D-Link AX5400 (DIR-5460) Wi-fi 6 router review

Getting constantly reliable wireless speeds seems to be a life-long mission for many – me included – so when D-Link offered to send me one of its latest wi-fi 6 routers to test out, I jumped at the chance.

Looking like an alien spider that has been flipped onto its back, D-Link says its Exo AX5400 (DIR-5460) mesh wi-fi 6 router brings next-generation wireless to your home, supporting six simultaneous streams and unleashing “lightening fast wi-fi goodness” over larger areas than before.

If you’re read previous router reviews of mine, you’ll know how my house is set up. The services box – where the fibre connection enters the house from the street – is in the garage of my, roughly, 226sq m single-storey, four bedroom house. Inside, there are a handful of wall-installed ethernet ports [one of them in a kitchen cupboard!] There is also an internal door between the router and the rest of the house.

The only device that has a permanent wired connection is my PC: Everything else – smart TV, laptops, iPads – uses wi-fi. Currently, there are four people living at home, including two young adults in their 20s, so the demand on my wi-fi is considerable with media streaming and university work.

D-Link’s DIR-X5460 supports the latest 802.11ax wireless protocol [as well as other available protocols, of course], which D-Link says improves wireless performance and allows multiples devices to connect at once without compromising on performance.

The last D-Link wi-fi 6 router I tested was the bare bones DIR-X1560 but the DIR-X5460 is fully featured, with three LAN ports (10/100/1000Mbps gigabit), an internet port, a USB 2.0 port and a USB 3.0 port. It also has six antennae [four non-detachable, two-detachable], compared to its smaller sibling’s four.

The DIR-X5460 offers concurrent dual-band wireless (2.4Ghz and 5Ghz)  for connections up to 5.4Gbps, six simultaneous data streams and BSS colouring which increases range and reduces interference in “noisy” wi-fi environments, apparently. It’ll set you back around $NZ540.

Bottom line for me when it comes to wi-fi is I want stable, reliable wireless that doesn’t tank during heavy downloads or buffer during extended streaming sessions of The Wire or Peaky Blinders.

Like previous D-Link routers, set-up was super simple using the mobile phone app but you can use a web browser-based set up, too. All I had to do was enter my ISP’s username and password details, the router rebooted and I was up and running. There was a firmware update during the testing period.

Long story short, the DIR-X5460 impressed me, offering reliable wi-fi out a single drop out over the past month, but what about the speeds?

The simplest way to find out how good a router is, is to test it – so that’s what I did, multiple times, using a variety of testing tools: Ookla Speedtest and and website Speedof.me.

I tested the speeds from a variety of locations around the house: Beside the router, in the main bedroom, in the lounge and in the kitchen/dining/family room [these last three are the furtherest from the router]. I tested multiple times in each of the locations then did additional speed tests on September 13 at random times during the day.

The results

Ookla:

  • Kitchen: 28.6Mbps download, 27.8Mbps upload (as low as 12.9Mbps)
  • Lounge: 33.4Mpbs, 30.8Mbps
  • Bedroom: 36.9Mbps, 37.7Mbps
  • Next to router: 38.3Mbps, 55.7Mbps
  • Additional testing (13/9, single connection, various times during the day): 31.5Mbps, 11.4Mbps (lounge); 26.3Mbps, 19.5Mbps (kitchen); 39.1Mbps, 22.7Mbps (main bedroom); 40Mbps, 34.6Mbps (beside router)

Speedof.me

  • Kitchen: 37.43Mbps download (max 52.18Mbps), 20.17Mbps upload
  • Lounge: 39.55Mbps (47.57Mbps), 34.63Mpbs
  • Bedroom: 41.01Mbps (max 53.5Mbps), 41.95Mbps
  • Next to router: 41.75Mbps (max 60.45Mbps), 51.66Mbps)
  • Additional testing (13/9, single connection, various times during the day): 33.6Mbps, 11.74Mbps (lounge); 23.03Mbps, 7.15Mbps (kitchen); 36.87Mbps, 16.24Mbps (main bedroom); 40.14Mbps, 41.6Mbps (beside router)

For me, the DIR-X5460 delivered consistently fast wi-fi speeds right across my house without any drop outs and provided problem-free Netflix, YouTube and Neon streaming – and that’s a massive plus in my book. Obviously the wi-fi signal got weaker the further it got from the router and no doubt there are faster routers out there, but speeds were faster and more consistent with the DIR-5460 than many of the other routers I’ve used previously.

In fact, it must have been alright as I had no complaints from the two young adults currently in the house at all about wi-fi quality, given my daughter had moaned about the wi-fi strength before setting up the new router.

Being wi-fi 6 means the DIR-X5460 is future-proofed, too, meaning as the protocol becomes more commonplace, firmware updates to the router will mean it will prove useful for years to come. Two thumbs up, from me.

PNY offers Geforce RTX30 series graphics cards

Earlier today, graphics card powerhouse nVidia announced its new Geforce RTX 30 series cards and they look pretty damn good, if I don’t mind saying so myself.

I was contemplating picking up an RTX2060 or RTX2070 later this year but while nVidia for some reason hasn’t made New Zealand pricing available, it sounds like an RTX3070 will cost around $AU800 (which means closer to $NZ850, probably) so while not cheap, they seemed competitively priced when compared to the RTX2000 series cards when they were released.

The RTX3090, however, sounds like it’ll need a small mortgage to cover the cost so I suspect it’s not considered a consumer-level card.

Hot on the heels of nVidia’s announcement, memory, RAM and GPU manufacturer PNY has come out announcing its own line-up of RTX30 series cards with the XLR8 gaming series: The  RTX 3090, RTX 3080 and RTX 3070, all powered by the all-new NVIDIA Ampere architecture.

nVidia says the new RTX 30 Series GPUs, the 2nd generation of RTX, features new RT Cores, Tensor Cores and streaming multiprocessors, bringing stunning visuals, amazingly fast frame rates and AI acceleration to games and creative applications.

In terms of overclocking and RGB customisation, PNY says its XLR8 Gaming GeForce RTX 30 Series is compatible with PNY’s VelocityX overclocking software which allows for the customisation and monitoring of critical stats like core clock, memory clock, core temperature, fan speed, RGB lighting and more, aiming for the perfect balance of performance and efficiency.

Here’s what PNY has to offer in the range:

PNY XLR8 Gaming GeForce RTX 3090

    • 24GB memory
    • 3 fan
    • PCIe 4.0
    • GDDR6X
    • EPIC-X RGBTM
    • Overclocking: via VelocityX Software

PNY XLR8 Gaming GeForce RTX 3080

    • 10GB memory
    • 3 fan
    • PCIe 4.0
    • GDDR6X
    • EPIC-X RGB
    • Overclocking: via VelocityX Software

PNY XLR8 Gaming GeForce RTX 3070

    • 8GB
    • 3 fan and 2 fan variations
    • PCIe 4.0
    • GDDR6
    • EPIC-X RGB on 3 fan version
    • Overclocking: via VelocityX Software

PNY says its RTX3090 will be available from late-September,  the RTX3080 from mid-September and the RTX3070 from mid-October from mWave.com.au in Australia and in New Zealand from  www.pbtech.co.nz/

PNY XLR8 RGB memory review

PNY XLR8 RGB memory review

There’s nothing quite as satisfying as buy parts for a new gaming PC, putting it all together into a nice case then powering it up and cheering when everything works just as it should. It’s a real sense of accomplishment of a “I made this” type.

I’ve build several PCs over the years but only one has had a tempered glass side panel: My current PC which is built into a Montech Air 900 mid-tower case that I won in an online competition earlier this year.

Cases only h ave tempered glass side panels for one reason: To show off the shiny, RGB-lit goodness that lives inside it.  I know RGB components aren’t for everyone but I guess it’s the PC gamer equivalent of a car enthusiast who mods and tweaks his car to show off to other enthusiasts.

The only RGB lighting in my PC when I built it came from my Sapphire RX580 graphics card – up until PNY Technologies sent across a 16Gb kit of dual channel XLR8 RGB RAM (3200Mhz) to put through its paces.

Rated at 3200MHz, the XLR8 RAM is backward compatible with 2133Mhz, 2400Mhz, 2666Mhz, 2800Mhz, 2933Mhz and 3000Mhz frequencies. It has a CAS latency of 16 [timings are 16-18-18] and it supports XMP 2.0.

EASY AS ONE, TWO, THREE …

As anyone who has built a PC will know, RAM is one of the easiest things to replace and installing the PNY RAM was straightforward enough, replacing the two 8Gb sticks of vanilla Team Group RAM (rated at 2400Mhz) that were currently in my PC.

However, I did have to remove my RX580 GPU and disconnect my case fans header to fit the sticks in as clearances on my PC’s Asus mATX B365M-K motherboard were pretty tight. It just meant I had to manage the cables a little better, too.

PNY’s RAM draws 1.35v of power and the RGB lighting is powered via the RAM slot on your motherboard so you don’t need an RGB header on the motherboard to connect it to, which is nice for those of us with motherboards like mine that don’t have the aforementioned header. The RGB lights – consisting of five LEDs within a frosted lens – sit on top of the two aluminum heat spreaders.

TRIPPING THE [RGB] LIGHT FANTASTIC …

The memory supports a number of lighting control software such as Asus’ Aura Sync, MSi’s  Mystic Light Sync and ASrock’s Polychrome sync but unfortunately, my Asus motherboard doesn’t support RGB control so I couldn’t control the light patterns, instead just letting it “do its own thing”, which still looked nice. My motherboard is also restricted to 2666Mhz frequency RAM, so that’s what I set the frequency to in my motherboard’s BIOS.

PNY’s XLR8 RAM does what it says on the tin: Lights up your windowed PC case with undulating displays of neon colours – and I quite like that.

Look, RGB inside your PC won’t make it run any faster: It’s purely for aesthetics and a nice addition to someone who has a case with a side window and wants to show off the PC they spent countless hours tinkering on and getting just right.

As I said earlier, RGB components aren’t for every PC owner but if it is, PNY’s RGB XLR8 RAM is a good starting point to begin that RGB journey.

PNY’s  XLR8 RAM is available from PB Tech in New Zealand and mWave in Australia and available as a 32GB kit (2x16GB) and 16Gb kit (2 x 8Gb) or a 16Gb single channel stick and an 8Gb single channel stick.

PNY launches HP memory products into New Zealand and Australia

HP’s x796w flash drive.

PNY Technologies has launched HP memory products into Australia and New Zealand for the first time. The initial launch centres around four HP USB flash drives: the HP x796w, HP x760w , HP v245w and HP v150w.

PNY Director Sales, ANZ & Oceania Richard Clarke says the HP products are PNY’s major and continued commitment to launching high-quality memory products into New Zealand and Australia. “They are the first of many across the entire HP memory product range that we will launch local,” he says.

The HP x796w offers a USB 3.1 mobile solution to store and share your music, photos, files and more. With a durable and metal casing, it has a push-pull design and is ideal for large files. It’s also backward compatible with USB 2.0 and comes in 32GB, 64GB, 128GB, 256GB, 512GB and 1TB sizes.

The x760w comes in 32Gb, 64Gb, 128Gb and 256Gb storage sizes (USB 3.1) and has a clip-on hook meaning it can be securely attached to a backpack.

HP’s v245w flash drive.

The pint-sized v245w is water and shock resistant and comes in 16Gb, 32Gb and 64Gb sizes, and the v150w has a sliding, lid-less and cap-less design, weighing in at 32Gb, 64Gb and 128Gb sizes.

All four USB sticks are available from JB Hi-Fi across New Zealand and Australia.

JBL Quantum 600 headset review

Byte-sized review

Not so long ago on this blog, I reviewed JBL’s Quantum 300 wired gaming headset which I said “My ears were in audio heaven with the aural goodness being fired into them from these JBL ear cans.

Now, JBL have sent through one of the 300s bigger siblings: The Quantum 600, a wireless gaming headset that is clearly aimed at gamers –  although you can use it for other things like video conferencing (but, personally, I wouldn’t.)

Targeting PC gamers, the Quantum 600s connect to your PC using a thin USB dongle that plugs into a free USB slot. You can also use them with consoles using the USB dongle – such as a PlayStation 4 – or the supplied connection cable that has dual 3.5mm headphone jacks if you want (Nintendo Switch).

The pairing button/on-off switch is housed in the right ear cup, while the rotary dials that controls the volume and chat and microphone functions are integrated into left air cup.

The Quantum 600 is comfortable with nice padding on the ear cups and head band and being wireless, they’re certainly heavier than the wired 300s, with a sturdy braided cable snaking out of each ear cup into the headband. Tipping the scales at 346grams, they’re definitely heavier than my personal favourite headphones: Bose’s QC 35s.

That said, I didn’t find the extra heft annoying while I was wearing them and it didn’t cause me any discomfort but it’s just something to be wary of if you plan to do extended gaming sessions. I didn’t get “hot ears” either while wearing them.

The foam around the ear cups is thick enough to offer a little bit of noise cancelling but they won’t drown out external noise: you can still people talking if they’re in the same room as you. They’re charged using USB C.

You can adjust the tempo of the RGB lighting on each earcup.

When using them on your PC, you can tweak a variety of settings using JBL’s Quantum Engine software, like the sound field you want (DTS, JBL’s Quantum surround), microphone and chat levels, and manage the RGB lighting of the JBL logo on each ear cup, which ranges from the lighting pattern to how long each colour is active for.  If you love a bit of RGB bling, these things will make you smile from ear to ear.

When you use the USB dongle on your console you don’t have access to the Quantum Engine software so you can’t tweak RGB settings or sound options, you’ll just have to make so with whatever surround sound option the game itself supports, which is what I did.

Sound is incredibly good, too, with the headphones offing not only DTS surround sound but 7.1 audio and I tested them with Sucker Punch’s Ghost of Tsushima (PlayStation 4)  and the PC version of Death Stranding.

You can select the type of surround sound using JBL’s Quantum Engine software.

Minute details popping around my head as I slashed mongol invaders through the island of Tsushima or tip toed through BT infested landscapes, hoping not to be sucked into a pool of black goo. I really was impressed by the sound quality with these headphones while gaming.

The only non-gaming thing I did with the Quantum 600s was use it during a work Teams call and while sound quality was good, my work colleagues couldn’t hear me talking. Maybe it was a glitch, maybe I had inadvertently muted the microphone (flipping it up will mute the sound) but I wouldn’t use this headset for non-gaming endeavours.

JBL claims that the 600s have a 14 hours music playtime with the RGB lighting off before needing a recharge and while I didn’t log my usage minute by minute, I reckon I got at least eight hours – with the RGB lighting on (despite not actually benefiting from seeing them being on) – before needing a recharge.

Bottom line is JBL have another winner on its hands here with the Quantum 600 wireless gaming headset, which will set you back around $250 which seems a reasonable for a headset of this build and sound quality.

Your ears will love you for it.

 

PNY RGB Memory launches in Australasia

In January, I won a Montech Air 900 mesh mid-tower PC case from a New Zealand online retailer: Over the weekend just gone, I transferred all my PC components from my great but ageing Fractal case to the Montech case.

Everything went relatively smoothly and it has a tempered glass side panel so colour me intrigued when memory manufacturer PNY Technologies announced it has launched its new XLR8 Gaming RGB DDR4 Desktop memory range into Australasia.

PNY says the XLR8 Gaming RGB memory is compatible with major motherboards and is ready-to-sync with Asus AURA SYNC, Gigabyte RGB FUSION 2.0, MSi Mystic Light Sync and ASRock Polychrome SYNC for an ultra-high quality RGB experience.

The overclocked modules provide ultra-high performance and a superior computing experience thanks to the aggressive overclocking, built-in heat spreader and XMP 2.0 support, delivering PNY’s fastest speeds, highest bandwidth and lowest latencies These in turn maximise PC stability and responsiveness during memory-intensive gaming and application use, says PNY.

Backed by PNY’s limited lifetime warranty and supported by live tech support, the XLR8 Gaming RGB boasts 3200MHz frequency and is backwards compatible with 3000MHz, 2933MHz, 2800MHz, 2666MHz, 2400MHz, 2133MHz. The memory is timed at 16-18-18.

It might be time to start blinging up my case, eh?

JBL Quantum 300 gaming headset review: My ears are happy

Despite years and years and years of playing video games, one thing I don’t own is a good gaming headset.

Oh, sure, I’ve got a stellar pair of Bose Comfort 35s [probably the best headphones I’ve ever owned] but they don’t have a boom microphone so they’re not ideal if I decide to go online and get my arse kicked by people much younger than I am.

Step up JBL’s Quantum gaming headset range, which Quantum’s NZ PR kindly sent me to try out – and try out I did, on a variety of games.

Quantum game me a number to choose from but I decided to pick the Quantum 300s, a mid-range set of wired gaming headphones, and right off the bat, these things are comfy. Extremely comfy, thanks to memory foam ear cups. Sometimes I get hot ears when I wear over-ear headphones for too long but the Quantum 300s didn’t cause me that problem.

The Quantum 300s connect to your PC via a USB connection which in turn joins to a 3.5mm miniplug – which means you can also connect the 300s to any other gaming device, be it a Nintendo Switch, a PlayStation Dualshock 4 controller or an Xbox One controller. The left ear cup has a raised volume dial which is easy to reach mid-game.

They’ve got 50mm drivers, the aforementioned memory foam on the headband, and a flip up/down directional microphone with a nice foam shield and has a nice “ting” sound when you flip it up and down. And they’re comfy. Did I mention they were comfy?

I’m also a stickler for small touches on products and the the Quantum 300s have a nice braided cable, which, even if it’s just for aesthetics, looks so much better than bland plastic-coated cable – and to make sure you put the right ear cup on the right ear (we don’t want any audio imbalance now, do we? the right cup has a bright orange R printed on the inside and the left cup has a bright orange L printed on the inside. They tip the scales at 245 grams.

Quantum says the range is optimised for PC, and it shows, with management software  – the JBL QuantumEngine – that lets you tweak the sound balance, which ranges from boosting the bass levels to emphasising higher tones so the top end is crisper), to microphone sensitivity and whether you want stereo or JBL’s Quantum 7.1 audio (which sounds damn amazing). There’s even advanced features which let you enter your head circumference and body height so things are just right.

But how was the sound? Bloody impressive, I must say.

Bass notes were deep and booming and high notes were crisp and clear – and the impact from these things was just as impressive whether I was using the spatial surround sound while gaming on my PC or playing The Bioshock Collection on Nintendo Switch or Uncharted 4 on the PS4.

My ears were in audio heaven with the aural goodness being fired into them from these JBL earcans.

The Quantum 300s will set you back around $NZ150 which I think is excellent value, given the build quality quality and impressive sound. Well worth it, in my book.

If you’re looking for a reasonably priced gaming headset, I’d recommend these beauties from JBL wholeheartedly.

 

 

Oppo A91 smartphone review

Let’s cut right to the chase: I was left impressed by Oppo’s mid-range A91 handset which screams high-end design and features but comes with a more wallet friendly price.

I say it’s mid-range because priced at $649 it’s not a cheap handset that you’d treat roughly and toss to the curb when you’re done. The A91 is much better than that.

In your hand, the A91 feels solid yet not cumbersome (it tips the scales at 172gms and 7.9mm thick) and right out of the box, it looks like a premium smartphone thanks to the reflective blue back plate.

Even when it’s snug within the provided clear silcone cover, the phone feels comfortable when you’re holding it (and the benefit of a clear protective case means you get to see the gorgeous colour which Oppo has name Blazing Blue. It also comes in Lightening Black).

Sporting a 6.4-inch full HD AMOLED screen (with a resolution of 2400 x 1080), colours are vibrant and images pop on the A91’s display, and a nice feature at this price point is the under screen fingerprint reader, which unlocks the device blazingly fast. It’s a nice touch on a phone at this price point.

It also has facial recognition which worked most of the time but I found the fingerprint so accurate that I tended to rely on that most times.

The A91’s rear camera setup.

The A91 has all the connectivity options you’d expect on a smartphone (WiFi, Bluetooth) and one that I wasn’t expecting at this price point (NFC). Couple that with 128Gb of expandable storage (up to 256Gb via microSD),  8Gb of memory and a 4025mAh battery, the A91 packs a lot of punch for  not a lot of money.

I got roughly a full day and a bit before requiring a charge and that was super quick, thanks to Oppo’s VOOC 3.0 fast charging option. The A91supports dual SIMs, which means you can have both your work SIM and personal SIM in the one device. I didn’t use that option but it’s a good feature for those of you who would rather just have one phone for both work and home rather than carry two around all the time. For the time I had the phone, it was the phone that used every day and I enjoyed my time with it.

Sounds good, right?

Well, it gets better with a quad camera set up which offers a 48MP main lens, an 8MP ultrawide lens, a 2MP lens and a 2MP depth sensor. I was impressed with the photographic capabilities of the A91, too, some of my efforts which you can see here (including the obligatory cute dog shot). There’s also a 16MP front facing camera for those of you who love to take numerous self portraits, if you’re that way inclined, of course.

Whenever I get a new phone to review, I always take lots of photos with it and it was no different with the A91: I took photos around the house, I took photos of the dog, I took photos of sunsets. Lots and lots of photos of sunsets and the A91 delivered solid results every time

The A91 uses AI to determine what’s in your photo then sets things up for you ie animal, sunset, fruit: It’s no muss, no fuss photography. It features Electronic Image Stablisation and a built-in gyroscope so videos are smooth and non-shaky, and it features an impressive ultra night mode, which does an excellent job of adjusting night time photos so you get the best out of what you’re taking photos of at night or in low-light situation.

Frankly, I was impressed immensely with the A91 and in this age of expensive smartphones, it’s a handset that ticks all the boxes for a well-rounded Android smartphone that won’t break the bank.

I can’t recommend the A91 highly enough.

Thanks to Oppo New Zealand for the review unit.

Hp Spectre x360 review: A sleek 2-in-1 package

Status

HP’s Spectre x360 is a sleek, high-end 2-in-1 device.

As soon as I took HP’s Spectre x360 hybrid out of the box, it was the little touches that impressed me.

The braided power cable that looks high-end and the premium look and feel all screamed high-end hardware, and HP’s x360 is just that: It’s a premium piece of kit at a premium price – but you do get two devices for the price of one, though.

In standard configuration, the device is a standard laptop but flip the screen back and stand it on a benchtop like a tent and it’s a touch-screen tablet, complete with a stylus that is incredibly sensitive and accurate [Funny story: I thought I’d “misplaced” the stylus for about a week after my wife thought it was a marker pen & put it away with the other markers].

I do have to confess, though, it took me a while to find the power button as it’s not in the traditional place I was looking. It’s not on above the function keys on the right hand side It’s in the left corner, tucked out of sight. While uncertain about its placement at first, I’m now a convert of where the power connector is as it means it’s out of the way and you won’t knock it easily.

Running an Intel Core i7 10th generation CPU (1.3Ghz), 16Gb of memory, 512Gb M.2 drive for storage, 64-bit Windows 10, and an Intel Iris Plus integrated GPU, the x360 has enough grunt to do most things. Thanks to a fast fingerprint scanner [as well as facial recognition: How did they get a camera into the incredibly think bezel this thing has?], the x360 unlocks amazingly fast and boots up from cold start to desktop in a matter of seconds [around 6 seconds].

The x360s screen does reflect quite a bit off its surface so you’ll have to take care in well-lit rooms.

The 13.3-inch AMOLED panel (1920 x 1080 resolution with a 60hz refresh rate) is clear and vivid, although it reflects a lot of glare when used in direct sunlight or in sunny rooms so it’s not really one for sitting on the deck during a warm summer afternoon.

Weighing in at  reasonable 1.2kg, the x360 comes with an old-school USB 2.0 connection on the left-hand edge (which is good for my wireless mouse dongle) and another USB-c connection on the right-hand side. There’s also a micro-SD port and an audio jack. A nice touch is the physical switch to deactivate the in-built camera, a nice feature if you’re super cautious about online safety.

I usually struggle with many laptop keyboards but I found the x360’s keyboard comfortable to work with, with nice travel in the keys. I set myself the challenge of using it as my primary device [excluding my work laptop] for a couple of weeks, and for the most part I succeeded.

I still game on my more powerful desktop PC, but I wrote this review on the x360,  I watched YouTube videos and Netflix on the x360, I followed recipes during lock down baking with the x360. It was my go-to device for the past couple of weeks.

The keys on the x360 have nice travel to them and you can just make out the physical switch (next to the microSD port) that lets you disable the camera.

While not a dedicated gaming machine [I understand there is a version that comes equipped with an nVidia GTX1060 GPU], I wanted to test out the x360’s gaming chops and while it managed to play games like Lonely Mountains Downhill, Blade Runner (the GOG version), Tomb Raider, Dishonoured and Two Point Hospital at playable frame rates, it struggled with a game like Forza Horizon 4, though, giving me an unsupported video card warning.

If you’re a gamer, I wouldn’t recommend trading in your current gaming rig for the x360, especially if you’re keen on Doom Eternal or the upcoming Cyberpunk 2077.

I was impressed with the x360’s battery life, lasting much longer than I expected before needing a recharge: I got, on average, a couple of days moderate use before needing to plug into a wall socket.

The only issue I had, hardware-wise, was the panel flickered quite severely when I was watching streaming services like Netflix and YouTube. It flashed so badly that it even looked like the panel itself was dying. Fearing it was a major problem, a quick search using Dr Google suggested a graphics driver update then heading into the graphics control panel and disabling panel self-refresh would sort the problem. It did, thankfully.

Starting at $3159 (depending on the GPU configuration), HP’s Spectre x360 is reasonably priced considering pricing of equivalently spec’d laptops such as Dell’s XPS 13 ($3299).

For me, the Spectre x360 is one of the best HP laptop’s I’ve used and it’s a powerful 2-in-1 that should be able to do everything you throw at it, apart from serious gaming, mind you.

Thanks to HP in New Zealand for providing the review unit.

Top tech predictions for Christmas

Please note: These consoles are not top picks for this year’s Christmas.

Yes, this is most of a media release but, hey, it’s been a busy year so ride with it.

With Christmas just around the corner, price aggregation site PriceSpy has come up with what it thinks will be the top gadgets, games and consoles this Christmas.

The site predicts that top Christmas gadgets will be the Xiamoi MiJia M365 electric scooter, Apple Airpods Pro, Xiaomi Mi robot vacuum, Sony WH-1000XM3 headphones, Amazon Echo Dot (3rd generation), Apple Watch series 3, Ultimate Ears 3, Fitbit Charge 3, Google Home Mini and Garmin Instinct.

It also predicts that the top games and consoles for this Christmas will be the Nintendo Switch, Pokemon Sword, Star Wars Jedi Fallen Order, PlayStation 4 Pro, Call of Duty Modern Warfare, Logitech G29 Driving Force, Xbox One S, Xbox One wireless controller S and Pokemon Shield.

Liisa Matinvesi-Bassett, New Zealand country manager for PriceSpy, says it strongly recommend consumers use a price comparison site or app to find the best deals. As well as helping to save money, these sites can help ensure people aren’t paying over the odds on items that may be over-inflated in price.  It’s a fact that many products receive a bigger discount the closer we get towards Christmas. However, it’s also true that some items receive a price hike!

“Carrying out pricing research throughout the year can potentially help save consumers hundreds, if not thousands of dollars, which is money that can be saved in the bank!”

I guess we’ll see after the New Year if PriceSpy was on the money, eh?