Reviews

Samsung Galaxy Buds2 review: High-end features, cut-rate price tag

That active noise cancellation is a warm welcome!

Published

on

Samsung’s latest pair of earbuds — the Galaxy Buds2 — is out. The successor to their original buds. And the most affordable pair in their lineup.

Pairing and controls

Before anything else, let’s pair the Galaxy Buds2. With any Samsung phone, it’s very easy to pair the new buds. All you need to do is open the case and you’ll get a prompt on your phone or tablet. Tap on ‘Connect’ and just like that, your earbuds are set up.

Pairing on a non-Samsung phone is quite easy, too. While there’s no prompt telling you to connect the earbuds detected, it’s as seamless as any wireless earbuds you pair on your smartphone via Bluetooth.

The top surface on both earbuds is touch-sensitive and controls are pretty standard. Tap Once to play or pause if you’re listening to music, or to answer or end a call. Tap Twice to go back to the previous track. Thrice to go forward to the next track. Tap and hold to switch between noise canceling and ambient mode.

Samsung Ecosystem

You can manage all the settings from the Galaxy Wearable app. Like toggle between Noise Cancellation modes, adjust EQ settings, or conduct an earbud fit test.

If you own a lot of Samsung devices, as long as each of them is logged onto your Samsung account, you don’t need to pair these buds again. They’ll automatically detect the device and switch over depending on which device has a call or is about to play Media.

So for example, when you’re watching on your Galaxy Tab S7 FE watching a YouTube video and a call comes in on your smartphone, all you need to do is answer the call on your phone and the earbuds will switch over from the tablet to the phone.

When you’re done with your call, it will switch back. As long as it works, it’s a great feature. I’m a big fan of seamless connectivity. It really gives you an incentive to stay within the Samsung ecosystem.

Another handy feature that’s built into the Galaxy Wearable App is called Smart Things Find. Do you know how sometimes it’s easy to misplace one or both of your earbuds? I do, especially on a hectic day.

But with the press of a button, you can have them play a sound so you can locate them. This only works if they are outside of the case. Now if your buds are not in the vicinity of your phone — you can also look to see on a map where each side individually is.

Differentiation

The Galaxy Buds2 replace the original Galaxy Buds and the Buds+ that came after that. Where the Buds Live are supposed to be more stylish looking buds and the Buds Pro are the pair with the more premium audio features, the Buds2 is clearly the most affordable.

They’re also much smaller and take up less space in the ear compared to last year’s Buds+. They’re 15 percent lighter and 20 percent smaller.

I really do like the look and fit of these buds. It isn’t flashy and they fit real snug. In fact, I’ve gone running with these and they stayed on the whole time. And I didn’t feel at any point that they’d fall out even as I started to get sweaty.

Noise cancellation

I think the feature I’m most excited to see come to this price point is the active noise cancellation. Previously only available on big cans, it’s good enough to block out the hum of your air-conditioning system.

Or the pitter-patter of the rain. Or children playing in the distance. And even the annoying chatter at alfresco cafés — I can still hear the sound of a lively night but with NC and music on — it’s easy to disappear into your own world.

Speaking of music — I am by any means no audiophile. But I had no complaints listening to music on the Buds2. The sound coming from these is pretty balanced and good enough considering its lower price point.

Samsung says the Galaxy Buds2 has two-way speakers with both tweeters and woofers. Which explains why the sound comes across as more balanced.

Now since we don’t only use our buds for listening to music especially these days when we’re on a lot of video calls. Samsung has given the Galaxy Buds2 an intelligent buds system. Machine learning will filter out background noise. And the three mics on the buds work together to isolate your voice. For clearer calls.

Battery and charging

Samsung Galaxy Buds are rated to last anywhere between five to 20 hours depending on use. In my tests, I got around 5 hours with noise cancellation activated the whole time. Of course, you can get more hours when you use the charging case.

Charging takes about just over an hour.  To be exact, 1 hour and 8 minutes are all it takes to reach 100%, starting from zero.

You can keep track of battery status via a widget on your Samsung phone. And for non-Samsung phone users, you still have the Galaxy Wearable app just in case you need to monitor your Galaxy Buds2.

Is the Samsung Galaxy Buds2 your GadgetMatch?

If you’re a Samsung user, the Galaxy Buds2 is highly recommended. I definitely prefer them to the Galaxy Buds Live, which claims to offer Noise Cancelling but really doesn’t work. And they are a better value compared to the Galaxy Buds Pro — unless superior audio quality is what you’re after.

On another note, non-Samsung users can still relish the experience the Galaxy Buds2 provides. But you don’t get the seamless connectivity that the Samsung ecosystem serves.

Overall I’m glad Samsung made these. Noise Cancellation in particular is a feature I’m glad that’s available at this price point. What I will say is that Samsung has brought what used to be high-end features to a more affordable price point. And has really improved on its seamless connectivity feature.

The Samsung Galaxy Buds2 retails for PhP 6,990 (US$ 150) and comes in stunning Olive Green, Graphite, White, and online-exclusive Lavender.

Reviews

OPPO A55 review: Just the basics

Will teach you resource management

Published

on

OPPO A55

I did something pretty stupid while setting up the OPPO A55 for review. I copied all the settings and apps from my main Android phone which is the flagship OPPO Find X3 Pro. Predictably, the phone slowed down. But there’s one thing I realized — I had been living in excess.

Perhaps this is the most important lesson I learned during my time with the OPPO A55 — that I can get plenty of the things I need even with just a budget phone.

To get the OPPO A55, which is powered by the MediaTek MT6765G Helio G35 (with 4GB RAM, 64GB storage), to optimum performance, I proceeded to uninstall apps I barely use. It took a while but I was able to narrow down the apps I normally use. They are as follows:

Work/Productivity: 

  • GMail
  • Google Docs
  • Google Keep
  • Slack
  • Messenger
  • Telegram

Yes, three messaging apps under productivity because I handle plenty of comms for work both internally and externally. It’s this part of my job that saps my social battery the most.

Entertainment/Leisure:

  • YouTube
  • Netflix
  • TikTok

TikTok has become the app I use the most as I try to tire myself to sleep. It’s not the healthiest of habits but it’s been keeping me sane. There’s plenty of content here that’s littered with misinformation but that’s a topic for another time. Like most other social feeds, you can teach its algorithm to show you only the stuff you want to see. For me, that means an abundance of videos about K-Pop super group TWICE.

OPPO A55

I’ve also been taking a trip down memory lane and started rewatching Season 1 of The Flash CW TV Series as well as the Cowboy Bebop animé as a palate cleanser from the unsavory after taste of the Netflix live action adaptation of the show.

Social Media: 

  • Twitter
  • Instagram

OPPO A55

Notably missing is Facebook. I’m sure most people use the app and you’ll have no trouble running it on top of all the apps I’ve already mentioned. It was a conscious decision on my part to skip Facebook for my sanity’s sake.

On Instagram I mostly just browse photos related to the K-Pop girl groups. And on Twitter, I’m mostly on my burner account ranting about life. All activities just to keep myself sane, somehow.

Just the apps I need

OPPO A55

Our set of apps could look very different, but I feel like the ones I mentioned above are pretty common and should resemble most people’s most used apps. I didn’t really do much mobile gaming on the phone but the games I play most — Call of Duty: Mobile, Marvel Future Revolution, and Dragon Quest Dai were all installed and ran smoothly albeit on low graphics settings.

There are some pre-installed apps and there’s not a lot you can do about them. Regardless, it’s still a fine exercise in managing resources whenever you’re using a budget smartphone. You can get a lot done, but you have to keep an eye out on your memory and storage, lest you run the risk of slowing the phone down.

Looks pretty basic too

Not that basic is a bad thing. In fact, plenty of people still prefer this “classic black” look. On the right hand  side you’ll find the power button.

OPPO A55

Over on the left side are the volume buttons as well as the SIM tray.

OPPO A55

On the bottom are the usual speaker grilles, USB-C port, and 3.5mm jack.

OPPO A55

Nothing too fancy, it’s pretty easy to grip, and just has the OPPO logo at the back.

OPPO A55

Decent snappers

OPPO A55

The OPPO A55 has a 50MP main camera and almost negligible 2MP for macro, and another 2MP for depth. You also have a 16MP selfie camera which I also didn’t get to use.

That said, I mainly stuck to using the main camera. Like most phones today, you won’t have many issues shooting under bright natural light. It’s also not gonna wow you with super detailed images, but I never expected it to.

OPPO A55

This was taken with on just normal mode. Even the camera sensors on budget smartphones are good enough to produce clean, bokeh-licious shots like this.

OPPO A55

Food shots don’t look as appetizing but it’s easy to make this pop with the right post-processing which you should do. “No-filter” is overrated.

Too much oil for my liking, but it this does look kinda appetizing.

The struggles come in night and low-light scenarios.

OPPO A55

라면 먹을래? Want to have ramyeon?

I never really expected much from the cameras. In fact, I’d say what you see with the samples above are par for the course for any budget smartphone no matter the megapixel count they slap on it.

Battery life and everything else

Sporting a 5,000mAh battery with support for 18W wired charging, while not supporting any exorbitant features, you’ll squeeze out a decent usage time from the OPPO A55.

Its 6.51-inch IPS LCD screen doesn’t demand much, and the processor is pretty efficient as well. You should be able to go through your usual day with the phone and not need to charge during the day unless you’re a heavy mobile gamer.

For general usage, it’s perfectly normal and delivers on your needs and basic wants.

Is this your GadgetMatch?

OPPO A55

The OPPO A55 nails the basics. There’s nothing exceptionally good or terribly bad about the phone. It’s the type of device you pick up because you just have to have a smartphone these days.

It’s fairly limited in what it can do and will force flagship users like myself to learn to manage a phone’s resources better. But if budget or lower midrange is all you’ve known, this is a pretty decent pick-up.It retails for PhP 9,999 and is available in OPPO retail stores, partner dealers and e-commerce platforms Shopee and Lazada.

Continue Reading

Gaming

ASUS ROG Zephyrus M16: Big power in a compact form factor

Exceptional specs, solidly built body

Published

on

ROG Zephyrus m16

Whenever I see any device with the ROG branding, I automatically get the impression of how good the device may be even without actually knowing what its features are. I guess it’s true with others too as sending my friends a photo of the hefty ROG box containing this device, garnered excited reactions.

That’s because ROG devices actually live up to its reputation of being amazing gaming devices. A proof of that is in my recent visit to a PC store in Makati where I asked the salesperson which among their gaming laptops is their current best offering in their store and the response I got is a confident, ROG Zephyrus.

Get ready to be blown away as we take a closer look at the ASUS ROG Zephyrus M16.

What comes in the box

ROG Zephyrus m16

The whole package came in a large ROG box containing three main items.

First, we get the ROG Zephyrus backpack. Then, there’s a black box which contains the ROG Delta gaming headphones. Lastly, there’s the white Zephyrus box which contains the star of the show — the Zephyrus M16 along with the ROG Chakram Core gaming mouse, the 240W charger and the 100W USB-C charger.

Tough build with a small footprint

Going straight for the laptop, just as I laid my hands on the actual unit, I could already tell how solidly built this device is. The outer shell is made of aluminum with machine cut holes that looks elegant with just a slight hint of being a gaming laptop with its branding.

Some people might prefer laptops with a bit more flare, but I’m personally inclined towards this more serious look. This could easily pass n a corporate setting without getting too much attention for being a gaming laptop.

On their website, ASUS markets the Zephyrus M16 as a laptop with a 16-inch display fitted in a 15-inch chassis. And it’s true. It’s relatively compact with its length measuring only 13.98 inches. This would actually fit laptop bags designed for 15-inchers and placing it beside my old 15-inch Dell G3 made the latter look jurasically huge.

ROG Zephyrus m16

For the bottom half, you might want to get your cleaning cloths ready as the soft matte finish is an easy smudge magnet. While this design decision adds to the premium feel of the unit, it does require a bit of maintenance to keep it from looking like a nasty mess.

Good port selection but placement could do better

ROG Zephyrus m16

A vast amount of ports are also present here on the Zephyrus M16. On its right we can find the charging port, HDMI, RJ45, USB-A, two USB-C Thunderbolt 4 ports which doubles as a charging port and a 3.5mm combo audio jack. On the left is a microSD card reader and another USB-A port.

I do, however, have mixed feelings with the placement of these ports

None of the ports are placed at the rear portion of each side. The location of the charging port in the middle of the left side sets the wire of the charger to partially cover the exhaust vents of the device when plugged in.

If you then decide to use the 100W charger, you’ll have to bear with having to plug it on the USB-C port near the front of the device.

The USB-A port on the right would have also been nice if it were placed around the back as its current placement feels a bit intrusive when plugging an external mouse.

I understand that the designers might have had to give some room for ventilation or make use of that space around the rear part of the chassis, but the positioning could have been better for at least the essential ports for an obstruction-free experience.

Big, bright and vibrant display

ROG Zephyrus m16

The display is actually the first thing that wowed me on the M16. It’s a 16-inch 2560 X 1600 IPS panel with a 165Hz refresh rate and an aspect ratio of 16:10. It’s vibrant and punchy because it’s an IPS and while not as fast as a TN panel, it’s still relatively fast at 165Hz. 

Plus, this being a WQXGA panel, we’re adding more screen real estate vertically and when we combine that with the 100% DCI-P3 color gamut and the Pantone validation, we’re seriously getting ourselves a productivity beast.

ROG Zephyrus m16

This also gets close to being bezel-less with this display as it’s bezels are really thin but still manages to house a 720p webcam.

Let’s also take time to appreciate the Ergo Lift hinge on the M16 that seamlessly hides the chin of the display panel as the bottom half of the device is raised upon opening the lid. Very clever.

A good keyboard, a massive trackpad and an external mouse

ROG Zephyrus m16

For its keyboard, we have an RGB lit keyboard which has a nice tactile feedback and it feels phenomenal. It doesn’t feel mushy, the key travel is a bit more pronounced than others and the typing angle brought by the Ergo Lift hinge makes it comfortable and satisfying to use.

We’re also getting a massive trackpad on the M16. I could say it does perform great as I never found myself reaching for the external mouse for tracking and touch gestures are easily executed without much errors.

However, I don’t know if this is caused by the size of the trackpad or just poor palm rejection but this is the first time I’ve ever experienced a trackpad that gets in the way of my typing. Because my palms often touch the trackpad when typing, this often results in accidental key presses.

We do get a toggle to disable the trackpad in one of the function keys so I guess that could also be a solution.

As an alternative, we have the bundled ROG Chakram Core which is a right-handed wired gaming mouse that features a programmable thumb joystick.

It’s a full sized mouse that fits comfortably in my medium sized hand. I think this would fit best for palm grip users but from the perspective of a claw grip user, I didn’t have any issues with this as well.

Unquestionable performance

ROG Zephyrus m16

Onto the most exciting part, the Zephyrus M16 packs an 11th gen Intel Core i9 11900H processor paired with the RTX 3070 with 32GB of DDR4 RAM and 2TB SSD internal storage. 

This is so far the beefiest specced laptop I’ve experienced.

As expected, games like Valorant won’t be a problem running on these specs and that’s exactly what we experienced. Very fluid movement and zero lags even without boosting the Armoury Crate to performance mode.

For a more challenging and graphically demanding game like Control though, the game ran well on its default settings, but maxing out everything including ray tracing and other effects at 1440p did show some stutter. So for this one, we’re still gonna hold back a bit on the settings and resolution for the smoothest experience.

Do note that Control is a very heavy game and most of its additional graphic settings don’t give much difference visually anyway, so keeping some settings on medium or high is still looks stunning on the M16.

On my Shadow of the Tomb Raider test, I ran the benchmark maxing out every setting and got a 64 FPS average at 1440p resolution which are pretty amazing results for a laptop. This would go even higher if we’re playing on 1080p so if more FPS is your thing, you can opt to go for that.

We also experienced pretty decent temperatures on this unit as according to the ROG Armoury Crate, we’re getting around 69 to 73 degrees Celcius in game and would only occasionally hit the 80 degree mark during intense scenes. That’s very respectable for an Intel Core i9 in a compact laptop but it did come at the expense of being noticeably loud.

Speakers and the ROG Delta Headphones

ROG Zephyrus m16

According to ROG, the Zephyrus M16 actually has a six speaker setup. I didn’t really hear the benefits of this but it does sound pretty decent and clean but that’s about it. It won’t be able to fill up a room as its volume just isn’t very loud.

It had to turn on subtitles for games I’m playing as I was having a hard time hearing the dialog audibly. So for a more immersive experience, the ROG Delta headphones is what you’ll want to use for your long gaming sessions.

It’s a USB-C powered pair of headphones that are stylish and solidly built. It sports an ROG logo with breathing RGB lighting, a digital volume rocker and a switch for the RGB light.

ROG Zephyrus m16

Sound-wise, I do believe this sounds close to neutral and does seem balanced which isn’t what I usually experience on a pair of gaming headphones but it’s actually what I prefer.

I was expecting it to be boosted on the bass as gaming headphones often have this characteristic but that isn’t the case on this one. In fact, I did feel that it was rolled off a bit on the low end which gives us more clarity and less rumble.

All in all, this pair does give a pleasurable experience for gaming as the closed back and its noise cancellation forces you to focus on tackling your adventure.

Battery life and charging

It’s pretty common for gaming laptops not to have very good battery life as we do have a lot of power hungry components running. With the Zephyrus M16, we’ve experienced pretty similar results with other gaming laptops at around six hours of normal use.

Gaming on battery only got us about 45 minutes on Shadow of the Tomb Raider before everything became unplayably laggy just as power saving mode kicked in at 20 percent of battery remaining.

As for its charging, considering that this is a 240W charger, the results aren’t very fast getting us from empty to full in 1 hour and 45 minutes. With the 100W charger, it took us from ten percent to full in 2 hours and 8 minutes which is acceptable especially if we consider its pocket friendly size.

Is the ASUS ROG Zephyrus M16 your GadgetMatch?

Despite some minor inconveniences, there’s nothing in particular that I could say we would really hate with the Zephyrus M16.

It’s definitely a laptop designed for gaming enthusiasts who’d really want to get the best experience in a compact package and I don’t think they would be disappointed with gaming on this one.

The price tag of PhP 159,995 may sound too steep for many of us but the exceptional specs, solidly built body, a beautiful 16-inch 16:10 display, great keyboard, huge trackpad and a superb bundle of accessories, are a mouthful to say but these in itself says we’re not getting ripped off.

But if you’re not willing to shell out that much, a slightly less powerful variant with an RTX 3060, 16GB of RAM and a 1TB SSD is also available for PhP 139,990 while a variant with a Core i7, 16GB RAM, 1TB SSD and an RTX 3060 is available for PhP 129,990.

ROG Zephyrus m16

So to sum it all up, at the level where it competes, the Zephyrus M16 is definitely a beast of a gaming laptop in a compact form factor that easily stands out as a great contender.

Continue Reading

Accessories

realme Beard Trimmer: Getting that sexy stubble

For that stylish, cool, and attractive lewk

Published

on

“Is he attractive? Or he just has sexy stubble?” That’s a question my friends wonder when they meet someone new. And a question I pose for myself as well.

Stubble is sexy. Period. Every time I look at the mirror, I find myself alluring when I have stubble. Though they look cool, and they help separate men from boys,  keeping your facial hair at a certain length takes time, skill, and precision.

The art of trimming your facial hair

You can easily trim your facial hair when you have a manual shaver or trimmer. But that might be time-consuming to use and master to achieve the desired result.

Contrarily, going to a grooming salon can help you get that peg you’ve been wanting for your face instantaneously. Albeit, quite expensive. In addition, it’s difficult to maintain when you have a hectic lifestyle. Unless your preferred barbershop does both of your regular haircut and beard styling.

Precisely why the likes of smart, grooming tools rose through the past few years, aiming to help men redefine what’s sexy, groomed, and stylish. But in their own way.

You might think of a few brands to consider, but some could be taken aback by an expensive price tag. Moreover, it’s scary to invest in something expensive especially when it’s your first time. So if it’s indeed your foray to grooming and styling, the realme Beard Trimmer might be worth a try.

Looks sleek for the sleek-looking

Having a beard trimmer opens up possibilities for your personal care. Most accessories come with nifty features to help you achieve your desired result e.g. a sexy stubble. And realme’s very own Beard Trimmer can surely deliver, too.

At a glance, it looks like a hefty device at a size of a regular gigglestick. Thick, sturdy, and a design that piques someone’s curiosity. It comes with a stainless steel blade, whereas its head and motor are fixed and lubricated.

It’s skin-friendly, and it definitely feels premium with that matte finish. It can rival the likes of trimmers from Philips, especially with the materials used. More importantly, it’s ergonomically designed so it can be gripped easily while you groom yourself.

Style on your own

The package comes with a 10mm comb that you can place over the head, so you can trim your hair properly. The realme Beard Trimmer comes with 0.5mm precision and 20 length settings that can be adjusted using the adjustment knob.

To turn it on, you just have to press the power button and a green light will indicate it’s ready. And of course, the motors would be buzzing by then.

I personally prefer using the lowest length setting — 1cm to be exact — since I keep my facial hair short enough to be trimmed easily. But preferably, you’d have to grow the hair for at least 3 cm for a more flexible approach. Nevertheless, having a lot of length settings offer versatility to define your facial hair.

Just remember to shave with light, gentle strokes. And don’t forget to even the hair out and edge it accordingly. More importantly, rinse it properly since the metal head is washable. Just don’t let the liquids run through the charging port.

On another note, what I like about the realme Beard Trimmer is the low-noise operation when trimming my hair. Its minimal noise sounds like the buzz from my stylist’s clipper, coursing through my head in a quiet barbershop. It’s somewhat pleasing to my ear; a new beginning awaits as I shed old parts of myself.

Charging

The realme Beard trimmer is equipped with an 800mAh battery capacity. While it seemed pretty small, it can last for an hour and 20 minutes of cordless use on a single charge. If you run out of battery, you’ll have to charge it for at least two hours.

I, however, didn’t get to drain the battery down to zero. But I did use the trimmer four times now, and it’s still up and running. Previously, I charged it after unboxing and it reached full battery capacity after 45 minutes. That’s average, but the battery might be long-lasting considering I haven’t charged it for two weeks now.

But if you can’t wait for two hours to fully charge the device, you can always trim while charging. The Beard Trimmer will still work even if it’s plugged — and you don’t have to worry about it since the heat dissipates easily with its stainless steel and metal properties.

What’s amusing, though, is the Beard Trimmer sporting a Type-C port. I literally sighed “Amen”, seeing a lifestyle product that doesn’t use a micro USB port. Most gadgets I own now use a Type-C cable and I appreciate it when more devices are equipped with this port. It just makes my life easier.

Travel-friendly

If you travel frequently — either for leisure or business — then you might love the trimmer’s travel lock feature. With just a single long press on the power button, you can lock the trimmer to avoid accidental touch while traveling. Or so it doesn’t buzz while inside your carry-on.

The yellow light will indicate that the trimmer is locked. If you try to open it by pressing the power button softly, the LED indicator will prompt that it’s locked by blinking the yellow light. You can unlock it easily though: Just long-press the power button and voila!

Furthermore, the realme Beard Trimmer is easy to fit in on your carry-ons. Or in your luggage, if you’re going on a trip that doesn’t require an x-ray scanning machine and doesn’t prohibit combustible devices.

Is this your GadgetMatch?

If you’re out in the market for a grooming accessory, and if it’s your first time to shop for a personal care tool — the realme Beard Trimmer is worth considering as your GadgetMatch. It ticks the right boxes that first-time groomers would look for: affordable, sleek and premium-looking, easy-to-use, and offers precise cutting.

Meanwhile, seasoned groomers would probably look elsewhere. Something like Panasonic and/or Philips; household brands that we know all too well.

The realme Beard Trimmer retails for PhP 1,090. For a few more upgrades like an extra 20mm comb and engraved metal, the realme Beard Trimmer Plus costs PhP 1,990.

Continue Reading

Trending