Reviews

Vivo V7+ Review: More than just a full-screen display

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Welcome to the era of the borderless smartphones. When we first saw the Sharp Crystal and Xiaomi Mi Mix, we wondered when cheaper phones would get the amazing edge-to-edge panels. Well, it started with the LG Q6, and now this.

Here’s our review of the Vivo V7+.

Say goodbye to thick bezels with a 6-inch Full View display

Resolution is pretty low at 1440 x 720 pixels only

Unlike the Mi Mix 2, the selfie camera is still up top

No upside down “Perfect Selfies”

We have the volume rocker and power button on the right…

Easily reachable even with smallish fingers

And the dual nano-SIM and microSD card tray on the left

Vivo brings back expandable storage to its higher-tier phones and… triple-card slots!

The bottom has an audio port, microphone, micro-USB port, and speaker grilles

It’s quite busy down here

The fingerprint reader has been moved to the back

Conveniently positioned for either index fingers

Borderless display is a must nowadays to lure users

The key feature of the V7+ is its borderless display, which Vivo calls Full View. The screen has a 5.99-inch panel with a resolution of 1440 x 720 pixels. This gives the display a pixel density of only 269ppi, which is pretty low for a phone this size. I guess it’s part of the tradeoff to get a borderless display in this price range. While it may not be as crisp as we’d want it to be, the overall quality (e.g., color, contrast, brightness) is good.

But the Vivo V7+ is not the cheapest borderless phone in the market. Just last month, we reviewed the LG Q6 which retails for PhP 12,990 in the Philippines or around US$ 255. The Q6 may have a smaller display size, but it has a sharper panel — twice the number of pixels the V7+ has, in fact.

The display presents Vivo’s own FunTouch OS skin on top of Android 7.1 Nougat nicely. The support for full-screen apps is there, and it resembles Apple’s iOS. This means there’s no app drawer and you get similar app icons to an iPhone. New features include an improved Smart Split app, Screen Recording with audio, and App Clone, which lets you run two instances of certain apps.

The new processor is actually faster than we thought

Aside from the display, one of the first things we noticed about the V7+ is its new processor. From the mid-tier Snapdragon 625 processor of its predecessor, the new phone now has a Snapdragon 450. The shift from a Snapdragon 600-series to a 400-series processor is shocking at first, but before we jump to conclusions, let us explain that this is not a downgrade.

The new Snapdragon 450 is pretty much based on the Snapdragon 625. Both have the same 14nm technology for longer battery life and a newer Adreno 506 GPU for better gaming performance. On the downside, the clock speed is slightly slower (1.8GHz vs 2.0GHz) and it doesn’t support 4K video recording. No worries though, since the V7+ performs better or on par with benchmark tests, and the overall performance is super smooth and lag-free.

Multitasking is handled by the 4GB memory, and you get an internal storage of 64GB for apps, pictures, and more. Let’s not forget that the V7+ also supports a microSD card of up to 256GB with the dedicated slot. And, Vivo continues to give its devices a built-in Hi-Fi chip for excellent audio quality with lossless music files.

From Perfect to Clearer Selfies

Vivo phones normally prioritize selfie cameras over the rear shooter. The Vivo V7+ is no different with its 24-megapixel front camera. It now has a single sensor — not two. However, you still get the artificial bokeh effect through some software tricks. Oh, and the rear has a 16-megapixel shooter — let’s not forget about that.

The rear camera, like most midrange phones, captures pleasing images and with great quality even when viewed on a laptop. We did notice that the white balance leans on the warm side. The front camera is where the phone shines (that’s one of its main selling points), with detailed selfies in both bright and dim environments. As mentioned earlier, the bokeh effect is still here, although it’s a hit or miss due to the lack of a secondary camera.

Facial recognition complements the fingerprint reader

Since we just talked about the cameras, let’s have a look at the facial recognition feature of the V7+. Unlike with the iPhone X, built-in facial recognition is not new to the world of Android. In fact, we still remember playing around with the old Samsung Galaxy Nexus from 2011 (that’s almost six years ago); however, it was faulty and buggy. The result? It didn’t fly. Instead, Android phones have been relying on fingerprints.

Just how much better is the facial recognition on the V7+? After setting up, it was disappointing that we couldn’t train the phone for multiple facial registers. In well-lit places, the phone unlocks quickly upon turning on the display. But, in dim spots? Not so much. You’re better off using the fingerprint reader, which even works a bit faster. It’s nice that you can use both biometric security features, so you get the best of two sides.

Watch all you want on the go

With a slightly bigger body than its predecessor, the V7+ has a somewhat larger battery at 3225mAh over the previous 3160mAh. For a 6-inch phone, we find the battery to be a bit small, but it was able to last us a full day of average usage. Fast charging is supported by the phone with a fuel-up time of just over two hours.

Is this your GadgetMatch?

As we wrap up our review, we’ve grown fond of the Vivo V7+. We don’t find the phone to be the perfect midrange full-screen phone in the market right now, but the V7+ is a solid offering. With its borderless display and high-quality selfies, it can be an easy sell for those looking for a new phone that looks different for once.

With that, we’re giving the Vivo V7+ our GadgetMatch Seal of Approval. It’s currently available in India for INR 21,990. It should be rolling out to other Southeast Asian markets soon.

SEE ALSO: Vivo V5 Plus Hands-On Review

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Laptops

Huawei MateBook D 15 2021 11th Gen review: 4 months after

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Huawei MateBook D 15

The work from home and online class setup had us all adjusting to this new normal. You’ll see a lot of inquiries on Facebook groups about LED ring lights, microphones and midrange laptop recommendations. Huawei’s MateBook D series is among the ones you’ll see that has gotten a lot of popularity for this purpose.

It makes perfect sense, since back when I first reviewed the Huawei MateBook D 15 2021 11th Gen, I had a lot of good things to say about it. After four months under regular use, there are quite a few more that I came to realize about this device that I think you guys might find interesting.

It can get things done

A quick refresher on its specs, the D 15 2021 we have with us has an 11th gen Core i5 with the Intel Iris Xe graphics, 16GB DDR4 RAM and 512GB of SSD storage. 

It’s no question, if you’re just going to use this for online classes or regular zoom meetings, the D 15 probably won’t even break a sweat. However, I consider my power requirements to be somewhat on the heavy side for my photo and video editing needs.

What surprised me was I didn’t find myself having to go back to my main editing workstation and have actually done more work on the D 15 than I expected. It may not be as fast, but it also wasn’t drastically slower.

Plus the fact that this has a more accurate display with its 100 percent sRGB color gamut, the 15.6-inch LED display is perfect for my daily Photoshop use.

Portability also applies at home

Huawei MateBook D 15

Working from home for a long time and looking at the same thing over and over, not having to be able to go to places, had many of us bored and unmotivated. I personally always had that urge to look for another spot just for the change of scenery.

Thankfully, weighing only 1.56kg, it gave me the flexibility for me to place it in different places. I didn’t worry that the surface wouldn’t be able to handle it.

Battery life

The capability to place the D 15 on different places wouldn’t really matter if you’re still stuck near an outlet because you’re constantly required to plug it in. Fortunately, the 42Wh battery of the D 15 keeps us away from the charger for around nine to ten hours before needing to plug it back in.

Huawei addresses issues and gives regular updates

Huawei MateBook D 15

During its time with me, the D 15 had quite a few driver and software updates. Along with one of the updates came a fix for an issue I had with its fingerprint scanner where it frequently had trouble recognizing my fingerprint. While it shouldn’t have had that issue to begin with, the regular updates are an indication that users aren’t abandoned and issues are in fact being addressed on Huawei’s end.

I also learned from Huawei’s website that the MateBook series has a Windows 11 upgrade rollout plan. That’s something nice to look forward to.

Undesirable camera angle

Huawei MateBook D 15

Sadly, not everything is praise worthy on the D 15. The hidden web camera, while innovative, came at the cost of an awful camera angle. Since it is placed on the keyboard, it is also pointed upwards.

Using it, you’ll mostly see an unflattering image of yourself often emphasizing the size of your nostrils.But if you decide that you’d want to use a laptop raiser for a more comfortable viewing angle, the camera won’t be pointed downwards. That’d make it barely usable.

A generous availability of ports

Huawei MateBook D 15

Being the boxing fan that I am, the recent Pacquiao fight had me subscribing for a pay-per-view service. The full sized HDMI port on the D 15 was heaven sent. During the fight as I was able to output the fight on our dated TV set. It let us to enjoy the stream on a bigger screen.

The availability of USB ports on both sides also let us to choose where certain devices can be plugged. We didn’t worry about hitting our external drives with our mouse or fitting multiple USB devices side by side.

Multi-Screen Collaboration

I did not find myself using this feature as much. However, having this capability eliminated the need for me to grab a USB cable to transfer files from my phone. A quick tap of my phone and I was ready to transfer photos I recently. It’s great for some quick editing before posting on Instagram. 

Is this still your GadgetMatch?

Huawei MateBook D 15

When I think of the D 15, freedom is the word that comes to mind. It gives so much freedom to work anywhere with its portability and battery life. You get freedom to do what you wish with it with its capable hardware. There’s also freedom from wires with the Multi-Screen Collaboration. And even freedom to plug various devices with its great selection of ports.

It’s a no fuss kind of laptop that just gets things done. Its sheer simplicity is what makes it a great device.

If you’re interested in getting the Huawei MateBook D 15 2021 11th Gen with 16GB RAM and 512GB SSD, you can now get it for PhP 48,999.00.

 

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Reviews

Samsung Galaxy Watch4 Review: Best Android smartwatch yet?

But is it any better than the Apple Watch?

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Samsung launched the Galaxy Watch4 just recently — which is the successor to 2019’s Galaxy Watch Active2.

Now with the power of a BIA (Bioelectrical Impedance Analysis) via its Bio Active Sensor, the Galaxy Watch4 can simply measure your body composition with just your two fingers and wrist.

But is it any better than the Apple Watch?

Watch our Samsung Galaxy Watch4 review now to know more.

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Accessories

Maonocaster Lite AU-AM200-S1: Intuitive and portable podcasting rig

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AU-AM200-S1

I am a fan of quality and affordable gear. Modern manufacturing techniques and advancements in technology gave us a vast selection of gadgets in all shapes and sizes.

With the gaining popularity of live streaming, the demand for good audio interface and microphones is growing. The brand Maono, relatively speaking, is a newcomer that offers affordable audio products.

What we’ve got here is the Maonocaster Lite AU-AM200-S1, which is a portable podcasting gear. This is the very first product I’ve got the chance to try from this brand and I’m liking it so far. This bundle is ideal for someone who is just getting into podcasting or a musician looking for a cheaper alternative.

What’s in the box?

AM200 Podcast Console

At first glance I actually thought it was a miniatured DJ turntable because of the two mini platters, but those are just volume knobs for the mics and music. It is a 3-channel mixer-type audio interface with five outputs. The two inputs are designated for mics and/or instruments and the other input is for music. Three outputs (3.5mm TRRS) for smartphones are available so you can stream simultaneously on different platforms.

A separate main and monitor output is available so you can listen to what your audience hears. Note that all the inputs and outputs are for 3.5mm jacks so if you are planning to plug in an instrument directly using a PL (1/4 inch) cable, you will need a 3.5mm adapter.

Plug and play

You can connect it to a computer with the USB A to C cable that is included. It doesn’t require any drivers, so, just plug it in and it’s good to go. It should be compatible to most DAWs (Digital Audio Workstation) for music recording. There is a 3-band EQ along with a “REC” volume knob which is like a “Send” knob to feed the audio to the devices it’s connected to.

Two crossfaders control the monitor volume and echo level. The “monitor” crossfader controls both the volume level for the (main) output and the monitor (output). I wish they installed separated levers for each one to control them independently.

This is also the case for the mic volume knob, it controls both the levels of mic 1 and mic 2. It would’ve have been handy if there are separate knobs for each but I think they did this design to fit in a compact box.

For outdoor streaming and recording

At the middle portion, you’ll notice along the LED indicator level signal is a battery indicator. Yes, this is also battery powered which makes it suitable for out of home live streaming, if you prefer creating something for your viewers elsewhere. You can easily recharge the batteries with the USB C cable.

There are also audio sample pads, buttons for sound effects and pitch shifters.

AU-PM360TR Microphone

AU-AM200-S1

This condenser microphone does not require phantom power. It runs below 5V, through the XLR to 3.5mm cable, unlike the industry standard condenser microphones. With its cardioid polar pattern, it will be more sensitive to sounds being captured in front of it.

Earphones

It comes with a pair of in-ear earbuds with a very long cable, enough to cover the distance for a typical on-desk live streaming. I think that the sound quality would be more appreciated by most modern pop listeners who like a lot of bass. Because it does deliver that low-mid thump.

Tripod

Out of the box, the microphone comes attached to the mini tabletop tripod. The microphone is detachable to the tripod, but if it is used handheld, it will pick-up a lot of hand noise. So, it is better to leave it on the tripod.

Other accessories included are: XLR to 3.5mm cable, two 3.5mm TRRS cables, USB A to USB C cable, and a windscreen cap.

Performance

For podcasting, it is very easy to use. It’s what the AU-AM200-S1 is made for and they did a good job. The microphone delivers a clearer and louder output compared to built-in mics in smartphones/laptops or headsets. You can control the volume of music accompaniment easily with the wheel knob, whenever you want to highlight the music or the voice.

Plus, the sound samples like the applause, laughter, cheering etc., are nice additions for some impromptu segments in your streams. You can also record your own samples by pressing the “loop back” button and assigning to any of the blank buttons available.

Since the microphone does not require a phantom power, the output is weaker compared to classic condenser microphones. The sound quality is good nevertheless.

AU-AM200-S1

For music recording, you can record your instruments with it on your preferred DAW. I connected my guitar to my digital effects processor with a 3.5mm headphones jack going to the mic input of Maono console. I noticed that the 2 mic inputs have high gain levels because my guitar was already clipping with the volume knob on the AM200 console at around 10 o’clock.

Usually, I set the volume on my guitar effects unit on almost full when I am recording with a different audio interface and mixers. But with the Maono AU-AM200-S1, I only had to set the volume of my guitar effects at 50 percent. This is good because it doesn’t have a designated gain knob. Just watch out for clipping- if it happens, you may want to lower the volume from the source.

I recorded a few short audio samples to demonstrate how the Maonocaster Lite AU-AM200-S1 handles recording. Please excuse my singing voice.

Mic only without echo(onboard) – vocal

Mic only with 50% echo(onboard) – vocal

Mic only with 100% echo(onboard) – vocal

Mic only without echo – vocal and guitar

Mic only with post-editing – vocal and guitar

Guitar through a digital effects processor

In a full band mix – Recorded vocals and guitars (both acoustic and electric)

Fully recorded demo

 

There are two functions that I have a few comments on:

AU-AM200-S1

Denoise — This is their “smart noise cancelling” feature that reduces background noise. It does its job as a noise gate, but unfortunately, you cannot adjust the settings (threshold, attack, range, etc.). Depending on how loud the ambient noise is, the mic sometimes gets a stuttering sound when this feature is engaged. If the room is quiet enough, there shouldn’t be any problem.

Music Only — This feature attempts to minimize the vocals in the music that you are playing, but similarly to the denoise, it sometimes affects the mic audio quality. I suggest looking for backing tracks of the songs you want to sing during your live stream beforehand.

Is the AU-AM200-S1 your GadgetMatch?

AU-AM200-S1

The Maonocaster Lite AU-AM200-S1 bundle is a usable and functional piece of gear. I see it as a bring-it-anywhere, all-in-one podcasting kit. It would have been more convenient (for me) if they included ¼ inch inputs for mics and instruments. Although, I guess it would kind of defeat its portable nature because most PL cables are thicker and heavier compared to the 3.5mm cables included in this bundle.

Pricing and Availability

The Maonocaster Lite AU-AM200-S1 retails for $109.00 and is available for purchase in Amazon, Shopee, and Lazada. You can check out their other products at the official Maono website.

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