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HTC Announces the New U Ultra and U Play Smartphones

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HTC has launched two new smartphones – HTC U Ultra and HTC U Play – powered by Artificial Intelligence (AI). The new launch also marks the debut of the new HTC U series, with the HTC U Ultra and HTC U Play as the first devices. The phones were launched through a global launch event, which was live-streamed across the globe.

The new HTC U series smartphones are premium offerings that appear to be positioned just below the HTC One series flagship. With the AI-powered Sense Companion, the new HTC U Ultra and HTC U Play is said to learn from and adapt to the users’ behaviour in order to make the experience unique to each user.

HTC U Play

With the new HTC U Ultra and HTC U Play, the company is betting big on it’s new AI assistant called Sense Companion, which it claims will learn your usage behaviour over time in order to present you with priority notifications and alerts based on people you contact the most. On the HTC U Ultra, the second ‘ticker-style’ display, called the Priority Screen, is where Sense Companion will display important alerts and notifications.

According to HTC, you’ll need to manually perform an initial setup of Sense Companion on the HTC U Ultra and HTC U Play, which involves adding your favourite contacts and apps in order to “train” the AI, after which it’s supposed to automatically manage this for you.

One scenario that was presented to us was that the AI will be able to alert you if your phone needs a charge, depending on your schedule for the day. This way, it could warn you that your phone will not make it through the commute to work or home before you actually set off, if that’s your typical pattern. Sense Companion was developed in-house by HTC, and will work independent of Google’s voice assistant.

Both HTC U Ultra and HTC U Play phones also feature biometric voice recognition, which means you can train them to respond to commands given only by you. The biometric capabilities help authenticate you so you’ll be able to wake the phone from sleep to perform a task, without having to unlock it manually.

The HTC U Ultra has four microphones with an always-listening feature, 3D audio recording and range of around two metres. Both smartphones are said to ship with HTC’s new USonic earphones which feature microphones in the earbuds to map your ear canals to dynamically adapt audio frequencies to each individual’s ear.

Sound can then be customised depending on the type of music you listen to and ambient noise around you. The earphones also support high-resolution audio playback and work over the USB Type-C port. The HTC U Ultra and HTC U Play mark HTC’s move away from metal unibodies for its premium offerings.

The phones now feature a 3D contoured glass design, which HTC refer to as “liquid surface”. The high-gloss design looks amazing, and you have a choice between blue, black, pink and white. The HTC U Ultra features a 5.7-inch Quad HD display and is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 SoC, with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage which is expandable by up to 2TB.

HTC will also offer a premium version of the HTC U Ultra which will have sapphire glass and 128GB of storage. On the other hand, the HTC U Play has a more palm-friendly 5.2-inch full-HD display and an octa-core MediaTek Helio P10 SoC, plus either 3GB or 4GB of RAM and either 32GB or 64GB of in-built storage.

These phones’ cameras are also going to be important selling points. The HTC U Ultra features a 12-megapixel UltraPixel 2 rear camera with support for OIS, PDAF, laser autofocus, and Auto-HDR. On the front, there’s a 16-megapixel sensor which has the ability to switch to ‘UltraPixel mode’, which according to HTC, is about four times more sensitive to light compared to the standard mode.

The HTC U Play also offers the same trickery for the front camera, but its rear camera has a 16-megapixel sensor with similar features as the HTC U Ultra, minus the laser autofocus.

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Review: Huawei MateBook 14s

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Huawei has been churning out one awesome laptop after another in quick succession. We recently reviewed the company’s brilliant MateBook 14 which offered a 2K eye-comfort full-view display and metal unibody, 11th Gen Intel Processor, super device features, up to 16GB RAM+512GB SSD ROM, long battery life, and 65W SuperCharge and Shark-fin cooling fan tech. And today, we are reviewing the new 14s, which was launched a couple of weeks ago, and comes in at a price point starting at AED 5,299.

Huawei has used aluminium-alloy to construct the MateBook 14s and it comes in two colour variants – Space Gray and Spruce Green. The MateBook 14s packs in lots of features – it offers a 2.5K HD Huawei Fullview touch Display that offers a 90hz refresh rate and a 90% screen-to-body ratio. It also offers a 100% sRGB (typical) colour gamut.

The display of the MateBook 14s can also render 1.07 billion colours to show vibrant colours and smooth transition, and the aspect ratio is rated at 3:2. The display is also certified by TÜV Rheinland for low blue light for improved eye protection with zero colour cast. It is also TÜV Rheinland Flicker Free Certified. The display can also automatically adjust the brightness to fit every situation.

The MateBook 14 also offers a new keyboard layout. And unlike the MateBook 14, where the web camera was built into the keyboard as a popup camera, this time around, the web camera has moved to the top center of the display. The overall footprint of the laptop is quite compact.

Huawei packs in a 14-inch display into a slim bezel with the overall weight of the laptop tipping the scales at 1.43-kgs. In terms of connectivity, you get plenty!

On the left edge, you will find two USB-C ports that support data, charging, and DisplayPort. In addition, you also get one HDMI port, and a 3.5mm audio jack. On the right edge, you get one USB3.2 Gen 1 port.

As mentioned earlier, the web camera, which offers a resolution of 720p, is now built into the top center area above the display. Under the hood, the MateBook 14s variant we received was powered by Intel’s Core i7-11370H processor. There is also a variant that runs on Intel’s Core i5-11300H processor. You also get Intel Iris Xe Graphics.

In terms of memory, you get to choose between 8GB or 16GB LPDDR4x Dual Channel, while storage options include either 512GB or 1TB NVMe PCIe SSD. The battery is rated at 60Wh and Huawei packs in a 90W supercharger, too. When it comes to wireless connectivity, the Huawei MateBook 14s supports IEEE 802.11a/b/g/n/ac/ax, and Bluetooth 5.1.

The full-size keyboard is quite nice to use – it offers a 1.5mm key travel and it is backlit, too. The touchpad support multi-touch and you also get Huawei Share built-in. The power button also comes with a built-in fingerprint reader for added security. The laptop is equipped with four speakers and four microphones.

The Huawei MateBook 14s runs on Windows 10 operating system and you will be able to upgrade to Windows 11.

Since the Huawei MateBook 14s is part of the company’s Super Device, multi-screen collaboration between your laptop and smartphone is seamless. Just tap your phone on the touch board, and your Huawei smartphone and the MateBook will transform into one super device even without an internet connection. By this, you will be able to transfer to and from your smartphone to your MateBook with ease.

You can also take advantage of the PC and tablet multi-screen collaboration feature. If you own a Huawei MatePad 11 or a MatePad Pro, you can use the multi-screen collaboration feature in three different scenarios. In Mirror Mode, you can mirror the Huawei MateBook 14s screen to a tablet’s display, thus allowing you to directly work on files and annotate documents, or draw/sketch with the Huawei M Pencil of the tablet.

In Extend Mode, you can transform your Huawei MatePad Pro into a second screen, providing extra screen space to display more content. This can be very useful for online shopping or when you are browsing the internet and there are so many items to explore. The Collaborate Mode enables cross-platform interactions, allowing you to transfer content such as text, images, and documents between connected devices with a simple drag and drop.

The laptop also supports Pop Up Pairing which can be used for seamless pairing between your Huawei MateBook 14s and your Huawei wireless earbuds such as Freebuds 4, Freebuds 4i, and Freebuds Pro. As mentioned earlier, the MateBook 14s comes with a high capacity 60Wh battery. According to Huawei, you get around 13 hours of continuous 1080p video playback on a single charge.

And since the MateBook 14s also comes with a nifty 90W power adapter, you can get up to 3 hours of battery life with just a 15-minute charge. During our review, we clocked almost 12 hours of battery life on a single charge, which is excellent. Another stand-out feature of the MateBook 14s is the “Personal Voice Enhancement” function. This feature filters out your surrounding ambient noises and other people’s voices during meetings and calls, to ensure you’re always crystal clear.

The Huawei MateBook 14s is a very powerful device considering it packs in an H-series i7 processor and 16GB of RAM. Even though it offers a tiny footprint, it can easily handle graphics-heavy workloads such as rendering videos on applications such as DaVinci Resolve, and even the occasional gaming sessions.

If you are one of those who want stellar performance but don’t want to lug around a heavy laptop, then the Huawei MateBook 14s is just for you.

Price: AED 5299 onwards

Huawei MateBook 14s AED 5299 onwards
  • Final Rating
4

Summary

Since the Huawei MateBook 14s is part of the company’s Super Device, multi-screen collaboration between your laptop and smartphone is seamless. Just tap your phone on the touch board, and your Huawei smartphone and the MateBook will transform into one super device even without an internet connection. By this, you will be able to transfer to and from your smartphone to your MateBook with ease.

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RYSE Launches SmartShade

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RYSE has launched its SmartShades – a motorised shade. The company claims that it is the only retrofit solution, meaning it can be set up on any window shade already installed in your home, office, hotel room, or anywhere. The device involves a Chain-Drive system, in which the motor is mounted on the window frame and controls the chains or cords of your window shade. The idea is surprisingly simple – the motor essentially acts as a pulley system for your window shade.

Installation takes a matter of minutes. In 3 easy steps, you can transform your cord-controlled shades into motorised ones. All you have to do is install the mounting bracket on the window frame, loop the chain/cords through the cogwheel, and snap the device onto the bracket to tighten the chain/cord – that’s it. You can then program the SmartShade to lock the top and bottom positions into memory.

This motor is guaranteed to lift your window shade, regardless of its size or weight. How is this possible? This is because the clutch that already comes with your window shade helps reduce the required force needed to pull. While you can power the RYSE SmartShade with an AC Plug into the wall outlet, many of the company’s partners, including hotels and commercial office space, wanted a sleek clean look that is wire-free.

So the company created a removable, rechargeable battery pack that can last up to a staggering 9 months on a single charge, and you can simply recharge the pack via USB.

Control your shades via the buttons on the device or with our mobile app, where you can even create schedules – you can have them set up to rise at 7 am to help me wake up to natural sunlight, and close at 8 pm to give you privacy. Or integrate with Google Home, Amazon Alexa, or Apple HomeKit and control your shades by saying a few simple words. “Hey Google, open my window shades!”

Forget paying thousands of dollars per window just to have Smart Shades. RYSE SmartShade retails for only $149 – a fraction of the cost of competing solutions in the marketplace today.

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Panasonic Intros 4-in-1 Healthy Air Frying Convection Microwave Ovens

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Panasonic Marketing Middle East & Africa has announced the launch of its new 27L healthy air frying convection microwave ovens in the region, expanding its Home-Made Goodness range of kitchen appliances that make food preparation easier than ever, allowing you to be creative and serve fresh gourmet meals with minimal effort. With a variety of user-friendly programs, the CD67 and CT65 are perfect for health-conscious cooks as zero oil is required when cooking with the healthy air frying auto menus.

The air frying function works with advanced and powerful heating innovations so foods are cooked crispy on the outside and juicy and succulent on the inside which may be a healthier alternative to traditional deep-fried foods.

Just like their predecessors, the 4-in-1 models combine Microwave, Grill, and Convection which work together to provide the optimal cooking method to ensure delicious results every time in one compact kitchen appliance, catering to today’s increasingly busy lifestyle. These functions allow consumers to prepare a variety of dishes, from everyday meals to full party repertoire and specialty cuisine, without the trouble of using multiple pans, pots, cooking utensils, and oil.

The new models also feature the healthy re-bake bread auto menus allowing you to recreate the delicious taste of freshly baked croissants and Arabic bread at home. The 4-in-1 Convection Oven comes with a selection of automatic menus that eliminate the need to calculate the cooking time required or repeated checking while it is cooked. The CD67 has 131 easy-to-use pre-programmed auto-cook options, while the CT65 offers 101 auto-cook menus.

Katsuki Nishimura – Manager, Appliances – PMMAF said, “The products in our Home-Made Goodness range have been designed to redefine home cooking by offering convenience and healthy eating. These new models are the result of more than three decades of experience in developing microwave cooking technology and are perfect for busy and bigger local families. From simple one-touch reheating options to a wide cooking space and multiple programmes they can cook diverse meals for the whole family. These Japanese-made kitchen appliances are the perfect companion when it comes to preparing à la carte meals for the fast-food loving school-age children or when you are running late for the office. The versatile microwave ovens are just the right fit for busy households where healthy and convenient cooking is key.”

Crispy fried chicken, potato chips, and nuggets are among the nibbles everyone craves. However, large amounts of oil are usually used in their preparation, which is not exactly conducive to good health. The Healthy Air Frying function, on the other hand, circulates hot air at high speed around the food to prepare crispy and juicy dishes that can be a healthier alternative to traditional deep-frying.

Moreover, the stainless-steel interior makes cleaning the oven easy, while the compact design adds a stylish touch to any kitchen while making effective use of kitchen space. The ovens offer enough room to fit a 315 mm wide tray, large enough to prepare a meal for the whole family.

The newly launched models will be available in the UAE and Kuwait from mid-November, meanwhile, customers in Oman, Qatar, Iraq, and Pakistan can buy them in stores from December.

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