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Review: WD Elements SE SSD (480GB)

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WD has launched one of the cheapest portable SSD drives on the market under the moniker Western Digital Elements SE external solid-state drive (SSD). This new portable SSD comes in a pocket-sized design and is very compact.

The packaging of the product is quite attractive and once you open it up, you get a small squarish device that is quite feather-light.

The WE Elements SE SSS drive is clad in an all-black body with a subtle WD branding at the top left corner.

You will also find a USB 3.0 port on the device that uses a micro B connector instead of a more modern USB Type C. Inside the packaging, apart from the Elements SE SSD drive, you also get a USB 3.0 cable, and a booklet that includes the safety instruction and the warranty info.

The Western Digital Elements SE features write speeds of up to 400MBps and with up to 2TB of storage capacity. Western Digital says that the portable SSD drive is also drop-resistant up to 2 meters, though we didn’t have the heart to perform a drop test!

The SSD drive is also compatible with Windows 10 and macOS Big Sur, Catalina, and Mojave. We tested the SSD drive on a Windows 11 gaming laptop and it performed really well.

We ran the CrystalDisk benchmark on the device and we came away really impressed.

We clocked around 451 MB/s in read speeds, which is more than the advertised 400 MB/s read speed. The device is very light and tiny to be carried around without any hassle.

For a price of AED 339, the WD Elements SE SSD (480GB) comes across as pocket-friendly. If you are on the lookout for a dependable external SSD drive that is affordable, yet offers good performance, you should definitely check out the WD Elements SE SSD drive.

Price: AED 339

WD Elements SE SSD (480GB) AED 339
  • Final Rating
4

Summary

WD has launched one of the cheapest portable SSD drives on the market under the moniker Western Digital Elements SE external solid-state drive (SSD). This new portable SSD comes in a pocket-sized design and is very compact.

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Action Cameras

GoPro Hero12 Black Creator Edition Review: Action Camera Perfection!

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The GoPro Hero series has been the undisputed champion of action cameras for years, capturing adrenaline-pumping moments and breathtaking landscapes for adventure seekers and content creators alike. The latest iteration, the Hero12 Black, promises advancements across the board. But does it deliver a revolutionary leap or a familiar, albeit refined, experience? In this in-depth review, we deep dive into the GoPro Hero12 Black’s features, performance, contents of the package, included accessories, video and picture quality, and ultimately, help you decide if it’s the right upgrade for you.

Design and Build Quality
The Hero12 Black retains the iconic GoPro design – a small, rugged cube built to endure the harshest environments. Its compact size (59.4 x 81.5 x 27.0 mm) and lightweight design (117 grams) make it perfect for capturing action on the go, whether it is strapped to your chest for a mountain bike ride or mounted on a helmet for a whitewater rafting adventure. The camera’s durability is legendary, constructed from a toughened polycarbonate shell that can withstand drops, bumps, and even light crushing.

It’s also waterproof up to 10 meters (33 feet) without needing additional housing, making it ideal for underwater adventures. One of the most noticeable changes is the addition of a front-facing LCD screen, a feature long requested by vloggers and selfie enthusiasts. While some might prefer a larger screen, its current size maintains the camera’s compact and portable nature.

The 1.4-inch LCD offers a live preview of your shot, allowing for precise framing and composition, especially when using the camera in first-person view. The two physical buttons (shutter and power) and a single-action record button remain in place, offering intuitive control even when wearing gloves or navigating through menus with wet fingers. Voice control also makes a return, allowing for hands-free operation for those moments when touching the camera isn’t feasible.

What’s Inside the Package?
Cracking open the Hero12 Black Creators Edition box reveals the following:

GoPro Hero12 Black camera
Rechargeable Lithium-ion battery
Curved adhesive mount
Mounting buckle
Mounting accessories
USB-C cable
Carrying case

While the Hero12 Black comes with the essentials for basic operation, GoPro offers a vast ecosystem of mounts and accessories to expand its functionality, which can be purchased separately. These include head straps, chest mounts, bike mounts, and even a 360° capture mod for immersive content creation.

GoPro Quik App
The GoPro Quik app remains the central hub for controlling the Hero12 Black and managing your footage. The app has undergone a slight redesign, offering a more user-friendly interface with improved navigation and easier access to crucial functions. Through the app, you can connect to the camera via Wi-Fi 6E for faster transfer speeds, preview your shots live, adjust settings, and edit your captured content on the go. The app also offers a suite of automatic editing tools with various presets and templates to help you quickly create polished videos for sharing on social media.

Features
The Hero12 Black boasts several key features that cater to both casual users and seasoned action videographers. It comes packed with a new 8:7 sensor, a departure from the traditional 4:3 format used in previous models. This allows for native 5.3K video capture at 60fps, perfect for creators who want flexibility for various social media aspect ratios without compromising quality. It also shoots stunning 27MP photos, capturing crisp details even in challenging lighting conditions.

GoPro’s ever-evolving stabilisation technology, HyperSmooth, takes another leap forward with version 5.0. This in-camera stabilisation system delivers butter-smooth footage, even in the most demanding scenarios. Whether you’re hurtling down a mountain bike trail or wrestling waves on your surfboard, HyperSmooth 5.0 ensures your videos remain watchable and professional-looking. This feature is a game-changer for capturing action without the need for bulky external gimbals.

For those who crave complete creative freedom, Protune mode offers granular control over video settings such as white balance, ISO, shutter speed, and colour profiles. This level of control allows experienced users to capture footage that perfectly matches their creative vision. In addition, the Hero12 Black allows you to live stream your adventures directly to social media platforms such as YouTube or Facebook.

Video and Picture Quality
The Hero12 Black delivers exceptional video quality, pushing the boundaries of what an action camera can achieve. The new 8:7 sensor allows for native 5.3K capture at 60fps, as mentioned earlier, offering incredible detail and smooth motion, perfect for capturing fast-paced action sequences. For those who prioritise frame rate over resolution, the Hero12 Black can record in 4K at a silky smooth 120fps, ideal for slow-motion edits and creating cinematic effects.

Photo Quality Sample

The image processing within the Hero12 Black has also been improved, resulting in better colour accuracy and dynamic range. This is evident in scenes with high contrast, where details in both highlights and shadows are preserved, creating a more natural and balanced image. The low-light performance, however, shows minimal improvement over the Hero11 Black. While the noise reduction algorithms offer some improvement, dedicated low-light cameras still hold an edge in capturing clean footage in darker environments.

Here’s a breakdown of the Hero12 Black’s key video recording resolutions and frame rates:

5.3K: 60fps, 30fps
4K: 120fps, 60fps, 30fps
2.7K: 240fps, 120fps, 60fps, 30fps
1080p: 240fps, 120fps, 60fps, 30fps

Other Features
GoPro’s signature Timewarp feature gets an upgrade with Timewarp 3.0. This allows for capturing hyper-lapse footage with even more control over speed and smoothness. You can now set custom durations and frame rates, allowing for creative flexibility in your time-compressed videos.

The Hero12 Black also shoots stunning 27MP photos, capturing crisp details and vibrant colours. The HDR mode offers an improved dynamic range for photos taken in scenes with high contrast, ensuring all details are preserved. The camera also boasts a burst mode capable of capturing up to 30 frames per second, perfect for capturing fleeting moments or action sequences.

Accessories Ecosystem
While the Hero12 Black comes with the essentials for basic operation, GoPro offers a vast ecosystem of mounts and accessories that significantly expand its functionality. These accessories cater to a wide range of activities and shooting styles, allowing users to capture unique perspectives and immersive footage. Some of the popular options include head straps, chest mounts, bike mounts, and 360° mods.

Battery Life
When it comes to battery life, the Hero12 Black shines. GoPro claims improvements in battery efficiency suggesting 155 minutes of battery life on a single charge. In our tests, we easily achieved a little more than an hour’s worth of battery life, before the device needed a recharge. If you invest in a second battery you might be able to go beyond the 2 hours mark without needing the juice the battery up.

Connectivity
The Hero12 Black boasts the latest Wi-Fi 6E standard, offering significantly faster transfer speeds compared to previous models. This translates to quicker sharing of your captured footage and a more streamlined workflow from camera to post-production. Additionally, Bluetooth connectivity remains solid, allowing for easy pairing with your smartphone for remote control and previewing footage on the go.

Verdict
The GoPro Hero12 Black is a solid evolution of the Hero series, offering a handful of key improvements over its predecessor. The new 8:7 sensor, front-facing LCD screen, and HyperSmooth 5.0 stabilisation are undeniable upgrades for content creators and action enthusiasts. The overall video and picture quality have also improved and it shows. If you crave smooth, high-resolution videos of your adventures, the Hero12 Black delivers.

Price: AED 2399

Videography and Photography by Ryan Chris

GoPro Hero12 Black Creator Edition AED 2399
  • Final Rating
4

Summary

The Hero12 Black retains the iconic GoPro design – a small, rugged cube built to endure the harshest environments. Its compact size (59.4 x 81.5 x 27.0 mm) and lightweight design (117 grams) make it perfect for capturing action on the go, whether it is strapped to your chest for a mountain bike ride or mounted on a helmet for a whitewater rafting adventure.

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Earbuds

Soundpeats Air4 Pro Wireless Earbuds Review: A Strong Contender in the Budget ANC Market

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The Soundpeats Air4 Pro earbuds have carved a niche in the wireless earbud market, offering hybrid active noise cancellation (ANC) and a feature set that rivals premium brands at a significantly lower price point. But are they too good to be true? Let’s find out!

Design and Comfort
The Air4 Pro comes in a sleek charging case with a brushed metal finish that feels surprisingly premium for the price. The earbuds themselves have a familiar in-ear design with silicone ear tips. They fit snugly in the ears and provide a secure feel – inside the package, you also get two pairs of extra silicone ear tips which can be used to get a perfect fit.

The touch controls on the earbuds are responsive and customisable. You can control playback, volume, ANC, and even activate your virtual assistant with simple taps and holds. The controls offer a good amount of functionality and are quite convenient to use.

Sound Quality
The Soundpeats Air4 Pro boasts 13mm dynamic drivers, which deliver a surprisingly good audio experience for the price. The bass is the star of the show, offering a rich and punchy sound that’s perfect for bass-heavy genres like electronic music and hip-hop. However, the bass doesn’t overpower the mids and trebles. Vocals remain clear, and instruments retain their detail, creating a well-balanced soundscape.

The Air4 Pro also features an EQ (equalizer) app, allowing you to customise the sound profile to your preference. You can choose from presets or create your own custom EQ settings, giving you more control over your listening experience.

Noise Cancellation
The ANC on the Air4 Pro is a definite highlight for budget-conscious buyers. It effectively cuts down on low-frequency noise such as airplane hum and traffic rumble. During our tests, the ANC did a decent job of creating a more peaceful listening environment.

The Air4 Pro also offers a transparency mode, which allows you to hear your surroundings without having to remove the earbuds. This helps stay aware of your environment or carry on conversations without taking your earbuds out.

Call Quality
The Soundpeats Air4 Pro uses six microphones with built-in AptX Voice technology for clear call quality. By supporting a high 32kHz sampling rate and maintaining a wide 16kHz frequency response, these earbuds capture the subtleties of your voice, ensuring your voice is transmitted clearly during phone calls and video conferences.

Battery Life
The Soundpeats Air4 Pro offers a decent battery life, with the earbuds lasting up to 5 hours on a single charge with ANC turned on. The charging case provides an additional 2 recharge cycles, bringing the total listening time to around 15 hours. This is sufficient for most users to get through a workday or a long commute. The case itself charges via USB-C, which is a welcome touch.

App Functionality
As mentioned earlier, the Soundpeats app allows you to access the EQ settings and customise the sound profile of the Air4 Pro earbuds. The app also displays the battery level of both the earbuds and the charging case.

Verdict
The Soundpeats Air4 Pro is a great option for budget-minded listeners who prioritise good sound quality, especially those who enjoy bass-heavy genres. The ANC is a valuable addition at this price point, offering a more immersive listening experience. The secure fit and long battery life make them suitable for everyday use, commuting, and workouts.

Price: AED 239

Soundpeats Air4 Pro Wireless Earbuds AED 239
  • Final Rating
3.5

Summary

The Soundpeats Air4 Pro boasts 13mm dynamic drivers, which deliver a surprisingly good audio experience for the price. The bass is the star of the show, offering a rich and punchy sound that’s perfect for bass-heavy genres like electronic music and hip-hop.

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Electric Scooters

Marshall MA21 Electric Scooter Review: Convenience on Two Wheels

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The Marshall MA21 electric scooter carves a niche in the electric scooter market with its focus on portability and ease of use. In this review, let’s deep dive into the MA21’s features, performance, and overall value proposition to help you decide if it’s the right electric scooter for your needs.

First Impressions
Right out of the box, the MA21 strikes you with its compact size. Weighing in at just over 8kg, it’s incredibly lightweight, thanks to its aluminium frame. This makes carrying it on public transport, storing it under your desk, or throwing it in the trunk of your car a breeze. Folding the scooter is a one-step process, making it even more convenient for on-the-go situations.

Performance
The MA21 is equipped with a 24V/200W motor, which is suitable for flat terrains and gentle inclines up to 15 degrees. The MA21 can also support a maximum load of 90 kg. While it won’t win any speed races, it offers a comfortable cruising speed of 23km/hr, perfect for zipping around town or navigating a college campus.

The MA21 also offers a range of 12-15km, when fully charged. And it takes around 3 hours to charge the electric scooter from 0% to 100%. However, strong winds or steeper inclines can affect performance.

Ride Quality
Despite the solid 6-inch wheels, the MA21 offers a surprisingly smooth ride. The spring suspension in the front helps absorb bumps and cracks on paved surfaces. However, it’s important to manage your expectations – for rougher terrain, a scooter with pneumatic tires would be a better choice.

Safety Features
The MA21 comes equipped with a basic set of safety features. The front wheel features an electronic brake, while the rear wheel has a mechanical foot brake. These brakes provide adequate stopping power for the scooter’s speed. Headlights and a taillight ensure visibility in low-light conditions.

Verdict
The Marshall MA21 might not be the most feature-rich electric scooter on the market, but it excels in portability and ease of use. It’s a perfect choice for riders who prioritise a lightweight, convenient, and affordable way to navigate short distances in urban environments.

If you require a scooter for longer distances, or rough terrains, or crave additional features such as a display, you might want to consider alternatives that better suit your needs. However, if you’re looking for a no-frills, convenient, and fun way to get around for short commutes, leisure rides, or navigating a college campus, the Marshall MA21 is a strong contender.

Price: AED 1199

Marshall MA21 Electric Scooter AED 1199
  • Final Rating
3

Summary

The MA21 is equipped with a 24V/200W motor, which is suitable for flat terrains and gentle inclines up to 15 degrees. The MA21 can also support a maximum load of 90 kgs. While it won’t win any speed races, it offers a comfortable cruising speed of 23km/hr, perfect for zipping around town or navigating a college campus.

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