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We’ve seen tonnes of wireless audio gadgets from China — we’ve also done a list of the best Apple AirPods alternatives — out of which, most have, on an average, been sufficiently good.
However, if there’s still a market that’s rather unexplored, that of quality stereo Bluetooth earphones that sound good, and just… work.
And that’s where Air by crazybaby attempts to hit jackpot. Lets have a look in this review to see just how far it gets.
There happen to be a lot of market segments, mostly extremely price-sensitive, where the packaging and presentation doesn’t really hold much value. Air by crazybaby, certainly, doesn’t happen to fall in that category.
What you’ll also be happy to find is that the gadget comes pretty nicely packed in a nice and small retail box. Inside, you find a very interesting-looking metal ‘capsule’ containing the business material including some other extras like earplug tips, literature, etc. stuffed on the bottom side of the box.
These earphones are probably the most comfortable fit I’ve ever used. It’s certainly way more easy to use than a pair of IEMs, which don’t really go well with me. crazybaby also offer a ‘leash’ for people who are paranoid about losing/damaging the earbuds, which should be really hard to do in my opinion.
As for the music quality, the buds offer a surprisingly rich sound. By ‘rich’ I don’t refer to bass-heavy sound, but instead something that sounds extremely natural and yes, with enough bass. I’ll be honest (while certainly attempting to not sound like I’m trying to sell these buds) in saying that I prefer the sound of these buds over a lot of wired earphones I’ve owned in the past, including some really expensive ones.
I’m told the earbuds come with “0.20” (5.2 mm) Custom-made Hi-Fidelity MicroDrivers” which deliver the sound that I’ve come to love. Also, I’m pretty sure the buds required little or no ‘burn in’ to sound the way they do now.Gizchina News of the week
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According to the tech spec of the product, Air by crazybaby also come with passive noise cancelation. And doesn’t it work well! Just to ensure I was right about it, I made a few others use the pair of earphones to check of the noise cancelation, and pretty much everyone had the same sentiment about the feature — it worked really well.
The earbuds also come with a mic on them, which lets you take calls without having to shift to your phone. However, in my usage, the mic has been rather poor. I’ve had to switch to my phone in between calls, which isn’t the most convenient thing to do. For some reason, the earbuds’ built-in mic doesn’t catch voice well enough, which makes it pretty unusable for me during calls.
Battery life on these buds has been very satisfactory too. According to the factory, you can get around 3 hours (music)/4 hours (talktime) on a single charge. On the other hand, the innovative battery capsule storage unit will afford you another 8-9 hours of usage. In my usage, I’ve been able to independently verify that the 3 hours claim is very well true, while it’s a bit difficult measuring 12+ hours with the capsule.
In my opinion, the idea to have a ‘reservoir’ battery is a huge hit. We’re pretty much always using our gadgets these days, and it makes sense to extend the battery life of a gadget, albeit at the expense of longevity (I’m not even sure if that’s the case here, but let’s assume it in the worst case).
Connectivity has been pretty good, but not as good as the rest of the package. The earbuds are really simple to use — you can press and hold the button on the back of the buds to turn them on and then they’re immediately available to pair. However, for some reason, the earbuds won’t work with my MacBook Pro. I’ve used them with a few other phones, and they work more or less flawlessly.
There’s just this little stutter I hear on the right earbud at times, I’m guessing which happens only when the battery is low. These are the only two gripes I have with the connectivity part of Air by crazybaby.
Air by crazybaby come with a retail price tag of $169 (I think they’re $30 a bit too steep at that). For the unaware, the gadget started as a crowdfunded project, which raised a total of $2,761,399 by the end of 2024… which is a lot of money. However, it’s nice to see the company deliver and in a rather satisfactory manner.
You can learn more about Air by crazybaby here, where you’ll also find info on how you can purchase some for yourself.
You're reading Air By Crazybaby Review: Fancy And Nice
Wide colour gamut
Quick response timeCons
Poor viewing angles
Lacklustre soundOur Verdict
The TCL 55DP648 is a good looking and affordable TV if you’re looking for a large set with a 4K resolution and HDR support. Although the TV offers a decent colour gamut and a quick response time for gaming, it’s let down by a plethora of problems elsewhere. Namely we’re talking about the dramatic lack of brightness and poor viewing angles.
Not everyone has thousands to spend on a new TV, but you also don’t want to buy something sub-standard and regret it. Hisense is a great shout for a great value TV but now has a rival in the form of TCL, another Chinese brand. Here we review the 55DP648 which is under £500.TCL 55DP648: Price & Where to buy
Although the 55DP648 has an RRP of £599 it’s one of those ones where it’s not really been on sale at that price.
Instead, you can get it for around £495 at various retailers including Amazon, AO and Boots (an AO site in disguise).
That’s an impressive price point for a large size TV with a 4K resolution and HDR support and puts it in competition with sets like the Hisense U7A and to some extent, the Philips 6703.TCL 55DP648: Design & Features
These days you don’t need to splash out on a TV to get stylish design. We prefer the U7A from Hisense but the TCL is decent for the sub-£500 price.
You get slim bezels around the display and the panel itself is very thin, too, at under 10mm. The sleek lines are only interrupted by a round power button.
Like most TVs the 55DP648 is wall-mountable if you like. Alternatively, just sit it on the spiky legs. These are quite close to the sides of the TV so there’s a possible issue if you want to put the set on a small stand with the display over hanging.
The remote supplied works well enough but it’s an oddly thin and long shape like a wand. There are buttons for Netflix and Freeview Play which you’ll need (just like the Bush Smart TV from Argos.)TCL 55DP648: Setup & Interface
Setting up the TV is pretty simple and straight forward. The ports are all lined up vertically on the back and include three HDMI ports, Ethernet (there’s also Wi-Fi) and two USB 2.0 ports. We’d like more, of course, but that’s what you get with a cheaper set.
What’s really odd, and frankly stupid, is that HDMI 2.0 is switched off by default so you’ll have to find it and turn it on in the menu. Leave it switched off and colours from HDR sources look awful.
The Roku smart engine used for TCL TVs in the US would be nice but we’re stuck with a basic system here. Overall, the interface is easy enough to navigate all though there are some oddities like the sports mode being in the system section of the menu rather than display.
It’s also fairly sluggish in use and although there’s only a button for Netflix, there are various other services available via Freeview Play such as BBC iPlayer and ITV Hub. There’s also 4K YouTube via the basic Home menu.
Netflix supports 4K HDR, but there’s no Amazon Prime Video, Now TV or the like.TCL 55DP648: Performance
A cheap set with nice design and a few good features is all well and good, but whether you should buy one really hinges on the performance of the panel itself.
Let’s start with the positives,. Colour gamut is good for a TV at this price and it supports HDR10 and HLG (hybrid-log gamma). Unfortunately you will have to do some tweaking to see these colours as the default settings are for fairly muted tones.
Upscaling HD content to 4K is pretty good and a quick response time means this is a good choice if you’re going to do a lot of gaming. Having the Ultra HD resolution means the image is nice and crisp.
Sadly, the good news ends there.
Our biggest gripe is the poor brightness. The TCL 55DP648 peaks at just under 300 nits which is not good at all for an HDR TV. It means the image looks dull and you don’t get those blinding whites that you’ll see on – admittedly more expensive – sets from Samsung’s higher ranges.
Annoyingly, brightness is adjusted automatically and the image regularly dimmed for no apparent reason. We scoured the menus to find and disable any ambient light sensors, dynamic contrast settings and anything else, but either couldn’t find these things or turning them off had no effect whatsoever.
Compounding this is fairly poor viewing angles; only sitting square on does the picture look its best. Oh, and there’s no Dolby Vision support.
Backlighting comes from edge-mounted LEDs and we noticed a bit of light leakage from the top edge and and lighting isn’t particularly even across the panel. Darker areas of the picture lack detail and aren’t really deep black.A mysterious feature called Mix Dimming doesn’t seem to help either.
Motion isn’t handled (there’s no motion processing at all) so camera pans and objects moving quickly across the screen have an amount of jerkiness that can’t go unnoticed. We’ve not mentioned audio yet which, in a word, is lacklustre.Verdict
If you’re looking for a 4K HDR TV for under £500 then the TCL 55DP648 might appear to be a bargain.
It’s got a stylish design with its thin panel which has good colour gamut and better upscaling than you’d expect at this price. It’s also got a very quick response time for all the gamers out there.
However, the set’s very poor brightness was a constant source of disappointment creating a lacklustre experience across the board. It proves that you can buy a TV with HDR support that can look worse than a regular 4K set.
Add in poor viewing angles and uninspiring audio and it’s hard to recommend this TV. If you can afford it, spend a little more and buy the Hisense U7A.Specs TCL 55DP468: Specs
Screen size/resolution: 55in, 3840 x 2160 pixels
HDR10, HLG support
Contrast ratio: Not stated
Brightness: 320 nits
Speakers: 16W (2 x 8W)
Built-in tuner: Freeview Play
Inputs: 3 x HDMI (all support HDCP2.2, ARC via HDMI2)
Outputs: Digital audio optical, headphone jack
Networking: 10/100 Ethernet, 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi
Ports and slots: 2 x USB 2.0
Physical dimensions (w/o stand): 1227 x 765 x 9.9mm (w/h/d)
Average power consumption: 70W (average), A Energy rating
Warranty: 2 onsite home repair
Four years ago, I wondered why Apple sold such seemingly simple plastic docks for $29, so I cut two of them in half to see what was inside. I was impressed: in addition to a larger-than-expected collection of electronic components, they were filled with substantial zinc plates that kept Apple’s devices standing safely upright, no easy feat since the docks kept shrinking every year. The only problem: most (but not all) of Apple’s docks have been model-specific and case-unfriendly, issues that were particularly pronounced in the official iPhone 5s Dock and iPhone 5c Dock. When Twelve South released the handsome multi-device and case-compatible HiRise and HiRise Deluxe, many people — including me — had no need for a more limited, Apple-designed alternative.
Somewhat belatedly, Apple has just released the iPhone Lightning Dock ($39), its first docking solution for the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus. It’s not clear why Apple took its time releasing this accessory, which uncharacteristically has a 2014 date on the back of its box. But it’s the dock Apple should have released three years ago, delivering case compatibility, multi-device support, and the expected Apple minimalism. It has no back support for your iPhone, instead relying on a stiffened and modestly padded Lightning connector to hold your device on the traditional Apple light recline. And it also includes an audio-out port, which has been absent from all of its third-party rivals. Now that Apple has released the right sort of dock, should you consider buying one?…
Apple’s first official Lightning docking solution for iPhone 6/6+
Also officially compatible with iPhone 5/5c/5s and iPod touch (5th-gen); unofficially works with iPad Airs and iPad minis.
No cables, power source included
Has headphone audio out port
Unlike its earlier Lightning docks for iPhones, Apple has pared down the iPhone Lightning Dock to the barest essentials. Made mostly from glossy white plastic, it has a gray rubber bottom with an embossed Apple logo, just like past iPad, iPhone, and iPod docks. But there’s notably no recessed “well,” front lip, or other support for the device besides the strength of the Lightning plug that sticks up from the roughly 2.6″ by 1.9″ by 0.3″ glossy plastic base.
Defying Apple’s past Lightning accessory guidelines, which called for a surrounding support platform roughly as large as the abandoned Dock Connector plug — an unnecessary design requirement that helped to kill the third-party Lightning accessory market — the integrated Lightning connector’s soft plastic base measures a mere 12 millimeters in width and 6 millimeters in depth. Though it will come as no surprise to users of third-party docks that have depended on elevated Apple cables to achieve the same function, this nub simultaneously enables the Lightning plug to connect with and support encased devices. Since nearly 80% of iPhone owners use cases, many people will consider this to be a welcome improvement.
Given its pleasant design and multi-device support, the only potential deal-breakers with the iPhone Lightning Dock are its price point and limited incompatibility with certain cases. Apple has for some reason jacked the price up to $39 from the $29 it charged for the iPhone 5c and 5s Docks. This makes the iPhone Lightning Dock more expensive than the metallic Twelve South HiRise, which similarly requires you to supply your own Lightning cable, but comes in silver or black versions. By comparison, the silver, black, or gold HiRise Deluxe includes its own cables and is designed to adjust to various case thicknesses and depths, while selling for roughly the same price as an iPhone Lightning Dock plus an official Apple Lightning Cable. I’d personally pick one of the HiRises over the iPhone Lightning Dock, but if you prefer Apple’s design, it’s a good enough option to broadly recommend.
Apple $40 Lightning iPhones, iPods, iPad Airs/minis
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Although it seemed like Apple would completely discontinue the MacBook Air, it’s done the opposite by making it better than ever. At long last the much-loved laptop has been given the refresh it deserves with not on a gold option but more importantly, a Retina display, new internals, Touch ID and more.Best Prices Today: Apple MacBook Air (2024)
You’d be forgiven for thinking that Apple was going to discontinue the MacBook Air, given the lack of attention it had for a few years. Short of making the build-to-order options on the 2024 MacBook Air the standard options, Apple had left the one-time lightest Mac untouched.
Despite the lack of attention, the MacBook Air has remained a popular choice for people looking to get a Mac but not wanting to spend a fortune. That’s probably what saved the MacBook Air, which was finally updated at Apple’s special event on 30 October 2023.
Notice: The MacBook Air 2023 is now discontinued so please read our MacBook Air 2023 review for the latest model. Below is our original review if you are looking to buy this model second-hand or refurbished.Design & Build: Good as gold
The MacBook Air was previously only available in the silver aluminium finish, but now, taking a leaf from the MacBook book, it is available in three different colours: Gold, Silver and Space Grey.
It seemed that everyone at the Apple event in New York loved the Gold model, as seen below. This is the one we have on review and we suspect that it’s the one that’s getting all the attention because it’s so different. It’s a very different shade of gold to what we’ve seen from Apple before, we’d say it’s more like brass or copper. It’s dark not pale.
To be honest we’re not sure that we like it as much as the gold MacBook or the gold iPhone shades, but assume that Apple is trying to make it appeal to men with this particular shade. We expect that the Space Grey option will prove popular. But if you want everyone on the train to know that you have a new MacBook Air the gold model is the one to get.
More than the colour choices we’d say we love the fact that this MacBook Air is built from 100 percent recycled aluminium. Although, this is more of a pat on the back for Apple, and for anyone who buys one, for being a little bit more environmentally friendly.
The colour and the materials it’s made from aren’t the only physical changes though. While it’s still recognisable as a MacBook Air, thanks to its wedge design with the edge tapering off at the narrowest point, in terms of dimensions, it’s smaller and thinner than before.
The new model’s dimensions are as follows:
30.41 x 21.24 x 1.56cm (tapering to 0.41cm at it’s narrowest point)
The old model measured:
32.5 x 22.7 x 1.7cm (tapering to 0.3cm)
It now weighs 1.25kg, compared to 1.35kg previously, which is negligible but an improvement nonetheless. We use an old 2024 MacBook Pro and there is a decent difference in the weight between these two models. We didn’t feel weighed down at all by the new MacBook Air when we carried it between work and home. At 1.25kg it weighs about the same as a 700-page hardback book.
It’s interesting to note that the narrowest edge is slightly bigger than before, by just over a millimetre. This tiny detail is insignificant given the 2cm lost from the length and 1.5cm lost from the width. And the fact that it’s thinner overall. The tapered design of the MacBook Air has always been a clever way to shave weight from the unit.
The real achievement is that Apple has slimmed down and shrunk the MacBook Air while maintaining the same screen size of 13.3in. This is thanks to the slimmer bezels around the edge of the display.Screen: Eye-catching Retina display
The MacBook Air has finally got a Retina display and it’s one of the most obvious upgrades. The Retina display first arrived in 2010 with the iPhone 4 and has been available on all other Macs since the MacBook arrived in 2024. So it’s been a long time coming.
The Retina display is just as good as the Retina displays on other Macs, so if you have been using a MacBook or recent MacBook Pro, then the screen will be comparable. But if you are moving up from the old MacBook Air, the screen couldn’t look more different. It’s a big leap from the previous generation’s 1,440×900 pixels to the new 2,560×1,600 native resolution at 227 pixels per inch (the same as the 13in MacBook Pro). It’s still a 16:10 aspect ratio.
Thanks to the Retina display your photos will look beautiful with vibrant colours, text is crisp and clear, and if you watch movies on your laptop then you will benefit from all those extra pixels – the native resolution is now enough to view a movie in Full HD (1,920×1,080) – it wasn’t previously. The only disappointment is that it doesn’t offer True Tone, which is reserved for the MacBook Pro and adjusts the light according to the local conditions, it’s unlikely to be hugely missed feature though.
On the older MacBook Air the screen was surrounded by thick aluminium bezels, but this time around the glass stretches almost to the edge of the laptop, with a tiny metal rim around the edge that is hardly noticeable. The screen itself starts less than a centimetre from the edge, but because the glass bezels are black it looks a lot better and more modern.
When we met with Apple we asked why the company hadn’t added Face ID as a means to unlock the new Air, they told us that Face ID makes sense on the iPhone because that device is thicker, and can accommodate the technology required. To add such technology to the MacBook Apps would need to make the display thicker.Touch ID
Instead of Face ID, Touch ID makes an appearance in the form of a new sensor above the keyboard. We’re glad that Apple continues to add Touch ID to devices, despite removing it from iPhones, and now the iPad Pro 2023.
When you log on your password is required to enable Touch ID, however, the next time your Mac goes to sleep because you’ve left your desk for a few minutes you can unlock it just by touching your finger on the Touch ID pad – similar to the way your Mac can unlock thanks to the proximity of your Apple Watch.
You can also use Touch ID rather than enter your password every time you want to make a change in System Preferences. You’ll also be able to use authorise Apple Pay payments using Touch ID on sites that use Apple’s payment system and on the Mac App Store (once you have confirmed that you want to use Touch ID for future purchases).
We’re glad that Apple hasn’t added the Touch Bar, as seen on the MacBook Pro, to the MacBook Air as we feel that the Touch Bar is a gimmick that doesn’t really add much other than an extra layer of complication. Read about how the MacBook Pro compares to the MacBook Air here. Touch ID makes much more sense as an addition than a Touch Bar, as it’s about security for the average punter.Hey Siri
Another addition is Apple’s T2 chip that also appears in the MacBook Pro and iMac Pro. The T2 is an Apple-made processor that looks after security features as well as powering Siri so that it’s always listening. (On Macs without the T2 chip you trigger Siri by pressing and holding Command and Space together.)
Before Siri arrived on the Mac we thought there wasn’t much point, we don’t want to be the one in the office talking to our Mac. However, when you are using the Mac at home it’s slightly less embarrassing to speak to Siri, and there are some benefits in doing so.
You can do things that would normally take a few steps, for example: “Turn on Bluetooth”. The only problem is that with a HomePod in the room we were just triggering that, which became more than frustrating especially when the HomePod would tell us it couldn’t do something that Siri on our Mac would have been able to do. It would be good if you could direct your Siri requests to a specific device.
What can you actually use Hey Siri for? You can ask “Hey Siri read [name’s] last message to me” and it will and ask you if you’d like to reply. “Hey Siri open Pages”. “Hey Siri change the wallpaper”. It’s still rather limited though. Here are things you can ask Siri on your Mac.Keyboard & Track Pad
It’s worth mentioning the keyboard because it’s considerably different to the keyboard on the old MacBook Air – which we actually loved. It’s the same ‘butterfly’ keyboard as the one on the 2023 MacBook Pro, so-called because of the shape of the mechanism below each key.
This is one benefit the MacBook Air has over the 2023 MacBook and the non-Touch Bar MacBook Pro. They are hindered by an issue that is causing some keyboard to stop working if a bit of dust gets trapped under a key. Apple appears to have rectified this issue in the new version of the butterfly keyboard, although it’s not mentioned it. Read more about the problems with the older butterfly keyboard here.
So, what is it like to use the keyboard on the new MacBook Air? We are used to using a Magic Keyboard with our iMac and we love the feel of typing on that. Using the keyboard on the new MacBook Air feels like it takes a bit more of an effort to press the keys, we’re not sure if its just that the keys move less and are quieter though, giving the impression that we aren’t hitting the key hard enough.
A friend who tried out the new keyboard loved it, so it probably depends on what you are used to. Whatever you think of the new keyboard, the design is a requirement for a narrower laptop, so probably worth the sacrifice.
Below the keyboard is a new, larger Force Touch trackpad that’s 20 percent larger than previously. One feature that the Force Touch trackpad brings is the ability to deep press on a word and see dictionary and thesaurus entries (and even translations).
The problem we have always had activating the touch pad while typing remains, with the cursor jumping up the page and our typing continuing in the middle of another section.Specs & Performance
The new MacBook Air’s offer the following as standard:
1.6GHz Dual-Core Intel Core i5, Turbo Boost to 3.6GHz
128GB or 256GB SSD
8GB 2133MHz LPDDR3 memory
Intel UHD Graphics 617
Build to order options include:
16GB RAM (previously only 8GB)
512GB or 1.5TB storage
The 1.6GHz processor is the Intel Amber Lake Core i5 CPU with no option for anything else, even if you’d be happy to pay more for a Core i7. Apple would rather point you in the direction of a MacBook Pro if this is a requirement.
These Amber Lake Y processors are lower powered than the Coffee Lake chips found in the MacBook Pro, but they should be suitable for every-day home and work use. Because they use less power the idea is that you get more battery life.
It’s important to note that the older MacBook Air which is still on sale with a 5th-generation (Broadwell) 1.8GHz processor, which is in no way faster than the 2023 MacBook Air. We can see this causing some confusion among some consumers though.Benchmarks
Clearly there is a humungous leap from the old MacBook Air to the new model, but just how does the 2023 MacBook Air stand up to the other Macs on sale right now?
In the Cinebench Open GL test we saw 35fps, in comparison to 39fps on the 2023 13in MacBook Pro and 25fps for the 2023 MacBook. In the Unigene Valley benchmark the 2023 Air got a score of 311 to the 2023 MacBook’s 267 and the 2023 13in MacBook Pro’s 448. When we ran the AJA Systems test we were surprised that it didn’t perform well in terms of write speed, while read speed was good.
The 2023 MacBook Air has a 50.3‑watt‑hour lithium‑polymer battery. Apple says battery life is “all-day” which is basically up to 12 hours. In fact you should be able to get 13 hours of iTunes video, according to Apple, more than enough for a transatlantic flight.
In our video loop test, the Air managed 10 hours and 45 minutes which is a solid result but there are laptops out there that can go longer.Connectivity & Audio
As we mentioned earlier, the fact that Apple is still selling the older MacBook Air is interesting because it shows that the company recognises that it needs to have a machine on offer that maintains the older USB-A port.
The new MacBook Air has only two Thunderbolt 3 ports and a headphone jack. Thunderbolt 3 comes via a USB-C connector and can be used for charging and to connect DisplayPort screens too. You’ll be able to power a 4K display or run an eGPU from one of those ports.
If you are considering moving from an older Mac laptop to the new MacBook Air you will need to consider how much of a pain it will be to move to USB-C/Thunderbolt. An adaptor costs £19.
We’d say that the Thunderbolt 3 ports are a useful addition but the lack of USB will be especially annoying for people who don’t want to fork out for an adaptor. The SD card reader is also gone which will frustrate photographers and the like.
Another issue to consider: we currently use an external screen with our Mac laptop, which we plug in using a Mini DisplayPort to DVI adaptor. Buying an adaptor to use a screen with a MacBook Air can be complicated as you need to specify not only what type of adaptor you are looking for, but whether it is male or female.
You are better off buying one of Apple’s adaptors because in our experience if you use a non-Apple adapter it might not work – although our problem here is that Apple doesn’t sell a USB C to to DVI adaptor. We are hoping that this Arktek offering works (£9.99). We also have a VGA monitor available so we are going to try out the Belkin USB-C to VGA Adaptor when it arrives (Apple sells it so we have some confidence it should work, although it’s £29.95). Hopefully one of these will work – we’ll update this when we receive them.
We also expect that there will be a few people mourning the loss of the trusty Magsafe power port that meant that if you tripped over the cable it would pop out without sending your Mac crashing to the floor. You may also miss the SDXC card slot that was on the older MacBook Air, but how many people use an actual camera these days?Price & Availability: Feeling flush
Note that this model is now discontinued and you won’t find it on sale anywhere unless it’s a refurbished unit. Even the 2023 model is now scarce and even then, the MacBook Air 2023 starts at just £999 and comes with a number of upgrades.
There’s really no reason to be buying a previous-gen MacBook Air unless you really can’t afford the latest model.
At the time of launch, we’d been lead to expect the new MacBook Air to cost less than £1,000/$1,000, but prices for the 2023 started at £1,199/$1,199 with the model with extra storage costing £1,399/$1,399.Verdict
We’re so happy that Apple has revived the MacBook Air. We were convinced that the company intended to remove it from the line up in favour of the MacBook. In fact, by updating the MacBook Air, Apple has thrown the regular MacBook into an existential crisis: with the Air now becoming the perfect laptop for anyone who values portability, the MacBook really doesn’t have a lot to offer.
We’re not completely sold on the gold option – but that’s no big deal as there are two other colour options available. We love the fact that it’s made from recycled aluminium. And we congratulate Apple on reducing the dimensions while still making a laptop that looks like the trademark Air.
Plenty of upgrades are welcome including the Retina display, new internals, Touch ID and more. Just be aware the change to USB-C might be quite a shock if you’re new to it.
Ultimately it is a matter of personal preference. Both these tablets stand head and shoulders above the rest of the 10in tablet world. They are thin and light, well made, designed and built. They offer great displays and excellent performance, decent cameras and so on. and they are priced the same. The main difference is that the iPad Air runs iOS7 and the Xperia Z2 Tablet runs Google’s Android OS. Both have their supporters – which one are you?
The iPad no longer has the tablet market to itself. As 7in Androids such as the Nexus 7 and Tesco Hudl offer cheaper but acceptable alternatives to the iPad mini, market share declines even as tablet sales go up. But the iPad Air remains the king of the 10in tablet in the premium space… until now. Sony’s Xperia Z2 Tablet changes things.
This is a premium tablet priced to match the iPad Air. And it doesn’t look out of place in such rarified company. the Xperia Z2 Tablet is thinner and lighter than the iPad Air, appears to be a better performer, and is waterproof and dustproof. So should you choose the Xperia Z2 Tablet over the iPad Air? Read our iPad Air vs Xperia Z2 Tablet comparison to find out.
For more on both read our individual reviews: Sony Xperia Z2 Tablet review: slim, light, powerful Android tablet is best iPad Air alternative and iPad Air review – latest iPad is great, but is the iPad still the best tablet? For a wider view of the tablet market, read: best tablets of 2014.iPad Air vs Xperia Z2 Tablet comparison: UK price
The Sony Xperia Z2 Tablet and the iPad Air both retail with a starting price of £399 for the 16GB WiFi-only model. In the case of the Xperia Z2 Tablet this scales up to £449 for the 32GB WiFi only model, and £499 for the 16GB LTE model. There’s no 32GB tablet with cellular connectivity, or anything with bigger storage.
The 32GB Wi-Fi iPad Air costs £30 more at £479. The 16GB LTE Sony Xperia Z2 Tablet costs the same as Apple’s equivalent iPad. Apple does offer a 32GB cellular model, at £579. Other options include 64GB and 128GB Wi-Fi only- and cellular iPad Airs. These range from £559 for the 64GB Wi-Fi iPad, up to £739 for a 128GB Wi-Fi and cellular iPad Air.
So there is more variety in the iPad Air range, but if you want a 32GB Wi-Fi-only tablet the Xperia Z2 Tablet is cheaper. One other thing to consider: a quick online search suggests that if you shop around you can get the Xperia Z2 Tablet cheaper than you can the iPad Air. But it’s marginal. Price is not a key differential when considering whether to buy the iPad air or Xperia Z2 Tablet. (See also: best Android tablets of 2014.)iPad Air vs Xperia Z2 Tablet comparison: build quality, design
Let’s look at the Sony, first. Straight out of the box we are smitten by the Xperia Z2 Tablet. It is the thinnest and lightest 10in tablet you can buy – noticably thinner and lighter than the iPad Air, which is itself famously easy to hold and carry. The Wi-Fi Xperia Z2 Tablet weighs just 426g – or 439g if you opt for the LTE version.
It’s exceptionally thin, too, at just 6.4mm. Again, that’s thinner than the iPad Air (and any other 7in or 10in tablet you can name).
And it matters, not just for reasons of tablet oneupmanship. Holding the Xperia Z2 Tablet feels great, despite the large, 10.1in display, and for lengthy periods of time in standing, sitting and lying positions. Previously we have preferred 7in tablets such as the Nexus 7 or iPad mini, simply because the bigger tablets feel to bulky to hold when watching movies or reading books. But you could spend hours using the Xperia Z2 Tablet without wrist-strain, even when reading in bed. That’s a big win.
It doesn’t, of course, solve the problem of having to carry your 10in tab in a bag where a Kindle-sized 7-incher can slip into a coat pocket – but the trade off of larger screen to weight and bulk feels like a deal worth making with the Xperia Z2.
And you can just sling this tablet into a bag, too. The Xperia Z2 Tablet is waterproof and dust resistant. It’s built to last and feels so, constructed principally of metal and glass, but with a rubbery outer coat around the back and on the corners. That rear cover provides grip but does get grubby with fingerprints, though.
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and your views may differ, but we think the Xperia 2 Tablet is a good-looking device, too. It’s a simple, stylish device. A slice of black or white tech sharing the same rounded corners and metal frame as the Sony Xperia Z2 smartphone but – to our eyes at least – looking somewhat smarter for larger scale. Our complaint is functional rather than stylistic, in that the bezel is a little larger than we would like. We presume that this is a trade-off in return for the incredible thinness (not a phrase ever used about your author). (See also: 10 best tablets for children.)
It’s available in black or white. We tested – and prefer – the black Xperia Tablet Z2.
The iPad Air is primarily a portrait-mode tablet in 3:4 aspect ratio, yet one that works well on its side in landscape. Contrast this with successive Google Android tablets that take a 16:9 widescreen, a shape that’s better for video but when used for reading webpages or ebooks in portrait you get an overly tall narrow window.
When we first tried the new iPad Air we though it quite widescreen in appearance, not unlike a 16:9 device. The proportions didn’t look right any more – by slimming the edges but not the sides, the tablet looked too tall, not so aesthetically ‘right’.
Foremost, the iPad Air is about lightness. We tried a 128GB iPad with 4G modem and on the scales this – the heaviest possible version of the iPad Air – does weigh just 478g, and is only 7.5mm thick. If you’ve used any previous full-size iPad, you’ll notice immediately the transformation from that circa-650g weight. But pick up the Xperia Z2 Tablet and you’ll notice further lightness.
In general handling, the iPad Air is very light none the less. Yet we found the shape and feel much less tactile than the shape of the iPad 2, 3 and 4, with their gently curved radiuses at the rear and smooth snag-free edges around the front. The iPad Air has harder, less well finished edges which may add more purchase to the fingers but make it less satisfying to handle.
You will decide which you prefer to look at based on subjective critera. But we prefer the Sony based on comfort when holding it, and it is dust- and waterproof. (See also: 10 best budget tablets of 2014.)iPad Air vs Xperia Z2 Tablet comparison: display
The design of both of these tablets is of course built around a 10in display. It’s the bit you’ll be looking at, so let’s take a closer look right now.
The Xperia Z2 Tablet in fact sports a full HD 10.1in display. This packs a whopping 1920×1200-pixel resolution, giving it a pixel density of 224ppi. That’s up there with some pretty decent smartphones, but not quite as sharp as the market-leading iPad Air. It’s an IPS display and the aspect ratio is 16:10, so viewing angles are good but there is a little screen space under utilised when watching movies.
Sony tells us that the Xperia Z2’s display has been given a colour boost thanks to TRILUMINOS and Live Colour LED – designed to increase the colour accuracy, depth and gradation. Which is nice.
Of course, all that is so much window dressing. What matters is that we found the Xperia Z2 Tablet’s display to be simply stunning. It displays crisp, vivid colours. Watching TV and movies is great. Photos are faithfully reproduced with great clarity but not too much colour as you sometimes find with OLED displays on smartphones. And text documents are sharp, even when you zoom in.
The Xperia Z2 Tablet’s touchscreen responsive in use, bar the almost imperceptible lag that is found on all Android devices when compared directly with their iOS equivalents. And from our initial roughhouse tests at least it seems reasonably immune to scratching. Our only complaint was that the display was all but impossible to see in natural daylight.
The iPad Air is primarily a portrait-mode tablet in 3:4 aspect ratio, yet one that works well on its side in landscape. When we first tried the new iPad Air we thought it quite widescreen in appearance, not unlike a 16:9 device. The proportions didn’t look right any more – by slimming the edges but not the sides, the tablet looked too tall, not so aesthetically ‘right’.
The iPad Air screen is in essence unchanged since the first iPad with Retina display – a 9.7in capacitive touchscreen using IPS technology which delivers rich, faithful colours and clear viewing from any angle.
Strictly speaking it is a 9.7-inch (diagonal) LED-backlit MultiTouch display. And that IPS display is blessed with fingerprint-resistant oleophobic coating.
That 2048×1536 resolution makes for a pixel density of 264 pixels per inch (ppi). You may find the odd tablet that is sharper, and certainly a few smartphones, but when you look at the iPad Air’s display you see only a vibrant and sharp display. And it is sharper than the Xperia Z2 Tablet’s screen, although both displays show even detailed text in fine detail.
We’re going to call this a draw. The iPad is sharper but smaller, and we prefer the aspect ratio of the Sony tablet. But both are great displays.iPad Air vs Xperia Z2 Tablet comparison: specification, performance
As you would expect at the premium end of the market the Xperia Z2 Tablet is blessed with a strong specification. It has a Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 quad-core processor clocked at 2.3GHz – the same chip as the superfast Xperia Z2 smartphone. This is a Krait 400 CPU with which you get Adreno 320 graphics. It’s paired with 3GB RAM.
Other key specs include a massive 6000mAh battery, and a MicroSD slot so you can add up to 64GB of storage. Our 16GB model had 11.2GB available to use out of the box.
It all adds up to a beast of a tablet. Despite the thin and light shell the Xperia Z2 Tablet is a snappy performer. We’ll get into synthetic benchmarks in a moment, but the most important thing to say is that you will find the Z2 Tablet fast and responsive. As fast and responsive as any Android device we have used, even when placed under load.
Benchmarks are fun because they give you an idea of where a tablet or smartphone ranks against its rival, but take them with a pinch of salt. They are synthetic test designed to give you a number, not hard-and-fast rankings. None the less, the Xperia Z2 Tablet’s benchmark performance backs up our subjective experience of a superfast tablet – mostly.
We ran a GFXBench test to benchmark graphics performance. In the T-Rex (onscreen) test we got our best ever tablet result of 1,530 frames at 27fps (averaged over three runs). The Xperia Z2 Tablet will chew up and spit out even the most demanding Android games, and beats out the iPad Air which averaged 1,187 and 21fps.
And then there is GeekBench 3. This is a somewhat controversial all-round benchmark as some Android manufacturers have been accused of designing their devices to perform abnormally well in this test. (Allegations they almost all deny, by the way.) So make of this what you will, but the Xperia Z2 Tablet smashed GeekBench 3 to bits in our tests. It returned an average single-core result of 967, a more important multi-core score of 2719. That’s the fastest multi-core result we’ve ever got from a 10in tablet, comparing well with the iPad Air’s 2703 points in multi-core mode; and 1487 points for a single core.
All you can really take from this is the fact that the Xperia Z2 Tablet is a fast and responsive tablet. It really is. But then so is the iPad Air as can be seen by those excellent synthetic benchmark results. It runs an A7 processor clocked at 1.39GHz, paired with 1GB RAM.
We’re a little troubled by the sometimes unsmooth interface. This is a general criticism of iOS 7 but one we didn’t expect to see on the latest iPad with bestest-yet graphics processor.
Most apparent with app zooming, when you open or close an app and return to the home screen, we saw jittery animations. It’s not always apparent, and we suspect many people will probably not notice, let alone be troubled by it. Elsewhere in text scrolling and pinch-to-zoom actions there were no such issues, as free and fluid as ever.
If you trust benchmarks you will say the Xperia Z2 Tablet is the faster performer in most but not all respects. If not, we are happy to report that both the iPad Air and the Xperia Z2 Tablet are at the pinnacle of tablet performance. Both are great in use with only occasional lag.iPad Air vs Xperia Z2 Tablet comparison: camera
Both also have pretty good cameras, particularly for tablets. Pick up the Xperia Z2 Tablet and you’ll find an 8.1Mp camera around the back. This has autofocus and captures 3264 x 2448 pixel images which look good on the Xperia Z2 Tablet’s display. Additional features include Exmor RS for mobile, which is designed to help users take good-looking shots in any light, as well as geo-tagging, touch focus, face- and smile detection, HDR and a panorama. The rear-facing camera captures 1080p video at 30fps.
Up front there is a 2Mp webcam for selfies and video chat.
The iPad Air has a rear-facing 5Mp iSight camera, with f2.4 aperture. On the front is a 1.2Mp HD webcam. The former takes full-HD video. The front-facing camera is a 720p video camera for FaceTime and Skype. We found night-time Skype calls were more clearly lit than before.
You won’t be buying the iPad Air or the Xperia Z2 Tablet as your main camera. But if you take photos and video with your tablet you won’t be disappointed. Both are solid performers in this respect, no better than they ought to be. You can find more detail in our individual Sony Xperia Z2 Tablet review: slim, light, powerful Android tablet is best iPad Air alternative and iPad Air review – latest iPad is great, but is the iPad still the best tablet? articles.iPad Air vs Xperia Z2 Tablet comparison: software
This is the classic iOS vs Android battle: in this case iOS7 for the iPad Air vs Android KitKat for the Xperia Z2 Tablet.
Sony’s Xperia Z2 Tablet runs Android 4.4 KitKat, with relatively little customisation. It does have Sony’s user interface over the top of vanilla Android. It’s a stylish customisation that thankfully doesn’t take over the OS in the way that Samsung’s and HTC’s do.
KitKat is Google’s best ever tablet OS. Feature rich, easy to use and good to look at. It offers full access to the Google Play app- and media stores, as well as Sony’s own stores and apps.
You can simply mount the Xperia Z2 Tablet as external storage on your PC, but Sony also provides software to make pairing and synching a little easier.
Flip over to the iPad Air and iOS looks fresh and modern, with features that help keep it on a par with (if not ahead of) Android.
However, iOS 7 still lacks customisation, so anyone hoping for Android-style widgets, or merely the ability to change the default keyboard, will be disappointed.
Apple’s walled-garden approach hasn’t changed, and that’s largely a good thing. You can’t install apps except through the App Store, which means tight security and less piracy.
It’s interesting that Microsoft ditched transparency in Windows 8, since this is a major part of iOS 7. Apple says it helps to orient you, and we can’t help but agree. Overall, iOS 7 is a success.
So should you choose it and the iPad Air rather than the Android-toting Xperia Z2 Tablet? It really is impossible to say. Both are stable and fast, feature-rich operating systems.
You can argue the toss over which offers access to the most tablet-specific apps (it’s iOS), but it is unlikely you will find any major apps missing in either. And although the iTunes media stores are brilliantly easy to use and stocked with the latest tablets, Android offers you access to multiple stores so you can shop around for the best deal.iPad Air vs Xperia Z2 Tablet comparison: battery life
We haven’t yet had time to properly test the Xperia Z2 Tablet’s battery life and will update this review when we do. Our early experience of using the Z2 Tablet suggest that it won’t be a problem, despite the killer power specs. That 6000mAh battery cell should help. And, according to the company, there’s also the Battery STAMINA mode, designed to prolong battery life. We’ll test it and get back to you.
But the Xperia Z2 Tablet is unlikely to beat out the iPad Air. Battery life here is exemplary, with Apple assuring around 10 hours continuous use, while we found that occasional but steady use meant it could last the best part of a week between charges.
With the caveat that it may change, for now we give the battery life nod to the iPad Air.iPad Air vs Xperia Z2 Tablet comparison: which should you buy?
Ultimately it is a matter of personal preference. Both these tablets stand head and shoulders above the rest of the 10in tablet world. They are thin and light, well made, designed and built. They offer great displays and excellent performance, decent cameras and so on. and they are priced the same. The main difference is that the iPad Air runs iOS7 and the Xperia Z2 Tablet runs Google’s Android OS. Both have their supporters – which one are you? Find out more about which tablet to buy in ourSpecs Sony Xperia Z2 Tablet: Specs
GSM 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900
HSDPA 850 / 900 / 1700 / 1900 / 2100 – SGP541, SGP521, SGP551
LTE 700/800/850/900/1700/1800/1900/2100/2600 – SGP521
LTE 850 / 900 / 1700 / 1800 / 1900 / 2100 / 2600 – SGP551
266 x 172 x 6.4 mm
TFT capacitive touchscreen, 16M colours, 1200 x 1920 pixels, 10.1 inches (~224 ppi pixel density), Multitouch
microSD, up to 64 GB
3 GB RAM
HSDPA, 42 Mbps
HSUPA, 5.8 Mbps
LTE, Cat3, 50 Mbps UL, 100 Mbps DL
802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, Wi-Fi Direct, dual-band, DLNA, Wi-Fi hotspot
Bluetooth 4.0 with A2DP
microUSB v2.0 (MHL 3)
8.1 MP, 3264 x 2448 pixels, 1080p@30fps, HDR
2.2 MP, 1080p@30fps
Android OS, v4.4.2 (KitKat)
Qualcomm MSM8974AB Snapdragon 801, Adreno 330
FM radio with RDS
Non-removable Li-Po 6000 mAh battery
The Canary does a few things that you don’t get with other security cameras, such as the air quality monitoring and the siren. 24 hours of free cloud storage is nice, but Canary now charges for features which used to be free, including the ability to download video via the phone app and view entire clips. The new subscription model means the Canary is no longer good value, and we can’t recommend it.Best Prices Today: Canary
There has never been a bigger choice of home security cameras and the majority can be set up in less than 15 minutes. The Canary is no exception: a plug-and-play unit that took me less than 10 minutes to install. Once connected to Wi-Fi, it offers a 147-degree view of your room in 1080p full HD as well as an overview of your home’s ‘health’ including air quality, temperature and humidity. Is it the right camera for your home? Read on to find out.
Why is Canary charging for some features now?
Since we originally reviewed the Canary, the company has taken the decision to remove a number of services (which were included previously) in favour of asking owners to pay for these through Canary Membership. Current memberships are priced at £79 per year or £7.99 (£95.88 annually).
The most significant changes are:
Customers who do not pay the new membership fee will only see 10-second clips of footage, rather than the full video that’s exclusive to members. This isn’t particularly helpful for situations where you may have an intruder in your home for a sustained period of time. This footage will only be available for 24 hours rather than full length recordings that are available to members for 30 days.
You can no longer download footage to your phone. This is a particular blow, as it means you can’t save evidence unless you subscribe.
Customers who don’t subscribe will not be able to set night mode, which allows you to deactivate notifications whilst you are sleeping. You now are now forced to either disable the camera in home mode or to have notifications sent to your device whilst you sleep.
Canary Members will also benefit from two-way Canary talk which allows you to use your smartphone to talk through your camera and web browser streaming that provides access to live footage from your desktop as well as 30 days recorded footage.
As a result of these changes, we have amended the original 4-star rating to 2.5 stars. The device itself is very good, but Canary’s new focus on membership packages has removed a number of key features for existing owners and has significantly impacted the value of the device for new owners who are unwilling to pay the membership fee.
What follows is our original review:
So what could you use the canary for? Well its most obvious use is to monitor what’s going on at home from a security point of view, but I was also interested in keeping an eye on my dogs Axl and Izzy while my wife and I were away from home. The Canary was perfect for both, as it has a microphone that registers unusual sounds such as glass breaking or a dog barking and motion detectors that monitor movement in the close vicinity, both of which trigger the camera to start recording.
All recordings are saved to the Canary’s cloud storage and the most basic package is free and stores footage of events captured in the last 12 hours (now 24 hours). There is of course a range of packages providing additional cloud storage for events up to 30 days ago if you’re willing to pay.
The Canary is controlled using its dedicated iOS and Android app and I have to say I could not have been more impressed with how easy this was to use. The app allows you to view recorded footage, all nicely presented in a chronological timeline. Naturally, you can also watch a live stream at the touch of a button on the app’s home screen.
The Canary is available to buy for £159 directly from the manufacturer at store-uk.canary.is or from UK retailers including John Lewis, Amazon, Apple, Maplin and PC World.
This is the same price as the Nest Cam, but a little more than the Y-Cam HomeMonitor HD, which you can buy from Amazon for less than £140.Canary Review: Design
The Canary is a standalone device and is available in a choice of three colours: white, black and silver. Also included is a microUSB power adaptor and an unusual secure setup cable that plugged directly into my iPhone’s headphone socket during installation.
Connecting the camera to broadband can be done using either Wi-Fi or via an Ethernet cable to your router, if it’s close by or you use powerline adaptors.
The camera measures 152 x 76.2mm weighs just 396g. Build quality is excellent and it has a contemporary design that means it looks like a modern home accessory that can be colour-coordinated with your home. There’s no hint of traditional CCTV or surveillance camera.
Image quality is very clear with full 1080p high definition footage and automatic night vision. Plus the 147 degree wide-angle lens meant I could monitor activity within a large open-plan kitchen and living room using a single device.
Audio quality is equally as good from the built-in microphone, which is also used to begin recording as soon as an unusual sound is heard.
The device also begins recording as soon a movement is recorded using the camera and and 3-axis accelerometer. Annoyingly, there’s no option to specify an area within the field of view to monitor for movement. Movement which occurs anywhere will trigger an alert. There is a sensitivity slider which you can ajust to receive fewer alerts, and the algorithms learn (with your feedback) when movement is due to a pet, moving light or shadows, and will – over time – stop notifiying you of these events.
The Canary is also fitted with a loud siren which you can sound using the iOS or Anroid app. This is intended for warning or deter an intruder of course, not for playing pranks on your family. There’s no speaker for two-way communication as the Nest Cam – and some other cameras – have.
In addition to the home security features, the Canary it is also equipped with sensors which monitor air quality, humidity and temperature. Specifically, it can detect ISO Butane, Carbon Monoxide, hydrogen, ethanol and cigarette smoke.
Other devices that measure air quality include the Foobot.
By contrast, the Canary is unfriendly to most other smart home kit. There’s no IFTTT support, either, so you can’t get around the lack of official third-party support. The only integration is withCanary Review: Software
The Canary app works with the iPhone 4s or newer and on Android devices with version 4.0 or newer.
With both the app and the hardware installed I had a host of options including setting the Canary to detect when I’m at home (using the location of my phone) and to automatically arming and disarming recording depending on my location and the privacy I required.
In armed mode, the Canary is constantly monitoring for motion and sounds and will alert me to either with a push notification.
When disarmed, the Canary still monitors and records activity but will not send a notification.
Privacy mode disables both the camera and microphone to ensure that footage is not recorded when you don’t want it to be. Privacy mode can be activated automatically whenever I or another registered user return home. There’s also the option to activate any of the settings manually through the app.
The camera is equipped with an LED which highlights which mode is selected through a green ambient light for armed, a yellow light for disarmed and the light is switched off when in privacy mode.
It is also possible to watch live footage in all modes other than privacy mode by simply pressing the ‘watch live’ button on the app’s home screen. You can zoom in (digitally) on all footage both live and recorded using a simple pinch gesture on the iPhone. Here’s the wide-angle view:
And this is the 2x digital zoom:
Accessing the app also feels particularly secure, as there’s the option of signing in using either a password, PIN or fingerprint recognition via the iPhone’s Touch ID.
It is also possible to manage multiple Canary cameras from the app, additional devices could either be placed elsewhere in the same home or in a separate location that you may want to monitor such as a business address, or elderly relative.
In addition to the smartphone app, you can also was also arm and disarm using the Canary app on an Apple Watch as well as receive notifications when any activity was recorded. I loved this feature as it allows me to have piece of mind that my home and pets are safe without the need to be constantly reaching for my phone.Related articles for further reading Specs Canary: Specs
1080p HD Camera 147° Wide-angle lens Automatic night vision Motion detection
3-axis accelerometer Ambient light Capacitive touch
Temperature Humidity Air quality
Audio & Siren:
Microphone Built-in speaker 90+ dB siren
2.4GHz Wi-Fi (802.11 b/g/n) Wired Ethernet
Size & Weight:
Height: 152.4mm Diameter: 76.2mm Weight: 396g
Power: 100-240v power supply
Apple iPhone 4s iOS 8 or Android 4 or newer
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