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If there was one thing I would have sworn you could never interest me in trying, it was yet another Bluetooth earpiece. There are about a zillion of these available (well, 45,322 according to Amazon), and for the most part my view has always been that if you’ve seen one, you’ve seen ’em all. Stick them in your ear and get tinny, one-eared sound that is hopeless for music but does the job for hands-free phone calls when you don’t have access to an installed setup in your car.
But I had to admit that the Schatzii Bullet is rather smaller and more stylish than most, with a cute charging system that goes some way toward making up for the somewhat limited battery-life that inevitably accompanies such a small device. It seemed worth a try …
What you see in the photo above, with my iPhone SE for scale, is the earpiece in its charging tube.
The earpiece itself, shown below, measures just 2cm long by 1.5cm wide. The whole unit sits inside your ear, with nothing dangling down or sitting on your ear. That fact, coupled to the amazingly light 3.5g weight, makes it far more comfortable than the typical Bluetooth earpiece out there.
The downside, of course, is a limited battery-life. Although it’s good for 80 hours on standby, you only get around 90 minutes of talk-time. For someone like a cab driver, who is on the phone for much of the day, this would be wildly impractical. But for many of us, an hour is actually enough to make it through the day.
And when the battery runs out, that’s not game over if you don’t need continuous use. Because that charging tube is a portable power pack that can recharge the earpiece up to three times. The earpiece just snaps magnetically into place, and recharges in around an hour. So if you have a one-hour commute, for example, you could use it all the way in, snap it into the charging tube in your pocket and then use it all the way home again.
The whole unit – earpiece plus power pack – measures less than 6.5cm long by 1.5cm wide, so slips easily into any pocket.
You get an extremely discreet red LED while it’s charging, which goes out when it’s fully-charged. You recharge the power pack itself via a supplied micro-USB lead, hidden beneath a cap on the other end of the tube.
At the business end, the earpiece also snaps very firmly into place via a strong magnet. I didn’t feel there was any risk of it coming loose in my pocket, and indeed it remained in place both in a pocket and in a bag.
Sound quality is exactly what you’d expect from a tiny Bluetooth earpiece: distinctly average. Nobody would be using a single earpiece for music, and volume is limited, but it’s adequate for phone calls in most environments, including a car. It wouldn’t cope with very noisy places, but very few earpieces do. It does, though, have built-in noise-reduction, and I could hear well enough in a train station.
But you can’t really beat the Bullet when it comes to portability, especially when you take into account the very neat charging system. The stylishness is also a good match for Apple products. I think there are those who will find this hard to resist – and it’s small and light enough that I’ve kept it in my bag as a ‘just in case’ option for those times when I go out without headphones. You can also get similar rebadged versions for significantly less.
The Schatzii BULLET Bluetooth Earpiece with Charging Capsule is $126.49 from Mobile Fun. There are rebadged versions available on Amazon from around $70, but check the details as finishes vary and not all have the charging tube cap.
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The AKG Y45 BT headphones are a great choice for portable Bluetooth listening, and perfect for commuters and those on the go. We marginally preferred the Sennheiser MM 400-X for the prizes of Best Portable Bluetooth Headphones but the AKGs are nearly half the price, so certainly worth considering.
The AKG Y45 BT headphones are portable and wireless, and so make great headphones for commuters or others who wish to listen to music on the move.
These on-ear Bluetooth headphones are priced at £109.99, but can be found cheaper online. See the bottom of this review for the latest, best prices.
They remind us a lot of our current favourite portable Bluetooth headphones, the Sennheiser MM 400-X, which retail for £180.
And so this review can also be taken as a shoot-out between these two portable Bluetooth headphones. Which comes out as the best portable Bluetooth headphones?
(We also reviewed a fine set of Best Headphones round-up too.)Best portable Bluetooth headphones
First, let’s examine portability.
Both the AKG Y45 and Sennheiser MM 400-X fold down pretty small. The AKG fold up marginally less wide but a little taller, so there’s really not much in it.
Both come with a protective carry case; the AKG case is round and lacks the Sennheiser case’s compartment that will fit a cable (in case the batteries run out) and even an iPod. That said you can stuff the cable in the AKG pouch alongside the headphones.
The 105g Sennheiser headphones are 45g lighter than these AKGs (150g), but again there’s not a huge amount in it.
Both come with a separate, detachable cable for non-Bluetooth listening – if the batteries fade out on you, and also for optimum audio quality when you don’t need to be cable free. Battery life is a little longer on the Sennheiser headphones: 10 compared to 8 hours.
The AKG Y45, just like the Sennheiser, features ear-cup-mounted controls. The right earcup holds Play/Pause/Call Answer/Call End, Volume Up, Volume Down, and Power/Pairing buttons. Plus both boast an integrated microphone so you can switch to answering phone calls without taking the headphones off.
I found the controls to be a bit fiddly and close together at first, and preferred the easier, bigger controls on the Sennheisers. Turning the AKGs off also took some getting used to.
You charge the headphones with the supplied Micro USB cable.AKG Y45 BT headphones: audio quality
To my ear the audio quality on both the AKG and the more expensive Sennheisers sounded remarkably similar, offering a great sound. If I had to choose one it would be the Sennheisers but it’s a very close call; and you should consider that the AKGs are nearly half the price!
But I also defer to my audio buff colleague Andrew Harrison for his expertly trained ears.
First Andrew tested the AKG Y45 BT with its cable. He found they have a warm balance, and slightly rolled-off upper treble. The mildly muffled effect nonetheless helps soften the grit of MP3 and AAC recordings, in his opinion.
The headphones have a mildly thumping upper bass, boosted to follow the fashion of other street headphones – and so they are not entirely unlike the Beats sound, although not as obvious as with the comparable Philips Fidelio M2BT headphones.
They feature a strong midrange for voices, but not especially ‘open’ in character.
There is limited stereo width even with binaural material. And the bass-forward voicing can colour the sound, making it a little opaque and jumbled in Andrew’s considered judgement.
Overall Andrew thinks that the AKG Y45 favour rock and urban music, but are not so satisfying for classical and jazz.
Tested with Bluetooth there is noticeably increased white-noise hiss, especially when not covered up by any music. Busier music passages can sound dynamically compressed.
To my untrained ear the audio quality was more than acceptable at this price, and give the more expensive Sennheiser headphones a good run for the money.AKG Y45 BT headphones: design Specs AKG Y45 BT: Specs
17Hz to 20KHz frequency response
100mW max input power
Motorola Moto G Play (2023) (3GB/32GB): $169.99
Ryan Haines / Android Authority
Motorola’s strength in the budget segment is its consistency. What’s good in one version of a Moto G device will likely be just as good in the next. With the Moto G Play (2023), that idea is never more present than when talking about battery life. The 5,000mAh cell, combined with the power-sipping 4G/LTE processor, results in a phone that lasts for days and days. It doesn’t matter what you do with the phone — whether gaming, streaming, or browsing social media — you shouldn’t have to charge more than every other day at the least.
The Moto G Play (2023) also sticks to Motorola’s light and breezy My UX. We’ve long praised it as one of the lightest Android skins, and it’s no different here. If you’re buying unlocked, the only bloat you face right out of the box is the Facebook app, and you can easily uninstall it. Motorola doesn’t load you with its version of apps, instead preferring Google’s versions. One of the unsung heroes of the My UX experience is the dedicated Moto app. It might look like unwanted bloat at first, but it’s more like the Pixel Tips app and a customization suite rolled into one. You can set your app grid, choose a new font, and then learn your way around your new phone from the same app. It’s great for newcomers and those that want to customize their experience with a few taps.
Motorola Moto G Play (2023) camera review
Ryan Haines / Android Authority
More isn’t always better, no matter what a cheap camera phone tells you. We’d rather have two good lenses than one useful lens and some supporting options, but Motorola is heading the other way. The Moto G Play (2023) picked up an additional lens over its predecessor, a dedicated 2MP macro. Sure, it results in a bump that matches most of Motorola’s other phones, but you’ll spend most — if not all — of your time using the 16MP primary sensor while the depth and macro options fill in when you want them.
Motorola’s 16MP main camera is fine in good lighting, but even then, I wanted a little more. Even though it picked up an additional 3MP over the Moto G Play (2023), the pixels got smaller, costing some low-light performance. The results aren’t bad in the image of records in a milk crate or the Rolex clock, but the colors aren’t very punchy, and the details tend to fall off as soon as you’re out of good lighting. For example, the leaves in the corner of the prism image are somewhat blurry against the sky, and the trees behind the three busts fall into the same trap.
The Moto G Play’s single wide lens is not always the easiest to zoom with. Motorola offers quick taps for macro mode and 1x zoom in the camera app, but anything else requires pinching and squeezing to get right. I felt comfortable zooming in to about 3x without losing too many details, but it starts to fall off quickly after that. 8x zoom, which you can see on the right, is as far as the Moto G Play (2023) goes, and it gets progressively tougher to land a good shot. A few of the edges of the bulb are noticeably soft, and the color profile has also shifted.
While the Moto G Play’s zoom can be hit or miss, its low-light performance is almost always a miss. There’s no dedicated night toggle, so you have to rely on the 16MP primary sensor and a little post-processing luck to reach the finish line. That means the details get even softer, as seen in the trees flanking the statue, and the lights inside the casino tend to bleed. The large neon logos on Caesar’s Palace suffer a similar fate, melting into bright red blobs.
Motorola’s 5MP selfie camera isn’t excellent, though I was impressed with its edge detection. It only trimmed a few of my wilder hairs and handled the area where my hair met the rocks behind me pretty well. The shots below are a little soft on my face, and the sky is blown out behind the casino, but I find that the color profile is closer to real life than what the primary camera achieved.
Motorola Moto G Play (2023) specs
Motorola has promised one Android update and three years of bi-monthly security updates.
The Motorola Moto G Play (2023) is still a 4G-only device due to its MediaTek Helio G37 chipset.
Yes, and you can expand the Moto G Play’s storage by up to 512GB.
No, the Moto G Play (2023) is limited to 10W wired charging.
The Moto G Play (2023) has an IP52 rating for basic splashproofing and dust ingress protection.
The Moto G Play (2023) and Moto G Play (2023) share the same display size and base RAM and storage. However, the newer Moto G Play offers a faster refresh rate and swaps the Snapdragon 460 chipset for a weaker Helio G37.
Small and inconspicuous
Siri is getting smarterCons
Not as smart as other speakers
Only compatible with Apple devices
No Bluetooth connectivityOur Verdict
The HomePod Mini excels in the audio department despite its small stature, but it falls over in terms of connectivity – not just the smart devices it can control, but the smartphones and services it’s compatible with.Best Prices Today: Apple HomePod mini
Apple is in the midst of a mini revolution, launching not only the iPhone 12 Mini but the HomePod Mini at its ‘Hi, Speed’ event in October 2023. Though the HomePod Mini is spectacularly small at just 84mm tall, it’s just as smart as its bigger sibling, and the sound quality is incredible considering its small form factor.
But, as we all know, Siri isn’t quite up to competing with Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa, so is the HomePod Mini really worth investing in? I’ve spent a few weeks using the HomePod Mini, and although it’s not the perfect option for everyone, there’s certainly a lot to love if you’re already heavily embedded in the Apple ecosystem.Design and build
The HomePod Mini certainly lives up to the Mini moniker, standing at just 84.3mm tall with a diameter of 97.9mm. It’s a dramatic difference to recent smart speakers we’ve seen from the likes of Amazon, with the similarly priced and similarly shaped fourth-gen Amazon Echo measuring in at 133mm tall with a diameter of 144mm.
Apple’s option, then, is much more conspicuous than the competition, allowing it to disappear into the environment it’s sat in until it’s needed.
But even with all that being said, it’s still a shock just how small the speaker is when you see it in real life – especially when you consider the impressive audio chops, but I’ll get to that a little later.
Size aside, the HomePod Mini is a largely circular smart speaker with the same textured covering found on the regular HomePod, bringing a nice level of synchronicity to the system if you’ve already invested in a HomePod or two.
One area where the two speakers differ is on top; while the standard HomePod features a small display for displaying colours and media controls, the HomePod Mini features a plastic top surface with an embedded pulsing white LED to indicate music playback and Siri functionality.
It’s technically a downgrade, but one that I haven’t found to be bothersome in day-to-day use – even though the materials used are different, it functions in the same way, using touch input to pause or play music and adjust the volume.
The HomePod Mini was initially available in black and white, but the company expanded the collection and announced three new colours – yellow, orange and blue – at its October 2023 event.
Although it looks like it’d be a great portable speaker, it requires a power supply to function. At least there’s a power brick in the box, something that can’t be said of much of Apple’s current offering!Smart features and connectivity
It’s no secret that Apple’s virtual assistant, Siri, isn’t quite as capable as Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant on the smart speaker front, but the tide is changing – albeit slower than some Apple fans might like.
Siri is now better equipped to handle general knowledge requests as well as the ability to control any Apple Home-enabled smart accessories. It’ll be able to answer those random burning questions at 2am, send texts from your iPhone, handle music requests and if you ask Siri to show you a photo of something (a bit of an odd request given the HomePod Mini doesn’t have a display), it’ll send it to your iPhone.
Like with most smart home tech, it doesn’t always work, but it was fairly consistent with its smart functionality.
The Home compatibility isn’t quite as wide-reaching as Google and Amazon’s options, but if you’ve got a bunch of accessories that you already use with the Home app on your iPhone, chances are you’ll enjoy being able to control your smart accessories with your voice.
It offers support for user-created Shortcuts too, making it easier to control entire groups of smart devices at once. The ability to say “Hey Siri, goodnight” and have my TV and lights turn off and the sound of rain come through my speaker is a novelty I won’t be getting over, that’s for sure.
Whether summoning Siri or making an announcement, the beamforming microphone technology is reliable, always triggering at the correct time – even with music playing. There’s no need to pause between saying the wake word and your request either, you can simply say “Hey Siri turn on the lights” at once and it’ll wake and run the command simultaneously.
The voice recognition tech seems to be accurate for my voice/accent, but as with all voice recognition tech, that’ll vary from person to person.
The main focus for the HomePod Mini, much like the regular HomePod, is music playback. That’s best experienced with an Apple Music subscription, with you able to request specific playlists or tracks from your library using Siri and keep them ‘loaded’ for playback later on.
If you’ve got a compatible iPhone, you can even hold an iPhone playing music via Apple Music next to the HomePod Mini to pass playback to the speaker, and it works vice-versa too. It’s a bit gimmicky, for sure, but there are times in the past few weeks when I’ve done exactly that when entering the room while listening to music on my iPhone.
The Apple Music integration does make it much easier to listen to music on the fly, and the integration with iOS is as tight as you might imagine, but that makes it all the worse that it isn’t compatible with other popular streaming services like Spotify and YouTube Music.
It does look like times are changing though; Apple announced integrated Pandora support for the HomePod range and the door is open for other developers to add support, so that could change soon. I really hope it does, because although I can still play music from Spotify using AirPlay, it’s nowhere near as convenient as built-in integration.
It’s at this point that I should point out that Wi-Fi-connected AirPlay is the only way to connect to the HomePod Mini if you’re not planning on listening to music via Apple Music – there’s no 3.5mm input or Bluetooth connectivity on offer. For those unfamiliar, AirPlay is technology only supported by Apple products.
Compound that with the fact you need an iPhone or iPad to set up the HomePod Mini, it’s safe to say that the HomePod Mini is a bad choice for Android users. That’s a bit of a shame considering the great audio quality and design on offer, but it’s not exactly a new concept from Apple is it?Sound quality
There’s a level of clarity on offer that is unmatched by similar-sized speakers, and that’s evident in just about every track played. Whether I’m listening to classic tracks like The Animals’ House of the Rising Sun or classical tracks like Jessica Curry’s All the Earth, the mids and high-end are crisp and clean, producing detail easily lost with cheaper speakers.
There is a noticeable level of bass to go along with those rich, warm vocals, but it’s not the same thundering bass presence that you’ll find on the regular HomePod. The rounded bass tones are prominent enough for casual listening, but it’s only when you switch back to a regular HomePod that you realise just how much more bassy playback could’ve been.
That’s not to say the HomePod Mini sounds flat or tinny though – quite the opposite. It does the most it can with the bass presence available, it’s just that it wouldn’t be my first choice of a speaker to use to play Dubstep at a house party for example – whenever those become a thing again, anyway…
The HomePod Mini generates an impressively wide soundscape, throwing audio in every direction, although it doesn’t have the ability to automatically adjust the EQ depending on where it’s placed – that’s exclusive to the more expensive HomePod for now.
Still, even without the smart tech, the wide soundscape and impressive overall volume mean that it’s more than enough for a casual listening experience when working, playing games or reading a book.
That experience is elevated even further when pairing two HomePod Minis for stereo playback.
Doubling up not only allows the pair to handle left and right channels independently, creating a more immersive experience when properly placed, but it provides true room-filling audio too. I’d go as far as to argue that the stereo performance is reason enough to ditch your existing Mac speaker setup and using two HomePod Minis in its place – as long as you’re happy to use AirPlay, anyway.
If you’re looking for a small, good-looking speaker setup that produces much better sounding audio than it should be able to, the HomePod Mini is a solid option.Pricing and availability
The HomePod Mini originally cost £99/$99, but it saw a £10 price drop in the UK in late 2023, bringing the price down to £89. That’s in line with the fourth-gen Amazon Echo, and I don’t think I’m alone in admitting that I expected it to cost a little more when it was first revealed in October 2023. Apple does tend to add a premium onto its products after all, but it’s clear with the HomePod Mini that Apple simply wants to get this into the homes of as many Apple users as possible.
The HomePod Mini is worth the price if you’ve got an iPhone, an Apple Music subscription and plenty of Homekit-supported accessories, but it does lose a bit of its magic if you primarily use Spotify and use smart home tech that isn’t compatible with Apple Home, of which there is admittedly a lot.
If it is up your street, you can grab the HomePod Mini directly from Apple alongside retailers like John Lewis in the UK and Best Buy in the US. For more smart speaker inspiration, take a look at our pick of the best smart speakers.Verdict
The HomePod Mini may be small in stature, but it’s big in sound. Despite its small dimensions, the HomePod Mini has impressive audio chops that easily beat similarly priced speakers from Google and Amazon with crisp, clear mids and highs and decent bass presence, albeit not quite as powerful as its larger, premium sibling. That effect is only improved by pairing two HomePod Minis together, producing room-filling audio with no hint of distortion at any volume.
There’s an obvious focus on audio performance with the HomePod Mini because, like the regular HomePod, Siri isn’t quite as capable as Google Assistant and Alexa. Apple has made strides with wider support for smart home accessories, better general knowledge query handling and the introduction of an announcement feature to send a message to all HomePods and Apple devices in the home, but it’s still lacking in some areas.
The most limiting factor of the HomePod Mini, aside from the fact you need an Apple Music or Pandora subscription to get the easiest listening experience possible, is that it only offers AirPlay connectivity – a feature exclusive to Apple devices.
This makes the HomePod Mini essentially useless if you’ve got an Android, as you’ll need an iPhone or iPad to complete the initial setup at the bare minimum. It’s great for Apple fans, then, but Android users should probably consider something from Amazon or Google for a better smart speaker experience.Specs Apple HomePod mini: Specs
84.3mm (H) x 97.9mm (W), 345g, full-range driver and dual passive radiators, Four-microphone design for far-field Siri, Multiroom audio with AirPlay 2, Stereo pair capable, 802.11n Wi-Fi, Direct guest access4, Bluetooth 5.0, Ultra Wideband chip for device proximity, Siri control, Touch Control panel
The Dell XPS range has been one of the most prominent and impressive laptop brands over the last decade and the Dell XPS 17 9700 is a big-screen machine that’s aiming to continue that tradition.
A true desktop replacement? Let’s find out.Design & Build
The XPS 17 doesn’t break the mould, but that’s not a bad thing: the carbon-fibre coating and a shining aluminium body make for a modern laptop classic. And the XPS has diamond-cut edges, a sleek tempered shape and no extraneous silliness.
Build quality remains great and the display’s tiny bezels mean the laptop is just 248mm wide. That’s impressive for a 17.3in – the Dell is barely wider than the Apple MacBook Pro 16 and narrower than the Gigabyte Aero 15. When desktop space is hard to find, that’s welcome.
In some areas, the Dell is more ordinary. This machine looks better than the blocky Gigabyte, but it’s not as sleek as the MacBook. It also weighs 2.5kg, which makes it heavier than both competitors. If you need a light 17in laptop, consider the LG gram 17 which is just 1.35kg.
Positively, it’s got four USB-C/Thunderbolt ports, an SD card reader, Wi-Fi 6 (11.ax), a Windows Hello-enabled webcam and a power button that doubles as a fingerprint reader.
Negatively, though, there are no full-size USB ports and no HDMI output – Dell includes an adapter, but you may end up needing a proper USB-C adapter. There’s no privacy shutter on the webcam and no wired internet, as per usual.
The MacBook Pro is similar, with four Thunderbolt ports, fingerprint sensing and Wi-Fi 6 but little else. In many ways, the Aero exceeds both thanks to a better port selection, 2.5Gbps Ethernet and Wi-Fi 6.Keyboard & Trackpad
The XPS 17 uses the same keyboard as the XPS 15 – and that’s a double-edged sword. The Dell strikes a brilliant balance, with buttons that are comfortable, consistent and with welcome softness alongside pleasing speed and crispness.
It’s an excellent typing experience, and you’ll only want to look elsewhere if you want a firmer, crisper action or more travel than these 1.3mm keys offer.
The downside is the layout – there’s no numberpad and smaller cursor keys. The area on either side of the keyboard is devoted to speakers, but on a laptop of this size there’s no excuse to not have both.
The trackpad is large and accurate, and its two in-built buttons are good enough for everyday use – but they’re too soft and push down too far when compared to USB mice.Screen & Speakers
The display looks fantastic – those tiny bezels really emphasise the 17.3in touch panel, and this screen uses a 16:10 aspect ratio that compares well to the 16:9 ratios typically used elsewhere, with a revised resolution of 3840 x 2400 delivering extra vertical space for creative work.
The peak brightness level of 531 nits is huge and the black point of 0.26 nits is low. Both combine for a contrast ratio of 2,042:1, which is a fantastic result for any IPS display. Those figures mean the Dell serves up incredible vibrancy and depth, lashings of nuance and enough brightness to work indoors or outside.
The average Delta E of 1.82 and the colour temperature of 6,469K are top-notch, and the panel renders beyond 99% of the sRGB and Adobe RGB colour gamuts with volumes that easily get beyond 100%. It also displays an impressive 89.7% of the DCI-P3 gamut.
The XPS 17’s screen is easily good enough for any colour-sensitive photo-editing or design work – and its vibrancy and depth make it look fantastic in day-to-day use.
It’s better than both rival displays, as the Aero and MacBook panels can’t handle the Adobe RGB colour gamut. The speakers are decent, too, with a solid amount of bass and crisp, detailed mid- and high-end sound.
Find out how we test laptops.Specs & Performance
The components are powerful, but they don’t push the envelope. The Core i7-10875H is an older six-core CPU, and the RTX 2060 Max-Q is fast enough for photo-editing and 1080p gaming – but it uses Nvidia’s older architecture, and it has a cut-back clock speed.
It is, at least, an Nvidia Studio machine, so its drivers are optimised for creative applications.
The specification is completed by 16GB of dual-channel memory and a 1TB SSD that delivers decent read and write speeds of 3,272MB/s and 2,348MB/s.
Despite not having the latest 11th-gen Intel chips, the XPS 17 is quick: a PC Mark 10 score of 5,672 and Geekbench single- and multi-core results of 1,293 and 7,661 see to that.
The XPS is a good thermal performer, too, unlike the XPS 13 9300. The exterior stayed cool and the Dell’s remained relatively quiet during tough work benchmarks – it’s quite a discreet machine. In Cinebench R23’s throttling benchmark the Dell scored 8,554, which is a decent result and far better than the Gigabyte, which indicates that the CPU didn’t suffer from serious throttling issues.
Compared to plenty of other machines, though, the Dell is not particularly fast. The Apple MacBook Pro currently uses older Core i7 and Core i9 chips that offer comparable speed to the Dell, but later this year it’ll be updated to Apple’s new M1 processor, and that chip scores around 1,700 and 7,500 points in Geekbench.
Asus ROG Zephyrus Duo springs to mind.
It’s easy to find more graphical power, too. The RTX 2060 Max-Q scored 28,778 points in the low-end 3D Mark Sky Diver benchmark and 5,729 in the tougher Time Spy test, but the RTX 3070 inside
In our battery life test where we loop an HD video at 120 nits brightness, the XPS 17 lasted for eleven and a half hours, which is decent – two hours longer than both rival machines.
With a light work test running it lasted for nine hours and 44 minutes, which is another top result. During a tougher work benchmark, though, the XPS lasted for just shy of three hours, and engaging the GPU and CPU in intensive work will reduce that timespan to two hours.
It’s a good result – if you’re careful you’ll get the XPS 17 through a whole workday without plugging in. But you’ll have to hit the mains if you want to push this laptop to its limits for extended periods.Price & Availability
The model I’ve reviewed costs £2,899/ $2,849, so it’s hardly cheap – the Aero with the same processor and its RTX 3070 graphics costs £2,599, while Apple’s MacBooks are currently both a little cheaper than the Dell, albeit with their older Core i9 CPUs.
Several alternative specifications are available. A version with a Core i5 processor and Intel’s integrated graphics – and just 8GB of memory alongside a Full HD display – costs £1,799/ $1,399.
A model with a Core i7-10750H processor and GTX 1650 Ti graphics costs £2,599 with the 4K panel and $1,749 in the US with the Full HD display.
At the other end of the scale, a variant with a Core i9 CPU and the RTX 2060 costs £3,199/ $3,799, with the American version including 64GB of memory.
You can also buy the XPS 17 9700 from Amazon, Currys PC World, John Lewis and Very – although they don’t have the cheapest model.
These alternatives are all expensive even at the base price. If you’re not fussed about fancy design, all of these specifications can be replicated for hundreds of pounds less on other machines.
There are also plenty of alternative options in our best laptop chart.Verdict
In many ways the Dell XPS 17 is deeply impressive: it looks fantastic, the screen is a big, bold and brilliant option for creative work and its battery outlasts rivals.
In several key departments, though, the XPS 17 is a mixed bag. It’s powerful enough, but plenty of machines offer more grunt, and the stellar design is undermined by a hefty weight.
The keyboard combines great typing with a poor layout, and there are great features alongside notable omissions. It’s also expensive when you consider the components on offer here.
The Dell XPS 17 isn’t for everyone: if you need more power, more features or a lower price, you can satisfy those cravings elsewhere.
There’s also an argument that the Dell is both ageing and expensive. But if you’re willing to shell out, this is a robust, good-looking machine with a top-tier 4K display.Specs Dell XPS 17 9700 (2023): Specs
Processor: 2.3GHz Intel Core i7-10875H
Graphics: Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060 Max-Q 8GB
Memory: 16GB DDR4
Screen: 17.3in 3840×2400 touch IPS
Storage: 1TB SSD
Ports: 4 x USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C/Thunderbolt 3, 1 x SD, 1 x audio
Connectivity: Dual-band 802.11ax WiFi, Bluetooth 5.1
Dimensions: 374 x 248 x 19.5mm (WxDxH)
Warranty: 1yr RTB
AMD’s Radeon Software Adrenalin Edition is a rocking piece of software for AMD graphics card owners. It lets users tweak their gameplay experience by adjusting game and display settings, including the ability to overclock your GPU in certain games and not others. It’s a neat piece of desktop software that can also record gameplay with a feature called ReLive.
Note: This review is part of our roundup of the best game capture software. Go there for details about competing products and how we tested them.
ReLive settings in the Radeon Overlay.
Contained within the Radeon Overlay are a number of other features, including in-game live performance monitoring that displays a veritable smorgasbord of data for hardware freaks. It also contains a switch for Radeon Chill (AMD’s super-smart power saving and cooling software), as well as controls for frame rates and color. The Radeon Overlay is available on the Windows desktop as well as in-game.
Going back to ReLive, the feature can record gameplay for posterity, stream it to the world, or grab a screenshot. ReLive streaming integrates with Twitch, YouTube, Facebook, and Microsoft’s Mixer, as well as Stage Ten and Sina Weibo. That’s quite a wide range of online streaming platforms to access and should cover the needs of most people.
By default, ReLive records at the in-game resolution with a maximum 60 frames per second. That’s adjustable, however, as is the encoding (AVC or HEVC). For anyone who doesn’t want to do a straight-up recording all the time, ReLive includes an instant replay feature that, by default, will save the last minute of gameplay when you press a hotkey. This setting is customizable up to a full 20 minutes of gameplay, though I’d suggest five minutes or less is ideal for most games. Instant Replay is easily one of the best features of any recording software since it lets gamers save a key move, goof, or bug after the fact.
ReLive also doubles as a video capture tool for the desktop to create how-to tutorials or just to show something off. ReLive will fail to run, however, if a browser is displaying protected content such as a Netflix stream. Even if the tab is open but not visible, ReLive will refuse to work.
Trimming a video in Radeon Software Adrenalin Edition.
To stop recording, hit Ctrl + Shift + R again. Recordings are then accessible in the videos folder in Windows or via Radeon Software Adrenalin Edition under the Connect tab. Within the desktop software users can play, share, and even trim down videos for minor edits.
Radeon Software’s ReLive settings.Performance
Radeon Overlay’s primary menu with performance monitoring option missing.
Overall, activating ReLive dropped the average frame rate by a small but noticeable 5 to 10 frames per second in each game. That’s about the same as we saw with Nvidia’s ShadowPlay, built into the company’s GeForce Experience software for GeForce graphics cards.
The smallest performance drop was in the more modern Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey, a game that this eGPU system was already struggling to make playable with the non-recording frame rate hitting 29fps, a point below our definition of acceptable console-level performance.Conclusion
ReLive is great, and in many ways I prefer it to ShadowPlay and GeForce Experience. The Radeon Overlay is more usable and easier to navigate, and if you can’t be bothered to call it up there’s even a smartphone app called AMD Link to activate the ReLive controls instead. The performance is about the same as Nvidia’s software and while ReLive doesn’t have anything original or new compared to other screen capture tools it gets the job done and does it well.
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