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Hisense adds AI-cameras to handsets

Hisense has entered the AI-camera space with the Infinity H30, aimed at the mid-range market. BRYAN TURNER tests the new camera technology.

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While many know Hisense for its TVs and appliances, it has an impressive lineup of smartphones. Its latest Infinity H30 smartphone packs a serious punch in the mid-range market, including features like a low-bezel screen and AI camera.

Out the box, the phone comes with the usual charger, charging cable and earphones. There is a surprise in the box: a screen protector and a clear case. A nice value-add to the already affordable smartphone.  

The polycarbonate plastic body feels premium, especially for a device in this price range. It has a colour changing body, depending on the angle at which it is held. The colour of the device we reviewed is called Ice Blue, and shimmers in darker and lighter blues. Aesthetically, this is a big win for Hisense.

The 6.5″ screen is a narrow-bezelled FHD+ display with good colour replication. Hisense is known for creating colour-accurate displays and it’s good to see it continue this legacy in its smartphones. The shape of the display is interesting, taking some design notes from Huawei’s Dewdrop display with what Hisense calls the “U-Infinity Display”. It makes the phone look really good. 

On the rear of the phone, one finds a dual-camera setup with fingerprint sensor. On the bottom of the phone, there is a speaker, a USB Type-C Port and a headphone jack. The speaker’s placement on the bottom isn’t optimal and the sound is muffled if one accidentally covers the single speaker area.

The 4,530mAh non-removable battery is very capable, providing a good 12 hours of medium usage (checking messages every half hour and playing an online game every hour) until it reaches 20%. The battery capacity isn’t the only power feature of the device; it runs on the latest Android Pie operating system, which includes AI power-saving software measures to keep background apps from using battery.

It is a little disappointing to see the device came with some pre-installed games. Fortunately, one can uninstall them. Hisense makes up for this by issuing Android updates and security patches as the come out. This, coupled with the MediaTek Octa Core processor, provides a good user experience for playing games and multi-tasking.

The H30 has a whopping 128GB of on-board storage, and it can be expanded even more with a MicroSD card. The 4G-LTE capabilities are perfect for most high-speed broadband situations, with around 40Mbps download and around 10Mbps upload in an area with good cell service.

The 20+2MP rear camera configuration is good at taking shots on Auto mode, but pictures can be better after figuring out all the camera modes available. There is a professional mode for those who want to be extra creative with their photography. It also includes a baby mode, which plays various noises to make a baby look at the phone for a better picture. The AI mode can be enabled to make full use of the processor in the device, and fif the camera mode to be selected based on scenes photographed. 

The 20MP front camera performs equally as well. This camera is the reason for the U-like shape at the top of the screen. The camera app has beauty-face filters, for those wanting a slimmer face or smoother skin.

Overall, the Infinity H30 is a prime example of a good phone in an affordable price range.  The camera is very capable, and the AI processing helps what would otherwise be a regular camera. The aesthetically pleasing colour saves the day, and makes this mid-range device look like a high-end flagship. The device is retailing for R5,499 from most major carriers.

Product of the Day

IFA 2019: Dell puts 10th gen Intel Core in laptops

Ahead of IFA, Dell has announced its consumer portfolio with new form factors and the addition of 10th Gen Intel Core processors to its current XPS and Inspiron portfolio. It is likely that the devices will go on display at IFA 2019 in Berlin at the beginning of September.

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Dell says its latest consumer portfolio refresh can deliver performance gains needed for compute-intensive, demanding, multi-thread workloads, while still handling 4K content efficiently. In doing so, Dell says it gives heavyweight performance in a thin, light and portable design.

XPS 13

The refreshed XPS 13 will be available in the USA on 27 August, along with some of the models housing Intel 10th Gen Core U series processors, while i7 hexacore models will be available in October.

With the new Killer AX1650 (2×2) built on Intel WiFi 6 Chipset, wireless connectivity is three times as fast as the previous generation. Along with Dell CinemaColor, Dolby Vision and an optional 4K Ultra HD InfinityEdge display, the XPS 13 will remain eye candy for those glued to their screen. 

The XPS will be available with either Windows 10 or Ubuntu 18.04 LTS, the latter serving as the foundation of the XPS 13 developer edition, now in its 9th generation. Ubuntu versions also mean lower cost due to not having to pay for Windows bundled with the computer. 

Inspiron 14 7000

With the latest 10th Gen Intel Core processors, Dell says it is putting premium materials and performance to its Inspiron line with the introduction of the new Inspiron 14 7000 ultralight laptops. Weighing under 1.1 kg, this impressively portable design was achieved through introducing a lightweight yet durable magnesium alloy chassis.

It features a new lid-open sensor, Connected Modern Standby and fingerprint reader built into the power button. The system signs on securely and starts in a flash. The stylish laptop features all-around narrow borders with 100% sRGB colour coverage, great for mobile multitasking.

For more specs, details, pricing and availability, follow Gadget on Twitter.

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Acer’s latest Chromebook means serious business

The latest Acer Chromebooks for business have arrived in South Africa. BRYAN TURNER reviewed the Acer Chromebook 715.

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The Chromebook market has been perceived as very consumer-focused, until the recent introduction of management tools for Chrome OS.

To complement these corporate management tools, Acer has released the Chromebook 715, aimed at the business person that works in the cloud, in South Africa.

The unit we reviewed contained an Intel Core i5-8250U, 16GB of RAM, and 128GB of eMMC storage. All of this was housed in a sturdy aluminium body. 

On the left side, the computer features a USB Type-C port for charging and data transfer, a standard USB Type-A port, and a headphone jack, while on the right it has a Kensington Lock, another USB Type-C port just for connectivity and a microSD card slot. 

When open, the narrow bezelled 15.6″-inch display has a Full HD resolution for crisp lettering in documents. The wide colour gamut also ensures that colours are accurately represented on screen. 

The keyboard features a first for Chromebooks: a num-pad. This is especially useful for those working with spreadsheets on Google Sheets or Excel Online, or accountants working in web apps like Xero.

The overall design of this computer shows the professional look Acer was going for with a business-facing Chromebook. It has a grey aluminium body, which looks heavy, but comes to a mere 1.8kg. It’s much lighter than it looks for an almost 16″ laptop.

The performance is great and switching between web apps is fast. This is thanks to the embedded i5 processor, which doesn’t make as much of a noise as its Windows counterparts.

The computer isn’t for the “slashie”: those who run their personal and business lives on the same device. As a result, games don’t run on the computer because it doesn’t run applications. This asserts the device’s status as a purely business-focused device.

Apart from the hardware features, the computer is handled via the lightweight Chrome OS. 

Chrome OS is Google’s answer for those who only work with web apps, and don’t want their computer’s performance hindered by unnecessary apps. With the increasing power offered from web apps, the computer application as we know is likely to disappear eventually. 

With Google’s Apps for Work platform, the Chromebook lends itself to the same admin management tools that exist on other platforms. 
The integrated 45 Wh battery may seem small but operates for around 9 hours, thanks to the lightweight software and good battery management.  

Overall, for those who want a no-nonsense approach to computing, the Acer Chromebook 715 may be their best next device. However, its pricing at R7,999 may deter those who would expect to pay less.

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