Friday, November 6, 2015

Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 300 and Yu Yunique mobile

Yu has strategically placed all its devices in the sub-`10,000 price bracket. What's more, all the devices are cheaper than their nearest competitors with similar specifications and performance. This makes Yu one of the top choices at many different price points. This latest phone from Yu is the Yunique and it takes a direct potshot at Xiaomi's Redmi 2 and is even priced `1000 cheaper. When you pick up the phone, it does not feel like a entry-level smartphone. The matte rubber finish on the back panel, curved edges, chrome finish buttons and the stylish design around the camera module make it feel like a premium device. What we did not like though, was the placement of the buttons. Just like the Yuphoria, the Yunique has the power key placed between the volume keys on the right side. This takes some getting used to and even after a few days of use, we ended up hitting the wrong buttons every now and then.
An HD display is no longer a strong point since it is now commonplace even in a sub-`5,000 phone. The 4.7-inch HD screen on the Yunique , however, still managed to impress with excellent brightness, sharp details and natural colour.The only slight kink in the armour? The viewing angles could have been better.
Unlike all the previous phones from Yu, the Yunique does not come with CyanogenMod.Instead it runs a near stock Android Lollipop user interface. It's probably a good decision since stock Android allows for a much smoother experience, especially on low-end hardware.The interface is zippy to use, switching between apps is seamless and even with all animations on, the phone did not feel sluggish.
Performance from the phone is great. The Snapdragon 410 processor and 1GB RAM keeps things running smoothly . It managed to play full HD videos, run over 8 apps in the background simultaneously and was able to play Subway Surfers and Temple Run without any hitch.
Of the 8GB internal storage, only 4.6GB is available for use. With just a few apps and using the camera for photos and videos, the space tends to run out quickly , so you'll have to get a memory card. The 2,000mAh battery manages to last from morning till evening with basic usage.However, with heavy voice calling use and 4G connectivity , you will have to charge the phone twice everyday . Camera quality is good for the most part . You get multiple modes (HDR, portrait, sports, landscape) and multiple photo effects. We found the rear camera on the Yunique to be a capable shooter. In daylight as well as indoors, it delivers rich colours, lots of detail and minimal noise.Low light photos were also good enough to view on phone screen and share on social media. On the other hand, the front camera photos have lots of noise. Video recording is done in 1080p full HD resolution and the quality is good enough to be viewed on a large TV .
Another highlight of the phone is Yu's new after sales service support. They offer an onsite doorstep service -customers can get their devices services and repaired with the replaced handsets being delivered to their doorstep after repair. Overall, we feel that the Yu Yunique offers high value for money.Some might call it a better option than the Redmi 2. While it has a few quirks, it's great for the price. Kudos to Yu for offering such a smartphone in a sub-`5,000 price.

Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 300

Affordable and convertible usually don't go together very well when it comes to laptops.Lenovo wants to change that with this affordable Yoga 300 -a thin & light touschscreen convertible with the trademark Yoga double hinge (which means the screen has 360 degrees of rotation). It's a smart (but conventional) design on this one. Our review unit is white (but black is available as an option too). White extends to the lid and underside -the bezel around the screen is still black and so is the palmrest. The silver dual hinges act as a highlight: they are visible with the lid closed and open at any angle. We did find that the matte finish polycarbonate surfaces are prone to scratches though. The keyboard is full size, chiclet style with adequate spacing but the travel on each key is quite less.
On the left side of the machine, you'll find a Kensington lock slot, proprietary power connector, USB 2.0 port, SD card reader, rotation lock button and a volume rocker. On the right is an Ethernet port, full size HDMI port, a USB 3.0 port, a USB 2.0 port (powered), power button and a couple of LED notification lights.
With the lid closed, the Yoga 300 has a sort of clamshell design that tapers off on either end.This looks good when the lid is closed but looks quite odd when using it as a tablet. It also makes the device feel much thicker than it is, owing to the gap created. What's good is that when you start opening the lid, it recognises the position of the screen (tent, stand, tablet, laptop) and suggests apps accordingly .Obviously , there are several uses for this -and you can even place the machine with the screen flat on a table, facing up. The moment you swivel the screen past 180 degrees, the touchpad and keyboard are disabled.
You'll notice this doesn't have one of the Intel Core processors. Instead, it's a Pentium quad core running at 2.16Ghz. It's not performance oriented but it gets the job done most of the time. Windows 8.1 runs along smoothly and it's got enough grunt for basic homeoffice use and light multimedia. The 4GB RAM and 500GB hard drive round off the specs. The 2-cell internal battery is good for about 4 to 5 hours of use.
One of the areas where some major costcutting has been done is the screen. Not only does it have very thick ugly bezels around the screen, it's just not very good quality . Viewing angles are poor, overall brightness is low, colours are not at their best and it is highly reflective. All this makes for a less-than-ideal experience and it's a big negative in an otherwise decent machine.
There is a bunch of pre-loaded software which may or may not be useful to you. This includes Lenovo Phone Companion (Android phone mirroring and notifications -using a phone client app), Companion (registration, accessories, forum, use manual etc), SHAREit (to sendreceive files), Lenovo Veriface Pro (face recognition login), Photo Master (touch optimised photo viewer and organiser), OneKey Optimizer (system maintenance, power & battery charging modes), Motion Control (uses the webcam to detect gestures), Harmony (usage statistics + app recommendations), McAfee antivirus trial and a Lenovo Settings panel (in addition to the usual Windows settings).
Overall, the Yoga 300 won't set your pulse racing but it does offer fairly good value (we've seen online prices as low as `28k) for someone looking at a multi-mode machine with touch. It will also get a free upgrade to Windows 10 which will further speed up operation. A similar machine you can consider is Dell's Inspiron 3148. It costs a bit more but is the same size, has most of the same features (flexi touch screen) and an Intel Core i3 processor.

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