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Samsung Galaxy Book Pro 360 review: A beautiful thin-and-light PC

Even in an era of progressively lighter notebooks, larger thin-and-light laptop options like the 15-inch Samsung Galaxy Book Pro 360 are relatively rare. Sure, you might buy it because it simply won’t break your back. But a stunning multimedia experience and shocking all-day battery life demand additional praise.

Samsung’s Galaxy Book Pro 360 lends credence to Intel’s Evo program, from which this laptop graduated. Thin-and-light laptop keyboards can be iffy, though, and this laptop suffers accordingly. Samsung also loads up the Book Pro 360 with apps for just about everything. Nevertheless, we’ve awarded this laptop our Editor’s Choice award. Read on for why.

Samsung Galaxy Book Pro 360 basic features

Samsung offers the Galaxy Book Pro 360 in either a 13.3-inch or a 15.6-inch configuration. Prices start at $1,199 (the minimal 13-inch spec: Core i7/8GB RAM/256GB SSD) and $1,299 for the cheapest 15-inch configuration with 8GB of RAM and a 512GB SSD. It’s worth highlighting that our review unit and price includes a 1TB SSD, a luxury in an era of 256GB and 512GB notebooks.

Note that all of the Galaxy Book Pro 360 models ship with a Samsung S Pen in the box, which would normally cost about $32 on Amazon. At press time, Samsung.comRemove non-product link was the only source for the Samsung Galaxy Book Pro 360.

Mark Hachman / IDG

If those prices are still too expensive, consider the similar Samsung Galaxy Book ProRemove non-product link, a traditional clamshell with a few differences: the lack of an included S Pen, for example, as well as a non-touch display. The Book Pro also includes a USB Type A port. Otherwise, the Samsung Galaxy Book Pro 360 we’re reviewing requires purchasing one of our recommended USB-C hubs to connect to devices with a USB-A connector. 

  • Processor: Intel Core i7-1165G7
  • Display: 13.3-inch or 15.5-inch (as tested): 1920×1080 (AMOLED, touch)
  • Memory: 8GB/16GB LPDDR4x (16GB as tested)
  • Storage: 256GB/512GB/1TB SSD (as tested)
  • Graphics: Intel Iris Xe
  • Ports: 1 USB-C (Thunderbolt 4); 2 USB-C, microSD, 3.5mm jack
  • Security: Fingerprint reader
  • Camera: 720p (user-facing)
  • Battery: 67.0Wh (design), 68.0Wh (reported)
  • Wireless: WiFi 6E Gig+ (802.11ax), Bluetooth 5.1
  • Operating system: Windows 10 Home
  • Dimensions: 13.97 x 8.98 x 0.47in.
  • Weight: 3.02lb, 3.38lb with charger (as weighed)
  • Colors: Mystic Bronze, Mystic Navy (as tested)
  • Prices:  $1,499 as testedRemove non-product link (Samsung.com); otherwise $1,199 and up

Construction: The thin and light lifestyle

Samsung’s Galaxy Book Pro 360 proudly proclaims itself a member of Intel’s flagship Evo lineup via a small sticker on its keyboard deck, and it deserves it. The Galaxy Book Pro 360 is a beautiful piece of engineering, very much in the mold of the Surface Laptop: all cool, glossy metal and minimalist ports. We received our review unit in the Mystic Navy color scheme, and the blue hue is virtually indistinguishable from black in most lighting. 

It’s also the first laptop in a very long while that’s persuaded me to care about how thin it is, especially when folded back flat. Remember, this is a 360-degree convertible, which can be reclined all the way back into tablet mode. The Book Pro 360’s hinge holds the display true even when almost fully reclined, though it oscillates back and forth before settling in.

Mark Hachman / IDG

The Samsung Galaxy Book Pro 360, in tent mode.

Less obvious but equally profound is the weight—this is a notebook that you can easily pick up by a corner and set it down somewhere else. Samsung used aluminum to construct the Galaxy Book Pro 360, but it felt absolutely stable with no give in the keyboard or to the chassis. While you can theoretically open the laptop with a single finger, its light weight and the slick, stubby feet beneath it nearly caused me to push it off my test stand when I tried.

As many notebooks do, the Samsung Galaxy Pro 360 pulls cool air from the bottom of the notebook and vents it out the back through a grille hidden within the hinge. Samsung shipped the notebook set to the middle “better performance” tier in the Windows power/performance slider. Under load, the fan noise increases to a moderate but not annoying hiss, and I was pleasantly surprised to see how quickly the fan turned off, about fifteen seconds after exiting out of a computationally intensive application.

Mark Hachman / IDG

Laid flat, the Samsung Galaxy Book Pro 360 virtually disappears. The right side of the chassis includes a standard USB-C port and a microSD card slot.

Samsung’s thin, light aesthetic extends to its port choices, which include a pair of USB-C ports and a third USB-C port that includes Thunderbolt 4 capabilities. Which one is which? Good luck trying to tell. There’s a virtually indistinguishable “lightning bolt” logo that signals that the front left USB-C port is Thunderbolt enabled, and a blue LED next to it. Otherwise, you’ll be left trying to figure which port is which.

We’d recommend connecting the 65W cellular-style charger to one of the other USB-C ports and dedicating the Thunderbolt port to one of our recommended Thunderbolt docks instead. Alternatively, you can buy a cheaper, slower USB-C hub to connect to older devices that use a USB Type A connector. Samsung also includes a microSD card slot on the Galaxy Book Pro 360, allowing you to “sneakernet” a microSD card from a Samsung Galaxy Phone if you don’t want to use one of the installed wireless apps like Galaxy Share that comes preinstalled on the notebook.

Mark Hachman / IDG

That LED to the right is really your best indicator of which USB-C port is Thunderbolt-enabled (the right) and which is a standard USB-C port (the left).

Display and audio: beautiful for both content creation and Netflix

Samsung has a well-deserved reputation for its dramatic OLED screens on its TVs, tablets and phones, and its Super AMOLED display (an OLED screen with an active matrix and touchscreen on top of it) certainly doesn’t disappoint. If you’re a content creator, you can be assured that Samsung is nearly perfect satisfying the various color gamuts. In part, that’s because Samsung offers several color options. There’s a general “AMOLED” color profile, but also separate display profiles within the Windows 10 Settings menu, each tuned to either the AdobeRGB, P3, and sRGB color space.

By default, the general AMOLED profile covers 100 percent of sRGB, 98 percent of AdobeRGB, and 99% of P3. Unfortunately, the “AdobeRGB” profile didn’t really increase the AdobeRGB coverage—it remained unchanged at 98 percent. The P3 profile produced 100 percent of sRGB coverage, 91 percent of AdobeRGB, and covered 99 percent of the P3 color gamut. Enabling the sRGB profile covered the sRGB color space by 100 percent as well, but decreased AdobeRGB coverage to 77 percent and P3 coverage to 78 percent. All of these measurements were recorded by Datacolor’s SpyderX Elite colorimeter, which also measured the display’s luminosity at a maximum of 295 nits—far less than the rated 370 nits that Samsung claims. That’s still fine for working in even a well-lit room, however.

The extreme width of the display (measuring 19.5mm high by 34.5mm long, a roughly  1.77 display ratio) also calls into question Samsung’s choice of 1080p resolution rather than a 4K option. As you might imagine, video played back looks bright and vivid, but there’s a hint of graininess to it that might go away with a higher-resolution option. The screen is quite glossy, too, with reflections often creeping into your peripheral vision.

That’s objective criticism. Subjectively, you might wonder whether the Samsung Galaxy Book Pro 360 might replace your television. You don’t really realize how deeply dark an OLED display can be until the black letterboxes surrounding a video are indistinguishable from the thin (about 5mm) black bezels that wrap around the corners of the screen. It’s truly revelatory, especially when the Book Pro 360’s audio is layered on top.

Samsung shipped the Galaxy Book Pro 360 with a pair of 4-watt AKG-tuned speakers underneath, which sound all right by themselves. Of course, the flat laptop speakers can only do so much—there’s no way to manufacture the bass you’ll receive from a large, physical speaker. But there’s a Dolby Access app hidden within the Start menu, which is off by default. Enable it, flip the Book Pro 360 back into tent mode, and enjoy a superb entertainment experience. 

I have more mixed feelings about the Galaxy Book Pro 360’s fingerprint reader, which began as the worst I’ve ever used, by far. Normally, you simply touch the sensor several times to establish an “authorized” fingerprint. However, the notebook’s tiny “strip”-style fingerprint reader nestled in the upper right-hand-corner of the keyboard failed to recognize that my finger had actually touched it probably two out of every three times during the setup process. I gave up in disgust. However, near the tail end of the review, I decided to once again use Samsung’s Samsung Update utility to search out new drivers. Voila! A new fingerprint reader driver downloaded, and the reader worked flawlessly for the last days of our review.

Typing experience and webcam: the weak link

If there’s anything that should give you pause about the Samsung Galaxy Book Pro 360, it’s the keyboard. A thin-and-light PC must inevitably make some sacrifices, and my is the Book Pro 360 thin, especially when unfolded flat along a desk or table. Samsung claims that its re-engineered keyboard includes a scissor mechanism that, combined with rubber keypad domes, provides a “satisfying” 1mm in key travel in near silence. Nope. One millimeter of key travel simply feels too shallow to be truly comfortable. But—I say this reluctantly, because I don’t want laptop makers to think we’re encouraging this—it wasn’t that bad, with more cushion than I expected.  Fortunately, keyboards are subjective experiences, and your fingers may be more welcoming.

Mark Hachman / IDG

You probably won’t love the Samsung Galaxy Book Pro 360’s keyboard, but it does have a spacious touchpad, a dedicated number pad, and the fingerprint reader in the upper right-hand corner that doubles as a power button.

Samsung provides keyboard controls for three levels of backlighting, though you also have the option of entering the built-in Samsung Settings app and manually adjusting the backlighting via a slider control.

There’s one aspect to the keyboard that partially redeems it: the presence of a narrow but otherwise full-featured number pad to the right side of the keyboard, thanks to the extended width of the 15-inch laptop. Number pads are not only excellent for data entry, but they also provide left-handers an alternative to the WASD key layout for games, too.

The dimensions of the keyboard also allow the Galaxy Book Pro 360 to sport a gargantuan precision touchpad that takes up much of the remaining space on the chassis, allowing your wrists to rest on either side.  Gestures worked well, and you’ll find plenty of clickable space. 

Mark Hachman / IDG

The Samsung Galaxy Book Pro 360’s webcam doesn’t look that great, even with the available beauty options turned on.

Samsung includes a fairly generic 720p user-facing webcam on top of the display, with no privacy shutter. As you might expect from a 720p camera, your image will be somewhat soft, as opposed to a cheap but good standalone 1080p webcam. I honestly didn’t like the resulting image quality, though Samsung’s “beauty” options seemed to knock a few pounds off my pandemic pudge. On the other hand, 720p webcams are the norm for laptops, so the graininess probably won’t be called out. 

Samsung doesn’t include a cubby or holder for the S Pen that it includes in the Galaxy Book Pro 360 box. Instead, the pen can be magnetically attached to the top of the notebook, though that’s not really secure in the slightest. The stylus does exhibit a bit of lag while inking. It also includes a single button, which when double-clicked triggers a menu which launches a number of pen-enabled apps. 

Mark Hachman / IDG

Samsung has a utility for nearly everything

Fortunately, Samsung doesn’t particularly overload the Galaxy Book Pro 360 with numerous third-party “crapware” apps. Still, Samsung adds tons of its own Samsung- or Galaxy-branded apps—some of which, it should be said, are quite good.

Samsung reserves pride of place on the Windows taskbar for Amazon’s Alexa app, and adds a Quick Search and Quick Share app shortcut to the taskbar, too. Both of the latter apps reflect both of Samsung’s approaches to PC software: replace or enhance Windows’ own apps or functions, or tie the Galaxy Book Pro 360 to Samsung’s ecosystem of phones and tablets. Quick Search doesn’t do that much more than Windows’ own search bar. Quick Share is like the Windows Your Phone app. It will find nearby devices and share files, texts, and photos, provided both are signed into a Samsung account.

Here’s just some of the apps Samsung reserves for the Start menu. The Galaxy Book Smart Switch app, for porting over data from an earlier Galaxy PC; the PenUP drawing app; Samsung’s DeX app for connecting your Samsung phone to your PC; the Samsung TV Plus link to a TV-like collection of video streams; the Samsung Update service for updating drivers; and even the ability to control your Samsung SmartThings smart home via a dedicated app. Spotify also comes preloaded, as does Booking.com.

Mark Hachman / IDG

I couldn’t discern any tilt support for the included S Pen, and there was a bit of lag while inking. 

The only three must-open apps are Samsung Update, Samsung Settings, and Samsung Security. Samsung Settings provides granular controls you won’t find elsewhere, such as the ability to enable USB charging when your laptop is otherwise asleep, or to fine-grained control of the keyboard backlighting. 

Samsung Security combines four interesting features. One grants the ability to “obscure” your screen by making the current window semi-transparent and allowing a wandering eye to confuse it with other apps. Another provides the option to manually disable your webcam and mic via software; a third creates a “security cam” that snaps a photo of anyone who tries to log into your PC and fails. The fourth feature, “Privacy Folder,” creates a hidden folder that is kept hidden from Windows File Explorer and is locked with your PC’s password when discovered. It’s like OneDrive’s Personal Vault, but on your PC. 

Mark Hachman / IDG

Here’s what someone viewing your Samsung Galaxy Book Pro 360’s “secret screen” will see: a mishmash of translucent windows. Here, the “active” window is Word, with a line of text.

Next page: Performance and final thoughts

Sennheiser Ambeo Soundbar review: High-end sound for a high-end price

A soundbar is an attractive alternative to a full-blown outboard speaker system. It offers better sound quality than a TV’s built-in audio, and it’s much more convenient to set up and use. On the other hand, a soundbar can’t reproduce a fully directional surround or immersive soundfield like a system with separate speakers located around the listening area.

Or can it? That’s the goal Sennheiser set for itself with its Ambeo Soundbar. This high-end behemoth sits near the top of the soundbar price range and claims to reproduce a virtual 5.1.4 immersive soundfield—a claim that has some merit, though it never fooled me into thinking I was listening to an actual immersive multi-speaker system.

Updated April 23, 2021 to report Sennheiser has released a firmware update for the Ambeo Soundbar that adds support for Sony’s immersive 360 Reality Audio technology. We returned our review unit shortly after this review was published, so we won’t be able to evaluate the new feauture, but we wanted our readers to know about it.

Ambeo feature set

The Sennheiser Ambeo Soundbar is massive, measuring about 50x5x7 inches (WxHxD) and weighing almost 41 pounds. It sports a total of 13 speaker drivers—six 4-inch long-throw, cellulose-sandwich cone woofers, five 1-inch aluminum-dome tweeters (two of which fire to the sides at an angle), and two upfiring 3.5-inch full-range drivers powered by a total of 500 watts. The frequency response is said to extend from 30Hz to 20kHz (-3dB).

Sennheiser

A total of 13 drivers include nine that fire forward, two that fire to the sides at an angle, and two that fire upward (not seen here because their grilles have not been removed in this photo).

So, how does a single soundbar—even such a large one—simulate the effect of a 5.1.4 speaker system? In this case, it uses all those drivers and some serious DSP to direct the surround and overhead channels to the room’s walls and ceiling, where they are reflected toward the listening area. According to Sennheiser, the effect is best if the walls and ceiling are no more than five meters (about 16 feet) from the soundbar; otherwise, the reflected sound might be noticeably delayed.

To accomplish this feat of virtualization, the Ambeo Soundbar must be calibrated to the room in which it will be used. In addition to the soundbar itself, the package includes a 28-inch-tall, free-standing calibration microphone attached to its own heavy base and a long cable that connects to the front of the soundbar. To calibrate the unit, you place the mic so its top is at ear height in the listening position and hold the Ambeo button on the remote or the top of the unit. The soundbar plays a series of sweeping tones and then calibrates the DSP based on what the microphone picks up from reflections in the room.

Physical inputs on the back include three HDMI 2.0a ports (18Gbps), one ethernet port, one Toslink optical port, and one pair of RCA analog-audio jacks as well as a 2.5mm microphone input on the front for the calibration mic. It also provides several wireless inputs, including Bluetooth 4.2 and dual-band Wi-Fi (802.11a/b/g/n/ac). Finally, it has Google Chromecast built in, and it can join a UPnP media network. Outputs include one HDMI 2.1 port with eARC and a subwoofer pre-out with an RCA connector. A USB port supports service and firmware updates but not media playback from storage devices.

Sennheiser

The soundbar’s rear-panel connections include (L-R): stereo analog-audio input, subwoofer line output, Toslink digital-audio input, three HDMI 2.0a inputs, one HDMI 2.1 output with eARC, ethernet port, USB port for service and firmware updates, and AC power receptacle. An integrated cable tie keeps the cables tidy.

The Ambeo Soundbar can decode a wide range of audio codecs, including virtually all varieties of Dolby (including Dolby Atmos) and DTS (including DTS:X and DTS 96/24). Other supported codecs include DSD (the format used with SACD discs) and MPEG-H, a relatively new codec intended for use with next-generation TV broadcasting via ATSC 3.0. It can also upmix stereo and 5.1 content into a fully immersive soundfield.

You can engage the Ambeo virtualization with three intensity levels (Light, Standard, Boost), and you can cut or boost four bands of EQ by up to ±10dB. Of course, you can disable it altogether as well. The soundbar also offers five preset sound modes: Movie, Music, News, Sports, and Neutral. In addition, it offers a Night mode that compresses the dynamic range so you can hear everything without having to crank it up and possibly disturb others trying to sleep in the next room.

If the audio is in one of the Dolby formats, the Ambeo Soundbar can utilize Dolby Virtualizer, in which case the Ambeo 3D audio effect is disabled. It also offers Dolby Dynamic Range Control (DRC) with three different settings (Auto, Normal, Heavy) and dialog normalization. If the audio is a DTS bitstream, you can set DRC to any value from 0 to 100 percent and boost dialog up to 6dB. These and most other controls are found in the Sennheiser Smart Control app (more in a moment).

Of course, you can place the soundbar on a credenza or other surface, and it comes with protective feet you can install if you wish. You can also wall-mount it with an optional hardware kit. Keep in mind, however, that it’s five inches tall, so the bottom of the TV needs to be at least that far above the surface where the soundbar sits.

Sennheiser

The controls on top of the soundbar include (L-R): mute, volume up, volume down, Ambeo on/off, multifunction, source selection, and power on/off. The NFC antenna is located between the source and power buttons. If you don’t have an NFC-capable device, you initiate Bluetooth pairing by holding the multifunction and Source buttons.

Ambeo user interface

The front of the soundbar sports an OLED display with an ambient-light sensor and status LED in the center. An LED-illuminated Ambeo badge on the right-hand side of the cabinet lights up when the virtualization is engaged. Fortunately, you can control the brightness of the display and Ambeo indicator using the Smart Control app.

On the top of the soundbar are a few basic control buttons, including power on/off, source selection, Ambeo on/off, volume up/down, and mute. A multifunction button lets you control playback of music files—press once to play or pause, press twice to skip to the next track, press three times to skip to the previous track. Pressing the multifunction and source buttons together for two seconds puts the soundbar in Bluetooth-pairing mode. If the device supports NFC pairing, you can simply hold the device close to the NFC logo on the soundbar and they will pair automatically.

The slender remote is blessedly simple, with only 14 well-separated  buttons. Naturally, there are buttons for power on/off button, Ambeo on/off, and mute on/off as well as the same multifunction button as found on the unit itself. The source up/down and volume up/down buttons are slightly contoured (up is convex, down is concave), making them very easy to find by feel. The five sound modes and night mode have their own dedicated buttons, which is great, though they all feel the same, and without illumination, you have to memorize where they are to change modes in the dark.

Sennheiser

The remote is small and simple, with well-separated buttons that are easy to find by feel. I wish the mode buttons at the bottom were illuminated; it’s difficult to remember which is which in the dark.

As you might expect, Sennheiser’s Smart Control app offers the most control options. Of course, you can power the soundbar on and off, control the volume, select inputs and sound modes, and engage and disengage the Ambeo effect and Night mode. In addition, the app lets you select the strength of the Ambeo effect and adjust the 4-band EQ as well as rename the inputs. You can also control the brightness of the display and Ambeo LED manually or set it to automatically adjust according to the amount of ambient light in the room. As mentioned earlier, the Dolby and DTS DRC and dialog controls are available in the app as well. Even better, you can specify that your settings are remembered for each input as well as whether or not the soundbar plays audible cues for various actions.

Overall, the app is designed quite well. The basic controls are found on the home screen, while the Ambeo strength and EQ controls are two levels into the Acoustical Settings; they can be adjusted and saved separately for each sound mode, which is very nice. All other controls are found in the Device Settings, which are organized fairly intuitively.

Scott Wilkinson / IDG

Sennheiser’s Smart Control app offers lots of control over the Ambeo Soundbar, including basic settings on the home screen (left), different levels of virtualization and a 4-band EQ, and more device settings than can fit in a single screen.

Ambeo performance

I placed the Ambeo Soundbar on a small table in front of my Sony 65A1E OLED TV; fortunately, the table is just low enough so the soundbar didn’t block any of the screen when I was seated in my normal chair. The room is almost entirely rectangular with standard drywall, though there is an open closet to the right of the seating area, and one of the equipment racks is against the wall next to the closet. There are some shelves of Blu-rays to the left of the seating area.

Next, I set up the calibration microphone at ear height in my chair, connected it to the soundbar, and ran the calibration routine. It plays a set of sweeping test tones, after which the DSP processes those measurements. As I listened to the sweeps, I was particularly impressed with the low-frequency output.

Unfortunately, the calibration failed, even after repeated attempts. A Sennheiser rep suggested that I cycle the AC power by unplugging the unit for 15 minutes, then plugging it back in and trying again. Sadly, that didn’t work, so they sent me another calibration microphone, which worked the first time.

I connected three source devices to the HDMI inputs—a Dish Hopper 3 satellite receiver, a Roku Ultra 4K streamer, and an Oppo UDP-203 UHD Blu-ray player—using 18Gbps cables. I also connected the soundbar’s HDMI output to the calibrated HDMI input on the TV.

Sennheiser

The Sennheiser Ambeo can be wall mounted beneath your TV using an optional kit.

Each time I turned on the soundbar, it switched to the HDMI TV (eARC) input. Unfortunately, I can find no control in the app that lets you specify which input it should select at power up. According to Sennheiser, the soundbar should automatically select the most recent active input, but even when I powered up one of the source devices last, the soundbar’s input remained on HDMI TV, so I had to manually switch to the desired input every time. I wish the app included a setting that lets you specify something like “stay on the input selected at last power down” or “always select HDMI X when powering up.”

Another operational problem was that the app lost its connection to the soundbar after my phone went to sleep. When I woke it up and went to the app, it was no longer connected, and I had to manually reconnect, which got tiresome after a while.

I started my formal evaluation by playing the 5.1.4 test tones—pink noise, actually—from the Dolby Atmos demo Blu-ray. Of course, the front LCR channels came from where they were supposed to, but the surround and overhead channels were also in front of me. The surround channels were farther to the sides than the front LR channels, but they didn’t appear to come from the sides of the room. The overhead channels appeared to be coming from the upfiring speakers in the soundbar, not from the ceiling.

The helicopter and 747 takeoff demos from the Dolby Atmos disc sounded about the same—entirely in front of me with some width and height in the soundstage. The rainstorm demo, however, was much more effective; the sound of the rain actually appeared to be coming from overhead, especially the higher frequencies.

I compared the Ambeo effect with Dolby Virtualization during the rainstorm demo, and found that Ambeo was much more effective. Dolby Virtualization rendered the sound more in the front of the room with a somewhat smaller soundstage.

Next, I played some of the short Atmos demos with video. In all cases, overhead sounds with high frequencies appeared to come from overhead, and the width of the soundstage was very good, though I heard nothing from where actual surround speakers would be. The Horizon demo includes a plane flying over from back to front, but the entire sound came from the front. On the plus side, low frequencies were particularly impressive.

Sennheiser

The height of your ceiling, the shape of your room, and the furniture inside the room will all have an impact on the Ambeo’s performance.

Vizio V-Series 4K UHD TV review: Even entry-level TVs are good now

Vizio’s V-series good TV (the $300, 50-inch mannequin V505-H19 is reviewed right here) is the second 50-inch TV I’ve evaluated just lately, the opposite being the marginally cheaper ($280) Konka U50.

Each are infinitely superior to something you may’ve discovered on this worth vary 5 years in the past. That mentioned, the Vizio gives a bit higher processing, backlighting, total picture and expertise. But it surely lacks the Konka’s helpful Bluetooth connectivity. 

This evaluate is a part of TechHive’s protection of one of the best good TVs, the place you’ll discover evaluations of the competitors’s choices, plus a purchaser’s information to the options it is best to contemplate when searching for this sort of product.

Specs and design

The V505-H19 is a thin-bezel unit whose staid, however stylish look belies its low worth. The 50-inch-class panel delivers 10-bit colour, a 60Hz refresh fee, and 3840 x 2160 (4K UHD) decision. It has a full-array LED backlight, so it isn’t zone dimmable. Which means it’s lit from behind with a number of lights, however the lights aren’t dimmed or shut off to lower gentle bleed.

The V505-H19 could be very gentle for a 50-inch TV at a mere 21.5 kilos. I had no points slinging the TV round to place the ft on, sliding it round to succeed in the cable connections, and so forth.  That additionally means there shall be little pressure on the 200mm x 200mm VESA mount level, the mount, or your wall. 

Vizio is aware of that there’s a lot of legacy tools on this market section, so the port choice consists of composite video enter and RCA analog audio enter/output. There’s additionally optical digital (Toslink), coax for cable/satellite tv for pc TV or an over-the-air antenna, in addition to three HDMI 2.1 ports (2160p @ 60Hz, with one supporting ARC output). A USB port is available for playback from mass media (thumb drives, and so forth.).

Vizio

Vizio likes to care for clients with legacy tools by offering composite video and RCA audio inputs

There’s no Bluetooth, however the Wi-Fi is dual-band 802.11n, which is well quick sufficient for streaming most content material. If it isn’t, there’s additionally an ethernet port. 

Props to Vizio for together with help for HDR10+ along with Dolby Imaginative and prescient, HDR10, and HLG. Not all TVs do this, and never simply TVs at this worth. The TV additionally handles DTS encompass and Dolby Atmos, affords a low-latency sport mode, and helps each Apple AirPlay 2 and Chromecast. The TV can be compliant with Alexa, Google Assistant, and Siri voice management. 

Interface and distant

Content material-wise, Vizio’s SmartCast House is as full as TV consumer interfaces come, with all the standard streaming suppliers, in addition to curated free content material. SmartCast can be simple to make use of, and may be managed utilizing the SmartCast app in your smartphone or pill for those who so want. My solely criticism, a distinctly minor one this present day, is that it’s fully reliant upon an web connection and doesn’t when in case your broadband connection is down. You may nonetheless use the TV, however with restricted performance.

Then again, a repeat fast shoutout (I additionally famous this within the Vizio OLED evaluate) to the corporate for fixing the Media Participant app. It’s nonetheless a plain DOS-like file browser, however now it’s responsive, performs all of the media I throw at it, and doesn’t crash. 

Vizio

The Vizio V505-H19’s distant is easy, if not at all times the best to make use of.

The distant is easy and straightforward to make use of, although I’d’ve appreciated devoted transport controls to make media playback a bit simpler. Nonetheless, it suits within the hand properly and is massive sufficient to not disappear perpetually between the sofa cushions. I don’t discuss to TVs exterior of testing, however the distant’s lack of a mic would possibly hassle some. Hey, what can I say? It’s entry-level, and also you can use the SmartCast telephone app for that goal, in addition to the opposite supported protocols (Siri, and so forth.). 

Efficiency

As I mentioned within the intro, the V505-H19 jogs my memory fairly a little bit of the 50-inch Konka U5-series I simply reviewed. It’s a useless ringer so far as the slight blue colour skew and backlighting are involved; nonetheless, it suffers a bit much less moiré, shimmer, and different artifacts when processing detailed areas in movement.

The V505-H19 affords a bit extra colour saturation, however due to the heavy blue content material of the backlight/filter expertise, reds skew barely orange; greens, barely lime. Very barely, I ought to say. Many customers may not even discover. Once more, identical because the Konka.

Additionally, overlook the promoting about Dynamic Movement Fee 120. If you happen to learn the outline rigorously, nowhere does it say easy motion or no judder. There’s no movement compensation of any form—identical as with the Konka. That mentioned, inside its 60Hz/no compensation limits, it’s higher than some I’ve seen. And scenes that produce the judder impact, quick pans and huge objects shifting quickly throughout display, are comparatively uncommon.

Vizio

Vizio’s V505-H19 delivers image for an entry-level TV. Please be aware that entry-level is vastly improved over the entry-level of just some years in the past.

Whereas the V505-H19 helps the most well-liked HDR codecs, it doesn’t actually have the distinction to do quite a bit with them. Blacks are barely higher than with the Konka, nevertheless it’s nonetheless array backlighting with no native dimming. We’re speaking charcoal grey greater than black. Principally, it handles HDR, however doesn’t lend it the drama that expertise can convey with higher-contrast—and costlier—TVs. 

Relating to sound, the V505-H19 is okay for informal, occasional, listening, however I discovered it annoyingly muddy. If I had been you, I’d hook up one thing extra sonorous briefly order. Observe that after a firmware replace, the sound disappeared and didn’t reappear till I switched to the free curated content material. If you happen to expertise the identical phenomenon, that’s the trick. 

The omission of Bluetooth isn’t sudden at this worth level, because it was with the corporate’s far costlier OLED, the absence of Bluetooth help does barely irritate the weak sound difficulty. If you wish to hear privately on headphones, you’ll want to buy a separate Bluetooth transmitter ($30 and up) or make different preparations, though you should utilize your telephone and the SmartCast app to hear utilizing headphones. That’s not a super resolution in my guide. 

Conclusion

The V505-H19 is a superb entry-level TV with a barely higher total picture than the Konka I’ve been evaluating it to. If you happen to’re evaluating it to higher-end 50-inchers, revise glorious to respectable.

Nonetheless, entry-level is the not the painful, bereft-of-color viewing expertise it was just some brief years in the past. Certainly, the $300 V505-H19 compares favorably with $1,500 units in our first roundup in 2015.

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iLive Bluetooth Tailgate Party speaker (ISB380B) review: Cheap fun

The iLive Tailgate Social gathering speaker (mannequin quantity ISB380B) appears to be like heavy, however is startlingly gentle. In truth, wanting a lot heavier than it’s, I nearly launched it the primary time I picked it up. Realizing that heavy magnets typically imply higher sound, it was a little bit of an uh-oh second. Studying it goes for a road worth of simply 50 bucks didn’t do a lot to dispel that notion. 

However you realize what? Whereas the sound is strictly mediocre (it’s no Mackie Freeplay Dwell), it’s workable for informal events and due to the look, it’s enjoyable. Okay, camp is likely to be a greater phrase, but it surely’s additionally respectable low-cost, low-volume, super-portable celebration speaker and PA.

This evaluate is a part of TechHive’s protection of the most effective Bluetooth audio system, the place you’ll discover evaluations of the competitors’s choices, plus a purchaser’s information to the options you need to contemplate when searching for this kind of product.

Design and specs

Principally, the mannequin ISB380B (iLive has a complete sequence of Tailgate audio system) is the center of a standard Bluetooth speaker transplanted right into a largish physique made from light-weight plastic. Its enclosure measures rather less than 10 inches at it’s widest level, round 9 inches at its deepest, and slightly below 17 inches at its tallest.

The ISB380B appears to be like like a bling-laden (lively RGB lighting), 80’s type boombox crossed with carry-on baggage. The latter is as a result of retractable deal with and wheels that can help you pull the speaker round. It’s so excessive that it makes me smile. 

Appearances apart, in the event you want the wheels, you have to work out. If this speaker weighs three kilos I’d be stunned. iLive doesn’t checklist the load on the product web page, and I didn’t have a scale correct sufficient, however I used to be capable of raise the ISB380B simply utilizing simply two fingers.

In addition to the light-weight supplies, there are two different doubtless causes for this: a small battery that delivers solely 6 hours of run time at half quantity, and a small or tremendous light-weight magnet on the 8-inch full-range speaker. As I discussed, magnets are necessary with audio system.

Regardless of all that, this speaker is considerably extra versatile than the common Bluetooth speaker. It would play again tunes by way of Bluetooth, from a USB stick or SD card, and it has a 3.5mm auxiliary enter. There’s a excessive impedance 1/4-inch microphone jack as properly. It even has echo so you possibly can fake you’re in a bigger venue.

That’s all discovered on the entrance panel, which additionally options playback controls (subsequent/earlier/enter/play/pause); the USB-C port for charging the unit; and the microphone degree, quantity, and echo rotary controls. There’s a single-line LCD show, so you realize what observe is taking part in.

Sound

The ISB380B produces fairly a little bit of quantity, although it distorts a wee bit while you crank all of it the way in which up. However it doesn’t actually pump the bass. There’s some—that is an 8 inch driver, in spite of everything—however maybe not as a lot as most individuals would possibly anticipate given the dimensions and depth of the field. There’s sufficient to understand it exists, however not sufficient to impel, if you realize what I imply.

Excessive and mid-range frequencies drop off in readability as you progress off middle. As they’re not outstandingly clear to start with, the sound drops from okay to a bit boring in a rush. 

In comparison with low-cost stuff up to now, the iLive Tailgate sounds surprisingly good. In comparison with fashionable audio system? Meh. Put one other manner, overlook wine and cheese whereas listening to Bach; beer and other people conversing excessive of the tunes is extra it’s goal situation. And the occasional use as a light-weight, small group PA. I used to be really impressed with the way in which it minimize via background noise. 

An inexpensive trick (however enjoyable)

The iLive Tailgate Social gathering Speaker (mannequin ISB380B) sounds mediocre at greatest—there’s a cause you discover this and different iLive merchandise on the market at Dwelling Depot). However the iLive Tailgate ISB380B is simple to tote round, enjoyable, versatile, and ok for an excellent time at small gatherings. As a mini PA specifically, that’s greater than anticipated for a $70 checklist worth—and way more for a road worth lower than $50. Social gathering on, guys.

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