Belkin iPhone 7 Lightning Audio + Charge RockStar Launched at Rs. 4,999

Soon after the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus were launched, accessory makers started developing adapters to get back the lost functionality of the 3.5mm audio jack. The iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus came without the audio jack, and Apple accessory maker Belkin grabbed the opportunity to launch the Lightning Audio + Charge RockStar adapter for the iPhone 7. Five months after launching it in the US, the adapter has finally made its way to India. The accessory is priced at Rs. 4,999 in India, and is available in major retail and online stores across the. As part of an introductory promotional offer, the device will be sold at a discounted rate of Rs. 3,999 for a limited time.

Belkin iPhone 7 Lightning Audio + Charge RockStar Launched at Rs. 4,999

In the US, this accessory costs about $39.95 (roughly Rs. 2,700). It comes with two Lightning ports which essentially will allow you to use the newly introduced Lightning EarPods and the Lightning cable for charging, at the same time. Belkin claims that it worked closely with Apple to build this product. The adapter supports 48kHz and 24-bit audio output, apart from remote control and mic support for Apple-made headphones.

“Belkin always looks forward to expand its Apple product range. To ensure that our product design and quality is aligned with Apple’s, we have worked closely with them to develop the Lightning Audio + Charge RockStar for iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus that enables simultaneous charging and listening using Lightning Audio. We have introduced the product in India to make the Apple ecosystem efficient and beneficial to the end consumer,” Kartik Bakshi, Country Manager – Belkin India said in a statement.

As you may already know, Apple is bundling the Lightning EarPods and the Lightning to 3.5mm adapter with every iPhone 7, but if you happen to lose them, a replacement will cost you Rs. 2,500 ($29 in US) and Rs. 900 ($9 in US) respectively.

LG’s Hub Robot to Take on Amazon Echo, Google Home Personal Assistants at CES 2017

LG has announced that the company will be showcasing its advanced robot technologies at CES 2017, including one that looks set to take on Amazon’s Echo and Google’s Home. The company says that its robotic lineup will be able to navigate complex environments and find out the most efficient route to complete the tasks allocated to them by making use of powerful analytical processing capabilities. Also unveiled ahead of CES were new UHD televisions with the company’s Nano Cell LCD tech.

LG's Hub Robot to Take on Amazon Echo, Google Home Personal Assistants at CES 2017The company’s robot collection will be unveiled on Wednesday at CES and includes the Hub Robot, which will work both as a smart home gateway and a personal assistant for the users, the company said in its release. This sounds a lot like the Amazon Echo speaker powered by the Alexa voice-based virtual assistant, and Google Home speaker powered by the Google Assistant.

Another robot from LG’s lineup will demonstrate use in gardening while other models that will be on display have been designed for “commercial use in public spaces such as airports and hotels to help improve the traveller’s experience,” the company said in the release.
Ahead of its CES 2017 event, the company has also announced its Super UHD lineup of LCD TVs featuring Nano Cell technology, which helps them produce more accurate colours than other television sets, as per company’s claims. All three new models from the lineup, namely SJ9500, SJ8500, and SJ8000, feature Active HDR with Dolby Vision that allows support for multiple HDR formats.

The new smart TV models from Super UHD lineup run on LG’s webOS platform and come with a thin and “aesthetically pleasing” design, the company said in its release. The company says that the newly launched TV models have powerful audio capabilities. The use of Nano Cell technology is said to reduces the on-screen light glow to maintain picture quality even when these TVs are surrounded by intense ambient lighting.

“Nano Cell LCD displays offer a technological advantage by employing uniformly-sized particles approximately one nanometre in diameter to create more subtle, accurate colours that can be viewed from wider angles than other TVs,” LG said regarding the Nano Cell technology used in the TVs. LG says that the absorption of surplus light wavelengths allows Nano Cell tech to distinguish between colours with precision.

The company further claims that the use of the Nano Cell LCD technology dramatically reduces instances of colour fading, image instability and other colour degradation issues.
LG partnered with legendary motion picture technology firm – Technicolor – to work on the colour technologies used by the new TVs in order to try and accurately recreate the “artistic intent of content creators,” the company said.

“Our 2017 SUPER UHD TV lineup with LG’s proprietary Nano Cell technology is a breakthrough in display technology that advances the LCD TV viewing experience to a level unlike any other,” Brian Kwon, president of the LG Home Entertainment Company, was quoted as saying in the release.

Apart from the new TV models, LG has also announced that it will be unveiling a new generation of its CordZero premium vacuum cleaners. In its press release, the company said that the use of its Aero Science vacuum technology and improved CordZero Handstick and CordZero Canister will help users experience a “new level of cleaning.”

The company claims that the use of Smart Inverter Motor, which at 115,000 RPM is said to spin 16 times faster than an aeroplane engine, provides the new CordZero Handstick with top class sunction power.

In the weeks leading up to CES 2017, LG already unveiled several products that the company will be showcasing at the Las Vegas trade show. These products include company’s ProBeam laser projector, LG K-Series smartphones, its PJ9 Levitating Bluetooth speaker, Tone Studio and Tone Free wireless audio products, and deep learning-based home appliances.

Gadget Ogling: Big Bendy Screens, Chatterbox Robots, and TV in the Cloud

aoc-monitorWelcome, dear friends, to Gadget Dreams and Nightmares, the column that’s distracted itself from the shellshock of the election just long enough to cast a beady eye over the latest gadget announcements.

Spied from inside the comfort of a warm blanket this time around are a curved monitor, a robot with Alexa integration, and a cloud-based DVR from TiVo.

As always, we are sworn to inform you that these are not reviews, and the ratings reflect only how much I’d actually like to try each, assuming my nerves hold up long enough to handle any gizmos.

Around the Bend

A little more than four months after moving to a new apartment, I’m at long last about to start setting up my office. Goodbye, Ikea dining table. Hello, fancy new desk. When I actually have my new setup, I’d like to have a monitor at long last to complement my laptop. AOC’s latest is under serious consideration.

The AG352QCX, pictured above, is a 35-inch, curved behemoth with two USB 3.0 ports, one HDMI 2.0 input, VGA, DVI, audio in and out ports, and DisplayPort 1.2. That’s plenty enough for most people’s purposes, though a second HDMI port would have been welcome.

Do note that when I say I’ll have an “office” for “work,” I fully intend to spend plenty of time in that little nook playing games as well, so a monitor designed for interactive action is high on the priority list. The 200-Hz refresh rate and 4ms response time, along with FreeSync (which smooths gameplay and reduces screen tearing), should help make sure I get the bad guys before they get me.

The 1080p resolution is not fantastic for the price — Pounds 699, approximately US$866 — when we’re edging toward 4K and Retina displays becoming commonplace. That’s more a concern for desktop usage, though. The lower resolution will be less noticeable for high-refresh rate gaming taking up the entire screen.

It fits my needs, giving me extra screen real estate while working, and a monitor on which to play games in the off hours. It’s probably a little too large for me, though, even if the curved screen does look great.


Rolling Robot

Regular readers may note that there is virtually zero chance of me giving a low rating to a cute robots with giant eyes, even if those peepers are on a screen and not physical eyes.

Omate’s Yumi has a 5-inch display for a face and can show different expressions, while it has a light ring to alert you to notifications. More practically, it has Alexa integration: A microphone and speakers let you issue commands and receive feedback from Amazon’s personal assistant.

It has wheels, so it is somewhat mobile. Unfortunately, it can’t rotate its head, and while there’s a camera for video calls, Yumi needs to stay in place for that, so you can’t chat to a relative through the robot while walking around your home.

The little cherub is winsome and with the helpful Alexa integration, I would not hesitate to bring one home. Still, there are better-looking alternatives already on the market, and I suspect plenty more are on the way.

Less of a product announcement than a leak, the first few details of TiVo’s cloud-based DVR have seeped into the world. It seems the Mavrik saves all the shows you want to watch later in the cloud, and you’ll be able to stream them whenever you want.

Certainly, there are streaming services around, like Hulu and HBO Go, which provide consumers a way to watch shows soon after they air. These services are decentralized, though, and without paying for a whole bundle of them, it’s unlikely you’ll find it easy to watch all of your favorite shows.

A system like Mavrik should cut out the wait time, and save the shows you want instead of relying on each service’s cherry-picked portfolio — as long as you have the cable package to match, that is.

Tivo Mavrik

The box connects directly to a TV antenna, according to the leak, though it appears you can stream both live and recorded shows and movies using an app. Mavrik would have been dead on arrival if TiVo didn’t allow users to stream content to whichever device they prefer to watch on, so in-app streaming is heartening.

There are other cloud-based DVR systems around, though none really have the brand value of TiVo, meaning this could become a commonplace setup in relatively short order. It will require a subscription, of course, but the likely utility of Mavrik just might make it worthwhile. The cost of the subscription plus a cable package nullifies the convenience for me, but it just might stick for others.

ASUS ZenBook Flip UX360CA convertible with 360-degree hinge launched in India

After launching the Transformer 3 Pro convertible in India last month, ASUS has launched a new hybrid notebook dubbed the ZenBook Flip in the country. The ZenBook Flip UX360CA is the company’s first ZenBook model in India to sport a 360-degree rotatable hinge, which allows it to be used in several modes like laptop, tablet, stand and tent.

ASUS ZenBook Flip modes

The ASUS ZenBook Flip convertible sports a premium metal unibody design, and has been crafted from a single block of aluminium slab. The lid features the signature spun-metal ZenBook finish with the concentric circle pattern. It measures 13.9mm around the waist and tips the scale at 1.3kg. It comes with a large touchpad with ASUS Smart Gesture multi-touch gestures support. The touchpad also offers intelligent palm-rejection technology.

ASUS ZenBook Flip

Coming to the core features, the ASUS ZenBook Flip flaunts a 13.3-inch QHD+ (3,200 x 1,800p) IPS display with 178-degree viewing angles. The screen is also touted to offer high brightness levels of 350cd/m2. Under the hood, the convertible gets a 6th-gen Intel Core M processor based on Skylake architecture, aided by 8GB of RAM. It comes with 512GB of solid state storage, two USB Type-A ports and a USB Type-C port, Windows 10, and a precision noise-reducing array microphone that allows accurate voice interaction with Windows Cortana. The brand claims it to deliver up to 12 hours of battery life on moderate usage.

The ASUS ZenBook Flip UX360CA has been priced at Rs 46,990, and will be available via ASUS Exclusive Stores and major brick-and-mortar stores across the country. It is being offered in two colour options – Icicle Gold and Mineral Grey.

Micromax Canvas Fantabulet With 6.98-Inch Display Launched

Micromax Canvas Fantabulet With 6.98-Inch Display Launched at Rs. 7,499

Micromax has launched the Canvas Fantabulet smartphone priced at Rs. 7,499. The new Canvas-range handset will be available via Flipkart and will come in a Chrome Gold colour variant.

The biggest highlight of the Micromax Canvas Fantabulet is its massive 6.98-inch screen at this price point. With the large screen size, the new Canvas Fantabulet will compete against the high-pricedLenovo Phab Plus, which sports a 6.8-inch display. It’s worth noting that the Lenovo Phab Plus was launched in India back in October at Rs. 20,990.

The Canvas Fantabulet comes bundled with apps like Eros Now, Kindle, Saavn, and Gaana among others. Another highlight of the new smartphone is its dual box speakers which are powered by DTS technology. Micromax is offering a free 90-day subscription to Saavn pro.

The Canvas Fantabulet features a 6.98-inch HD (720×1280 pixels) IPS display. It is powered by a quad-core processor clocked at 1.3GHz coupled with 1GB of RAM. The handset features 8GB inbuilt storage and also supports expandable storage support via microSD card (up to 32GB).

Running Android 5.0 Lollipop, the Micromax Canvas Fantabulet sports an 8-megapixel rear autofocus camera with LED flash and also comes with a 2-megapixel fixed-focus front camera. The dual-SIM based Canvas Fantabulet supports 3G on one SIM and the other supports 2G.

Connectivity options on the new phablet from Micromax include 3G, GPS/ A-GPS, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and Micro-USB. Unfortunately, the smartphones doesn’t support 4G LTE connectivity. Under the hood, the Micromax Canvas Fantabulet packs a 3000mAh battery.

Commenting on the launch, Vikas Jain, Co-Founder, Micromax Informatics, said, “We ignited the phablet category with the launch of Canvas range of devices which proved to be extremely popular among the consumers. With the launch of Canvas Fantabulet we are yet again pioneering a new category that will change the way people use smartphones making it their first choice for consumption and productivity needs. The launch comes at the most appropriate time when mobile internet is on the rise and there has been persistent increase in demand for larger screens and video consumption.”

‘Racist’ Video Game Pulled After Uproar Over Killing Australia Aborigines

'Racist' Video Game Pulled After Uproar Over Killing Australia Aborigines

A video game allowing players to kill Australian Aboriginals has been removed from mobile stores after more than 50,000 people signed an online petition against the “racist” app.

The app, “Survival Island 3 Australia Story”, tells users that they have to find ways to stay alive in “one of the most dangerous places in the world”, including having to “fight with aboriginals you invaded their home!”.

The petition, which has been signed by more than 50,000 people since it was set up on Friday, called for the app to be pulled from mobile stores, adding that “killing indigenous Australians is not a game”.

“Selling games that promote racism and negative stereotypes of indigenous Australians is not acceptable,” the petition added.

By mid-day on Saturday, the app had been pulled from the two dominant smartphone app stores Apple’s iTunes store as well as Google Play.

A spokeswoman for tech giant Google, which offers apps through Google Play on its Android mobile platforms, would not comment on the game but said the tech giant would remove “applications that violate our policies”.

Apple did not immediately respond to AFP requests for comment, and the game’s developer could not be immediately reached for comment.

Australia’s Race Discrimination Commissioner Tim Soutphommasane wrote on Twitter that it was “unacceptable to see such promotion of violence and hatred against Aboriginal people”.

Aborigines, the most disadvantaged Australians, are believed to have numbered around one million at the time of British settlement.

There are now just 470,000 out of a total Australian population of 23 million, and they suffer disproportionate levels of disease, imprisonment and social problems as well as significantly lower education, employment and life expectancy.

Xiaomi MiPad Tablet Price Slashed in India

Xiaomi MiPad Tablet Price Slashed in India

Xiaomi India on Friday announced that the MiPad tablet will now be available at Rs. 10,999, down Rs. 2,000 from the launch price.

The Chinese company announced the news in a tweet and confirmed that the tablet will be available at the new prices from the company’s store and Flipkart. Notably, this is the first permanent price cut of the MiPad tablet in India. To recall, the MiPad tablet was unveiled in India back in March last year at Rs. 12,999.

The price cut of the Xiaomi MiPad indicates that we may see the successor being unveiled in India soon. The company launched the Xiaomi Mi Pad 2 tablet with Android OS-based version in November. The tablet came in two storage variants – 16GB and 64GB – which were priced at CNY 999 (approximately Rs. 10,300) and CNY 1,299 (approximately Rs. 13,500) respectively. A version running Windows 10 was also launched in only a 64GB variant, and was priced the same as the 64GB Android variant.

To recap on the Xiaomi MiPad, the tablet was initially unveiled in 2014 in China. The tablet is powered by a ‘4+1’-core Nvidia Tegra K1 SoC ARM Cortex-A15 processor clocked at 2.2GHz with the 192-core Kepler GPU coupled with 2GB of LPDDR3 RAM.

The Xiaomi MiPad features a 7.9-inch QXGA (2048×1536 pixel) IPS Retina display resolution with a pixel density of 324ppi, all of which is protected by Corning Gorilla Glass 3 screen. Other specifications include an 8-megapixel rear camera with a Sony BSI sensor that can shoot full-HD resolution videos. It also features a 5-megapixel front-facing camera that includes an OmniVision sensor. Both cameras come with an f/2.0 aperture. Connectivity options of the tablet include dual-band Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac and Bluetooth 4.0. The MiPad tablet is backed by a 6700mAh Li-ion battery and is available in Black, White, Red, Blue, Green and Yellow colour variants. The tablet measures 135.4×202.1×8.5mm and weighs 360 grams.

Sony’s Multifunctional Light Is a Smart Bulb That’s Also a Speaker

Sony's Multifunctional Light Is a Smart Bulb That's Also a Speaker

Sony arguably deserves the award for some of the most interesting product launches at this year’s CEStrade show. The Japanese company took everyone by surprise when it unveiled the new PS-HX500 turntable, and now, after the trade show, the company unveiled a product called the Multifunctional Light.

As the name suggests, the Multifunctional Light is much more than your regular light bulb. Featuring Toshiba’s LED lighting tech, the Multifunctional Light can connect to your smartphone or Wi-Fi and can be scheduled to turn on as per your convenience. But that’s not all.

The Multifunctional Light comes equipped with motion, temperature, humidity, and luminance sensors. The company says that the Multifunctional Light can sense when a user enters the room, and can automatically control the light as well as the TV or an air conditioner. The Multifunctional Light also doubles as a 5W speaker and a microphone. A user could utilise the Light to play music or listen to messages.

There’s no word on pricing, however, and we also don’t know when and if Sony will launch the Multifunctional Light outside its home market, where it is said to be available to purchase in the first half of 2016.

Sony has had an eventful year so far. It utilised the CES trade show pretty efficiently launching a range of products including some Walkman models, ultra-thin TVs, 4K handycams and action cameras,wireless speakers, headphones, and a Blu-ray player.

While still in the nascent phase, the market for IoT products is growing at a rapid pace. Samsung, LG,Philips already have a rich offering in the field. Newcomers such as Cube26 are also enticing users with their new low-priced gadgets.

Beware of the ‘good for what it is’ speaker syndrome


I keep hearing the phrase, “it’s good for what it is,” used when salespeople and knowledgeable audiophiles are queried about wireless speaker systems. So what they’re really saying is, it’s not all that good, it’s just acceptable for what it is. That qualifier is a significant loophole, it’s like saying this frozen pizza is good for what it is, but it’s a far cry from a slice you’d get from a decent neighborhood pizzeria.

The $129 alternative to crappy wireless speaker sound

I give “good for” praise a little more slack when it refers to inexpensive, pint-size Bluetooth speakers, and I would agree, they can sound borderline acceptable, but still far below the standards set by affordable wired speakers such as the Monoprice 108250 (aka Model 8250) two-way bookshelf speakers, which are currently selling for $48.74 a pair on Amazon, with free shipping for Prime customers. You’ll also need an amplifier to play those speakers, and I like the $80 Dayton DTA-120, 50-watt-per-channel amp a lot. The Monoprice speaker and Dayton amp are a killer budget combo that together sell for less than the price of one Sonos Play:1 wireless speaker ($199 each), and the Monoprice/Dayton stereo system sounds so much better.

Of course, if a single “good for what it is” Play:1 speaker gets the job done for you, that’s great — enjoy! But if you’d like to hear better stereo sound filling your room, consider the Monoprice/Dayton system. Plug a smartphone or computer’s headphone output into the Dayton amp, and you’re good to go.

I’ve heard conversations in audio stores between customers and salespeople about wireless vs. wired speakers, and they usually follow the same course. Customer asks about Sonos or some other wireless speaker, they might listen a bit, and then sometimes buy the wireless speaker. That’s fine, but if the customers get around to listening to wired speakers, there’s a good chance they’ll buy those instead. Simply because theyheard the difference — that’s key. Once they hear better sound, it’s hard to go back to “good for what they are” speakers.

The last time I witnessed this scenario in a high-end shop, the customer first listened to a $1,500 Naim Mu-so wireless speaker, and they were very impressed with the sound. I agree, it is one of the better wireless speakers — it’s good for what it is, and the Mu-so looks great. But for a little more than $1,500 you can buy a much better-sounding wired stereo system, with the Pioneer Elite SP-EBS73-LR speakers ($749 per pair) and the Yamaha A-S801stereo integrated amplifier, which has a street price around $900. The difference in sound quality isn’t subtle, but yes, the Mu-so is good for what it is, a single speaker you can play from your smartphone. If that’s your priority, go for it — just don’t tempt yourself and listen to a decent pair of wired speakers and a nice amp.

Beyerdynamic DT 1770 Pro headphones feel and sound like a contender for the price

When I first donned Beyerdynamic’s new studio reference DT 1770 Pro headphone it was the comfort that surprised me. For once ear pad pressure against my noggin was commendably low. As high-end headphones go, the DT 1770 Pro is right up there with the easiest to wear for extended periods of time. The sound was definitely up to Beyerdynamic’s high standards.

Design wise, I like the DT 1770 Pro’s fresh look, it’s a handsome headphone. It features the latest advancements in Beyerdynamic drivers, which are now called “Tesla 2.0”; and the 45mm driver is ahigh impedance, 250 ohm design, intended for home, not portable use. That said, good quality portables like my FiiO X5 Gen 2 sounded great with the DT 1770 Pro. It’s a closed-back, over-the-ear design, and it did a good job blocking external noise. It comes with two 10 foot (3 meter) cables, one straight, one coiled; the cables plug into the left ear cup via a locking mini XLR connector. You get two sets of ear cushions, velour and artificial leather, and a large carry case. The headphone weighs 13.7 ounces (388 grams) but feels lighter than that. The US retail price is $599, £399 in the UK and AU$886 in Australia. The DT 1770 Pro also comes with a two-year warranty.


Listening to Ryuichi Sakamoto and Alva Noto’s deeply atmospheric “The Revenant” soundtrack was a real thrill. Low bass tremors, swooshing synths and careening strings were all bathed in deep reverberation that seemed to come from all around my head: the DT 1770 Pro could do no wrong.

Swapping between the DT 1770 Pro and my high-impedance (600 ohm) Beyerdynamic DT 880 Pro headphones, the first thing I noticed was the difference in tonal balance. While the DT 880 Pro’s sound is leaner and cooler, the DT 1770 Pro is fuller and warmer. There’s an undeniable solidity to the sound of the DT 1770 Pro, and dynamics punch harder. Listening to The Antenna Repairmen’s ceramic percussion CD, “Ghatam,” there’s a tactile “feel” of hands and sticks hitting, striking, slapping and rubbing ceramic pots as well as discs with the DT 1770 Pro, and I get less of the texture with the DT 880 Pros. That’s another way of saying the DT 1770 Pro is a higher resolution headphone than the DT 880 Pro, but to be fair the DT 880 Pro sells for around half the price of the DT 1770 Pro.

Next up, I compared the DT 1770 Pro with my Audeze EL-8 open-back headphones. The closed-back DT 1770 Pros didn’t sound appreciably less spacious than the EL-8s, and the DT 1770 Pros did a better job defining the sound of Willie Dixon’s string bass on Muddy Waters “Folk Singer” album, which has long been one of my go-to references. The acoustic guitars and Waters’ vocals were clearer on the EL-8, but the DT 1770 Pro’s sound had more body and physical presence. As a result, I felt it did a better job putting me in the room with the musicians.

The DT 1770 Pro looks, feels and sounds like a strong contender in its price class.