Alcatel has returned to Malaysian shores — this time with three smartphones that won’t break your bank.
This new lineup by Alcatel includes the Alcatel 5V, Alcatel 3L, and the Alcatel 1, all of which are actually below MYR 1,000. All three phones sport FullView displays, with only the 5V featuring a notch above its display. Both the 5V and the 3L have an HD+ display resolution while the Alcatel 1 has a 960 x 480 screen. You will be getting more display with the 5V at 6.2 inches, while the 3L and Alcatel 1’s screens measure at 5.5 and 5 inches, respectively.
The processing power of these phones differ according to their price tag, although they are all MediaTek chipsets. The 5V is powered by an MT6762 processor with 3GB of RAM and the 3L is running on an MT6739 chip with 2GB of RAM. The entry-level Alcatel 1 is an Android Go smartphone which comes with a modest 1GB of RAM. It does, however, run on the same processor as the 3L.
The Alcatel 5V features a 12MP + 2MP dual rear camera setup which is equipped with AI scene recognition, plus an 8MP selfie shooter. The 3L comes with a standard 13MP/5MP rear and front camera package. Both the 5V and 3L have a Face Unlock feature which isn’t by any means secure, but comes in handy. The Alcatel 1 in this aspect sports only a 5MP rear camera and a 2MP selfie camera which is a far cry even by today’s entry-level standards. On the plus side, all phones come with Android Oreo out of the box.
They come in contrasting battery sizes, as well. The top-tier 5V packs a 4000mAh battery, with the 3L and 1 carrying 3000mAh and 2000mAh batteries, respectively. Only the Alcatel 5V features a rear-mounted fingerprint sensor, plus an all-glass body design.
Alcatel’s latest lineup is now available at all authorized retail stores nationwide. The 5V is priced at MYR 898, the 3L at MYR 498, and the Alcatel 1 at MYR 298.
The Pulse 3D Wireless Headset now sports Midnight Black
Nicely paired with the DualSense controller and your “Midnight Black” PS5
Back in June, Sony announced two additional colorways for its next-generation DualSense controller. Apart from the classic white, the PlayStation 5’s newest controller also received a Midnight Black and Cosmic Red. This time around, they’ve extended the invitation to another PS5 peripheral, the Pulse 3D Wireless Headset.
Much like the DualSense controller, the headset will also come in Midnight Black. Other than this, everything else is pretty much the same for the Pulse 3D Headset. In essence, it still gives you deeper, more immersive 3D sounds to games that fully take advantage of this. It’s just that now, you have other color options to choose from. Whether or not this also comes in Cosmic Red, Sony has yet to announce that.
It’s worth noting that included in the PS5’s second major update is an equalizer for the 3D Pulse. It adds another layer of control for players. This lets them enjoy the game precisely the way they want to. But if tweaking isn’t your thing, there are also three presets: Standard, Bass Boost, or Shooter.
The Pulse 3D Wireless Headset in Midnight Black will be available on October 29 for PhP 5,590/ SG$ 149 / MYR 469/ DR1,699,000 / THB3,490 / VND2,699,000.
Sony WF-1000XM4 review: Simply the best
Stands tall vs the competition
Almost two years ago, we saw Sony release their first “true wireless” Airpod-type earbuds with the WF-1000XM3. At the time, the XM3 really stood out for offering great noise cancellation along with the great audio quality we’ve come to expect from Sony’s most premium headphones.
Sony has its successor — the Sony-WF-1000XM4. But a lot has changed since then.
Apple now has the AirPods Pro which also boasts noise cancellation. There’s the Beats Studio Buds, QuietComfort Earbuds by Bose, Google even has their own Pixel buds, and pretty much every other smartphone manufacturer came out with their own earbuds.
Suddenly, the true wireless (TWS) earbuds scene is more crowded than ever.
A reputation of excellence
But Sony has a reputation to live up to. Their flagship WH-1000XM4 over-the-ear headphones is widely regarded as the best wireless headphones in the market. Even more than the nearly double-priced Apple Airpods Max. In fact, the only thing most reviewers could really find wrong with them (us included), was the annoying naming scheme Sony uses.
So when we saw the brand new Sony WF-1000XM4 earbuds announced — we really had our hopes up. How you do improve upon what was already one of the best all-round TWS earbuds?
Sony went right back to the drawing board to design a pair of earbuds that look quite different from their predecessors. The Sony WF-1000XM4 has an all new design and charging case that are much smaller, a new V1 chip audio processor for even better noise cancellation and audio quality, IPX4 water and sweat resistance, and they even have a new memory foam-like eartip material. All of these makes Sony’s offering the best pair of true wireless earbuds on the market, once again.
While we still have an annoying model name to deal with, the Sony WF-1000XM4 manages to stand out because of great audio quality, solid noise cancellation, along with being one of the most feature-packed and user-friendly wireless earbuds around.
Design and Build Quality
Our first impressions of the XM4 begin with the box. Sony switched to a new, very compact rectangular box that uses recycled packaging. It is plastic-free and made from a special blend of paper.
We aren’t fans of all the plastics we waste on larger packaging and were happy to see Sony switch to this more sustainable solution. It doesn’t give you the premium feeling you get when you purchase a high-end item. But once you move on to the actual earbuds themselves, things get much better.
We got the black model to review, though the XM4 also comes in a nicer silver (light grey) color as well.
First up you’ll notice the new, smaller charging case that is 40 percent smaller than its predecessor. Much smaller than what we’ve seen with the Bose Earbuds. There’s a tiny status indicator light that lies right at the opening and glows green, orange, or red to indicate charge level.
At the top, you’ll just see that classic Sony branding printed in gold.
Flip to the back and you’ll see the hinge for the lid. The USB Type-C port is here which you’ll use to charge the case (which charges the earbuds).
Coming to the bottom, you’ll see the model information and various regulatory information along with the fact that these are made right here in Malaysia! Hooray!
The entire case is made out of this really nice, matte finish hard plastic that feels quite premium and well built. Once you flip open the magnetic case, you’ll see the brand new, smaller earbud design of the Sony WF-1000XM4. The earbuds snap into the case magnetically and are held very securely in it.
According to Sony, they went over customer feedback on the predecessor XM3. With research on the human ear and its various shapes and sizes, they created a round shape for the earbuds that sit more inside your ears.
You’ll see that same premium-feeling matte black finish on each earbud as well. It has these tiny hits of bronze accents around the microphone, the rear sensor, the SONY logo, and the charging pins.
There’s this tiny pinhole for the microphones on the inside of the earbuds, next to what looks like it might be the bone conductor sensor or a tiny proximity sensor which detects whenever you take your earbuds off or put it on, and will automatically pause or play your music respectively.
The earbuds also have a L and R marking so that you know which is the left side earbud and which is the right side.
Apart from that, the XM4 also boasts new eartips. It’s made from a memory-foam like polyurethane material., which sort of feels like a combination of the classic silicone tips we’re used to, and a new foam like material.
This material also apparently has tiny bubbles which are supposed to help dissipate and reduce noise. Sony says these will help secure a more stable, tighter fit that will ensure the earbuds stay in your ears and form a perfect seal for better audio quality and noise cancellation.
The only downside to this new eartip is that, unlike the XM3 which had six different ear-tip options, here you only get a set of small, medium, and large sized tips. These tips should last you a few years but Sony says you can purchase extra tips from them in case you lose one, or they wear out.
When you find the right eartip size for you, you’ll see how they are quite comfortable even over a long listening sessions.
To help you make sure that you have the perfect fitting eartips, Sony has a new “air tightness test” available in their Headphones Connect app (iOS and Android). It plays a test tone to test out the seal with the foam in your ears, and reports back on whether you should move to a larger or smaller ear-tip.
Just like the AirPods Pro, it is recommended to run this test when you first connect the XM4 to your phone. This waytyou can avoid wearing the wrong sized eartips which might allow for outside noises to leak in, or make the bass feel less powerful.
Just like its bigger, over-the-ears model, the Sony WF-1000XM4 is incredibly feature-packed, as you would expect for a pair of true wireless earbuds in this price range.
The circular surface on the outside of each earbud are touchpads. You can use taps or short/long presses to control volume, playback, or switch between noise-cancelling or ambient sound modes.
You can customize these gestures using Sony’s Headphones Connect app (iOS & Android), and the earbuds are quick to respond to each gesture.
There’s also support for Sony’s “Speak-to-Chat” feature which will automatically turn down the volume and noise cancellation whenever you start to talk, so that you can effortlessly have conversations without having to take off the earbuds.
This feature works pretty well, but only triggers about a second after you start talking. So, in case you’d rather switch off the voice trigger, Sony allows you to use a similar “Quick Attention” gesture feature which uses a manual long-press on the left earbud instead.
Similarly, turning off the voice trigger is recommended in case you have a tendency to break into a spontaneous private karaoke session when you’re listening to a song while working from home.
Audio quality improvements
But there’s even more tech to impress you within the XM4. These include a new integrated “V1” processor unit which powers an improved DAC, and analogue amplifier, which Sony claims allows for clearer sound, and much better noise-cancellation than its predecessor. And from my experience, that claim is absolutely true.
There’s also Sony’s DSEE Extreme audio engine with “Edge-AI”, which magically allows the earbuds to upscale low-bitrate audio files to much better sounding hi-res quality. We first saw this used on the flagship Sony WH-1000XM4 earlier this year.
While there’s no aptX HD support this time, the XM4 does support Sony’s LDAC format instead, which allows hi-res audio files up to 24-bit/96kHz to be streamed over Bluetooth at data rates of up to 990kbps, provided its coming from a compatible source. Sadly, this does not include the iPhone.
The XM4 also boasts clearer call quality with features like a new bone conductor sensor that stops the microphone from picking up any random ambient sounds while you’re talking or moving around. There’s also Sony’s new beamforming advanced speech reinforcement technology and an automatic wind noise reduction mode. These are all thanks to Sony’s Precise Voice Pickup technology, which we first saw on the over-the-ear type WH-1000XM4.
As a result, the XM4 actually does a pretty decent job at handling call quality, and blocking outside noise or interferences so that only your voice filters through loud and clear for the person on the other end of the line.
That being said, people we called said we sounded a little muffled vs when we used the AirPods Pro which might be because the XM4 doesn’t have those stems for the microphones that the AirPods do. So maybe, these aren’t as great for calls as the AirPods are, but there’s a chance Sony could improve these ever so slightly via software updates.
In terms of pairing, if you have an Android phone you’ll be happy to know that that the XM4 supports Fast Pair so connecting them to your phone happens in a matter of seconds. You’ll even be able to see battery information whenever they’re switched on.
Unsurprisingly, the experience on iOS is a bit different. Pairing happens the old fashioned way of manually going into your bluetooth settings and connecting to the earbuds.
Unfortunately Sony did not include bluetooth multi-point support on the WF-1000XM4, so you can’t connect to two different devices simultaneously which is a bummer if you plan on using these with multiple devices like your laptop and your smartphone or tablet. You can still switch between them manually, of course, but its a bit inconvenient. Hopefully Sony manages to bring it in with a software update in the coming months.
360 Reality Audio, other features
There’s support for Sony’s 360 Reality Audio as well for compatible streaming services like Tidal and Deezer. Setting it up is a tiny bit tedious because you need to take a photo of each ear in the headphones app which Sony will use to “optimize” the sound.
We used the XM4s with a OnePlus 9, an iPhone 11 Pro, and a Macbook Pro and the connection was always stable with no dropouts or interferences.
In terms of tech specs, the XM4 uses Bluetooth 5.2, and supports voice assistants like Google Assistant or Amazon’s Alexa. No Siri support here “officially” but you can still trigger it on an iPhone by just tap-and-holding the right earbud.
Lastly, if you were thinking about using these for running or at the gym, you’ll be happy to know that the XM4 boasts an IPX4 rating. This means they are sweat and water resistant — something that was missing from its predecessor, and is hugely appreciated.
While we do feel like these are overkill for using as running earbuds, if you’re going to pay this much for a pair of earphones you might as well use them as much as possible, right?
The Sony WF-1000XM4 boasts a 6mm driver used inside, which is similar in size to its predecessor. But in this generation, it is made from an entirely new material and uses a larger magnet. Sony claims these help improve the overall audio quality and noise cancellation capabilities of the earphones especially in regard to lower frequencies.
And honestly, audio quality on the XM4s is glorious.
Starting with the way the earphones handle bass, there’s an immense level of audio detail with stunning audio quality and clarity at low frequencies. By comparison the Bose QC Earbuds almost sounded muffled.
For any kind of music
We listened to a wide range of music from Doja Cat to LANY to Daft Punk to The Rolling Stones to Frank Sinatra to Michael Jackson, and everything in between.
Even the most bass heavy tracks sounded fantastic, with each note and each beat coming in nice and clear. You can hear every element and intricacy of each note and every pulse of the bassline. Its a clarity that we didn’t realize we were missing out on, with our AirPods Pro.
But its not just all about the bass here. There’s clear audio across all frequencies of a music track. The XM4 can switch paces to handle any type of music effortlessly. Even a slower song with mainly vocals like “Its Oh So Quiet” by Bjork, will still allow these earbuds to completely captivate you. Sony has just done an amazing job here.
Better than the competition
Compared to its predecessor, the XM4 is a definite huge step up. If you’re happy with the older XM3 there’s no major reason apart from better audio clarity with clearer details and better battery life to switch to these.
But if you’re on the market for the best sounding, noise cancelling true wireless earbuds, the Sony XM4 is pretty much it. Compared to the Bose QC Earbuds and the Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless, the Sony XM4 boasts a more refined sound with better defined bass notes and overall just a better, more balanced audio experience.
Equalizer on the app
If all of that wasn’t enough, the Sony Headphones Connect app also does have an equalizer built-in, in case you want to try customizing your sound even more. The great noise cancellation is yet another major advantage for the XM4, managing an experience that is close to Sony’s Over-the-ear XM4s.
That is pretty much excellence across the board. There’s just no better audio and noise cancellation on a pair of true wireless earbuds right now.
This is also due to the memory foam-like material Sony is using in the ear-tips here which forms a great seal with your ear canal, so that the isolation blocks out most noises before the XM4’s ANC unit even has to.
Of course if the Active Noise Cancellation feels a bit suffocating, you can tap to turn it off, or switch to the “ambient noise” mode which will allow some environmental sounds to filter through.
Sony’s Headphones Connect app will even learn your locations and how you use your earphones so that it can switch on active noise cancellation while you’re commuting to work, but can switch to ambient noise mode at work or at home.
Battery Life and Charging
The case for the Sony XM4s charges via USB Type-C and also supports wireless charging as well (for the first time with Sony headphones) as long as you have a compatible Qi charging pad.
Battery life is something you’ll honestly never have to worry about much with the XM4. While the case is smaller and more portable, battery life has improved even more vs the older XM3.
You can now get up to eight hours of music playback with noise cancellation switched on, and the case can supply an additional 16 hours of battery life via charging.
That means the Sony WF-1000XM4 has the best battery life in the segment, vs its competitors like the AirPods Pro (up to 5 hours), the Bose QC Earbuds (up to 6 hours), and Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless (up to 6.5 hours). Honestly, how Sony managed to do it, is just pure wizardry.
Of course, if you want even better battery life out of the XM4s, you can switch off the noise-cancellation which will give you up to 12 hours of audio on a single charge, and up to 24 hours with the charging case. Sony’s also stated that a quick five-minute charge will give you about one hour of music playback too, which is awesome for those urgent situations.
While we were incredibly impressed with the audio quality and the noise cancellation, the fantastic battery life is just the piece de resistance on top of everything else.
Monitoring battery life
You can monitor the battery life remaining in the case and the buds via Sony’s Headphones Connect app, which will also alert you if the case drops below 30 percent charge. This is the only slight inconvenience you’ll have, if you’re an iPhone user. With the AirPods pro you could always just open the case to see a pop-up on remaining battery life on your iPhone. To get around this, you could always add the battery widget for iOS which will show you the remaining battery life on the XM4.
On an Android smartphone, things are the usual as with any other pair of earbuds.
Overall, battery life on the Sony WF-1000XM4 is fantastic. On a really music-and-call intensive day, it was still easily able to give us about an entire day of battery life.
Price and availability
The “1000XM_” models are Sony’s most premium headphones, so its not surprising that the WF-1000XM4 lies at the more premiumly priced side of the market.
The Sony WF-1000XM4 is priced at US$ 280 in the US, SG$ 379 in Singapore, and MYR 1099 here in Malaysia.
That puts them in the same price range as the Apple AirPods Pro (US$ 250), Bose QuietComfort Earbuds (US$ 280), and Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2 (US$ 299).
Is the Sony WF-1000XM4 your GadgetMatch?
Sony has absolutely done a fantastic job here. Not only are the XM4s smaller, lighter and have better battery life than its predecessor, but the new features and better audio quality makes you wonder what could Sony possibly improve upon with the next successor.
The XM4 delivers an incredibly satisfying experience, with stunning sound, some of the best noise cancelling you’ll hear in the segment, and the longest battery life in true wireless earbuds so far.
The Sony WF-1000XM4 not only raises the bar for true wireless earbuds to become the new benchmark, they are also the most versatile premium earphones from Sony yet. A reminder from Sony that there’s a reason that they’ve been in the audio industry for decades.
Whether it’s going on a run, blocking out the terrible music at the gym, your daily commute, or taking a flight, the new SONY WF-1000XM4 can effortlessly handle all of it
So are they worth the price tag? Well, it’s a lot of money, but consider it an investment into what will be the best noise cancelling earbuds you can find right now.
If you’re not a fan of true wireless earbuds and you prefer over-the-ear type headphones instead, there’s still the Sony WH-1000XM4 which remains the best noise cancelling headphones in the market. But if you’re looking for the best true wireless earbuds, the Sony WF-1000XM4 is it.
Definitely deserves the GadgetMatch seal of approval.
Hades on PlayStation 5 is a damn good time
Dying has never been this fun
I never thought I would have fun dying over and over again in a video game. Especially not after my rather horrid first go at Returnal. That changed when I got my hands on another roguelike dungeon crawler — Hades by Supergiant Games.
The game was initially released in September 2020 on PC, Mac, and Nintendo Switched and immediately gained acclaim both from critics and players alike. Gaming publications IGN and Polygon even named it their 2020 Game of the Year.
Fast forward to nearly a year later and Hades is set to coming to more consoles. Specifically the Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, PlayStation 4, and PlayStation 5. The official release date is on Aug 13, 2021but we got a bit of early access and are here to share what you’re in for.
What is Hades?
The game has you controlling Zagreus, the son of Hades. Your main objective is to escape the Underworld and make your way to Mount Olympus. Seems simple, right? Except, it isn’t.
The areas of the Underworld are ever-changing and death is inevitable — such is the case with most roguelike games. Hope, however, isn’t all lost. Aiding you in your getaway are the gods of Mount Olympus. After every death, you’ll gain power-ups from the gods. Each with its own unique effect. Of course, you lose these boosts each time you die.
There are permanent skill boosts acquired as you playthrough. After your first few deaths, you’ll also be introduced to a renovating mechanic that lets you unlock various things including being able to recover previously unlocked items as you progress through the game.
PlayStation 5 improvements
I did play Hades on PC but just sparingly. Being mostly a console gamer, I thoroughly enjoyed playing a bigger screen and while using a DualSense controller.
The PlayStation 5 version of the game promises 4K at 60 frames per second and after a few hours of playing, and checking the numbers on the TV, I was indeed consistently getting 4K and 60fps. That’s been the case with most PS5 games I’ve played so far this year.
The DualSense controller is utilized although still not as much as I would have liked. Granted, this is pretty much a re-release and the changes added were enough to make you feel the game more.
Hitting certain things around each area is where you’ll mostly feel the effects of the DualSense. Perhaps more subtly, the DualSense also reacts to certain power boosts you gain throughout your playthrough.
The gameplay may seem daunting, and it can be, but it’s all balanced by the wonderful overall presentation of the game. The art style is unique and lends plenty of identity to the game. It’s even highlighted by the conversations you have as the detailed art of each character is showcased during dialogue exchanges.
Speaking of dialogue, the voice acting in the game is superb and breathes life into the game that, at first glance, seems to have no right to come off this good. Rounding it up is the music. The score in this game is a hit every step of the way.
Why buy the Physical version?
The new boxed versions of Hades [Xbox, PS4, and PS5] all come with a complimentary download code for the Hades Original Soundtrack — that’s two and half hours of music composed by Darren Korb.
You also get a 32-page full-color character compendium booklet with artwork from the game by Jen Zee. Its first pressing appears on the box covers of the physical versions of the game.
Price and availability
As mentioned earlier, Hades is coming to the Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, PlayStation 4, and PlayStation 5 on August 13. Pricing for the PS4/PS5 are as follows:
- Philippines — PhP 1,580
- Singapore — SG$ 43.90
- Malaysia — MYR 135
- Indonesia — IDR 399,000
- Thailand — THB 990
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