Trending December 2023 # Review: Sonos Beam Is The Perfect Smart Soundbar For Bedrooms And Apartments # Suggested January 2024 # Top 19 Popular

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First unveiled earlier this month, Beam is the latest smart speaker and TV soundbar from wireless speaker maker Sonos. The compact TV soundbar promises hi-fi music playback and voice control through Alexa — all at an affordable price. Sonos Beam hits the market later next month, but we’ve been testing it for a few weeks ahead of its launch.

For the purpose of this review, Apple’s new AirPlay 2 wireless streaming feature wasn’t ready for testing — stay tuned for our full impressions next month when Sonos adds the feature. AirPlay 2 aside, Sonos Beam is a hit for bedrooms, apartments, or budget home theaters.

Priced at $399, Beam isn’t the cheapest TV soundbar on the market — but it is a compelling value given its feature set: built-in voice control through Amazon Alexa, a compact design with black or white options, audio quality that undoubtably sounds better than your TV, and AirPlay 2 support coming shortly after launch.

Plus it has all the same features as other Sonos speakers: wireless music playback without Bluetooth or AirPlay, compatibility with dozens of music services including all the major players, and expansibility with other Sonos speakers.

Like Sonos PLAYBAR and Sonos PLAYBASE, Sonos Beam replaces your TV’s subpar speakers as a fully featured soundbar with Night Sound and Speech Enhancement modes, volume control from iPhone and iPad, and a sleep timer for up to two hours.

When used with Alexa-enabled video streaming products like Fire TV, Sonos Beam can even control video features like turning your TV on and off and playing specific shows on supported video apps — all without picking up the remote. As an Apple TV 4K user, I didn’t get to test these features with the streaming box I already use, but Alexa’s volume control is useful in all situations.

Compared to PLAYBAR and PLAYBASE, Beam is $300 cheaper and features a much more compact design. Sonos Beam still packs impressive sound and features for its $399 price, making it ideal for apartments, bedrooms, or any environment where recreating the full movie theater experience at home isn’t ideal.

Just how compact is Sonos Beam? It’s narrower than 43-inch LED TVs, just a tad taller than an Apple TV 4, and typically shallow. Specifically, Sonos details dimensions at 25.625 x 3.94 x 2.70 inches (or 651 x 100 x 68.5 mm). At just over 6 pounds, Sonos Beam is also rather portable.

Sonos Beam also touts HDMI ARC (audio return channel) support for plug-and-play support on modern TVs, and includes both an HDMI cable and an HDMI to optical adapter for TVs without HDMI ARC.

If you do want to build out your home theater over time, Beam is expandable with other speakers in the Sonos system. Sonos Play:1 or Sonos One speaker pairs can added to create a surround sound system, and Sonos SUB adds deep bass with the wireless subwoofer. (The whole 5.1 surround sound kit sells for under $1400 as a bundle.)

This turns Beam and paired speakers into a single speaker target, and Beam works with multi-room playback with all other Sonos speakers too.

Spec wise, Sonos Beam features a five far-field microphone array for voice control that can be toggled on and off with a tap of an on-board toggle, five Class-D digital amplifiers and four full-range woofers, plus a center tweeter and three passive radiators to create warm bass tones in the small form factor.

Sonos says this hardware is all custom-designed by the company and tuned especially for TV and music. Customers can also adjust equalization settings or use Trueplay to tune Sonos Beam based on placement without the room using the iPhone or iPad controller app.

Sonos Beam will make your TV speakers sound like rubbish in comparison — without making your family and neighbors think there’s construction going on from the sound blast.

Sonos Beam is available for pre-order now in black or white for $399 and ships by July 17. AirPlay 2 support will arrive as a free update later next month.

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Huawei Band 6 Review: A Perfect Smart Band For The Price

The box contents are pretty simple, and what you expect to get when buying a smart band:

Huawei Band 6 with Attached Strap

Magnetic Charger (Pogo Pin)

Quick Start Guide

Warranty Card

Huawei has kept the design of Huawei Band 6, clean yet stylish. As we get a dual-tone design, where the bottom part comes with all the sensors (Accelerometer, Gyroscope, and Heart rate sensor) in a matte finish plastic, making it skin-friendly yet giving a better grip. While the side frame comes with a slight shiny plastic which looks good.

Also, the keeper is the only place where we can find the Huawei branding on the band. While the strap does keep the band in place, it does leave marks on your wrist if worn a bit tightly. Huawei band  6 also comes with a 5ATM rating, making it water-resistant up to 50 meters.

Huawei band 6 comes in 2 colors (Dark Gray and Gold), which can be customized using a strap that comes in 4 colors (Black, Pink, Forst Green, Amber Red). But it is not as convenient as other wearables out there, as the strap uses a proprietary connector, instead of the usual pin connectors we find on other wearables.

The thing I liked the most about Huawei Band 6 is the 1.47″ AMOLED Touch Display, with a resolution of 194×368 pixels. It’s one the biggest display you could find on a smart band, making it stand out from other bands. This extra screen estate makes it more usable, as text is easily readable, it doesn’t wrap around, and navigating through the UI becomes easy. The single button on the right is used to return home, light up the screen, or access the power menu. Sadly we don’t get an Always On Display on the Huawei Band 6.

In terms of customizations, there are hundreds of watch faces available on the Huawei Health App, including paid as well as Free watch faces. You can also set up a custom image from your phone’s gallery as a watch face. In my case, I was able to load up to 26 watch faces on the band, the number may vary depending on the size of watch faces used.

In order to pair Huawei Band 6 with your Android (Android 6.0 & above) or iOS (iOS 12 & above) phone, you need to download the Huawei Health App from Huawei’s website only, which is not an easy process. But once downloaded allows you to play around with band settings, download various watch faces, update the software on the band, monitor your health data, etc.

You can also customize your notification preference list from the band, which supports almost every single app installed on your phone, but the icons support is limited. Strangely, if you disable location services on your phone then the band disconnects and the notification syncing between the phone & band stops.

Huawei Band 6 comes with 96 workout modes which include outdoor and indoor running, walking, pool swimming (as it comes with a 5ATM rating), rope jumping, and more. Outdoor cycling is only supported on Huawei/Honor branded phones running EMUI 5.0 or above, and iPhones running iOS 9 & above.

Even though there’s no built-in GPS on Huawei Band 6, yet the workout data is calculated well. As it makes use of location services of the connected phone, the steps count comes really close to the actual steps. I manually counted the steps while walking, and the band recorded 5% more steps than actual. You can also enable auto workout detection for better results.

Another great thing that makes the Huawei Band 6 stand out is battery backup. Huawei claims to offer up to 2 weeks of battery life on a single charge, which held quite true in my usage. The last time I charged the Huawei Band 6 was on 9th November in the evening, and it lasted till 24th November evening, that’s around 15 days. Do keep it in mind, that I didn’t use sleep tracking often, but only 2-3 days, during this time. Also, the number of notifications you allow on the band may also change the results in your case.

Regarding charging, you do get a 2 pin magnetic dock in the box, which allows charging the band easily without worrying about detaching the straps. The magnetics are strong enough to stick the band in place, but not strong enough, as you can accidentally knock off the charger. This charging dock can charge the Huawei Band 6 from 0-100% in 1 hour.

Huawei Band checks all the marks that you expect from a fitness band, be it a big AMOLED colorful display, health features like SpO2, Sleep tracking, Heart Rate monitoring, etc. That too with a simple yet stylish body, which is lightweight and comfortable, still I will say, Huawei could have used a better strap on this one.

Buy Huawei Band 6            Buy Honor Band 6

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Oneplus 6T Review: It’s Almost Perfect

Following the massive success that was the OnePlus 6, OnePlus has now brought the OnePlus 6T (starts at Rs. 37,999) worldwide. Much like other T-series devices from the company, the OnePlus 6T is a minor upgrade over its predecessor, bringing just a couple of new features in almost the same chassis as before.

OnePlus 6T Specifications

As I mentioned earlier, the OnePlus 6T is just a minor upgrade over the OnePlus 6 and it pretty much has the same hardware as its predecessor, except for a few minor changes here and there. So, lets take a look at the complete specifications of the OnePlus 6T before we dive further into the review:

Dimensions and Weight157.5 x 74.8 x 8.2mm, 185g

Display6.41-inch Optic AMOLED 2340x1080p, 19.5:9 aspect ratio, Gorilla Glass 6

ProcessorQualcomm Snapdragon 845



Rear Cameras16MP+20MP f/1.7 with OIS and EIS

Front Camera16MP f/2.0 with EIS

Battery3,700mAh with fast charge (5V/4A)

SoftwareOxygenOS based on Android 9 Pie

Connectivity802.11 a/b/g/n/ac 2x2MIMO dual band Wifi, Bluetooth 5.0, NFC, USB 2.0 Type-C

SensorsIn-display fingerprint, Hall, Accelerometer, Gyroscope, Proximity, Ambient Light, Electronic Compass

ColorsMirror Black and Midnight Black

What’s In the Box

The OnePlus 6T comes in a standard looking white box from OnePlus, however, this time around the company has added a subtle marbled texture on the box. Inside, you’ll get the usual bunch of accessories that you’d expect from a device of this caliber, along with a few thoughtful additions, like a translucent case and a USB Type-C to 3.5 mm headphone jack dongle.

Here’s everything you’ll get within the retail packaging of the OnePlus 6T:

OnePlus 6T

5V/4A charging brick

USB Type-A to USB Type-C cable

USB Type-C to 3.5 mm headphone jack dongle

Translucent protective case

SIM ejector tool

OnePlus stickers


Design and Build Quality

In terms of design and build quality, OnePlus hasn’t changed a whole lot in the OnePlus 6T. Measuring in at 157.5 x 74.8 x 8.2 mm and weighing 185 g, the new smartphone is just a tad bit bigger and heavier than the OnePlus 6, which gave OnePlus the room to include a larger battery this time around. Up front, the device has a larger 6.41-inch Optic AMOLED display with a smaller waterdrop style notch, with minimal bezels on the sides and a thinner chin at the bottom.

The single front-facing camera is neatly hidden within the small notch, along with the three-in-one ambient/distance/RGB sensor, and the earpiece has been moved a little up north and now it resides within the thin top bezel. The back of the device remains pretty much the same as the OnePlus 6, with a glossy Mirror Black finish (the device will also be available in a Midnight Black finish) that is an absolute fingerprint magnet and the same vertically oriented dual camera setup with a dual tone flash underneath.

The fingerprint scanner, however, has now been moved from the back and resides underneath the display up front, but I’ll get to that in a bit. The device has the same curved glass back, which feels really comfortable to hold and the button placement also remains unchanged. The power button, along with the alert slider, are still located on the right edge of the device, while the volume rocker, along with the SIM card tray, are housed on the left edge.

The top of the device is devoid of any ports and just houses the secondary noise canceling microphone, while the bottom is dominated by the USB Type-C port and two sets of speaker grills on either side, one of which is just there to add symmetry and hides the primary microphone within. There’s no 3.5mm headphone jack on the OnePlus 6T and the company claims that it has been removed to make room for the in-display fingerprint scanner on the device (despite fans clearly wanting it the other way round). Build quality remains top-notch and the device feels really premium in the hand, which is expected from any smartphone in this price range.


The smaller waterdrop style notch on the OnePlus 6T leaves more room for display on the device and therefore, the smartphone packs a larger 6.41-inch display this time around. It’s the same Optic AMOLED panel that the company used in the previous device, which has a resolution of 2340 x 1080p, a pixel density of 402ppi and a 19.5:9 aspect ratio.


The OnePlus 6T features a single bottom firing speaker which sounds pretty much the same as the one on the OnePlus 6. It’s loud, clear, and punchy, but it suffers from the same problem that plagues all bottom firing speakers – it gets muffled quite easily. The audio quality is pretty decent and I have absolutely no qualms about its performance.

Audio from the newly relocated earpiece is definitely a bit different however. Since the earpiece is located within a slight recess in the top bezel, it doesn’t quite rest on the ear like the earpiece on the OnePlus 6, which meant that I had to place the phone at a slight angle to hear the audio clearly. The audio quality from the earpiece is pretty decent in any case and I got used to the new position within just a couple of hours of use.


Camera hardware on the OnePlus 6T remains unchanged and it still packs in the same 16MP f/1.7 + 20MP f/1.7 dual camera setup on the back and a 16MP f/2.0 selfie shooter up front. The rear camera setup is stabilized by both OIS and EIS, while the front camera just has EIS. Enough about the specifications though, lets take a look at some of the camera samples:


Performance in Artificial/Good Light




Performance in Low Light

Performance in low light conditions is rather unremarkable and equally inconsistent. While at times, the device manages to capture enough light and details, on other occasions it just doesn’t manage to capture enough. The dynamic range in low-light shots isn’t all that great either and even while using the new Nightscape feature, the images barely look any different (more on that in the dedicated camera review). Just take a look at some sample shots taken in low light conditions:




Portrait Mode Performance

Portrait mode performance of the OnePlus 6T is yet again a mixed bag. While some images look really great and have good subject separation, other don’t look quite as good, with significantly less detail. The edge detection is better than the OnePlus 6, but because of its inconsistent performance, I can’t really be sure if 6T is actually any better overall. Here are some sample portrait shots:




Selfie Performance





The device also has slow mo video feature which supports 480 fps video at 720p and 240 fps video at 1080p. Much like the OnePlus 6, the OnePlus 6T also allows you to capture up to 1 minute of slow motion video and gives you the opportunity to choose which part of the video you want to slow down. The videos captured using the slow-mo feature on the OnePlus 6T look cool, but only if there’s ample amount of light.

OnePlus 6T vs OnePlus 6 vs Pixel 2 XL vs Poco F1: Camera Performance

When it comes to pricing and comparison, the OnePlus 6T is in a league of its own and there aren’t any devices in this price range. So we were forced to compare it with the older OnePlus 6, the Pixel 2 XL (which somewhat falls in this price bracket during sales), and the Poco F1 (which offers the best value for money in this performance segment).

To begin with, lets take a look at some sample images I took using the aforementioned devices in good natural light:







As you can probably tell, the Pixel 2 XL delivers the best images with great color accuracy, a stunning amount of detail and good dynamic range each and every time. The OnePlus 6T and the OnePlus 6 also manage to capture decent shots, but both the devices tend to turn up the saturation quite a bit. The OnePlus 6T is also a tad bit inconsistent when it comes to camera performance, which means that while some images are really detailed, others are out of focus and blurry.

Next up, lets take a look at some low light shots captured by the four devices, outdoors and indoors:













Finally, lets focus on the selfie performance of the devices:








OnePlus devices are known for their exceptional performance and the new OnePlus 6T is no different. The device packs in a Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 SoC, coupled with up to 8GB RAM and up to 256GB of internal storage. I received the 8GB/128GB variant for the purpose of this review and performance wise, I didn’t notice any issue with the device.

The OnePlus 6T can handle everything you can possibly throw at it and it even manages to deliver decent results in synthetic benchmarks. In my testing, the device managed to score 2415 and 9015 in Geekbench 4’s single-core and multi-core tests, 4726 in 3DMark’s Sling Shot Extreme OpenGL test, 3850 in 3DMark’s Sling Shot Extreme Vulkan test, and an impressive 294156 in AnTuTu.

I also tested a couple of popular demanding games on the device and in managed to breeze through each one of them without any hitch whatsoever. The game ran PUBG Mobile, Shadowgun Legends, and Asphalt 9 exceptionally well at the highest graphics, and even managed to keep the games running in the background, allowing me to quickly switch between games. All-in-all, the OnePlus 6T offers top notch performance for the price and if you’re looking for a device which offers great performance then you won’t have to think twice before zeroing in on the OnePlus 6T.


The new OnePlus 6T runs OnePlus’ OxygenOS 9 based on Android 9 Oreo out of the box and the software experience is just fantastic. There’s virtually no bloatware, the UI feels really close to the stock Android UI and there are several handy additions which I’ll definitely be using on a daily basis.

Being a nearly bezel-less device, the OnePlus 6T also brings with it intuitive navigation gestures that feel really fluid and I got used to them within hours of using the device. While the full-screen navigation gestures are also available on the older OnePlus 6, the OnePlus 6T brings with it a couple of more gestures, with the recent app switching gesture easily being my favorite.

OnePlus has also included a bunch of Easter eggs within the UI this time around and while some of them might seem a bit gimmicky, I do like the fact that OnePlus is making an effort to develop a more user-friendly and fun UI. Being a OnePlus 5 user myself, I felt right at home using the OnePlus 6T and I can blindly recommend the device to anyone looking for a great software experience.

Battery Life and Charging

One of the most significant changes on the OnePlus 6T is its larger 3,700mAh battery which delivers exceptional battery life. Add that to OnePlus’ epic fast charge capabilities and you’ve got a device that not only lasts long, but also charges up rather quickly. In my testing, the included 5V/4A fast charger managed to charge up the device from 10 percent to 100 percent in just 1 hour and 15 minutes, which is more or less the same as the OnePlus 6, despite the larger battery. Quite impressive, don’t you think?

Battery life is also pretty great and the device managed to easily last me one and a half days with moderate use, delivering a screen-on-time of almost three hours. With heavy use, which included watching an absolute ton of HD videos on YouTube and playing several games of PUBG Mobile, the device easily lasted me a day with a screen-on-time just shy of 7 hours and 30 minutes. I was blown away by the battery life and I have to give props to OnePlus for optimizing standby power consumption so well.


OnePlus has managed to pack in most modern connectivity options on the OnePlus 6T and, except for the missing headphone jack, users won’t find the device lacking in any aspect. The device comes with support for 2×2 MIMO 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac dual-band (2.4/5GHz) WiFi, Bluetooth 5.0 with aptX and aptX HD support, NFC, and GPS, GLONASS, BeiDou, Galileo for navigation.

The device also has dual SIM support, but it doesn’t include a microSD card slot for expansion. However, considering the fact that the base variant now offers 128GB of storage, the lack of a microSD card slot shouldn’t be a major issue. There’s a single USB 2.0 Type-C port for charging and data transfer, which can also be used to plug in USB Type-C earphones for audio output. I do wish OnePlus hadn’t removed the headphone jack from the device, but I kinda understand the company’s reason for the same and I agree that a larger battery is definitely more valuable than a headphone jack.

OnePlus 6T: Should You Buy?

However, in case you already have the OnePlus 6, then it won’t really make sense for you to upgrade to the OnePlus 6T as most of the software features introduced with the OnePlus 6T will make their way to the older device. Also, in case you’re looking for great camera performance, then the OnePlus 6T might not be the best bet. I’m not saying that it has a bad camera, it’s just not as good as some other devices in the market which are available for almost the same price during sales.


Premium build quality

Great display with a tiny, unobtrusive notch

Top notch performance

Amazing battery life with fast charging

Fast in-display fingerprint scanner

Good software experience

Value for money


No headphone jack

Inconsistent camera performance

In-display fingerprint scanner slows down while using custom wallpapers

SEE ALSO: OnePlus 6T Screen Unlock is Fast, But There’s One Major Problem

OnePlus 6T Review: Best Value for Money Flagship

The smartphone stacks up quite well against significantly more expensive smartphones in a variety of different categories, giving users a stunning display, great battery life, an in-display fingerprint scanner and premium build quality.

In terms of performance and user experience, the OnePlus 6T is unbeatable at the price and I can blindly recommend it to anyone looking for a new flagship. However, the OnePlus 6T does have its own fair share of shortcomings. Its camera performance is quite inconsistent, there’s no headphone jack and no microSD card slot for expansion.

If those things are a deal breaker for you, then you should probably consider looking at other options like the older OnePlus 6 if it’s still available because the upgrades that the OnePlus 6T (starts at Rs. 37,999)offers aren’t all that significant, the Poco F1 (Rs 20,990) if you’re on a tight budget but still want a device which packs flagship specifications, or the Pixel 2 XL (Rs. 45,499) if you want the best camera performance on your smartphone but at a slightly higher price, and if bone stock Android is your jam. You can also consider the recently launched LG G7 ThinQ (Rs 39,999), which is another flagship that offers great value for money, a better display, the same SoC, a headphone jack, and an IP rating for water resistance.

Buy the OnePlus 6T from Amazon (starts at Rs. 37,999)

Sonos’ Roam Is Its Cheapest Speaker Ever

Sonos’ Roam is its cheapest speaker ever – and maybe its most compelling

Sonos has cut the cord on its second portable speaker, with the Sonos Roam promising multi-room integration inside the house, Bluetooth streaming outside it, and a much more affordable price tag. About the size of a water bottle, Roam works as a smart speaker too with support for Amazon and Google’s voice assistants, and Sonos is hoping it acts as much a gateway to new users as it appeals to existing ones looking to expand their system.

It’s not Sonos’ first portable speaker, of course. Back in late 2023 it launched the Sonos Move, offering both integration with your other home speakers and Bluetooth functionality for outside of the house. At the same time it introduced Auto Trueplay, a self-calibrating version of the company’s automatic EQ system.

Problem was, all that cost $399. Not outlandish for a Sonos product, no, but undoubtedly premium among the majority of Bluetooth speakers. Move sounds great, and it’s super-flexible if you’re a Sonos enthusiast, but it’s a tougher pitch for someone unfamiliar with the platform and who might simply be shopping for a mobile speaker.

Sonos Roam arguably takes on an even bigger challenge. It has to excel as a Bluetooth speaker, but it also can’t stint on the sound quality and functionality that Sonos fans expect. It’s also, at $169, the company’s cheapest product, not to mention its lightest. At 0.95 pounds and 6.61-inches tall, it’s about a sixth of the size and weight of Move.

The outside is instantly recognizable as a Sonos device and, like Move before it, Roam doesn’t go overboard on “rugged” visible cladding or chunky rubber bumpers like a lot of portable Bluetooth speakers do. It’s still IP67 water, dust, and shock resistant, however, meaning it’ll withstand getting dunked in a pool or washed off after a trip to the beach. The end caps are slightly concave, which Sonos says helps avoid accidental button-presses of the raised play/pause and volume keys.

Behind the honeycomb grille there’s a tweeter and an elliptical mid-woofer, using custom neodymium motors. Roam will play in mono, regardless of the orientation at which you place it, but the triangular cross-section means when it’s on its side on the desk, counter, or floor, it should project sound up toward you. Though it’s obviously small – the company says Roam should sound much like a Sonos One does, albeit with less power at maximum volume – it still went through the tuning process with the Sonos Soundboard creator community, music professionals who compared playback through the portable speaker with how they mastered the original tracks in their studios.

It’s clear Sonos has learned from some of the criticism and feature requests that Move prompted. Roam expands Auto Trueplay so that it’ll work not only when the speaker is on your WiFi network, but during Bluetooth playback too. It’ll tweak the EQ settings whenever you move Roam, using accelerometers to detect its orientation, though you can still manually adjust treble and bass in the Sonos app.

Where Move has a button on the back which switches between WiFi and Bluetooth modes, Roam promises to handle that handover automatically. If you take the speaker outside of your WiFi network, it’ll switch to Bluetooth by default. When you return, you can either leave it to keep streaming over Bluetooth, or press and hold Roam’s play button to automatically “throw” what it’s playing to the Sonos speaker in the house that’s physically nearest. It works in reverse, too, shifting playback to Roam, or you can use it as a Bluetooth line-in, sharing its audio with the rest of your Sonos system.

As you’d expect, you can group Roam with other Sonos speakers, and pair two units together for stereo playback (albeit on in Sonos mode, not for Bluetooth playback). There’s Apple AirPlay 2 streaming, and support for the Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa. Courtesy of the Sonos app you get access to Sonos Radio; it won’t, though, act as a speakerphone as there’s no microphone for voice calls.

Roam will charge on any Qi wireless pad – Sonos recommends a minimum of 10W – though the company also has its own with built-in magnets to hold the speaker in place. That means you can still charge the speaker whether it’s upright or on its side. Sonos’ wireless charger uses Qi but it’s not actually certified: the top is slightly convex, to nestle into Roam’s concave base, so while it’ll charge other Qi-compatible devices they’ll have to balance on the top first.

A full charge is good for up to 10 hours of playtime, Sonos says, or 10 days in sleep mode. Roam will automatically switch into that low-power mode when the music stops, but can wake back up in less than a second. If you don’t have a wireless charger, you can use the USB-C cable in the box.

Sonos is counting on all that to coax new users into its ecosystem. One of the challenges Move faced was convincing those looking for a portable speaker that they should spend significantly more on Sonos’ vision of that. Existing Sonos owners may have already appreciated its added benefits, but multi-room control is one of those things that really needs to be experienced to fully appreciate.

At $169, however, Roam is a lot closer to the Bluetooth speaker mainstream. It’s available to preorder today, in black and white; the Roam Charger is sold separately, at $49, with colors to match. They’ll ship from April 20.

Nexar Beam Dash Cam Review: Affordable, With Unlimited Cloud Uploads

This review is part of our ongoing roundup of the best dash cams. Go there for information on competing products and how we tested them.

Design and features

The Beam is a diminutive, square black box of a camera. It’s as small as the Garmin Dash Cam 66W we reviewed last year (currently $200 on Amazon), but it lacks a display (that’s provided by your phone), and the lens housing protrudes further. The sensor is a 1080p GalaxyCore GC2053, a model and brand I’ve never experienced before. Recognizable or not, it does the job. Note that the G-sensor is in the camera, not in the phone.


Nexar’s Beam is diminutive, simple, and unobtrusive. Ignore the color treatment in the lens above—it’s not that color naturally. 

On the left side of the camera are the power button and micro-SD card slot, while the right is given over to perforations for ventilating the unit. On top are the slot where the suction mount marries to the body, and the mini-USB jack. That’s it. Simple, clean, and easy. If the goal is to be unobtrusive (which to avoid theft, it should be), the Nexar achieves that. Everything else is provided by or done on your phone (iOS or Android).

App and connectivity

Nexar has done a nice job on the phone app. It’s stupid-easy to connect the camera to the phone, and the interface is clean, well-organized, intuitive and informative. Of course, you’ll need to create an account for the phone so you can upload videos, etc. 

When you’re finished and have uploaded some “rides” (videos), you can check them out at the online portal chúng tôi I didn’t link as you won’t have access unless you buy. Sign-in is easy, as an access code is sent to your phone. 


This is the drive playback info page. At this point I had parked on top of my local Lowe’s after hitting the freeway here in San Francisco. 

The camera records to the micro SD card, then transfers to the phone as time allows (it’s near-real-time), then gives you the opportunity to save them to the cloud. You can limit the Beam’s use of phone storage to 20-, 50-, or 80 percent of what’s available; once it hits that limit, it will overwrite previous videos. There’s also automatic upload triggered by the G-sensor, as with the Owl. It worked perfectly in my exclusive, proprietary bang-the-dash-cam-on-the-desk tests, and it didn’t trigger falsely while on the road. 


Nexar has spent a great deal of time honing the options for a smooth experience.

Capture quality


Though the colors may not seem very saturated, they are partly diminished by the overcast skies here in a dreary San Francisco summer. If it weren’t August, I’d call it the June Gloom.


This capture suffers some flare in the lighting, but a great deal of it was my schmutz on my windshield. Notice the date and time. This is what happens when you don’t connect to the phone and Beam battery runs down over a few days. 

Note that the night captures have the orange-ish tinge featured by many sensors, but they still reveal quite a lot of detail. Headlight flare is minimal. Some of flare in the image above is due my less-than-stellar cleaning of my windshield. My bad.

I was a bit worried about battery life on my phone with the Nexar app running. When connected to the dash cam and in use, the app’s obviously going to use some juice, so keep the phone charging if you’re on a long trip. The auxiliary power connector with dual USB ports that Nexar includes helps with that. That said, the drain wasn’t as significant as I was expecting, and the Nexar app didn’t seem to affect battery life at all when not in operation.

Excellent with the phone

If you need cabin coverage, the front/interior Nexar Pro is $130 on AmazonRemove non-product link with the same cloud features. 

How To Pick The Perfect Password

My colleague Brad Chacos, on the other hand, argues that a password manager is better . I’ll acknowledge this: Password managers are the more powerful tool—they store your passwords in an encrypted vault, and the best password managers will also work across your PC and phone. That’s why we warned you when LastPass changed its free tier to allow just one type of device.

Whether it’s a dedicated password manager like Dashlane, or a password manager that’s stored in your browser—either way, it’s often more convenient to let a third-party service manage your credentials.

Why remember a password when you can store it? You can already keep passwords for free in major web browsers and Microsoft Edge . It’s easy and even tempting to go this route, especially when the browser sees you entering passwords and invites you to save them.

We’ll start out with the basics: the best ways to store passwords, and how to avoid using popular, easily-guessed passwords. Next we’ll dive into the fun stuff: strategies to pick complex, memorable passwords that have a good chance of surviving a password breach so you have time to change it.

Picking the perfect password comes down to a battle between two competing priorities: creating safe passwords that are lengthy and unique, and creating ones you can remember. You might think to yourself, I already have more passwords than I need! I’ve created passwords for years! But with the rise of password breaches , and with more passwords exposed that are linked to usernames, a solid password strategy is becoming more essential every day.

Password managers and browsers still need one master password that unlocks the passwords stored within. (Microsoft uses your Windows password to store passwords within Edge, while Google uses the password you’ve associated with Gmail.) Even if you have just that one password, it needs to be a good one.

How vulnerable is my password?

You’d be amazed at how quickly simple passwords can be cracked…as well as the months and years it can take to crack more complex ones. Breaches expose these passwords in hashed form; anyone with access can to try and guess your password, using computer power to try billions of guesses per second. As the chart below (developed by professional password-cracking company Terahash) shows, you’ll need at least ten characters in your password to make it secure, and longer is always better. 

Terahash / Twitter

Companies like Terahash can combine several hundred GPUs to create powerful password hash-cracking solutions that can break short passwords instantly. This chart illustrates how just adding a few more characters to a password can make the time necessary to crack it almost impossibly long, even with multiple GPUs.

An attacker also has to guess the entirety of your password, which is no small feat. Hackers can use dictionary attacks, trying common words and known passwords that have been breached previously. They can use masks, rules, and procedurally-generated “rainbow tables” that can make brute-force password cracking even easier. 

Four rules for picking safer passwords

What else can you do to protect yourself? Use these rules to pick safer passwords.

Rule 1: Passwords should be as long as possible

Some experts we’ve talked to say that you can stop right there. We’d still recommend making a password mildly complex, however. 

Each character in a password can either be a lowercase letter, an uppercase letter, a number, or a special character like %. Using just lowercase letters offers 26 combinations per character; adding uppercase letters, numbers, and a special character can increase that to 96 combinations per character. Because password crackers can be programmed to try guesses using only lowercase characters, tossing in even a single number and special character can throw them off. That’s why banks enforce rules like picking passwords with a mix of upper- and lower-case letters, numbers, and special characters, making them a certain minimum length—and allowing you to pick even longer passwords for password managers.

Rule 2: Make unique passwords for each site or service

If one of your passwords is exposed in a breach, and matched against your username, hackers can use that information to try the same username and password on other services. That’s why it’s critical to use unique passwords, so the damage is limited to a single service.

Rule 3: A password is useless if it can’t be remembered

Sure, you can ask for a password reset, but with really important passwords you risk having to go through a lengthy process of proving your identity. You either need a memorable password, or one you know where to find. (More on that later.) 

What’s nice about using a password manager is that you need only one long password. If you manage multiple passwords, you’ll need to tailor them to the password length and conditions each site imposes—and that means more passwords to remember. 

Unfortunately: there’s a fourth rule:

Rule 4: A password is only perfect until it isn’t

Even if you haven’t been breached, if a password hasn’t been updated in several years, it could give an attacker a way to wiggle into your digital life. Don’t let them! Update passwords frequently to stay step ahead.

Six strategies for creating safer passwords

Now that you know what safe passwords require, let’s discuss some possible strategies for creating them. We’ll start with a basic password strategy, and add complexity as we go.

Strategy 1: The passphrase

For many, an excellent starting password strategy is a passphrase: some combination of words or numbers that’s long and sticks in your head. It could be a favorite saying or quotation, or a string of words that mean something to you, such as your top five ice cream flavors. 

Passphrases tend to include both capital letters and special characters. Those that include numbers add even more complexity.


One argument for not using a common passphrase by itself is that you really don’t know what a cracker has in their bag of tricks. Highly popular phrases could be used in a dictionary attack, as could passages from the Bible, for instance. 

Strategy 2: Foreign languages Strategy 3: Poetry or history

If the goal is an easily memorized password, poetry is a great source of inspiration. Passages from Lewis Carroll’s poem “Jabberwocky,” for instance, or books by Dr. Seuss, contain nonsense words. Your password could be a line or two of any poem—with a slash mark between lines to add that special-character complexity. Bonus points if you haul out your copies of The Canterbury Tales or Beowulf, to add Middle-English or Old-English complexity to your passphrase.

Mark Hachman / IDG

A passphrase, a nonsense word, some capitalization—children’s books such as Oh, The Places You’ll Go by Dr. Seuss can be good sources of passphrase passwords.

Strategy 4: Don’t use anything you can find on Facebook

One of the more interesting conceptual papers on password cracking that I’ve read was this paper from Peking University’s Ding Wang and others, which looked at how just knowing some basic facts about a person—name, gender, birthday, and phone number—dramatically increased the odds that their algorithms could guess the password of a user, to the tune of a 73 percent success rate against real-world breaches. (That rate used a different, leaked password on another site and some personal information.)

The answer? Assume that what you say online on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram will be used against you.

Strategy 5: Mix it up

A 2013 password cracking study by Ars Technica revealed that “in general, capital letters come at the beginning, lower-case letters come in the middle, and symbols and numbers come at the end,” including “suffixes” of multiple random letters and numbers attached to more common words. 

So mix it up. 2bornot2b,thatisthequestion doesn’t include a capital letter, but it plays with Shakespeare’s famous line a little. Just remember the end goal: A long password is the strongest password. 

Security technologist Bruce Schneier has a similar, even more complex scheme, where he takes a sentence and abstracts it. “Who’s the leader of the band who’s made for you and me?” becomes “W’sTLotbW’smade4u&me?” “If you want your password to be hard to guess, you should choose something that this process will miss,” Schneier wrote.

Strategy 6: The world is your password

Picking passwords that are meaningful can be as dumb as the phrase that your P.E. teacher used to greet you with, or as repetitive as the sign you see every single day announcing the freeway exit to your home. 

Mark Hachman / IDG

Whether you use the covers as inspiration or the text itself, science fiction and fantasy can suggest memorable words that may be excellent passwords.

Pick a title from the bookshelf, the stranger the better. Who’s going to think of a cookbook called Twelve Months of Monastery Soups?

You can even use a book as the source of your password, then keep your password reminder in your wallet or purse. If I write “Page 69, line 2” on a scrap of paper and stick it in my wallet, an attacker needs to steal my wallet; know what the message means; know which document or book I’m referring to; have access to an identical copy to mine; and know which words I’m referring to. 

Should you write down your passwords?

Writing your passwords out in longhand, in a shared apartment with roommates you don’t necessarily trust, seems like a very bad idea. Likewise, a sticky note with your Windows password should never be left attached to the PC you use in the office. 

In a home you share with family or people you trust, the argument to write down and store your passwords somewhere becomes more compelling. Storing a master password in a safe-deposit box, for example, could allow your spouse to access your online accounts in the event of your death. 

A future without passwords

Passwords are becoming less important. We’re already moving toward a future where our face, fingerprint, phone, or some combination of all three provide the keys that unlock our PC, our email, and our banking site. Unfortunately, none of these alternatives are universal yet. As long as we’re still stuck with passwords, anything we can do to make them harder to crack will help keep hackers at bay.

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