Reviews

Xiaomi Mi Mix (Exclusive Edition) review

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I could just post a bunch of beauty shots of Xiaomi’s near-bezel-free Mi Mix (the Exclusive Edition!) and get away without writing an actual review — it’s that stunning. But this is GadgetMatch, and I have to describe my experience with it, as well.

Just look at it!

6.4 inches of IPS LCD with nothing but a tiny chin

It’s gorgeous indoors…

… and outdoors!

The ceramic back is a smudge magnet

And highly reflective

But it comes with a leather case

I can’t verify if it’s genuine leather; only time will tell

This Exclusive Edition has 18K gold rims on the back

Only for the rear camera and fingerprint scanner

Here’s where the front-facing camera is located

You must rotate the phone before taking a selfie or video calling

And yes, there’s an audio port

Despite being really thin at only 7.9mm

There’s no earpiece, so vibrations are used instead

A piezoelectric driver creates vibrations, producing audio through the glass. Wow!

This is how it compares to the Galaxy S8+ and LG G6

Aspect ratios from left to right: 18.5:9, 17:9, and 18:9 — all unlike the usual 16:9 ratio

But how well does it perform?

This being the Exclusive Edition with shiny gold rims, it has two advantages over the regular Mi Mix: 6GB of memory instead of the standard 4GB, and 256GB of internal storage instead of 128GB. Other than those, everything else is identical, including the Snapdragon 821 processor, elongated 1080p display resolution, and dual nano-SIM card slots (no microSD expansion).

All this equates to excellent performance, even compared to the more powerful smartphones that have launched since then, such as Galaxy S8 and Xperia XZ Premium. The Mi Mix’s closest comparison is the OnePlus 3T, and that was regarded as the fastest phone of 2016. Xiaomi’s bezel-less handset is no different, providing so much multitasking horsepower that I can’t ask for any more.

It’s worth noting that the Mi Mix’s Android skin, MIUI 8 (based on Android 6.0 Marshmallow), is the most refined version yet. It takes the best of Marshmallow and integrates many more customization options. The only downside to this is the investment needed to adjust settings to your liking when first setting up. For example, lock screen notifications for the apps you install don’t automatically turn on, so you must activate each one individually since there’s no “yes to all” option.

Can it last more than a day?

With a screen this huge and so much silicon muscle, the Mi Mix must last only a couple of hours, right? Absolutely not! Battery life is comparable to the much smaller Redmi 4 Prime we fell in love with a few months ago, meaning we get over six fantastic hours of screen-on time over a span of two days on a single charge. I can’t think of a better device right now for watching movies while on long trips.

My only concern is the time it takes to achieve a full charge. Even though it supports Quick Charge 3.0, the bundled fast charger takes a little over two hours to get to full, and it’s not as fast as, say, an OPPO or Huawei in getting to at least a 50 percent charge. But really, I shouldn’t be complaining; it’s a small sacrifice for the battery endurance I’m blessed with.

Does it take great photos?

I’m making it sound like the Mi Mix is the perfect Android, but that’s because I haven’t talked about the cameras yet. In short: They’re terrible. With overbearing dimensions and no optical image stabilization, producing sharp shots can be a challenge even in daylight. Obviously, it gets much tougher at night, when you’ll need the steadiest of hands to earn something remotely acceptable. And even if you do, photos turn out grainy and mushy most of the time.

The difficulties carry over to the front-facing camera. The results aren’t what you’d call Instagram-worthy, and it’s bad enough having to rotate the entire phone to avoid covering the bottom-mounted selfie shooter. I’m hoping a future software update will remedy this, so that we can pit it against other smartphones in a camera shootout.

Is this your GadgetMatch?

Every time I pick up the Mi Mix and gaze at its enormous display and shimmering ceramic back, I feel like I’m part of an exclusive club. That says a lot, because I don’t get that same feeling with the Galaxy S8 or iPhone 7 Plus, which are surprisingly more expensive in most regions.

It’s also not as awkwardly narrow as the similarly borderless S8 and G6, making the typing and navigation experience a lot more pleasant. Xiaomi’s MIUI interface can be a chore to set up at first, but it gets better the more you invest your time in personalizing it.

Minus the lousy cameras, i highly recommend the Mi Mix. Don’t be turned off by the unwieldy-looking proportions; in fact, it’s practically the same size as the OPPO F3 Plus, which has a smaller 6-inch display.

The only possible obstacle is actually finding a unit. We acquired ours through GearBest.com and had it shipped internationally. For $689, it’s a great purchase, especially when compared to other premium devices. Alternatively, you could opt for the regular Mi Mix, costing $100 less without sacrificing too much.

SEE ALSO: Xiaomi’s white Mi Mix is still stunning, but there’s a catch

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Practical Smart Home

Amazon Fire TV review: Best $250 TV?

Which Fire TV is your GadgetMatch?

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Sometimes, all we need is a generic flat-screen TV to fill the void in our living space. But the thing is, you don’t need to sacrifice picture quality alongside a cheaper price tag.

From the Kindle to Echo Show, Amazon now has its own smart TVs — and by that we mean smart TVs, not just a smart TV stick you attach.

Ranging from 43 to a whopping 75-inches, which Amazon Fire TV between the Omni and the 4-series is your GadgetMatch?

Watch our Amazon Fire TV review to know more.

 

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Gaming

Lenovo Legion S7 review: Is it too slim for your liking?

A continuation of power, performance, and portability

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Legion S7
Is the Lenovo Legion S7 too slim?

Every gaming laptop out there just seems typical, complete with the RGB and the hefty design. Yes, there have been other laptops that are starting to break the mold. However, they did so while sacrificing some huge features in the process. Although, that hasn’t stopped most manufacturers like Lenovo from trying their hardest.

What we have here is the Lenovo Legion S7, with the “S” literally standing for “slim.” On paper and by design, it’s possibly one of the slimmest gaming laptops currently available. Just from the unboxing experience alone, it raises a few eyebrows design-wise and the hardware inside it. Beneath its slim chassis, there lies the beast, as they say.

But is this a gaming laptop worth considering given its potential sacrifices? Let’s find out.

Ticks all the boxes for general performance

 

Every gaming laptop brings impeccable performance for most day-to-day tasks, and the Lenovo Legion S7 is no exception. Of course, the biggest contributor to great performance lies within the hardware, and this machine certainly brings the firepower with an AMD Ryzen 9 CPU inside.

As advertised, the Legion S7 provides performance suitable for any task thrown at it. Whether you’re working on work documents or creating your next gameplay video, the laptop handles these things with relative ease. Also, you can effectively multitask on this device no problem with 32GB of RAM to support.

Now, the Legion S7 comes with Windows 10 pre-installed, which was alright. However, seeing how most people were hopping onto Windows 11 at the time, it made sense to upgrade the software first since it’s possible. In the three weeks that the laptop was tested, software issues didn’t occur so that’s a good start!

Decent competitive gaming performance

Legion S7

When talking about gaming performance, there’s two things to factor in: the GPU, and the display. For the Lenovo Legion S7, an NVIDIA RTX 3060 with a 165Hz anti-glare FHD display seems like the ideal combo for a gaming device suitable for casual and competitive gamers out there. In reality, this lived up to expectations quite well.

For casual and competitive titles, the Legion S7 provides great performance and frame rates with a smoother feel to them. Sure, a FHD display limits the full dynamic color range compared to the 4K option for this device. But when playing competitively, that hardly ever matters. Games like VALORANT and Halo Infinite felt pretty smooth and looked vibrant when playing.

Legion S7

With RTX on, some games look pretty good but with the obvious frame rate sacrifice, especially with cranked up settings. Although, unlike other RTX mobile GPUs, the frame rate sacrifice isn’t as much, which was pretty good. For example, games like Fortnite and Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy had about an 8 to 10 percent drop in FPS with RTX on vs. RTX off.

Battery life is just good enough for mini breaks

Legion S7

Much like every other gaming laptop out there, this device doesn’t last particularly long when used for casual or competitive play. On average, the Legion S7 lasts about 6-7 hours just on productivity and casual gaming on the side. When cranked up to perform at competitive levels, it cuts the lifespan to just 2-3 hours, which was expected.

To its credit, the Legion S7 comes with a 230W battery pack that will nest it back to full health in at most 3 hours. With Rapid Charge Pro turned on through Lenovo Vantage, it cuts the charge time by just an hour. Still, it doesn’t change the fact that it’s quite fast and would actually give you a short break after playing your heart out.

Some questionable design features

 

As much as the Lenovo Legion S7 boasts impressive gaming performance, there are a couple of things that hold it back from its true potential. For one, it’s quite slim and has the potential to get quite hot when playing too much. Sure, Coldfront 3.0 will do what it can to keep things cool, but it still gets warmer quite fast so it’s something worth noting.

Second is in port selection, particularly with what they gave up for this machine. Fortunately, they kept the charging port and two USB Type-A 3.0 ports at the back so nothing got in the way. However, for a gaming laptop to exclude an Ethernet port and an HDMI slot is quite alarming. 

Sure, it’s to highlight the WiFi 6 capabilities along with using the Thunderbolt 3 USB-C ports at the right side of the device. However, having a Gigabit Ethernet port significantly improves network performance especially for competitive play. Also, most external gaming displays still come with HDMI ports so it was a missed opportunity.

Is this your GadgetMatch?

For what it’s worth, the Lenovo Legion S7 is an ideal gaming device for both casual and competitive gamers. It’s slim form factor combined with powerful hardware provides the power and portability that the Legion brand consistently delivers. With a high refresh rate display and RTX-capable GPU, it even provides a solid boost to gaming performance.

Of course, even the Legion S7 has some hits and misses in there. From questionable exclusions to just decent battery life, it fails to maximize its potential to be truly something better than before. Still, with what it has going for it as presently constructed, it’s still a great gaming device on-the-go.

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Health

Meross Smart Wi-Fi Air Purifier review: 6 months later

An affordable option for better indoor air quality

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One Sunday at a Japanese makers market, I came across the material shirasu, a natural ceramic material created using the byproducts of volcanic magma. It’s been widely used by the Japanese in construction for many years now, but because it’s a material that came from the depths of the earth, it’s also got air purifying properties.

One pamphlet about shirasu pointed out that part from food and water, a huge percentage of what humans consume is air — and that indoor pollution is worse than outdoor. We clean our produce thoroughly before cooking it, and the water we drink is filtered, so why don’t we think about cleaning the air we breathe as much?

While I came out of that market empty-handed, I remembered that I’ve been using the Meross Smart Wi-Fi Air Purifier for 6 months now and its filter is due for a replacement.

I already know how dirty my apartment gets just by the sheer amount of dust bunnies my vacuum collects on a weekly basis. What I do not know is how much dirt and pollutants get trapped in the air, so I am both curious and scared to find out.

Buy the Meross Smart Wi-Fi Air Purifier

What’s in the box?

Packaging is as simple as it gets. The Meross Smart Wi-Fi Air Purifier comes in a white box, with Meross’ logo and the air purifier’s picture in front.

Inside are the air purifier, a Meross 3-Stage H13 HEPA filter, as well as the installation guide, and a USB-C power adapter.

Meross says the included 3-Stage H13 HEPA filter has a pre-filter which isolates large particles such as hair and dust, and the filter itself, which catches 99.97% of particles at 0.3 microns including smoke, pollen, pet dander, and contaminated particles. The innermost layer is activated carbon, which removes odors, cooking smells, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and other toxic substances.

Although not a big deal, I appreciate that it plugs in via USB-C. In case the plug needs replacing in the future, I’m confident I can find a spare cable and plug from other devices I have instead of buying a proprietary one.

Minimalist design

The air purifier from Meross has a minimalist cylindrical body. Its metal chassis makes it feel more premium — something I wouldn’t mind showing off if I didn’t have an empty corner to tuck it in. It’s also slim and doesn’t take up too much space, which makes it perfect for a small apartment like mine.

Currently it only comes in white. All my furniture are in a lighter shade of oak and bamboo giving my apartment a light and airy vibe. The purifier, albeit not a decor, doesn’t clash against the aesthetics of the apartment. It would be nice to have a dark color option though for those whose interiors have a more industrial or rustic feel.

Easy setup

Setting up the air purifier is easy peasy; so easy that I think even my boomer parents can figure it out.

You open the air purifier at the bottom to insert the filter. There are engraved guides for unlocking and locking the bottom lid.

Once the filter is in and secure, download the Meross app and set up an account. Plug the air purifier and follow the instructions on the app to connect it to your home network. That’s it, you’re all set. It works with Apple’s HomeKit, Siri, Amazon Alexa, and Google Assistant, too.

Buy the Meross Smart Wi-Fi Air Purifier

On the Meross app and HomeKit, you can adjust the speed and power it on or off.  There is also a physical button on top of the air purifier for these same functions.

Loud and lacking

If there’s something I would have wanted on the Meross air purifier, it’s sensors. It’s as basic as it gets.

Because of the lack of sensors, it doesn’t monitor the quality of air, so adjusting the speed has to be done manually. When I open my balcony door for example, inviting more dust and pollutants into my apartment, I would turn it up to the highest setting myself.

It’s the same story when I’m cooking, and I cook a lot. Instead of automatically adjusting to get rid of the odors coming from the kitchen, I have to go into the app to turn it up.

Over the last 6 months of using the air purifier, I found myself forgetting to do this more and more, so I don’t really know how much toxic substances I could have avoided inhaling at this point.

Another pain point I’ve noticed is that the Meross Air Purifier is loud. At night I would make it a point to adjust it to the maximum speed so I wouldn’t wake up sneezing from my allergies as much. Doing so generates a whiny humming sound, which I think would bother some people.

Because I grew up in a relatively noisy city and live in New York now, I’ve learned to ignore it. The noise is a compromise I’m willing to live with because I do find myself sneezing less in the morning when it’s on high.

Replacement filter

On the Meross app, you can monitor the life of the included HEPA filter. Meross suggests replacing it every 3-6 months. I got the alert to get a new one close to 6 months after I set it up.

A replacement filter costs $25 on Amazon. On Meross’ website, they have an image of how gray dirty the filters get after a few months.

Left: Meross’ photo. Right: my HEPA filter after 6 months of use

Six months later, the included filter that I put in still has the original blue color it came in, with just a bit of dust sticking on it here and there.

This means either the air quality in my apartment isn’t as bad as others, or the air purifier doesn’t work as well as it should.

Seeing as how brand new looking my filter still is, I’ve held off on buying a replacement for now to save the $25.

Is the Meross Smart Wi-Fi Air Purifier your GadgetMatch?

The Meross air purifier retails for US$ 139.99 on the Meross website and US$ 129.99 on Amazon. It’s one of the more affordable options in the market, and the cheapest one that supports HomeKit.

As long as you don’t mind the noise and the lack of sensors, the Meross air purifier will do the job. I can’t imagine living in a city like New York in the world without an air purifier. This, combined with a vacuum and some house plants that help clean and purify the air in my apartment are a must.

Buy the Meross Smart Wi-Fi Air Purifier

If you control your smarthome with HomeKit and are on a strict budget, the Meross air purifier is the one to get. If you want an air purifier that monitors indoor air quality, look elsewhere or buy a separate sensor to connect to your smart home.

One day, I’ll have a home whose walls are built using shirasu so I’ll worry about air quality less. For now, the Meross Smart Wi-Fi Air Purifier will have to do.

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