Saturday, October 19, 2013

Review: Micromax A110Q Canvas 2 Plus – An Excellent Value for Money smartphone

For: Specifications, Price, Camera, and Value for Money
Against: Reliability Factor (users report quite number of hardware issues)



The Micromax A110Q Canvas 2 Plus has been launched in India with a price tag of Rs.12,000.  The value for money phablet is powered by a Quad-core 1.2 GHz Processor, 1 GB RAM, 4 GB internal memory with SD card support upto 32 GB, 8 MP primary camera + 2 MP secondary camera, 5inch IPS display and Android JellyBean 4.2



Micromax India has dominated sub 15k smartphone segment ever since the launch of Micromax Canvas A100. They enjoyed similar response from Canvas2 A110 and now with Micromax A110Q Canvas 2 – the successor of Canvas2 A110 aims at creating big waves in the smartphone industry. Micromax’s aggressive pricing strategy always attracts potential customers and eats away the share of the likes of Samsung, Sony etc. Let’s have a closer look at A110Q Canvas 2 and see how it is an attention grabber smartphone!

Screen & Build Quality

Canvas 2 plus carries its design from its predecessor. There is hardly any change in terms of looks or design. One would have tough time differentiating between Canvas 2 and Canvas 2 plus. Build quality is decent if not great. The Canvas 2 plus comes with a flip cover which is not of great quality. The screen is surrounded by dark chrome plated boundary. Canvas 2 sports a 5.0 inches IPS LCD capacitive touchscreen with 16M colors, 480 x 854 pixels and 196 ppi pixel density. For a 12k smartphone the display is excellent with sharp image production. Color and saturation levels are perfect. Touch response is very nice and video playback is crisp.






There are three capacitive buttons for home, back and menu below the screen. On top left of the screen there is a 2MP secondary camera for video calling etc. Couple of sensors are placed near the camera but Canvas 2 plus don’t have an automatic lighting sensor. Overall there is hardly any complaint in terms of screen and build quality. Back is made of average quality plastic integrated with a flip cover. There are couple of Micromax Logo stickers on the back along with an 8 MP primary camera with dual LED flash. Overall the phone feels nice to hold.

Camera, Buttons & call/audio quality

The Micromax A110Q Canvas 2 Plus comes with an impressive 8 MP camera which shoots 3264 x 2448 pixels photographs. It has dual-LED flash along with features like Geo-tagging, autofocus, touch focus and face detection. Image quality of the camera is very impressive even in indoor light conditions. Camera will suffice for day to day photography needs. The camera lens cover is scratch prone due to the bulgy design. There is no dedicated camera shutter button. A 2.0 MP Front camera is provided for video chatting; image/video quality is decent.






Just like any other Android phone power button is placed on the right side,  volume controls on left side, a 3.5 mm audio port and usb cum charging port are placed below the phone. Buttons feels nice and soft to operate.  Call quality is good. Loudspeaker is not very loud and below average. Earphones are also of average quality only.

OS/Performance and Battery

The Micromax A110Q Canvas 2 Plus comes preinstalled with Android 4.2 JellyBean. There is no custom interface provided by Micromax except few proprietary apps like mzone and mlive app. Android 4.3 is expected on this device but not very soon. Canvas 2 plus is powered by a Quad-core 1.2 GHz Processor based on cortex A7 chipset, 1 GB RAM and 4 GB internal memory with SD card support upto 32 GB.






Performance wise this phone is blast to use. There is hardly any lag while using the phone. Navigating through different screens and widgets is quite snappier. Switching between apps is also fast. Games like temple run, subway surfer and candy crush perform very smoothly on this device. It scored respectable score of 3951 in quadrant benchmark test as compared to 2424 of its predecessor Canvas 2.








Canvas 2 plus is equipped with a  2000mah battery which is a bit small for a 5inch quad core smartphone but since cortex A7 is quite power efficient chipset, expect the battery to last throughout the day of use. It would have been much better if Micromax provided 2500 mah battery.

Verdict

If you are not brand conscious and have a budget of 12k, this is an excellent phone. However Micromax devices are known for their hardware unreliability. Users have reported more number of problems as compared to other manufacturers. It is very essential for Micromax to improve the reliability factor because it counts a lot in the long run – take Nokia as an example – in my opinion their hardware is most reliable. Other than this Micromax is doing great and Canvas 2 plus is a highly recommended phone for prospective future buyers.

Ratings (out of 5 stars)

Build Quality ****
Screen ****
Performance ****
Value for Money *****
Overall ****

Key specifications

Screen
5.0-inch 480x854 IPS display
Processor
Quad-core 1.2 GHz processor
RAM
1GB RAM
Storage
4GB internal storage, expandable up to 32GB via microSD
Camera
8-megapixel autofocus camera with dual LED flash and 2MP front camera
Network Type
Dual SIM, 3G, Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth, HotSpot 4.0, EDGE, GPRS, GPS, LTE
Battery
2000mAh removable battery
OS
Android 4.2 (Jelly Bean)
Dimensions
147 x 76.5 x 9.7 mm
Weight
164 grams


Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Review: Samsung NP350V5C-S06IN Laptop – Sheer Performance Delivered!

For: Performance, Screen, Build Quality, Looks
AgainstExtremely poor web camera, heats up a bit upon playing games on dedicated graphic card.



The Samsung NP350V5C-S06IN is a high  performance laptop featuring 3rd  gen Intel Core i7 processor rated at 2.3 GHz with Turbo Boost Upto 3.3 GHz, 8GB DDR3 RAM, 1TB SATA II HDD, AMD Radeon HD 7670M 2GB DDR 3 dedicated graphics card, 15.6 inch anti reflective LED HD display and Windows 7 operating system (now upgraded to Windows 8). This laptop was purchased by a friend in May 2013 for Rs. 49000. Overall this notebook is an awesome machine and highly recommended for power users. Let’s have a closer look at the laptop.




Design, Build Quality & Display

Having reviewed many Samsung devices in the past I was not expecting much in terms of design and build quality of this laptop. My perception regarding any Samsung product – be it a mobile phone or laptop is poor build quality but I was surprised by its amazing build quality and sturdy chassis.  My perception about Samsung's infamous build quality changed a bit after having my hands on the Samsung NP350V5C-S06IN laptop. It’s surprisingly beautiful in design, has a sturdy chassis and bezel with metal finish LED screen panel. At 2.45kgs it is quite light considering it’s a 15.6 inch machine.





The exterior LED panel is in glossy metal finish which gives it a nice premium look. The notebook is available in metal silver color which also enhances its character. The back chassis is made of good quality plastic. On turning it down you will find few cooling exhaust ports, a removable 6 cell battery and couple of stickers.

Switch on the machine and one will easily fall in love with the beautiful 15.6 inch matte HD LED screen offering resolution of 1366 x 768 Pixels. Colour production, image quality, color saturation, sharpness, contrast ratios are just perfect. Every image, video looks so crisp and nice. Even after extended usage there was hardly any strain on user’s eyes. 




A 0.3MP web camera is integrated on the top of the display panel. Sadly the camera is of extremely poor quality and even a 30k machine houses a better camera than on this laptop. Web camera is very disappointing. If you are a serious video caller then better buy a good quality external web cam!

 Speakers, Ports, Keyboard & Drives

The speakers offers excellent sound quality and fairly loud without any distortion even at maximum volume. Bass & treble are quite respectable. The stereo speakers features HD Sound Alive Audio, which enhance the quality of sound and this will be an added advantage for movie freaks. This Samsung laptop has two USB 3.0 ports, two USB 2.0 ports, HDMI port, RJ45 slot, WiFi, SD card slot, VGA port, mic in/3.5mm audio port and a lock port for security purpose.







The keyboard has set of flat and well-spaced keys along with dedicated num pad. It’s very easy and comfortable to type on the keyboard with good speed and efficiency. No complaints related to ergonomics at all with the keyboard. However there are no LED indications for caps lock, num lock etc which can be inconvenient at times.  The touch pad is three figure gesture and scroll supported. Pointing/touch response could have been a little better. I would rate it above average only. It supports additional functions like swiping through images/screen with the  touch pad.It has a DVD SuperMulti Drive with dual layer support for all those DVD movie playback and DVDs/CDs burning needs.


Performance, OS & Battery life.

The Samsung NP350V5C-S06IN is equipped with 3rd  gen Intel Core i7 processor rated at 2.3 GHz with Turbo Boost Upto 3.3 GHz, 8GB DDR3 RAM, 1TB SATA II HDD, AMD Radeon HD 7670M 2GB DDR 3 dedicated graphics card, 15.6 inch anti reflective LED HD display and Windows 7 operating system (now upgraded to Windows 8).  The chipset is based on Intel Mobile HM76 Express. The quad core processor has four physical cores and eight logical cores. CPU cache is 6MB. Windows Experience index rating for this machine is quite good with processor rated at 7.8, RAM at 7.8, Graphics at 6.5 and Hard disk at 5.9. The overall rating of 5.9 rating could have been a notch better if Samsung provided a 7200 RPM hard disk with this laptop.



The performance of Windows 8 on this machine is extremely fluidic, fast and responsive. Working on Windows 8 is now getting used to. I must say that Windows 8 is highly optimised as compared to previous version and works flawlessly minus the inconvenience of missing Start button. The system boots up in no time and opening/closing applications is butter smooth. 8GB of RAM is quite sufficient for handling multiple programming IDEs like Microsoft Visual Studio, Eclipse etc along with heavy games likes GTA, FIFA 14, F1 2013, Far Cry etc.





 Even with two 3D games loaded in background I was able to easily navigate and switch between applications. With battery power, graphics are handled by Intel HD graphics and when powered by AC adapter, AMD Radeon HD 7670M 2GB DDR 3 dedicated graphics card comes into action. There was no lag at all and most of the games were played over 25 fps. There is no heating as such but upon playing heavy games, user may get annoyed by little heating near the touchpad area as it gets a bit uncomfortable to keep hands over there. Rest for day to day general use there is no heating issues at all.





The Samsung NP350V5C-S06IN is powered by a 6 cell battery which the company claims to give upto six hours of backup time but in real world situations it will vary between 3-4 hours depending on usage. Heavy gaming on battery power will return back up time of around two hours and with normal usage like MS office, internet etc backup will be around 4+ hours.

Conclusion

If you are a power user who likes to play latest heavy games, work on software development IDEs and applications like Adobe software suites then this laptop is perfect for you. If you are in market these days for a new laptop and have budget of Rs. 50,000, then this high performance notebook from Samsung is highly recommended. 

Ratings (out of 5 stars)

Build Quality *****
Screen *****
Performance *****
Value for Money ****

Overall *****

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Review & Comparo: Samsung Galaxy Grand Quattro - The Younger Sibling of Galaxy Grand!

For: Specifications, Screen, Price, Battery life, Value for Money
Against: No Ambient Light Sensor, 480p video recording. 



The Samsung Galaxy Grand Quattro has been launched in India in May 2013 with a price tag of Rs. 15,000. The phone is powered by a Qualcomm MSM8625Q Snapdragon 200 Quad-core 1.2 GHz Cortex-A5 processor, 1GB RAM, Adreno 203 GPU, 8GB Internal storage,  SD card support, 5MP Primary + 0.3MP Secondary camera, 4.7 inches TFT capacitive touchscreen 480 x 800 pixels  which gives ~199 ppi pixel density and Android 4.1.2 Jellybean.

Samsung Galaxy Grand Quattro is a younger sibling of Galaxy Grand which was launched in January 2013 and after enjoying grand success of Galaxy Grand, this is another attempt by Samsung to gain market attention by launching a toned down variant of Galaxy Grand.



Grand Quattro is roughly 2k less than Galaxy Grand and specifications of the phone have been reduced along with the screen size such that it does not cannibalise the sales of Galaxy Grand itself . For Rupees 2 thousand less you get following features and specifications – 4.7 inch display instead of 5 inch display on Grand,  5MP & 0.3 MP primary and secondary camera instead of 8MP & 2MP of Galaxy Grand and 1.2 GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 200 MSM8625Q processor based on Cortex A5 CPU instead of 1.2 GHz dual-core Broadcom BCM28155 processor based on ARM Cortex-A9 CPU on Galaxy Grand.

Screen & Build Quality

Like any other Samsung phone, Grand Quattro is no different. It has pure plastic body and conventional Samsung designing. Look wise it is exactly same as Galaxy Grand albeit a little smaller.  Build quality is above average. With reduced size the Galaxy Quattro is easy to grab and hold. It sports 4.7 inches TFT capacitive touchscreen 480 x 800 pixels which gives ~199 ppi pixel density. Ppi density is better than Galaxy Grand (186 ppi) because of the reduced size.







 Touch response is fairly good with decent colours and contrast ratios. Images and videos look crispier than on Galaxy Grand because of the higher ppi in Quattro. It misses an ambient light sensor which means there is no Auto brightness feature.  Design language of Quattro is exactly same as Galaxy Grand with chrome strips on the side. The removable Back cover is made of plastic which houses two sim card slots, an sd card slot and removable 2000mah li-on battery. At 144 grams it's quite lighter than Galaxy Grand but still will not win any slim and trim beauty contest. 

Camera, Buttons & call/audio quality

Galaxy Quattro comes with 5 MP, 2592x1944 pixels, autofocus camera with LED flash. It has features like geo-tagging, touch focus, face and smile detection. 480p Video recording is supported @ 30fps. This comes as little disappointment because anything below 720p on a 15k smartphone is not acceptable. On the other hand Galaxy Grand is capable of recording 1080p videos @ 30fps.  It has a 0.3 MP front camera for video calling purposes which I believe should have been at least of 1.3MP. Picture quality of the primary camera is on the lines of 8MP shooter of Galaxy Grand. I was impressed by the indoor close up object photos. Daytime snaps are also quite good for a 5MP camera. It does not have a dedicated camera button.





Placement of buttons, ports are same as on Galaxy Grand. The power button is on the right side of the phone; volume rocker on left side. It has a hardware home button below the display with backlit buttons for menu and back. A 3.5mm audio jack is on top side of the phone and USB charging & data port on the bottom side. Earphone quality is ok. Call quality is excellent – full marks here to Samsung. Speaker is fairly loud and clear.

 OS/Performance/Storage and Battery

Galaxy Quattro comes with Android 4.1.2 Jellybean with Samsung’s proprietary touch wiz user interface. While Samsung has updated the Galaxy Grand with Android  4.2, I don’t expect it to be on Quattro soon. The Galaxy Grand Quattro does not carry the smart features seen on the Galaxy Grand, No Multi Window toolbar, no S-Voice and No Pop-Up-Play.





The phone is powered by a Qualcomm MSM8625Q Snapdragon 200 Quad-core 1.2 GHz Cortex-A5 processor, 1GB RAM and Adreno 203 GPU. Don’t get much swayed by the ‘quad core’ processor as it based on dated cortex A-5 chipset while the Galaxy Grand’s 1.2 Ghz dual core is based on cortex A-9 chipset. Still performance on Grand Quattro is pretty decent and overall it is quite snappier. There is no lag as such. Gaming is handled by Adreno 203 GPU which is though not best in class but will handle basic games like Temple run, subway surfers but I don’t expect games like real racing 3 or FIFA 14 to work flawlessly on this device.



It has 8GB internal memory along with SD card support upto 32 GB. The Quattro is powered by Li-Ion 2000 mAh battery which claims to Up to 210 h standby time and Up to 11 h talk time. In general usage, it will easily last for complete day. There is no heating problem as such noticed while reviewing the phone.

Verdict

For Rs. 15,000 it is a decent mid-range budget smartphone especially for first time smartphone buyers. If you find Galaxy Grand a bit too big to hold and handle then Quattro is also a right choice for you.

Thanks folks for reading.


Ratings (out of 5 stars)

Build Quality ***
Screen ****
Performance ***
Value for Money ****
Overall ****

Samsung Galaxy Grand Quattro Key Specifications

Screen
4.7-inch 480x800 TFT display
Processor
Qualcomm MSM8625Q Snapdragon 200 Quad-core 1.2 GHz Cortex-A5 CPU
RAM
1GB RAM
Storage
8GB internal storage, expandable by up to 32GB via microSD
Camera
5-megapixel autofocus camera with LED flash, VGA front camera
Network Type
Dual Sim, 3G, Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, Hotspot, Bluetooth 3.0, EDGE, GPRS, GPS.
Battery
2000mAh removable battery
OS
Android 4.1.2 (Jelly Bean)
Dimensions
133.3 x 70.7 x 9.7mm
Weight
143.9 g grams