Recently Browsing 0 members
No registered users viewing this page.
By Namerah S
Sennheiser CX 400BT True Wireless review: A battery that just doesn't give in
by Namerah Saud Fatmi
With the rise in popularity of truly wireless earphones, hundreds of brands and companies have come up with their take on the audio device concept. Today's review will take a look at Sennheiser's latest creation: the CX 400BT TW earbuds. Sitting a tier below the premium MOMENTUM True Wireless 2, the CX 400 BT buds were designed to deliver superior sound quality with everyday usage in mind.
The real question is whether the CX 400BT can stand their ground against alternatives with similar price points from competitors like Jabra or Sony. At an asking price of $199.95, no ANC and a lack of an IP rating, will the world-renown German engineering fail to deliver? Let's find out.
Weight 49 grams (6g each earbud + 37g charging case) Design In-ear, closed acoustics Connectivity Bluetooth 5.1 | USB Type-C Battery 5V, 600 mA | Up to 7 hrs, 20 hrs with charging case Speaker Sennheiser 7mm dynamic driver Frequency response 5Hz to 21,000Hz Frequency response (microphone) 100Hz to 10kHz Total harmonic distortion <0,08% (1kHz / 94dB) Codecs SBC, AAC, aptX Supported Profiles A2DP, AVRCP, HSP, HFP
Right off the bat, the CX 400BT TW earbuds have a nice premium feel to them. The truly wireless earphones come in a matte silicone case with glossy highlights here and there which accent the finishing of the product. As it has a matte coat, the charging case does not track any fingerprints. It also has a nice weight to it, neither too light nor too heavy.
Turn the case around and you will find a USB-C charging slot (a compatible cable comes in the box), a small LED light and a button - the only physical button on the entire device. You can press the button to learn the battery status of the earbuds. If the battery is high, the light flashes green, if it's been used about midway, it blinks yellow, and if the charge is low, it turns red.
Moving on to the stars of the show, the earbuds that are housed inside the silicone case are small, sleek and ergonomic. Each individual earbud has a touch panel on its exterior to navigate controls. The right earbud has three tiny little holes in a corner which are barely visible. These serve as the microphone. You can tap each bud once, twice or hold down to trigger different controls such as pause, play, volume controls, voice assistant, and answering or declining calls.
Owing to the small size and squarish design of the earbuds, they fit in nice and snug when worn. I found no issues while wearing and using them for long periods of time. Rather, I would often forget that they were on in the first place. Contrary to my fears, the buds are not prone to falling out either. Overall, it was a very comfortable wear experience.
One of the biggest disappointments for me was the lack of an IP rating on this thing. Although it also lacks active noise cancellation, the water and dust resistance certification is a bigger priority for me personally. Through an unfortunate incident, I was able to discover that despite the missing IP rating, the CX 400BT earphones are considerably durable.
While walking to work one unlucky morning, I happened to drop the case in a nearby pool of drain water. My immediate reaction was to pick it up and douse clean water all over it. After several hours of sanitization and intense cleaning up with tissues at my workplace, I was amazed to find out that the earbuds were working just as good as before! Following this incident, I think from a durability standpoint, the CX 400BT are pretty good despite not having any sort of resistance certification.
Speaking of the actual performance of the Sennheiser TW earbuds, the sound quality is simply excellent. Music and calls sound very crisp and clear, and the bass and treble also sound great. Though it doesn't have ANC, the in-ear closed acoustic technology manages to shut out outside noise very well. The only time when I could hear external sounds with the CX 400BT on was in the midst of heavy traffic and even that was reduced to a low, barely audible hum.
The microphone works pleasingly well, despite the petite nature of the buds and their distance from the mouth. As for the touch panels, they are also great and respond perfectly without any accidental touches. All controls are completely customisable and can be changed via Sennheiser's mobile phone app. It is called Smart Control and is available for Android and iOS. It also has an equalizer, allowing users to adjust the sound preferences to their liking.
On paper, the battery specifications state that the earbuds can stay alive for up to seven hours with continuous playback. When factoring in the silicone case, the battery life is further extended to a cap of 20 hours of back-to-back playback. I decided to put this to the test and my results were well above satisfactory.
After fully charging up the CX 400BT, I was able to use the TW earphones (including the case) for 14 days straight. I tend to listen to music while working, so the actual playback time according to my estimates would be about 21 hours of real-world usage. Once drained, it took me 1hr 6m to charge the case back up fully, as opposed to the 1hr 30m official charge time. The results speak for themselves, the battery life deserves applause.
In the end, I would say that if you're an average Joe living the nine to five corporate life but have a penchant for music on the go (coupled with a tendency to be clumsy like me), these earbuds will work as a fabulous fit. The sound quality is wonderful, they look really stylish and are very comfortable to wear.
Some other plus points that make up for the lack of ANC and IP rating are the unexpectedly good durability and the easy-to-use controls. Add to that the brilliant battery life and you have an absolute winner on your hands.
If you're looking to buy a pair of Sennheiser's CX 400BT TW earbuds, you can purchase them for a temporarily discounted price of $129.98 from Amazon.
As an Amazon Associate, Neowin may earn commission from qualifying purchases.
By Rich Woods
Acer Enduro N3 review: Acer's first rugged laptop
by Rich Woods
Back in June at its next@acer event, Acer announced its new Enduro brand. For the first time, it was planning to compete in the rugged PC market, which is largely dominated by Panasonic. Along with a few tablets, the two laptops it introduced were the Enduro N3 and Enduro N7.
While the N7 is a fully rugged device, the Enduro N3 is more of a semi-rugged PC that's meant to be more thin and light. Of course, you wouldn't call it thin and light by any other standard. It weighs in at 4.37 pounds, and it's nearly an inch thick. But it'll sure take a beating.
It also has sealed ports for its IP53 water resistance rating. There are some key things that it doesn't have though, such as a hot-swappable battery and 4G LTE connectivity.
CPU Intel Core i5‐10210U processor GPU Intel UHD Graphics Body 351x247x24.85mm, 1.985kg Display 14 inches, 1920x1080 TFT IPS, Acer ComfyView RAM 8GB DDR4 SDRAM Storage 256GB SSD Ports (2) USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A
(1) USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-C
Connectivity Intel Wireless Wi-Fi 6 AX201 Audio Two built-in stero speakers
Built-in digital microphone OS Windows 10 Pro Price $1,099.99
Like I said, you wouldn't call the Acer Enduro N3 thin and light by any other standard, except the rugged market. Indeed, when it comes to semi-rugged PCs, this is about as thin and light as it gets. To be clear, semi-rugged doesn't just mean MIL-STD-810G tested, because all of Lenovo's ThinkPads pass over a dozen of those tests, and they can be much thinner and lighter.
But this thing can take more of a beating. It can also go underwater with its IP53 water resistance rating. All of the ports are sealed, in fact. You have to flip open a lid to gain access to the ports. This is a common method of water-proofing a device.
The color is black, and frankly, there's nothing sexy about the device. It's not like the Enduro N7 that looks more like a Panasonic Toughbook. Even the Acer branding on the textured lid is just a dull silver. If you're looking for something flashy, this really isn't that kind of device.
You'll notice that there are gray accents on the sides, such as the flaps the labels on the flaps that cover the ports. There are also gray bumpers on the corners of the PC, which help to protect it from drops.
As you can see, it has plenty of ports, as a device like this should. It supports wired Ethernet, HDMI, and has three USB 3.2 Gen 1 ports for 5Gbps speeds. Two of them are Type-A and one is Type-C. By the way, I got those specs from an Amazon listing, since Acer actually didn't provide much in the way of specs for this machine.
Note that while there's a barrel charging port and it comes with a barrel charger, you can charge via USB Type-C. It also charges a lot faster than most PCs, from my experience, and the battery life is pretty great, but we'll get to more of that later.
The design of this PC is purely functional, as there really isn't anything that's meant to make it pretty. It's meant to handle harsh conditions with its bumpers on the corners and closed-off ports. Unfortunately, there's no hot swappable battery, something that would definitely come in handy in the field.
Display and audio
The Acer Enduro N3 has a 14-inch FHD display that does not support touch, and this is another area where I feel like it falls behind Panasonic. Sure, touch is terrible if you're trying to use this thing in a sandstorm. No one wants false touches. But what could have been done here is Acer could have built software to turn the touchscreen on or off. I guess I'm just used to rugged PCs being made for a broader range of use cases.
The display isn't particularly bright, a surprise for something where users might be using it outdoors. Acer says that it's aimed at architects, project inspectors, event managers, scientists, adventure sport lovers, and outdoor activists, so that's a pretty broad range of groups right there. You'd think they'd want a brighter screen, and I'm sure a hot swappable battery would help too. The screen is fine for regular indoor use though.
One thing you'll also notice about the screen is that it really has large bezels. That's no surprise given the form factor, but they really feel like they stand out. Every part of this machine seems to be function over form, which is a good thing.
Audio quality is no different. Listening to music or watching movies doesn't sound particularly great, but it does get loud enough. In other words, if you're using it for calls, especially if you've got a loud background wherever you are, this gets the job done.
Keyboard and trackpad
The keyboard is backlit, and it's pretty standard. There's nothing about it that really stands out, and it feels good to type on. It's comfortable, and it's accurate. I'm using it to type this review right now.
The trackpad is not clickable, something that I'm not personally a fan of but I understand why it's like that. It has two physical buttons instead, which are placed below it. I'm a big fan of physical buttons with trackpads. It just makes dragging and dropping easier. Unfortunately, it also means that we get a smaller trackpad.
There's also a fingerprint sensor next to the trackpad, and it's the only method of biometric authentication that you're getting here. There's no IR camera for Windows Hello, but that's fine. At least there's something.
Performance and battery life
The Enduro N3 that Acer sent me comes with an Intel Core i5-10210U, 8GB RAM, and a 256GB SSD. There are, of course, a ton of configuration options. You can get it with a Core i7-10510U, which is still quad-core, 16GB RAM, a 1TB SSD, a secondary HDD that's up to 2TB, dedicated Nvidia GeForce MX230 graphics, and more. I believe that the model sent to me is the base model.
One thing that isn't an option is 4G LTE, which is really a shame. Again, when you start looking at the rugged category, a lot of outdoor use cases come into play. Along with the brighter screen and the hot-swappable battery, cellular connectivity could definitely be useful. These are Acer's first PCs in the rugged space though, of course.
Performance in general is just fine, and it's about what you'd expect from a Core i5 and 8GB of RAM. Unfortunately, based on the spec sheet that Acer sent me, there's no option for a vPro variant, such as the Core i5-10310U or the Core i7-10610U. All CPUs are from the Comet Lake family though, a decision that usually gets made because Comet Lake has a vPro variant, so it wouldn't surprise me if that gets released at some point.
Battery life is actually better than I expected. I was able to get a solid nine hours of real-world work out of it. Acer didn't tell me how big the battery is, but the battery report says it's 48WHr, which isn't particularly large. I guess with the FHD resolution and the somewhat dim display brightness, long battery life was doable. Whatever the cause, it's a great quality in a semi-rugged laptop.
For benchmarks, I used the usual PCMark 8 and PCMark 10.
PCMark 8: Home PCMark 8: Creative
PCMark 8: Work PCMark 10
None of the scores are surprising. It's a fairly standard configuration, which is a Core i5 and 8GB RAM.
Acer's Enduro N3 is a solid semi-rugged laptop, and it's an excellent first try from the company. Honestly, there really isn't anything that stands out about it, hence the relatively short review. I think I made my point best when I said it's function over form. It seems to have been designed with purpose, and that purpose is being semi-rugged while being thin and light, relative to the rugged market.
But I do think that the Enduro N3 is missing a few key features, considering the potential use cases. I'd like to have seen a brighter display for outdoor use, and of course, cellular connectivity. 4G LTE would open this up to first responders and more. I'd also like to have seen a hot-swappable battery, although I kind of understand why that gets taken out in favor of being thin and light. You'd need two batteries, easy access, and so on.
There's a lot of good here though. The display is a good one despite brightness issues in direct sunlight, and the overall package is pretty great. You get a lot of value for the starting price of $1,099. The IP53 water resistance rating means that it's dust-resistant and can handle jets of water. You can also drop it without worrying about it breaking, of course. In fact, I did that on video.
If you want to check it out, you can find it on Amazon here.
As an Amazon Associate, Neowin may earn commission from qualifying purchases.
By Rich Woods
Microsoft Surface Pro X (SQ2) review: Still the best Windows tablet
by Rich Woods
Almost exactly a year ago, I reviewed the original Surface Pro X saying that it's the perfect portable PC (for me). It was my favorite PC of 2019, and thanks to a minor refresh, it's my favorite PC of 2020 too.
To be clear, this is a very minor refresh. The big internal change is that it comes with an SQ2 chipset instead of an SQ1. Just like the Microsoft SQ1 was based on the Snapdragon 8cx, the SQ2 is based on the Snapdragon 8cx Gen 2, and the 8cx Gen 2 is already a minor update on the 8cx. The other big change in the Pro X is that it comes in a new, beautiful Platinum color.
Microsoft isn't shy about how minor of a refresh this is. You might recall that the Surface Pro 6 was basically a spec bump (to Intel eighth-gen) and a new color variant (Black), but it was still considered a product refresh. The new Surface Pro X is similar; it's simply a new configuration of the existing Surface Pro X.
I wanted to be up front with that in this review. If you bought the first one, this isn't about whether or not you should buy the new one. Microsoft isn't even branding it as such. It's an improved model, and frankly, a sexier one.
CPU Microsoft SQ2 GPU Adreno 690 Body 11.3x8.2x0.28in (287x208x7.3mm), 1.7lbs (774g) Display 13 inches, PixelSense, 2880x1920, 267ppi, 3:2, 10-point multi-touch Ports (2) USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C
(1) Surface Connect
Surface Keyboard RAM 16GB LPDDR4x Storage 256GB removable SSD Battery life Up to 15 hours of typical device usage Connectivity Wi-Fi 5: 802.11ac compatible
Bluetooth Wireless 5.0 technology
Qualcomm Snapdragon X24 LTE modem
Cameras, video, and audio Windows Hello face authentication camera (front-facing)
5.0MP front-facing camera with 1080p full HD video
10.0MP rear-facing autofocus camera with 1080p HD and 4k video
Dual far-field Studio Mics
2W stereo speakers with Dolby Audio sound
Material Aluminum Color Platinum OS Windows 10 Home Price $1,499.99
Claims made in the specs, such as battery life, are based on Microsoft's own spec sheet.
Design and new Platinum color
The Surface Pro X is thin, lightweight, compact, and I love it. I'm not usually a fan of the tablet form factor, but I make an exception for this lovely device. To be clear though, while it's much thinner than an Intel-powered Surface Pro, it's not lighter. It's the same weight at 1.7 pounds.
That's because the Surface Pro X is made out of aluminum, a heavier material than magnesium. Microsoft actually made a lot of different design choices for this product, because the ARM64 processor allowed for a thinner build. That's why the pen doesn't magnetically attach to the side, and the ports for the Surface Keyboard are different. And you read that right; don't call it a Type Cover.
Let's talk about the color though. The Surface Pro X now comes in Platinum, which is a more traditional Surface color. I was not excited about this nearly as much as I was about the SQ2 chipset. Honestly, when Microsoft told me that it was sending me a Surface Pro X with an SQ2, I was secretly hoping I'd get a Black one with a Poppy Red Surface Keyboard.
Of course, I've got the new color, and it blew my socks off. I did not expect it to look this pretty. I often look at silver, aluminum laptops as basic, but there's nothing basic about the new Surface Pro X. It has a white strip across the top for cellular antennas, and the rest is Platinum with a chrome Microsoft logo on the kickstand. It's beautiful.
The new SQ2 processor is just for higher-end configurations of the Surface Pro X, and so is the Platinum color. Starting at $1,499, you'll need to get 16GB RAM and either 256GB or 512GB of storage. If you want to spend less than that, you have to get Black and an SQ1 chipset.
On the left side, you'll find two USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C ports that will get you up to 10Gbps data transfer speeds. That's another big design change that we saw which switching to the aluminum Surface Pro X; there's no USB Type-C, something that Microsoft often boasted about in its Intel-based Surface Pro. That side also has a volume rocker.
On the right side, there's still a Surface Connect port, which is also USB 3.2 Gen 2, so the port is equal to the actual USB ports. One thing that you'll notice is that there's no 3.5mm audio jack, which always feels a bit weird from a PC. I suppose you can always pick up some Surface Earbuds if you want.
Another thing I'd like to see is a charging indicator, something that Microsoft never really puts on a product. You know, it could just be a tiny yellow LED that turns white when the battery is full.
Underneath the kickstand, you'll find a little panel that can be opened with a SIM tool. As you'd expect, you can find the nano-SIM slot in there, but you can also find the SSD. Yes, the SSD is removable, which is pretty awesome. It's also a feature that you won't find on the Intel Surface Pro.
To be clear, the removable SSD is not meant for upgrading your storage, although you could totally do that. Just be aware that you'll need a recovery image for the Surface Pro X to do it. What it's actually meant for is if you sell or recycle the device, so you can properly destroy your data.
Display and audio
The Surface Pro X has a 13-inch 2880x1920 display. In fact, it's very much a Surface display, rocking the 3:2 aspect ratio that we've seen since the Surface Pro 3, and using the same 267ppi pixel density that you'll find on the 12.3-inch screen on the Surface Pro 7. As always, the color accuracy is fantastic.
Frankly, you can always count on Microsoft for a solid display. It does make some lower-resolution ones, such as the one in the Surface Laptop Go, but even that was pretty solid in terms of color reproduction. The one thing that I always criticize is that I wish it was a bit brighter. It's not incredibly easy to use outdoors, a shame for an ultra-portable PC with cellular connectivity.
You'll notice that it has narrow bezels on the sides, and these are the smallest bezels that you'll find on any Surface PC. In fact, many are still hoping that the Surface Pro 8 looks similar to this because frankly, Surface Pro 7 looks ancient with its big bezels next to a Surface Pro X.
The bottom and top bezels are actually quite large. In fact, the Surface Laptop Go has a smaller top bezel than the Pro X, which is why this PC has an IR camera in it for facial recognition.
Audio quality is also pretty great for a tablet. Like I said last year, the speakers are clear and it's loud, once again, for a tablet. This is a great machine for streaming movies on, just like for work. It has a great display with great speakers, but to revisit the display for a moment, it has a 3:2 aspect ratio. It gives you a bit taller of a display than your regular 16:9 screen, but it's still wider than the 4:3 aspect ratio that you'll find on Apple's iPads.
In short, the screen quality and audio quality make this great for work, play, and more. Speaking of play, Xbox Game Streaming should be coming soon.
Surface Keyboard and new accessories
Like I said, the original Surface Pro X came in any color you wanted, as long as it was black. That was true of the Surface Keyboard and the Slim Pen as well, but no more. Even if you're not going out and spending $1,499 for a brand-new Surface Pro X, you can even spice up your old one with a new keyboard.
The one that Microsoft sent me is Ice Blue, which is a very pale shade of blue. I wasn't even sure if it was Platinum at first because it doesn't say on the box. But the new set of keyboards comes in Platinum, Poppy Red, and Ice Blue, and they have an Alcantara coating. You can still get the original Black one if you want.
But also, be careful of Microsoft's marketing. It loves to pair black accessories with black products, and it really annoys me. That Poppy Red keyboard would look hot with a Black Surface Pro X, so make sure to look around before you buy.
As I mentioned earlier, this is called the Surface Keyboard, not the Type Cover, because the ports have been redesigned. You can actually use the original Type Cover from 2012 with the Surface Pro 7. The cover size won't match, but the ports are the same, and it works. You can not use one with a Surface Pro X, nor can you use the Surface Pro X Keyboard with a Surface Pro 7. They are not compatible.
Another thing that's redesigned is that it has a pen garage. When you prop the display against the display, the pen is hidden away. Moreover, when it's in there, it wirelessly charges the pen, so no more having to buy AAAA batteries.
Sadly, there aren't any new colors for the Slim Pen. That's still only available in Black, unlike the Surface Pens that are available in the same new colors as the keyboards. To be clear, you can totally use whatever Surface pen that you want with this. They all use the same technology. But this is just designed to be used with the Slim Pen.
A key feature of the Surface Pro X is 4G LTE cellular connectivity, which means that you're always connected. Well, as long as you're near a cellular network. Personally, this is a must-have feature for me on a PC. In 2020, everything should connect to the internet instantly.
The nice thing about cellular connectivity is that you don't have to worry about connecting to Wi-Fi. Sure, I'm on Wi-Fi when at home, since I don't want to use up my data plan. But when I'm out, it's just so much easier to use cellular. You don't have to worry about ending up on the Starbucks mailing list, the insecurity of public Wi-Fi, dealing with slow hotel Wi-Fi or hunting down a password in an airport lounge. It just makes life easier.
The thing that really surprised me is that there's no 5G on the Surface Pro X, and frankly, that needed to be said. One of the key features of the Snapdragon 8cx Gen 2 is that it will require a 5G modem, just like Qualcomm's Snapdragon 865 in phones. With Microsoft's custom version of it, there's no 5G modem. It's also not that hard to build support for sub6 5G. Presumably, the team is waiting until it's more mature.
But as that statement implies, 5G is not mature, and right now, you won't see any noticeable speed improvement from 4G LTE to sub6 5G.
Performance, battery life, and Windows on ARM
This is sort of the meat of the review, because it's where you decide if this device is right for you. The SQ2 processor isn't a meaningful improvement over the SQ1, and Microsoft isn't trying to pretend that it is. In fact, those higher-end models that come with an SQ2 are priced exactly the same as their SQ1 counterparts.
Let's start with some benchmarks. I used Geekbench because it's the only benchmarking application that I know of that runs natively on ARM64 (we'll get to native apps in a moment).
Surface Pro X
Microsoft SQ2 Surface Pro X
Microsoft SQ1 Samsung Galaxy Book S
Qualcomm Snapdragon 8cx Huawei MateBook E
Qualcomm Snapdragon 850 Lenovo Miix 630
Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 Single-core 794 766 726 494 378 Multi-core 3,036 2,946 2,909 2,045 1,553
As you can see, the Snapdragon 8cx is when we start seeing some major improvements. After all, it was the first ARM64 chipset designed from the ground up for PCs. The Microsoft SQ1 was pretty much an overclocked version of it, and then the SQ2 is a minor improvement on that.
Now, let's talk about real-world performance. It's great, as long as you're using a native ARM64 application. If you compare a Snapdragon 8cx Windows on ARM PC to Intel's Y-series - which is for fanless devices - the Snapdragon PC easily wins in a speed test, assuming that both are running native apps.
But not all apps are native. Windows on ARM supports native ARM and ARM64 apps, as well as emulated x86 (32-bit) apps. So you can still run most of what you want, like Chrome, Slack, and so on. Like I said, they run in emulation, so there's a performance impact. The biggest performance impact is in web browsers as they produce code in real-time, which can't be cached.
Both Microsoft's Chromium-based Edge browser and Firefox run native to ARM64. Edge being built from Chromium is key, as Google has had Chrome ready to ship for over a year and just hasn't done it due to politics. I'd say stick to Edge wherever possible, and you can install PWAs as apps.
Right now, there's no x64 emulation though. A year ago, we exclusively reported that x64 emulation is coming to Windows on ARM, and Microsoft made it official in September. The bad news is that it's coming to Insiders this month, meaning that unless you want to sign up for beta testing and put your PC in a potentially unstable state, you won't see the feature until probably next fall.
Honestly, I don't miss x64 apps though. Sure, Adobe's apps like Premiere Pro and new versions of Photoshop require x64, although native Photoshop is coming. But seriously, this isn't really your video editing machine. I compared it to Intel Y-series earlier, and this is how I think of this type of PC. On an Intel Y-series PC, Premiere Pro would run so poorly that it might as well not be able to run.
Finally, battery life is decent, although you're not getting the 15 hours promised in Microsoft's specs. Standby battery life easily beats Intel, and the promise of better battery life overall is actually true. But a thinner and lighter device almost always means a smaller battery. Combine a smaller battery with better battery life and you get, well, pretty much the same battery life you'd get on an Intel-powered product.
I love the Surface Pro X, and it's still the only truly premium Windows on ARM PC out there. Lenovo put out the Flex 5G this summer for $1,499, but for such a price, it only came with 8GB RAM and an FHD display. To my knowledge, I do believe that Microsoft is the only one offering a Windows on ARM PC with 16GB RAM.
Another thing that I love about this particular iteration is that it really doesn't have a good reason to exist. It's a very minor upgrade, and Microsoft didn't have to do it. The Surface team is known for being conservative with such things too. But rather than just wait for when it can produce a major upgrade, Microsoft saw a way that it could provide a better experience for users, and it went for it.
All of my complaints are really minor. The biggest one is that there's no headphone jack, and that's really the only thing worth knocking a point off of the verdict for. There's also no charging indicator, and no 5G. Like I said about the latter, you really won't miss 5G anyway. If it was a phone, I'd tell you to future-proof and wait for 5G, but assuming that you're not using cellular as much on a PC, it's fine. And of course, I want more pen colors.
But this device is a delight. Other than loving that Microsoft even bothered with an upgraded chipset, I love the new colors. The Platinum chassis blew me away in a way that I didn't think it would, and the new Surface Keyboard colors make the Surface Pro X official to me, as colorful accessories have been a staple to the Surface lineup in day one.
If you're looking for a buy or don't buy, obviously don't buy if you've got a Surface Pro X with an SQ1. But if you're looking for a slim, ultra-portable tablet that's stylish and is frankly a lot of fun, definitely have a look at the Surface Pro X.
By Rich Woods
iPhone 12 Pro Max review: Do not buy this phone
by Rich Woods
Last year when I reviewed the iPhone 11 Pro, I titled it "an actual, meaningful upgrade". I called it that for two reasons. The first is that coming out of the gate, it was severely underestimated, using the same design for the third year in a row, and it's tough to get over the hump of the idea that it's not new if it doesn't look new. The other reason was that it actually was a significant upgrade. Apple produced a smartphone camera that was competitive for the first time in years, and battery life was phenomenal.
This year's iPhone 12 Pro series is what you'd expect in a follow-up. The design has been overhauled using flat edges in a throwback to the iPhone 4, the OLED screen looks even better, and the camera is improved, especially on the iPhone 12 Pro Max. It's a lovely device.
But you shouldn't buy it. Apple and Google both went all-in on facial recognition last year, ditching fingerprint sensors. Obviously, they couldn't predict a pandemic that was on the way that would render facial recognition useless when wearing a mask. Google adapted, adding a fingerprint sensor to this year's Pixel 5. Apple did not, opting to release the entire iPhone 12 series with Face ID only.
For that reason, I simply won't be able to recommend the iPhone 12 Pro Max, or any iPhone 12 for that matter. As long as we're wearing masks in public, you're better off using something with a fingerprint sensor, and if you're more comfortable in the Apple ecosystem, all sign point to just waiting until next year.
CPU A14 Bionic, dual 3.1GHz, quad 1.8GHz, Apple GPU (quad-core), next-gen Neural Engine Display 6.7 inches, 2778x1284, 458ppi, OLED, 19.5:9 Body 160.8x78.1x7.4mm (6.33x3.07x0.29in), 228g (8.03oz) Memory 6GB RAM, 128GB / 256GB / 512GB storage Camera 12MP f/1.6 + 12MP f/2.4 ultra-wide + 12MP f/2.2 2.5x telephoto, Front - 12MP f/2.2 Video capture 4K - 60fps Battery 3,687mAh, 20W fast charging Colors Graphite, Gold, Silver, Pacific Blue Price $1,099 / $1,199 / $1,399
Notably, there's no power adapter in the box, just a USB Type-C to Lightning cable. If any other manufacturer did this, I wouldn't care. After all, we do all have power adapters, and a lot of the stuff that comes with modern devices is wasteful. The only problem is that most people still have 5W Apple power adapters, which is what Apple has been shipping forever, even when fast charging was supported.
So not only will you not have a fast charger if you use one that you already have, but you won't even be able to use the cable that came in the box. Your adapter uses USB Type-A, and this is USB Type-C. Just the iPhone 11 Pro series came with an 18W USB Type-C adapter.
Also, there are no more Lightning headphones in the box, which is totally fine by me. I haven't used one of those in quite a long time, and I suspect that Apple has some telemetry on how many people use them.
Apple's entire iPhone 12 series offers the first full redesign since the iPhone X was introduced three years ago. In fact, as far as the chassis goes, you could probably make the case that Apple has been using the same design since the iPhone 6. Of course, you could also say that this is a recycled iPhone 4 design. Maybe it's best not to overthink it and just say that we have something that looks completely new.
The iPhone 12 Pro series comes in four colors: Graphite, Silver, Gold, and the new Pacific Blue. Graphite is basically Space Gray rebranded for the new design. When I purchased this phone, I initially picked Pacific Blue. After all, I do usually get the new color, which would make sense to replace my Midnight Green iPhone 11 Pro. But a few hours after pre-orders began, I canceled my order and switched to Gold, because this new Gold color really pops.
You see, being that the iPhone 12 Pro Max shipped a few weeks after the iPhone 12 Pro, I was able to go to an Apple Store to actually see the colors in person, something that you usually can't do when pre-ordering an iPhone. Personally, I think the Silver and Gold models look the best, Pacific Blue is the one for those that want the new color, and Graphite is for those that just always buy Space Gray.
The back of the phone is still made out of frosted glass, and on the Gold model, it's still a sort of beige. You'll still get a gray back with Graphite, white with Silver, and so on. It's got gold accents all over though, which is what really makes it stand out. The three rear cameras are surrounded by transparent glass, but each lens has a gold border around them.
The stainless steel frame is flat, a throwback to the iPhone 4-style design that I mentioned earlier. And the frame is wider than the glass back or front, so if you look at it directly from either side, you can see the accent around the entire border. It's quite nice.
Unfortunately for some, you'll still find the Lightning port on the bottom of the device. Now that the iPhone 12 series has been announced for over a month, that means that we're well on the way with rumors about the iPhone 13 having USB Type-C, just like every year.
The rest is the same too. On the left side, there's a volume rocker and above that, a switch to control notifications. Personally, I love that switch and it's one of my favorite features of iPhones. OnePlus is the only Android OEM I know of that does this, and it's just so useful. Also on the left side is the nano-SIM slot, so that's the one thing that's been moved. The power button is still on the right side.
The iPhone 12 Pro Max is surprisingly comfortable to use, and perhaps I feel that way because I had such low expectations for this device. I've always criticized Apple for having big, flat backs that just aren't as comfortable to hold as curved backs. I will note that if you're moving from something smaller, you'll definitely notice it. I came from the 5.8-inch iPhone 11 Pro.
One of the new features that caught a lot of attention is MagSafe. MagSafe was a popular MacBook feature which was all about a magnetic charger. The idea was that if you went and tripped over the charging cable, the cable would fall out of your MacBook rather than pulling your MacBook crashing to the floor.
It's been replaced with USB Type-C on the laptop side of things, but now MagSafe is here for iPhone in the form of wireless charging. Like a good reviewer, I purchased a $39 MagSafe charger alongside my iPhone 12 Pro Max, and no, it does not come with a power adapter. It's just a USB Type-C cable with a magnetic disc on the other end.
The disc attaches to the back of the iPhone and charges it. Yes, it seems simple, and perhaps that's the beauty of it. Personally, I think that the MagSafe charger is also pointless. After all, it's just a cable with a wireless charger on the end; why not just use a wired charger?
But of course, MagSafe has other applications. For example, Apple's cases support MagSafe too, and you can add other accessories on the back like a magnetic wallet. Belkin makes a MagSafe car mount, letting you mount your phone on your dashboard without a clip. That Belkin product is the only MagSafe item that actually got me excited, but sadly, it's not out yet.
MagSafe is a cool idea, and frankly, its potential relies on the ecosystem of products that are released around it.
Despite not being a high refresh rate display like virtually all of Apple's competitors, this screen is amazing. If you want proof, check out DisplayMate's analysis of the display, which gives it top-notch results. Yes, I will always make notch puns, because why not?
Ever since the iPhone X, Apple has had its big notch at the top of the display which includes sensors for Face ID and a front-facing camera. But also, the bezels are black, something that wasn't the case previously. Before the iPhone X, you had to get a Space Gray iPhone to get black bezels on the screen. I know; dark times.
The bezels are a bit smaller this year, as the display is a bit bigger at 6.7 inches. Given the new design, it looks amazing. The true blacks on the OLED display blend right into the black bezels, and it really makes you feel like you're just holding a big screen. It has a 2778x1284 resolution for a 458ppi pixel density, and Apple is calling it Super Retina XDR.
But as I said from the beginning, the down side is that it doesn't have a high refresh rate. Apple is sticking with a 60Hz screen for now, while companies like Huawei and Motorola are making 90Hz screens, and companies like Samsung and OnePlus are releasing phones with 120Hz screens. The higher refresh rates make for smoother motions.
Still, this screen just looks so good. And of course, refresh rate rumors for the iPhone 13 should be right up there with the USB Type-C rumors.
The camera on the iPhone 12 Pro Max is awesome. Let me explain something about my use case as a reviewer. I always get excited for the annual iPhone release because it's annual. I'll use this device for about six months, and I'll inevitably move back to Android in the spring since most OEMs have spring and fall releases. What I'm getting at is that I've been using a variety of Android phones for about six months.
And it feels good to be using the iPhone 12 Pro Max. There are definitely some great cameras on Android phones, such as those from Google and Huawei, but Apple provides a more complete experience. Google's Pixel 5 is great, but it's certainly not premium in the way that the iPhone 12 Pro Max is. Huawei's P40 Pro+ is awesome too, but you really can't buy it in the U.S. And in this reviewer's opinion, you should never buy a Samsung phone if you care about what your pictures will look like.
So let's talk about the new camera on the iPhone 12 Pro Max. It's a larger sensor for better low-light performance, and all three cameras are still 12MP. However, this year, the Pro Max doesn't have the same camera as the Pro as it has in years past. The iPhone 12 Pro Max actually has a better telephoto lens that gets you 2.5x zoom instead of 2x zoom.
The bad news is that lossless zoom is something that Apple still isn't taking seriously. You have companies like Huawei that are putting both a 3x and a 10x zoom lens on a phone to do some crazy stuff with hybrid zoom, and Apple is boasting 2.5x. Well, actually, it's boasting 5x zoom because it counts it from the ultra-wide sensor.
Video recording is improved as well. You can now record HDR video with Dolby Vision, and it looks beautiful. Indeed, Apple has long been the king of video capture, so just hearing that it's getting even better is great news. Unfortunately, you do have to switch to "high efficiency" video to get Dolby Vision HDR, just like if you want to record in 4K 60fps.
Gallery: iPhone 12 Pro Max samples
There are a few things to note here. If you're using the main sensor, it seems like you actually have to try to take a bad picture, like by shutting off night mode. And yes, night mode kicks on automatically. That's one of the nice things about Apple's camera features. While night mode has been a thing for a long time (Huawei was the first), Apple takes the thought out of it.
Night mode works with all three lenses, but you'll still notice that both ultra-wide and 2.5x zoom images struggle at night. In fact, when you switch to another lens, you'll almost always see the night mode indicator change the amount of time for exposure in an effort to compensate.
But here's the best part, or at least my favorite part. I really didn't have to throw out any images for this review. With almost every other phone, I throw out a ton of low-light images that are out of focus, blurry from movement, and so on. So many phones take too long to focus, especially in low light. And they can also take forever to take a picture, and if you're not paying attention, you might move the phone before it actually takes the shot, leaving you with a blurry mess.
I didn't have those issues with the iPhone 12 Pro Max, and frankly, it was kind of refreshing. This is a big issue that I've seen with devices from LG and OnePlus particularly.
Apple's camera on the iPhone 12 Pro Max is among the best around. The one area where it doesn't keep up is lossless zoom. While the ultra-wide and telephoto lenses can struggle in low-light, this isn't uncommon due to the nature of these types of sensors, and I do think that Apple does a better job than most of its competitors. But things like image processing, video capture, general low-light performance, ease-of-use, and more are really the best around.
Performance and battery life
The iPhone 12 Pro Max is probably the most powerful smartphone in the world. Apple's custom processors regularly beat out what Qualcomm has to offer, and if Qualcomm does come out on top, it's the following spring. You see, Apple releases new iPhones with brand new processors in the fall, and Qualcomm releases its new Snapdragon chipsets in the spring, so sometimes we see a back and forth.
Apple's A14 Bionic chipset is impressive, to say the least. It's the first 5nm SoC to be used in a smartphone, and we're also seeing it in the new iPad Air. With Dolby Vision video recording, Apple billed this as the first device that can record, edit, and compile Dolby Vision video, so it's got some power.
Battery life is fantastic as well. In many (if not most cases), the iPhone 12 Pro Max still had 50% battery life left when I went to sleep. Obviously, the battery is much bigger than the one that I had in my iPhone 11 Pro, although it is smaller than the battery in the iPhone 11 Pro Max, which had a 3,969mAh battery.
The entire iPhone 12 series supports 20W fast charging, even if you do have to buy the adapter separately. And of course, it supports 15W wireless charging, along with the new MagSafe technology.
For benchmarks, I used Geekbench 5, AnTuTu, and GFXBench. First up is Geekbench 5, which tests the CPU.
For one thing, you'll notice that the A14 has the best single-core score of any A-series chip yet, but it's still beaten in multi-core by both the A12Z and A12X that's found in Apple's iPad Pro. But you can also see that it beats the A13 in both categories by quite a bit.
We can compare this to Samsung's Galaxy S20+, which uses Qualcomm's latest processor, the Snapdragon 865, and got 909 on single-core and 3,160 on multi-core. Lenovo's Legion Phone Duel, which has a Snapdragon 865+, got 979 and 3,409, respectively. Next up is AnTuTu, which tests everything.
In this case, the Legion Phone Duel scores 612,768. The OnePlus 8 Pro scored 576,696, but somehow they both beat the iPhone in the CPU category. Perhaps AnTuTu changed how it does scoring at some point. Finally, GFXBench tests the GPU.
MagSafe got its own section in this review because it was something that people got excited about during the event. 5G gets its own section because, well, Apple got excited about it. Yes, Apple spent a great deal of time talking up 5G, and for some reason, Verizon's 5G specifically.
So let's break down 5G, including why you need it in a smartphone, and why you really have nothing to be excited about. First of all, here's why you need it: you're spending a thousand dollars on a pocket computer and you should be future-proofed. Seriously, I wouldn't recommend a 4G phone to anyone right now unless you're spending under $400. But you're not spending under $400; you're buying an iPhone.
The bad news is that you will probably never notice any meaningful change over 4G LTE. Perhaps the experience will evolve over time, but there's nothing right now. I know what you're thinking, didn't Apple and Verizon talk about crazy gigabit speeds? Yes, and that's what every company is doing to talk up 5G right now, but it's also meaningless.
5G is a combination of sub6 bands and mmWave bands. Millimeter wave (mmWave) bands are high frequency waves that offer super-fast, multi-gigabit speeds. The only problem is that they can't penetrate, well, anything. For mmWave to work, you need to be in line-of-sight with an antenna. Even a window will block it. Companies will hype up the ability to download a whole season of a show while waiting in line to board a plane. Just be careful not to put your phone in your pocket while it's downloading, or the speeds will drop drastically.
Here's something that you can actually try with a mmWave smartphone. Go find a mmWave antenna. You'll have to go to a major city for this. Run a speed test and watch the super-fast data flow in. In the middle of the test, just put your hand in-between your phone and the 5G base station, and watch how quickly the speed drops.
In other words, mmWave is pretty useless. That's where sub6 comes in. Sub6 covers frequencies below 6GHz, and they consist of low-band and mid-band frequencies. T-Mobile is doing the best here because it actually has its own 600MHz spectrum, and the 2.5GHz band that it picked up from Sprint.
The idea is the lower the frequency, the better it is at penetrating buildings. Also, it's easier for your phone to send a signal back to the base station. Remember, the base station is much more powerful for sending a signal to your phone than your phone is at sending the signal back.
I use T-Mobile, and I was happy to finally see the 5G signal light up on an iPhone. I did run into some connectivity issues, but I later found out that that was due to a single app using 45GB of cellular data over the course of just 48 hours, so now I'm throttled for a while. That app was The Weather Channel by the way, and if anyone has a weather app that they really love, feel free to let me know.
The iPhone 12 Pro Max is an absolutely delightful device, and I love it. After using Android for about six months, it felt good to use this phone, and it got me thinking about what a comparable Android smartphone would be.
I couldn't think of one. I'm a fan of OnePlus devices like the 8 Pro, which has a beautiful QHD 120Hz OLED display and it's blazing-fast, but the camera doesn't even come close to what Apple is offering. Google's Pixels are always among my favorites, and while the camera is fantastic, it just doesn't feel premium. Like OnePlus, Samsung makes great hardware, but its image processing is so bad that I'd never carry it anywhere if I'm planning to capture an actual memory with a smartphone camera. Huawei phones are great, but they aren't sold in the U.S. and don't have Google services.
The iPhone 12 Pro Max is perfect in almost every way. It's got the fastest internals, a stunning design, a nearly perfect display, and one of the best cameras around. It would be the complete package, if there wasn't a pandemic going on.
But there is a pandemic going on, and most of us have to wear masks when we go out. If I'm at the supermarket and I open OneNote for my shopping list, I have to type a PIN, like a barbarian. Seriously, for a company that champions itself as one that cares about the issues, releasing a smartphone without a fingerprint sensor was incredibly tone-deaf, and for that reason, I simply can't recommend buying one.
If this pandemic ends and we go back to a world where being limited to facial recognition makes sense, then by all means, I recommend the iPhone 12 Pro Max. But until that happens, this device has to stay on the do not buy list. And the longer it takes, the better off you are just waiting for the iPhone 13.
Game & Watch Super Mario Bros. review: A great homage to Nintendo's classics
by João Carrasqueira
On September 3, Nintendo announced its celebrations of the 35th anniversary of the launch of Super Mario Bros. on the Nintendo Entertainment System. The Mario franchise is arguably one of, if not the most recognizable name in the industry, so naturally, Nintendo likes to flaunt it.
As part of the celebrations, we got Super Mario All-Stars added to the Nintendo Switch Online's library of SNES games; Super Mario 3D All-Stars released as a collection of the three first 3D Mario games; Super Mario Bros. 35, a battle royale-style adaptation of the original game; and Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit, a real-life Mario Kart game that lets users create their own courses at home and play on them alone or with friends who also have the game.
The most recent launch as part of the anniversary is the Game & Watch: Super Mario Bros., and this one celebrates more than the 35th anniversary of Mario. It also celebrates Nintendo's first success in gaming, the Game & Watch. Each of these products stands on its own as a piece of Nintendo history, and you can see that with how the packaging is designed to showcase Super Mario Bros. at first, but also the original Game & Watch: Ball game once you slide the box out of the plastic wrap.
Game & Watch origins
It may not hold as much of a place in many people's memories, but the Game & Watch was how Nintendo started seeing success in the gaming industry, all the way back in 1980 - meaning this is the device's 40th anniversary, too. The original Game & Watch devices were designed with calculator-type screens, and they were simple endurance games, having the player perform certain actions for as long as possible before messing up their streak. The content on the screen couldn't change beyond what fits in a single frame, so this was the only kind of game that could be crafted, and it also meant that each Game & Watch device had a single game, with many iterations being released over the years.
Game & Watch: Ball (2009 re-issue) | Image credit: masatsu (Flickr) The device was conceptualized and designed by Gunpei Yokoi, who was riding a train when he noticed a man fiddling with a calculator to kill some time on the ride. The name Game & Watch is about as self-explanatory as it gets. It was a game, but when you paused it, it constantly displayed the time, so it could be used as a pocket watch. You couldn't turn the console off entirely, so the watch was always there, and an alarm was also added in later models.
The Game & Watch was also the birthplace of some features that would eventually become staples of Nintendo products. The cross-shaped D-pad was first used in the Game & Watch adaptation of Donkey Kong in 1982, before it was used in the Famicom (the Japanese version of the NES) controller in 1983. Donkey Kong was also part of the Multi Screen series of the Game & Watch, with the clamshell design and dual screens being an obvious inspiration for the Nintendo DS in 2004. Even the idea of detachable controllers we see with the Nintendo Switch bears some resemblance to the Micro Vs. series of the Game & Watch.
All in all, the Game & Watch products sold 43.4 million units worldwide, and they became Nintendo's first big success in the gaming industry. Sadly, I don't personally own one, or I didn't until the Super Mario Bros. edition.
Design and display
A lot of the identity of the original Game & Watch lineup lives on in this new Super Mario Bros. version. The look seems to mostly derive from the Gold and Wide Screen series of the Game & Watch, but it can also be interpreted as a reference to the Famicom controller, which was itself red and gold. The gold-colored plate on the front is metal, which makes the device feel much more premium.
Having never owned a Game & Watch before, I was surprised at how compact this thing is. It's quite small, and also very thin, which I think adds to the premium feel. It also makes it super easy to carry around if you just want something to help you kill some time throughout the day. However, it can be a bit uncomfortable to play for longer periods, especially if you have big hands.
There are, however, some things here that weren't in the original Game & Watch devices. For one thing, there's a power button, so you can actually turn the device off, or put it in sleep mode, at least. The battery is also rechargeable here, and it charges via USB Type-C. It's great to see that Nintendo didn't cheap out and use micro-USB or something. It's a retro device but modern enough to not be annoying. A USB Type-A to Type-C cable is included, but you need to provide a power adapter yourself. In terms of omissions, the original Game & Watch devices had a kickstand, which you don't get here.
Of course, another big change from the classic Game & Watch models is the display. This version plays a couple of games from the NES, so a color backlit display is used instead of the calculator-style LCDs of the past. I was shocked at how good the display really is. It gets very bright and as far as displaying NES games goes, it looks phenomenal. The pixels are also so small here that it helps these games feel less dated than they actually are, and they feel right at home on this tiny device.
Sound is also as fine as it needs to be for NES games. The single tiny speaker on the left side gets surprisingly loud, and the quality is more than good enough for the sounds you'll hear from these games.
Games and controls
As you'd probably expect, the Game & Watch: Super Mario Bros. allows you to play Super Mario Bros. from the NES, but it also includes Super Mario bros.: The Lost Levels, here referred to by its original Japanese name, Super Mario Bros. 2. The Western Super Mario Bros. 2 was actually a completely different game based on another title, Doki Doki Panic, but the one included here is very similar to the first Super Mario Bros., albeit with some cranked up difficulty. There's also a recreation of the original Game & Watch game Ball, now starring Mario as the main character instead of Mr. Game & Watch.
The games are recreated nearly perfectly on this device, including the copious amounts of sprite flickering you'd get in NES games and some bugs from the original versions. There are, however, some bonuses and changes here and there. For example, you can press the B button on the title screen for both Super Mario Bros. games to start from a specific world, as long as you've made your way to that world before. You can also hold A when starting a game to start with infinite lives. Additionally, after beating the original Super Mario Bros., you unlock Hard mode on the title screen, whereas the original game only allowed you to play it if you kept the system on after beating the base game. For Ball, in addition to playing as Mario, you can also play as Luigi by holding the A button on the title screen for five seconds. Sadly, there's no option to play as Mr. Game & Watch.
All the games control really well here, with no input delays, and the controls somehow feel tighter than I remember them being for these games. I've never had a situation where I blamed the controls for a death or something like that.
The buttons themselves feel good too. The D-pad is made of hard plastic, and it has a nice tactility to it without feeling too harsh when it actuates. The A and B buttons are made of a rubber-like material, and that may sound terrible, but it actually works well. While the buttons are very soft, they still have nice actuation, and again, I've never been able to blame the controls for losing in a game. They end up feeling comfortable, and the rubber gives them more grip than hard plastic would.
Of course, it wouldn't be a Game & Watch without a watch, and Nintendo also designed one themed around Mario. The clock screen features an animated screen with Mario running through the bottom, and various characters from Mario games appearing from time to time. The time of day on the screen changes throughout the day, and there are 35 easter eggs that happen at different times of the day, such as the blocks that display the time changing to coins at 5:55 (AM and PM). You can also just see a simple clock by pausing any of the games.
From the watch screen, you can press the A button for five seconds to listen to the Mario Drawing Song, which was originally available in 2010 as a promotion for a Mario-themed contest in the Nintendo DSi application Flipnote Studio. The song is only available in English, but you can choose subtitles for different languages. Nintendo issued a warning prior to the release, though, as many non-English languages are mixed up and selecting one language will display the lyrics in another.
This issue can't be fixed, and that's because there's no way to update or change the software on this system. The USB Type-C port has no data throughput, meaning there's no way to push anything onto it. That also means that, if you were hoping to turn this device into some sort of tiny emulation machine, you won't be able to, at least not without physically opening up the device and some very advanced tinkering.
Another neat little bonus for Nintendo fans is the artwork that's displayed after the device has been idle for some time. After three minutes of inactivity, the Game & Watch goes to sleep, but before it does, you get to see some art of Mario and other characters, which varies depending on the time of day and what you were doing before the device was idle. The artwork depicts Mario and Luigi's outfits in the same colors as in the games featured in this package instead of their official colors, which gives them an interesting touch. These colors weren't even used for official artwork when the games released, so it's definitely an interesting decision by Nintendo.
The Game & Watch: Super Mario Bros. is probably one of the coolest collectible items Nintendo has made. It's a wonderful blend of products that defined the early days of Nintendo's history in the gaming market, combining the premium-feeling design of the Game & Watch with the most iconic game of the 1980s. The color display is beautiful and a perfect fit for these titles, and the controls feel really good overall.
I also love all the little extra bonuses thrown onto the package, like the clock, the special artwork, and the Game & Watch: Ball game. Plus, some of the options added to the games make it much easier to actually finish them, ditching the old-school approach of having to beat games in one go.
The small and thin design can get a little uncomfortable for long play sessions, but it stays true to Game & Watch brand, and this is more of a collector's item than an ideal way to play these games in my view. I still think it's a great way to play them, and if you're a parent trying to introduce kids to the early days of Nintendo, then this will likely be a perfect fit for their small hands.
It can be hard to justify or evaluate the price of a collectible. Like I said, it's not the absolute best way to play these games, and the fact that it only has these three games means it's definitely not meant to be compared with actual consoles. But the way it brings together elements of Nintendo's history, plus the bonuses thrown in here, do make this a fantastic device for die-hard Nintendo fans like myself. If you happen to be one, too, then I think the $50 price tag is definitely justified.