Hands-On

Huawei P20 and P20 Pro Hands-on: A revolutionary step forward

Seeing more with three main cameras

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Tipping point: that pivotal moment in time where all the conditions are right, your status bar maxes out, and you level up from protégé to hero.

For some it comes by divine moment; others still by hitting critical mass.


For Huawei, this milestone is achieved with the launch of its P20 and P20 Pro. Unveiled today in Paris, these monumental smartphones will one day be remembered as the devices that ushered the company into ubiquity.

But first, as soon as they hit shelves early next month, they are meant to be enjoyed. Earlier this week we spent some hands-on time with the P20, and here’s what you can look forward to.

Designed to stand out

In person and in the hand, the Huawei P20 and P20 Pro look stunning and feel amazing. They are improved over last year’s models with rounded aluminum corners, a glass back that shimmers when hit by light, and just the right amount of curves to give it a softer feel.

But what’s most impressive is the phone’s range of color options. One color in particular stands out; it’s called Twilight, a gradient finish that fades from purple to blue and then green. While the Twilight P20 looks good in photos, nothing comes quite close to the moment when the sun’s rays hit the phone’s back and it explodes with color.

Earlier this year, I spoke with Huawei’s Chief Brand Officer Gloria Cheung about the importance of color and how a variety of finishes has always been important to the Huawei design story. While many folks gravitate to standards like black, silver, and gold, it’s nice to see options like Twilight, Midnight Blue, and the other gradient finish Pink Gold.

Huawei is clear about its intent to fuse both art and technology, and hopes that the P20 will attract a generation of users that care as much about technology as they do art, fashion, and pop culture. It’s evident too in its choice of its launch venue, The Grand Palais, also home to Chanel’s haute couture fashion shows.   

Both phones sport the new trend of taller but narrower displays, with near edge-to-edge screens and you guessed it, a notch. Having also used an iPhone X, the notch doesn’t bother me as much, but if it’s notch your thing, there’s an option to fill the space around it with black giving your P20 a more traditional look.

Unlike most phones that come with a notch, the phone still has a bit of chin, enough space for a fingerprint sensor which also acts as a home button with gestures for going back and multitasking. The saves you that tiny bit of screen real estate normally taken up by on-screen buttons. I like that the fingerprint sensor is up front, even if it ruins the all-screen illusion.

P20 vs P20 Pro

The phone comes in two sizes: the 5.8-inch P20 and the 6.1-inch P20 Pro.

Both phones are slightly different with the P20 Pro the obvious superior sibling. It has the better OLED display, more memory, water and dust resistance, and a bigger battery.

While we are unable to verify at this point, Huawei promises the P20 Pro should last as long as last year’s Mate 10 Pro, which lasts me about a day and a half on a single charge.  

Even with the switch to a glass back, neither phone gets wireless charging. Reps from Huawei tell us wireless charging speeds are not fast enough to justify the feature. With its bundled supercharger though, you can go from zero to 58 percent in 30 minutes.

There are some concessions that need to be pointed out. Neither model has a headphone jack and no room for expandable storage; instead, the phone comes bundled with a 3.5mm audio to USB-C adapter, and a generous 128GB of storage space as the standard.

The P20 is only splash resistant. I would have loved to see it come with the same water resistance as its big brother.

For a complete rundown of specs, check out our launch article.

The Best Cameras

If there’s one place where Huawei’s spent the most development, it’s on its cameras — which are, as of today, the highest rated by independent camera rating firm DxOMark.

It’s not hard to see why. There are tons of improvements to talk about: tweaks that make it easier to focus on subjects quicker, to new sensors that produce better colors, and super slow-mo 960fps video capture just so that its competition does not get a leg up.

Many will (secretly) appreciate the high-res 24-megapixel selfie camera, which is often left out of high-end phones.

The P20 Pro again gets the better end of the stick in terms of cameras. In fact, it has not just two like on the standard P20 (one monochrome and another with color), but three rear Leica cameras; one is a 3x zoom lens (more than the 2x we’re used to from the likes of Samsung and Apple), one black-and-white camera, and one incredibly ridiculous 40-megapixel main camera.      

While that’s a great conversation starter, one of its biggest camera achievements comes in the space of low-light photography. Without getting too technical, Huawei managed to squeeze in an image sensor that’s larger than those found on all of the best camera smartphones available today, and boosted its maximum ISO to 102400 which is in DSLR (not smartphone) territory.

They claim the P20’s low-light abilities are so good that it can shoot at one lux of light, which is basically close to pitch dark.     

Artificial Intelligence

Hardware improvements are only one half of Huawei’s camera story.

Since last year’s Mate 10, artificial intelligence has played a role in how well its cameras perform. That phone could detect objects and adjust camera settings to best suit the conditions and the subject.

On the P20, we’re seeing AI take a more active role. Huawei is calling it AI-powered Master Photography. Think of it as the right photography skills for the right moment.

For example, if you’re taking a photo of your mom, the camera detects this and changes to portrait mode so you get that nice background blur. Slightly crooked composition? The camera will show a horizon line indicator so your photos are perfectly framed.

But where AI really steps in and impresses is image stabilization.

Huawei says its AIS is so good, that it’s basically solved an age old problem in photography: long exposure night shots without a tripod. The phone can shoot four-second handheld photos while artificial intelligence and machine learning can compensate to remove any or all motion blur. Not even my US$ 3,000 Sony A7S II, which is one of the best low-light cameras today, can manage that.

Software

The P20 and P20 Pro run on Android 8.1 with an EMUI 8.1 skin. Huawei promises it’s at least 50 percent smoother and more responsive than previous models, but it’s still not close to stock Android which would have been the cherry on top of the P20 pie. There are plenty of gems under the hood, though.

Huawei Share 2.0 makes it easier to share files to and from a PC or Mac as long as you are on the same wireless network. You can share files wirelessly without having to install any apps on your computer, photo albums are curated by AI, PC Mode still lets you connect to a monitor for a full desktop experience, and then there are partnerships with Amazon and Alibaba so you can point your phone at objects and buy them right then and there.

Is the Huawei P20 your GadgetMatch?

You’ll have to wait and see. For now, we cannot wait to put the phone through its paces and see how it performs in the real world.

But I’ll tell you this: Where the P20 and P20 are concerned, Huawei has pulled out all the stops, and has delivered on all fronts. Both phones are exciting to look at and packed with all the right features.

Automotive

2019 Hyundai Veloster Turbo: A Stylish Speedster

It’s your everyday sports car

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One of the biggest factors when buying a new car, apart from function, is how it looks. The impact of that first glance. Something that would make you look twice. Some of us have that desire to break the norm and it seems like Hyundai took note of this demand — and made it fast.

The grille is flanked with LED headlamps partnered with Daytime Running Lights

The 2019 Hyundai Veloster is the second of its generation and now has a more assertive exterior than its predecessor. The most noticeable part? Its redesigned front grille. It now comes in this meshed pattern with sharper edges and, if you ask me, this alone gives the car a more aggressive presence.


Then we go to the rest of the exterior and we see those subtle lines that add to the sporty vibe of this vehicle. From the hood to the wheel arches — these accents make the Veloster look like it’s always moving.

At the back we also have this eye-catching pair of LED tail lamps plus a rear spoiler with the third brake light. Rounding up the whole sporty look is a rear bumper diffuser to improve the car’s aerodynamics.

Other notable details include side mirrors with signal repeaters and sexy 18-inch alloy wheels. If you’re already familiar with the first Veloster, then you’d know that it’s unconventional in a way that it only has one door for the driver’s side while the other has the usual two. Some call it weird. I’d like to call it style.

In terms of features, the 2019 Veloster has the bells-and-whistles for the tech-savvy. There’s keyless entry, a mechanical seat for the driver, telescopic steering wheel, voice commands, and support for Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. Those are just some of the things the vehicle assists you with before you start your day. And of course, there’s more for the drive ahead!

Your main hub for music, navigation, calls, and more is an 8-inch floating display. For controls, the steering wheel has buttons for Bluetooth as well as audio and cruise control.

Important driver information and settings can be accessed through the digital dash

In the age of smartphones, charging on-the-go is of utmost importance and with the Veloster, you get more than one option. There are two USB ports up front plus a special wireless charger just below it. Of course, your phone has to support this feature for it to work, but if it does, it feels good knowing you don’t have to fumble over plugging the cable to your phone — while you’re in the car, at least.

And for when you want more light during the day or when it’s simply colder at night, you can open the moonroof and let the breeze roll in. Added comfort creatures like this make the Veloster a package for those who like having fun on the road.

One of the things I love about its interior is how the black and red color of the exterior continues here. Its bucket seats wrapped in leather offer a premium feel for the driver and passengers alike.

The company is obviously keen to details as one can see in the cabin of the vehicle. From the buttons and knobs that reflect its sporty DNA to the ergonomics and materials used to make each ride as comfortable as possible.

Being a Turbo variant, it’s powered by a 1.6-liter turbocharged engine. Power is then transferred to the front wheels through a seven-speed Dual-Clutch Transmission. Although unlike Schwarzenegger in Jingle All The Way, it’s not always “Turbo Time!” for the Veloster. It offers different driving modes depending on what the situation calls for.

There’s Normal, Sport, Eco, and Smart. Eco obviously goes for the most efficient fuel consumption, Smart mode adjusts to your driving habits, Normal is — well, normal. Sport is for Track Day or simply when you want to show off.

Of course, all that speed has to be kept in check with a couple of safety features. The vehicle comes with dual airbags for the front, plus side and curtain airbags. Adding to those are ABS (anti-lock braking system) and an immobilizer for anti-theft.

Having the Veloster as a daily driver made me realize a couple of things. One is that it’s actually fuel-efficient for a car with this oomph when it’s set to Eco or even Normal mode — averaging about 9km to 10km to a liter in the city and up to 16km/l outside the Metro. It may have slight delays when not in Sport mode but it had no shortage of power. And together with its stance and vibrant red color, the Veloster is a certified head-turner.

See more of it in this video:

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Accessories

MPow Headphones Hands-On: Are these worth your while?

Little-known brand promises value-for-money products

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When people talk about headphones and earphones, the brand MPow isn’t the first one that comes to mind. The company boasts quality audio gadgets at really competitive pricing.

Of course, we have to tell for ourselves if these headsets are really any good. We gave a pair to each of our four guys. After a through hands-on, we asked for their verdict.


MPow H7 [Dan]

I’m unfamiliar with MPow. Admittedly, I Googled about the brand and my particular model. Apparently, the MPow H7 is one of the best-reviewed wireless headphones on Amazon US (and other shopping portals). I slightly expected great things. Indeed, the H7 is good for its price. However, it has a couple of shortcomings.

The good: The H7 sounds better than any headphones I’ve used for US$ 20. It’s a balanced pair of headphones for general listening. Bass is really good for electronic music. Vocals are pretty clear in acoustic hits. It’s comfortable and lightweight. I could wear them for hours without any discomfort. Also, I have no issues with pairing on my laptop or my phone.

The bad: The H7’s light weight makes it feel a bit cheap. It’s not exactly a bad thing; you’ll wear this more than you’ll hold it, after all. Additionally, the H7 looks so generic. That’s perfectly subjective, though.

For its price, the H7 is an easy recommendation for those looking for a pair of comfy, good-quality over-ear wireless headphones. It’s certainly not a looker — at least for me — but it deserves the praises it has received so far.

MPow S10 [Rodneil]

The MPow S10 is positioned as a workout companion. However, my usage proves that it can be more than that.

Still, I used it for a few workout sessions. The IPX7 helps take out the worry of getting sweat all over. The fit around your neck and on your ear was also perfect for me. I love that the buds are magnetic. You can even wear it like a pseudo-necklace when not in use.

Coming off the Galaxy Buds, I can say the audio quality lacks a little bit of texture. It just doesn’t have the crispness that I got from Samsung’s wireless earbuds. Of course, the quality isn’t that bad. For video editing and video calls, the quality is more than adequate.

There were also zero problems pairing. Switching from my phone to my laptop was seamless. It’s pretty versatile for a pair of earphones marketed as a sporting buddy, and at US$ 24.99, I would say it’s a pretty darn good deal.

MPow H5 [MJ]

The MPow H5 was a total treat. It’s comfortable to wear and carry around. For US$ 40 headphones, it comes complete with features you can see in similar yet more expensive products.

Its noise-canceling capabilities actually work against the blabbers and chatters while giving a pleasant, sound experience. It can’t completely block the human voice. Still, I think it’s a good thing as it removes the need to pause your music when people approach you. For clearer communication, you can turn off the noise-cancellation with an easily accessible button.

What I liked the most is its ability to switch Bluetooth connection between devices seamlessly. There are times that I had to switch devices (especially when I run out of battery). It’s helpful to stay connected so I can maintain focus on the task at hand.

MPow EG3 [Kevin]

The EG3 is all about gaming, and then some. It specializes in first-person shooter (FPS) games especially with the 7.1 surround sound. It puts you in the middle of the battlefield. You can tell where each sound is coming from. Together with its decent audio performance, gaming becomes a more immersive experience compared to when you only have ordinary headphones on.

Personally, I look for a specific sound when I play games and a different one when I listen to music. MPow’s Audio Center makes it easy with an equalizer and customizable audio profiles. It also has an array of effects such as environment effects, pitch shifting, and a built-in gooseneck microphone. Speaking of the mic, it has an impressive quality good enough for recording voice overs.

Notably, MPow aims for quality products with competitive pricing. For a pair of lightweight headphones delivering good audio and packing premium features, the EG3 is priced at just US$ 29 — more affordable than most models in its tier. Considered altogether, it’s hard to pass on the EG3.

Overall verdict

Four different people, four different devices, one brand. The verdict is pretty unanimous. These MPow headsets aren’t the absolute best in terms of quality. However, in terms of value for your money, these headphones are easy recommendations.

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Features

We tried Lenovo’s foldable ThinkPad PC and it screams future

A foldable computer like no other

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Lenovo’s been working on a new kind of computer: a folding laptop that will supposedly replace your own laptop.  

While foldable smartphones captured the talk of the tech world, Lenovo worked behind the scenes on a foldable computer over the past three years. Going on sale sometime next year, Lenovo aims for the bragging rights to call it the world’s first.


The device does not have a name yet. However, last week, Lenovo gave me the unique opportunity to play around with an early prototype.

It’s a computer that screams of the future. In fact, it will run an unannounced Intel processor and an upcoming skew of Windows.

Of course, Lenovo is still fine-tuning certain details. Still, the foldable 2K LG OLED display and torque hinge already do what they’re supposed to. The mechanism ensures each fold and unfold cycle goes smoothly and without a hitch.

Considering how much my iPad Pro has become my go-to, on-the-go device, Lenovo’s all-in-one device is an idea that I’m willing to embrace.

The device starts out as a 10-inch leather-bound Moleskine notebook, with the display folded shut.

Unfold it a little: it’s an ebook like nothing you’ve used before.

Keep it at a 90-degree angle: you’ve got yourself a laptop with an on-screen keyboard on the bottom half.

When used this way, both halves of the display can work independently. You could be on a Skype call on the top screen and viewing a presentation on the bottom half. You could also watch a video up top and jotting down notes on the bottom

Fully articulated, it’s a 13-inch tablet.

Prop it up and use the bundled Bluetooth keyboard: it’s a desktop PC.

According to Lenovo, user confidence in foldable devices is currently low. However, the brand is confident in its product so much that it’s attaching the ThinkPad X1 line — a name associated with reliability and durability — to the foldable laptop.

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