not have any anti-glare which could be disadvantageous for using outdoors or brightly lit areas. Having said that, the display does have an “enhanced” colour mode for boosting contacts and correcting sRBG colours whenever needed. We would recommend turning on the “enhanced” display mode if you intend to watch movies and TV shows on Netflix and other video streaming platforms. © MensXP_Akshay Bhalla In our tests, the display on the Surface X Pro had a brightness level of 410 nits, which is higher than most laptops and in line with the more premium offerings. Watching movies and TV shows is an absolute delight on this display however with no support for HDR/Dolby Vision; you really don’t get the full experience, especially since the iPad Pro, does both those things flawlessly. Surface Slim Pen The Surface Pro X also comes with a new slim pen that can be stored in the keyboard cover. The dedicated storage space of the Pen is a nice touch and holds the pen firmly with magnets. The Slim Pen also charges in the storage space wirelessly which was a smart move on Microsoft’s part. © MensXP_Akshay Bhalla © MensXP_Akshay Bhalla The pen works very similarly to a stylus and the back end of the pen can be used as an eraser. The same back end also functions as the Bluetooth button for paragon purposes. The stem of the pen has two buttons that can be assigned certain functions. The Microsoft Surface Slim pen can also be used when tilted and has 4,096 levels of pressure sensitivity. Having said that, the pen is not really meant to be used by artists for graphic design work as it has a jittery effect when drawing straight lines. It seems Microsoft made this particular pen for more rudimentary purposes such as taking notes, making annotations and navigation. Keyboard and Trackpad The keyboard, trackpad and camera have a direct impact on the overall experience of a laptop and it wasn’t disappointing on the Surface Pro X. The keyboard feels quite familiar and is very similar to previous Surface laptops. The keys feel great to type on and has ample key travel to make you feel right at home. The keyboard also has three different levels of backlighting which is always good to have when working in dimly lit environments. The keyboard is as good as any previous Surface laptop and other offerings in the same price category. In fact, this is the closest thing Apple’s magic keyboard cover for the iPad Pro. © MensXP_Akshay Bhalla The trackpad is also large enough to use so that you don’t feel fatigued when using it for navigation and other actions. It is probably the most used part of any laptop and the glass-topped trackpad makes using it a breeze. It’s smooth and does not have a rough texture that could add any friction when using the trackpad repeatedly. Performance When it comes to the performance, the Surface Pro X is powered by Microsoft’s custom SQ1 professor based on ARM64’s architecture. Most recent laptops have been based on the X86 architecture either from Intel or AMD, however, this is the first time we got to check out something based on ARM by Microsoft. The most impressive feat of this laptop would be the fact that it runs Windows 10 Home. Even though the ARM64 architecture may not sound capable of handling traditional 32-bit apps, in our tests they ran without any hiccups. In fact, most of the time this app ran fine however there was a slight hit in performance. Native apps built for the ARM architecture ran flawlessly however if you plan on using apps that were developed for the X86 architecture, you will not get the optimum experience. If you plan on using Adobe’s suite of applications like Photoshop, you may have to wait a bit as the Surface X Pro simply emulates the X86 app versions. Adobe has said they are in the process of making or porting the apps optimised on ARM64 chipsets. Having said that, if you need a comparison, the SQ1 chipset does outperform i5-8250U CPUs and did fairly well in our benchmark tests. The Surface Pro X has 8GB of onboard RAM that cannot be upgraded, however, it was more than enough for launching heavy apps and carry out basic tasks. As for SSD, our tests showed it is capable of 2,019 MB/s of reading speed and 832 MB/s write speed. That’s more or less in line with modern laptops that come with NVME SSDs and is even higher than previous Surface laptops. © MensXP_Akshay Bhalla In our Geekbench 5 test, the Surface Pro X managed to score 752 in the single-core test and 2,980 in the multi-core tests which easily beats other ARM-based laptops in the same category. As for graphics, the Adreno 680 GPU is good enough to emulate mobile games and console games from previous generations but do not expect it to run modern PC games. Having said that, we can expect the Surface Pro X to run Microsoft’s upcoming game streaming service quite well which could be great for portable gaming. That’s kind of expected with the ARM63 architecture but it was still impressive to see score 7,065 in 3DMark's GPU-intensive Night Raid 1.0 benchmark. The Final Say If you’re in the market for a laptop that offers decent battery life, LTE connections, modern design and something more portable, the Surface X Pro is probably the perfect laptop for you. Based on an ARM64 chipset, the Surface Pro X gives us a glimpse into the future of portable laptops that will become the norm for most professionals. The Microsoft Surface Pro X is available at a starting price of Rs 1,01,990.00 while if you want to get the keyboard along with it; it is currently available for Rs 1,14,180.00 on Amazon. View the full article
  13. Releasing a brand new franchise at a time when PlayStation 4's generation is about to come to an end must be a nerve wrecking moment; for both fans and the developers at 'Sucker Punch Productions'. If I were to end a generation with a game that would define PlayStation's current generation; Ghost of Tsushima would be it. I've always wanted an Assassin's Creed set in Japan but unfortunately, Ubisoft lost the opportunity when Sucker Punch Productions first revealed the game in 2017 at Paris Game Week. It's been six years since we've seen a game from 'Sucker Punch Studios'; last being Infamous Second Son that released a few months after the PlayStation 4 launch. While the studio is no stranger to open-world games, it was a refreshing change to see the studio take on a brand new intellectual property that is set in feudal Japan during the First Mongol Invasion of Japan (1274). If you aren't well versed with Japanese history, Kublai Khan; a grandson of Genghis Khan was set on conquering Japan after usurping China and Korea for the Mongol Empire. The Island of Tsushima sits right between the Korea Strait and Japanese Strait making it a strategic island to conquer for a full-scale attack on the rest of mainland Japan. © Sucker Punch Productions_Sony Interactive Entertainment Now, in the game, Kublai Khan is referred to as Khotun Khan; a fictional rendition of the Mongol leader who is a ruthless and deceitful general who will resort to anything to conquer the island of Tsushima before setting his sights on mainland Japan. The game opens with Khan's army landing on the shores of Tsushima, where the Samurais of the island are already waiting to confront the Mongol army. Right off the bat, we get our first glimpse of Khotun Khan's sheer ruthlessness and dishonourable ways to win battles at any cost. You play as Jin Sakai, a samurai from the island who survived the brutal battle at Komoda beach where almost every samurai has perished battling Khotun Khan's army. As a result of the battle, your uncle and Jito (local leader) Lord Shimura has been captured by Khan. As Jin, you will have to muster support from remaining Samurais, thieves and fighters to free him from captivity. Jin has been trained as a samurai by his uncle Lord Shimura which we also get a glimpse of via brilliantly timed flashbacks. These flashbacks are not only meant for simple training sequences as we also get to learn the many codes of honour and ideals the samurai have to follow. These codes or “Bushidō” for Japanese history nerds play an integral part in Jin's journey as a samurai - all in the backdrop of Mongol occupation. © Sucker Punch Productions_Sony Interactive Entertainment However, to overthrow the Mongols, Jin realises in the early part of the game that following Bushidō codes may not be enough to defeat the enemy. He will have to break his code and use guerrilla warfare to successfully reclaim the island from the Mongol army. Jin often faces inner conflicts and, at times, struggles with them as he must utilise dishonourable battle tactics and weapons that stand opposite to what the samurai code stands for. Bushidō codes forbid a samurai from using guerrilla warfare, deception and instead, mandate samurais to treat their opponents with respect, honour and dignity. However, with Mongols as their enemies who do not have the same beliefs, Jin is forced to set aside his lifelong ideals and fight from the shadows. Over time, he evolves into the “Ghost” a befitting name bestowed by the Mongol army that strikes fear amongst his enemies. Ghost of Tsushima's story is a melange of personal tales set in feudal Japan that we've haven't seen in any game yet. You get to see many stories unfold in the setting of feudal Japan where powerful families, samurai clans and the shogun play an integral part of society. There are hints of previous civil wars that were fought among these clans in the Tsushima region and are forced to set their differences aside to fight a common enemy. © Sucker Punch Productions_Sony Interactive Entertainment Narrative missions in Ghost of Tsushima are called 'Tales' and there are three different types of tales Jin can encounter. The main tale tells the story of Jin's journey that has been complemented well with other side missions called 'Tales of Tsushima' and 'Mythic Tales'. I loved the fact each Tale of Tsushima or Character side mission is deeply entwined with each act and only conclude towards the end of the game. It gives these missions more importance and meaning that ties in beautifully with the main story. Most of these side tales have compelling stories of their own that show us the agony some of the key characters are going through because of the invasion. We get to see carnage, atrocities, betrayal and even genocide that deeply impacts the overall tone of the story. Having said that, completing “Mythic Quests” was one of my favourite things to do in the game and couldn't get enough of it. I don't want to spoil these quests for anyone and highly recommend doing these quests whenever you encounter them in the world. We also have to point out, Unlike the recent Ubisoft games, you will not feel overwhelmed and intimated whenever you open the map to find these missions. You will not find your map overcrowded with different icons or points of interests that add no value to the story or character progression. © Sucker Punch Productions_Sony Interactive Entertainment Once you are done with the prologue, you get to see the full scale of Tsushima's vibrant and vivid playground crafted by the developers at Sucker Punch Productions. The world hosts a variety of biomes and terrains that kept me very intrigued whenever I explored an undiscovered area. As you progress through the story; you will stop to notice the picturesque colourful lavender fields, lush valleys, snow-capped mountains, bamboo forests, yellow maple trees and the iconic Sakura (Cherry Blossom) trees that make up the landscape of Japan. © Sucker Punch Productions_Sony Interactive Entertainment Even after playing for several hours; you will be left shocked at how many times you will stop just to play around with the photo mode. There are enough scenic vistas in the world that look gorgeous at different times of the day. Another variable factor that makes the world look stunning is the dynamic weather system. Out of nowhere, even a long dull road amidst the forest can explode to life with a sudden thunderstorm or look quaint enough during dusk to start playing relaxing tunes on your flute. © Sucker Punch Productions_Sony Interactive Entertainment Exploration and discovery is a fundamental facet in this game that has been facilitated well with the beautiful island of Tsushima. While a world can look pretty, it won't serve its purpose until there are plenty of activities to do in it. As we mentioned earlier, you need to explore the world and discover key locations that are essential for upgrading your character. For example, some unknown locations are marked with question marks that could either be a traditional Japanese Onsen (Hot Spring) or a Fox Den amongst multiple others that benefit your character in some way. Resting at Onsens help in recovering and increasing Jin's health. Similarly, finding Fox Dens are equally important as these foxes are considered holy and lead you to a nearby Inari Shrine. Once you've discovered enough shrines; you will be able to unlock an additional Charm slot for your character. Charm Slots are an essential part of your build where you can equip various types of charms that boost specific stats for your character. We have to point out that exploring and discovering locations is extremely rewarding and is highly recommended to do if you want the full experience as intended by 'Sucker Punch Productions'. It is also prudent to point out the game does not have a traditional levelling system; preventing any form of level-gating you may have experienced in other open-world role-playing games. Since exploring is a key element of the game, 'Sucker Puncher Productions' have implemented a unique and innovative feature that redefines how navigation can work in games. As you may have seen from the previews; Ghost of Tsushima does not have a mini-map and you have to instead rely on something called the 'Guiding Wind'. Once you have selected your destination; the wind will guide you in the right direction by making gusts appear in your vicinity. If you stray from your path; you can simply swipe up on the trackpad to get you back on course. © Sucker Punch Productions_Sony Interactive Entertainment I used the 'Guiding Wind' feature extensively to find objectives, shrines and other undiscovered location. I prefer this method of navigation over following traditional tracked paths in mini-maps. It let us pay more attention to the beautiful landscapes and sounds of Tsushima which one can easily miss if they are always glancing towards a corner of the screen. This way; discovering locations felt more natural and generated immense curiosity that many open-world games of this generation failed to deliver. Having said that, you cannot solely rely on the 'Guiding Wind' to get to your location. Many times, when you are near an undiscovered location or your objective; a golden/yellow bird will appear whilst making a very distinct sound to guide you to the exact location you're trying to reach. 'Sucker Punch Productions' have implemented yet another innovative way to notify a player if they are near something important using both visual and sound aids. Since the progression system in Ghost of Tsushima does not involve any grinding, most of the abilities you unlock are very rooted in Jin's samurai fighting style. Jin can also learn different stances that help in dealing with different types of enemies. These stances can be unlocked by spending “Technique Points” which you earn as your 'legend' grows. Technique points can also be spent on other kinds of skills that help in deflecting certain type of attacks and evasion. © Sucker Punch Productions_Sony Interactive Entertainment Having said that, the skill tree is not as expansive as other RPGs which I prefer, as it was easier to remember newly learned abilities and use them in battles. Similarly, as you progress you will add more weapons to your arsenal including Kunai knives, smoke bombs, and others which you can upgrade using these 'Technique Points' as well. You will also be using these technique points to evolve battle tactics such as 'Standoffs' and archery skills that ultimately make you a more effective warrior. Speaking of gameplay, Ghost of Tsushima implements the aforementioned stance system somewhat similar to what we've seen in the “Nioh” series. However, in Ghost of Tsushima, stances are used as a way to fight different types of enemies. For example, the 'Stone Stance' is more effective against Swordsmen and will not have any major effect on enemies with shields or brutes. Similarly, the “Moon Stance” is more effective against brutes and will have little to no effect on swordsmen. The player has to strategically switch stances by holding R2 according to the type of enemy they are fighting. © Sucker Punch Productions_Sony Interactive Entertainment Since you face multiple types of enemies all at once; the time slows down when holding R2 so that you have enough time to make a decision. Using the right stance can also be life-saving as it will let you counter enemies with a fatal blow. If you end up using an incorrect stance according to the enemy type; you will not be able to counter his attacks and in turn can get hurt by an unblockable hit. These unblockable hits can be identified by its bright red glinting lines that will deal significant damage to Jin. You can evade these attacks until you have upgraded Jin's deflection skills that will let him parry these attacks later in the game. © Sucker Punch Productions_Sony Interactive Entertainment Another unique gameplay element that stood out the most was the ability to trigger “Standoffs” when approaching enemies. This is a little different from the duels we've seen in the previews and you get to challenge a fighter from a group of enemies by pressing the up D-Pad. I outright loved this element as it was literally a standoff between Jin and an enemy where we locked eyes and waited to see who made the first move. The enemy will flinch to fool you as you need to let go of the button only when the enemy attacks. If you release the button too early, you will face the consequences and if you release at the right time; Jin will unleash a lethal blow to the enemy. This mechanic alone made me approach every group of enemies almost exclusively head-on instead of using stealth as it felt very satisfying. We only stealth when it was a prerequisite for a mission or had to get out of tight situations. © Sucker Punch Productions_Sony Interactive Entertainment © Sucker Punch Productions_Sony Interactive Entertainment A duel, on the other hand, is a one-on-one battle with an enemy that utilises many of the gameplay mechanics in the game but with a more cinematic feel. Enemies are harder and these duels can somehow be classified as boss battles but to me, it was a different form of presentation. These duels pay homage to Akira Kurosawa movies with iconic classical Japanese music, tension built up by close up shots and intense dialogues. You can even turn on the “Kurosawa” mode where everything on the screen turns Black & White with an aggressive grain filter. If you are looking for an authentic Kurosawa experience, we highly recommend turning this mode on before going ahead with duels. I've already mentioned how gorgeous the game looks but I do need to talk about the overall performance of the game on the PlayStation 4. I've played the game on the pro variant for about 36 hours and did not face any bugs or hard crashes. My entire gameplay was buttery smooth and did not notice any major dips in frame rates even though a lot was happening on the screen. If you will be playing this game on PlayStation 4 Pro, you can also adjust between higher resolution or better frame rates performance from the display settings. Additionally, you can also play the entire game in Kurosawa mode, however, I preferred to play the game normally to soak in the vivid colours present in different biomes. Having said that, I did have a similar experience as The Last of Us Part 2 where the console did heat up a bit and got quite loud especially while exploring the world. Thankfully, none of it had any effect on the game or its performance during our review sessions. Finally, this game would not be complete without the melodious soundtrack that remained with me even after I finished the game. While my knowledge of hōgaku or classical Japanese music is quite limited; I did recognise many of the key instruments such as the bamboo flute that were used to make you feel you were really in feudal Japan. Percussion Instruments like the Taiko, Ōtsuzumi, and stringed instruments like the Shamisen, Koto or the Biwa can be heard in the background when you're traversing the world or going into a battle. You even get to see the Biwa in the hands of the musicians who send you on Mythic Quests. However, the soundtrack is not only limited to hōgaku as we also get to hear cinematic background music during key moments similar to Samurai movies from the 60s/70s. Every bit of music composition in Ghost of Tsushima by Ilan Eshkeri & Shigeru Umebayashi is remarkable and will probably stay with me for a very long time. We highly recommend giving the above track a listen that will give you a fair idea about what we're talking about. Final Verdict © Sucker Punch Productions_Sony Interactive Entertainment Ghost of Tsushima tells an inspiring story set in feudal Japan that adds new innovative features to the open-world genre. It offers a lush world that will be the visual benchmark for future games on the PlayStation platform. With combat mechanics that never get boring and a story that is both personal and overarching; Ghost of Tsushima was an enjoyable and memorable experience. Even though the game isn't as expansive as the recent Assassin Creed games; it makes up for it with fantastic storytelling, little to no grinding and enough places to visit that keeps the player intrigued. Ghost of Tsushima reviewed on PlayStation 4 Pro using a downloadable code provided by Sony Interactive Entertainment. View the full article
  14. It has been over 8 months since Death Stranding launched for the Playstation 4 and the game is now making its way to PC on July 14th. We played the game for a short while on our PC rig to test out the performance and how the graphic fidelity of the game. The game has been written, directed, and produced by Hideo Kojima; so as expected the game offers some whacky narratives and gameplay mechanics. The game has already been out for a while, so our review is going to limited to the actual performance of the game. For people who want to know what the game is all about, you play Sam Porter Bridges; a courier delivering essential supplies in the post-apocalyptic world of ‘United Cities of America’. You will spend a lot of time traversing the rough terrain, climbing hills, and constructing bridges to deliver your packages. The game is quite connected to other players of the world where you will also find pre-existing bridges, shelters and other resources left behind for you to use. Inversely, you can also help out other players of the game by leaving behind tools and buildings for them to use in their playthrough. © Kojima Producrtions_505Games Simply judging by the visuals, we played the game on both a 4K TV and a 1440P monitor and the post-apocalyptic world of North America looks absolutely stunning. Whether you are playing in 4K or lower resolutions, you will thoroughly enjoy the world crafted by Kojima and his team for the PC port. You will be spending anywhere between 40-45 hours completing this game with bonus content for Half-Life fans. We tested the game on our dedicated gaming PC build that consisted of an RTX 2080 Ti, 32GB of 3200MHz DDR4 RAM, and an Intel i7-8700K CPU. We have to point out that we were able to achieve anywhere between 55-60 frames while playing in 4K resolution which was more than enough, as this game was playable even on the PlayStation 4 with 30 FPS. Having said that, if you turn down the resolution you can push even more frames; we were hovering between 110 - 120 FPS on 1440P resolution. The game’s video settings allow you to extend it up to 240 FPS. However, to achieve higher frames, we recommend turning off motion blur effects and toning down the depth of field from the settings. The game also provides additional settings for shadows, ambient occlusion, the choice between TAA or FXAA anti-aliasing amongst other settings you can tweak according to your preference and PC specifications. © Kojima Producrtions_505Games Having said that, the game doesn’t require a powerful gaming PC like ours. Sure, you will experience a little drop in performance on older hardware however it will still hold up well for most current PC gamers. The minimum and recommended requirements for Death Stranding are mentioned below: © Kojima Producrtions_505Games We do have to mention that the game does not offer any real-time ray tracing which was a big disappointment. However, the game makes up for it for having NVIDIA’s DLSS 2.0 support. NVIDIA has already issued a driver update and we highly recommend upgrading before playing this game. DLSS 2.0 only works on RTX GPUs where it uses a neural network to boosts frame rates while maintaining the overall image quality. For RTX GPU users, you will not face any major frame rate drops even when playing in higher resolutions. Having said that, with DLSS 2.0 turned off, we did feel the game was being held back a little. If you aren’t an RTX GPU user, you may experience lower frame rates but nothing too drastic that would hamper the overall experience. Overall, the PC port of Death Stranding has been optimised well and delivered an experience expected from a single-player adventure. The Final Verdict If you’ve been wanting to play this game with better performance, frames and upgraded graphics; you really should check out Death Stranding on PC. However, if you already own a PlayStation 4, you can find the game for cheaper online and at your local retailer. 505Games didn’t follow through with regional pricing for this game and it could be a bit expensive purchase for a game that has already been out for several months. View the full article
  15. Anushka Sharmaâs latest production Bulbbul has finally released today. The film is so much more than just another horror story as it sheds light on injustices carried out against a child bride. This is Anvita Duttâs directorial debut and she has beautifully showcased a horror story in a fabled way of storytelling. © Netflix The film features Tripti Dimri, Avinash Tiwary, Rahul Bose, Parambrata Chattopadhyay, Pauli Dam, Ruchi Mahajan, and Varun Paras Buddhadev. Despite the regular ghost story set-up, this film doesnât go by the playbook and in no way is it a cut and slash paranormal thriller that you were expecting. © Netflix The film revolves around the story of a child bride who grows up to become an enigmatic woman who has faced a heartbreaking and painful past as supernatural murders of men keep on happening in her village. Check out the trailer here- The best part of the film is that it sets its vibe within the first five minutes of the movie itself and carries it forward with depth. The movie keeps on going back and forth to explain why Bulbbulâs life is shaped in a certain way and will make you experience the horror in the film for yourself. © Netflix Also, Tripti Dimri, who is the lead in the film, is one of the biggest highlights as she has played her role brilliantly and has shined throughout the film. Avinash Tiwary, who plays the role of Satya in the film, has also been able to do justice to his role and is perfectly showcased in the horror flick. Hereâs what people on the internet have to say about the film- #Bulbbulreview awesome work. stellar performances hats off to @AnushkaSharma and #KarneshSharma keep bringing such amazing projects ð¼ â ISHAN (@ip23dragoon) June 24, 2020So basically #Bulbul by is rays charulota minced with horror #Bulbbulreview â Sourav Roy (@roy183sourav) June 24, 2020#Bulbbulreview the analogy of freedom and society was shown perfectly. Strongest feminist tale. Every girl has a bulbul in her heart but now she is devi. ï¸ â Sneh kanwar (@kanwar_sneh09) June 24, 2020#BulbbulReview: #Bulbbul tends to get a bit predictable, which is the only shortcoming of this @NetflixIndia film. But just when you start to relax and flow with the emotions, along comes a scary twist that jolts you back to the edge of your seat. #Bulbbul is smartly crafted. â Somesh Sinha (@SinhaSomesh) June 24, 2020Just finished watching #Bulbbul Amazing story just wow @AnushkaSharma#Bulbul #Bulbbulreview â Ritish Singh (@im_ritish) June 24, 2020#Bulbbul is the kind of Feminist film I was looking out for since some time. Albeit predictable fable-horror, It questions the evils of child marriage, gender violence &everything patriarchy.What wins here is a finale act that makes you wish if it were not just a film but reality pic.twitter.com/ZmovL5Ld8h â A. (@Mystic_Riverr) June 24, 2020I'm in love with @tripti_dimri23 The type of expressions she gave, her laughter She nailed it in #Bulbbul pic.twitter.com/7cVGziR9e5 â Riyaâ· (@sassy_me22) June 24, 2020 However, a few people felt that the film was too predictable and failed to meet their expectations. But, according to the majority, the movie is largely being liked by the audience and the not-so-mainstream narration of the film is what makes it extraordinary. Also, most viewers are praising Anvita Dutt for being able to convey the complex story properly in a short duration. This is a perfect weekend watch that you should definitely check out and have a chance to explore and enjoy an extraordinary screenplay by this brilliant director. View the full article
  16. The much awaited movie Gulabo Sitabo is now streaming on Amazon Prime Video and our Honest reviewers Zain, Shubham and Rajesh are here to tell us about their views on it. Watch out now! View the full article
  17. OnePlus launched the OnePlus 8 in India after a few delays caused by the lockdown and a very serious problem at the factory. However, we got our hands on the phone last week and took our time testing the phone in various scenarios. Even though the phone seems like an upgrade, it is more of the same from last year's OnePlus 7T series. There are only minor changes in terms of design and is powered by the latest Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 chipset. Having said that, the phone does offer the best Android experience on any phone right now mostly because of OxygenOS. The OnePlus 8 may not seem like a big change to people who bought last year's OnePlus phones, it does, however, pack a punch under the hood. Here's what we think about OnePlus' affordable flagship smartphone: Design and Display © MensXP/Akshay Bhalla When looking at the OnePlus 8; you will notice that it doesn't look much different than its Pro counterpart or even the OnePlus 7T Pro from the back. While the phone has been positioned as the more affordable model, the design itself is premium enough to classify it as a flagship phone on its right. It has an all-glass design at the back with a triple camera module, the logo and the new hideous logo. The old logo was just fine and looked great on OnePlus phones. It complimented the design language whereas the new logo simply looks out of place. It looks like someone left the caps lock button on and just typed the brand's name. It is quite jarring and doesn't fit the overall minimal design of the phone. © MensXP/Akshay Bhalla At the front, you have a 6.55-inch full HD AMOLED display which is more than enough for viewing content on your phone. The first thing you will notice is a punch-hole camera on the top-left corner of the phone which we've seen earlier on Samsung Galaxy S devices. While the punch-hole camera doesn't interfere with the visual experience, we still preferred the pop-up design on the OnePlus 7T Pro. Although, without the pop-up camera module, the phone is significantly lighter and easier to hold. © MensXP/Akshay Bhalla The display is also a bit different from previous OnePlus phones as it now has a curved design that wraps around the edges of the display. The curved display makes it easier to grip the phone as compared to flatter devices. Having said that, it does come with its disadvantages as well as the curved display also causes accidental touches. The OnePlus 8 also has a 90Hz panel meaning it runs smoother and faster than most phones. This is partly because OxygenOS has been fine-tuned for the higher refresh rate and in comparison, the scrolling speed was faster and smoother than the Galaxy S20's 120Hz panel. You don't even have to reduce the resolution to enjoy this feature which is still a caveat on the Galaxy S20 series. Having said that, the faster refresh rate does affect your battery life as smoother scrolling and increase the tick rate of the display requires more power from the CPU. Finally, the display is good enough for most users but certainly does not beat Samsung's display quality. There is a slight blue cast when watching movies with darker scenes. Blacks are not as well represented which can be annoying if you are particular about your viewing experience. Cameras © MensXP/Akshay Bhalla The one department OnePlus has always been lacking is the camera department and the case remains the same for the OnePlus 8. The smartphone has a 48-megapixel main shooter with its f/175 aperture, a 16MP ultra-wide camera and a 2MP macro lens. You will only end up using two camera sensors as macro-lens are not that important. As far as the picture quality is concerned, the main camera sensor has a lot of blurs which will not be noticeable to you on the phone's screen. Most images from the wide camera are fairly dull and tend to ignore bright colours. Once you view your pictures on a larger screen, you will notice the blur and the saturation levels which don't meet up to smartphone camera standards in 2020. Even the colours tend to be off at times as there was more saturation than we expected. As for the ultra-wide shots; let's just say you won't have a good time taking images with the phone for the time being. Having said that, the phone has improved in low light images and even the night mode works better than last year. If you like to take selfies, the OnePlus 8 is not the phone for you as we could not get the phone to take one decent picture without any blur. It looked like the image was captured by a phone from a decade ago. The overall camera experience isn't that great and can expect to be improved once fixes are rolled out via an update. Performance and Battery Life © MensXP/Akshay Bhalla OnePlus is known for delivering performance on their smartphones with utmost priority and the OnePlus 8 lives up to that ethos. It is powered by Qualcomm's Snapdragon 865 chipset and is more efficient than any chipset made by Qualcomm ever. Our review unit came with 12GB of Ram and 256GB internal storage. The 12GB RAM certainly played a crucial role in delivering a smooth and stable experience. It ran games and did everything at the highest setting possible with no frame rate drops whatsoever. © MensXP/Akshay Bhalla In our Geekbench 5 test, the OnePlus 8 scored 911 in the Single-Core test and 3239 in the multi-core test. That is faster than the iPhone 11 in the multi-core test and outperforms the newly launched Xiaomi Mi 10 as well. OnePlus 8 is the only phone out there that can match up to the iPhone 11's performance and at times be faster. Similarly, the OnePlus 8 also fared well in the GPU test where it scored 1324 in the GFX Bench Aztec Ruins Vulkan test. The OnePlus 8 performed fairly well for its 4,300 mAh battery where the phone lasted for around 11 hours in our extreme stress test. For moderate users, you can expect the phone to last significantly more. However, the battery life does drop by two hours if you turn up the refresh rate to 90Hz. The phone does support 30W wired charging and can charge the phone to 70% from 0 in about 34 minutes. In short, the OnePlus 8 fast charging method is second to none and is amongst the fastest charging phones today. The Final Say When considering a flagship phone to buy this year, one can't ignore the OnePlus 8. The phone offers an extremely fast and reliable performance that can't be matched by any Android phone apart from its bigger brother right now. Having said that, the OnePlus 8 does need some major improvements in the camera department to make it a complete flagship smartphone. If you don't mind sacrificing the picture quality, the OnePlus 8 is a viable option to consider for an upgrade. View the full article
  18. When I heard the price of the Redmi Earbuds S, I literally spat the water out of my mouth. That's because I was testing the earphones for a week prior to its launch and had assumed that it would cost between Rs 4,000 to Rs 7,000. Having tested many TWS earphones over the years, I have a fair idea of what a device should cost due to its sound signature, but the 'Redmi Earbuds S' is literally challenging the status quo. These wireless earphones are not meant for music enthusiasts but for users who don't want to use wired earphones for calls and listen to some music casually while in office or even at home. Here are our thoughts on the 'Redmi Earbuds S' after using them for ten days and what makes it worth the purchase: Design When looking at the design of the Redmi Earbuds S; you will notice that you may have seen something similar before. That's because Redmi sells these wireless earphones in China as the AirDots while in India they are called the Earbuds S. The design of the 'Earbuds S' has no resemblance to Apple's AirPods and instead uses a tried and tested design that many users prefer. It comes in a very cute yet classy pill-shaped charging case which has magnets inside to hold the earphones in place. The earphones are ready to pair with a phone the moment you open the lid of the charging case. © MensXP_Akshay Bhalla The stalks on the earphones are minimal and they have a rectangle design instead of an elongated design like AirPods. It sits in your ears at a 45-degree angle and comes with two additional tips that suit your Concha or your ear canal. Even the earbuds are fairly simple as it does not come with any gesture controls and instead uses physical buttons on the base of each earphone that has basic controls such as music playback options and calling up Google Assistant. Additionally, there is an indicator light on each bud which shows the status of the earphones. Red means they are charging in the case and a white light indicates that the Earbuds S is ready to pair with a device. © MensXP_Akshay Bhalla The charging case is also made of plastic and we can't really complain here as these earphones cost less than a fancy meal in Delhi. However, the charging case does come with a micro-USB port which was disappointing to see as most devices have now moved on to the USB-C ecosystem. You will be happy to know that the Redmi Earbuds S has an IPX4 rating which means it is sweat and splash resistant, making it perfect for the hot and humid weather of India. Sound Quality © MensXP_Akshay Bhalla The sound on the Redmi Earbuds S is directly dependent on the design of the TWS and the results were quite impressive, keeping the price in mind. Due to tighter seal and the 7.2mm drivers, the bass is more defined, however the earphones do drop the ball when it comes to mid and high frequencies. To be honest, most people like harder bass feedback and the Redmi Earbuds S is delivering quite well on that front. You can, however, adjust your sound levels manually via a music player if you need your mid and high frequencies to be clearer. As these earphones are not really meant for a music enthusiast, there isn't much to talk about the sound as the sound signature stays quite similar when testing the earbuds with different types of genres. The bass or the low frequency tends to overpower other frequencies but it still remains somewhat enjoyable to listen to music casually. If you prefer a clearer sound, you may want to consider the 1More Truly Stylish or the Samsung Galaxy Buds. The most impressive part of the Redmi Earbuds S is the range you can use these earphones up to. In normal mode, we could use the earbuds without any issues in the connection up to 25 feet away from the smartphone. Having said that, we did have to maintain a clear line of sight for it to work that far. If I went to a different room, the audio would cut out from time to time due to the thick walls in between. That said, the range of the earphones is quite impressive and is even better than most of its expensive counterparts. The primary use of the Redmi Earbuds S is supposed to be for making calls and the earphones really do that well. Most TWS have weak earphones that often make your own voice sound muffled. The Redmi Earbuds S have microphones in each bud and we used various apps to make calls for the test. We tested the earbuds on Discord, WhatsApp call and a normal call. The other person on the other end could hear our voice clearly, however it sounded as if we were in a big spacious environment. For gamers who use discord, there is a dedicated low latency mode that reduces lag and helps in faster communication when playing games. It gets reduced to 122ms and can be activated by pressing the physical button on the earbuds three times. Battery Life © MensXP_Akshay Bhalla The Redmi Earbuds S packs a punch when it comes to the battery life of the earbuds when in use. We managed to keep the wireless earbuds running for around 4.5 hours, however in low latency mode you can expect it to drop by 45 minutes. The earbuds can be fully charged again with the charging case, but it does take its time to get to full charge. The charging case also does not support any fast charging, so we advise, you charge the case and the buds when you have ample time. Having said that, the charging case can charge the earbuds up to three full charges on a single charge so you can expect the total battery back up to be around 12 hours when using in normal mode. The Final Say When taking the price of Rs 1,799 into consideration, the Redmi Earbuds S is a sound purchase if you are looking to go wireless. These TWS earbuds are great for making calls and can also serve gamers well for games that require constant communication. Even the sound of these earphones matches up to TWS earphones that cost Rs 5,000 or even above which makes this a great deal already. Redmi has truly democratised the wireless audio game with the Redmi Earbuds S and you should not hesitate from buying these wireless earphones. View the full article
  19. Zain, Shubham and Rajesh did netflix and chill last week and have come up with their latest review of the very famous web series- Money Heist. Here's what they have to say about the show. View the full article
  20. Zain, Shubham and Rajesh went out on a spiritual journey of watching one of the greatest shows of Indian Television - Ramayan. Watch out what they have to say about it. View the full article
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