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ASUS Zenfone Zoom: Is it a phone or a camera?

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Photo: www.kolomgadget.com

From the times when having a camera on your phone seemed miracle, ASUS ZenFone Zoom now comes with a revolutionary 13-megapixel 10-element primary camera with 3x optical zoom, laser focus and dual flash.

With loads of features and such high camera quality, once again ASUS ZenFone series has shaken the market.

What works for this smartphone?

According to general consensus, an optical zoom camera (as in Samsung Galaxy K zoom) should pop out of the main body. But the 10-element HOYA lens kit camera — including two prisms — in Zenfone Zoom does all the zooming inside the casing.

Taiwanese mobile maker ASUS offers a leather finish back panel in the ASUS ZenFone Zoom

Taiwanese mobile maker ASUS offers a leather finish back panel in the ASUS ZenFone Zoom

With its ultra-thin 5 mm edges and hardware technology that gives clearest and sharpest images, Zenfone Zoom puts DSLR-like photography experience in your pocket – giving a total of 12x zoom and 5-cm macro focus.

The device enables auto-focus in 0.03 seconds, helping click a photo in a blink. The 4-stop optical image stablizer (OIS) enhances image quality by reducing “shakes” while clicking pictures.

We tested the device with its nearest competitor Google Nexus 6P and guess what? It beats 6P, producing sharper and clearer pictures even in low-light condition. But 6P tops zoom with its front-facing camera.

Coupled with a Panasonic Smart FSI image sensor, ZenFone Zoom captures more light and more color — in both natural and low-light compositions. You can turn on the night mode by touching an icon similar to an owl’s eyes.

The rear camera benefits from dual-LED Real Tone (and blinding) flash for natural indoor portraits. The manual mode is quite detailed and even indicates if the subject or the frame is straight or tilted with its on-screen tilt-meter.

It has a total of 19 photo and video taking modes inbuilt into the software — including features like time-lapse, pano-sphere and slow-motion.

Apart from an impressive camera, the phone comes with a sleek design. The device boasts of a 5.5-inch 1920×1080 full high-definition IPS ASUS TruVivid technology display for enhanced detail.

The Corning Gorilla Glass 4 offers twice the drop-damage resistance of its predecessor and a 2.5X increase in retained strength. Chip manufacturing major Intel has provided a powerful 64-bit Quad-core Atom 2.5 Ghz Z3590 processor to give computer-grade performance.

The device has a 4GB DDR3 RAM making operations smooth and easy. We did not experience any lag while multi-tasking and playing games.

The 128GB on-board memory and option to expand memory with a micro SD card gives a user ample space to store multimedia files. Equipped with BoostMaster fast-charging technology the charger filled up the phone’s battery in approximately an hour.

The 3,000 mAh battery lasts for a day under normal use, including data on for seven hours and music playback for 70 minutes.

What does not work

Although the zoom is quite impressive, the phone takes a lot of time to zoom in or out for clicking images. Prolonged gaming or keeping mobile data on tends to heat up the phone a bit.

The leather finish at the back is impressive but also makes the phone slippery. At Rs.37,999 the company could have included a fingerprint scanner into the device.

Verdict: Well, it’s an all set phone to go with, keeping in mind the Nexus 6P or Moto X style, you can also consider ASUS ZenFone Zoom with high expectations. A superb phone for photography lovers. (IANS)

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Google Home: Your best friend who instantly heeds commands

At this price point, Google Home is a good choice as it saves time while performing some key daily tasks for you

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Google Home.

“OK Google, wake me up at 8 a.m. and book an appointment with the hair stylist at 10 a.m.,” went the instruction to Google Home — the voice-activated speaker powered by Google Assistant.

“Sure, your alarm is set for 8 a.m. and the appointment has been fixed for 10 a.m.,” came the instant reply from Google Assistant — the new lady in my home who, according to senior company executives, has received over 4.5 lakh marriage proposals from India.

The logo of Google

Following the launch of “Amazon Echo” smart speaker in India last year, Google has now brought its “Home” speaker range to the country. Google Home and Home Mini speakers — priced at Rs 9,999 and Rs 4,499, respectively — can help people with their commute, play their favourite songs and videos, plan their daily schedule and lots more.

Let’s see how Google Home fares in the Indian context.

The speaker is capable of understanding the thick Indian accent thanks to two microphones on either side of the LED lights that light up when the device recognises the opening “OK Google” voice command. The two microphones utilise the neural beam forming technique to enable accurate voice recognition. The curves of the device resemble a wine glass. The lower part holds the speakers and the upper part is the main body with the touch-sensitive top.

When the volume is increased or decreased, the device responds with the shimmering ivory-coloured light ring.

Google has trained the Assistant in English and has promised Hindi support later this year.”Play ‘Firestone’ by KYGO,” went another voice command and lo! the device checked the Google Play music subscription — the company is giving six-month free Google Play music subscription when you buy the device — and instantly played the song.

The device also works with music streaming platforms like Saavn and Gaana. The music output was good for a medium-sized room. “OK, Google, play Arijit Singh songs.” She returned with the hit number “Enna sona kyun rab ne banaya”.

If you want to chat or listen to her in an another room, pair another Home device or a Bluetooth speaker with Chromecast support. Another option is to attach a Chromecast Audio device to a speaker. Google Assistant told us the correct score of Delhi Daredevils while it chased the Mumbai Indians’ total in one of the IPL matches.

However, to a question on happenings in Syria, she played a 30-second news bulletin from BBC News. Google has simulated hundreds of thousands of noisy environments and applied Machine Learning (ML) to recognise patterns that allow it to filter and separate speech from noise. Google Assistant understands several languages and can translates sentences into Spanish, French and more.

Also Read: Google Will Take Action If Apps Violate Its Policies

Not only multimedia, Google Home can also control smart devices such as connected Internet of Things (IoT) device “Philips Hue” in your drawing room. We set up Google Home to control a light bulb which was connected via “Philips Hue”. We asked the device to dim, turn off and turn on the light and got the desired results.

What didn’t work?

While playing music, Google Home at times did not receive the command in one go. We had to raise our voice twice or sometimes thrice to get the command through the noisy environment. One important takeaway: Never keep your Google Assistant-enabled smartphone near Home device as the voice command does wake up Assistant in the smartphone too and could ruin the whole experience.

Conclusion: At this price point, Google Home is a good choice as it saves time while performing some key daily tasks for you. It is not the replacement of your better half yet, but does help you with daily chores. Take it home. IANS

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