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What we like:
High speed 4G LTE connectivity
Nexus like OS experience
What we don’t like:
Limited amount of internal storage
Average camera performance
Around an year ago, Dialog Axiata PLC, Sri Lanka’s largest and leading telecommunication service provider, took a bold step with the launch of their own “Dialog branded” smartphones to the local market. The Dialog i-series as it was known, offered smartphones running Android OS at less than Rs.9000. Decent hardware offerings and competitive pricing made the devices popular around the country. This led Dialog to launch an upgraded K-series later that year.
Meanwhile, Dialog also became the the first operator in Sri Lanka to introduce 4G LTE for mobile devices, last year. Mobile LTE brought unprecedented high speed internet on smartphones at affordable prices. On the other hand, it also had hardware limitations since subscribers needed to have 4G enabled smartphones, that cost a fortune in Sri Lankan market. To overcome this limitation, and as part of expanding their self-branded device line-up, Dialog has launched Dialog Q 143L – an affordable 4G enabled smartphone to the Sri Lankan market. This Android powered device has been priced at Rs.34,990. Dialog also offers free voice, SMS and data bundles along with the device for a limited period of time. Dialog also offers credit card payment plans to their customers who want to purchase this device. And yes, the device is network locked for Dialog.
This Android powered device has been priced at Rs.34,990.
We were lucky enough to try out the device at the time of launch. I have been playing with the device for a while now and even took the risk to use it as my daily driver for few days.
Inside the Box
Inside the box: Power adapter, Data cable, Headset, Battery, and the Device
The device comes in a simple packaging. Inside the package, you get a wall adapter, a USB cable that can be used for charging and data transfer, and a standard headset along with the device itself and a battery. For a detailed look, check out our exclusive un-boxing video below:
Hardware Specifications and Design
The Dialog Q143L can be considered as a mid-range device, considering the specifications and price. The device is manufactured by ZTE, which holds a huge market share in many Asian countries along with competitor Huawei. To be more specific, Dialog Q 143L is a re-branded version of ZTE Grand X LTE T82, which was originally released during the latter part of 2012. True, the original hardware is pretty old for 2014, but it still manages to stack up well against the mid range offerings available today.
The Dialog Q143L packs a 1.5 GHz Dual Core Qualcomm MSM8960 Snapdragon chipset powered by ARMv7 processor, a power efficient model in the market. The device has 1GB of RAM along with 4GB of internal storage. If that sounds underwhelming, note that it supports upto 32GB of external storage support via a microSD card and thankfully the device comes with a 4GB microSD card preinstalled. I did not encounter any issues related to internal storage during my temporary usage. But I do think installing large games and apps might pose an issue if you are a heavy user, and specially if the apps cannot be moved to external storage. The Q143L sports a 4.3 inch qHD screen (540 x 960 pixels) with around 256 ppi of pixel density. The screen looks crisp. I did not encounter any specific issue while browsing or playing games. The device measures 130.9 x 65 x 11.2 mm and weighs around 150 grams. The device does feel a bit bulky once the battery is inserted. I did feel the difference since my current device weighs around 20 grams less than Q143L.
But I do think installing large games and apps might pose an issue if you are a heavy user, and specially if the apps cannot be moved to external storage
Front View: Plain and Simple
The front display looks plain, except for the speaker grill on top. There are no physical buttons on the front. The nexus-style onscreen buttons appear only when the device is unlocked. The silver-outline gives the device a premium look. The device does not feel cheap on hand. The overall design is compact, and well suits one handed usage. The rear of the device has a textured finish which provides a good grip. It also has a little hump at the bottom edge, which reminds me of the Galaxy Nexus. Another notable addition is a rear flap next to the camera, which, once opened, reveals the external antenna connector. Even though we rarely see this on devices these days, it can be useful if you are planning to use the device as a 4G hotspot and require steady coverage.
Textured back. The little hump reminds me of Galaxy Nexus.
Dialog Q143L is equipped with an 8MP camera with autofocus capabilities and an LED flash. It is also capable of recording 1080p videos. There’s nothing extraordinary here. But 8MP is the best offering on a mid-range device. It more than enough for the daily Instagramming needs one might have. But I must admit, I am not a fan of the camera interface. It takes up almost half of the screen thereby limiting the viewfinder area. The camera software does not have anything special to offer either. The device also has a 1.3 MP front facing camera which can be used with video calling apps.
The device is powered by a 1900 mAh removable battery which is one of the positive aspects of the device. The device has been optimized well that it easily managed to last more than one day of average use, with 4G data switched on almost all the time.
Connectivity: LTE for the win!
If you are not aware, Dialog offers it’s mobile LTE connectivity on 1800 MHz band.
The connectivity options are what make this device stand out from the rest and make it worth the buck. Apart from supporting, the usual 2G, 3G and even DC-HSDPA (dual carrier) the Q143L provides support to 1800 MHz and 2600 MHz LTE bands on category 3, which means download speeds upto 100 MBPs. If you are not aware, Dialog offers it’s mobile LTE connectivity on 1800 MHz band.
The OS: Outdated but doesn’t disappoint.
The Dialog Q143L runs on Android 4.0.4 aka Ice Cream Sandwich. In my opinion, this is the only notable area (apart from internal storage) where I would have loved improvement. The reason is that the OS is pretty outdated for 2014, even though there are large number of devices still running ICS. But since ICS is visually similar to Jelly Bean, you will not need to worry much. It also offers support to almost all the latest apps in Google Play. Google recently released Android 4.4, aka Kitkat, a much smoother and updated version. Notable part of KitKat is that it is designed in a way to run smoothly even on low end devices with standard hardware configurations. I do feel Dialog should consider providing an OS update to KitKat on Q143L which will definitely improve the quality of the device.
The UI gives a Nexus feel
Since this is a Dialog branded device, Dialog has added their personalized booting animations to the device. Dialog Q143L also comes pre-installed with many Dialog branded apps including D-App, MyTV, Star Points App and My Traveller App. It also has SETT browser, which supports browsing local language websites, pre installed. It is specially useful since Android ICS does not offer full support to local language font rendering. Overall experience feels smooth since there is no noticeable visual changes done to the default look of Android (unlike Samsung or HTC devices). The UI almost feels like that of a Nexus device. Other little additions are the unlocking pattern/animation and the shortcut options available on the home screen when you swipe the unlock icon. It is enabled through the Mi-EasyAccess app that comes pre installed.
The overall performance is good. The device feels snappy. I did not face any issue in running most apps. Those who love to play games on their phones need not to worry too. Dialog Q143L is powerful enough to run most of the games, including the ones with heavy visual effects. But when running heavy apps, I did feel a slight lag. It is rather common in any device of this specs in my opinion. I do feel this can be overcome with a software update. I also ran some benchmarks tests on the device. The Q143L scored 10879 on AnTuTu Benchmark; slightly higher than galaxy S2. It also scored 1633 on PassMark performance Test. In this case slightly lower than Galaxy Nexus. On Quadrant Standard, the Q143L performed better much better than Galaxy Nexus and got a score of 4577. On CF-Bench, the CPU and memory benchmark tool, the Dialog Q143L once again scored better than Galaxy S2 with a score of 11727. Even though the benchmark scores are affected by various factors, the Q143L gave some consistant results mostly in the range of galaxy S2 and Galaxy Nexus, two extremely popular Android devices.
So how does the Dialog Q143L stack up against the competition in the current market? Is it really worth spending 35K on this 4G enabled smartphone? As I mentioned earlier, the options available for 4G enabled devices in Sri Lankan market is very limited, specially when it comes to affordability. So the Digit team did some market research and came up with a head to head comparison of the cheapest 4G LTE enabled handsets in the Sri Lankan market. There are two types of offerings in the local market. One is from the authorized dealer of a certain brand. The dealer provides the warranty and after-sales service. Prices are standardized by dealers for the local market. Usually smartphones sold through Sri Lankan mobile service providers also come through these authorized dealers. Apart from dealers, there are mobile phone shops that import the devices directly and sell it locally. The warranty and service is provided by the respective shops.
The difference I am trying to highlight is the price. In the local market the authorized dealer prices are usually very high compared to prices at mobile phone shops in places like Liberty Plaza. Also availability of certain variants/ models of the smartphones also differs between authorized dealers and non-dealers. Taking all this into account we came up with the following chart.
Note that there is a wide gap between price ranges. For example the cheapest of the list, LTE enabled Galaxy Ace 3 variant was available only at selected shops. (Not with authorized dealer). The closest competition to Dialog Q143L in terms of price were, Xperia V and Lumia 820. But then again their prices from authorized dealers were clearly higher than that of Q143L. Overall, considering the warranty, after sales services and the additional benefits, I feel Dialog Q143L can be considered as the most affordable 4G LTE enabled smartphone in the Sri Lankan market. This is specially applicable if you are a Dialog customer.
Q143L is a mid range Android device targeted at Dialog customers who want an affordable device to experience the high speed internet offering. In other words, Dialog has tried to bridge the gap between high end specs (LTE) and affordability, with the Q143L. It is a welcoming move. It is also a bold step taken by a Sri Lankan service provider to launch their own branded device which may lead to them launching latest devices with affordable contract plans like in many other countries. Looking at the specs and network limitations, the Q143L may not be for the expert users who like more customization. It is rather suitable for new users looking to convert to Android from other platforms (like Blackberry) or users who want to try a smartphone for the first time. The LTE connectivity is definitely the winning point of the device while the OS and internal storage could have been better.
All great things start with someone dreaming big about an idea. Experience of dreaming about such an idea is joyful and you soon realize it’s the next big thing. This state of mind gets shattered when this idea reaches the point of execution. Reason for this is the dreams are seen in perfect world mindset and execution takes place in real world.
This book helps the entrepreneurs to come out of the perfect world and accept the reality in making the business venture a success. Therefore “Reality Check” gives a pulse of the bitterness of real world when it comes to starting and nurturing a business.
“Reality Check” is an in depth explanation of Kawasaki’s “The Art of The Start”. Topics are discussed in greater detail by bringing in specialist opinion for related topics and diving in to technicality with greater detail.
Continuing his style of breaking the topics based on the phases of a startup, Kawasaki explains the reality of many key milestones. Some of the notable elements from these chapters are as follows.
- Conceptualizing and funding the idea of a startup are crucial as the entrepreneur is moving from a “The idea” mindset to a “Will it work” mindset. Kawasaki starts the discussion with the fairy tale of entrepreneurship. Then he provides guidance on how to overcome the shocks mainly in identifying the time to “commercialize the idea”.
The approach of educating the reader about investor mindset through his personal experience and expert opinion would be valuable for a reader who has plans of becoming a venture capitalist. He also introduces his unconventional “Venture Capital Aptitude Test” model which can be used as a tool to evaluate the qualifications to become a venture capitalist.
In an attempt to provide insight to venture capital law, Kawasaki has included an interview of Fred Greguras who is a specialist on the subject matter. As the legal explanations are deeply technical, attractiveness of the reader diminishes.
- Planning, executing & innovating are the most critical phases of a startup. Also these are continuous processes which require high level of focus. Kawasaki shares his wisdom in these areas in a chapter named “Zen of business plan”. The most attracting factor is the link he bridge between pitching and planning, which would benefit the entrepreneur in many aspects including funding.
Advising on execution, he explains the challenging aspect of it and hence to make it a worthy effort. Then Kawasaki writes the best chapter of this book “After the Honeymoon”. This focuses on few highly practical issues faced by a startup immediately after the initial success phase. What makes this chapter special is the candidness of problems highlighted, it signifies the causes and most importantly it provides practical solutions which meet the reader’s expectations.
This also includes the story of building one of his startups “All top” presented in a very interesting manner.
- Marketing, Sales& Communications are equally important for any startup to get the bucks to flow and spread the name across. This becomes a challenge with initial financial constraints and over spending can bring things to a grinding halt.
This section of the book stresses the importance of balancing market adaptation without trying costly, ineffective approaches to add numbers which hinders real market adaptation.
The reader would also come across guidance on startup focused branding techniques, aspects to be mindful in delegating marketing activities and importance of managing the extent to which the customers should be influenced in selling.
Many young entrepreneurs struggle when they are exposed to corporates in business development aspects. One of the main reasons for this is weakness in communication and lack of presentation skills. Therefore, Kawasaki has dedicated special emphasis to this sharing his own amazing techniques which he believes that would result in standing ovation, a chapter from Garr Reynolds and an in-depth analysis of Majora carter’s TED Talk.
- Beguiling &Competing is important especially after the launch of a startup. Beguiling assists an entrepreneur to attract and influence people in network building and recruitment. In this chapter Kawasaki stresses the importance of capitalizing on networks an entrepreneur builds. He points out frequent mistakes done in following up with the built contacts and signifies how costly it could be.
When network building results in business partnerships, getting partners to deliver results become challenging. This often happens when the partner has higher bargaining power compared to the startup. In order to overcome this, Kawasaki points out the ground rules to be laid, how exit strategies to be put and how to drive internal acceptance to reap benefits from such partnerships.
Focusing on competition, Kawasaki recalls his experiences at Apple’s Macintosh division where competition was at peak internally and against IBM. He guides the reader how to take the tide and how not to get carried away with competition. Emphasizing on understanding the mindset of competition, Kawasaki also lists down some of the best examples including how Virgin Atlantic took on British Airways in 1986 which proves that competition is best handled by tackling minds.
- Managing HR &Operations would not be the task an entrepreneur will handle in the mid/long term. But the way an entrepreneur handles this at the inception would determine how it would be practiced as it would embed to the culture. Therefore, hiring, firing & managing day to day operations is been paid extra attention in this section.
Kawasaki uses his experience with Steve Jobs to explain hiring which includes the famous “A players hire A+ players” example he initiated at Apple. Among other valuable points, presenting a challenge to the candidate is noteworthy. Kawasaki mentions the challenge Steve Jobs gave to John Scully when he was recruited to highlight the importance of this.
Continuing his style, Kawasaki turns the table to guide the reader in tackling these situations as a candidate.
Vitality of being responsible, firm and providing chances in laying are being discussed in greater depth to enlighten the reader of risks involved.
Focusing on business operations, Kawasaki lists out a number of tips covering many aspects to enjoy work and be productive.
Kawasaki concludes this chapter with some “Must Read” radical topics related to work place politics and also provides his unconventional models to tackle them.
Ensuring the completeness and relevance of this book to all types of startups, Kawasaki has written the final chapter Reality of Doing Good. This section gives insights in to challenges faced in social entrepreneurship and transforming corporations in to Nonprofits. He also shares his way of viewing life in a chapter named “My Hindsights in Life” and asks ten questions from the reader which he calls the “Checklist of Reality Check”.
Mentioned below are some views about this book from a holistic standpoint
- In this book, Kawasaki’s attention to detail on key elements of a startup is commendable. Throughout the book he stresses the importance of developing simple and attractive customer interfaces to enhance customer experience which is a critical success factor.
- Also, this is a book full of lies. Truth about lies that Entrepreneurs, Venture capitalists, Engineers and Lawyers tell each other when they play their part. These are real lies which you would tell/hear and hence provides guidance to how to be creative in telling new lies.
- This book consists with number of chapters where technical experts were interviewed. In many instances these chapters are discussed in greater detail. This has negatively impacted on the flow as it dilutes focus from the core subject matter. Alternatively, a summarized version in Kawasaki’s own opinion would have added more value.
- Another distinct feature about Reality Check is that it puts the reader in to many different tough situations and provides guidance to tackle those situations. Advising on handling situations such as founder not performing is a clear evidence for this.
In conclusion, Reality Check would gain a rating of 6 out of 10 for the validity of points mentioned above. Better selection and sequencing of sub chapters, less number of expert interviews anda much brief approach would have resulted in a better rating.
While going through a startup struggle, writing a review for this book has been immensely challenging as this turns out to be my first book review. However, the beauty of this book is that it has motivated and guided me to complete crucial phases of my startup as I read through it.
The GIST of this book is that it’s about the PURPOSE of everything an entrepreneur experiences in building a successful startup. This book is clearly exclusive as it is written to address key issues of entrepreneurship for many reasons briefed below.
Guy Kawasaki has used his expertise on this subject from various aspects of his career being an evangelist, an entrepreneur & a venture capitalist. This gives Kawasaki the perfect leverage to attract and give the reader an interactive experience.
One main reason for success of this book has been the precision in identifying and sequencing phases of a startup. Discussed below are some of the most notable elements of the important phases.
- Causation is the starting point of entrepreneurship. The entrepreneur is helpless at this stage and often gets in to hasty conclusions to prove what he/she believes is correct. This chapter provides guidance to rigorously question and clarify the purpose of initiating a startup.Kawasaki continues to prove his mastery practicality by highlighting the importance of stepping in to the executing phase while planning for long term. Simultaneously there is focus on launching a prototype along with building your Mantra.
- Articulation is undoubtedly the bitterest phase of a startup for any entrepreneur,and is often rushed through. As a result, most good startup concepts fail and never take off. In this chapter the venture capitalist in Kawasaki takes a different approach compared to accepted norms.Kawasaki engages the reader closely by diving into tactical aspects of positioning, pitching & planning. Practicing the concepts of “10/20/30 Rule”and“Answering the little man”mentioned under this chapter, guides the reader to smoothly cross through the Articulation phase.
- Activation is the phase that an action biased entrepreneur is anxious to achieve. This is also widely known as the toughest phase of a startup. In this 40 page chapter, whilst emphasizing on the truth of making ideas happen, Kawasaki reinstates the saying;“It’s not about the idea, it’s about making the idea happen”. Building bottom up forecasts, shipping before testing, making money through your Mantra and making recruitment a daily practice could be some of the most valuable lessons a reader would learn.
- As the startup moves to next levels, gaining acceptance (market & internal) becomes a key driver for success. Therefore the chapters of Proliferation & Obligation are focused on this element. Tactics for building a brand and identifying opportunities for rainmaking are discussed comprehensively while making connections to interesting concepts through other sources.
The above reasons are only a minor contribution to the success of Kawasaki’s book. However, following are the main reasons readers and entrepreneurs alike are drawn to this book making it a phenomenal success.
- Entrepreneurs by nature are casual and informal people. They rarely follow manuals and procedures.As an entrepreneur himself, Kawasaki has applied this informality in his writing to display an authentic feel of the different phases of startups. Each heading/sub heading of this book is constructed in an informative and advisory format.Through this Kawasaki ensures the reader remembers the key messages.
- Entrepreneurship is about making mistakes. Gradually those mistakes turn out to be the very reasons for the success of a startup. At the beginning of each heading, Kawasaki has highlighted all mistakes that startups do before contrasting it with the right means to go out tasks. This approach is far more effective in comparison to dishing out the right methods to readers.
- Many books provide exercise pauses for the reader to think through and action relevant tasks.This is often skipped and never revisited. However, the distinctiveness and practicality of points laid and appropriateness in selecting exercises convinces the reader to complete those.
- Frequently Avoided Questions is one of the favorite elements of this book. The reader would find appropriate answers for questions which are ignored by their advisers and most importantly new questions shaped to provide food for thought.
- One may question whether this book is being intended only for small startups. The answer is No. Guy Kawasaki brings in his real life experience of working at Apple Inc. to unveil some valuable thoughts on how to nurture startups within large corporations. This is rarely found in traditional books on entrepreneurship.
In conclusion, this book deserves a ranking of 4 out of 5 for above mentioned reasons.However, more real world startup examples in relation to specific topics discussed would have been a value addition.
Reading “The Art of The Start” should definitely be Part of The Start – Ruzan Ahamed
It would be an understatement to say that Apple’s Mac Pro workstation was getting a little long in the tooth. As of summer 2012, it was missing Apple’s own Thunderbolt ports, not to mention 802.11n WiFi. Finally, though, Apple released an updated version, and it addresses a little more than just the wireless card and I/O options. Redesigned from the ground up, it’s now much smaller and lighter, with a space-age cylindrical shape, an overhauled cooling system that’s half as loud and a spec sheet that includes standard dual GPUs, PCIe SSDs, 802.11ac WiFi, up to 64GB of RAM and the latest Intel Xeon processors, once again going up to 12 cores. In short, these are specs that bring the Mac Pro into the modern age — and make it ready to handle the coming onslaught of 4K content.
If you’re a professional photographer, videographer, audio engineer, animator or what-have-you, you might actually be considering spending $2,999 on one of these — maybe as much as $9,599, if you have the means. Or maybe you’re just like my colleagues here at Engadget, who don’t need one, and won’t ever buy one, but covet it just the same. Either way, you’ll want to read on to see how this thing actually performs (though you probably already have an idea).
If the Mac Pro really does look like a trash can, as everyone says, it’s much nicer than any rubbish bin I’ve ever owned. Starting with the shape, which seems to have earned it so much ridicule, the Mac Pro is basically a squat little cylinder, with a large circular opening up top where the heat creeps out. Between that and the glossy
gunmetal ”Space Gray” finish, it does indeed look like some sort of futuristic wastepaper basket.
Then, of course, you turn the thing around and notice the Apple logo, power button and a cutout in the anodized-aluminum exposure, making it easy to access the various ports. Not exactly a garbage can, that. All told, the Mac Pro is a compact little thing, standing 9.9 inches tall and measuring 6.6 inches in diameter. For whatever reason– the photography on Apple’s site, perhaps — it feels smaller and shorter than I imagined it. To give you some perspective, the Pro stands around half as tall as a 27-inch monitor, like Apple’s own Cinema Display, and has roughly the same footprint as an office phone. So if you have room for a landline, you almost certainly have room for the Mac Pro. And if you have enough room for a landline, you can probably get away with using the Mac Pro in other small spaces, like a music stage or the corner of a film set.
Speaking of the sort, the machine is light enough, at 11 pounds, that you could conceivably take it with you to your next shoot. Left uncovered, you’ll want to handle it gingerly, of course, but if you keep the original box with the foam inserts, you should have no problem carrying it in the crook of your arm. In fact, that might not be such a bad idea: The glossy aluminum finish is also quite the fingerprint magnet, much more so than any other Apple products we’ve seen. If you do carry this around by hand, be prepared to wipe off some smudges now and again.
Swinging back to the ports for a moment, these include headphone and mic jacks, four USB 3.0 sockets, six Thunderbolt 2 connections, dual Gigabit Ethernet ports and an HDMI 1.4 port. As a nice, even more futuristic touch, the power button glows white briefly when you turn on the machine, as do a few other accent lights around the ports. The LEDs even fade as you shut down the computer, and flick on again one by one as it’s booting up. Additionally, you’ll find a locking switch that keeps the removable aluminum enclosure in place (you can’t actually power on the machine unless the cover is on). One thing you won’t find here: a memory card slot. This makes sense, in a way, given that pros aren’t big on SD cards, and there are simply too many other formats to accommodate on one small chassis. To build in, say, a CF slot, but not one for XQD would have been rather arbitrary indeed.
Six paragraphs so far and I’ve only described the removable case. Slip it off and you get to the heart of the machine, a tall, three-sided board Apple is calling the “thermal core.” Two of the sides are taken up by the GPUs — dual graphics cards are standard here — whereas the CPU occupies the third. I’ll get to performance and configuration options in a moment, but for now, suffice to say you can configure this thing with two AMD FirePro D700 GPUs and 12GB of video memory, amounting to up to seven teraflops of computing power (the last Mac Pro maxed out at 2.7 teraflops). Meanwhile, there are two RAM banks (with two slots each), located on either side of the CPU board. Combined, these can accommodate up to 64GB of DDR3 memory, with bandwidth of up to 60 gigabytes per second.
With the exception of the processor, everything is user-replaceable — the RAM, the GPUs and the solid-state storage. (I still wouldn’t recommend that the average person replace the GPU himself, but then again, the Mac Pro isn’t exactly for the average consumer in the first place.)
Speaking of thermal performance — this is the thermal core, after all — Apple designed a cooling system whereby air is sucked in at the base of the machine, and gets pushed out of that large hole in the top. Rather than use multiple fans, Apple went with just one, tweaking the size, shape, speed and spacing of the blades. In the end, the company’s engineering team settled on backward-curved impeller blades, which spin at fewer revolutions per minute than on the last-gen Mac Pro.
The idea, of course, is for the blades to effectively cool the system, but also to make less noise in the process. According to Apple, the new Pro reaches 15 decibels while under load, versus 30dB on the last edition. And when the machine is idle, it simmers down to just 12dB — very similar to the lower-powered Mac mini. As I’ll discuss later in the review, the machine is indeed as quiet as advertised, though that may or may not come at the expense of some warm operating temperatures.
Though the unit we have here is very nearly an entry-level configuration (quad-core Intel Xeon E5-1620 processor, 16GB of RAM, 256GB SSD, dual 2GB AMD FirePro D300 GPUs), I also had the chance to test out a more tricked-out version. That was an $8,099 model with an eight-core CPU, 64GB of RAM, a 1TB SSD and two FirePro D700 GPUs — the best graphics Apple is offering. With the newest version of Final Cut Pro X, which has been specifically optimized to take advantage of the Mac Pro’s dual GPUs, I saw the machine play back 16 picture-in-picture 4K streams simultaneously.
||MAC PRO (2013, 3.7GHZ INTEL XEON E5-1620, DUAL 2GB AMD FIREPRO D300)
||IMAC (2013, 27-INCH, 3.4GHZ CORE I5, 8GB RAM, 2GB NVIDIA GTX 775M)
||IMAC (2012, 27-INCH, 3.4GHZ CORE I7, 8GB RAM, 2GB NVIDIA GTX 680MX)
||IMAC (2012, 21.5-INCH, 3.1GHZ CORE I7, 16GB RAM, 512MB NVIDIA GEFORCE GT 650M)
||12,650 (32-bit) / 14,207 (64-bit)
||10,920 (32-bit) / 11,867 (64-bit)
Editing is a seamless affair too — you can apply a filter to a video and see it go into effect immediately. Zero rendering time here. Ditto for previews: You can instantly see how an effect will look without having to wait for the machine to catch up. Last example: Retiming a four-and-a-half-minute clip to just a few seconds was also instantaneous — I could immediately play back a much shorter version of that same footage. I’m no videographer, as you all know, but if I were, it would be nice not to have to wait while I had a director or client looking over my shoulder, asking me to make changes. (Because in my fantasy life as a videographer, I’m always on location.)
Fortunately, you don’t need an $8,100 configuration to enjoy that kind of performance. Even on the more modestly specced machine, I was able to preview and apply effects and transitions with zero waiting time. As on the higher-end model, I could play back multiple 4K streams at once. Additionally, I was able to add effects to clips while playing back my project, and could immediately jump to that clip to see the effect in action. At one point, I went a little overboard and added 15 filters and the footage still ran flawlessly. (N.B.: There’s an option in settings that causes playback to stop as soon as a frame drops, but that never happened during my testing. Not once.) Truth be told, I probably could have applied even more than 15 effects, but by that time, I had conceded defeat, and was starting to feel bored with my little game.
Other stats: Importing a 9.23GB folder of .MOV files from the desktop took less than two seconds — I had barely pressed the start button on my stopwatch and the import was already over. When it came time to export, exporting that 9.23GB project from ProRes 422 to H.264 took five minutes and 16 seconds. As a side note, when I timed the export, I made sure I wasn’t doing anything else in Final Cut Pro, since the program is designed to slow background processes if there’s something going on in the foreground. That said, I found that I could play other 4K clips while exporting a project, though at one point I hit a clip that included a 4K picture-in-picture overlay, which caused a brief slowdown.
I won’t dwell too much on benchmark scores here, for the simple reason that most tests have not yet been optimized to take advantage of dual GPUs. As you can see in the above table, for instance, the numbers are on par with a recent iMac, even though the real-world performance here is far superior, especially in apps like Final Cut Pro X, which have been designed to leverage both graphics cards. Meanwhile, our test system ran the Cinebench R15 Open GL test at 74 frames per second — that, too, is a good showing, but still not as fast as you’d expect of a dual-GPU machine.
It’s a similar story with gaming: I ran Batman: Arkham City (the Game of the Year Edition), but suspect it was using just one of the GPUs. With resolution set to 2,560 x 1,440, details on high and anti-aliasing at its highest setting (8x), the Mac Pro managed an average of 56 frames per second, with frame rates running the gamut from 28 to 83 fps. It wasn’t until I dropped the anti-aliasing and detail levels to medium that I saw rates climb to 60 frames per second, with a peak of 88 fps. Even then, that was only a modest improvement. In the Mac Pro’s defense, though, gameplay is smooth, especially if you disable V Sync, which caps frame rates. The performance just isn’t quite as robust as you’d expect on a machine this powerful.
Without belaboring the point, this brings me to one of my few concerns about the Mac Pro, which is that right now, at least, most programs won’t fully harness its graphics capabilities. One of the reasons I spent so much time in Final Cut Pro is that it’s one of the few programs designed specifically to run well on a new Mac Pro. It reminds me a bit of how Retina display MacBook Pros were initially short on compatible software. If that analogy holds true, we should see more apps retooled to play nice with the Mac Pro’s dual-GPU setup. Just be prepared for some slim pickings if you buy one this week.
As for tasks that aren’t GPU-intensive, start-up consistently took around 46 seconds — a moot point if you’re one of those people who never shuts down before leaving the office. (If you do shut down regularly, you might find the boot-up sequence slightly tedious, though you’ll of course make up for it in rendering time.) Copying a nearly 10GB file from the downloads folder to the desktop was basically instantaneous. Most apps launched with virtually zero wait time. Even Final Cut Pro, a fairly heavy-duty program, was up and running in under three seconds.
Right now, at least, most programs won’t fully harness the Mac Pro’s graphics capabilities.
Throughout, the Mac Pro gets a bit warm, but it’s rarely hot, and it’s always quiet. For lack of a better word, you’d have to provoke the machine to really be bothered by the heat: The warmest area is at the top of the chassis, and even then, you’d have to be sticking your hand near the vents to feel it. Otherwise, the chassis does get a tad warm — and can take a while to cool down — but it’s much cooler than the air blowing out of the top. Avoid sticking your fist into the opening at the top and you’ll be fine. As for noise, I tried hard to get the fans spinning, but they stayed quiet. Actually, if you put your ear up to the opening at the top, you will hear a faint purring, but again, you’d have to be the sort of wise guy willing to put your ear next to the hottest part of the machine (not recommended).
It’s no surprise that with a high-performing machine like this, Apple went with SSDs built on the PCI Express standard. (In fact, all of its new machines, laptop and desktop alike, use PCIe.) In this case, though, the speeds are rated for 1.2GB per second, versus 800 MB/s on, say, the MacBook Air or the entry-level Retina display MacBook Pro. So, whereas the disk speeds are good on Apple’s other machines, they’re positively screaming here. As you can see in the above table, our read speeds averaged 918.6 MB/s across different stress loads, with write speeds coming out to 761.2 MB/s. To put that in perspective, the newest iMac managed 667.88 MB/s on the read test, and just 318.14 MB/s when it came to write speeds. Big difference, wouldn’t you say?
In addition to the SSD, the Thunderbolt 2 ports bring some serious speed of their own. Thanks to their bandwidth of 20 Gbps, you can daisy-chain up to six peripherals per port, or 36 for the whole machine. Or, you can connect up to three 4K monitors. I wish I could’ve tested that last bit, but alas, our reviews budget doesn’t stretch far enough to include three of those bad boys. One would be sweet enough.
And here we arrive at what’s actually one of the more important sections of this review: the part where we tell you all the ways you can trick out your new beast of a workstation. On Apple’s site, you’ll see two ready-made models, both of which are scheduled to ship in February. The base version goes for $2,999 with a quad-core 3.7GHz Intel Xeon E5 processor, dual AMD FirePro D300 GPUs with 2GB of VRAM each, 12GB of memory and a 256GB PCIe SSD. In other words, it’s basically the same unit I tested, except ours had 16 gigs of RAM instead of 12. Otherwise, same specs.
The other model listed on Apple’s site is a six-core unit with dual FirePro D500 GPUs. As a higher-end machine, this has 3GB of video memory per GPU, not two. Additionally, it comes with 16GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD, just like the base model.
But don’t be fooled by the simplicity of Apple’s purchasing page. Click “select” for either and you’ll be opening up a wide array of customization options. And really, that’s what you’re most curious about, right? Let’s unpack all the choices here. For starters, if you’re configuring the lower-end quad-core model, you can step up to a six-core CPU ($500), an eight-core one ($2,000) or a 12-core chip ($3,500). From there, you can upgrade to 16GB ($100), 32GB ($500) or 64GB ($1,300) of RAM. As for storage, there are larger 512GB and 1TB SSDs available for $300 and $800, respectively. Finally, there’s graphics. In addition to the base option, which includes two 2GB FirePro D300 GPUs, you can opt for two 3GB D500s ($400) or two 6GB D700s ($1,000).
Obviously, the upgrade prices are different if you start with the higher-end model. Regardless, the Mac Pro always comes with dual GPUs, as I said, along with other amenities like 802.11ac WiFi and Bluetooth 4.0, neither of which was included on the last-gen Mac Pro.
If you still have room in your budget, Apple is also selling a $3,595, 32-inch 4K Sharp monitor on its site, in case you don’t already have a screen for viewing and playing back ultra-high-res media. Apple is also selling the keyboard and mouse separately, as it has in the past. Already, we’ve seen some commentary on the internet criticizing Apple for being stingy, but keep in mind that many of the folks buying this might well be businesses that already have keyboards and mice lying around, so they might not actually be missing these accessories as much as you think they are.
I debated even putting the word “expensive” in the cons list of that review card you seen down there. It’s hard to say if the Mac Pro is pricey, per se, given that there’s nothing else quite like it. There are plenty of Windows-based workstations, certainly, but none are quite this small or quite this portable (many aren’t quite this quiet, either). And if you’re a creative professional already hooked into Mac-only apps like Final Cut Pro, this is really your only choice: The new Mac Pro is a serious improvement over the old model in every way, and is likely worth the upgrade. So, while $2,999 (let alone $10,000) is indeed a big investment, it’s well worth it for people who live and die by their workstation, and for whom (rendering) time is money.
Zach Honig and Todd Thoenig contributed to this review.
Mac Pro (2013)
- Compact, space-saving design
- Strong graphics performance, fast disk speeds
- Runs quietly
- Supports up to three 4K displays
- Runs a little warm, and can take a while to cool down
- Many apps still need to be optimized to take advantage of two GPUs
CONCLUSIONThere isn’t another computer we know of that’s this powerful and also this compact. With a starting price of $2,999, going all the way up to nearly $10,000, it’s quite pricey, but for videographers, photographers, animators and other creative professionals, it could be well worth the investment.
Source : http://www.engadget.com/2013/12/23/apple-mac-pro-review-2013/
By now we all know that Google’s not-so-secret Nexus 5 is for sale. We got our hands on a review unit and here are our initial impressions. Keep in mind that these are only first impressions after having used it for a few hours and so haven’t completely taken it through the wringer, but we wanted to show you what you can expect for this $349 and $399 phone.
There’s nothing that makes the packaging stand out among all of the other Nexus devices, but when you open up the box and take out the Nexus 5, this is where your new Nexus experience begins. At just 8.59 millimeters and weighing 4.8 ounces, the smartphone is extremely thin and light — it almost felt as though it could break while in your hands.
The 5-inch display makes it suitable to fit in the palm of your hands, but while carrying it in my pocket while walking through San Francisco, it sort of felt like it was out of place — perhaps I’ve grown too accustomed to the fact that I’ve had 3- to 4-inch phones for the past few years. Although you can hold the device in one hand, it doesn’t immediately feel comfortable enough size to manage all your affairs as such. Trying to type out emails or using certain apps required the use of both hands.
Users will notice that the display is sharp, perhaps akin to Apple’s Retina display. All the details of the icons and content on the phone are pretty clearly visible.
LG is the company behind the Nexus 5. The construction appears to be pretty sturdy and it’s quite easy to grip. However, the Corning Gorilla Glass 3 screendoes make it prone to smudges and fingerprints and almost as soon as I took the phone out of the box and removed the screen covering, a fingerprint emerged.
The camera has 8.1 megapixels and comes with optical image stabilization. It takes some pretty good photographs which we’ll be showing off later, including HDR and Photo Spheres. There’s a single flash on the Nexus 5, which when enabled, will turn on as you try and focus on something in a darkened room. So if you plan on taking photos at a night club or in the evening, better warn people of two flashes.
So what about KitKat, Google’s latest Android operating system? In my preliminary assessment, it’s stable and useful. The fact that Google Now has been incorporated so well into the platform so that it’s accessible from any of the home screen windows will hopefully help users find what they want quicker.
In a bit of a pet peeve, the phone will respond to anyone that says “OK Google”. It’s interesting that KitKat hasn’t incorporated the same preventative measure that Google has with its Glass product (it won’t activate when random people walk by and scream “OK Google” into the device). Nevertheless, I found Google Now useful, especially when I asked it to open apps. Gmail and Flipboard opened instantly, though Instagram failed to open on cue. Why that happened is unknown, so a bit of tweaking could be done — it’s still far from perfect.
The overall appearance of Android 4.4 is decent, but if you’re expecting a remarkable overhaul from Jellybean, you’re going to be disappointed. Although the aesthetics haven’t changed that dramatically, the experience itself has. We’ll dive deeper into this when we have an opportunity to do a more in-depth review of the Nexus 5.
Nexus 5 owners will also find that it includes the latest Hangouts app, which lets you to send SMS and MMS messages, along with Quickoffice, which enables you to open or create new documents, spreadsheets, and presentations — a potential rival to Microsoft Office.
Google Wallet also comes installed on KitKat, which is needed in order to take advantage of the “Tap & pay” feature.
When I received the phone it had a fully charged battery. After seven hours, it still has 56 percent remaining after setting it up, installing apps, checking email, taking a few photos, and surfing the Web. Besides that, the rest of the power consumption was through the screen being on and also Google Search. However, as I begin to use it more with Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and checking email, it will be interesting to see how well the battery stands up.
Plastic cases are also available for the Nexus 5 and Google included a florescent orange/pink one — it’s noticeably bright so you won’t miss it in a darkened environment. It’s flimsy, but sturdy enough for those who want some added protection for their device without paying a lot for it.
Based on the few hours we’ve had to play with the Nexus 5, it’s a solid-looking and flexible device that has the potential to help you get the information you want, make sure you arrive at your destination safely, and be a productivity workhorse. This device may be Google’s effort to stand up against the likes of the iPhone 5s, the HTC One, or the Samsung Galaxy S4, but it might fall short of that aspiration. It’s certainly offering some premium features, but at an affordable price point.
Source : http://thenextweb.com/google/2013/11/02/hands-first-impressions-googles-nexus-5-android-4-4-kitkat/
Pros: Solid design and build, Touch screen along with pre-installed Windows 8, good performance thanks to 4th Generation processor, Exceptional battery life.
Cons: The reflective screen is not great for outdoor performance, port placements could have been better, No dedicated graphics card.
The Dell Inspiron series has been around here for sometime. It is one of the widely used and loved series of Dell laptops. Dell’s mantra has been simple; produce mid-level computers that suit the budget of the average consumer. They have indeed seen great success in this line.
But Dell has refreshed the Inspiron line up as of late and the latest edition of the series comes with Intel’s 4th generation processors dubbed as Haswell; successors to Intel’s Ivy Bridge range. We have got our hands on the Dell Inspiron 5537 model which combines the power of Dell and Intel with a touch-enabled screen that is made for Microsoft’s Windows 8.
The front view (pic courtesy Dell.com)
So how does the Inspiron 15R 5537 deliver? Has Dell done a grave mistake by omitting dedicated graphics? Does it lives up to the Haswell hype and eliminate the need of a dedicated graphics card? Are the 4th generation processors better power-managers? Let’s have a look!
Our review device (Inspiron 15R 5537) comes with the Intel Core i5-4200U Processor, from the latest 4th Generation Haswell series. Intel also has models like Core i3-4010U and Core i7-4500U in the market. At first glance we’re surprised that there’s no dedicated Graphics unit. But processor also has integrated Intel HD Graphics 4400. In Intel’s own words, “Intel’s HD graphics together with Intel Core processor brings you a vibrant visual experience without the cost of a separate graphics card”
Features at a glance
The Inspiron 5537 has a Seagate 750GB hard drive (5400 RPM, 690+ GB usable) along with 6GB of DDR3 memory (5.7+ GB usable, can be upgraded upto 16GB). The laptop has a 15.6” HD multi touch-enabled display that gives a pleasurable experience in using the pre-installed 64-bit edition of Windows 8.
The Inspiron 5537 is not distinctively different from it’s predecessor models when it comes to looks. But Dell has done a great job in making it thinner and lighter than the previous models. Also the use of Aluminium blended plastic materials for the chassis gives a much deserved premium look to the latest Inspiron. This is notable because the previous Inspirons had that cheap-plastic look for a great extend. The shiny Dell logo on the back of the lid adds some class. The lid, the wrist rest and the keyboard tray have this great looking “brushed-metal” pattern on them which really gives better looks.
Inspiron 5537: Brushed metal pattern on the lid surface adds a premium look.
Overall look of the exterior is metallic and rigid. You will probably need to use both your hands to open the lid thanks to the tight hinges that connect. So be extra cautious when you are on the move in a vehicle and need to open the laptop with one hand, while having a soft drink or your mobile phone on the other hand.
The laptop isn’t very thin. It doesn’t look bulky either.
The Inspiron 5537 is not noticeably thin or light. But it definitely is thinner and lighter than the previous models in the series.
The display is touch enabled
The 15.6” display (1366 x 768 pixels) is a pleasure to use. No, it is not an extraordinary display. It is rather average when it comes to pixel density. But it is a touch enabled display that goes hand in hand with Microsoft’s Windows 8 operating system experience. Well, it is natural to doubt how a touch screen display would come handy on a full size laptop of this kind, that has a built-in full keyboard. But the response times are really swift that you will fall in love with the display immediately. To add to that, apps like “Fresh paint” take the touch screen experience to a different level.
Apps like Fresh Paint redefine things you can do with a touch screen
Disappointing part of the display? The glossy touchscreen is very reflective. Reflective to the level that you may not see what’s on the screen (or whether the screen is ON) while using it outdoors. This part was one of the most annoying things I encountered while using the device.
If you can see my old bicycle in the reflection; then you know what I mean.
I, sometimes, end up tilting the screen to reduce the reflections. Another let down is that the display is prone to fingerprints. But keep in mind, this is intended for a mid range market and isn’t intended for gamers and professional graphic designers. (I’m neither one of them and I’ve always seen most designers using Apple computers over any other brand. ). So, the display is not entirely bad either.
The reflective screen may not be perfect for outdoor use.
Was trying to impress my editor. Realized I can’t even do decent coloring work.
Keyboard and Touchpad
The keyboard is nice, I have no complaints.
The Inspiron 15R 5537 comes with a full island-style keyboard with the number pad on the right. That’s not surprising for a 15.6” model. The flat-top keys are perfectly sized. The larger right-shift key is a welcome addition. But that also makes the already small arrow keys look even smaller. They typing experience is great including the accuracy level. I have no complaints there except few warnings: The keyboard is not back-lit. Well, after all back-lit keyboards are individual preferences. Also, it’s advisable to watch out for dust accumulating in between the keys. (Although it was not a problem during the few days I used the unit)
I wish the arrow keys were larger. The large right shift key is great though.
The default onscreen keyboard
It’s always good to have a full numeric keyboard.
I love the matte surface of the touchpad
I love the touch-pad on this device. It is one of the best I have seen in recent times on a device of this category. (I’m looking at you HP) The matte surface means no stickiness in sight and the multi-touch gestures work just fine.
The touchpad along with mouse buttons.
The dedicated mouse buttons have the brushed metal look inline with the wrist pad areas. Dell also provides a built in application to control everything from the sensitivity to the gestures on the touch-pad. Sometimes you can’t hate the bloatwares.
The Inspiron 15R has 4 USB ports. But only two of them are USB 3.0 compatible. That may not be an issue with the average user but it’s high time laptop manufacturers focus on high speed options only.
The left side. USB 3.0 for the win.
Also Dell has done a disappointing job by placing 3 of the 4 USB ports on one (left) side. You ask me why? Well, that brings up a situation where only two of the ports can be used simultaneously (if you use a regular Kingston pen-drive and regular HSPA modems or dongles as they are widely known). I would have loved them to place two ports each on either sides leaving considerable amount of space in between adjoining ports to make lives easy. One USB 2.0
port sits alone on the right side along with the DVD burner and the Kensington Security Slot (a.k.a Kensington lock).
Another confusing addition (at least for me) is the outdated Ethernet port on the left along with USB ports. On the good side, Dell has managed to add an HDMI port on the left side. Overall the connectivity options are adequate except I would have loved better placement.
Power socket along with the air vent (pic courtesy Dell.com)
The single audio jack, power socket and the air vent are the rest that make up the (already crowded) left side.
Suddenly the USB port in the middle becomes unusable
You’re bound to miss the card reader which has been placed on the front side just below the mouse button area. But, assuming the card readers are used less frequently, there’s nothing to complain about the placement.
Even the slimmest design can’t have it’s space. Bad.
The WiFi card used here is the “Dell Wireless 1705” (from Atheros to be specific). Along with 2.4 GHz networks and the 802.11 b/g/n transmission support, it also provides support to Bluetooth 4.0.
The old fella; placed with the cool kids
Another hardware feature you may fail to notice is the stereo speakers in the front (or rather bottom). Even though I had my initial doubts about the speaker placement and how it will affect the sound quality, I was indeed impressed by the output. The advertised “Waves maxxAudio” (Dell Audio) application provides options to control the audio output along with equalizer options. This helps to make maximum use out of the audio components. The integrated webcam on the front panel makes the system complete.
Card reader. You’ll miss it at first glance.
The DVD writer. The companion for the lone USB port.
The lone USB port on the right.
Speaker grills at the bottom. They are good.
What makes the Haswell processors unique? When Intel introduced the processors, they claimed that the ultra low-voltage Haswell processors will be 20 times more power efficient at idle than the existing ones. They also claimed it to be the greatest battery life increase in the Intel history.
Now the question. Does it live up to the hype? It does, without any doubt. Seriously, the best part of using the Inspiron 15R 5537 was the battery life. I could use it moderately for a full day (till 11pm) and it will still have 10% battery life which is exceptional. A heavy user can easily get up to 8 hours of battery life without much trouble. That equals at least 3 to 4 movies back to back.
View of the bottom. Two speaker grills on either side. Card reader in the middle.
Side-view of the 15R 5537 (Pic courtesy Dell.com)
The Dell Inspiron 15R 5537 is an all rounder. It does live up to the expectations from a mid-range laptop intended for regular day to day use. Some of the features may well require some improvements but the exceptional battery life and built quality outshines the negatives.