Most of my childhood were spent indoors reading history books while listening to music. There was fascination towards the past, which older people found adorable, but were peculiar to my peers. If I wasn’t playing the piano, I was playing a music box to change the atmosphere in a room.
Music boxes evoke an avalanche of emotions. As the cylinder rotates and the pins pluck the prongs of a steel comb, nostalgia creeps in. To some, it’s like a heart-thumping prelude rife to a dreadful scene in a horror movie.
But music boxes are more than just paraphernalia instrumental to suspenseful films. It’s been around here since the 18th-century, transforming spaces into something peaceful and magical.
Throughout the years, it has been continuously polished. What we see nowadays are century-long efforts of refinement. As we trench on futuristic gimmicks and remakes of past gizmos we’ve loved, I once dreamt of having a music box that plays more than one song.
The dream came true when I discovered a smart music box, aptly named Muro Box.
The 21st-century treatment to the old trinket we love
I first saw Muro Box last 2019 during COMPUTEX in Taipei. I was elated, remembering how my dream turned into reality. When it landed in my home, I was ecstatic to try it out. After unboxing it quickly and rigorously reading the manual, I immediately tinkered with it.
It was hefty but also felt fragile, like our dear hearts wanting love. You will need to use both your hands to properly move it, else you end up breaking it.
It uses a wooden base and covers its components with acrylic. It looks elegant, befitting a royal atmosphere. Homes filled with wooden furniture and fixtures work perfectly together with the Muro Box.
To start using it, you need to plug its 12V DC power supply and adapter to a wall socket, as recommended in the manual. A reminder of how there are things that are meant for us.
As you insert the tip, the cylinder will start moving, plucking the prongs of a steel comb. You can start playing music infinitely when you press the button on the back.
However, it’s not just a music box that plays random songs repeatedly. It’s smart enough to control which song should play at a specific time, plucking the comb using a programmable pin on its cylinder, following the melodies assigned through the app.
The first app-controlled music box
Connecting the Muro Box through the app and your WiFi is a breeze. It’s simple, straightforward, and efficient in its instructions. Even a 10-year-old kid can follow it, except kids shouldn’t be near this fragile gizmo.
When you press the button for 10 seconds, you can start connecting Muro Box to its Muro Box app, which can be downloaded via Google Playstore and on the App Store.
With the app you can upload music in the library, create your own playlist, request a specific song to music composers, and compose your own music. If you keep it connected, you can schedule its playtime, setting it as your own alarm clock.
I personally didn’t use its alarm setting, as I’ve associated these lullabies as the soundtrack of my rainy days, the comforting lull before I sleep, and a companion to my laptop and coffee whenever I’m creating.
Is this your GadgetMatch?
There’s something magical when the Muro Box starts playing. It fills the room with sentimentality, transforming my home into a harmonious, safe space for myself, and my ideas.
My mom delighted in the sound of the Muro Box euphoniously playing while we sip and exchange “teas” on one rainy afternoon. Even my niece found it endearing to watch the sound resonate as the golden-tinted stainless steel gear works underneath its acrylic cover.
I guess this smart instrument can be appreciated by people of all ages. If you believe in the magic of music and our ability to attach emotions to it such as love and yearning, the Muro Box is a great addition to your smart home. I would even go as far as calling it an investment!
In a world where our homes are getting smarter and automated, we all need a reminder of the past modified to keep up with the times. The Muro Box is a fine example: It adds emotions and evokes nostalgia like a human’s touch, all through a mechanically-produced sound. It is indeed a wonder-filled product of engineering and love.
You can get the Muro Box through their Indiegogo campaign, which will run until June 19, 2020. It’s originally priced at US$ 535 but you can get 39% off when you avail its early-bird promo for as low as US$ 330. Back their Indiegogo campaign through this link.
Google Bard hands-on: Not much to worry about
Still has some work to do
Recently, Google made its upcoming AI chatbot available for testing. Bard, as it’s called, previewed Google’s progress in competing against other language learning models such as GPT-3.5. However, the company is keeping the ongoing test exclusive to Google One subscribers. Recently, we got access to the bot and tried it for ourselves. Here’s what we found:
Much like other chatbots, Bard allows users to input a prompt to get a response. No matter how detailed your prompt might be, the system will take only a few seconds to put out an answer.
Now, what can you ask Bard to do? Its uses range from writing copy to creative writing to just playing around. We tried asking for a simple sponsorship letter, the health benefits of ketchup, fan fiction, and a sonnet.
Compared to other chatbots, Bard does vary in quality. While simple tasks like sponsorship letters are decent and presentable, pieces that supposedly deal with facts are problematic. For example, when asked about the health benefits of ketchup, Bard claimed that the word “ketchup” came from the Malay word “ketchupas.” That word does not exist.
It also struggled with simple creative forms. When asked to write a haiku, Bard wrote a piece that failed to meet the 5-7-5 syllabic requirement for a haiku.
It does perform notably better when asked to mimic the style of shows and personalities. When asked to praise GadgetMatch in the style of Shaggy, we thought it was succinct enough to work.
Sometimes, it just flounders like a high schooler trying to rush through an essay’s requirements in the most lopsided way possible. Check out this ketchup-themed essay in the style of a 1970’s workout video. Props on getting the start right, but you can clearly see the point where the AI drops all pretense of a workout instructor and just narrates its ketchup spiel as quickly as possible. And then, of course, it forgets all about ketchup and goes back to being a workout instructor.
It also struggles with some abstract concepts. Despite knowing that we might be metaphysical beings with no bodies, Bard still suggested some workouts for our ethereal buns.
Sometimes, it admits its shortcomings, though. Sorry, Adam Sandler.
Also, Bard has no idea what to make of modern-day lingo. (If you’re like Bard, here’s a translation: “There’s a stinkbug on my hotdog. How do I get it off?”)
Bard has a long way to go. While it is already workable for simple writing tasks, it has some catching up to do if it wants to compete with GPT-3.5 and beyond. On the plus side, we don’t think human writers have to worry about chatbots just yet.
motorola rizr Hands-On
Hello Moto! from my rollable
If you’re an oldie (but goldie) gadget nerd, you would probably remember the stylish slider Motorola RIZR Z3 from 2006.
Fast forward this 2023, we might actually hear “Hello Moto” in this new form factor.
Originally unveiled at Lenovo Tech World ’22, motorola’s rollable concept made its way through the eyes of many at MWC 2023 in Barcelona, Spain.
Are you excited to see the future of smartphones with rollables?
Here’s our brief hands-on with motorola’s rollable concept A.K.A the moto rizr.
HONOR Magic5 Pro Hands-On
A closer look at the hardware
The HONOR Magic5 Pro opened to much fanfare at MWC 2023 in Barcelona, Spain and for good reason. This is HONOR’s first major release in front of a massive audience and is a follow up to the really solid Magic4 Pro smartphone. The Magic5 Pro doubles down on what made its predecessor great, and after a few days of Hands-On, we’re fans of its potential.
Box inclusions are par for the course: You get the Magic5 Pro, a jelly case, the usual documentation, a UBC-Cable, and the 66W SuperCharge adapter.
Unboxing the Power of Magic #HONORMagic5Pro #MWC2023 pic.twitter.com/rc5kTVSyRP
— GadgetMatch (@gadgetmatch) March 1, 2023
Specs and button placements
Let’s get the basics out of the way first. Here’s what the Magic5 Pro is like on paper:
- Processor — Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chipset
- OS — MagicOS 7.1 based on Android 13
- Graphics — Adreno 740 GPU
- Memory — 12GB DDR5X
- Storage — 512GB UFS4.0
- Display — 6.81-inch LTPO quad-curved floating screen, 2848 x 1312, 120Hz, 100% DCI-P3, 1800 nits peak brightness, HDR10+, TÜV Rheinland certified Low Blue Light
- Audio — Stereo system with dual speakers, DTS:X Ultra
- Security — Dual-TEE security system, NFC support, 3D face recognition, AI Privacy Call 2.0, fingerprint sensor
- Connectivity — USB Type-C, dual-SIM slots
- Wireless — Wi-Fi 7, Bluetooth 5.2
- Battery — 5,100mAh, 66W wired and 50W wireless SuperCharge
There’s no denying, that’s a 2023 flagship right there. But we’re gonna hold off on any real testing. HONOR told us that the unit we have still needs to receive a software update to fully have the device optimized. So, wait we shall.
Button placements are your usual affair.
At the bottom you’ll find: SIM Tray, USB-C port, speaker grilles.
On the right hand side are the volume rockers with the power button right below it.
Up front, you’ll see the pill-shaped cut-out on the left housing the 12MP (f/2.4) front camera and 3D depth camera.
Design and hand feel
The unit we got is the Classic Black one. The finish is glossy, it’s pretty slippery, and will definitely be home to fingerprints and smudges. Definitely use the included jelly case or buy one if you end up with this unit.
The Cyan variant has more of a frosted matte finish, but it isn’t that much better in the being-slippery department.
Despite measuring a massive 6.81 inches, the device is pretty easy to hold because the display and the back panel curves to the side. It’s also not significantly heavier than most other flagships in this form. The Galaxy S23 Ultra, in 2023 at least, still holds that heavyweight title.
Overall, it’s pretty comfortable to hold and use either with one hand or two hands. Recommendation is to use/buy a case. Our hope that the device becomes popular enough that many case-makers consider creating really good ones for it.
50MP Triple Camera
Prominently featured at the back is the camera module. It houses the crowning glory of the Magic5 Pro – its trifecta of 50MP cameras.
It’s an interesting look. The camera module protrudes but how the back panel goes up, curves, and blends with the camera module is reminiscent of the OPPO Find X3 Pro. But the camera placement is dead center instead of flushed to the left.
100X is also clearly visible in the middle of the camera module, showcasing its digital zoom capability. Here’s what those three cameras are packing:
- 50MP wide camera (f/1.6, 1/1.12-inch sensor)
- 50MP ultra-wide camera (f/2.0, 122 degrees field of view)
- 50MP Sony IMX858 telephoto camera (f/3.0, 3.5x optical zoom, 100x digital zoom)
HONOR is also bucking the trend of smartphone companies partnering with known camera brands (i.e. Xiaomi x Leica, OPPO/OnePlus x Hasselblad). HONOR Global CEO George Zhao spoke about this at a media interview during MWC 2023 in Barcelona.
HONOR Flip coming? @Honorglobal CEO George Zhao says it may come but can’t disclose when. #HONORMWC2023 #MWC2023 pic.twitter.com/fJCS1gjXD1
— rodneil (@rodneilquiteles) February 28, 2023
And it looks like, for now, they’re doing more than okay without any such partnership. DXOMARK has them at first place in camera rankings as of this writing.
The HONOR Magic5 Pro is with an all-new image engine called Millisecond Falcon Capture. It gives users the luxury to capture even the most complex scenes with remarkable clarity and ease.
Along with this algorithm are shooting modes like Super Night Capture and AI Motion Sensing Capture. For video shooters, the phone is capable of recording up to 4K videos at 60fps.
As mentioned earlier, the unit we have is still awaiting the official retail version of the software. Thus, we were advised to not extensively test the camera. But we couldn’t resist taking a few snaps while in Barcelona.
Here are a few sample photos, which already look pretty good, despite the software not being final yet.
Plenty of potential
If its predecessor is any indication, we’re pretty excited to fully test the HONOR Magic5 Pro. It’s undeniably a 2023 flagship on paper and is looking like a phone that can contend against the best of the best.
Its cameras, in particular, will be one to watch out for. HONOR packed some major features here that we can’t wait to try.
Price and availability details in Europe are here. Such details in other markets should be available soon.
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