APPLE TO INTRODUCE KID-FRIENDLY PODCAST EXPERIENCE - The Daily Guardian
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APPLE TO INTRODUCE KID-FRIENDLY PODCAST EXPERIENCE

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Washington DC: Apple is teaming up with non-profit organisation Common Sense Media to help parents find kid-friendly podcasts from its vast library of content. As per The Verge, the tech giant has launched a new Kids and Family podcast experience that will feature shows appropriate for young listeners. Common Sense Media will select each show featured, offering recommendations by age and collections like One More! for mysterious tales and action-packed dramas or Story Time for shows that transport listeners to new worlds. Creators of children-centric shows who will be featured include Tinkercast, American Public Media, Gen-Z Media, Pinna, Tumble, Highlights, WNYC Studios, Rebel Girls, and Nickelodeon.

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SKULLCANDY JIB TRUE: COME FOR THE MUSIC, STAY FOR THE PODCASTS

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The future is wireless and, like most things, the Bluetooth earphones market is booming with multiple options for all budgets. The question we answer today is whether the Skullcandy Jib True is worth your investment. 

INSIDE THE BOX

The box that the earphones come in is fairly standard and the unboxing process is hassle-free. The earbuds come in a holder/charging case, which has a standard charge that allows you to start using the Jib True straightaway. Also available in the box are additional silicone ear cushions, apart from those already on the earbuds, and a standard USB charging cable sans the charging adapter. 

DESIGN

The colour scheme of the Jib True is dynamic and the product is clearly aimed at a younger target group. With a combination of blue and yellow, the earbuds look attractive, and the holder/charging case complements them. The material is plastic, but it certainly does not feel flimsy to hold or use. The ear cushions are IPX4 sweat- and water-resistant, which is quite nice for a product at this price point.  

CONNECTIVITY

The Jib True is fairly easy to connect. Opening the lid of the charging case activates the earbuds, which can then be paired with any Bluetooth device, allowing you to stream audio immediately. One bugbear is that, while pairing with additional devices, you have to press down on the buttons for a few seconds while the earbuds are in your ears to enable their entry into pairing mode. It can be slightly uncomfortable but not painful. The earbuds switch off automatically as soon as they are kept inside the charging case and the lid is shut. Magnetic grooves ensure that each bud fits seamlessly inside the respective slot.  

PERFORMANCE

What is surprising is how clear the audio is while listening to a podcast. I listened to a variety of podcasts, ranging from home productions to those with higher budgets and properly mixed sound, but the Jib True did not disappoint with the performance. I could make out each word clearly and the enunciation and SFX were observable, almost at par with the performance one expects from a Sennheiser product. 

On the music front, however, the Jib True was a slight disappointment. The audio seems a bit flat and the bass is slightly overpowering. Being a regular user of Skullcandy for a few years now, I was disappointed to note that the audio quality did not match what one experiences using the neckbands of the brand. The lyrics are clear but the entire experience is a bit underwhelming, considering that one would expect more punch from the music. The trebles are slightly difficult to discern as the bass overpowers much else, but I guess that is at par for the course for most budget options for listening to music.

The one positive is that the earbuds are fairly insulated, providing a certain degree of noise isolation rather than proper noise cancellation. With the volume on maximum, one can be fairly cut off from the noises around. 

There is one button on each bud for tracking and volume control, but one needs to press long and hard to enable the features as there is no feather-touch control. It can cause slight discomfort so I would not recommend using these features often. It is easier to switch tracks or adjust volume using your connected device.  

VALUE FOR MONEY

Priced at Rs 2,999, the Jib True is aimed at a price-conscious demographic that is looking for a slightly more premium option than the entry level competition but fails to justify the investment except for the bright colours, brand value and the sturdy holder, which easily fits inside any pocket. Any earphone/earbud should deliver a truly exclusive music experience that is enjoyable in all degrees. For someone who likes Bluetooth connectivity for convenience, I would advocate spending less on cheaper options that would deliver a similar music experience or to invest some more money and get a better pair of earbuds/neckband that can provide more bang for the buck. Another drawback is the poor performance of the in-built microphone that captures more of the ambient sound than the voice of the speaker, making these buds impossible to use for a video call or even a personal call. 

BATTERY LIFE

The buds offer a battery life of 6 hours, plus 16 additional hours through the charging case, which is fine. One drawback is that the pods start charging automatically as soon as they are kept inside the case, so unless you have a safe space to keep them elsewhere, you would end up charging the pods repeatedly after each use, unless used for 6 hours straight. A simple switch on the box might have been a good option but with the price point formula that Skullcandy has decided for the Jib True, additional engineering would have only brought down the profit margins. 

VERDICT

If you are someone who wants Bluetooth-enabled earphones to use while being fairly active, enjoy music and make and receive calls while connected, I would recommend the Skullcandy Ink’d Active, which is a slightly pricier but more well-rounded option. The neckband is durable and the performance is more wholesome, but only if you are ready to use a neckband instead of earbuds. That being said, the Jib True is a good-looking product that aims to pack in the basic features inside an economically priced set of earbuds. It aims to create aspiration, which would work well for the target group, i.e. young adults with some disposable income, who would like a more budget-friendly alternative to Apple’s AirPods. Funky colours and packaging are always Skullcandy’s USPs and the brand does not disappoint on that front. The product would have been a clincher had they made the music experience truly stand out, but it is a good entry level option to consider if you plan to upgrade in a year or more. Till then, let the podcasts play!

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BRITISH CARMAKER JAGUAR GETS THE ALL-ELECTRIC I-PACE TO INDIA

Tata-owned British luxury carmaker Jaguar Land Rover has launched its first electric in India, the I-Pace. Is this Rs 1 crore+ car worth your money and attention?

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The electric car segment is expanding at a fast pace in India with cars like Hyundai Kona, Tata Nexon and MG ZS EV attracting the environment-conscious buyer. But surprisingly even the luxury segment is contributing with its fair share of offerings. Last year Mercedes-Benz launched the EQC in India and Volvo too has revealed that it will soon launch an electric variant of its most affordable SUV, the XC40, in the market called the XC40 Recharge. And now Tata-owned British luxury carmaker Jaguar Land Rover has launched its first electric in India, the I-Pace.

LOOKS & TECHNOLOGY

The good thing is that the car is not too different from the I-Pace concept. The pronounced front wheel arches, Matrix LED headlights and rear diffuser are some of the supercar’s inspired styling elements. It is the first Jaguar in India to receive the new Pivi Pro infotainment system. The 12.3-inch HD instrument cluster features completely revised graphics to give an even clearer indication of battery state of charge. The I-Pace is available with a wireless device charging pad beneath the ‘floating’ centre console. Wireless charging also includes signal boosting, ensuring the phone’s signal remains strong for longer. A smartphone pack with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto is available, as is Bluetooth technology which can pair two phones simultaneously.

The I-PACE is equipped with Software over the Air (SOTA) functionality. This means systems including infotainment, battery management and charging can be updated remotely. Using the vehicle’s built-in data connection, the latest software can also be downloaded automatically. The ClearSight rear view mirror is a highlight in the cabin which improves vision and convenience by ensuring the driver always has an unobstructed view of the road behind even with three people in the rear seat. It uses a wide-angle, rear-facing camera linked to a high-resolution screen within the frameless glass mirror. A small toggle switch on the mirror allows the driver to switch seamlessly between the view from the standard mirror and the camera feed. In addition to this, the car gets a 4-zone climate control system, 360-degree 3D surround view camera and a pre-conditioning system which optimises battery temperature to purge the cabin of allergens and ultrafine particles before beginning a journey.

PERFORMANCE

The I-Pace runs on a 90-kWh battery which is positioned within the floor, between the axles, giving a low centre of gravity and near perfect weight distribution. As you would expect in a powerful electric car, the linear acceleration is instantaneous with no lag and no gear shift interruptions. 294 kW of peak power takes you from 0-100 km/h in only 4.8 seconds. And that is not all; a peak torque figure of 696 Nm is sure to satiate the needs of the enthusiast within you. The car is underpinned by an advanced electric vehicle architecture created specifically for the SUV that promises superior driving dynamics while minimising weight. According to Jaguar, the double wishbone suspension at the front and integral link suspension at the rear have been tuned to give the perfect balance of dynamic handling and refinement.

CHARGING

Jaguar claims the I-Pace can cover 470 km (WLTP cycle) on a single charge. Apart from driving patterns, features like Eco mode and regenerative braking also help in improving the range. The car comes with an 11 kW three-phase onboard charger and the company says its 22 retail outlets across 19 cities are now EV ready with over 35 EV chargers installed and more underway. These chargers are a combination of 7.4 kW AC chargers and 25 kW DC (fast) chargers. The installation of a charger at the customer’s house will be done by Tata Power Ltd and the customers may also access Tata Power’s EZ Charge network of around 200 I-Pace compatible charging points on a use and pay basis.

PRICE & WARRANTY

The I-Pace has been launched in 3 variants—S, SE & HSE with prices ranging from Rs 1.05 crore to Rs 1.12 crore (ex-showroom, India). Jaguar is providing a complimentary 5 years’ service package, 5 years roadside assistance package, 8 years or 160 000 km battery warranty and a 7.4 kW AC wall mounted charger with the car.

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SAMSUNG A52 EXCELS IN EVERY DEPARTMENT

Richa Kapoor

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Samsung always spoils its customers for choice. Its M and F series of smartphones have offered value for money and the A series just adds to its array of devices. The latest addition to this bouquet is the A 52, which stands out for its AMOLED display and 90 Hz refresh rate. Let’s find out what more this device offers.

DESIGN AND DISPLAY

What caught my eye first is the device’s polycarbonate back with matte finish and unique blue colour, which helps the back of the device remain mark-free. This is a smart move made by the brand because it also makes the device look like a premium product, standing out among its competitors.

The Galaxy A52 comes with a 6.5-inch AMOLED display, with Full HD+ resolution and a 90 Hz refresh rate. This is a real winning point here which puts it at par with competitors.

CAMERA

The Galaxy A52 has four cameras on the back and one selfie snapper on the front. The rear cameras are a combination of a 64MP primary camera, a 12MP ultra-wide-angle camera and two 5MP shooters. The front has a 32MP selfie camera.

Photographs in natural and good lighting are phenomenal. In low light conditions, the images are average but with a bit of editing they are good for social media posts.

The front camera gives the desired results which is great.

PERFORMANCE AND SOFTWARE

The Galaxy A52 is powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 720G chipset. It is paired with up to 8GB of memory and 128GB of storage. The device works seamlessly: multi-tasking was easy and I felt no lag while using the device. Juggling between apps was also smooth. Even while playing games, the device did not heat up. High graphics games can also be enjoyed well on this device.

Samsung packs in plenty of features with its custom skin One UI, which offers a great balance of simplicity, performance and customization. The Galaxy A52 comes with Android 11 and One UI 3.1 out of the box – both being the latest versions currently available.

BATTERY

The Galaxy A52 is powered by a 4,500 mAh battery and supports 25W fast charging. The box includes a 15W fast charger instead of a 25W one. The battery does not run out even after using the phone for an entire day which is a major advantage.

VERDICT

At Rs 25,000 and above, the Samsung A 52 is a great pick. The phone comes with good display and performance and great battery life. It looks premium and the blue colour stands out. Only people who prefer a glass back or are not a fan of Samsung devices would find this smartphone lacking. Otherwise, there is no department in which this device doesn’t excel.

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VOLKSWAGEN REVEALS TWO NEW SUVS FOR THE INDIAN MARKET

First, the 5-seater Tiguan will make a comeback, albeit in a petrol avatar and then the all-new Tiguan will hit the roads ahead of the festive season in the very competitive compact SUV space.

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Volkswagen has been actively working on its India 2.0 strategy over the last few years. The German giant had already revealed that as a part of the SUVW plan, 4 new SUVs will be launched in the Indian car market. Two of these the T-Roc and Tiguan Allspace were launched last year, and now the 2021 model T-Roc has been introduced in the market. The company has also unveiled the other 2 SUVs that will be launched later this year. First, the 5-seater Tiguan and the all new Taigun will make a comeback and hit the roads ahead of the festive season in the very competitive compact SUV space.

Volkswagen Taigun

The Taigun was seen in the concept form at Auto Expo 2020 and now its production version has been revealed. Like the other 3 SUVs, it is built on the brand’s MQB platform. But for the Taigun it has been further localised and is called the MQB A0 IN and boasts of 95% localization of parts. This certainly will ensure that it will come to the market with a competitive price tag. There are a lot of likable bits on the exterior including the chrome laden grille which houses the new Volkswagen logo. LED headlamps with DRLs and specially the width spanning LED tail lamps wrapped in piano finish stand out on the SUV. It gets 17 dual tone alloy wheels and cladding on the wheel arches as well as on doors. According to VW, the Taigun gets the longest wheelbase in the segment – 2651 mms.

Volkswagen hasn’t really revealed the cabin of the Taigun but is promising a host of features. These include a digital cockpit, 25.4 cm touchscreen infotainment system, multi-function leather wrapped steering wheel, electric sunroof, and type C USB charging ports. It also will be a connected car which gets My Volkswagen Connect and Wireless AppConnect features. It is also Apple Carplay and Android Auto compatible. But that’s not all, the Taigun will also come with features like ventilated leather front seats, ambient lighting, and a flattened tunnel at the rear.

The SUV will be launched with 2 Petrol engine options. The 3-cylinder 1.0 litre mill churns out 115 PS and 175 Nm while the 4-cylinder 1.5 litre unit makes 150 PS and 250 Nm. The former will come with 6-speed manual and 6-speed Automatic gearbox options while the latter gets 6-speed manual and 7-speed DSG variants. And to the enthusiasts’ delight, the DSG will also come with a GT variant that will get some exclusive highlights inside and outside. VW is promising a GT version of the 1.5 Manual later as well.

Volkswagen Tiguan

The 4th SUV from Volkswagen’s stable, the new Tiguan, will be powered by a 2.0 litre Petrol engine delivering a peak power of 190 PS and 320 Nm of torque. In its earlier avatar in India, the SUV was sold with a Diesel engine. It will come with 7-speed DSG transmission with paddle shifts along with a manual version. When compared to the earlier car, the new Tiguan gets an updated grille and bumpers along with dark red LED tail-lamp with new light signatures. The SUV also comes with Volkswagen IQ Light technology which has a LED matrix with advanced light control module. You get different light modes, dynamic headlight range control, dynamic cornering lights, poor weather lights, LED headlamps & DRL and LED cornering lights.

In terms of interiors it gets premium vienna leather seats, illuminated scuff plates, panoramic sunroof and 30 shades of ambient lights. The list of safety features is long as the car gets 6-airbags, ABS, ESP, ASR, EDL, Auto-hold, hill start assist & hill descent control. You also get a tyre Pressure monitoring system, 3 headrests at rear, 3-point seat belts, ISOFIX feature and Driver Alert System. The car will make its way to the Indian market before the Taigun.

T-Roc and Tiguan Allspace

Volkswagen has started taking bookings for the new T-Roc at an ex-showroom price of Rs.  21.35 lakh and the car can be booked online or at company dealerships. Customer deliveries for the T-Roc will start from the month of May 2021. The SUV is powered by 1.5L EVO TSI engine mated to a 7-speed DSG transmission. The Tiguan Allspace on the other hand will be re-launched later in the year. The 7-seater SUV comes equipped with a power-mill of 2.0 litre TSI engine, 4MOTION and a 7-speed DSG transmission with paddle shifts.

VOLKSWAGEN TIGUAN

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MIVI COLLAR 2 WIRELESS EARPHONES: WELL-PRICED ‘MADE IN INDIA’ CONTENDER

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The call for ‘Make in India’ products started in 2014 and over the past seven years, we have seen a massive amount of products being made in India. The China ban has also helped by increasing the demand for Indian products. The product I review today is from one such company, Mivi, which is a Hyderabad-based company). The product in question is the Mivi Collar 2 wireless earphones.

Inside the box, you’ll find the Mivi Collar 2 wireless neck band, two pairs of silicone ear tips (one pair comes pre-installed on the neck band), a micro USB port cable to charge the band, user manual, a craftsman’s note with details on the making of the product, a welcome note from the founders, and warranty registration instructions.

DESIGN

The Mivi Collar looks like most other wireless neck bands, with functional buttons on the sides. The left side of the neck band has the volume rockers with the power/MFB (multi-function button) to the device switch on or off. The micro USB port sits next to it, which helps charge the device. The right side has the Mivi branding printed on it.

This neck band comes in six vibrant colors, blue, black, red, orange, green and grey. The product is lightweight and comfortable and the built quality is good.

FUNCTIONS

The Mivi Collar 2 Wireless Neck Band comes with Bluetooth 5.0. A key feature is that the neck band comes with dual pairing, so you can connect your laptop and phone simultaneously.

The neck band also comes with a IPx7 rating which means it is a device with level 7 water resistance and can survive (without any damage) immersion in water of up to 1m (approx. 3ft) for up to 30 minutes.

AUDIO AND CALL QUALITY

Mivi claims that these neck bands have HD Stereo Lossless Audio. They come with a built-in MEMS (Micro-Electro-Mechanical System) mic which gives a crystal-clear call experience. You can also use or enable Google Assistant and Siri with this product. However, listening to music was an average experience with this device. It does the work but there is nothing out of the box.

BATTERY

The Mivi Collar 2 Wireless Neck Band provides ten hours of play time (at mid volume) after 10 minutes of charging, as claimed by the brand. For a full charge, you would need to give it around 40 minutes.

VERDICT

The Mivi Collar 2 Wireless Neck Band, priced under Rs. 2000, is a Made-in-India product with good battery life, good built quality and clear call quality. But it lacks noise cancellation, which its competition provides, and comes with micro USB charging which might be outdated for a few consumers. The earbuds also tend to fall out while working out. However, priced at a competitive cost and ticking the right boxes, the Mivi Collar 2 Wireless Neck Band can be a good choice for many who now want to indulge in Made in India products only.

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AMAZON’S HALO FITNESS TRACKER JUST GOT ALEXA INTEGRATION

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Washington DC: American multinational technology company Amazon recently announced Alexa integration for its Halo fitness-tracking gadget. This new feature will allow Halo owners to ask Alexa devices about various health stats, such as their sleep score or activity points obtained during the day. According to The Verge, this new Alexa integration will be off by default in the Halo bands and users will have to upgrade their devices to the latest firmware and OS version. The new feature roll-out started on Thursday and will continue over the next week. The Halo band from Amazon is the company’s first fitness-focused product and so far, has had a less than stellar reception since its announcement last fall. The $99.99 Halo, aside from the standard fitness things of tracking movement and sleep patterns, also has the ability to police the tone of your voice and tell you when you’re being dismissive or condescending with your words.

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