Category Archives: Reviews

Oppo Mirror 3 Review: In-Depth Hands-On

Oppo, the Chinese electronics manufacturer more commonly known for manufacturing smartphones launched a mid-range device called the Oppo Mirror 3 earlier this year. The device was priced at Rs 16,990 but now you can get it for about 15,000 via online retailers. So let’s find out more about this device in our Oppo Mirror 3 Review.

Packaging

The device comes in a pretty compact and simplistic white colored box. Once you open the box you have the device right on top. Further inside you get a 2Amp wall adapter, microUSB 2.0 cable, a pair of earphones that comes in with a silver plated 3.5mm pin and the usual user guide and warranty documents.

Design and Build

The device is entirely carved out of plastic, even the sides which appear to be made out of metal (aluminum) are made out of plastic and has a metallic finish to it. The screen on this device is way too glossy. The back flap of the device has a layered polka-dot texture which makes it look and feel a bit better. At 126gm of weight and 8.9mm of thickness the device is slightly on a chunkier side. However the arc back and 4.7 inch screen makes it ergonomic.

The front of the device features a 4.7 inch screen with HD resolution. Above the display you have the 5MP front facing camera, the earpiece and bunch of sensors while below you have the usual capacitive shortcut keys. On the left you have pretty much nothing while on the right resides the power button and the volume rocker. On top you have the 3.5mm audio jack, the IR blaster and the secondary noise cancelling mic. Down below lies the microUSB 2.0 port and mouthpiece. On the rear side you have the 8MP auto-focus camera accompanied by a LED flash. Below the flash you have the Oppo branding and the speaker grill. One thing noticeable with the speaker grill is that there is a slight bump just above the speaker grill in order to make sure that sound doesn’t gets obstructed when you place the device on a flat surface. The back flap can be removed and removing it reveals the slots for battery, microSD card and the dual Sim cards (out of which one supports 3g and the other supports 2.5g).

Display

The device sports a 4.7 inch screen with an HD resolution which indeed is quite a good combination. The display is bright enough and is even crisp and you won’t find much pixilation whatsoever. The screen renders the colors quite naturally and the viewing angles are decent enough. So overall a decent display.

User Interface

The device runs on Android 4.4.4 KitKat with Oppo’s in-house UI called the Color OS on top. The UI isn’t lag free and in our tests we found the device suffering from time to time. The basic reason behind all the hiccups is the poor RAM management as about only 30% of the total RAM was free when no apps were running in background. The UI has no dedicated app drawer all the apps are stacked on the home screens. The apps that come preinstalled include the default Google apps and some in-house apps and tools. So, overall if you are a moderate user then the UI is just fine enough, but if are a performance freak then this isn’t the best choice.

Performance

The device is powered by the Qualcomm MSM8916 Snapdragon 410 chipset that includes a 1.2 GHz quad-core CPU and Adreno 306 GPU. The device is boosted with 1GB of RAM and comes in with an on-board storage of 8 GB out of which mere 3.6GB is available for the user. The storage can further be expanded up to 128 GB using the microSD card.

Multimedia

The bump on the back does helps the sound to come out obstruction free but still some part of the sound is obstructed. The sound output via the speaker is not loud enough but has decent amount of bass.

Camera

The camera is quite fast on this device and it’s basically the main highlight of Mirror 3. The camera UI is pretty usual, you have the usual settings and modes. The image and video quality of this device is on a slightly higher side. The pictures we took under enough light had decent amount of details, however under low light as expected the performance dropped. The videos were sharp and had no fuzziness and softness on the sides and edges.

Battery

The device draws its power from a Li-Po 2000 mAh battery.

Verdict

So should you get the Oppo Mirror 3? Mirror 3 is a nice little cute device with camera being its high point. The build quality isn’t the greatest but still it looks sturdy enough. What we felt wrong about the device is its price. At about 17k you can get much better devices like the Mi4, Coolpad Dazen X7 and a few others. Overall we liked the device but wished it was cheaper.

 

Blackberry Leap Review: In-Depth Hands-On

Blackberry the Canadian Smartphone manufacturer which was once a trademark name in the smartphone world is now trying its best to stay alive. Last year’s devices like the Blackberry Passport and Blackberry Classic brought in some rays of hope for the company but they were not exactly able to churn the market for them. This year they have come up with a mid-range touchscreen device dubbed Blackberry Leap which was first unveiled at MWC, Barcelona earlier this year and was recently announced here for the Indian market. The device is now available via both online and offline stores at a price of Rs 21,490. So let’s find out if this “Leap” is going to help Blackberry take a leap over its rivals or not in Blackberry Leap Review.

Packaging

The device comes in a typical black classy Blackberry hard cardboard box. Once you open the box, you have the device right on top. Further inside you get 1.3 Amp wall adapter, microUSB 2.0 cable, a pair of not-so premium earphones and a lot of documents and stuff.

Design and Build

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At the first glance the device looks no different from Blackberry’s previous gen touchscreen devices. Although the device is made out of plastic but still has a premium look and feel, mainly thanks to the simplistic design and classy build. The rear side of the device has a very nice rubber coating with a nice texture which gives it a better grip. A small downside to the build of the device is its very glossy screen.

The front of the device features a 5 inch screen with HD resolution. Above the display you have the earpiece and a 2MP front facing camera. Below the display you have the Blackberry branding. On the left you have the Sim card and microSD card slots while on the right resides the separated volume rocker with the voice command button in between. On the top you have the power button, 3.5mm audio jack and the secondary noise cancelling mic. Down below lies the microUSB 2.0 port and the mouthpiece. On the rear side you have the auto-focus 8MP camera accompanied by a LED flash, the Blackberry logo and the speaker grill. The back flap isn’t user replaceable. Overall we totally loved the look and feel of the device.

Display

The device features a 5 inch screen with a HD resolution giving it a pixel density of 294ppi. The display is bright enough and has decent viewing angles.

User Interface

The Blackberry Leap runs on the latest BlackBerry OS 10.3.1. If you are familiar with the Blackberry OS 10.3 then there is almost nothing new to it. You have the same notification bar, you can lock the screen and then if you repress the power button you’ll have all the notifications right on the screen, also you can also swipe here from the top to make the phone go to sleep and even set a wakeup alarm. The apps that come preinstalled on the device includes some in-house Blackberry apps and some third party apps likes Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn but all them are usable and doesn’t include any annoying useless app. The Blackberry OS 10.3.1 almost does not lag at all, thanks to the brilliant integration between software and hardware.

Performance

The device is powered by Qualcomm MSM8960 Snapdragon S4 Plus chipset that includes a Dual-core 1.5 GHz Krait CPU and Adreno 305 GPU. The device is boosted with 2GB of RAM and comes in with an on-board storage of 16GB out of which about 12.5 GB is available for the user. The storage can further be expanded up to 128 GB using the microSD card.

Multimedia

The sound output via the speaker is brilliant. It is loud enough and even has accurate amount of bass and treble. Due to the speakers placed on the rear side the sound does gets obstructed when it is placed on a flat surface. In the video playback test we found that the colors were fine and so were the viewing angles, however the surround sound effects were pretty impressive.

Camera

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The camera basically has two modes the Time-shift and the normal mode. In the Time-shift mode the camera capture images 2-3 seconds before as well as 2-3 seconds after the actual snap was taken so that you never miss a moment. The camera is quite fast. Other than that you have the usual settings and modes. One thing we found missing is that you can’t pause a video while recording. The image and video quality of the camera on this device is not that impressive, again similar to the previous Blackberry devices, although it captured details under enough light but then if you zoomed in you’ll find noise. The videos were crisp without any fuzziness, except for the softness at the edges. Under low light conditions the camera performance dropped drastically. Overall for a day to day usage including updates to social media the camera would be fine enough.

Battery

The device draws its power from a Non-removable Li-Ion 2800 mAh battery which in our tests lasted about 11 hours, which is more quite good.

Verdict

So should you get the Blackberry Leap? First thing first, it’s not a radically different device from the previous gen full touchscreen devices like Z3 or Z10, which is not necessarily a bad thing because who would change something that is working for him and these touchscreen devices are indeed playing a vital role in increasing the overall revenue for Blackberry. What we felt wrong about this device is its pricing, I mean 22K for these features? You’ll probably find these specs on a sub 15K Android device. Blackberry in general has a good air among business and corporate people, who have been using the Blackberry for long and do not want to change to any other OS, so for them it’s a great option to upgrade to. Apart from that if you are open to any platform you can get a much better Android device in terms of specs, camera etc although you might not get the fluidic and lag free user experience that you’ll get on Blackberry Leap.

Microsoft Lumia 540 Dual Sim Review: In-Depth Hands-On

Smartphone market these days is no less than a battle arena. Android devices have become so abundant that you can even buy one for as low as 2k. To compete with Android devices, Microsoft is trying to launch devices at every possible price point and in this process they have recently came up with the Lumia 540 which is priced at Rs 10,199 and would be available in the Indian market starting from 18th May. So let’s find out more about this device in our Microsoft Lumia 540 Dual Sim Review.

Packaging

The device comes in a typical Lumia box that features images of the devices on both the front and rear side. Quick specs are also depicted on the rear side. Once you open the box you have the device right on top, further inside you have a 700 milliAmpere wall charger, a pair of entry level earphones with a silver plated 3.5mm pin, call control button and mic and the usual documents and guides. You don’t get a microUSB cable for data transfer. Overall the box contents are pretty modest.

Design and Build

Lumia 540 follows the very trusted, tested and popular design language that the previous iterations of Lumia series have been following, where you have the entire body made out of high quality plastic. You have a sturdy back cover that sort of engulfs the central and back housing of the device and in front you have the glossy screen. However there is a little change from the other recent Lumia devices that is first the back flap is way too glossy and then the sides of the back cover are a little bit darker then the back side and also has this glassy transparent coating on top
much like the Asha 305 which overall gives it a slightly premium look over others.

The front features a 5 inch screen with HD resolution. Above the display you have the 5MP front facing camera, earpiece and bunch of sensors. The device features on screen shortcut keys rather than the capacitive ones. On the right side you have the volume rocker and the power button. On top resides the 3.5mm jack while down below you have the USB 2.0 port. On the back you have the 8MP auto-focus camera accompanied by LED flash below which you have the Microsoft branding and speaker grill. You can remove the back flap which indeed is pretty tough. Removing the back flap reveals the slots for dual Sim cards, microSD card and for the battery. The device at times looks very cheesy and is meant for young crowd, but overall the device fits well in hand and is very sturdy.

Display

The device sports a 5 inch HD screen which is just about bright enough. The viewing angles as expected are pretty good. The color rendition is good as well you can even notice the slightest of difference between almost the similar colors. Overall the black background further enhances the viewing experience as it undoes the slightest of pixilation if present however the HD screen is actually good enough.

User Interface

The Lumia 540 Dual Sim just like the other Lumia devices is powered by Windows 8.1. Microsoft has promised Windows 10 update to all of them but none has received it yet, however you can be relaxed as Microsoft would definitely update it by the end of year as it owns Windows unlike Android where Google sort of owns it. The user interface of the device is pretty usual nothing new. You have the usual notification bar, then you have your live tile of course you can resize these tile and swap their positions. The device has a lots of in-house apps as well as third party apps. You get 30 GB of One Drive storage. Overall the user interface is mostly smooth and fluidic despite of the entry level chipset thanks to the brilliant hardware and software optimization by Microsoft.

Performance

The device is powered by the Snapdragon 200 chipset which in turn has a 1.2GHz quad-core CPU. The device is boosted with 1GB of RAM and comes in with an on-board storage of 8 GB out of which about 3 GB is available for the user. The storage can further be expanded up to 128 GB using the microSD card. Also the device doesn’t supports 4G.

 

Multimedia

First things first, sound does get obstructed whenever you place the device on a flat surface. The sound output via the speaker is not really loud enough for a crowded place, but then it’s decently bass heavy and the treble is good as well. We tried playing some full HD videos and the phone suffered, the device could not handle full HD videos at all. Then we tried some HD videos and luckily they didn’t lag, also the surround sound and vocals were decent enough.

Camera

Lumia 540 carries with it a 5MP front facing camera and an 8MP rear facing camera accompanied by LED flash. The camera UI is pretty much the same. The device does take some time to acquire focus. You can switch to the Pro mode as well where you have options to toggle stuffs like ISO, exposure compensation etc. We tested the image and video quality of Lumia 540 and it’s just about decent, actually it is good but not that good when compared to some of the devices with 8 MP cameras even at the same price point. The images clicked under enough light had details but then when you zoom in, noise does start creeping in. Under low light the details dropped drastically. The videos we captured were sharp enough but not exactly sharp around the corners. The color rendition, saturation and hue were proper though.

Battery

The device is backed up by a removable Li-Ion 2200 mAh battery, which in our tests gave us about 7 to 8 hours of back up which again is decent.

Verdict

So should you buy Lumia 540 Dual Sim? Well at Rs 10,199 you have a hell lot of Android devices many of them being much more powerful, still the major competitor for this device would be Honor 4x which is selling like anything and is certainly more powerful. Honor 4x has a 5.5 inch screen so if you are willing to buy a device with a slightly smaller screen and of course you are a Windows fan then Lumia 540 can be an option. When compared to Lumia 640 the Lumia 540 features a way better 5MP front camera so buying 540 does makes sense. Also you have some Android devices like Lenovo A7000 that costs about 8K and have specs that are way better than this guy, but then with Microsoft Lumia devices it’s not always about specs unlike Android as they own the software and can optimize it with even low powered chip as it is with Lumia 540. So overall at 10K if you are open Android or Windows then in our opinion Honor 4x would be a better choice but then again if you are tired of the lagginess of your android devices than this device would be bring in the fresh breeze of fluidity.

 

 

Asus Zenfone 2 Review: In-Depth Hands-On

Last year when Asus launched Zenfone 5 here in India, it was an instant hit thanks to the design, build quality, brilliant camera and most important aggressive pricing. This year Asus has again tried to woo the consumers with the next iteration of Zenfone which packs in a 2.3 GHz Intel processor and is no doubt the first ever smartphone to be boosted with 4 GB of RAM. So let’s find out whether the device stands true to the promises that the spec sheet makes in our Asus Zenfone 2 review.

Overview

Asus this time around has tried something new with the variants of Zenfone 2. Asus is basically offering 4 variants of Zenfone 2 whose pricing ranges from Rs 12,990 to all the way up to Rs 19,999. There are 2 models namely ZE550ML and ZE551ML. The former one packs in 2GB of RAM and has a HD display with the screen size of 5.5 inches. The latter one i.e. ZE551ML is available in 3 variants. Out of these 3 variants the most expensive one has 4 GB of RAM, 32 GB of on-board storage and is powered by a 2.3 GHz Intel processor while the other two have 2GB and 4 GB of RAM and a 1.8 GHz Intel processor just like the ZE550ML. Only difference between the 2 GB and 4GB variant is the on-board storage, former having 16 GB and the latter having 32 GB. All the ZE551ML variants have the same Full HD screen. Our review unit was the 2.3 GHz variant and hence the following review is deduced as per its performance.

Packaging

The device comes in a pretty usual pull-out Zenfone box. Once you pull the inner compartment of the box out, you have the device right on top. Further inside you get the 2 amp wall adapter, USB 2.0 cable, the user guide and other documents. You don’t get any earphones with this device.

Design and Build

Asus Zenfone 2 is certainly heavy and weighs around 170gms. The device is neither the slimmest and is about 10.9 mm thick at the thickest point. The device is made out of plastic but the trademark metallic accent below the display gives it a premium look. The button layout of the device does takes cue from LG’s G2, however the placement of power button differs.

The front of the device features a 5.5 inch screen with Full HD resolution. Above the display you have the 5MP front facing camera along with the bunch of sensors, earpiece and the notification light. Below the display you have the usual shortcut keys. On the right as well left side you have pretty much nothing except for the slit to open the back flap on the right. On top you have the power button, the 3.5mm jack and the secondary noise cancelling mic while down below you have the micro USB 2.0 port and mouthpiece. On the rear side you have the 13 MP auto-focus camera accompanied by dual tone LED lights, below which you have the volume rocker, Asus branding and finally the speaker grill. You can remove the back flap which in turn is pretty hard. Removing the back flap reveals the two Sim card slots and the microSD card slot and the battery is non-removable. Overall we really liked the gently curved design which gives it a sort pebble or boat shape. The curved back makes it rest better in your hands which ultimately gives you feel of using a smaller device than what it actually is. The brushed aluminum accent on the back is also worth praising.

Display

The Zenfone 2 sports a brilliant 5.5 inch Full HD screen that is protected by Gorilla Glass 3. I really liked the live wallpaper that tends to increase and decrease as per the level of battery. Icons never ever appeared pixelated. The viewing angles were extremely good, one can even see images at almost 180 degrees.

User Interface

The device is powered by Android Lollipop 5.0 with the new ZenUI on top, The ZenUI is absolutely butter smooth and at no point of time did we experience any hiccup or lag. Multitasking was stunning mainly thanks to 4 GB of RAM.

Performance

The device is powered by the Intel Atom Z3580 chipset that includes a Quad-core CPU with a maximum clock speed of 2.3 GHz and PowerVR G6430 as GPU. The device is boosted with 4GB of RAM and comes in with an on-board storage of 32 GB out of which about 25.5 GB is available for the user. The storage can further be expanded up to 64 GB using the microSD card.

Multimedia

The sound output via the speaker is not loud enough but then it has decent amount of bass and treble. The sound doesn’t get obstructed when you place the device on a flat surface mainly due to the curved back. Enabling the FX booster no doubt increases the bass but at the same time decreases the loudness. So overall a decent speaker output but not loud enough.

Camera

The device comes in with a 13MP rear facing and 5MP front facing camera. The front camera is bright enough and has this unique way to launch the drive mode where u sort of pull the shutter button up to the intended time and then leave it. The camera UI is pretty neat. You can access settings, flash, gallery and other usual things directly. The square icon (with four squares within itself) just below the shutter button is for options, once you click it you get a wide range of options. In options you get various modes like the low light mode where the Pixel Master 2.0 comes into play, you also get panorama, HDR etc. The best part of options is the manual mode where you can toggle various settings like the ISO, exposure compensation, aperture etc. The image and video quality were really good, probably the best at this price point. The camera captured details even under low light conditions. The dynamic range of the camera is also worth praising. The colors were proper however the white balance was little off here and there. The videos captured were sharp enough and had no fuzziness even in the corners. In low light the details did fall below significant levels but then you can use the Pixel Master 2.0 to enhance the experience that bit.

Benchmarks

We did some benchmark testing on Zenfone 2 (ZE551ML) which the most premium one of all the variants and it consistently stood above average in all the tests. In AnTuTu benchmark test it stood third out of all the listed devices (list didn’t include S6 ) with a whooping total of 46992 points, even higher than the likes of HTC M8 and One Plus One. In the Vellamo browser test it scored a total of 3220 which is again higher than many last gen flagships. In the Multicore and Metal test it scored 1526 and 1210 respectively which although is not exactly the highest but still decent enough. In the 3D Mark test it scored about 20096 which is pretty high as most of the mid rangers tend to score around 10,000 points. In the Base Mark benchmark test it scored 1195 and in Base Mark X it scored 19318.

Gameplay

We tested this device with the most graphic and memory intensive games like Mortal Kombat 5, Asphalt 8, Dungeon Hunter 5 etc. The animations were smooth, responses were real time and also we didn’t experience any frame loss. The curved back of the device enhances the overall gaming experience by making it fit perfectly in your hands. Also the device didn’t heat up significantly. So overall it delivers a brilliant gaming experience.

Battery

The device draws its juice from a non-removable 3000 mAh Li-Po battery which in our tests was sufficient enough for a day of moderate to heavy usage.

Verdict

The decision to buy Zenfone 2 is a bit tricky and mainly depends on your budget. The device has 4 variants ranging from Rs 12,990 to all the way up to Rs 19,999. If you go for the cheapest version you get a device that has 2 GB of RAM and just the HD screen. The device we have reviewed for you is the most expensive one and costs Rs 19,999 which is indeed the territory of One Plus One, Mi4 and Honor 6 and other such Chinese devices. The One Plus One comes with 64GB of internal storage and would cost you around 22K, however you can’t further expand the storage while this guy comes with 32 GB of on-board storage which can be further expanded up to another 64 GB via the microSD card. With the One Plus One you can shoot 4K videos while this guy is limited to full HD only, although the camera performance is almost at par and its really very difficult to pick one but if I had decide I would have gone for Zenfone 2’s camera mainly due to its dynamic range and low light performance. Apart from these considerations the build and design really depend on one’s personal preference. So overall if you want to pick Zenfone 2 then in our opinion you should go for the higher variants as the 2GB variant with HD screen at 13K doesn’t makes much sense.

 

 

Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM Lens Review: Full In-depth Hands-on

Performance

The lens, expectedly, is all metal and hence heavy but very sturdy. Despite of being heavy however, you can actually carry it around, although extended period of holding it in shooting position might be tough. Thanks to the IS II, handheld sharp shots are possible.

 

Focus speed and accuracy

You can see in the video below to have a sense of that. The focus locking is quite fast, is deadly accurate and once it finds the focus of moving subject – it tracks them pretty well. There was one incident of focus getting lost at around 00:17 but I won’t be too worried about an exception. The exposure jumps were quite harsh at times though.

Sharpness

This bugger is bloody sharp, and the 2nd generation IS is amazing. See how sharp the focused areas are!

 

Bokeh

Very good, soft, creamy, roundish (but not completely round) bokeh. The DOF is very apparent because of which you can probably try this for head-shot portraits as well.

Vignetting / Light fall-off

Vignetting is severe at 100mm f/4.5 and 400mm f/5.6. 200mm and 300mm at their widest are better. Things get better as you start closing the aperture and almost non-existent beyond 6.

Chromatic aberration

There is slight CA at across all apertures of 100mm. Beyond this we didnot observe any.

Distortion

There is very slight keystoning at the lower focal lengths when we were too picky. Overall almost no distortion at all. Confirmed, no Pincushion distortion also.

Ghosting and flaring

The air sphere coating was supposed to check flaring and it did so to a great level. We saw some flaring at lower focal lengths wide open but not to our much concern.

Stabilization

We kept the best till the last. The IS II is very advance and is awesome handheld. We didnot for once used tripod and still go some very sharp images. The new IS promises 4-stop advantage and we got perfectly sharp photo handheld under low light at 1/40 sec while shooting at 400mm! Our photo shook a bit at 1/10 sec while shooting at 100mm but we are still mighty pleased with the stabilization, and especially when your hands kind of give up holding the heavy lens.

Spice Stellar 526 Octa Mi-526n Review: In-Depth Hands-On

Smartphone market these days is crowded with devices that are pretty light on your pocket but still manage to perform more or less equivalent to the higher end devices. Every OEM has tried to capture this section of the market with their offerings and recently we had yet another entrant to this category from Spice called the Spice Stellar 526 Octa. Octa in the name simply signifies the 1.4GHz Octa-core processor that it packs in. The device is priced at Rs 8,000. Let’s find out more about this device in our Spice Stellar 526 Octa Mi-526n review.

Packaging

The device comes in a pretty standard box that’s sort of wrapped in a pullout cover. The rear side of cover features quick specs. Once you pullout the box and open it you have the device right on top. On further digging inside you’ll find a Quick-View cover, a screen guard, microUSB 2.0 cable, a pair of premium in-ear type earphones that comes with a call control button and a silver plated 3.5mm pin, USB OTG adapter cable, 1 amp wall adapter, user guides and other usual documents. Overall Spice is providing goodies that are more than what you would expect to accompany a budget friendly device.

Design and Build

Stellar 526 Octa looks and feels like a typical Spice device. We have already seen many devices form Spice that have the same shape, size and design. The rear side of the device has a metallic accent to it. The device is on the chunkier side with about 8.3mm of thickness and 162gms of weight.

The front of the device features a 5 inch IPS screen with HD resolution. Above the display you have the 3.2 MP front facing camera, bunch of sensors, earpiece and the notification light. Below the display you have the usual shortcut keys. The screen is quite glossy and thus would definitely attract a lot of finger prints. On the left side you have pretty much nothing while on the right side resides the volume rocker and the power button. On top you have the 3.5mm jack whereas down below you have the microUSB 2.0 port and the mouthpiece. On the rear side lies the 8 MP auto focus camera accompanied by an LED flash below which you have the Spice logo and the speaker grill. The back of the device is non-user removable although the small part over the camera opens up to reveal the slots for dual Sim and microSD card. Overall we liked the built of this device as it feels quite tough and rugged to withstand one of those unintentional falls.

Accessories

The Quick-View cover accompanying the device works pretty well. You can quickly access some of the important information in the quick window. It also wakes the device whenever you open the flap of the cover.

Display

The device sports a 5 inch IPS screen with HD resolution. The display is bright enough and has pretty decent viewing angles. The color renditions are good as well except for the red part of the spectrum being a slightly over saturated. One good thing about the screen is that it has HD resolution which in turn is less crisp than a Full HD display but at the same time enhances the battery life. Overall a decent display.

User Interface

The device runs on Android 4.4.2 Kit Kat with an in-house custom skin over it. I personally didn’t like the icon faces mainly because of the bordered background which indeed makes all the icons look similar and indistinguishable. The app drawer consists of usual Google apps, few in-house apps and a hell lot of third party apps. The user interface is relatively smooth and seamless for moderate daily usage but if you multitask a lot then this guy is going to lag significantly.

Performance

The device is powered by a 1.4GHz Octa-core processor. The device is boosted with 1GB of RAM and comes in with an on-board storage of 8 GB out of which roughly 3GB is available for the user. The storage can further be expanded up to 32 GB using the microSD card.

Multimedia

The sound output via the speaker is flat but at the same time loud enough. Once you turn on the FX-Booster the story changes a bit you can hear that little amount of bass and treble at the cost of slightly reduced loudness. Sound does gets obstructed when you place the device on a flat surface. While testing the video playback we found that the surround sound was very good, even the vocals and midrange came out nicely. The viewing angles were again brilliant.

Camera

The camera is pretty fast and even the buffer is good. You can directly switch to video mode from the screen. You can pause recordings and take stills while recording. All other settings are pretty usual. The front camera is decent it doesn’t lag but images that we took were dark. The image and video quality were decent as far as an 8 MP camera is concerned, although details were absent but still images were suitable for social media uploads. Under low light things get a little noisy and images and video come out dark.

Benchmarks

We performed a few benchmark tests on Spice Stellar 526 Octa to check how powerful really this guy is. In the AnTuTu test it scored a total of 25,550 points which is definitely over the Zenfone 5 and Mi 2 but lower then Redmi Note and yes of course lower than all the flagships. In Vellamo browser test it scored a total of 1357, in Multi core test it scored 1282 and Metal test it scored 717 which is although higher than Nexus 4 and Samsung Galaxy 3 but below Moto G and other high end devices. In 3D Mark it was able to score a total of 4,343 which maxes at about 10,000 points. It scored 448 points in Basemark OS II test and 7724 in Basemark X test. So overall the device scored almost average totals in all the tests except for the Basemark tests.

Gameplay

We tested some graphic intensive games on this device like Dead Trigger 2, Sim City etc. The device performed pretty well. We didn’t experience any significant lags but the back did warmed up a bit.

Battery

The device draws power from a non-removable 2500 mAh battery which gave us about nine and half hours of usage time.

Verdict

The good things about this device is its built quality. It fell pretty rugged and the design although being old still the metal on the rear side feels good. Another good thing is the display, it’s quite bright and the viewing angles are brilliant. The sound output is loud enough and the battery life is decent. The major drawback of this device is that it runs on Kit Kat and not on Lollipop, some of the other devices like A7000 or Moto E at this price point run on Lollipop. So overall we liked the device and would definitely recommend it over Moto E or Redmi 2 and other cheaper devices.

 

 

Samsung Galaxy Tab Active Review: In-Depth Hands-On

Last month in an event held in New Delhi Samsung announced its first ever enterprise tablet for India. The tablet named Samsung Galaxy Tab Active is one hack of a beast. It’s ruggedized built makes it a perfect match for rough and harsh conditions that aren’t that common to the usual consumers but are definitely prevalent in industries or enterprises. The model launched here in India is the SMT365 which supports LTE and is priced about RS 51,000. The device is immediately available for order. Let’s find out more about this rugged tablet in our Samsung Galaxy Tab Active review.

Packaging

The device comes in a fairly compact box that is similar to the ones you’ll find the flagship galaxy devices shipped in. Once you open the box you have the tablet right on top. Once you go further in you’ll find the rigid case (which includes a C pen as well), USB 2.0 cable, 2 Amp Wall adapter, 4450 mAh battery and the usual guides and documents.

Design and Build

At the first glance the tablet resembles Galaxy Tab 3 or 4 and also feels pretty rugged. The case accompanying the tablet makes it even sturdier. The sides of the device are stick a little out and are made of hard plastic for obvious reasons. Galaxy Tab Active is IP67 certified meaning that it is completely dust proof as well water proof up to 1 mt for about 30 mins. It is also military standard 810 (MIL-STD-810) certified device which basically includes 9 extreme condition tests. It is also shock resistant meaning you can drop it from a height of 1mt without the case and from about a height of 1.2mt with the case on and still no harm would come to the device. The device is about 9.7mm thick which is decent keeping in mind the end users and environment in which they’ll be used. It weighs 393gms to be precise which again is acknowledgeable.

The device features an 8 inch screen with a resolution of 800×1280 pixels. The display is protected by Gorilla Glass 2. Above the display you have the 2.1 fixed focus front facing camera, earpiece, sensors and notification light. Below you have the 3 signature Samsung hotkeys, all of them are hard keys unlike any other Samsung device. On the left you have the pogo pins for charging while on the right resides the volume rocker and power button. Down below you have the microUSB 2.0 port, 3.5mm jack and the mouthpiece. On the back you have the 3.15 MP camera accompanied by a LED flash, below which lies the Samsung branding and then the speaker grill. Removing the back flap reveals the slots for microSD card, Sim card and battery. The back flap is although made out of plastic but it is still pretty rugged.

Display

Galaxy Tab Active sports an 8 inch display that has a resolution of 800×1280. It is also protected by Gorilla Glass 2. The display is fairly bright and has great viewing angles, which is of utmost importance for outdoor usage. The color reproduction fairly good and isn’t over saturated like some of the other Samsung flagships.

User Interface
The device is powered by Android 4.4.4 Kit Kat and has the newer Touchwiz UI, which is relatively slender and smoother than its previous iterations. Samsung has not brought in some drastic changes to Touchwiz but has indeed removed almost all of the bloat ware that used to accompany.

Performance
The device is powered by Snapdragon 400 chipset that includes the Quad-core 1.2 GHz Cortex-A7 CPU and Adreno 305 GPU. It is boosted with 1.5 GB RAM and comes in with an on-board storage of 16 GB out of which about 10 GB is available to user. The storage can be expanded up to 64 GB using the microSD card.

Camera

The device features a 3.15 MP rear camera and 2.1 MP front camera. The rear camera can’t be considered as one’s primary camera. It can be used just for scanning data and stuff. The camera UI is pretty standard. The shutter is not exactly lag free. You can’t take stills while recording. The image and video quality were nothing OK, but only the way you would expect from a 3.15 MP camera. The front camera is almost useless. You can use it for video calling but again there is nothing fancy to talk about. Under low light the camera performance even worsens.

Multimedia

The sound output via the speaker is quite loud and even has good amount of bass and treble to it, although sound does get obstructed when the device is laid on a flat surface.

Benchmarks

We did some benchmarking tests on this device and it continuously performed below average but then it’s not intended to be used in that way that requires lot of power i.e. for gaming or intensive multitasking.

Battery

The device drains its power from a 4450mAh removable battery which is most of the time sufficient but then if you use the tablet all around the day and night you can always carry another battery with you.

Verdict

The Galaxy Tab Active isn’t available for consumers but it’s immediately available for Rs 51,000 for enterprise customers. This is one of the most affordable yet rigid tablet that you or your employ can use in harsh environments. Galaxy Tab would be a perfect match for all those who tend to work outdoors under extreme conditions.

 

 

 

Intex Aqua Speed HD Review: In-Depth Hands-On

The lower mid-range smartphone market in India has been heating up with products from all across the globe. Whether it be Xiaomi or Motorola or Micromax or any other national or international manufacturer everyone has tried to hit this sweet spot with their offerings. To try their luck in this sub 10k smartphone category Intex has launched the Intex Aqua Speed HD. So let’s find out whether Intex Aqua Speed HD has got enough stamina to withstand the insane competition in this category in our Intex Aqua Speed HD Review.

Packaging

 

Intex Aqua Speed HD comes in a pretty standard hard cardboard box. The front of the box features an image of the device while on the sides you get the marketing and pricing information. Though the MRP mentioned is Rs 9,390 but you can get it for about Rs 7,500 via online retailers. On the rear side you get to see the quick specs and stuff. Once you open the box you have the device right on top. Further digging into the box reveals the 1700 mAh battery, two screen guards, a protective back cover, micro USB 2.0 cable, 1Amp wall adapter, a pair of silver plated earphones with call control button and mic and usual documents.

Design and Build

On the first glance the device looks quite premium but then the design and the button layout seems to be inspired from Sony’s Xperia Z line-up. Although the device is completely made out of plastic but still doesn’t feels cheap in hand. It is pretty light weight at about 120gms and is about 8.35mm thick. The device is available in three color variants namely the white & champagne, the silver and the sea blue. We had the white version which had a champagne colored ring surrounding the phone which kind of separated the front and rear part of the device nicely. The back of the device features a marble sort of texture giving it a better feel and grip.

The front of the device features a 4.7 inch IPS screen with HD resolution. The screen is pretty glossy and thus attracts a lot of finger prints. Above the display you have the 5 MP front facing camera along with the LED notification light, sensors and the ear-piece. Below the display you have the usual capacitive shortcut keys and the mouth piece. On the right resides the volume rocker and the power button. On top lies the USB 2.0 port and 3.5mm jack. On the back you have the 8 MP auto focus camera accompanied by dual LED lights and further down below you have the Intex branding and finally the speaker grill. Removing the back cover reveals the slots for dual sim cards, microSD card and the 1700mAh battery. So overall we are sort of impressed with the looks of this device despite of it being plasticy keeping in mind that the plastic makes it feather light as well.

Display

The device sports a 4.7 inch HD IPS screen resulting in a pixel density of about 312ppi which is sufficient for it to look decently bright and crisp. The viewing angles are fine as well. The screen renders the color well but don’t expect it to be bang on target.

User Interface

The device is powered by Android 4.4.2 Kit Kat which is a con as many of the devices in this price bracket are rocking Android Lollipop. The overall user interface is quite smooth although I personally didn’t like the icon faces mainly because of the bordered background which indeed makes all the icons look similar and indistinguishable. The device comes in with usual default Google apps, some in-house apps and a lot of third party apps as well. So overall the UI is smooth for day to day usage but not exactly butter smooth and lags a bit when you multi task.

Performance

The device is powered by a 1.3GHz quad core processor namely MediaTek MT6582M. The device is boosted with 2GB of RAM and comes in with an on-board storage of 16 GB out of which about 13 GB is available for the user. The storage can further be expanded up to 32 GB using the microSD card.

Multimedia

The sound output via the speaker was not very loud but had decent level of bass and treble.

Camera

Intex Aqua Speed HD comes in with an 8 MP auto focus rear camera and a 5MP front facing camera. The rear camera is accompanied by a dual LED flash light. The camera UI is pretty straight forward, you have the shortcuts to toggle between front and rear camera, flash light ON/OFF and settings on the left side while the shutter key, video recording key and the shortcut to gallery reside on the right side. You can pause, stop recording and also click stills while recording. The image and video quality were better than what we had expected from this 8 MP camera. The details were prevalent and the photos looked crisp. But almost all the photos and videos had a cold tone meaning they had that little amount of bluish tinge in them. Another thing when clicking pictures in too bright environment the camera tends to clip some highlights. But apart from that the metering and overall color rendition, saturation and hue were actually good enough.

Battery

Intex Aqua Speed HD drains power from a 1700mAh Li-ion battery. In our tests it gave us a backup of about 6 to 7 hours.

Verdict

The device considering the price point is a great buy, the main pros being its look and feel. It looks absolutely gorgeous and weighs just 120gms. Even the screen size is pretty good for single handed usage. The major con of this device is its battery life. The 1700 mAh battery isn’t sufficient and won’t get you through the day. Also the sound output is not loud enough but via the earphones it tends to be good. Finally the OS, the device runs on Kit Kat while many of its direct competitors run Lollipop so it’s a con but Intex can roll out Lollipop for this device to make it stand in the competition.

 

Xiaomi Mi Band Review: In-Depth Hands-On

For all the fitness geeks that have a tech savvy inside them there are a number of activity trackers available in the market. These trackers can be easily classified into two categories one being the premium one that combines the activity tracker with some added functionality like the features to call, reply to messages, receive notifications and also control your Smartphone in various manners. This class is called the Smartwatches while the other is the modest called the fitness band. The latter are the ones that lack a display or just have a smaller display which kind of concentrate on only the fitness features. They might not have those premium features like the Smart watches but they boost of a very long battery life and are relatively cheaper. This review is about one such fitness tracker the Xiaomi Mi Band which promises an extraordinary battery life along with an extra ordinary aggressive pricing. So does Mi Band stands true to its promises? Let’s find it out in our Xiaomi Mi Band Review.

 

Pricing and Availability

Xiaomi showed us the Mi Band along with the Mi4i on the 23rd of the previous month. Mi Band is not exactly a new device it’s already been prevalent in Chinese and other markets for about a year now. It would be available via the official Xiaomi website mi.com in India for a price of RS 999. For now it shows out of stock but as per the latest post by Xiaomi they will be organizing the first sale on 12th of May also you need to register for the sale. In case you are really eager to buy the device you can order it from Xiaomi’s Singaporean site for 20 Singaporean Dollars that translates to about 13 USD.

Packaging

The Mi Band comes in a fairly small and modest Xiaomi style box that is completely made out of recycled paper. On the back of the box you have the pricing, import and marketing information. Once you open the box you have Mi Band’s heart the capsule shaped activity tracker right on top. Underneath you have the rubbery black wrist band to hold the device and the USB charger along with the user guide.

Design and Build

The device is pretty compact and has a shape similar to a capsule. It is made out of plastic but has a metallic layer on top which most probably is made out of aluminum. You have three LED indicators on the front of the device which glow during various transactions. On the top you have two charging contacts while on the rear part you have the Mi branding. The wrist band which holds the mi band device is made out of premium rubber and has an aluminum button/latch to clasp it on your wrist. The wrist band is available in various color options including black, green, blue, orange etc. We personally liked the black one as it is more of cosmopolitan and goes with almost all tie up.

The Mi Band is IP67 certified meaning that it is dust resistant and can even withhold up to a depth of 1mt under water for about 30 mins, thus you can take it for showers. One thing that we didn’t like is that when it’s wet it gets slippery and feels a little cheap.

Functionality

Like any other fitness band you also need an app for Mi Band named “Mi Fit”, you can find it on Google Play store. A limitation to Mi Band is that it only works with devices having Android version 4.4 and above plus there isn’t any official app for iOS. Once you launch the app it shows your running and walking details while swiping to right from the home screen shows your sleeping details. Pressing the small statistics icon on the left corner takes you to the details of your previous week and months’ running, walking and sleeping. Apart from walking and running you can also calculate the number of sit-ups and the number of times you jump a rope. Pressing the three horizontal dots icon on the right corner takes you to a number of options including my devices which indicates the percentage of battery left, you also have an option to find your band which basically lights up the LEDs and vibrates the Mi band. You can also change color of the LED lights from here. You also have an option for Band location which includes three locations namely right, left hand and neck. You also get a Screen unlock feature which is compatible only with the Mi devices running MiUi. You can also set alarms on this device and yes you can also enable notifications for the calls you receive. Now the important thing about Mi Band is that you need to be connected to your device via Bluetooth to be enable to sink the data but it does not mean that you need to keep it connected to your device 24×7. It can sort of store data and whenever you connect it with your smartphone it transfers the same data to the phone.

Performance

Mi Band is not always accurate, actually the app isn’t accurate. While testing the number of steps counted by the app we found that it was counting the steps slightly faster than what we actually did. Also on the app log many a times it said that you walked for this many steps and ran for this many steps when we were just walking. We couldn’t understand what was the threshold level after which it counted walking into running. So it has minor flaws but overall considering the price point it gave pretty accurate results when compared to other fitness trackers.

Verdict

The Mi Band is pretty decent device and the price point at which it is being offered makes it even more desirable. The extraordinary battery life is yet another plus point to this device. The overall construction is rugged and it won’t wear out or break easily unless you really want it to. Another good thing is that you can wear it for 24×7 and after a few days I couldn’t even feel that I had band in my hand. When compared to similar devices it gives almost the same features at a much lower price and with a much better battery. The negative side to this band is that it doesn’t have a huge eco-system and yes the availability is also an issue.

 

 

Canon EOS 7D Mark II Review: Full In-depth Hands-on

After the success of EOS 7D, it seemed like Canon had forgotten that they even made premium APSC DLSRs for wildlife and action photography but our assumption was not right. They were indeed working on an heir to it and were just waiting for the right time and now after 5 years it is the time that company felt to bring out the ace (7D Mark II) up their sleeves. So is Canon EOS 7D Mark II worth your time and money and will it stay true to the genes of 7D? Let’s find out in our in-depth hands-on review of Canon EOS 7D Mark II.

Overview

Canon classifies 7D Mark II along with 7D into the DLSR enthusiast section and we totally agree to that, this camera is indeed a toy for serious amateurs who specifically aim to capture outdoor action and wildlife or basically fast moving objects. This guy can also be a very good second body for a pro level wild life or action photographer like the one who uses Canon 1DX as primary camera and want to use a second body.

Design and Build

7D Mark II is built like a tank, it’s basically a pro level body just with a smaller lens. The entire body of the device is made out of magnesium alloy and is totally weather sealed. It does resemble 7D but at 910gms is pretty heavy, even heavier than some of the pro level bodies like Nikon 810 which is about 870gms. It also has patches of rubber where you hold giving it a better grip. We also liked the grip which is wide and well separated from the lens mount which does not let your fingers cramp.

On the front you have the lens mount, the APSC sensor and lens contact points. You also have the IR blaster right in front on the grip, above the grip you have the shutter release button. In between the lens mount and the grip you have the auto focus assist lamp, the DOF preview button. To the right of the lens mount lies the mount release button above which lies the flash release button, mic and the 7D Mark II branding. On the top it’s again a typical Canon layout. Just behind the shutter release button you have the M-fm button, behind which lies the lone command dial and then four buttons that have two functions, first one is to white balance, metering and the second one to Drive-autofocus and then you have exposure compensation, ISO and the last one is just to light up the small screen on top. To the left of the screen you have the flash that comes out when you press the flash release button. Further on the left lies the shooting mode dial and power lever. The thing that we liked the most about the shooting mode dial is that you have three custom user modes that you can save the settings into. You also have lan yards on both the sides. On the right side you have dual card slots, one would take SDXC or SDHC while the other takes in a CF card. On the left side you basically have two flaps. The first one opens into the external mic jack, headphone jack, external flash button and the XLR input port. The other one opens into USB 3.0 data transfer port and the mini HDMI port. Down below you the tripod mount and the space for your battery. Now coming to the back where most of the action takes place, you have the LCD monitor which is very disappointing as it’s not touch screen. We can understand it not being tilting or articulating type as they are not suitable for outdoor camera because if they were they could have easily broken down, but still we would have liked it to be touch screen it would have enhanced the experience of the dual autofocus system that 70D initiated. You have the 100% view finder, menu, info buttons, start and stop button, live view button. To the right corner rests the command dial setting buttons. To the left of the monitor you have the usual buttons rating your photo, zoom in, delete, playback and the lock button as well. A key feature about the design is that just over the command dial you have the jockey, what’s important is that the lever around the jockey is a great deal as it makes it very convenient to change the autofocus modes.

 

Display and User Interface

The device comes in with a number of menus like the Q button would let you change some of the settings like for example the exposure compensation scale, ISO, even the shooting mode like P AV, autofocus modes, white balance and metering. The Info button would let you know about what settings the camera is in. Then you have the Main menu, which is very extensive. A great thing about the 7D Mark II is that it gives great emphasis on the auto focus system and thus it has a dedicated menu for auto focus only, which has under five sub menus. The first menu being the Shooting menu which includes image quality, Lens aberration correction which further has corrections for your peripheral illuminations, chromatic aberrations and distortion. Apart from these you have the auto light optimizer, white balance and higher ISO noise reduction, HDR modes and interval time. You get 6 Autofocus cases. Case one being the most obvious where you have versatile multipurpose setting. You can select the number of focus point as well 9, 21 or all 65. And then your metering can also be linked to autofocus points. Then you have your Playback menu, the system settings menu, and finally you also have the favorite menu. Overall the menu system or the user interface of 7D Mark II is pretty extensive and has a fair bit of learning curve.

Performance

The 7D Mark II system is in general very responsive and fast.

Autofocus

The 65-point (all crosstype) AF system is very fast and largely accurate, if not 100%.

We tried the burst mode on both a horizontal moving and a to and fro moving subject and in both cases I’d say the camera could nail focus more than 85% of times at the intended point, which is quite commendable if you consider the crazy 10fps speed.

7dm2-car-af-originals

 

7dm2-car-af-test-marked

 

 

Tracking gets difficult when you have a not-so-contrasting background.

The iTR is good too but can be improved, especially while the subject is against light. You can see the success rate of tracking the eyes is much lower while the subject was against light as compared to when he was facing light.

The dual AF system inherited from the 70D is a delight to use, and is the best Movie continuous AF system we’ve experienced, even under low light. I’d still give it less marks than the 70D because of absence of the touch-screen but atleast the laurel stays at home. There are a couple of catches though – you can’t servo AF at 1080p @60fps, and you can’t burst with continuous AF in Live mode. The 2nd is not a problem for me because I always shoot stills through viewfinder, but would’ve liked Servo AF during 60fps.

Still, it’s quite possibly one of the best AF systems when you need utmost speed and accuracy together.

ISO Performance

You’ll see perfectly fine JPEGs and RAW till about 800. Noise just starts to creep in at ISO 1600. ISO 3200 is where things start deteriorating, but still you can use them online perfectly. ISO 6400 and up are bad with colors deteriorating and artifacts starts to show up. Thoughout the ISO scale the JPEGs are cleaner. You can still use ISO 6400 JPEG.

Colors

The colors are natural and skin tone is very true. I’ve always liked Canon’s skin tones for the fact that they are truer than some of the other close competitors. However if you intentionally would like to make them slightly warmer or cold, adjust in post. Saturation and hue are natural.

Metering

The 150,000 RGB + IR metering system is awesome, and it had no problem separating the zones properly. See the flowers in each case given proper exposure, against bright and dark backgrounds.

Dynamic range

The DIGIC 6 makes a significant jump from the previous generation of image processors in terms of dynamic range. Although still not Industry leading, I actually liked the DR of the 7D mark II, considering the sensor size. You can check out the photos below where you would see that although I couldnot have pushed further without blowing up the background – the colors and details were not all lost in the editing, and we actually got some pretty usable (web only) stills.

Battery life

We go 1260 stills and 16.2 mins of full HD videos on two charges, so you can roughly say 630 images and about 8mins of video on a charge – not superlative but still much better than mirrorless.

Verdict

So the final question is would you buy the 7D Mark II? First factor to influence your decision is the pricing. It would cost you about $1,800 in US for just the body, you also get the kit for slightly over than $2,100 that’s the 18-135mm 3.5-5.3mm lens. We could not understand why Canon is giving this lens with this body that’s absolutely useless for the purpose one would buy this guy. In UK you’ll get it for just under ₤1,500 (just the body) and here in India you’ll find the body just over Rs 1,28,000. If you are serious about action and wildlife photography we would suggest you to just buy the body and get a very fast lens. If you can afford a very fast lens like the 300-2.8, 400-2.8 etc. then it’s absolutely fine else you can buy Canon’s 400mm 5.6 which is incredible. It’s pretty cheap, you can buy one for about $1300 to $1400. You can also buy third party lenses like Tamron or even the Sigma 150-600 sports version. Talking about competition, at this price point its closest competitor would be Nikon D750 which has a much bigger lens, has much better low light ISO performance but D750 is kind of all-round camera and thus is not exactly fit for speedy action shots or wildlife. D750 also has a burst rate of 6.5fps which is good but only fps is not the whole solution, you ought to have a great auto focus system for fast moving subjects which the 7D Mark II possess, it has a 65 auto focus system (all are cross type). The D750 has 50 Autofocus system but only 15 are cross type. Comparing it as per the product line, we can compare it with D7200 or the D7100. Sony also has a SLT system A722 which gives you up to 15fps and tracks subject very well in live view or in movie. The problem with SLT system is that it uses a translucent mirror which loses slight amount of light making it inferior in higher ISO. Comparing it with D7100 or D7200 isn’t fair as they are purely premium segment APSC cameras. They are targeted at the prosumers level who want to do all kind of things including a bit of wildlife and action, but 7D Mark II is a pro. There is a huge difference in pricing as well. Overall 7D created a knish for itself and we don’t see any competitor at that price point or that product line to that particular product and 7D Marks just widens that gap. We do have rumours of Nikon coming out with D400 but until it comes 7D Mark II would be our all round choice for wildlife and action photography where you can’t afford very expensive lenses. We recommend this product strongly.