TESTED: BLUETOOTH SPEAKERS GADGETS / GAMES / GEAR
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RATED APPLEâ€™S NEW iPAD
The big Apple
THIS IS WHAT
MONTEREY • 120 watt RMS output • Bluetooth®/Aux./RCA connected speaker
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HDMI BLUETOOTH® SOUNDBAR & WIRELESS SUB • Power output 2x20W+80W • USB/ SD/FM radio • HDMI in and out
BLUETOOTH® 2.1 SPEAKER SYSTEM • Output power: 16W + 6Wx2 (RMS) • FM radio • USB and Aux. compatible
BLUETOOTH® SOUNDBAR WITH SUB • USB input player • 3D function • Optical input
RCS Card accepted at Musica stores AVAILABLE AT SELECTED STORES. NEED HELP? CONTACT OUR FRIENDLY CALL CENTRE ON 0860 254 257. MONDAYS TO FRIDAYS 08:00 - 17:30, SATURDAYS 08:00 - 13:00. STOCK AVAILABILITY SUBJECT TO CHANGE. ALL PRICES INCLUSIVE OF TAX AND CORRECT AT TIME OF GOING TO PRESS. ERRORS AND OMISSIONS EXCLUDED. OFFERS VALID WHILE STOCKS LAST. NO CLUBCARD POINTS EARNED ON GIFT CARD PURCHASES.
SOUNDS LIKE WOBURN • 90 watts – taking loud to a whole new level • Bluetooth®/Aux./RCA connected speaker
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TURBINE SERIES 2.0 USB SPEAKERS BLACK & RED • Compact design • Aux. connection for audio • USB connection for power
METEOR 2.1 SPEAKER • Two satellite speakers • Active crossover subwoofer • Explosive sound
USB POWERED 2.1 SPEAKERS 25W SBS E2400
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Subscriptions hotline 0860 070 700 Email subscriptions@ mdafrica.co.za Advertising Business director Sally Hudson firstname.lastname@example.org
Don’t let my youthful visage fool you, I’m old enough to remember a time before home computers, dial-up internet and mobile phones. The year was 1999, I was in Standard 9, and I managed to convince my dad to lend me the Wilson household’s first cellphone: The Nokia 2110i. I hoped it would impress my friends. It didn’t. It turned out some of their parents were early adopters, so they’d inherited their own brick-like mobile phones by then. Bastards. The following year I got my first phone of my own, a forest-green Siemens C25 complete with three-line monochrome LCD. With it I tried to teach my parents how to use T9 predictive text and typed so many SMSes I wore the text off some of the keys. The stubby aerial also made for a passable emergency backscratcher. A few years later I spent most of my savings from waitering jobs on a Nokia 3330 – basically a 3310 with a white Xpress-On cover and blue trim, instead of the reverse. It was indestructible. It lasted half a week on a charge. It had 35 ringtones, a calculator, and Snake II, and would let me send triple-length SMSes. The 3330 was the coolest gadget I’d ever owned, and my most prized possession. With the possible exception of the iPhone 4s, I don’t think I’ve ever loved a phone more. Keen on some misty-eyed nostalgia of your own? Head over to our roundup of the 23 Best Phones Ever (p71). You’ll ooh, you’ll ah, you’ll exclaim, “I had that!” Of course, plenty’s changed in the two decades since phones didn’t need third-party covers and portable battery boosters had yet to be invented, let alone turn into necessities. Today’s phones are internet-connected, fragile and seldom last more than a day on a charge. But you can shoot 4K video, capture amazing slow-motion footage, and snap poster-worthy pictures with the flagships from any of the big-name brands. To find out which deserves a place in your pocket – or in your bag next to your battery pack – head to our Smartphone Supertest (p34) and prepare to be surprised. After years of minor design changes, incremental hardware updates and only two players jostling for the top spot, smartphones have gotten exciting again. Until next month, if you need us we’ll be playing God of War (p90), building the rest of Nintendo’s cardboard Labo Toy-Cons, and snapping extreme closeups of our colleagues with our new favourite phone.
Senior account manager Thalia Pallotta 083 375 2418 email@example.com Account manager Michelle Flowers 060 509 2656 firstname.lastname@example.org Account manager (Cape Town) Bernice Blundell 073 618 1882 email@example.com Management Stuff South Africa is published by the Stuff Group (Pty) Ltd. Directors: Toby Shapshak, Sally Hudson PO Box 74, Melrose Arch, 2096 Haymarket UK Stuff UK content is published with the permission of the copyright holder Haymarket Magazines Ltd 38-42 Hampton Road, Teddington, Middlesex, TW11OJE ... and a word about prices Generally, we show the manufacturer’s recommended price. Occasionally we (or suppliers) can make mistakes. Please remember that prices listed in Stuff are intended as a guide only. We make every effort to confirm that all information is correct (and triple checked) when we go to print.
Craig Wilson, Editor firstname.lastname@example.org @craigwilson
Stuff competition terms and conditions: Apple is not a sponsor, nor is it involved in any way with any Stuff Magazine contests or sweepstakes. Stuff Magazine does not offer Apple products as contest or sweepstake prizes. 1 Promotions, giveaways and competitions are entered through Stuff Group’s website www.stuff.co.za and are opened for Issue 86, 2018 on 4 June 2018 and close on 8 July 2018. 2 The judges’ decision is final and no correspondence can be entered into. 3 Employees of Stuff Group and their families are not allowed to enter. Advertising and public relations representatives may not enter competitions in the issue in which their promotions, giveaways or competitions are carried. 4 Prizes are not exchangeable for cash and/or other products. Prizes are available while stocks last. It is at the discretion of Stuff Group and the custodian of the prizes to ensure that, should there be a problem with the stipulated prize won, a reasonable replacement of the same value will be offered. 5 Stuff Group carries promotions, giveaways and competitions in good faith and cannot be held responsible for any misrepresentation on the part of the custodian of the promotions, giveaways and competitions. 6 Winners will be notified telephonically and by mail. It is the responsibility of the winner to ensure that the correct address and contact details are given. It is the responsibility of the custodian of the promotion, giveaway and competition to ensure that prizes are sent out correctly and within the specified time. 7 Prize delivery will take four to six weeks from the time the winner has been notified. 8 Promotions, giveaways and competitions are open to South African residents only. 9 All prize-winners will be published on www.stuff.co.za the following month, once the competition lines have closed. 10 Readers may not claim for more than one prize at a time, and once announced as a winner in any Stuff promotions, giveaways or competitions, will not be eligible for another prize for three (3) months thereafter. 11 By entering any promotions, giveaways or competitions, or by accepting any prize, entrants agree that their personal details may be retained by the promoter and/or Stuff magazine and used for the purpose of sending them information about future promotions, events and news, as well as for internal administration and analysis. 12 Unclaimed prizes will be kept for three months and will not be resent. 13 Participation in any promotion, giveaway or competition and/or acceptance of any prize implies full knowledge and acceptance of all rules.
© Stuff South Africa. All due care will be taken with material submitted, but the magazine and publishers cannot be held responsible for loss or damage. Stuff South Africa assumes no responsibility to return unsolicited editorial, graphic or other material. All rights in letters and unsolicited editorial and graphic material will be treated as unconditionally assigned for publication and copyright purposes and material will be subject to Stuff South Africa’s unrestricted right to edit and comment editorially. Stuff South Africa is fully protected by copyright and nothing may be reprinted in whole or part without written permission from the publisher. While reasonable precautions have been taken to ensure the accuracy of advice and information given to readers, the editor, publisher and proprietor cannot accept responsibility for any damage or inconvenience that may arise therefrom. Stuff is published in Brazil, China, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, India, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Korea, Lithuania, Malaysia, the Middle East, Morocco, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey and the United Kingdom.
CONS ON THE COVER
p36 Guide to the Galaxy
p38 Sony delight
HOT STUFF 8
18 20 22 26 28 29 30 32
The Hot Four ● Huawei Porsche Design Mate RS ● Acer Chromebook x2 ● GoPro Hero ● Marshall Mid ANC Vital stats Cambridge Audio Edge Hooray for these high-end hi-fi honeys Gigapixel Logitech G560 These gaming speakers will blast out colour Choice Geek art Pimp your wall with 2D masterpieces Games Xenophobic elves and purple dragons Forbes list Light paint, green tech and smarter homes Icon Hublot World Cup smartwatch Time to gear up for that kicky-ball shindig Apps Cut open virtual frogs at your leisure Start menu Get a ’copter in a can from Kickstarter
TESTS p40 Shout out to my X
p41 My friend Goo
p42 Time to go Pro? 4
34 Supertest Smartphones What’s the very best ringer of the 2018 crop? 49 First test Nissan Leaf 2018 This electric car wants to convert petrolheads 56 Tested HTC Vive Pro Go on your own Ready Player One adventure 59 Tested Nuraphone These brainy cans will test your hearing 66 Group test Bluetooth speakers The best affordable party-starters 68 Tested Apple iPad (2018) A newly tweaked tablet for the masses 70 Tested Mazda 2 An attractive hatch that is a blast to drive 84 Long-term test Huawei MateBook X Pro What a display from this skinny laptop! 86 Tested Games Rampant rednecks, pillaging pirates, dogfight deities and mobile monkeys
FEATURES 47 Mini meme AR apps Move virtual tattoos around your real limbs 52 Upvoted Rucksacks Strap up for city, trail or photo trips 54 Beta yourself eBay Become the best bidder on the web 60 Stuff Picks Action figures Get nerdy with these grown-up playthings 71 The 23 best phones ever Neck some nostalgia with retro mobiles 82 Instant upgrades Apple HomePod Give Siri a boost with these talkie tips 112 Next big thing Nissan IMx Kuro This motor’s buddying up with your brain
TOP TENS 95 The Stuff Top Ten of everything Your essential gadget-buying guide: Smartphones, tablets, headphones, TVs, smartwatches, laptops, consoles, games, wearables, budget tech, system cameras 99 Playlist Couch-based multiplayer Invite your mates over and have a blast 101 Your streaming essentials Because everyone loves a murderer. Sort of… 105 The big question How can I learn to play the guitar? 107 Should I upgrade? Apple iMac Pro Do you really need all this desktop power? 110 How to buy… a printer Get a paper-defacer that’s just right for you
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I SHOWERED WITH JUSTICE MALALA
I OFFSET MY VICES WITH A VERSA
At first glance, a speaker you can use in the shower seems like a cheesy accessory from the Playboy Mansion circa 1973, when piping music into every room was a costly novelty for only the very few. Now, speakers aren’t just portable, many are waterproof too. After the UE Wonderboom Bluetooth speaker won our Hi-fi Gadget of the Year award I tested it both in the bathroom and out of it. So, with whom did I choose to share my inaugural audioaccompanied shower? A progressive-rock band? A deeply melodic Scandinavian electro duo? Nope, just Justice Malala and Gareth Cliff talking politics. Talk about how technology – and this particular listener – has matured. Toby Shapshak, Publisher and Editor-in-chief
Even though Fitbit’s Versa smartwatch isn’t compatible with my beloved Huawei Mate 9, I still love it. Which ought to tell you how good it is. In addition to the usual step tracking and constant heart-rate monitoring I came to expect from my last Fitbit – which helps ensure I’m not slacking off at gym when atoning for the weekends sins – there’s on-board music storage, support for streaming service Deezer, and Bluetooth. Plus, the Fitbit Coach app offers workout suggestions for the days I need inspiration, and the female health app should be useful once it’s got a few month’s data. Also, unlike the Charge HR, the Versa’s waterproof, so there’s no more daily cursing in the shower. Michelle Flowers, Account Manager
Making Stuff up Publisher and Editor-in-chief Toby Shapshak email@example.com Editor Craig Wilson firstname.lastname@example.org Digital Publisher Nic Boerma email@example.com Digital Editor Brett Venter firstname.lastname@example.org Deputy Digital Editor Marcé Bester email@example.com Art Director Brandon van Rensburg firstname.lastname@example.org Selling Stuff Business Director Sally Hudson, email@example.com Account Manager Michelle Flowers firstname.lastname@example.org
Getting Stuff to you Printing CTP
What this issue has brought us by way of geekery I LEARNT HOW TO CODE IN THREE DAYS
I WENT ON A TRIP THROUGH MIDGARD
I’ve been playing God of War. Lots of God of War. Words can’t explain how much you need to play the new God of War. Well, words can explain, but they’ll spoil the best thing about it: The story (see p90 for our spoiler-free review). The combat is amazing, the setting is gorgeously rendered, the exploration is the best I’ve seen since The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, and all of the above pales in comparison to the story. This is a sequel done as right as it gets – the tale of Kratos of Sparta and his son is a serious contender for Stuff’s Game of the Year award for 2018... and we’re not even halfway through it yet. If nothing else, this is the gaming title to beat for the rest of the year. Brett Venter, Digital Editor
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HOT FOUR #1 MATE FOR LIFE HUAWEI PORSCHE DESIGN MATE RS
If your idea of excess is eating a whole Debonair’s pizza by yourself or watching every series of The IT Crowd in one sitting, then you clearly haven’t met Huawei’s new Porsche Design Mate RS. It’s a monster of a phone with a price even the 256GB iPhone X can’t match. There’s an even more expensive, 512GB version of the Mate RS, but it’s not coming to South Africa. Announced alongside Huawei’s already impressive P20 and P20 Pro handsets, despite the massive hike in price, the specs don’t look much different to those offered by its siblings. It shares the Pro’s triple-lens camera, 4000mAh battery and Kirin 970 processor. So what’s actually new here? Well, there’s an in-display fingerprint scanner embedded under its 6in curved OLED screen, and this handset supports wireless charging. And to remind you that you’re in possession of a supremely premium and rare smartphone (Huawei’s only offering 1 000 units in SA) there’s the unmissable Porsche Design logo on the front so you never stop thinking about fast cars. As hot as…1 000 redlining Porsche 911 engines R26 460 / huawei.com/za
KEY SPECS Display 6.1in 2240x1080 OLED OS Android 8.1 Oreo CPU Kirin 970 RAM 6GB Storage 256GB Battery 4000mAh
Totally leathered ‘To case or not to case’ is a dilemma made easier with the Porsche Design Mate RS, as you get a swanky leather flip cover included with the phone. With a handset this expensive, playing it safe is sage advice.
23 PAGES OF THE BIGGEST STORIES FROM PLANET TECH
Brute juice If you run down the 4000mAh battery, Huawei’s super-charge tech will get it back up to 58% in half an hour. The Porsche Design model is also the first Huawei to support quick wireless charging.
A glass apart Like the cars that inspired its design, the Porsche-ified Mate RS is pleasingly curvy and luxurious. It also has a double-sided glass design that you won’t be forever terrified of scratching, honest.
Phone to ’phones Unsurprisingly, but sadly, there’s no jack socket for your wired headphones among the forward-thinking Porsche Design Mate RS’s assortment of techy riches – but you do get a USB-C to 3.5mm adapter.
Store draw You’ll squeeze a fair few movie trilogies onto this Huawei – 256GB is more than most flagships offer. Chuck in Dolby dual speakers, and you’ve a mini media powerhouse.
Triple threat Like the P20 Pro, this phone proudly flexes its photographic credentials with a triple-Leica-camera setup: a 40MP main snapper, a 20MP monochrome sensor and an 8MP telephoto.
HANDS-ON Thought the P20 Pro’s triple camera was over the top? You ain’t seen nothing yet. The Porsche Design edition gives you all that’s brilliant about its
supposed flagship and adds a curved glass back and a magic fingerprint scanner that’s built into the screen. Forget about Face ID – this sort of next-gen biometric tech is the future and you can get hold of it right now
– if you’ve got heck of a lot of spare cash kicking around, that is. Seriously, if the iPhone X was made for wannabe oligarchs, this Porsche-branded Huawei is so expensive that only people with actual oil money will be
able to afford it. Just like a proper rip-roaring RS 911, fittingly. We felt nervous just having our grubby little paws on it for a few hours. That and more than a little bit disappointed we’ll never be able to afford such luxury.
AI should coco Huawei’s really talking up the AI capabilities of its new smartphones. You should expect better image recognition and stabilisation in your shots, as well as more efficient management of battery life.
MEET HUAWEI’S P20 FAMILY
Notch kidding P20
While you’ll have to live without an OLED display, and there’s no escaping the notch in the room (although it can be hidden by a black bar), a Kirin 970 processor, 4GB of RAM and a big ol’ 3400mAh battery are not to be sniffed at. R13 000 / huawei.com/za
Lens a hand P20 Pro
Can you digit? One of the headline features of this phone is its dual fingerprint scanners. You’ve got one on the back and one lodged under the display. You can also wake it just by waving your finger over it.
Huawei has tripled down on its camera efforts for the P20 Pro, equipping its new flagship with a three-cam arsenal that can do 5x zoom. It’s the most exciting new phone we’ve clapped eyes on in ages. In fact, it even took the fight to Samsung and Apple in this issue’s supertest… R15 500 / huawei.com/za SUPERTEST p34
Together in magnetic seams The x2’s magnetic hinge design holds the tablet in place when you’re using it as a laptop, and allows you to easily break it apart or spin it around when you want to get all arty.
Port in the spotlight Connectivity shouldn’t be an issue here, as the x2 is packing two USB-C ports, a microSD slot and a headphone jack socket – so you don’t have to go Bluetooth just yet.
HOT FOUR #2 OPEN A NEW CHROME TAB HP Chromebook x2
The easiest way to make something sound boring is to call it ‘educational’. Take Acer’s Chromebook Tab 10: it may be the world’s first Chrome-powered tablet (see panel opposite), but it’s being billed as a tool for studious teens to write their essays on. Snooze! Fortunately, Google’s operating system is spreading its wings and detaching itself from the keyboard for a second time – in a shell that’ll appeal to those of us who ditched textbooks long ago. The new HP Chromebook x2 is a more high-end offering, with a 12.3in 2400x1600 screen, 4GB or 8GB of RAM, an Intel Core m3 CPU, 32GB of on-board storage and a reported 10.5 hours of battery life. Stateside, you can pick one up for just short of $600 (around R7 500) bundled with a stylus and keyboard cover. That might seem pricey for a Chromebook, but compare it to the 12.9in iPad Pro – you’ll need to shell out R19 000 for Apple’s all-conquering tablet with a Pencil and Smart Keyboard – and the Chrome starts to look a lot more shiny. As hot as… a bonfire of all your old school sportswear Rtba / hp.com/za
THE RIVAL ACER CHROMEBOOK TAB 10 Narrowly beating the Chromebook x2 to the title of first tablet to run on the Chrome OS, Acer’s Tab 10 is being pitched as a tool for schools. But with a 9.7in hi-res screen, Google Play support for Android apps, plus a bundled Wacom stylus and the promise of AR experiences coming in the future, we don’t doubt some people would love to nab it for more creative uses. Be a shame to waste all that on kids. Rtba / acer.co.za
Snap out of it This is your regular reminder that a tablet is a ridiculous camera. But if you absolutely insist, you’ll find a 13MP rear snapper, while there’s a 5MP camera on the front.
First sign of radness No need to reach for the shutter button when you’ve lined up the perfect shot, as the new Hero will respond to voice commands. Just tell it when you want to start recording.
HOT FOUR #3 CHEAPER THRILLS GoPro Hero
If you want a high-spec GoPro for your dirt-bike backflips, perilous rock climbs and surfing exploits, you’re already well catered for. But for those of us who lead lives more Poldark than Point Break, those cams are a costly investment. Just want to document your weekend strolls and get some FPV footage of your dog? Then consider the new Hero. At R3 800 it’s an affordable entry-level GoPro, and while you’ll lose the 4K and super-slow-mo stuff – expect it to top out at 1440p @ 60fps – you still get a 2in touchscreen, waterproofing down to 10m
and digital stabilisation. It’s tough as hell too, able to go places your smartphone simply cannot. The Hero supports QuikStories, the nifty software that automatically edits your footage into a video complete with music and effects. And because this GoPro shares the same form factor as its more premium contemporaries, it’ll work with the same mounts and accessories. Forget the giant duck-shaped pool float: this is your end-of-summer impulse buy. As hot as… untreated sunburn R3 800 / capeunionmart.co.za
Xiaomi isn’t just about smartphones You can kit your home out with these great smart products too.
Mi TV Box
Air Puriﬁer 2
Motion Activated Night Light
Stream shows, movies, music and more from your phone, tablet or laptop on your TV. Supports apps such as DSTV & Netﬂix.
Its triple-layer design removes particles larger than 0.3μm with a high-density EPA ﬁlter.
Enjoy your music on the go in audiophile-grade quality.
Easy installation, wide sensing range and ultra low power consumption gives you 365 nights of eﬀortless illumination.
Delivers up to 5 watts of clean, immersive sound that you can take just about anywhere. Featuring a sleek design that blends in every situation.
The perfect ﬁt for people who love music and sports.
T’s & C’s apply. Available while stocks last. E & OE.
Rocking all over the world Support for aptX Bluetooth means better wireless audio quality – and providing your music-playing device also has it built in, you can go for a 10m wander without fear of dropouts.
HOT FOUR #4 KILLSWITCH ENGAGE
Marshall Mid ANC To most people, the name Marshall means long-haired frontmen, moshpits and guitar solos. But for a while now it’s also been synonymous with fashion-focused headphones. The latest in the line is the Mid ANC, Marshall’s first pair of active noise-cancelling ’phones. Flick a switch and the headphones will eliminate distracting background racket. We expect the custom drivers to provide a good level of detail and bass, while battery life is estimated at 20hrs+ with the noise-cancelling turned on – or 30hrs+ of wireless playback if you’re willing to let the outside world in. Just try to resist smashing them to pieces at the climax of a really good song. As hot as… one of Slash’s face-melting solos Rtba / takealot.com
A new adventure unfolds this fatherâ€™s day. Now available at Cape Union Mart
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T A L S T A T S
THE EDGE OF GLORY
With Google Chromecast built in, it’s a cinch to stream your music to the Edge NQ.
Cambridge Audio Edge from R45 000 / cambridgeaudio.com
Cambridge Audio marks its half-century by unwrapping some tasty high-end hi-fi ● Many happy returns Most people celebrate their 50th birthday with a nice meal or a new set of golf clubs, but Cambridge Audio isn’t a person, it’s a hi-fi company. So instead, half a century of aural existence is being commemorated with three slices of sonic excellence. Named after Professor Gordon Edge – the man behind Cambridge’s first ever product, the P40 amp – the new Edge range of products has been three years in the making. 18
● Money no object So what took them so long? Well, rather than starting out with boring things like budgets, blueprints and product road-maps, Cambridge set out to make the absolute best kit it possibly could. The result is two different amps and a streamer, each costing more than some of us would spend on a car. ● The shining path Yeah, we know, it all sounds very chin-strokey. And that’s because it is. The signal path of each product is as short as possible to reduce interference: the Edge W power amp sends your music through just 14 components compared to the
usual 30+. The engineers have also used clever techniques such as twin toroidal transformers with opposing symmetry to ensure minimum noise. Essentially, if you listen to music via your laptop speakers, you should have stopped reading a while ago. ● Beyond your wildest streams But just because these products are for purists, doesn’t mean the Edge range is stuck in the past. The Edge NQ has Cambridge’s updated StreamMagic platform on board, which means support for all the major streaming standards, while aptX HD Bluetooth opens the door to 24-bit hi-res audio.
SIGNAL PATHS ARE AS SHORT AS POSSIBLE: THE EDGE W POWER AMP’S HAS JUST 14 COMPONENTS
Hotter than Dell
DELL XPS 15 (2018) Looking for a laptop that can effortlessly hop between Excel spreadsheets and an action-packed game of League of Legends? Consider Dell’s new XPS 15. On the surface, it’s difficult to separate this year’s refresh from its 2017 predecessor. It’s still a sleek machine with just-about-there bezels surrounding the 15.6in InfinityEdge touch display. Look under the hood, though, and you’ll find a beast of Hulk proportions. Opt for the entry-level model and you’ll be getting a Core i5-8300H processor and integrated graphics, but these can be upgraded all the way up to an H-series Core i9, GTX 1050 Ti card and 4K screen – perfect for your lunch-break gaming binges. Rtba / dell.com/za
THE FULL LINE-UP ● Edge NQ
As well as Wi-Fi and the other wireless tech already mentioned, the NQ streamer also has coaxial, optical and USB inputs, so you’re covered if you ever decide you haven’t given up on cables after all.
● Edge A
This integrated amp has the ability to deliver 100 Watts of power, and it has aptX HD Bluetooth plus optical, coaxial and USB inputs – so all you really need to add is a pair of equally decadent speakers.
● Edge W
A good old-fashioned 100W power amp, the Edge W lacks the new-fangled inputs or connectivity you’ll find on the other two. That makes it the cheapest of the bunch, although ‘cheap’ is hardly the word.
Are you reddy for love?
APPLE iPHONE 8 (PRODUCT)RED About to upgrade your iPhone? Bored of me-too space grey and silver? Happen to think the first colour of the rainbow is unequivocally the best one? Then you’ll want to take a look at the (Product)Red special edition of the iPhone 8 or super-sized 8 Plus. These phones are part of a philanthropic partnership between Apple and (Red), which sees proceeds from handset sales used to help provide testing, counselling and medical treatment for the millions of people living with HIV/AIDS in Africa. Sporting a fancy-pants scarlet glass back with an aluminium band to match, it’s so easy on the eye that you might risk going caseless. from R12 000 / myistore.co.za 19
The bigger picture in tech
SING A RAINBOW We’ve seen keyboards, mice and even monitors exhibit their own light shows, so it seems only fair that Logitech’s new gaming speakers get the same treatment. The G560’s four RGB lighting zones can throw 16 million colours onto your desk and the wall behind it, and they can sync with what’s on
screen, Ambilight-style. Say you’ve just walked into a boss area – game developers could make the G560 change colour to ramp up the dread. They could also flash red when you hit low health, or indicate which direction you’re taking fire from. And with peak power of 240W, they can make a fair racket too.
READY GREYER ONE
With the promise of old classics and a finish that echoes the original’s wood veneer, the newly named Atari VCS has plenty to offer ageing gamers. But Atari says the new console is more than a retro box, claiming it will “change the way you interact with your TV”. We’re intrigued.
MAKING GAMING ACCESSIBLE
Microsoft has taken the wraps off a new modular game controller aimed at those with disabilities. Called the Xbox Adaptive Controller, it features nineteen ports which can be used to set the controller up for many use cases, so just about anyone can game. Expect it by year-end.
PUT ON A RAVE FACE
Before Snapchat filters, it was impossible to find out how you’d look with a dog’s nose or a strawberry for a face. Luckily for us all, the latest version of the Snapchat app for iOS can use the iPhone X’s 3D face-mapping TrueDepth tech to make those filters appear freakishly realistic. 21
C H O I C E
Use the walls to express your nerd sensibilities
The obvious brilliance of Jeremy Harnell’s design is that you can immediately tell you’re looking at three intense cyclists despite the absence of any bike frames. R1 300 / kingandmcgaw.com
2 Robot Xtra 2
The panic merchants of the internet keep telling us robots are going to rise up and kill us all, but Oli Fowler’s ’bot looks like a two-legged mobile disco. R1 300 / printclublondon.com
Trump to the left of you, Russia to the right: the prospect of blasting off from this bumpy sphere in a rocket and never looking back is becoming ever more enticing. R350 / eastendprints.co.uk
4 Blade Runner 2049
There are lots of good shots in this film, but it’s the bit when Officer K and Joi get all touchy-feely in the rain that will end up being its most iconic image. from R150 / etsy.com
5 Star Wars Art Print
As it’s Star Wars Day this month, you should probably celebrate by adding Ale Giorgini’s fun artwork to your already bursting collection of Star Warsy stuff. R440 / notonthehighstreet.com
6 Science Fiction Star Chart
Well, it seems fitting that some of the most important films and TV shows in sci-fi history should be honoured in a star chart. R420 / wearedorothy.com
This year the LG 65" OLED B7 scooped the Best Television of the Year Award at Stuff SAâ€™s Gadget Awards Available at selected stockists nationwide! Visit www.LG.com/za to find out more! LGSouthAfrica
VS Pro evolution
LOGITECH G PRO A job that involves nothing but playing video games all day long? It’s an increasingly viable career option, but you need to be good. Really, stupidly good. And according to Logitech, you also need its new G Pro headset. With soft leatherette earpads and a lightweight frame, the G Pro is built for long gaming sessions. ‘Hybrid mesh’ drivers promise big bass and less distortion, while Logitech says the pads offer up to 50% more sound isolation than its previous gaming cans – crucial in games where you need to hear every footstep. R2 500 / evetech.co.za
I’ve got your DAC
STEELSERIES ARCTIS PRO + GAMEDAC SteelSeries is serious about giving your gaming audio a sonic step up – which is why the new Arctis Pro headset comes with its own dedicated DAC and amp for 24-bit/96kHz streaming straight from your PC or PS4. There’s also a wireless version with an OLED-screened breakout box for changing settings and a charging slot for hot-swapping the headset battery when you’re running low. So you’ll never have to stop goading TotalTekkers87 on FIFA. from R4 600 / evetech.co.za
DROP EVERYTHING AND DOWNLOAD...
Manything Free (IAPs) / Android, iOS You know that old phone you banished to a drawer and occasionally stumble upon while looking for your passport? “Look at it, with its tiny screen and prehistoric bezels!” you mock. “Never turning that on again.” Wrong. That old phone is your new security/dog-watching camera. Simply download the Manything app to the discarded device, open the camera, select the ‘viewer’ option on your current 24
handset, and you’re off. Following a recent update, you can now zoom in on recorded video and jump to the exact date a clip was taken. For absolutely zilch, you get a live feed from one camera and alerts when motion is detected, while opting for a subscription makes clips accessible from the cloud. It can’t offer pin-sharp resolution, but you won’t find an easier route into DIY surveillance.
Ding dong thing
RING VIDEO DOORBELL 2 Like visits to the dentist, home security is an unfortunate necessity. Thankfully, keeping an eye on your abode is a little easier now thanks to Ring. The US-based company launched its smart home kit in South Africa last month. Most of its solutions focus on internet-connected cameras, and our favourite is its Wi-Fi video doorbell. In addition to letting you see who’s at your front gate or door, day or night, from anywhere in the world in 1080p, it also includes motion detection that’ll send you instant alerts before your visitor has even rung the bell. Two-way audio means you can also greet your welcome visitors or tell the unwelcome ones to hit the road, and a rechargeable battery means you needn’t bother with pesky wiring – though you can if you like, sparky. R4 000 / incredible.co.za
New Nighthawk Pro Gaming XR500 WiFi router Transform your gaming experience. Gain the power to win. Netgear’s promise to deliver the ultimate router for gaming has been fulﬁlled with the new Nighthawk Pro Gaming XR500 which oﬀers higher levels of speed, performance, personalisation and control. Engineered in conjunction with leading gamers, the aggressive-looking XR500 supports responsive, reliable, low-lag game play. The XR500 features the new DumaOS operating system which gives casual or serious gamers - operating a dedicated console or a PC - opportunities to raise their levels of play by a sizable margin. The XR500 optimises your network by stabilising ping, reducing lag spikes and boosting wired and
wireless connectivity to meet your always-on reliability goals.
It is available from dealers at a recommended retail price of R6,499 including VAT.
The informative dashboard provides real-time bandwidth use by device, ping delays and other parameters, and a geo-ﬁlter prevents connections to ‘laggy’ players connecting from remote locations. The built-in gaming VPN client protects your identity online, preventing distributed denial-of-service attacks from forcing you oﬄine through the spamming of your IP address. The Netgear Nighthawk Pro Gaming XR500 router delivers a level of customisation and gaming performance that is unmatched in the router space.
Available at leading retailer outlets nationwide | (086) 022 6372
G A M E S
FIRST PLAY THE ELDER SCROLLS ONLINE: SUMMERSET PC, PS4, Xbox One Massive multiplayer online games are a big commitment. While you can ditch your job and put your children up for adoption, it’s essentially impossible to give up on an MMO once it has its grip on you. The latest series trying to take over your life is The Elder Scrolls Online. Following last year’s nostalgic Morrowind chapter, the next expansion will be Summerset, letting you loose on a region that hasn’t been explored since 1994’s The Elder Scrolls: Arena. You see, Summerset’s borders have 26
been shut for a long time, but now Queen Ayrenn has ordered them to be opened, allowing you and your merry band of online pals to wander in. Not everyone’s thrilled about this, and it’s your job to help soothe the growing tensions between the different factions. But if the likes of griffins and unicorns are one step too far into nerdvana for you, then you might want to look elsewhere. While games like Skyrim and Oblivion were dominated by human-centric stories and settings, Summerset is more
in the vein of Morrowind, diving down the fantasy rabbit-hole. Combat is pretty basic, but as wizardry is a big deal in these parts you’ll be experimenting with a lot more spells. These include being able to temporarily freeze time as well as meditation skills, which replenish health, stamina and magicka. It’s way too early to offer a definitive verdict, but this Summerset expansion already feels like a fascinating addition to an already monstrous game, and one that has a lot to offer both newcomers and veterans.
FIRST LOOK UP-SCALED NOSTALGIA TRIP
OUT 21 SEP
SPYRO REIGNITED TRILOGY PS4, Xbox One
Around this time last year, the world of video games was reintroduced to a spunky marsupial with a penchant for wumpa fruit, box-smashing and miscalculating the most basic of jumps (we’ve even
got the broken PlayStation controllers to prove it). Since the Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy was a massive sales hit, it’s no surprise that another ’90s PlayStation icon will be resurrected for modern consoles. Spyro is back, and being suckers for nostalgia, we’re pretty glad to see the purple platform-hopper. The Spyro Reignited Trilogy is a ground-up remake of the
first three games in the series: Spyro the Dragon, Spyro 2: Ripto’s Rage!, and Spyro: Year of the Dragon. You’ll be firebreathing your way through the same 100+ levels, but they’ve been given a veritable HD bucket of paint, with spruced-up environments, revamped cinematics and lighting effects that wouldn’t have been possible 20 years ago. Yes, it really was that long
ago. The controls have also been tweaked to make the most of today’s pads. If, like us, you have fond memories of the simple platforming, wacky characters (there really aren’t enough skateboarding cheetahs in games for our liking) and brightly coloured worlds, you’re going to have a tough time resisting this fiery blast from the past.
BEST OF UPCOMING COLLECTIONS
SEGA MEGA DRIVE CLASSICS
PS4, Xbox One While it’s unlikely we’ll get another Sega console, we can pretend our PlayStation and Xbox consoles are old ones with this retro collection. Of the included 53 games, we’ll never get tired of playing Gunstar Heroes, ToeJam & Earl or Streets of Rage. That hedgehog was decent in his day too.
STREET FIGHTER 30TH ANNIVERSARY COLLECTION
PS4, Xbox One, PC, Switch What better way to celebrate 30 years of drunkenly punching your mate in the face (in virtual form of course) than by picking this one up? The 12-game bundle contains every entry from the 1987 original right up to 1999’s Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike.
MEGA MAN LEGACY COLLECTION
Switch This came out way back in 2015 for PS4, Xbox One and PC, but it’s now heading to the Switch. As well as the first six NES-era Mega Man games, Sega has thrown in concept art, songs and a challenge mode. Plus you can save almost anywhere now.
INCOMING JUNE ● VAMPYR ● MARIO TENNIS ACES ● THE CREW 2 JULY ● CAPTAIN TOAD: TREASURE TRACKER ● SONIC MANIA PLUS ● THE BANNER SAGA 3
F O R B E S L
Dreaming in green few years ago, I had a billion-dollar idea. It was during our infamous period of national load-shedding, when every second advert on the radio was for a generator, and every second person around the weekend braai was moaning about how many times their house was dark that week. My idea was really simple: Solar-power paint. You’d paint a large, sun-facing surface with this remarkable stuff – available in a variety of easy-toclean colours, to get the approval of those fluffy dogs in the TV ads – and one end of it would have a multi-plug attached, into which you’d plug your TV, mobile phone, or whatever else took your fancy. I haven’t thought through the specifics that thoroughly to be honest. I’m not a photovoltaicpaint engineer. I’m not any flavour of engineer, actually. But the basic idea is solid, right? Lo and behold, last month an article pops up on social media and – would you believe it? – someone’s gone and done it! The Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) claims to have solved the fiddly bits I didn’t think too much about, and hopes to have a commercially viable product within five years, making it the TV-ad equivalent of a sort of Dulux Elon Musk.
Imagine the potential applications, so to speak. The roof of your house gets a coat. And your garage. Oh, and the driveway. What about the bottom of your pool? All the north-facing walls of South African buildings get a layer, along with the roof of every shelter in every area still waiting for the basic services we take for granted, whether here or in South America or Asia or… wherever, really. Imagine how much power we could generate. Yes, there are some other minor details to consider, like how to make that much paint, do it affordably, and get it where it’s needed. Plus, we’re going to need to store all of that surplus power. But humans love a challenge. I hope we work this one out and someone makes a trillion dollars off it and puts the coal and oil industries out of business permanently. That’s the crux of this month’s piece, in fact. Being green. Technology is helping us undo the damage we humans have wreaked on the world around us. Drones are being used to monitor wildlife, prevent poaching and improve agriculture. Meanwhile, Japanese researchers have found a bug in a garbage site that eats plastic, and a team at Portsmouth
University has isolated, mutated and improved the enzyme responsible for the process, which means in few years you may have an enzyme bin for plastic that works like composting does for organic waste. Not enough good news? A youngster in California has come up with a floating debris catcher that is currently pulling thousands of tons of waste out of the Pacific Ocean. Off-shore wind farms in the US have been creating artificial reefs and scientists are now examining the resultant, resurgent fish populations there. Iceland has even built a negative emission power plant that cleans the air while it generates electricity. Technology is about so much more than smartphones, games, wearables and washing machines you can monitor from your laptop. It’s easy to lose track of that sometimes. From the internet to mobile telephony, artificial intelligence-powered medical diagnosis and delivery of crucial medicines to outlying areas by drone, tech has changed the world drastically in the last few decades alone. It’ll do so again in the next couple of decades to come. That’s reason for great excitement, not just for us, but for the world we leave behind.
SPIN DOCTOR Rob Forbes is a 5FM DJ who tweets about football, sports and music when he’s not presenting, camped out in a casino waiting for people to let go of a car (long story) or raiding Stuff’s storage cupboard. Catch him on 5FM between 13:00 and 16:00 every weekday.
I C O N
HUBLOT BIG BANG REFEREE 2018 FIFA WORLD CUP RUSSIA R72 000 / hublot.com
That is some name for a watch. Isn’t it just. The Hublot Big Bang Referee 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia is a limited-edition smartwatch launching ahead of this year’s spectacle. Hublot is the tournament’s official timekeeper, and a special version of its latest wearable will be worn by the refs. They’ll be using them to keep track of stoppages and no doubt disappoint thousands of face-painted tourists by relaying decisions made by goal-line tech. But… I’m not a referee. Not to worry. There’s a consumer version of the Big Ba… oh, you know, the watch. It’s still geared towards football, keeping you up to date with everything going on in Russia. That means wrist-based announcements before kick-off, as well as notifications about cards and substitutions. Best of all, the word ‘GOAL’ will flash up every time the ball ends up in the back of the net. We’ll have to wait and see if that’s a feature Nigeria fans will get to experience, but at least you’ll be kept in the loop when you have to make a toilet dash.
THE WORD ‘GOAL’ WILL FLASH UP EVERY TIME THE BALL ENDS UP IN THE NET
That doesn’t sound at all like information I could just get from an app on my phone! What else? You can customise the watch with 32 different dials, each inspired by the flags of participating countries. The watch is kitted with an Intel Atom Z34XX processor and runs on Android Wear OS, so you can load it up with all the usual smartwatch apps. You get a 400x400 AMOLED display, an accelerometer, gyroscope, GPS, NFC and one-day battery life. Fair enough, forgive the cynicism. How can I get one? If you’re serious about ropping in excess of R70 000 on a watch that sort of expires after a month, you’ll need to move faster than Neymar’s feet and get to your nearest Hublot stockist. They’re only selling 2018 of ’em worldwide. 29
A P P S
This month’s mobile must-downloads
RETRO CORNER FIGHTING FANTASY CLASSICS
1 Minimoog Model D
2 Scanbot 7
3 Linea Sketch
4 321 Launch
6 Score! Match
7 Will Hero
9 The Room: Old Sins
R230 / iOS The world’s first portable synth, the analogue Minimoog Model D was horribly expensive. But now, with 160 presets, you can get it stuffed inside your extremely portable iOS device – and for relative peanuts.
Free / iOS, Android Turn any flat surface into a miniature Kennedy Space Center with this AR app. Build a rocket, annoy everyone with a noisy countdown and make cooing noises as a virtual rocket blasts off in your face.
Free (IAPs) / iOS, Android Everyone in this weirdo one-thumb platformer is a bouncy, vicious square. It’s good stuff, though, with you bounding along, unleashing violent death while trying to avoid surprisingly deadly windmills. 30
Free (IAPs) / iOS, Android Nobody actually owns a scanner… but Scanbot makes it a cinch to grab multi-page documents on your phone, make them readable and hurl the results at colleagues. This new version has improved filters.
R60 / iOS Did you once hate slicing up a frog at school? The frog hated it more. Offer solidarity with your amphibian chums by going digital in this AR oddity, and educate yourself about froggy life cycles.
R60 / iOS, R48 / Android Summoned by a Germanic god, apparently with a penchant for spears and 1980s heavy metal, you’re told to skewer evil monsters. Master the throwing arc, head-shot ogres and yell “DAS IS GUT!”
R80 / iOS If you don’t need a full-on art app but have the urge to scribble, Linea Sketch balances simplicity and power. Its ZipLine feature will even straighten a wiggly line if you press down after drawing it.
Free (IAPs) / iOS, Android Ever wished you could scrawl a line from your player’s boot to the net? That’s Score! Match: the beautiful game as turn-based line-drawing, albeit with not-so-beautiful freemium gunk. Yellow card!
R70 / Android Finally, this tactile exploratory puzzler is here to scare the willies out of Android fans, while smacking their brains out with a brick due to its warped spooky logic. Play it in the dark, if you dare.
In 1982, Ian Livingstone and Steve Jackson mashed together fantasy novels and D&D-style role-playing. It all came across a bit like early text adventures of the day, only in paper form, but the books were phenomenally popular. Now reborn on mobile, they’re a curious oddity. There’s no five-fingered bookmarking, nor cheating, nor losing dice underneath the couch. But in a world of Lifeline, 80 Days and other slices of portable text-orientated adventuring, these old books seem more on-trend than they have in decades. You get one title free, while more are available via IAPs. Free (IAPs) / iOS, Android
WTF IS THE SONY MP-CD1? Snappy re-dresser
POLAROID 96 CAM The year 1996: Nintendo launched the N64 in Japan, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air aired its final episode… and Manchester City manager Alan Ball was replaced by Steve Coppell. How things have changed. It was also the year that Polaroid introduced its 600 camera, and some 22 years later the old-school instant snapper returns. But rather than a modern remake, the 96 Cam is an original camera that’s been refurbed and refinished, so it performs exactly as it did it in the ’90s. No pinging your photos to Instagram here – it’s just point, shoot and wait. Each camera is fitted with a custom faceplate and comes in either Jazz Red or Fresh Blue, both of which look like a vintage Will Smith tracksuit. R3 000 / polaroidoriginals.com
Is that a projector in your pocket or are you just pleased to see me?
Relieved to confirm that, yes, it is a projector. And a flippin’ teeny one at that. If you’re like us and spend countless hours every week perusing crowdfunding sites, you’ll know that miniature projectors are having a bit of a phase. Whether it’s because of the World Cup or the soaring prices of cinema tickets, people are going nuts for those portable beamers… and so it was only a matter of time before one of the big guns waded in. Thus, the Sony MP-CD1.
Interesting. What can it do?
It’s not going to floor you with specs, but that’s not the point. Sony’s pitching its diminutive device as the ideal portable companion for gamers, film fans and suited types who want an easy way to supersize their presentations. Despite not being much larger than a smartphone, the MP-CD1 can project an image up to 120in in size from a distance of 3.5m. You won’t be holding movie nights in a cupboard, but this Sony should work fine in smallish rooms.
Chuck some more numbers at me!
Link to the blast
JBL LINK 500 Pretty soon, a speaker with built-in Google Assistant will be about as news-worthy as a car with air-con. But for now, there remains something novel about ordering a crap song to be skipped from the other side of the room. Which brings us to JBL’s Link 500 – the most powerful Googlified speaker on the market, according to its maker. Far-field mics mean it should have no problems hearing you over its meaty bass and room-filling stereo sound, while dual 2.4GHz and 5GHz Wi-Fi gives you a better connection. You can also go multiroom with other speakers that have Chromecast built in, meaning you’ll be able to use voice commands to fill the whole house with The Very Worst of Coldplay. Rtba / jbl.com
Alright then. The projector is rated at 105 lumens, with a resolution of 854x480. Again, not spectacular, but you’re carrying a cinema in your pocket – and Sony’s included a ‘dynamic’ mode to give colours and brightness a boost. Besides, it’ll only cost you $400 (R5 000), which is decent for a projector. It also packs in automatic keystone correction, so it can beam images from a flat surface without needing a tripod. Providing you have the wobble-restraint of a skilled surgeon, you could technically do it from the palm of your hand.
Right, I’m already planning my private screening of The Godfather trilogy in the bathroom. Doable?
Maybe not all three at once. The built-in 5000mAh battery should be good to keep on beamin’ for two hours – enough for a movie from a laptop or a decent gaming session on your PS4, both of which can easily be hooked up via HDMI.
S T A R T M E N U ST KIC AR K TE R
The latest startups, crowdfunded projects and plain crazy ideas
Yes it (looks like a) can
While most drones basically look identical, the LeveTop goes for something different… and ends up coming on like a tiny quadcopter attempting to airlift an Amazon Echo. It might be comically ungainly, but it can still zip through the air at 53kmh, with a 100m range and 20-minute flight time. When airborne, the LeveTop can hover, track objects and stay within geofenced boundaries, while recording 1080p video. And when it lands, its weird form factor suddenly makes sense – you fold the arms into the cylindrical body, stuff the drone into its case and then cart it about attached to a belt. from $139 / levetop.com BACK IT STACK IT
ST KIC AR K TE R
ST KIC AR K TE R
Phone, a friend
If you’re a budding filmmaker who wants to use an iPhone as a camera, you’ll want to consider Moment’s new Anamorphic Lens. It replicates the effect of 2.40:1 CinemaScope, giving your smartphone shots the ultra-wide look, complete with blockbuster-worthy lens flares. from $119 / shopmoment.com
Endeavouring to make smart security simple, LightCam’s setup is as easy as positioning the camera, twisting the device into a light fitting and connecting to an app. From there you can create smart motion alerts, record and back-up the 1080p video feed, and communicate by way of LightCam’s built-in speaker and microphone. $109 / lightcam.com
Before you ask, no, Apple has not launched a robotic drinking buddy. iMate is a third-party charging and syncing station that’ll welcome your iPad, iPhone, MacBook, Apple Watch and a host of other gadgets. You can plug in six devices at once, with ports for USB, USB-C and HDMI, as well as a certified Apple Watch charger. $99 / grenoplus.com
The Echo Dot must hate it when people say “You must be great at parties”, given its insecurities about its diminutive speakers. Stick it on top of the Upstage 360, though, and its audio quality will get a boost from the eight drivers and two woofers covering an ultra-wide 40Hz-40kHz frequency range. $329 / upstage360.level-ten.com
MOMENT ANAMORPHIC LENS
I GONDI GOE-
ST KIC AR K TE R
Charged for the light charades
MANFROTTO LUMIMUSE 3 Many of the world’s most memorable moments happen after dark, which is no problem if you’re an owl or a cat, but can prove challenging if you’re a human trying to capture stills or video. Enter the pocketsized, lightweight (74g) and rechargeable Lumimuse 3. Its LEDs are good for an hour at a time and offer variable brightness output, and an included hot shoe mount and universal 6.4mm tripod thread mean you can attach it to whatever you have to hand. Nothing to hand? Hold it in your hand. Or rope in a friend. That’s what they’re for, right? Included snap-fit filters let you modify the colour temperature or diffuse the light as your inner creative genius sees fit, and there’s no flickering, even when dimmed. All that’s left for you to do is find something suitably photogenic at which to point it. R900 / myistore.co.za
Wrap and snap
JOBY GORILLAPOD 3K KIT In the Death Star canteen no matter who you are, you need a tray. In the world of photography and videography, whether you’re shooting ads or making vlogs, you need a tripod. Regular tripods are all good and well, but they can’t be wrapped around trees, bannisters or the nearest longsuffering Instagram spouse’s arm. The Joby GorillaPod can do all of the above, and a whole lot more. Long beloved by content creators who won’t settle for hackneyed angles, this 3K kit version of Joby’s legendary bendy, grippy tripod supports loads up to 3kgs – despite weighing less than 400g – and includes a ball head that makes for effortless 360° panning, 90° tilt for when you need it, and a built-in spirit level, so the only time your shots will be wonky will be if you want them to be. R1 090 / ormsdirect.co.za
No bunkum spelunker
ASUS BLUE CAVE Wi-Fi routers usually resemble lunchboxes with antennae on them, or deceased science-fiction insects with their legs in the air. Which tends to result in you wanting to keep them out of sight. The Blue Cave is positively attractive by comparison, and looks like either a prop from Stargate, or an inverted Swiss Ball (depending who in the Stuff office you ask). Its capabilities extend well beyond conversation starting, though. Intel’s Wi-Fi tech combines with dual-band AC2600 support ensures high-speed connectivity for multiple devices, and an app for smartphones and tablets mean you can monitor device usage, set parental controls and allow guest access with ease. It’ll even work with IFTTT and Amazon Alexa. Now you just have to decide where in your home to display it. R5 000 / asus.com/za
Leap year The very best phone to buy? You know the drill: it’ll be an iPhone or a Samsung. But Sony and Huawei reckon it’s time for a change at the top… 1
Let’s face it: until Huawei’s P20 Pro and its ridiculous triple-lens camera came along it had been a boring year for new phones. Not a bad one, but with HTC and LG still working on their latest contenders for the smartphone crown and Samsung’s Galaxy S9 bearing more than a passing resemblance to its predecessor, 2018 seemed short on innovation. Then came the ludicrously ambitious P20 Pro, and the first Sony Xperia to do things differently in absolutely ages. All of a sudden your choice of new phone doesn’t seem quite so simple any more. So this isn’t one of those supertests with a runaway winner – especially when you add Apple and Google’s latest, greatest handsets into the mix. Truly, this is the closest one of these tests we’ve run for ages, with five superphones that are separated by incredibly fine margins. Which handset takes all the glory? Brace yourself for a bit of a shock. Things ain’t boring any more. That is for sure. 34
1 Sony Xperia XZ2
Finally, Sony has pulled its finger out with a phone that can kick it with the best of them. Can the Xperia XZ2 win the big one, though?
2 Apple iPhone X
The iPhone we had all been waiting for does everything you’d expect of a truly great phone… but for more dosh than you’d like.
3 Huawei P20 Pro
Huawei’s been making decent phones for a while now, but this is its first to properly challenge the best of them.
4 Samsung Galaxy S9
5 Google Pixel XL 2
The pick of Samsung’s new flagships skimps on a dual camera, but still combines low-light photo smarts with a familiar, elegant design.
It has the best camera we’ve seen in a phone, yet somehow this is the underdog. Will a few rough edges hold it back from our No1 spot?
3 4 5
FOR A LITTLE MORE Samsung Galaxy Note 8 R15 500 / samsung.com/za
Want something different for your next Galaxy? The latest Note has a dual-lens camera, a supermassive 6.3in screen and the trusty S-Pen stylus. It’s a more versatile beast than the similarly powerful Galaxy S9+. Be warned, though: both phones can be tricky to handle if you don’t have hands the size of elephant ears. Stuff says ★★★★★
Aside from the ability to create cutesy animated emojis of your face, the S9 sticks to the same software recipe that worked so well with the S8 – albeit running on top of Android 8.0.
A bigger bang than ever? Not quite for this ‘safe’ Galaxy… Having hung around the upper echelons of the smartphone sales charts for seemingly aeons now, Samsung has decided less is more with the S9. Maybe it doesn’t need to obliterate the competition every year just to keep hold of the top spot. So Samsung’s latest Galaxy isn’t a huge leap forward. In fact, it looks pretty much identical to last year’s S8. But when was
there anything wrong with more of a good thing? There’s no denying the S9 fixes all the old annoyances we had with its predecessor, as well as adding more power and streamlining Samsung’s already excellent take on Android. If a repositioned fingerprint scanner isn’t enough to get you hot under the collar then this phone’s dual-aperture
camera should do the trick. It’s an upgrade that gives your snaps a welcome low-light boost too, even if those pictures still can’t match the best here. Does all that make the Galaxy S9 a particularly exciting update? No, not really. But then it probably didn’t need to be. There are phones with better battery life, phones with a higher screen resolution
and phones that are cheaper. Still, little else truly competes with this Samsung as the best all-round handset – especially when you remember the iPhone X is gonna set you back a cool R19k and the Galaxy S9 isn’t. In other words, Samsung has emulated Apple’s glacial approach to change with the S9 and pretty much got away with it.
● SAMSUNG GALAXY S9 R13 5 00 ★★★★★
The S9’s bundled AKG earphones are a class apart from the buds you’ll find with other phones – especially if you take the time to tweak the output with Adapt Sound.
Samsung’s octa-core Exynos 9810 CPU flies through any app or game. Alas, the 3000mAh cell is more of a middle-distance runner than marathon machine, just managing to get through a day of heavy video streaming, gaming and photo snapping. ●●●●●●●●●●
By far the S9’s biggest upgrade is the rear camera. This phone might have the same 12MP pixel count, dual-pixel autofocus and optical image stabilisation as last year’s model, but you now get a variable aperture as well. What does this mean? The S9 can adjust how much light it lets in according to where you’re snapping. So low-light shots are markedly clearer and sharper than the Galaxy S8 and its fixed aperture. Use f/1.5 in brighter conditions, though, and it isn’t hard to spot a lack of sharpness at the edges of the frame.
This is not quite the same repeat scenario as Apple’s iPhone 5S and 6S: Samsung has given us some new colour options, and fixed that awkward fingerprint scanner so it now sits in a far more convenient spot under the camera.
Just like the S8, the S9 has a 5.8in QHD AMOLED screen, 18.5:9 aspect ratio and curved sides for those glorious skinny bezels. This setup might not have the same impact as last year, but it still delivers vibrant colours with exceptional contrast and such an intensity of brightness that HDR content from Netflix and Amazon looks astounding in the palm of your hand. It’s also an always-on display that’ll handily present time, date and any incoming notifications on the standby screen without hammering the battery life.
Spot the difference
This HDR-obsessed Sony is a little behind the curve The Xperia XZ2 could well be a make-or-break for Sony. After years of telephonic mediocrity the Japanese giant is betting the house on High Dynamic Range, claiming this as the first smartphone to capture 4K HDR video – the same tech that’s made its TVs so astounding. So everything from the Xperia XZ2’s display tech to its camera
smarts has been built to go big on features that you’d usually expect from the screen sitting in your living room. Plus there’s an improved design, upgraded display and super-fast performance to boot. As such, it’s no surprise that the Xperia XZ2 is Sony’s best phone to date. But as is so often the case with Sony’s handsets, its shortcomings
are only emphasised by the competition’s ability to do things a little bit better. By concentrating on 4K HDR innovation, this phone slacks a little bit on the stuff that’s even more important. Its photos still need work, its screen could do with a little more sharpness and detail, and it’s still not quite as gorgeous to behold as the rest of the competition here, with bezels
looking noticeably bulky compared to the likes of the S9. So this phone feels more like the start of a comeback story than its conclusion. For the first time in a little while, Sony has put itself in the running for a spot in your pocket. It might not be king of the kennel right now, but this Android underdog could finally be starting to bite back.
● SONY XPERIA XZ2 R14 0 00 ★★★★✩
With the Snapdragon 845 CPU and 4GB RAM supporting it, this Sony blazes through every task you can throw at it. Even moving around the menus feels noticeably slick, and whizzing through multitasking doesn’t throw up a single issue. ●●●●●●●●●●
Sony has left its camera setup alone this year and focused on video in the name of a ‘world first’. The boast in question? That would be 4K HDR recording to a 10-bit colour depth. It looks great if you’ve got a compatible TV, but colours can look a little washed out if not. As for stills, the XZ2 falls behind the very best but can still take a great shot given the right circumstances. Colours are fantastic and detail is pretty good too, but zoom in and you will spot some noise lurking in even the best-lit shots.
Go with the Flow
The Xperia XZ2’s new 18:9 display means Sony has been able to squeeze more Full HD+ screen into its body than ever, and it also boasts support for HDR. Still, colours don’t seem as rich as those on the S9 and highlights aren’t as detailed.
As much as Sony’s phones have shared the same shiny, angular vibe for a long time, it’s never quite caught on with the general South African buyer. So the Xperia XZ2 has switched things up to a new ‘Ambient Flow’ aesthetic with a classy, curved-glass back panel that nuzzles more easily into your hand. Although it looks the part, this Sony’s fingerprint scanner is set frustratingly low on the back – especially since the camera is in a better spot, so you’re going to end up smudging that lens a whole lot until muscle memory kicks in.
The bigger, the better
The XZ2’s most questionable gimmick is its Dynamic Vibration System, which analyses audio data coming through the phone and marries it with haptic feedback.
A headphone jack port is nowhere to be found on the XZ2, so you’re going to need wireless or USB-C headphones to listen to your Spotify playlists.
FOR A LITTLE LESS Sony Xperia XZ2 Compact
Rtba / sonymobile.com/za Tired of phones so big they make you feel like a baby trying to use a TV remote? Then Sony’s Xperia XZ2 Compact was made for you. It’s a tiddly little phone with as much power as the Samsung Galaxy S9, a solid camera and super-vivid screen. Shame its mostly made of plastic; you’d expect better for the likely >R9k price tag. Stuff says ★★★★✩
Still brilliant, still a grand… the X is unashamedly posh Before the iPhone X came along, the ‘Apple tax’ meant paying a premium for a handset that couldn’t do as much as an Android. Now it’s paying more for the same stuff at least, and that feels like a much better deal. Well, for the people who can afford it. But you know all this already, right? So for the purposes of this supertest the iPhone X is best
considered as a benchmark from which to judge its many rivals. Which phones can live up to its lofty ideals for less? Such is the all-round quality of the X that only two come close: Samsung’s S9 and the Huawei P20 Pro. Even then, neither of them has a little thing called Face ID in its corner. The Galaxy S9 has an equivalent feature with biometric
unlocking, but it’s nowhere near as streamlined or efficient as Apple’s fantastic Face ID. Still rock solid after dark, though the novelty of re-imagining yourself as a cartoon unicorn quickly wears off, it remains the most innovative thing Apple’s done in ages. When it works, it’s magic, and that’s the kind of wow factor Apple has lost in recent years – not least since
Android has crept closer and closer to parity with iOS in terms of apps and ease of use, even though you can still feel the rough edges here and there with Google’s OS. Judged on purely its own terms, the iPhone X is an indisputable success as a status symbol first and a phone second. In other words, it’s a very nice thing for those with the cash.
● APPLE iPHONE X FROM R19 0 00 ★★★★★ You’ve maybe seen the iPhone X adverts on YouTube that use its Portrait lighting feature. It’s a neat camera trick that mimics the effects of studio lights with your phone.
FOR A LITTLE LESS
from R12 000 / myistore.co.za Apple doesn’t make bad phones, but there’s no denying the iPhone 8 is far from one of its best. Why? It’s pretty much the iPhone 7 but with a glass finish, which makes it hard to get excited about. Stuff says ★★★★✩
It might not match the Pixel 2 for picture quality, but the iPhone X’s dual camera with optical image stabilisation is more versatile. Plus, 2x optical zoom means you can grab a close-up without invading personal space.
Compared to the tinted glass of the Huawei P20 Pro, the iPhone X’s slab of black or white shiny stuff doesn’t seem quite so deluxe. That said, it’s still lovely to behold, while the heft of the thing gives it a pleasingly weighty feel.
Rumour has it Apple paid Samsung mega-bucks to make the iPhone X’s OLED screen, and it’s arguably worth the expense. A 5.8in panel with a great resolution of 2436x1125, colours are vivid but stay on the right side of realistic.
Forget about Snapdragon and Kirin chips: Apple’s A11 Bionic is the fastest in the west. Combined with the smooth performance of iOS and day-long battery life, the iPhone X has the chops to handle anything without a sweat.
Double the zoom
Even though the X supports wireless charging, Apple’s long-awaited AirPower charger still doesn’t have a release date. Luckily there are plenty of alternatives around.
Deal with the devil
The Pixel’s sequel is pure of mind yet has a killer camera If you wanted to buy your way to ‘elite nerd’ status not so long ago then one of Google’s Nexus phones was the way to go. Since they weren’t widely available in SA you were pretty likely to own a phone none of your mates had. Plus, there was the privilege of being able to drop the phrase ‘stock Android’ into conversations as though it was
akin to the Holy Grail and a winning lottery ticket combined. The problem with all of this? Loads of people who owned a Nexus were totally insufferable. A rebranding exercise was due, and it has culminated with the Pixel 2 XL: a phone for normal folks and pedantic geeks. You see, what makes this bumper-sized handset so great
is not the fact that it runs the latest version of Android sans unnecessary apps and widgets. No, it’s that you get loads more besides that one admittedly brilliant trick. Chiefly, that means the finest camera we’ve ever seen in a smartphone and a design that’s a huge step up from last year’s model – especially for the poor accident-prone souls who
found dropping the Pixel phone on its glass back would wreck its camera in one crack. As such, the Pixel 2 XL doesn’t feel like a gimmick or a picture of how phones could work in the future – which its predecessor could arguably have been accused of. The sequel to the Pixel is great right now, pity you’ll still struggle to get it in South Africa, though.
● GOOGLE PIXEL 2 XL FROM R14 5 00 (IMPORT) ★★★★★ Desperate to know what song is on in the club? The Pixel 2 XL keeps tabs on the music around you in disarmingly accurate fashion. Its ’90s pop knowledge is impeccable.
R13 400 / connected devices.co.za It might not have as great a display as the XL, but there’s still plenty to admire here. In fact, this is the best pocket-sized phone you can buy thanks to that magical 12MP camera and smart design. Stuff says ★★★★✩
It doesn’t do microSD, but up to 128GB storage should prove ample for most media hoarders. Not having that card slot also helps with the IP67 water-resistance.
This Pixel’s camera might only have one lens, but it’s still a class apart from everything here bar the Huawei. Colours, detail and exposure are spot-on in all but the dimmest conditions thanks to Google’s image processing.
Dropping the current ‘glass sandwich with a metal frame’ smartphone design trend for a metal unibody build with an elegant strip of glass along its back, the Pixel 2 XL is a really handsome phone that’s comfortable to hold.
After initial manufacturing issues, the Pixel 2 XL’s 6in OLED screen is now pretty much on a par with its rivals. Colours are more restrained, but there’s still plenty of pop on screen and the impeccable black levels you’d expect.
It might have last year’s Snapdragon 835 chip, but the Pixel 2 XL never operates at anything less than zingy speed. Battery life is good for a day’s use, which is about par for the course when you’ve got a screen this big to illuminate.
FOR A LITTLE LESS
Google Pixel 2
Introducing the phone that’s thrice as nice as the rest We’ve been waiting some time for Huawei’s P20 Pro to come along. This is a young upstart with the potential to waltz into the throne room Samsung and Apple have been squabbling over and chuck them both out with glee – a properly exciting smartphone in almost every respect. Get to know the P20 Pro and there’s no doubting it lives up to
that ultra-high standard. Why? Rather than aiming for parity with the status quo, this phone has the gumption to go one better – with a dazzling tinted glass design, a whopping great battery and that ridiculous triple-lens camera that’s been slapped on its backside. Yup, it might scream ‘gimmick’ louder than the chap dressed as a ninja-clown at your
local church hall’s charity night, but this phone is the real deal when it comes to photography. Crucially, it’s also very good value indeed when bought on a contract, costing a lot less than the iPhone X and about the same as the Galaxy S9+. If your latest upgrade is due any time soon, then getting the P20 Pro is almost a no-brainer. At the very
least, there are going to be a few jealous faces turned your way once people catch on to just how good this thing is. Considering Huawei’s previous phones have never come close to this calibre of finesse, we’d be lying if we said we foresaw this one pushing so hard for the top spot in our rankings. But we’ve rarely been so delighted to be proved wrong.
● HUAWEI P20 PRO R15 5 00 ★★★★★
Although it’s got all the power you could possibly ask for, the real story with the P20 Pro’s internals is its huge 4000mAh battery. That’s enough juice for a solid day and a half’s stamina, so you can skip out on charging every other night. ●●●●●●●●●●
Not only does the P20 Pro feature a triple camera that’s capable of a 5x zoom, but one of those cameras is a 40MP affair. This allows for a crazy amount of detail in your shots, especially at night-time where a mixture of software trickery, ridiculously big pixels and the aforementioned sensor tech combine to create some of the best low-light snaps we’ve seen from a phone. The P20 Pro even edges the Pixel 2 XL for versatility. Mark our words, by this time next year this triple-camera deal is going to catch on in a big way.
Apple of its eye
Just like any flagship worth its salt, the P20 Pro goes all in with an OLED screen. A 6.1in job with a svelte 18.7:9 aspect ratio and 2240x1080 resolution, it’s up there with the iPhone X and Galaxy S9 for contrast and fidelity of colours.
There’s no denying the P20 Pro borrows a lot of inspiration from Apple’s iPhones. It’s got the X’s notch and vertically arranged camera on its rear, the 8 Plus’s slab-like build and even a distinctly iOS take on Android. The big difference? A glass back that’s available in a stunning tinted twilight variant that shifts from purple to aquamarine. We love it, but more restrained tones of black and blue are also available. While a fingerprint sensor on the front isn’t as noteworthy, this is one of the few not to have shifted that to its back.
Huawei’s EMUI take on Android has a bad rep, but it’s fairly uncluttered here. Delve around in the settings menu and you’ll get things to your liking in no time.
If there’s one trick we wish the P20 Pro hadn’t borrowed from Apple it’s the choice to drop the headphone jack. You’ll have to buy a pair of Bluetooth buds to listen to this phone.
FOR A LITTLE LESS Huawei P20 R13 000 / huawei.com/za
Given how affordable the P20 Pro is, its smaller sibling sits in an awkward spot. There’s nothing really wrong with it, but nor does it offer the same excitement of the phone above. Despite its decent screen, design and dual camera, it lacks the flourishes to elevate it above the status of yet another iPhone-alike. Stuff says ★★★★✩
The winner is…
Huawei P20 Pro Hands up if you saw this one coming. Nope, us neither, and that’s exactly what makes the P20 Pro so special. No Huawei phone had even come close to being supertest champion before this bona fide marvel came along. Truthfully, you could wed yourself to any one of these phones – even the Sony – for the next two years and have yourself an excellent time. This test was won on impossibly fine margins: a design that looks that little bit more chic, a camera that can zoom further, and a price in contract that offers the best for less. So hats off to the Huawei P20 Pro. We’ve no idea how long it will last at the top but, for now, just getting there is one hell of an achievement.
+ Now add these Huawei P20 Pro Silicone Case
As gorgeous as the Pro’s glass back is, it’s also a little on the fragile side should it take a fall. Tack this silicone case onto its rump and you’ll have no such worries. R200 / za.mobilefun.com
Jabra Elite Sport
Won’t settle for anything less than the best phone? You may as well marry it with our favourite wireless buds. As well as sitting comfortably in your ears, they deliver incredible sound quality. R3 500 / circuitcity.co.za
While the Pro’s camera is already remarkably good come sundown, marrying it with a tripod will squeeze an extra bit of fidelity out of your after-dark shots thanks to the added stability it offers. R200 / amazon.com
ST TE ER NN WI
● Samsung Galaxy S9 ● Sony Xperia XZ2 ● Apple iPhone X ● Google Pixel 2 XL ● Huawei P20 Pro
WHAT’S NEXT? CAMERA
Without wishing to dismiss both HTC and LG’s latest efforts before they’ve seen the light of day, it’ll take a big change in fortunes for either maker to challenge in the upper echelons of our testing. Assuming another upset isn’t in order, then you’ll have to wait until September to see a new phone of similar brilliance. That’ll be when Apple’s latest iPhones arrive, and word is there are three of them on the way: a refreshed iPhone X, a Plus-sized version of that model and a cheaper iPhone X-like handset with an LCD screen instead of an OLED one. Potentially, that’ll be the most exciting array of new phones Apple has put out in years… and one that’ll be well primed to go into battle with Google’s next Pixels, of which an ultra-pricey model is said to be planned. For sheer innovation and value, it’ll take some doing for any of these handsets to top the Huawei P20 Pro.
10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
6GB RAM, 128GB on board
40MP + 20MP + 8MP rear, 24MP front
155x74x 7.8mm, 180g
4GB RAM, 64GB on board
12MP rear, 8MP front
148x69x 8.5mm, 163g
5.8in 2436x1125 OLED
Apple A11 Bionic
3GB RAM, 64/256GB on board
12MP + 12MP rear, 7MP front
144x71x 7.7mm, 174g
Google Pixel 2 XL If only the rest of the Pixel 2 XL could match up to its immense camera, then it’d be a runaway winner here. from R14 500 (import) / connecteddevices.co.za
6.0in 2880x1440 OLED
4GB RAM, 64/128GB on board
12MP rear, 8MP front
158x77x 7.9mm, 175g
Sony Xperia XZ2 There’s no denying the XZ2 is a real step up for Sony, and yet this phone remains some way off its flagship competition. R14 000 / sonymobile.com/za
5.7in 2160x1080 LCD
4GB RAM, 64GB on board
19MP rear, 5MP front
153x72x 11.1mm, 198g
Huawei P20 Pro More than just the sum of that incredible triple camera, Huawei’s P20 Pro is an astoundingly good phone. R15 500 / huawei.com/za
6.1in 2240x1080 OLED
Samsung Galaxy S9 As great as the S9 is, it’s too conservative to triumph in 2018. More ambition was needed for this year’s contest. R13 500 / samsung.com/za
5.8in 2960x1440 OLED
Apple iPhone X The iPhone X talks a fab game and pretty much delivers on it. The p price is what really holds it back from glory. from R19 000 / myistore.co.za
WIN 1 OF 2 SOLO BAGS AND ACCESSORY PACKS RWORTH 3 00 COURTESY OF GAMMATEK SA EAC 0 Each pack includes a Duane Solo hybrid briefcase backpack, Body Glove Pop earphones, an Orbit tracker and a 13 000mAh Snug powerbank.
TO ENTER SCAN THE QR CODE OR VISIT:
Valid from 4 June 2018 until 8 July 2018. Terms and conditions on the editorâ€™s letter page (p2).
HURRY! COMPETITION CLOSES 8 JULY 2018 46
Committing ink to skin is a major decision, one that can’t be undone without recourse to a laser. Test out your tatts first by using InkHunter, which uses augmented reality to project either a pre-made design or one of your own sketches on to your skin. Pick placement, angle, and snap a few shots before ever setting foot in a studio. Stuff says ★★★★✩ Free / Android, iOS
AUGMENT YOUR REALITY
With the ARKit (iOS) and ARCore (Android) platforms, you’re free to fuse the real and the digital when you decide the former alone is no longer interesting enough
● Augmented Reality
● Monster Park: AR Dino World
This isn’t the deepest of AR astronomy apps, but it does make it absurdly easy to bring the stars into your hand. And if you fancy feeling insignificant, one touch of a button reduces the planets to scale. Go in really close and you might just make out the Earth… as a single pixel. Stuff says ★★★✩✩ R15 / iOS
If the idea of plonking virtual chairs near your actual chairs doesn’t fill you with excitement, how about zebras? Or giant spiders? Or massive spaceships? Or a colossal set of dentures? The sky really is the limit with Sketchfab, which projects 3D models in AR. If you’re a dab hand at modelling, you can even submit some yourself. Stuff says ★★★★✩ Free / Android, iOS
● Mind Map AR
● Insight Heart
If you believe it’s unfair that only eccentric owners of genetics companies with dubious safety records should have access to a dinosaur park, this app sets things right by putting one on your iPad. Watch the ancient creatures stomp and swoop… then whack them into extinction.
Mind maps help you to organise your thoughts – and digital types are a lot better than paper, which isn’t great for multimedia. Mind Map AR shifts the concept into 3D, which is a bit weird; but as you manipulate your three-dimensional map, it feels pleasingly like an embryonic take on the sort of thing Tony Stark might have in his lab.
Stuff says ★★★★✩ R50 (IAPs) / iOS
Stuff says ★★★✩✩ Free (IAPs) / Android
Stuff says ★★★★✩ R30 / iOS
Part medical education tool, part horror show, Insight Heart puts a levitating heart in front of your face. Lovely, great. Go in close and you can see blood pumping; step back and you can view a full circulatory system without the inconvenience of it being surrounded by human flesh. And for the morbid, this heart can be given various conditions.
FAT HER DAY ’S PRO MO
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FIRST TEST NISSAN LEAF 2018
The green party We’ve got the previous Nissan Leaf in SA so we’re likely to get the new one, too. It’s very fetching for an electric car, but can it unseat the combustion engine?
Rtba / nissan.co.za
or a while, it seemed that the folks who decided electric cars are the future of motoring had agreed they must all look like something out of a daytime sci-fi re-run on SABC. How else do you explain the painfully Beyond 2000 vibe of the original Nissan Leaf? And yet, despite looking more like a
Scalextric model than a proper car, the Leaf turned out to be a quiet success – which you could actually buy in South Africa. Stick that in your vaping pipe and smoke it, Tesla. But with the launch of its second-gen model, Nissan has decided to do a 180 and transform the Leaf into possibly the most boring electric car yet
made. And we mean that as a wholly good thing. Aside from the ‘zero emissions’ badge on its rump, you could happily step into this thing and assume it’s a Corsa or Focus. It looks like any other car, and that’s almost as revolutionary as its pricing. Yup, the new Leaf is an electric vehicle you’ll likely be able to buy for around R500k with all the
usual fuel-related savings and a resale value that may yet prove substantial. It feels like exactly what SA has been waiting for – so we took it for a spin around the town to see how it would stand up amid the winding roads, yawning potholes and impatient fellow drivers. The results surprised even us electric car veterans…
FIRST TEST NISSAN LEAF 2018
Keep on movin’
The new Leaf has a 40kWh battery with a claimed range of 378km, which means city commuters may even be able to go a working week without recharging. It’s compatible with the vast majority of roadside charging points.
2 Foot loose
3 Park life
Although you can drive the Leaf using its brake and accelerator pedals, the one-foot e-Pedal setup does both and is far better for regenerative braking to conserve battery life. Honestly, switching over takes a matter of minutes to get used to.
Is one bay never enough when you’re parking? The new Leaf can economise on your behalf with its AI-powered ProPilot Park feature. Just drive past the space you want to tuck yourself into, select your position on the touchscreen control panel and it’ll do the rest.
Good Meh Evil
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19 hours with the new Nissan Leaf
FIRST TEST NISSAN LEAF 2018
4 Brake like the wind While it won’t drive itself on SA freeways, the Leaf gets pretty close to that with cruise control for your speed, auto-steering to keep you in your lane, and emergency braking. There’s no lane-changing here, which will prove a relief for anxious drivers.
5 Being green The Leaf rewards conservative driving. Stick it in eco and e-Pedal modes and you’ll squeeze in plenty of extra kilometres – handy when you’ve gone a little too hard early on in your journey. You’ll lose a little zippiness but the added juice is totally worth it.
Tech specs Engine AC synchronous electric motor Power 148bhp Top speed 143km/h 0-62mph 7.9secs Battery capacity 40kWh Range 378km (NEDC) Kerb weight 1544kg
Flight of the charge brigade There’s more than one way to keep the new Leaf topped up… so long as you’re prepared to wait
■ Fast and fuelious
■ Night rider
■ Socket league
You can restore 80% charge in as little as 40 minutes by plugging the Leaf into a 50kW fast charging point at a Nissan dealership. That’s pretty much coffee and a sandwich time.
The Leaf allows you to set a charging timer to remind you to plug in before everyone either goes to sleep or sticks on the morning kettle. But it still won’t remind you to pay your Eskom bill.
Prefer to stick with an old-fashioned three-pin socket? Even that’ll work with the Leaf – it’ll just take 16hrs to charge. Buy a wall-mounted 7kW charger and that’ll drop to 7.5hrs.
There are only a handful of charge points in South Africa at present. Most are at dealerships (or at Eskom in Jozi) so expect to be doing the bulk of your recharging at home for now.
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What the new Leaf lacks in glamour, it makes up for in sheer practicality. As long as your home charging options are suitable, it’s a great car for city commuting that just happens to be electric. An anticipated ever-more affordable price, toned-down design and expanded range all ensure the 2018 Leaf is as hassle-free as it could possibly be.
STUFF SAYS ★★★★✩ A truly impressive car that gives up some electric style for more appeal to the petrol-chugging masses 51
FOR HARDY HIKERS
FOR SERIOUS SNAPPERS
FOR CITY SIGHTSEERS
The carbon fibre commuter
Everki Atlas Checkpoint Friendly If you’re constantly hopping between airports, hauling off your shoes and belt far too much for someone who isn’t paid to do so, you want a bag that can be inspected in a hurry. Everki’s Atlas gives you (and airport security) speedy access to anything you’re transporting. R1 700 / takealot.com
The swivelly snapper
Whether you need to store your camera gear, your hiking supplies or just a couple of stuffed chihuahuas, Stuff has your back(pack)
The classic camper
Mindshift Rotation 180° Horizon The best camera shots are usually only available for a fleeting moment – you’ll never get a deer to patiently pose for you with a toothy grin. That’s why Mindshift’s rotation system is so nifty, allowing you to quickly detach the camera bag and swing it to your front for speedy access. R1 920 / takealot.com
Deuter Trans Alpine 30 When you’re crossing the Alps you want toughness, comfort, and all your gear in place. Deuter’s offering has comfortfocussed straps, a ventilated back, and space for maps, damp clothing and the option to include a hydration system. It all works if you’re not in the Alps too. R1 700 / capeunionmart.co.za
HOW TO DECIDE 52
The adaptable adventurer
Samsonite X-Rise The weapon of choice for the boardroom warrior. If you’re on the streets of a cosmopolitain city in between high-level business meetings, you’re going to want your MacBook and iPad protected by the X-Rise while travelling between stations seperated by working public transport. from R2 000 / houseofsamsonite.co.za
Eceen Hiking Daypack Whether you’re close to death in the Alps or just want a picture of those onstage at Oppi, a solar-powered charger is handy for stopping your smartphone slipping into a coma. This weather-resistant hiking bag smartly straps on solar panels for an unlimited supply of power. R1 300 / amazon.com
1 Don’t get zipped off Going on an urban adventure? Some bags have zips facing your back or require a code to open them, to lock out light fingers. RFID blocking is useful for keeping contactless bank cards safe.
The trim traveller
Thule Subterra Daypack Thule’s Subterra offers several zipped compartments, slickly hidden by its modern design which will make you look like you stuffed your pack in a waterproof sack. Features Thule’s internal PowerPocket for cable storage. If it’s empty, you’ve left your charger at home. R2 300 / capeunionmart.co.za
The pro pleaser
Peak Design Everyday Only for the pros who have to carry several lenses, a full-frame DSLR, and the means to edit the RAWs, the Peak Design Everyday allows for compact storage and quick accessibility from individually-zipped compartments, whether you’re extracting your laptop or a lavish Leica. R3 450 / ormsdirect.co.za
The highbrow hiker
Osprey Atmos AG 65 A hiking backpack that sneers at hi-tech solutions, this Atmos focuses on vital stuff such as ample storage space, an ‘anti-gravity’ back-system and a fully ventilated belt. You’ll be laughing when you see a fellow hiker crying over a ripped-open Game bag. R3 500 / takealot.com
2 Demand proof Looking for a bag to accompany you on watersport outings? Then avoid the term ‘water-repellent’ – it needs to be waterproof. Even better, go for a specialised ‘dry bag’.
The handsome hashtag
Knomo #LiveFree Backpack Rucksacks with lots of storage are usually zip-heavy monstrosities. That said, there’s not much use in a bag that struggles to squeeze in a laptop. This millennial-monikered option, however, carefully straddles the line between useful and savvy. It has a 20.4L capacity to easily fit all your portable possessions, yet maintains a low-key style that will blend in at any fancy shindig. R4 000 / myistore.co.za
3 Come fly with me If you’re taking your bag on a plane and want it in the cabin, make sure it fits the size guidelines. That usually means something like 56x45x25cm, but every airline has its own dimensions.
4 Prepare to charge Some rucksacks have compartments dedicated to wireless chargers. Knomo’s wireless DropGo powerbank is pricey at R800, but well worth considering.
How to sell all your old stuff (then buy everyone else’s) on your PC, tablet or phone: Stuff shows you the tricks, while resisting the urge to price up the entire contents of the house THE BASICS
enter what you’d be happy to pay, and then add a few extra cents to increase your chances over people who bid using round numbers.
■ Watch and learn
Your watch list appears on the eBay app’s main screen, and it’s as easy to scroll through here as it is in the ‘My eBay’ section of the website. Use the watch list to track items without bidding on them, so you don’t push up the price early on. If you find several auctions for an item you want, watch them all. Often there’s a bidding war as the first ones finish, and you can snap up one of the others for less.
in the loft really is worth at the moment – or how much a new one might cost you.
■ Go for sold
■ Keep yourself biddy
Don’t make the mistake of only watching live auctions to see how much stuff sells for. Perform a search, filter it for sold items, and then sort by price or date. Now you can see how much that ZX Spectrum you found
Map it out The eBay app’s interface changes regularly, so stay on top of it. You don’t want to be caught short by an unforeseen tweak just as you’re planning a last-gasp bid.
■ Call on the search
On a PC you might have several eBay windows open at once, preparing yourself for a last-second snipe-a-thon. On mobile it’s one at a time, so plan your attack. Bid close to the end of an auction, as ever, but don’t mess around – just
If you’re looking for something rare, refine your search using filters and then save it. These searches can be perused at any time in the Saved tab. On Android, you can also tap Edit to quickly toggle email and phone notifications for when new items are listed.
■ Hit the post
Fortunately, eBay doesn’t forget shipping costs during searches – when sorting by price, the app adds postage. Remember this yourself when selling, and don’t rely on eBay’s suggested costs: they’re often wrong. Invest in scales, and have a chart of courier prices handy.
ALERTY DANCING ■ Be bugged
App notifications are Satan’s work, but you should make an exception for eBay. It’ll ping your phone when you’re outbid, or when an auction you’re watching is ending. The app will also make a pleasing ka-ching sound for every sale.
■ Be alarmed
Notifications are also easy to dismiss and forget about. So if you’ve been tracking an item ready for some sniping action, set an alarm using your clock app. Set two. Set three! After all, you’d never forgive yourself if you missed out on that Lara Croft Barbie.
OR YOU COULD USE…
Facebook wants to own the entire internet, so it’s no surprise it’s gunning for eBay. Mobile and on desktop, Marketplace is good for finding and selling locally. Beware, though: it’s a bit ‘Wild West’ compared to eBay, and some Facebookers price things mighty high.
Whether you’re after anything from older tech to a home to rent or a slightly used car, the familiar green-hued Gumtree is known to most South Africans. Searching may prove to be a chore and you should keep your wits about you when buying.
TELLING SELLING ■ Group to recoup
SNAPPY DRESSING ■ Pic and choose
Don’t rely on stock pictures for auctions – it makes you look dodgy. Shoot your own pics using a decent camera. If an item has any imperfections, take shots of them. With expensive items, write your eBay ID on a piece of paper and include it in one pic to prove the item’s yours.
■ Raise the bar
Whether searching or selling, eBay can speed things up with barcode scanning: simply tap and scan away. This is a great shortcut when you’re selling media, saving you from typing in all the details.
Got a bunch of things to sell? Save drafts of your listings and unleash similar auctions all at once. That way you can point interested parties at more items they might buy.
■ Get offers for coffers
When selling with ‘buy it now’ only, rather than an auction, you can enable offers. Allow these with items you want to offload quickly, or those where you’re happy to take a hit. Set sensible auto-decline values to stop ‘offer spam’.
■ Sort for thought
If you’ve sold loads of stuff, keep track of it in the Sold section of Selling. Use the filter/refine button to quickly list items awaiting payment (to chase up buyers, if they’ve not paid after a few days) and those that have been paid for (which you should dispatch).
SAFETY CATCHING ■ Spot the spivs
Before you buy anything on eBay, ensure the seller’s on the level. Use the app’s filters to limit the feedback you see to selling and recent transactions – and be mindful that the odd negative isn’t necessarily a red line.
■ Keep it civil
An item hasn’t arrived, or was damaged? Contact the seller using eBay’s message system rather than unleashing a tiny feedback rant. Similarly, if you’re late to send something, forewarn the buyer, apologise and – if possible – upgrade to a quicker shipping service.
Easy to start selling, even easier to buy, OLX has just about everything you can think of and a few things besides. It’s proved effective enough that several local retail stores have taken to advertising goods here. As always, exercise caution when buying from strangers.
TESTED HTC VIVE PRO
Heady player one As HTC gives the Vive a professional makeover, are hardcore virtual reality fans finally getting the high-end hardware they’ve been dreaming of?
Rtba / evetech.co.za Plan on entering the world of virtual reality for the first time? Then throw your bank details at another headset – the Vive Pro probably isn’t for you. Thanks to its extravagant price and the need for a super-specced computer, HTC’s new headset is not intended for VR dabblers. While there is a Vive Pro Starter Kit available, which includes the required controllers and base station, it’ll cost you an estimated R20 000. Throw a Pro-worthy PC into the trolley and you’re easily breaking the R35 000 barrier. That’s your next holiday plan out of the window. However, if you’re one of those people who gobble up graphics cards like collectables and already own the original Vive’s controllers and base stations, then the cheaper headset-only deal looks much more appealing. What are you getting for your buck? A huge resolution boost, some ergonomic improvements including built-in headphones, and the best damned virtual reality experience in the business.
1 Trip through your wires While the Pro’s new streamlined cable is less likely to tangle in knots than the original Vive’s, it’s still really annoying. The good news is that HTC has a solution with a wireless adapter coming to stores later this year. The bad news? It’s unlikely to be cheap.
2 Running to stand still How powerful does your PC need to be? Very. You’ll ideally need at least an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 graphics card and a processor equivalent to an Intel Core i5-4590. That’s a monstrous gaming rig. And you’ll need to ensure your PC has a DisplayPort.
3 Stranger in a strange land HTC has given the Pro a mighty 1440x1600 resolution for each eye, but getting the best visual fidelity depends on the games. VR titles with simplistic artwork don’t look much different, but the likes of Doom VFR and Thumper (see right) look radically better.
Good Meh Evil
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24 hours with the HTC Vive Pro
15mins 30mins 45mins
TESTED HTC VIVE PRO
Tech specs Display 3.5in 1440x1600 AMOLED x2 Refresh rate 90Hz Field of view 110º Sensors SteamVR Tracking, G-sensor, gyroscope, proximity, IPD sensor Tracking area 100m2 Connectivity USB-C 3.0, DP 1.2, Bluetooth Dimensions 300x255x120mm, 428g
Most improved players Not every title looks more impressive with the Pro, but here are the most visually striking VR ventures:
■ Project Cars 2
■ Elite: Dangerous
■ Doom VFR
Once you strap on the Pro and witness the intense flashing colours, you’ll never want to play this trippy rhythm-based rollercoaster ride any other way. It’s one of our favourite VR titles.
5 With a shout The Pro has built-in headphones, with plenty of padding around the ears for a comfortable fit. You get spatial audio support, which is essential for VR games, and volume is a dream to adjust with buttons sitting on the left earcup for easy access.
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4 I (don’t) fall down The original Vive was more than a bit top-heavy, and was a nightmare to adjust on the fly. The Pro fixes that with a sizing dial at the back of the strap, which makes fine adjustments easier. The strap also does a better job of balancing weight.
There’s no better place than space for dazzling spectacles. The Pro makes those laser beams flash with deadly exuberance, and has the muscle to keep up with the rocket-fuelled dogfighting.
Virtual reality and racing sims are a match made in heaven, and the Pro makes it an even better combo by giving those photo-realistic visuals a turbo boost. You’ll want to buy a steering wheel.
You’re going to want to rip off those demon limbs in the best quality possible as you tear through this VR adaptation of Doom. Movement is frustrating, but this is still a must-play for Vive Pro owners.
With the right games, virtual worlds look great with the Pro, while the new design and built-in headphones fix a lot of the basic Vive’s flaws. The super-high expected price and lack of games that get the best out of the hardware will scare most off, but for VR obsessives the Vive Pro is undoubtedly the best headset you can buy.
STUFF SAYS ★★★★✩ If money is no issue, look no further for the ultimate virtual reality experience 57
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ONLY PER Y R180 FOR 10 ISEAR SUES
Available from the App Store or Google Play
SUBSCRIBE AT MYSUBS.CO.ZA
Woofers and tweakers Nuraphone’s ear-matching Bluetooth cans reckon you’ve been hearing music wrong all these years R5 000 (import) / nuraphone.com ■ Putting fantastically expensive headphones onto knackered ears is like feeding patisserie profiteroles to a pooch – why pay for those silky high frequencies if you can’t even hear them? The Nuraphone solution: headphones that actually test your hearing and tailor their sound accordingly. ■ The unboxing of our review unit was greeted by an office-wide chorus of “Eeurrrgh!” For some reason, over-ears with in-ear bits look all sinister and intrusive. But you do get used to them. ■ The setup procedure involves sitting still for a calm moment while Kraftwerk-style bleepy noises are fired at your eardrums. At the end you’ll have your profile, complete with blobby graphic, and you’re now free to go back to actual Kraftwerk. ■ Sound quality is excellent, with thumping bass, sweetly spacious mids, and no harshness in the top end. It’s just a pity there’s no way to adjust the treble content… short of going back to the non-personalised ‘generic’ sound, which is so crude we suspect it’s been tuned that way just to emphasise the difference. There’s no noise-cancelling either, but buds and closed cups make an effective combo for isolation. ■ Bluetooth performance is solid, and jack, USB and Lightning cables are also included. Crucially, profiles live in the headphones, not the app, so once you’re set up you can connect them to anything and still feel the benefit. Grandad’s bluegrass tapes never sounded so bangin’.
Tech specs Connectivity Bluetooth aptX HD, jack, USB-C, microUSB, Lightning Battery life Up to 20hrs Weight 329g
■ Blobs for the boys
You can set up profiles for three people, and spend hours puzzling over the different blob shapes. A tap on the left earcup switches between generic and personalised settings; a tap on the right cup can be set up for play/pause.
■ Slap in the bass
The ‘immersion’ screen lets you control the punchiness of your personal sound profile. How? By adjusting how much bass the big outer drivers are adding to the mix. It can get pretty thunderous, but stays impressively focused.
STUFF SAYS The idea seems gimmicky but the headphones sound fantastic ★★★★✩
Classy cans, but they’re crying out for an app with more flexibility
There are clear differences in user profiles, with some featuring less treble-boosting than others. Because the brain already compensates for high-frequency hearing loss, perhaps? This does detract a little from the magic of the concept; but all it really calls for is an improved app with more options to customise and compromise. Here’s hoping we get that in an update rather than having to wait for version two of the cans. 59
action figures Because you’re never too old to escape from boring old real people and immerse yourself a world of plastic wonder
Lego Hulkbuster: Ultron Edition Before you ask, three and a half hours. That’s roughly how long it took us to assemble this 1 363-piece Lego replica of the Hulkbuster suit from Avengers: Age of Ultron and Infinity War. In the same amount of time we could have flown from Joburg to Antananarivo (the capital of Madagascar, obvs), or watched 60
Paddington 2 twice. It was worth it, though. At 9in tall, placing it on the desk with the interchangeable punching jackhammer arm aimed at us is the perfect deterrent to procrastination at work. We’re sure Tony Stark would be proud of his creation’s influence. R2 000 (import) / shop.lego.com
THE STARK TRUTH Pop up the head and you’ll see there’s a spot for an Iron Man Mark 43 minifigure. If nothing else, it’s a good way to hide your mini models from your mini nephew.
GLOW LIFE This Hulkbuster has 12 glow-in-the-dark elements to help you spot it when stumbling through the living room, as well as a light brick in its chest area.
star trek Tng picard Being bald isn’t a big deal in the slightest, especially when you consider all the candidates worthy of action figure stature – Dr. Evil and Mini-me? The Rock? Nataniël? We’re no Trekkies, but when you’re a middle-aged hairless sex god and a face-palming space pilot, in our books you automatically qualify. This 1/6-scale figure of the captain of the USS Enterprise in Star Trek: The Next Generation is impressively lifelike, with over 30 articulation points and Patrick Stewart’s piercingly Shakespearean eyes matched only by a flawless cranial dome that just begs to be stroked all evening long. R2 220 / amazon.com
MAKE IT SEW Picard’s authentically styled Starfleet uniform includes a magnetic fastener for keeping his phaser holster attached to his space-slacks.
THIRST CONTACT As well as the usual Star Trek phaser, tricorder and PADD display device, this figure comes with a cup of the Captain’s beloved Earl Grey tea. Not with actual tea in it, obviously.
NOT GUNNER BE EASY TF Source warned us that Megatron was a bit of a bugger to transform, and they weren’t kidding. Don’t worry, we won’t judge you if you don’t even bother trying.
Transformers Masterpiece MP-36 Megatron When we were kids, these things were pretty simple to transform: legs and arms folded out from under the car body and the head didn’t even need to move. It was already moulded into place, so poor Bumblebee was only ever able to look in one direction, with no way to check over his shoulder for Decepticons. This
Masterpiece version, by the original makers Takara, would obliterate him as soon as you’d completed the transformation into gun mode. Mind you, the process is so long and fiddly, little Bumbles might well have escaped by then. We’ll likely keep this one decorative not functional. R2 850 / tfsource.com
COLLECTICON Of course you can get Optimus Prime and all the other Generation 1 icons too, ready to engage in an eternal battle on top of your study bookcase.
TWO-FACE With a pair of interchangeable facial expressions, you can cycle through Batman’s entire emotional range: slightly angry and very angry.
Hot Toys Arkham Knight Batman No action figure collection is complete without Batman – that’s a given. But which iteration of the Dark Knight should you opt for? The wacky Adam West, the ultra-serious Christian Bale, or even the classic comic-book version? The one thing we can say for sure is that Ben Affleck’s out of the question. 64
Well, given our love for gaming, it’s no surprise that we’d always go for the Arkham Knight model. This 1/6scale Hot Toys figure is the spitting image of the in-game hero, and is a welcome reminder of the time we got to slip on his boots and beat up Gotham’s thugs. R4 500 / forbiddenplanet.com
READY FOR BAT-TLE Bundled with the Caped Crusader you get more gadgets than you could fit on a utility belt, from mini batarangs to a grapnel gun. Don’t go losing them!
Nintendo Amiibo Regrets, we’ve had a few. And you can see some of our favourites right here. Yep, midway through last year we found ourselves obsessed with Nintendo’s Amiibo figures, which connect with your Switch to earn you a few cosmetic items, look cool and, erm, that’s about it. Still, none of this stopped us from accumulating too
PRAISE THE FUN It’s not just Nintendo characters who’ve been honoured in Amiibo form. Sonic, Mega Man and even Dark Souls’ Solaire of Astora have all got in on the act.
many of the things to count. Some of them are genuinely awesome; others go by names like Mr Game & Watch, R.O.B. the robot and Goomba, because it turns out there’s a limit to even Ninty’s heritage. It just took us the best part of six months to realise it. Have we stopped buying them. No. from R100 / store.nintendo.co.za
NINT CONDITION Despite their childish nature, rare Amiibos can go for serious money on eBay, proving there are people in the world who are even more obsessed with Ninty than us.
GROUP TEST BLUETOOTH SPEAKERS
The most expensive of these Bluetooth speakers costs R6 000, but they all sound suitably tasty. Which one should be at your next picnic, though?
Fender Newport R4 000 / musica.co.za For some, there’ll be no beating the charm and name-recognition of Fender’s portable speaker. The Newport looks and acts like a mini guitar amp, complete with witch-hat knobs on top for volume, bass and treble. Every second of using this tiny slice of rock’n’roll is delightful. Flick the switch to turn it on and you’re met with the rich
roar of an electric guitar; put it into Bluetooth pairing mode and a different riff plays. It’s the little things that make this speaker so much fun. With 12hr battery life and aptX Bluetooth for CD-quality streaming, it’ll find a place in any home. STUFF SAYS ★★★★✩ A Fender you can truly enjoy without Hendrix-like talent
This is a small speaker but feels well made. Around the back there’s just a power input, a USB port for charging your phone or tablet, and a 3.5mm stereo jack input.
I GIVE YOU POWER
The Newport drives 30 Watts through a pair of woofers and one tweeter. The sound is impressively dynamic, though it can slip into distortion when pushed hard.
COME WALK WITH ME
This is an ideal speaker for scaring pigeons in the park. Its lithium-ion battery claims enough juice to keep blasting for 12 hours, or to charge the average smartphone twice.
GROUP TEST BLUETOOTH SPEAKERS
TES WI T NN ER
Vifa Reykjavik The player companion Boom This simple app from Ultimate Ears syncs with your speaker (not only UE’s) to let you control EQ, link up with other speakers and set alarms.
Audio Pro Addon T3
R5 300 / pclinkshop.com Want a bit of Icelandic style with your sound? Look no further than the Vifa Reykjavik. Inspired by the fissured, flowy, foggy landscapes of the island state, this pebble-shaped speaker sounds as good as it looks. One of its best features is the way the speaker curves around, firing out sound in all directions. Stick it in the centre of the room
R6 000 / merkado.co.za and it’s sure to be the life of the party. Although it only has a comparatively short battery life of 6hrs, its sparkling sound more than makes up for that: it can be delicate, but isn’t afraid to belt it out when met with a mosh-worthy drum solo. STUFF SAYS ★★★★✩ The best looker of the bunch also sounds pretty great
Music purists, listen up: the Audio Pro Addon T3 is one of the best-sounding portable speakers out there. It might look a little koala-like, and its bulk won’t suit everyone (it’s about the size of a hefty lunchbox), but we can’t fault it for dynamism, drive and sheer potency. This speaker will reach down into the depths of a song’s lower frequencies
and bring you earthy, taut basslines with enough punch to turn heads… while vocals hit you with a great sense of space. The Addon T3 keeps you wanting more – and it’s 12hr battery life is ready to oblige. This is clearly the audiophile choice. STUFF SAYS ★★★★★ Great sound, decent price: what more could you ask for?
The music app Spotify The king reigns supreme for good reason. With a vast library, wireless streaming, top curation and a free option, this is a great way to get the music flowing.
BE ST VAL UE
Denon 50BT Envaya Pocket R1 990 / ultrasound.co.za The podcast app Overcast Prefer stories to songs? This should be every iPhone user’s go-to podcast player: intuitive, and with plenty of options to customise. On Android? Try Podcast Addict.
We finish with a pair of sub-R2 000 models… but don’t go thinking that means they’re cheapo efforts with all the sonic impact of a fly crashing into your bathroom window. Denon’s Envaya Pocket can carry a tune in style – and, speaking of bathrooms, it’ll also survive a splash or five. An IP67 rating means this speaker is dust-resistant
Ultimate Ears Roll 2 R1 500 / takealot.com
and waterproof – able to spend up to 30 minutes in shallow water without fear of drowning its innards. Audio quality is superb for the price, and the Envaya Pocket supports hi-res aptX Bluetooth. Oh, and if you pair it with an iPhone it’ll talk to Siri. STUFF SAYS ★★★★✩ Denon’s speaker is ready for a wet and wild summer
If you’re a backpacker, a handbag-clutcher or just short on space, the UE Roll 2 is all the sonic support you need. A titchy little flying saucer of a speaker with a clipped-back cable and enough funky colourways to suit any fashion sense, you can slip the Roll 2 almost anywhere. Its sturdiness means it’ll survive any bumps and
bruises too. You’ll never be caught out with lacklustre sound again. And we don’t say that lightly – this thing sounds great, with a good bash of rumbling bass, sparkling vocals and a fistful of dynamic punch – all of which lasts around 9hrs. STUFF SAYS ★★★★★ Don’t let its size fool you: the Roll 2 is a hard hitter
T E S T E D A P P L E i PA D ( 2 0 1 8 )
Better slate than ever With an upgraded CPU and the same Apple Pencil compatibility as the arty Pro model, the ‘iPad for everyone’ is now even more of a crowd-pleaser
from R5 000 / myistore.co.za Like bezels and human attention spans, tablets have recently begun to feel like they could become an endangered species, pushed close to extinction by perfectly evolved big-screen smartphones. But Apple’s iPad family has other ideas. Last year’s iPad Pro made a very convincing claim to become your futuristic laptop replacement. And now its cheaper brother, known simply as the iPad, has made subtle tweaks from the previous standard model that promise to turn it into an ‘affordable’ (by Apple standards anyway) creative tool. Yes, the basic iPad is no longer just your portable Netflix feeding bag. With a faster processor and support for Apple’s Pencil (R2 000), a toy previously reserved for the iPad Pro, it’s now primed to work with a raft of artsy, educational and AR apps. Will this be enough to distract you from the fact that it still looks like an iPad from 2013? Let’s get scribbling on one and find out…
1 The song remains the same No, we haven’t re-used the photos from an old iPad review by mistake – this year’s version looks identical to its predecessor. So effectively it’s a tweaked iPad Air from 2013. Well, why mess with a classic design? 2 Browsers of the holy As with the 10.5in iPad Pro, this is a Retina LCD screen with 264ppi resolution that renders text crisply and brings web pages to life with clarity and searing brightness. It can’t reach the same contrast in bright sunlight, though.
3 Whole lotta shove Unless you want a tablet to be your main computer, the new iPad has more than enough grunt for most needs. Thanks to the new A10 processor, it happily zips through most tasks, from Fortnite to AR apps. 4 Store-way to heaven There’s no ‘sweet spot’ 64GB model: your options are 32GB or 128GB. If you can find another R2 500, then the latter is the one to go for. That extra storage will help you explore this iPad’s workhorse potential with iOS 11.
5 Ramble on This iPad more than lives up to its 10hr billing for battery life. In our tests it gets close to 12hrs of video playback on medium screen brightness. Unless you’re planning a Grid Autosport all-nighter, you can expect it to last you a full day.
Good Meh Evil
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24 hours with the 2018 iPad
2mins 10mins 30mins 35mins 68
T E S T E D A P P L E i PA D ( 2 0 1 8 )
Tech specs Screen 9.7in 2048x1536 LED multi-touch Processor A10 Fusion OS iOS 11 Storage 32/128GB Cameras 8MP rear, 1.2MP front Connectivity Lightning, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth Battery life Up to 10 hours Dimensions 240x170x7.5mm, 469g
Keeping tabs Not sold on this iPad? You have plenty of other tablet options. Time to weigh up the competition…
■ Paddy field
■ Fire break
■ Acer in the hole
■ App to the job
Apple’s iPads have largely been competing with themselves of late, and that’s no different now. This is the cheapest Apple tab you can get – the iPad Mini 4 (7.9in screen, 128GB) is R6 800.
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There’s also a new contender on the horizon in the form of Acer’s Chromebook Tab 10 (due out this month), which is the first ever slate to run Google’s Chrome OS.
If you only need a tablet for basic web browsing and watching films on the move, this iPad could still be overkill. The Amazon Fire HD 10 might well suffice for less than half the price.
Ultimately, though, if it’s a massive variety of games, creative tools and Pencil-compatible work apps you’re after, then this iPad is still well worth its comparatively high price.
It might not look like it, but Apple’s affordable iPad has changed – what was once a simple media-scoffing tab is now a smaller, cheaper version of the creative iPad Pro. Sure, there are compromises, but this versatile and powerful slate is just the ticket for digital dabbling in that still fertile ground between smartphones and laptops.
STUFF SAYS ★★★★★ The best iPad for most of us: if you want a versatile tablet for work and play, this is it 69
TESTED MAZDA 2
One x two = fun
The hatchback segment is a hotly contested one, but the Mazda 2 isn’t just one of the best in class, it may be the best-looking
from R219 500 / mazda.co.za ■ Mazda’s “Kodo” design language runs through its entire range, from the entrylevel Mazda 2 pictured here right up to its versatile SUVs and even the MX-5 RF roadster (all of which we’ve tested before). That means you get the same attractive – and instantly recognisable – exterior styling and practical, elegant interior, whether you opt for an austere model or a more luxurious one.
■ Step up to the Dynamic range and you get a 7in touch display, Bluetooth and cruise control. Climb one rung further to the Individual line (which is what we had to test) and the wheels grow an inch along with the addition of automatic headlamps, and with a halfstep up to the Individual Plus you get something unheard of in a hatchback: a head-up display (HUD).
■ Surprising features are the ■ Available in seven variants, real story of the Mazda 2. It’s from the basic Active 1.5-litre interior styling and lengthy manual petrol up to the Hazumi list of creature comforts make 1.5-litre EngineDE 2.0-litre automatic 4-cylinder diesel,petrol Transmission it feel like a more 7-speed premium even Steptronic the simplest Powermodel 141kWoffers Torque 280Nm vehicle Topthan speedd its price 227km/h tag would plenty 0-100km/h of compelling 7.7 seconds features, Fuel economy suggest. 5.5l/100km Sure, you CO2can Emissions spend like 126g/km steering-mounted Tank 51 litresmedia Length 4 360mm close Width to R300 1 824mm 000 if you opt controls, keyless push-button for the diesel and add a few engine start, a tilt and options, but that’s still telescopic adjustable steering competitive when you look at wheel, and 15in wheels. its nearest rivals’ offerings.
■ Safety second
In addition to offering a comfortable and surefooted ride, the Individual Plus includes a rear camera and parking sensors alongside lanedeparture warning (LDW).
■ Centre of attention
Mazda’s MZ Connect system in conjunction with its 7in touch display and four-way physical controller make for easy, intuitive adjustments on the go.
Tech specs (1.5-litre Individual Plus 1.5-litre Auto) Engine 1.5-litre 4-cylinder petrol Transmission 6-speed auto Power 82kW Torque 145Nm CO2 Emissions 134g/kg Top Speed 184kmh Fuel economy 5.7l/100km Tank 44 litres Length 4 060mm Width 1 695mm
STUFF SAYS A superb contender in a category where it’s tough to stand out ★★★★★
A hatchback with the style of a sedan 70
It’s not just the generous specifications list that make the Mazda 2 so memorable, it’s great fun to drive, too. We favour the manual iterations, but thanks to Mazda’s Skyactiv engine tech even the automatic offers a compelling experience at the (pleasingly adjustable) wheel. The only notable omission from all but the top of the range is electronic stability control, but we’ll forgive it this oversight for everything else it gets right.
BEST PHONES EVER
THE GOLDEN OLDIE
THE WINDOWS CLASSIC
THE BBM MAESTRO
THE FANCY FLIPPER
Mobiles have been around even longer than Stuff – plenty of time for a host of models to earn ‘classic’ status. Here are the handsets that make us come over all wistful… 71
BEST PHONES EVER
VERTU SIGNATURE TOUCH
HALL OF LAME
● Year 2015 ● Stuff said ★★★★✩ ● Desirability factor ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ Vertu made a name for itself crafting absurdly exclusive and expensive phones for the ultra-rich. Problem was, beneath the unicorn-tongue and spider-silk finishes were plain old feature phones, no more exclusive than what you’d find in the bargain bin at Cellucity. The Signature Touch was different. Its titanium chassis held a 5.2in Full HD screen, an octa-core Snapdragon 810 processor and a 21MP,
4K-capable camera. Finally, a Vertu had the mouth to match its diamond-laden pants. It could also encrypt messages and came with access to Vertu’s famous concierge service – a 24/7 helpline for all your modern oligarch needs. Alas, Vertu went bankrupt last year, so if you pick up one of its phones now, you’ll have to book those flights to your private tropical island yourself.
Siri/Google Assistant/Bixby You don’t need to shell out the cost of a small car to get your own in-phone helper these days. Any smartphone worth its power button comes with an AI assistant on board in 2018.
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WHY WE LOVED THIS
SONY 22 XPERIA PLAY ● Year 2011 ● Stuff said ★★★★✩ ● Desirability ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ With smartphones launching a war against handheld gaming gadgets following the success of Angry Birds, Sony’s long-awaited ‘PlayStation phone’ tried to marry the two. An Android phone with 4in touchscreen, 5MP camera and slide-out gaming controls, it didn’t exactly live up to expectations. But its huge library of PlayStation classics made it a must-have for Crash Bandicoot addicts. 72
Back in 2011 when we were hip and young, we wanted an on-the-go gaming device to keep us entertained in college. The 3DS was too big to avoid the glare of our lecturers, but the Xperia Play was small enough to hide. Maybe we should get one for work…
NOKIA LUMIA 1020
● Year 2016 ● Stuff said ★★★★✩ ● Desirability ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙
● Year 2013 ● Stuff said ★★★★✩ ● Desirability ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙
Google’s first attempt to dislodge Samsung as king of the Androids didn’t exactly knock the Galaxy’s crown off, but it certainly kept everyone on their toes. A pure, unfiltered version of the OS, a top-notch screen and one of the best cameras ever seen on a phone made the Pixel one to watch.
A 41MP camera on a phone sounds like overkill now, let alone five years ago, but it was almost worth using a Windows Phone for the pictures the Lumia 1020 was capable of taking. As a complete package it wasn’t the best, but some phones are only just catching up with its camera today.
Nokia N-Gage (2003) Some people have fond memories of the N-Gage. Some people are wrong. With all the style of a cheap Sega Game Gear clone, Nokia’s gaming phone let you play rubbish titles with slightly better controls, and to make a call you had to hold it like a taco.
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MOTOROLA MOTO G
3 GREAT CHEAPIES YOU CAN BUY RIGHT NOW
● Year 2013 ● Stuff said ★★★★★ ● Desirability ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ Until the Moto G came along, if you wanted a phone with a big screen, decent build quality and a processor that didn’t wheeze to a halt under the slightest strain, you had to shell out for one of the expensive flagships. Everything else felt a little half-baked and underpowered. But with its 4.5in 720p screen, hardy build, unspoiled version of Android and Qualcomm’s 1.2GHz quad-core Snapdragon 400 chip, the first Moto G made the rest of the mid-range up its game. Since then we’ve seen the launch of OnePlus, Honor and Wileyfox (RIP), all
putting out affordable smartphones that could pass for pricier models. OK, so the Moto G’s 5MP camera was underwhelming, so a small compromise still existed in there somewhere, but considering how good the rest of it was – and at such a bargain price – it was impossible not to be impressed. Motorola might have made its name by developing a string of iconic designs, but in a world where it can no longer keep up on that front, the Moto G has been no less of a game-changer. Five generations later and it’s still a go-to budget handset.
Honor 9 Lite R3 500 With glass on both sides, an 18:9 screen and dual-camera setups front and back, the Honor 9 Lite puts some phones worth over twice as much to shame. Doogee BL7000 R3 400 This bargain phone might be a little on the chunky side but there’s a good reason: its 7060mAh battery is twice the size of any other phone’s. Motorola Moto G5 R2 500 Unlike OnePlus, Moto’s G range keeps improving without also increasing the price too much. The G5 is better than the original in almost every area.
Tough love The Moto G’s screen was covered in ultra-strong Gorilla Glass, something you used to find only on pricey flagship phones.
Cover me The rear panel on the Moto G was removable, so you could not only replace the battery but also change the colour. 73
BEST PHONES EVER Calling card Sony’s Memory Stick Micro cards topped out at 2GB, so you were limited to carrying about 50 albums at once.
SONY ERICSSON W880i
● Year 2007 ● Stuff said ★★★★★ ● Desirability ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ When Apple removed the headphone port from the iPhone 7 in 2016, it caused an internet uproar. Admittedly that’s not hard to do these days, but it’s easy to forget that a 3.5mm hole hasn’t always been the norm on a mobile phone. Way back in 2007, just before Steve Jobs unveiled the first iPhone with its bafflingly recessed port, Sony Ericsson released the W880i: a Walkman-branded phone without a headphone socket at all. You had to use the bundled proprietary in-ears or a Bluetooth pair – which, back in 2007, were all rubbish. But even that
couldn’t stop the W880i being an absolute stonker. It might have looked a bit like a nu-rave calculator, but its metal chassis was pleasingly thin, with a slick interface that made using it an absolute dream, even if syncing songs to it did take an age. In the days when you had to carry around a separate phone and mp3 player, combining the two in one was made possible by the W880i, even with its headphone issues. When the iPhone was revealed a few months later the W880i suddenly looked a little old-fashioned, but hey, at least it had 3G…
Press gang Sony apparently stole the buttons for the W880i from an old digital watch, but they took surprisingly little getting used to.
WHAT WE WERE LISTENING TO IN 2007 The Shins Wincing the Night Away This record was a perfect storm of what made the Shins great: perfect power-pop tunes, quirky lyrics and the odd one to make you cry in your bedroom. LCD Soundsystem Sound of Silver In the flush of their first hipness, LCD Soundsystem released Sound of Silver, which includes the song that sums them up: the irrepressible All My Friends. Radiohead In Rainbows This one grabbed the headlines with its ‘pay what you want’ release, but that would have been useless if it was a stinker. Fortunately, it’s a classic. 74
BEST PHONES EVER
● Year 2003 ● Stuff said ★★★★✩ ● Desirability ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ The 6230 wasn’t the first BlackBerry handset, but it was the first that could make calls without having to plug in a hands-free kit. It just goes to show how dedicated BlackBerry was to email. It’s easy to forget how difficult it used to be to get your emails on a phone without paying a monthly fee or making a blood sacrifice to Clippy, the Microsoft Office paperclip. Until the 6230 came along,
BlackBerry emailers looked more like handheld PCs, putting off all but the hardcore; but the 6000 series began the move to more civvy-friendly designs. Before long they were everywhere. That grab for the mainstream might have been what led to the brand’s downfall, but for a while it looked as though it might conquer the world, one attachment at a time.
BlackBerry Messenger Having the dubious honour of being instrumental in organising the London riots of 2011, it’s now available on iOS and Android and can be used to request an Uber without having to fire up another app.
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WHY WE LOVED THIS
HTC HERO ● Year 2009 ● Stuff said ★★★★★ ● Desirability ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ For a long time nobody could come close to the iPhone’s combo of good looks and even better brains. The smartphone world needed a hero – and HTC provided one. Its chin might’ve been an acquired taste, but the Hero marked the point when Android began to challenge Apple’s dominance.
15 SAMSUNG GALAXY NOTE ● Year 2011 ● Stuff said ★★★★★ ● Desirability ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ When Samsung released the Note in 2011, its 5.3in screen seemed preposterously big. It even came with a stylus, for goodness’ sake! But those who gave the newfangled ‘phablet’ a go were soon won over by its big-screen charms and suddenly found other phones restrictive. Nowadays 5.3in is a perfectly ordinary size for a phone screen, proving the Galaxy Note was truly ahead of its time.
“It’ll never catch on.” At least that’s what we thought the first time we got our hands on Samsung’s ginormous Galaxy Note. In 2018 a 5in screen is the norm, and our predictive powers remain as accurate as ever. Japan for the World Cup, anyone?
NOKIA 8110 ● Year 1996 ● Stuff said BS (Before Stuff) ● Desirability ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ A phone most famous for a feature it didn’t actually have, the spring-loaded answering mechanism seen on the 8110 in The Matrix wasn’t available on the real thing… but that didn’t stop everybody wanting one. Nokia resurrected it this year – but you still have to slide that panel down yourself. 75
BEST PHONES EVER
● Year 2009 ● Stuff said ★★★★✩ ● Desirability ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ Like Edgar Allan Poe, Nick Drake or Emily Dickinson, the Palm Pre’s impact was felt posthumously. When it arrived – over a year after it was first revealed – the rest of the smartphone world had already moved on. Mind you, some of its neatest tricks are still being used today. That swipey method you use to manage apps on the iPhone X now that the home button has gone? The Palm Pre did that
nearly a decade ago. Wireless charging? The Pre was the first phone to get that. It also handled multitasking in exactly the same way iOS does now, showing smaller versions of the apps currently running rather than just lifeless icons. So while the hardware didn’t quite match the Pre’s futuristic webOS, it was still very much the Vincent van Gogh of the phone world.
webOS After the Palm Pre’s death, LG bought webOS and turned it into an operating system for its smart TVs. Big cheeses at LG have even hinted that it might soon be used in other devices.
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ONEPLUS 12 ONE ● Year 2014 ● Stuff said ★★★★★ ● Desirability ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ In a world dominated by Apple, Samsung, HTC et al, OnePlus well and truly put the cat among the pigeons when it released a phone with flagship specs for a fraction of the usual price. It didn’t play nice on all 4G networks and the camera was underwhelming, but on every other front it stood up to the big boys. Even the fact that you had to be invited to buy one didn’t put people off. 76
A phone you needed an invitation to buy, that was only available in limited numbers and that packed flagship specs at a mid-range price, the first OnePlus was the stuff of mobile dreams. We've seldom wanted a phone more than this one.
HALL OF LAME
SONY ERICSSON P800 ● Year 2002 ● Stuff said ★★★★★ ● Desirability ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙
Back when smartphones looked like you needed a PhD to operate them, the Sony Ericsson P800 had a touchscreen, fold-out keypad, camera and media player, meaning it combined the best bits of a standalone PDA and a more user-friendly feature phone.
APPLE iPHONE 4 ● Year 2010 ● Stuff said ★★★★★ ● Desirability ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ Considered by many to be the pinnacle of iPhone design so far, the 4 did have one flaw: you were holding it wrong. Touching the antenna band could cause it to drop signal, but that didn’t stop it being an absolutely gorgeous slab of phone that introduced the world to the hi-res Retina display.
BlackBerry Storm 2008 People used to buy a BlackBerry because they wanted a keyboard. So what did RIM do with the Storm? Ditched the QWERTY and made a buggy monstrosity with a touchscreen that, for some bizarre reason, doubled as a big button.
BEST PHONES EVER
MOTOROLA RAZR V3
● Year 2004 ● Stuff said ★★★★★ ● Desirability ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ Phone design hasn’t always been about slight variations on a black rectangle with a screen on the front. At the start of the millennium there were candy bars, sliders, and clamshells like the Motorola RAZR V3. This wasn’t the first mobile to fold in half but it was the thinnest flip-phone the world had seen. With form taking priority over function, phones were starting to be seen as fashion accessories rather than just tools, and the V3’s skinny metal chassis and lightweight build made it massively desirable. It even caused queues to form outside phone
shops long before the iPhone was even a twinkle in Steve Jobs’ eye. Over 130 million were sold in four years, and while that’s nothing compared to current iPhone numbers, mobile phones were nowhere near as ubiquitous in 2004. In fact, it’s still one of the best-selling phones of all time. The RAZR wasn’t just a pretty face either – it had colour screens inside and out, so you could check who was calling before deciding whether to flip it open or not. And while the V3 had many iterations and successors, none were as influential as the original.
3 MORE NOTEWORTHY FLIP-PHONES Samsung SM-G9298 (2017) You might have thought flippers died out long ago but Samsung released the Android-powered SM-G9298 in China just last year. Nokia N90 (2005) Nokia’s N90 didn’t just have a screen that flipped up – you could also rotate it around and use its 2MP camera like a pistol-grip camcorder. BlackBerry 9760 Style (2010) BlackBerry’s quest for wider acceptance saw it release the 9760 Style, a dual-screened clamshell phone with a full QWERTY keyboard.
Res evil It’s a good job selfies hadn’t been invented in 2004, because the V3’s camera could only take titchy VGA photos.
Heft of centre What was thin in 2004 seems bulky now. Measuring 13.9mm thick when closed, the V3 is almost twice as chunky as the iPhone X.
BEST PHONES EVER
HALL OF LAME
SAMSUNG GALAXY S6 EDGE
● Year 2015 ● Stuff said ★★★★★ ● Desirability ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ Samsung Note 7 2016
LG NEXUS 4 ● Year 2012 ● Stuff said ★★★★★ ● Desirability ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ Plain on the outside but a proper powerhouse on the inside, Google’s Nexus phones were well-specified, affordable, and came with an untouched version of the OS that made them popular with Android purists. The Nexus 4 was their high point before things took a turn for the pricey.
Samsung’s Note 7 wasn’t a bad phone per se, it’s just that some of them had a habit of exploding, which isn’t a feature that’s at the top of most people’s wanted lists. Two recalls later, and the whole lot had to be thrown in a big bin.
With its big, beautiful 5.1in screen that curved away at the sides, the S6 Edge charted a course for future phone design that we’re still travelling on now. The uses for those curved flanks might have faded away, but the aesthetic definitely remains. The S6 Edge offered rip-snorting power, a bright Super AMOLED screen that made the iPhone’s Retina display look like a dirty old window, and a metal/glass build that made you feel like you were holding something premium. The price confirmed that; but while it did seem very expensive at the
MOTOROLA DYNATAC 8000X ● Year 1983 (pre SA-Cellular) ● Stuff said BS (Before Stuff) ● Desirability ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ As the first commercially available mobile phone (in the US and UK), how could the DynaTAC 8000X not make the list? Big and unwieldy, not to mention stupidly expensive, the DynaTAC came to symbolise the yuppie excesses of the ’80s, but was essential if you wanted to look important. 78
Digit-all The S6 Edge was one of the first phones to get a fingerprint scanner that wasn’t so useless you just gave up on it after a few days.
time, since then the iPhone X has made the S6 Edge look positively affordable. This also marked the point where Samsung began using its own processors rather than buying in Qualcomm’s. Throw in an incredible camera with a fast-aperture lens and this was a phone that really had no genuine weaknesses. Since the S6 Edge and its flatter brother the S6 were released Samsung has gone from strength to strength, delivering annual updates to the template that keep it just ahead of the curve. Pun intended.
Side effects The edges could be used to display your most used contacts or deliver notifications when the phone was face-down on a table.
BEST PHONES EVER
ALSO IN 2015
Apple Watch released
BLACKBERRY BOLD 9000
● Year 2008 ● Stuff said ★★★★★ ● Desirability ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙
Apple’s first smartwatch divided opinion when it was released in April, but that didn’t stop it becoming the year’s best-selling wearable.
One of BlackBerry’s more successful attempts to appeal beyond the boardroom, the Bold 9000 was the kind of phone you could pull out in the bar after work and not get accused of being under the boss’s thumb. That’s not to say the Bold was entirely on board with dress-down Friday – its leatherette rear panel was more business than bondage. But overall it had the feel of something you’d be proud to
WHY WE LOVED THIS
own, even if its attempts to unwind only went as far as a 2MP camera. It finally caught up with the competition by adding 3G connectivity, but with the equally speedy new iPhone already on the scene, the days of full QWERTYs were numbered. This was BlackBerry’s finest ever phone, but to borrow a line from Noel Gallagher, it was increasingly looking like a man with a fork in a world of soup.
Back in 2008 we were desperate to keep up with emails on the go, but didn’t want to look like one of those boring suited types. The Bold 9000 meant we could retain some street cred while staying on top of the inbox. Not to mention our addiction to BBM.
● Year 2000 ● Stuff said ★★★★★ ● Desirability ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ It’s said that in London you’re never more than two metres from a rat. Or is it a cat? Anyway, in 2000 the same was almost certainly true of a 3310, whether in London, Paris or Cape Town. Back when Nokia ruled the mobile kingdom, this tough chunk of plastic and silicon was absolutely everywhere. Cheap, durable and easy to use – there’s a whole generation of people whose introduction to mobiles
came from the Nokia 3310, as shown by the reaction when Nokia brought it back last year (see below). Nowadays a phone as simply functional as the 3310 would be derided for being boring. But when you can’t get through the day without having to plug your fancy new smartphone in to charge, you can’t help but think they could learn a thing or two from Nokia’s most fondly remembered creation.
Nokia 3310 3G (2017) When Nokia first resurrected the 3310 it didn’t even have 3G, but this newer version gets you online (slightly) faster. Not that you can use it for much. The 3310 still runs a basic Java-powered OS with limited apps.
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BEST PHONES EVER
Boom box The speakers on the One were so good you could show friends videos without having to worry about yucky headphone sharing.
Mock the sleek Compared to other phones of its time the StarTAC was dazzlingly thin, which was great for your pocket but thumped the battery life.
HALL OF LAME
Amazon Fire Phone 2015 To counter expanding screen sizes, Amazon tried to come up with an innovative way for people to interact with its Fire Phone. But it’s combination of flicks and gestures was just too complicated.
● Year 2013 ● Stuff said ★★★★★ ● Desirability ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙
● Year 1996 ● Stuff said BS (Before Stuff) ● Desirability ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙
Before Samsung swallowed up the competition with its all-conquering Galaxy range, it appeared HTC might be the one to topple Apple from its smartphone perch. The Hero and Legend had already shown promise for Android, but it was 2013’s HTC One that really made the tech world take notice. Its combo of heavyweight power, eye-catching design and a 4.7in screen so sharp you didn’t know whether to wear gloves or goggles made the HTC One one of the best Android phones ever made. It offered
The StarTAC hasn’t aged well. But just because it looks like a cheap walkie-talkie, that doesn’t mean you should underestimate its importance in the history of phone development. For starters, it introduced a feature we now take for granted: it was the first phone to include a vibrate function, so you didn’t get a fright every time it rang. Compared to the DynaTAC, released just over a decade earlier, the StarTAC was also minuscule. Both were ‘mobile phones’, but the StarTAC meant it. Its clamshell design
WHY WE LOVED THIS
innovation with its UltraPixel camera (pixels were fewer in number but larger in size), and even its gimmicky software features – such as the Sense 5 skin, BlinkFeed social stream and Zoe ‘living pictures’ – had us on side. To top it all off, it had an IR blaster so you could use it as a universal remote. If not for Samsung’s superior spending power and HTC offering crummy local support and essentially disappearing from South Africa after the One, it could've been a serious contender for Team Android.
We're all for the never-ending displays of today’s phones, but back in 2013 the HTC One’s HD wonder was a benchmark setter. It didn't hurt that the handset was superquick and the all-aluminium design meant it could endure the odd tumble.
meant you no longer needed a briefcase to cart your phone around in, and from that point on the concept actually started to make sense to normal people. At least, it did if you could afford one. But even if its high price put off a lot of potential buyers, that change of mindset was a big moment in tech… and 60 million sales later, it’s well worth its second place here. Without the StarTAC there wouldn’t have been the RAZR, and… well, we’ve already been through how important that was.
Nokia 9000 Communicator The Communicator was arguably the first smartphone, allowing you to browse the web, access emails and edit Microsoft Office files. All of a sudden there was no such thing as being out of the office.
BEST PHONES EVER
APPLE iPHONE 3G
● Year 2008 ● Stuff said ★★★★★ ● Desirability ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ ❙ Apple rarely gets everything right first time. It often takes a while to hone and perfect its products; so, as important as the first ever iPhone was in the history of smartphones, it was the second iteration that changed the world. The 3G addressed every issue with the original iPhone: it could connect to the internet at an acceptable speed, the headphone port was no longer recessed and, crucially, it was cheaper. Even on a pay-as-you-go deal you could pick one up for under R8 700 – a far cry from the R19 000 an iPhone X will set you back today. The 3G also saw
the launch of the App Store, allowing third-party software to be installed – a feature that many at the time argued was fundamental for it to be considered a true smartphone. Since then, so much of the iPhone’s functionality has been reliant on apps that it’s impossible to conceive of using one without them. The iPhone 3G represented the first time such a device had managed to nail everything: power, usability, connectivity and style, in something you could carry in your pocket – and pretty much overnight everybody wanted one. Can you imagine where we’d be without it?
3 OF THE BEST APP STORE ORIGINALS PhoneSaber This app let you swish your phone around like a lightsaber, using the accelerometers inside to make the corresponding humming and buzzing sounds. Remote Once, the closest you could get to controlling gadgets with your phone was the Remote app, which you could use to pilot the iTunes library on your PC. Super Monkey Ball Sega’s simian classic was one of the App Store’s first games. It made use of the iPhone’s tilt controls, allowing you to direct your imprisoned ape.
Quiet, please Apple is the only major manufacturer that uses a physical mute button. It’s so much quicker than selecting it from menus.
Fan-plastic The black plastic on the back of the iPhone 3G might’ve made it feel a lot cheaper than the original iPhone – but that’s because it was.
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ONE LUTRON CASÉTA
THREE LOGITECH CIRCLE 2
The Lutron Caséta dimmer setup works with Siri and the HomePod to let you create geofenced lighting rules, like brightness and timing – or you could use the supported app. Lutron’s kit also works with most other smart ecosystems, including the likes of Google Assistant, in case you feel the need to diversify.
While we wait for Philips Hue bulbs (oh, how we’ve been waiting), Lifx’s range of smart light bulbs have been updated to work with Apple’s Homekit.You know what that means, right? Siri will control them for you via the HomePod if you ask nicely... or at all, really. Already own ’em? Just upgrade the firmware.
Use it indoors or outdoors – it’s weatherproof – and stick it just about anywhere you like. Connect remotely while moving the lens with Siri via your HomePod. If you want the Homekit compatible version, make sure that you pick up the wired edition. Bizarrely, the wireless version doesn’t like taking orders.
from R2 500 / wantitall.co.za
from R1 500 / takealot.com
R3 500 / takealot.com
NO TH W T IS RY …
N TO OW TH LIS ES TE E. N ..
INSTANT STANT UPGRADES
SOCCER MOMMY Clean 1 KEEP THINGS TO YOURSELF
2 BUILD A WALL OF SOUND
3 TELL SWEARING TO **** OFF
Kids love talking to Siri but their dreadful musical taste can mess with Apple Music’s curated playlists. You don’t want to tell Siri, “Play some music I like,” only to hear Let It Go for the 4000th time. Open HomePod’s settings in your Home app, turn off ‘Use Listening History’, and Apple Music will ignore what your HomePod plays, using your phone’s listening history instead.
The HomePod’s A8 chip uses the built-in mics to listen to itself and adjust the audio accordingly – the idea being that it’ll sound great no matter where you put it. We’ve found that placing it near a wall means that it tends to bounce ambient sounds off it while the main elements, such as lead vocals, are pushed out into the centre of the room, giving a fuller, wider sound.
Snoop Dogg might sound like a character from a kids’ TV show, but a lot of his music is far from suitable for pre-watershed ears. Good thing you can block off explicit content in HomePod’s main settings menu via the Home app, thereby protecting your progeny’s delicate ears from inadvertently finding out what the Doggfather has planned for his ladyfriends.
Discordant guitars, earworm melodies and lyrical bluntness make the debut album from Sophie Allison a heady alt-rock brew.
DJANGO DJANGO Marble Skies The art-rockers return with a genre-melding album that also happens to be their poppiest, most danceable record yet.
4 HONE YOUR TRIVIA SKILLS
5 ABSOLUTE SCENES, BRU
6 SOOTHE THE MOVE FROM SPOTIFY
Nick O’Malley could hit you over the head with a sign that says “I’m in the Arctic Monkeys” and you probably still wouldn’t recognise him – but that doesn’t mean Siri’s just as clueless. Ask her for names of band members, album titles, songwriters and sometimes even who plays which instrument on certain songs – although that’s reliant on Wikipedia having the info.
Tap the ‘+’ button on the Home app’s main screen and you can create ‘scenes’, which are essentially specific setups for multiple HomeKit-compatible devices: turning on the lights and coffee machine first thing in the morning, for instance. Once you’ve set your scene you can activate it simply by saying, for example, “Good morning!” to your HomePod.
To get the best out of your HomePod you’re going to need an Apple Music subscription. If you’re a long-time Spotify user there are ways to make the move less of a wrench. You can transfer your playlists using an app such as Houdini (R50) or SongShift (Free). The latter also has a R60 Pro version that keeps your playlists synced across services.
YOUNG FATHERS Cocoa Sugar
The third album from the Mercury Prize-winning Scottish rappers is dripping with inventiveness, but isn’t scared to drop a pop hook now and then.
TWO WEEKS WITH THE HUAWEI MATEBOOK X PRO
New bezzie Mate Huawei’s latest laptop has the sleek design, zippy brainpower and dazzling screen to challenge Apple’s finest… Stuff spends a fortnight enjoying its company from R24 000 / huawei.com/za
The panel claims a 1500:1 contrast ratio and 100% coverage of the sRGB gamut.
DAY 01 Imagine competing for gold at the Commonwealth Games, but it’s only 12 months since you first picked up a javelin. That’s essentially what Huawei is doing with the MateBook X Pro. Last year’s MateBook X was the first time the company had ever attempted to make a laptop, and its performance came impressively close to the 12in MacBook. Now, though, its successor is comfortably ready
to take on the might of Apple’s MacBook Pro. This sleek machine borrows more design inspiration from the latest phones than from other laptops, with a near-bezel-free screen, fingerprint-sensing power button and incredibly compact dimensions. Then it goes one better with dedicated graphics, and more raw power than you’ll get from Apple’s elder statesman. Prices start
This is one of the thinnest laptops to have a dedicated graphics card, and it’s possible to play even new games like Fortnite 84
at a competitive R24 000, though the SA price for our top-spec review model is more MacBook Pro-like R30 000. At 1.33kg this Huawei is light enough to slip in a bag and forget it’s there – and measuring just 14.6mm at its thickest point, it’s barely any bulkier than an issue of the world’s greatest gadget magazine. Once you open it up, though, it feels bigger than it really is. That’s because the touchscreen display cuts really close to the edges for a 91% screen-to-body ratio. The only way to make the screen so big was to move the
webcam: it’s cleverly tucked away beneath a button on the keyboard. This might not create the most flattering angle for video calls, but it’s good news for anyone who worries about hackers gaining access for spying purposes. The all-aluminium build, large touchpad and black keyboard flanked by speaker grilles all look familiar, but it’s nice to see Huawei hasn’t completely followed the MacBook Pro formula: in addition to USB-C and Thunderbolt ports plus a 3.5mm jack socket, you get regular USB. An SD card slot would have been a nice addition, though.
LO N G -T E R M T E S T H U AW E I M AT E B O O K X P R O
Donut of Truth™
Tech specs Screen 13.9in 3000x2000 LCD Processor 8th-gen Intel Core i7 RAM 16GB Storage 512GB SSD OS Windows 10 Home Connectivity USB-C, USB 3, Thunderbolt 3, headphone jack Battery 57Wh non-removable Dimensions 304x217x14.6mm, 1.33kg
We could get used to this screen. The MateBook X Pro is no bigger than the average 13in laptop, but those tiny bezels have helped Huawei squeeze in a 13.9in panel. The 3:2 aspect ratio feels wide, and with a 3000x2000 resolution we’ve no trouble working on two things side by side. There’s real depth to images, the colours are vibrant, and viewing angles are exceptional – which is great if you’ve got friends gathered round to look at holiday photos, but not so good if you’re reading secret government plans on the Rea Vaya.
DAY 07 We’ve no complaints about typing on this comfortable keyboard – and it’s backlit, which is very handy for working in the dark. Huawei also calls it ‘spill-proof’ – not that we’ve tried to check. That webcam is hidden among the function keys, and pops up and down with a satisfying spring. The nostril-centric angle isn’t ideal, but that’s really not a major issue.
DAY 10 For such a skinny machine, the MateBook X Pro isn’t short of speed: this version is packing
01 Ah, those ultra-skinny screen bezels! 02 Powerful CPU/GPU combo for an ultraportable 03 Loads of storage and respectable battery life
04 Touchpad can be a little over-sensitive with multi-touch gestures 05 Webcam placement is clever but the angle isn’t very flattering
an 8th-gen Intel i7 CPU, along with 16GB of RAM and a speedy 512GB NVMe SSD. The i7-8550U hasn’t struggled with anything, keeping the CPU at its boosted 2GHz speeds in apps like Photoshop and Premiere Pro. Gaming is also on the cards, as this is one of the thinnest laptops around to have a dedicated graphics card. If you’re reasonable with the settings it’s possible to play even new titles: Fortnite copes well at 1500x1000 with a mix of low and medium detail.
DAY 13 Battery life was one of the original MateBook’s weak points, but the Pro copes quite well away from the mains. On average we’ve managed eight hours between top-ups, which is average for the class. Try more intensive stuff and you’ll be out of juice far sooner, though.
DAY 14 The MateBook X Pro feels like the Windows-powered Apple alternative a lot of people have been waiting for. It has a sharper screen and skinnier bezels than the MacBook Pro, plus superior GPU performance. Some Windows rivals might cost less, but they can’t match this Huawei for graphics.
STUFF SAYS A powerful laptop with a screen that sets it up to take on the big boys ★★★★★ 85
PC, PS4, Xbox One / far-cry.ubisoft.com
Far Cry 5 The latest entry in Ubisoft’s open-world FPS series has taken a trip to America and cranked up the bullet-frenzied action to the max
inder eggs. Orange plums. Haggis. All three have been banned in the US, yet if you want to purchase an AK-47 in Montana? No problem! You might even get a handgun thrown in for free. And so, whatever you think about America’s gun laws in the real world, they do make it the perfect location for Ubisoft’s shoot-’em-up franchise. There’s no psychopathic pirate or flamboyantly dressed drug lord this time, though – instead, you’re treated to a sinister threat that’s all
too familiar: religious extremists. Joseph Seed and his flock of siblings lead a doomsday cult, using threats of apocalypse (and a stupendous supply of guns) to rule over the fictional Hope County. It’s split into three regions, each controlled by a member of the Seed family. You have to liberate each area to trigger the final encounter with Joseph. You’ll find plenty of distractions in this open-world setting. There’s so much to see and do, yet it never feels as if you’re being forced into
an inconsequential side-quest. The enemy is everywhere: trucks, tankers, cars and quad-bikes will pull up and open fire on you. And even once you’ve destroyed them, you’re likely to encounter another instantly. It can be exhausting, but it’s always enjoyable. You have an arsenal of weaponry right from the start, yet progression is still rewarding as you unlock fire arrows and sticky bombs. Not everything here is perfect, though. A number of glitches spoil the immersion – and while co-op
is great fun, it has drawbacks. The main one: if you aren’t the host, you’re essentially just a helper. You’ll keep your perks and money, but any missions you complete only count for the host. You’re also prevented from straying too far from your buddy. That aside, Far Cry 5 is an almost complete success. With a compelling narrative, fantastic villains and gameplay that begs to be devoured, it might just be the best entry to the series yet. Even with the odd glitch thrown in.
STUFF SAYS A few minor gripes aside, this is a brilliant evolution of the series ★★★★✩ 86
3 more gun-toting open-world games
Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Wildlands
Far Cry 5 isn’t the first game to let you loose in an open world with a bagful of guns. In fact, that’s essentially the whole premise of Wildlands, as you and your fireteam attempt to take down various drug lords in Bolivia.
Just Cause 3
Playing solo, you can choose from a few AI-controlled partners.
By earning perk points you can unlock and upgrade skills.
Thanks to your grappling hook, you can take the bullet-blitzing carnage to the skies in Just Cause 3. Few games will make you feel more of an action hero, as you plant a bomb on a helicopter, parachute down, and descend into an enemy base for even more shooting.
Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain
This one sticks out compared to the rest, swapping explosive shoot-outs for the stealth approach. Still, thanks to the dynamic open world, things can still end up pretty chaotic once you’ve been spotted trying to infiltrate an enemy base.
PS4, PC / bandainamcoent.com
Ni no Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom Who hasn’t dreamt of joining the royal family? This adorable JRPG adventure sees you take the throne and lead your citizens to glory… magine being kicked out of your home by your own dinner. While the likelihood of a roast chicken leading a mutiny against you is thankfully slim, Ni no Kuni II’s hero Evan – a descendant of cat royalty – is embarrassingly usurped as king of Ding Dong Dell by a band of rebel rats. Most game plots would then see you formulate a revenge plan – but in this JRPG you’re instead tasked with building a new kingdom and achieving world peace. Of course, there are still many monsters to kill and kingdoms to save, as a mysterious villain keeps stealing control of powerful beasts and wreaking havoc on the realm. But while this story is successful at recapturing its predecessor’s wacky charm, it fails to live up to the grand adventure of Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch. In terms of combat, though, the sequel has made changes for the better by ditching the Pokémonstyled combat in favour of a more traditional real-time system. When confronted by a monster, Evan and his party will jump into an enclosed
arena to duke it out. This revamped combat is not without its flaws, though. Fights are rarely balanced; if enemies are a couple of levels below you, a couple slashes of the sword will quickly put an end to those fiends. Fortunately, preparing for each battle is a lot more rewarding – the upgrade system is among the best we’ve seen in an RPG. Being in charge of a new kingdom means you can build facilities that give you access to more powerful gear and magic spells. The catch? You need to persuade characters to join your kingdom to build and operate them. Recruit enough people and you’ll soon see your settlement grow into a bustling city. While developer Level-5 has to be applauded for taking risks by overhauling the combat and introducing the kingdom-building feature, it hasn’t quite hit the heights of its predecessor. That said, Revenant Kingdom is still a great game. If you’ve a sweet tooth for the wacky, you’re going to fall in love with the world of Ni no Kuni.
Grow your kingdom by recruiting new characters via side quests and story missions.
In Skirmishes you can take part in battles where you assume control of four armies.
STUFF SAYS Not quite JRPG royalty, but this charming tale is still great fun ★★★★✩ 88
Xbox One, PC / seaofthieves.com
Sea of Thieves
A pirate’s life turns out to be a mixture of uproarious fun and joy-sucking boredom in this Xbox-exclusive multiplayer romp he idea behind Sea of Thieves is so brilliant that it’s hard to believe no one thought of it before. You and up to three of your mates play as pirates in a giant online world, sailing the high seas, plundering treasure and bolstering your reputations to legendary status. Who wouldn’t want to play that game? It’s a ludicrously cool concept… until you realise you’ve already seen everything Sea of Thieves has to offer. This is a plan that’s in need of fleshing out. Even so, it’s a game that does a hell of a lot right – and crucially, it does this stuff differently to pretty much every online multiplayer game going right now. Unlike Fortnite or PUBG, the focus here is on messing about with mates rather than blasting your way to the top of a leaderboard. The best moments involve diving contests off the crow’s nest, and who can chuck the most groginduced vomit at a crewmate. As impressive as these stories are, they’d lose a little of their lustre were they set on a shabby
Of course, as a pirate you’re expected to use maps to locate all that buried booty.
Aside from chasing plunder, you’ll also be tasked with killing undead pirates.
expanse of ocean. But one glance at the lilting waves and glistening sky is enough to win you over. The cartoonish results really are a delight, especially playing in 4K with HDR on the Xbox One X. Right now, Sea of Thieves has two major issues. Firstly, it’s only really fun in a group of friends. And secondly, it features an extremely one-dimensional grind of solving riddles and digging up treasure, which you’ll tire of sooner or later. Yes, you can spend your gold on cosmetic upgrades to improve your pirate status, and Skeleton Forts do prove a decent challenge, but none of this is enough to make you want to stick with the game in the long run. While it’s fair to say all massive multiplayer online games are something of a work in progress at launch, the lack of content here is still a downer. There’s every chance Sea of Thieves will one day turn out to be the game you’d want it to be. But right now, it’s a fair way from delivering on its tantalising promise. It’s still fun climbing into a cannon, though.
STUFF SAYS Worth a play, but sails too close to tedium to be a multiplayer classic ★★★✩✩ 89
PS4 / godofwar.com
God of War A father, a son, a dying wish, and a decimation of Norse mythology. Kratos is back
od of War takes place in Midgard, the central realm of Norse myth, and sees the Ghost of Sparta travelling with his young son, Atreus. This is the start of a terse, often brusque journey that sees Atreus trying to win his father’s approval and Kratos trying to learn what it means to be a father. Seems almost sappy when you put it that way but this is God of War. This journey takes players through masses of draugr, trolls, revenants, and even a few gods
en route to fulfil a dead woman’s wish. The violent combat is more visceral than ever, the over-theshoulder camera a stark contrast to the fixed cam of previous games. Each hit seems harder, each dismemberment is more in your face, even if it now seems Kratos is killing because he has to and not because he enjoys it. Starting with the Leviathan axe, players take on hordes of enemies in as tactical a manner as possible. The boy, Atreus, is controlled by the player as well and offers ranged
options for dealing damage. The youngster also autonomously assists, distracting foes when not being called upon to use his bow. Combat is tightly controlled and intuitive – nary an enemy will leave you wondering how to defeat it. For a while, anyway. A solid crafting system lets players equip Kratos with gear that suits a range of play styles. You can emphasise defence, put everything you have into offence or focus on special attacks, often at the expense of the other areas, but it
comes down to how you want to play. There’s loads to do, see, and find in the gorgeous semi-open world environment where Kratos and his son play, and even some late-stage content to complete. The reinvention of the traditionally violent series has been masterfully executed. Mistakes could have easily been made, but this is a natural, and spectacular, evolution of God of War. Amazingly, it’s also one of the most thoughtful games we’ve ever played. We’re madly looking toward a sequel.
STUFF SAYS A reimagining done right – Kratos has come a long way since Sparta ★★★★★ 90
Get the whole backstory
God of War Collection (PS3)
The GoW Collection features the original two PS2 games in HD. Follow Kratos as he sets out to kill Ares in the original game and then as he has his powers as the God of War stripped by his father, Zeus.
God of War Collection Vol II (PS3)
Kratos actually feels emotions other than anger this time.
Jörmungandr is one of the few creatures you won’t kill immediately.
A remake of the two amazing PSP releases, Chains of Olympus and Ghost of Sparta, which take place before and after the first game respectively. A lot of character development takes place in this underappreciated pair.
God of War III: Remastered (PS4)
If you only play one game for context, make it this one. Kratos’ final assault on Olympus is gorgeously remade for the PS4 and features the Ghost of Sparta at his most angry and driven. This is the man he’s tried so hard to leave behind.
Switch / nintendo.co.za
Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze Adventure time: Head into the jungle to battle the evil Snowmads f you’re used to Mario games, which start off slow and ramp up the difficulty, then Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze will prove shocking. Typically a single error can spell doom for Donkey and his friends Diddy, Dixie, and Cranky but they’re not without their wiles. Picking up one of their barrels and setting them free gives you access to extra hearts – which you want, since each enemy hit or spike drop will consume one. Lose two and you lose your buddy. Lose the other two and you’re heading back to your last checkpoint. That’s okay. Tropical Freeze makes even insta-die spots a challenge to be overcome rather than an obstacle to be screamed at. If you are battling to come to grips with the challenge, there’s hope. Besides the KONG pieces, puzzle pieces, and bananas, players harvest coins during play. You can use these to buy consumable assists. Keep on falling? Try the green balloon. Need some help with an underwater level? The blue one is for you.
Provided, that is, that you spend some time in Funky Kong’s store. Speaking of Funky, you can now play as him. The original Wii U version of this game only had the two-hits-and-you’re-toast difficulty but the Switch version has Funky Mode for those battling to do things really old-school. Funky has five hearts available from the outset. He’s able to land on spikes without harm and he’s also able to hover, using the surfboard that accompanies him everywhere. And you can play as him in two player mode too. Put two players on one screen, whether it’s in portable mode or with the console docked, and the result is either going to be fun in the jungle as you bounce around each other, or more than a little frustration as one or another player lags behind. Mostly, though, it’s madcap fun. Go have some. Even if you played Tropical Freeze on the Wii U, it’s worth revisiting here just for the portability aspect of this tightlycontrolled and expertly tweaked thumb buster of a platform game.
STUFF SAYS A polished, if brutal, platformer to keep you entertained ★★★★★ 92
Co-op is an absolute blast but only for the patient in tough-as-nails Classic mode.
Boss battles are markedly different to the regular platforming game play.
STU FF PRO MOTIO N
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MAIL OF THE MONTH Q
YOU THINK YOU KNOW THE ANSWER
I bought my first MacBook in 2007 and swore I would never go back. Many, many iDevices later, I especially view my iPad Pro as indispensable. I’m still rolling with the ancient and now very slow iPhone 6s. I need an upgrade, ASAP. I find myself staring at another device... The Huawei P20 Pro is catching my eye. At a fair discount compared to iPhone X, what’s stopping me? Not much, I use a lot of Google apps already! Truth be told, if it wasn’t for my full blown addiction to my AirPods, I would probably flip to Android. The iPhone 8 seems to be my only way out (I want the home button). But will Apple release a new beauty just after my upgrade? Marnus
We’re totally not going to make this easy, Marnus. Before you decide, head to p36 and see what we have to say about the Huawei P20 Pro. Then compare it to what we say about the iPhone X and then see if you still want to take a step backwards to the iPhone 8. We do understand the need to stay under Apple’s thumb (and keep a home button under yours) but if you want the best phone on the market today, Huawei’s the clear winner… As to whether you’ll see Apple release something better than the Pro, by the time you read this we’ll only be a couple of months out from Apple’s big 2018 reveal. But whether it'll be worth waiting is anyone's guess. P.S. Your AirPods will still work with the Huawei, albeit not quite as seamlessly.
Speak your brains to Stuff and you could win! This letter wins a Sorbet Man hamper worth R2 000.
FLATTERY WILL GET YOU CAMERA ADVICE
I have always been a big fan of your magazine and love the way you write. I love photography and would like to buy a camera. My budget is R7000. The camera I’m after has to have a shutter speed of at least 1/1000 of a second and it has to have an ISO of 12500 or more. Lastly, it has to
be pretty easy to use as I am a complete beginner. Gian
That's a pretty tight budget for a camera. First up, you need to decide whether you want an all-in-one system camera or something with interchangeable lenses like a DSLR or a mirrorless. Pretty
much every decent camera released in recent years should be able to shoot at 1/1000 and ISO 12500 (though the usability of the ISO will depend on the particular camera, its sensor size, and other variables). On the DSLR front you best bets at that budget are the Canon 1300D or the Canon 200D (if you can extend your budget a bit), or Nikon's D3400. As for mirrorless cameras, under R10 000 your best bet is the Canon M100 (or the M50 if you can spend a bit more). In the event you opt for a system (fixed lens) camera, consider the Nikon B700 or the Panasonic Lumix FZ80. We’d suggest looking at a DSLR or mirrorless, because you can start with a kit lens, add lenses over time, and then use those same lenses on a better camera body down the line.
ONEPLUS SIX EQUALS…
I absolutely love OnePlus's phones, and I see you can now get the OnePlus 5 in South Africa. But compared to the Samsung Galaxy S9 and iPhone X it looks outdated. Do you think we'll be getting the OnePlus 5T or 6 here, or am I dreaming? Bongani
You, sir, have impeccable taste. We're huge fans of
OnePlus phones, too. Sadly we don't have good news about the newer models. But the good news is, we don't have bad news either. In other words, we're going to have to say that no news is good news. And tell you that we'll be holding thumbs like you are that the latest and greatest from the OnePlus stable canter into our lives, hands and pockets in the not-toodistant future.
DREAMS OF STREAMING TEAMS
If it wasn't for the rugby, cricket and soccer that I can only watch on DStv I would have cancelled my subscription ages ago. I've got Netflix and Showmax for streaming series and movies, but how can I stream sport and say goodbye to DStv forever? Bethany
Ah, the good old how-do-Istream sports chestnut. Bethany, we're sorry to say that as it stands there are no easy ways to get all the big games over the internet. Moreover, there are no legal ones. For now you're stuck with your DStv sub, but rumour has it MultiChoice is investigating offering DStv content via a streaming service (whether on Showmax or an independent offering). We're hoping that means a sports-only bundle... and at a reasonable fee.
Congratulations to our 10 Tile Pro winners: Goolam Kader, Jared Daitsh, Petra Moolman, Anita Saunders, Sango Xhamela, Mathilda Breitenbach, Thabo Mosenthal, Jason Morgan, DM Davidoff and James Mohr
Next month’s mail of the month wins a L'Oréal hamper worth R500 The hamper includes: 1x Men Expert Toiletry Bag, 1x Men Expert Hydra Power Face Wash, 1x Men Expert Hydra Power Moisturiser, 1x Men Expert Cool Power Aerosol and 1x Men Expert Cool Power Roll-On. 94
This gadget has leapt straight outta testing and into our rankings.
OF EVERYTHING Time changes everything, including Stuff Top Ten placings.
BARGAIN BUY UPDATE Searing with techy genius, a product thatâ€™s set our hearts aflame.
A solid gold bargain. Worth owning, regardless of cashflow.
Smartphones Phablets Tablets Playlist: couch-based multiplayer games TVs Streaming guide Laptops Wearables Budget buys
96 97 98 99 100 101 102 103 104
The big question: 105 How can I learn the guitar? Cameras 106 Consoles & 107 Should I upgrade Apple iMac Pro Headphones 108 Bluetooth Speakers 109 How to buy... a printer 110 Games 111
HOW TO USE THEM
TOP T TO P TE T TENS ENS SMARTPHONES ENS
HOT NEW BUY
Huawei P20 Pro While Samsung and Apple’s war for smartphone supremacy rages on, Huawei has sauntered up and knocked both companies off their feet with the P20 Pro. Serious snappers will love this flagship phone thanks to the triple-lens camera, with 5x zoom and a 40MP main sensor. Add to that a quite awesome AMOLED display, lightning-fast internals and a top-notch design, and you’ve got yourself a recipe for the best new smartphone of 2018.
TIPS & TRICKS Activating ‘Natural Tone’ in settings will adjust the screen’s brightness according to your environment.
Stuff says ★★★★★ That triple-lens cam gives the P20 Pro the edge in the smartphone wars
To capture a screenshot, simply double-tap the front of the P20 Pro with your knuckle.
● NOW ADD THIS Tuff-Luv P20 Pro Back Case With its fragile back, you’ll want a case for your P20 Pro – one that accommodates the three sensors. R200 / takealot.com
Turn on ‘Face unlock’ in ‘Security & privacy’ and you can wake up the P20 Pro with just a glance.
6 7 Samsung Galaxy S9
Apple iPhone X
Small tweaks such as better placement of the fingerprint sensor, more power and a new dual-aperture camera combine to make the latest Samsung flagship a smart upgrade on the S8. And of course, you’ve still got that luscious near-bezelless screen.
There’s no question that the iPhone X is a fantastic phone. Even notch-haters have to admit its design is majestic, while Face ID, a gorgeous display and a versatile camera all combine for one of the best all-round handsets you can buy. The only problem is the price.
Stuff says ★★★★★ Not a huge upgrade on the Galaxy S8, but it’s still a very welcome one
Stuff says ★★★★★ An awesome iPhone that goes toe to toe with Android’s best offerings
R13 500 / samsung.com/za
from R19 000 / myistore.co.za
★★★★★ R9 000 / huawei.com/za Huawei’s last hasn’t fallen off the map but it’s displaced from the podium by the P20 Pro’s chops.
Samsung Galaxy S8
★★★★★ R11 000 / samsung.com/za It has been displaced from the top spot but the Galaxy S8 remains a top-notch phone.
Motorola Moto Z2 Play
★★★★★ from R8 700 / lenovo.co.za A great-value smartphone that can be converted into a gamepad, a speaker or even a 360° camera.
Apple iPhone SE
★★★★★ from R6 000 / myistore.co.za Cheap, in Apple terms, isn’t terrible. It’s a 6s in a 5s frame, so it’s made for those longing for the old days.
Apple iPhone 8
Sony Xperia XZ1
★★★★✩ from R12 000 / myistore.co.za The new entry-level iPhone offers more than you’d expect, but it’s still pricey and has a dated design.
★★★★✩ from R9 300 / sonymobile.com/za Flagship appeal, a slim body and a fancy screen. But those big bezels are starting to look old.
Vodafone Smart N8
★★★★✩ R2 100 / vodacom.co.za We also like the Smart V8 but the N8 gets this spot thanks to a combo of decent specs and stellar price.
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● Prices quoted are for handset only unless otherwise stated
R15 500 / huawei.com/za
TIPS & TRICKS
Samsung Galaxy S9+
Stuff says ★★★★★ The Galaxy phone most worth having... unless you have small-ish hands.
Downloaded a dud? Get rid of unneeded apps by pressing on the app in question and waiting for the uninstall option in the resulting popup. It’ll also let you disable the likes of Facebook.
● NOW ADD THIS Convertible Wireless Charger The latest in phone wizardry deserves the latest in wireless charging wizardry. R1 300 / samsung.com/za
7 Samsung Galaxy Note 8
Samsung Galaxy S8+
Gone from the top of the charts but not from our hearts. We suspect the Note 8 will hang on here until it’s kicked off by the Galaxy Note 9. Quite how Samsung’s going to better both this amazing bit of kit and the current number one is beyond us, but they’ll manage.
A phone like this you don’t just kick off the Top 10. No, you just move it a rung or two down the ladder and look at it becoming more affordable by the week. Still one of the best phones out there. So what if Samsung now holds the top three spots. It’s earned them.
Stuff says ★★★★★ Want a stylus? This is your best (and only) option
Stuff says ★★★★★ Everything you love about the S8 in a bigger package. Yes, please.
R15 500 / samsung.com/za
Samsung’s only gone and done it again, claiming the top phablet spot with their newest flagship. And this time around it’s more than just an oversized copy of the “smaller” of the pair, though we do really like the 6.2in display. One of the new dual rear cameras gets the same variable aperture tech found in the S9’s camera, while the secondary camera offers some telephoto magic with a 12MP f/2.4 2x optical zoom lens. The 6GB of RAM doesn’t hurt either. Some of these features were available in the Galaxy Note 8 but they look even better here.
Happily, accessing Samsung’s assistant is the same as it ever was. Keep swiping right, or poke the button on the left of the phone to summon him.
PHABLETS TOP TENS
R18 000 / samsung.com/za
Keep things neat up top by trimming off some of the bits of the status bar. Head to Settings > Display > Status and you can set it to only show the three most recent notifications. Or turn off the battery percentage, you rebel, you.
R13 400 / samsung.com/za
8 9 10
Huawei Mate 10 Pro
★★★★★ R14 000 / huawei.com/za Huawei’s most ambitious effort packs in AI smarts, a huge battery and heaps of power.
Apple iPhone 8 Plus
★★★★★ from R15 000 / myistore.co.za Short stay on the podium notwithstanding, the iPhone 8 Plus is the big Apple you want this year.
Huawei P10 Plus
★★★★★ R11 000 / huawei.com/za A true flagship that gives you plenty of power, a great screen and one of the best cameras going.
Apple iPhone 7 Plus
★★★★★ from R13 000 / myistore.co.za The 7 Plus has not gone from the charts or our hearts. Slipped a few places though.
★★★★★ from R13 300 / lg.com/za The LG V30+ takes everything good about the G6 and improves on it – a little late, but still.
★★★★✩ R8 600 / hmdglobal.com Nokia’s flagship is a good one overall. Shame it didn’t release in 2016, design-wise.
Xiaomi Redmi Note 4
★★★★✩ R3 500 / mia.africa.com We’re not sure how Xiaomi manages to make their phones at the prices they do.
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TOP TENS TABLETS
98 HOT BUY
GOT EARS? THEN CHECK OUT…
Apple iPad Pro 10.5in from R10 800 / myistore.co.za
The 9.7in iPad Pro was already sitting comfortably as our favourite tablet, but that wasn’t good enough for Apple. Rather than giving its flagship tablet a few minor tweaks, Apple has introduced a bigger screen and an immensely potent processor. In fact, this device is so powerful and flashy that it’s even blurring the lines between tablet and laptop. If you only want to browse social media and watch Netflix, the 10.5in iPad Pro is overkill; this is for those more interested in creation than consumption.
Stuff says ★★★★★ The iPad Pro puts all other tablets to shame – it’s unbeatable as a multimedia machine or creative tool
Samsung Galaxy Tab S3
Apple iPad (2018)
Microsoft Surface Pro 4
Apple iPad Pro 12.9in
from R11 500 / samsung.com/za The Tab S3 is powerful and has a gorgeous screen, while the bundled stylus is a welcome extra that you don’t have to be an artist to appreciate. It doesn’t do half-measures, which is rare in an Android tablet. Stuff says ★★★★★ The first genuine rival to Apple’s iPad Pro
from R5 000 / myistore.co.za There might not be a lot different here compared to the previous iteration of the standard iPad, but subtle improvements, Apple Pencil support and a decent price make this the best tablet for most people. Stuff says ★★★★★ A versatile tablet for both work and play
★★★★★ from R25 200 / microsoft.com/za It’s the Surface Pro 3, but better. What’s not to like? The price, mostly.
★★★★★ from R13 500 / myistore.co.za The other Pro, this one is fuller featured and larger. But... still not quite a laptop surrogate.
YOUR ESSENTIAL AUDIO GUIDE TO WHAT’S HOT IN GADGETS ● BITING COMMENTARY ● BRILLIANT INSIGHTS ● (BAD) JOKES! ● GADGET HANDS-ONS
FIND IT ON iTUNES, SOUNDCLOUD OR YOUR PODCAST PLAYER OF CHOICE SIMPLY SEARCH FOR “STUFFED” www.stuff.co.za/hubs/podcasts-videos/
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PLAYLIST COUCH�BASED MULTIPLAYER
PLAYLIST TOP TENS
Ditch those boring card games and never mention Cluedo again: these local multiplayers will keep your house guests entertained all night long
BEST FOR CO-OP CALAMITY A Way Out
You’ll need to work with a friend to break out of prison in A Way Out – whether that means playing ‘good cop, bad cop’ with an AI character or distracting a guard to steal useful items. But while the co-op action is good fun, it’s the interweaving story that will leave a lasting memory. R400 / PS4, Xbox One, PC
Starring spongy, Claymation-like sack fighters, Gang Beasts defines dumb fun. You’ll brawl with up to four players on a Ferris wheel, atop moving trucks, and in other hilariously dangerous settings, as the dopey-looking heroes bash each other to a pulp. R320 / PS4, PC
FAMILYFRIENDLY MULTIPLAYER GAMES
Any chef will tell you that working in a busy restaurant is the ultimate test of teamwork. So just imagine what it’s like in the co-op title Overcooked, where kitchen floors are covered in slippery ice or separated by super-hot magma. R260 / PS4, Switch, Xbox One, PC
From the creators of Castle Crashers comes another crazy multiplayer gem. And it’s not just the artwork and madcap characters that are bonkers here, as the co-op story mode for this turn-based strategy can get really chaotic. R130 / Xbox One, PC
There are 15 fun mini-games to play using your phone here, including go-kart racing and bomb-hurling action. R330 / PS4
This 2D battle-royale arrow blitzer may look simple on the surface with its retro graphics, but the capability to catch arrows in mid-air or use explosive traps adds a layer of mayhem-infused depth and frantic fun. from R160 / PS4, Xbox One, PC
The premise of this game is simple – just reach the other side of the map. Problem is, your pal’s blocking your path, so naturally you’ve got to stick it to them with your blade. Cue tightly fought tug-of-war duels and multiple decapitated cartoon characters. R160 / PS4, PC
THE JACKBOX PARTY PACK
MARIO KART 8 DELUXE
From trivia to drawing contests, these party games are a blast. R270 / PS4, Switch, Xbox One, PC
Even the grandparents have a chance of victory in Mario Kart with those blue shells flying about. R850 / Switch
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TOP TENS TVs TIPS & TRICKS
Magic Zoom lets you magnify anything on the screen, and pause to screenshot if you see fit.
You can connect your phone to the TV via LG’s TV Plus app with Magic Mobile Connection.
LG OLED65B7 R70 000 / lg.com/za
With the absence of LG’s paper-thin (and wallet-busting) Wallpaper W7 screen in SA, we’ve got to go with the OLED65B7 as the TV that you want to own. LG’s incomparable OLED display tech give you a brilliant 4K panel. Dolby ATMOS sound is baked-in, as is that lovely HDR tech that Netflix launched here recently, meaning you get high-end tech on a budget. Yes, budget. The B7 is part of LG’s budget line. There’s also a 55in (R40 000) model.
Stuff says ★★★★★ LG’s OLED tech doesn’t have to mean selling your house but it’ll still cost you ● NOW ADD THIS Sony PlayStation 4 Pro You’re going to want to use your 4K screen to display 4K bits and the PS4 Pro is going to help you to do that. Best when paired with Sony’s PlayStation VR headset (R7 300). R7 000 / playstation.com/za
4 5 6
R55 000 / samsung.com/za
★★★★★ from R40 000 / lg.com/za It’s not OLED, but it’s still 4K, and that omission keeps the price down, but webOS 3.0 intact.
★★★★★ R21 000 / hisense.co.za Hisense doesn’t have LG or Samsung’s tech but they do have a 65in 4K smart TV for R21 000.
★★★★★ R24 000 / samsung.com/za Samsung’s 4K TV supports HDR and has a price that means you’ll still able to eat at month end.
★★★★✩ R40 000 / lg.com/za You’re losing the inky-black OLED panel but you’re getting another 10 inches. Yay!
Samsung Frame TV
R35 000 / samsung.com/za
Okay, it’s still curved and we’re kind of past that but Samsung’s big screen hits your eyes with a 4K panel toting their neato Quantum Dot tech. It also looks the part, with no bezels and minimalist styling, making sure that this one fades into the background… until you turn it on, that is. Samsung’s Q HDR 1500 also helps in that regard.
Say you want a TV but don’t want people to know you have one. Samsung’s designer Frame TV mounts on your wall and pretends to be artwork when not in use, disguising the fact that you’ve got a 55in UHD 4K TV on the wall. Pity that folks can see the Xbox One X is plugged into the side of that abstract painting.
Stuff says ★★★★★ The price-is-no-object screen of your dreams
Stuff says ★★★★★ If your house looks like a magazine ad, this TV will fit right in
★★★★✩ R63 000 / hisense.co.za Hisense lobs Quantum Dot colour tech and a humongous 75in 4K ULED screen at you.
★★★★✩ R10 900 / iskyworth.com A 55in 4K display for under R15k? For that combo, we’ll forgive the user interface missteps.
★★★★✩ R7 000 / samsung.com/za Want 4K for less than 10k? Samsung’s budget 43-incher offers 4K and HDR10 for a song.
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YOUR STREAMING ESSENTIALS NETFLIX
NEW TO STREAMING TOP TENS
It’s the month of serial killers, as we take a look at a motherly cannibal, a barbaric barber, an NYC killer and a writer/cop duo hunting down a few… AMAZON VIDEO
Santa Clarita Diet (S2)
Think your parents are weird just because they like to dance at discos? Please. That’s nothing on the Hammond family, whose mother has picked up the habit of gorging on human flesh. So embarrassing.
Fed up of gunning people down in action films, Matt Damon looked to find a quiet life as a family man in Suburbicon. But just as we can’t resist a cake shop, it seems Damon can’t leave his violent ways behind him.
Tom Hardy, not wearing a mask or CG for a change, is 19th century explorer James Delaney, who returns from Africa with some stolen diamonds and his sights on his family land. The East India company isn’t pleased…
The Alienist (S1)
Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
A killer is targeting homeless boys in late-19th century New York and it’s up to psychologist Lazlo Kriezler to work out how to bring him to justice. Feels very much like action-based turn-of-the-century Mindhunter.
Somebody forgot to tell Tim Burton that musicals are supposed to be bright and happy. But that’s just as well, actually – as this tale of the serial-slaying barber is a delight.
Nathan Fillion (you know who he is) stars as writer Rick Castle, who joins up with NYPD detective Kate Beckett to solve cases. A humorous police procedural without Dick Wolf’s name on it? We’ll take it.
Full Metal Jacket
Marvel’s Cloak and Dagger (S1)
The creators of Happy! were clearly on every drug imaginable when making this comedy. The premise? An alcoholic ex-cop joins forces with a little girl’s imaginary friend to solve a kidnap case. See what we mean?
If your principal was a nasty piece of work, you’ll probably feel a lot of sympathy for the military recruits in this Oscar-nominated Kubrick classic as they endure the wrath of the spit-spraying Sergeant Hartman.
Can’t get enough Marvel magic? Await the next Avengers by watching Cloak and Dagger, the story of two youngsters mysteriously linked by the power of light and darkness following a shared childhood incident.
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TOP TENS LAPTOPS TIPS & TRICKS
It may be small and tough but a sleeve will assure you that there’s nothing scuffing your new baby in your backpack.
Uninstall. Not all of it, just the selection of pre-installed apps that you’re never going to use. Your eyes (and your data connection) will thank you.
Dell XPS 13 from R26 300 / dell.co.za
The original XPS was already a great, lightweight laptop, then Dell gave it a welcome Windows 10 refresh. With improved battery life and performance, it’s the thinking person’s Ultrabook and a whole lot more. We’ve tried the 2-in-1 hybrid version, and while it’s good, this Apple MacBook destroyer will more than suffice for most users. Especially at this price point, which is nearly half that of the equivalent MacBook Pro.
Stuff says ★★★★★ An excellent Windows 10 Ultrabook, small in size and great in stature ● NOW ADD THIS Dell Power Companion If the terrific battery life isn’t enough, grab this 12 000mAh external battery. R1 700 / dell.laptopdirect.co.za
4 5 NEW
Apple MacBook Pro
Asus Zenbook UX331UA
Second place is low for Apple. But the entry level (meaning “nonTouch Bar” here) MacBook Pro was an excellent device, but beaten in terms of price, specs, and battery life by… something else. Now that Apple’s updated the line, though, it’s a much closer call for top spot.
Asus’ new 1.12kg Zenbook 13 might look less like a MacBook than its predecessors did but that’s okay. It’s not like a Mac inside either, with a Core i7-8550U, 8GB of RAM, 256GB SSD and other metrics that make Apple’s machines look slow.
Stuff says ★★★★★ The standard 13in Pro is beautiful, compact, and a pleasure to work on
Stuff says ★★★★★ Something this fast shouldn’t be this light
from R19 000 / myistore.co.za
from R17 000 / asus.com/za
★★★★★ from R55 000 / evetech.co.za MSI’s desktop replacement is a beast off the bat. Throw in Intel’s new Core i9 chip and it roars.
★★★★★ from R19 000 / myistore.co.za The new Kaby Lake processor keeps the standard MacBook competitively brilliant.
Huawei MateBook X Pro
★★★★★ from R24 000 / huawei.com/za A stylish Windows laptop with some clever ideas to get the maximum display for your rand.
HP Spectre 13
★★★★★ R28 000 / hp.com/za Still super-thin, still elegant, now with i7-8550U chips, 8GB of RAM and a 512GB SSD.
Lenovo Ideapad Legion Y520
HP Omen 17
★★★★★ fom R15 000 / evetech.co.za A gaming rig for under R20k. If you want more than Kabylake and a GTX1050 it’ll cost you.
★★★★✩ from R25 000 / hpshop.co.za HP’s gaming lineup looks better than ever, with the beefy Omen 17 being the crown jewel.
Apple MacBook Air 13in
★★★★✩ from R13 000 / myistore.co.za If a portable road warrior is what you’re after, this slinky MacBook remains a great choice.
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SMARTWATCHES, FITNESS TRACKERS TOP TENS
Apple Watch Series 3 (GPS)
Garmin Fenix 5
The original Apple Watch was the best smartwatch on the market when it launched, but it lacked focus. The Series 2 devices came with an array of upgrades – more power, a brighter screen – along with a greater emphasis on fitness functions without a phone in tow. Both GPS and waterproofing made it a far more compelling gadget for exercise fanatics. The Series 3 keeps the best of the 2 and adds an altimeter and an enhanced Heart Rate app. The best just got even better.
The king is dead! But that’s okay, because we’ve got a newer, better one to replace him, and he’s kin. This is the smartest of the smartfitness watches you can buy right now. Track everything from swimming to sprinting to… wait, does that say skydiving? Yes, yes it does. Which is an awfully specific function. The Fenix 5 is the ultimate sportswatch, so much so that you’ll feel you need a degree in sports fitness to understand all the stats, but that’s why we love this one. Anything we can do it can help us do better.
Stuff says ★★★★★ Apple’s further tweaks and even heavier sports focus add up to make the Series 3 unmissable
Stuff says ★★★★★ If you’re going to be the sportiest of your pentathlonbeating mates, you’re going to want the Fenix 5
from R5 500 / myistore.co.za
Samsung Gear S3
from R4 700 / samsung.com/za Samsung’s Tizen OS combined with the rotating bezel is the stuff smartwatch dreams are made of. It’s a real rival for Android Wear... now Samsung just needs to get devs as excited about Tizen as we are. Stuff says ★★★★★ A few more apps and it may be unbeatable
Huawei Watch 2
R5 500 / fitbit.co.za Way more fitness tracker than smartwatch for now, the Ionic delivers accurate heartrate tracking, multi-sport modes and up to four days between charges. What it really needs, though, is more third-party apps. Stuff says ★★★★✩ The best go at a Fitbit smartwatch so far
★★★★✩ from R4 000 / huawei.com/za A SIM slot and slick interface make this the best Android smartwatch on the market today.
★★★★✩ R3 000 / garmin.co.za Free up a space on your wrist – this is everything you need from a fitness watch.
from R10 500 / garmin.co.za
Garmin Fenix 3
Garmin Vivoactive HR
Fitbit Alta HR
Garmin Vivosmart HR+
R8 500 / garmin.co.za Just because the number 5 has taken over doesn’t mean that you have to kick the Fenix 3 out of bed. It’s going to beat most of the competition for a long time to come – just like you do, right? Stuff says ★★★★★ One case where second place still wins
R5 600 / garmin.co.za Garmin has a frankly bewildering array of fitness trackers and outdoorsy GPS watches, but the Vivoactive HR is the one you really want. It’s packed with long-lasting, easy-to-use rewarding fitness cleverness. Stuff says ★★★★★ All-round tracker with sensors and stamina
★★★★★ R2 500 / fitbit.co.za The slim design, HR monitor, and notifications make this the best discreet wristable.
★★★★✩ R3 000 / garmin.co.za A superb tracker packed with features; it’s just a little bulky for wearing 24/7.
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TOP TENS BUDGET BUYS
Why bother splashing out over R7 000 on a games console when you can get the SNES Classic Mini for a fraction of that? Especially when you get 21 classic titles pre-installed on this nostalgia-inducing machine, including the likes of Super Metroid, A Link to the Past, Super Mario World and the never-before-released Star Fox 2. And with two controllers bundled in the box, you’ll be able to start the Super Mario Kart action right away.
Chickens killed you in Zelda again? You can rewind up to five minutes and pretend it never happened. For full-fat nostalgia you can read the instruction manual for each of the SNES games online.
Stuff says ★★★★★ Better games than the NES Classic Mini send this to the top of our wish list
Stop trying to raid Bowser’s castle in one sitting, and use one of the four save slots to take a break.
● NOW ADD THIS 8Bitdo Bluetooth Retro Receiver Fed up of those short cables? Use this clever device to connect most modern controllers wirelessly. R500 / 8bitdo.com
Raspberry Pi Zero W
It might be nearly twice the price of the original Pi Zero, but when you’re still getting change from a R200 the wireless Pi is fantastic value. Simplicity is key, with no need to mess about with dongles or hubs. This also means your Pi projects can be squeezed into smaller places.
If you want a cheap portable Bluetooth speaker, you can’t go wrong with either the UE Roll 2 or the UE Wonderboom. But the latter makes this list for offering bigger sound, its nifty design and waterproofing. It’s also Stuff’s reigning hi-fi gadget of the year.
Stuff says ★★★★★ The Pi Zero was already brilliant; wireless add-ons make it better
Stuff says ★★★★★ Our absolute favourite hi-fi gadget is a steal at only R1 500
R1 500 / takealot.com
★★★★★ R1 050 / mantality.co.za The best budget tracker you can buy – gives most Fitbits a run for their money.
★★★★★ from R1 600 / takealot.com Top of our holiday packing list, the basic Kindle is thinner and lighter than its predecessor.
★★★★★ R650 /sound-magic.co.za SoundMagic is royalty when it comes to budget buds. For under R700, these are stupendous.
7 R185 / pishop.co.za
SNES Classic Mini R1 250 / nintendo.co.za
TIPS & TRICKS
Fujifilm Instax Mini 9
★★★★★ R1 100 / fujifilm.co.za The new Mini 9 keeps the point-and-print charm of its predecessors... and the same film.
Vodafone Smart Prime 7
Samsung Gear VR
★★★★✩ R1 800 / vodacom.co.za On specs alone, the Smart Prime 7 beats phones that are twice the price.
★★★★✩ R1 900 / samsung.com/za Perfect if you’re looking to play Hitman GO in VR, or enjoy Netflix or live sport in 360°.
Xiaomi Mi Power Bank 10400
★★★★✩ R300 / mia.africa.com Everyone could use extra power but having to fork out for it sucks. Thankfully, you don’t.
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THE BIG QUESTION TOP TENS MEET THE BAND. . .
THE BIG HOW CAN I LEARN QUESTION TO PLAY GUITAR? FOR RAD RIFFERS
Simply Piano Like Yousician, this app will take you through step-bystep video tutorials while analysing your performance as you play a proper keyboard. You also have the option of playing a virtual piano to hone your skills. Free / iOS, Android
YOUSICIAN Free (IAPs) / iOS, Android Every other club outing consists of someone having the fantastic idea of starting a band. “If Seasick Steve can keep playing in his 70s, then we’ve got no excuse!” What can be a bit of a problem, however, is that your experience with musical instruments stops at Guitar Hero. Fortunately, you no longer have to hire a hairy teacher to learn the art of strumming. The Yousician app gives you access to hundreds of video tutorials to guide you through the ropes (or should we say strings?) of becoming an axe god. And when you try to play on your own guitar, the app will listen via your smartphone’s microphone then give you feedback and a rating for your performance. Thankfully
there’s no jeering or booing, no matter how terrible your L-plated skills are. The downside is that you can only spend a certain amount of time getting feedback per day. For unlimited use you’ll have to upgrade to the premium service for R240 per month. Considering all the albums you’re going to sell, that’s a small price to pay.
SPECIAL SKILL ONE-MAN BAND Once you’ve mastered the guitar, you may be itching to learn other musical instruments. Yousician also has tutorials for the piano, ukulele and bass – so if your buddies flake out on the band idea, you can just do it all on your own instead.
FOR ASPIRING ARTISTS
SPECIAL SKILL CHOOSE YOUR PATH Rather than pushing you through a set menu of generic tracks that you might well hate, Fender Play lets you to follow your favourite (broadly defined) style: you can choose from rock, pop, country, blues and folk.
from R170/month / web, iOS From the go-to guitar company comes a service dedicated to helping you follow in the footsteps of Hendrix and Van Halen. A series of videos presented by professional instructors will guide you through the tutorials. Unlike Yousician, Fender Play is only really for total beginners, so you’ll find little joy here if you just want to refresh your memory from your teenage rocking heyday. Sadly there’s no free service available, but you do get a 30-day trial – plenty of time to decide whether the plectrum-packing life is for you or not.
Drum Guru Forget guitars: the drumkit is by far the coolest musical instrument for rockouts. Drum Guru is a highly rated app for learning the craft, with lessons from the likes of Steve Gadd (Steely Dan) and Chad Smith (Chili Peppers). Free / iOS
FOR PRIVATE PICKERS
REAL GUITAR Free / iOS, Android Despite the name, this is the only app of the featured three where you don’t use a real guitar. Instead you play a simulation on your phone or tablet’s touchscreen. There are even difficulty settings and the option to use either an acoustic or electric version. This is a great app for beginners to learn the basics quickly, and without annoying the neighbours with an actual guitar.
Vanido If you’re an attention-seeker, you won’t want to bother with an instrument… you’ll want to be on vocals. Vanido helps you improve your singing, with exercises focusing on breathing, pitch, range and vocal consistency. Free / iOS
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TOP TENS DSLRs, COMPACT CAMERAS
Panasonic Lumix LX100
The Fujifilm X-T2 was our favourite camera for a long time. So it’s little wonder its successor, the X-H1, takes our top spot. The key new features? The 3in LCD is now touch sensitive, there’s a monochrome LCD on top of the (slightly larger) grip for instantly checking settings, and the already excellent sensor now includes 5-axis stabilisation, which should mean up to 5.5 extra stops handheld. And video fans get new film simulation modes for 4K video shooting. The best mirrorless camera just got even better.
This is one the most capable premium compacts on the market – and the LX100’s 4K capabilities give it a crucial edge over its rivals. HD video capture and superb stills performance make the Panasonic Lumix LX100 a star performer when it comes to the basics too. It doesn’t hurt at all that the LX100 is priced affordably enough that almost anyone can get it. 4K on the go is within reach of most photography wallets. Connectivity and optical image stabilisation just seal the deal.
Stuff says ★★★★★ A hardy body, outstanding ergonomics and brilliant image quality in a compact package
Stuff says ★★★★★ Having 4K in your pocket goes a long way when you’re shooting on the run
R27 000 (body only) / fujifilm.co.za
R51 300 / premiumbrands.co.za Taking all the good bits from previous A7 models (OLED viewfinder, solid build, fullframe sensor), perfecting certain things and adding a host of new features, this is a brilliant enthusiast camera that’ll handle any task. Stuff says ★★★★★ A true imaging powerhouse with a lofty price
R20 000 (with 18-55mm lens) / fujifilm.co.za The same 24.3MP APS-C sensor as the X-T2 but the addition of a touchscreen and a lower price make this one of the best mirrorless cameras you can buy. Fujifilm’s excellent lens selection helps, too. Stuff says ★★★★★ The sweet spot between price and features
Canon EOS 80D
★★★★★ R54 400 (body only) / nikon.co.za This super-cam has a tonne of features that will appeal to anyone who can afford it.
★★★★★ R18 000 / canon.co.za The 80D is so easy to use that even a toddler would get some great shots with it.
R14 000 / panasonic.com/za
Canon PowerShot G7 X Mark II
Nikon Coolpix AW130
R9 900 / canon.co.za The latest in Canon’s stable, the updated G7 X delivers incredible image quality and lowlight performance. A tilting LCD, continuous shooting at 8fps, 20.1MP 1in sensor, and NFC and Wi-Fi support make it a great buy. Stuff says ★★★★★ Ticks all the basic boxes, connectivity just seals it
★★★★★ R19 900 / fujifilm.co.za A 24.3MP APS-C X-Trans CMOS III sensor and X-Processor Pro image processor mean you can dial up the ISO to a whopping 51200, but with the built-in light-guzzling Fujinon 23mm f/2 lens, you probably won’t need to. Stuff says ★★★★★ Our compact cam of 2017, with good reason
★★★★★ R6 800 / nikon.co.za Waterproof, cold-proof and shock proof, this is the one to haul where others fear to tread.
★★★★★ R3 400 / fujifilm.co.za Waterproof, shockproof, freezeproof and dustproof, with 5x optical zoom to boot.
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CONSOLES & 5-MINUTE HACKS TOP TENS HOT BUY
PlayStation 4 Pro from R7 000 / playstation.com/za
As a gaming platform, PlayStation 4 is the best around – which makes the PS4 Pro the best of the best. Games optimised for the new console look stunning on a 4K HDR TV, and are substantially improved by the extra grunt inside this slightly bigger machine. If you’ve already splashed out for a 4K HDR screen and you enjoy video games at all, it’s well worth the upgrade. The missing 4K Blu-ray drive means it isn’t a perfect entertainment system, but streaming converts won’t care.
Stuff says ★★★★★ The system for console gamers who have a 4K TV and want the best gaming experience possible
2 3 4 5
Xbox One S
from R5 000 / xbox.com/za Microsoft dumps Kinect, the R7 000+ asking price and the fugly power brick to create a supremely enticing console that also has a 4K Blu-ray player. It remains a serious alternative to the PS4 Pro. Stuff says ★★★★★ A fine console with some big exclusive titles
from R5 300 / nintendo.co.za Nintendo is on the block with this one and we’re pleased to say that the Switch delivers, hard. The platform will still rise and fall on its library of games but as it stands now, the Switch is a bloody marvel. Stuff says ★★★★✩ Whether stationary or mobile, it’s excellent
PlayStation 3 Slim
★★★★✩ from R3 000 / playstation.com/za The PS3 is more of a value proposition than ever – plus, online play is still free.
Xbox 360 Slim
★★★★✩ from R2 500 / xbox.com/za Technically the better console, but for one thing. Having to pay to play with mates grates.
Should I upgrade?
APPLE iMAC PRO Power-obsessed geeks only ever have fleeting moments of happiness. Sure, they experience unrivalled euphoria on becoming the proud owner of the latest and greatest super-specced computer, but that soon fades once an even more powerful machine enters the market with an earth-shuddering price. Sadly for Apple fans, it’s time to look longingly through shop windows, as the world’s most powerful Mac has launched: the iMac Pro. But while the novelty of becoming the owner of the desk-bound equivalent of a Tesla Roadster just can’t be measured, that R84 000 price means you might struggle to get your money’s worth. Power crazy That’s not to say the iMac Pro doesn’t warrant this price. With a 27in 5K Retina display, an 8-core 3.2GHz Intel Xeon W processor, 32GB of RAM and 1TB storage, even the snobbiest spec-spotters will be bowing down to this behemoth. The only issue? If your computer usage is limited to web browsing, Netflix and basic Photoshop jobs, you simply won’t be using all that power. But if you’re media-savvy and regularly edit complex audio and/or video, then emptying your bank account for the Pro counts as a sensible investment.
Sexy 5K display
Very, very expensive
Really only for pros
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TOP TENS HEADPHONES
Sennheiser PXC 550
It’s tough at the top. Tough to get there, and tough to stay there. Truth be told, there’s not much in it between these and the Bose QC 35s below… except cool factor. But that counts. As does two levels of active noise cancellation, touch controls, quality accessories and around 30 hours of life to a charge. Frequent flyers, these are your cans. You don’t have to be an airline afficionado to want to pop these over your ears but they certainly lend themselves to lengthy times in transit.
You might be wondering just how a sub-R1000 pair of headphones wound up at the top this list. It’s almost because of the novelty factor contained herein. Sure, it’s possible to spend an absolute fortune on headphones if you want no wires or active noise cancellation or other bells and whistles. But if you just want beautifully balanced sound and something you can sling in a pocket the E10Cs are tough to beat. And if you wear them out? Well, at this price you can just buy another pair.
Stuff says ★★★★★ Good looks, superb build, top-notch comfort and stonking audio to boot. The PXC 550s set the bar.
Stuff says ★★★★★ If there’s better value to be had in the in-ear market we’ve yet to see (or hear) it. Buy now, thank us later.
R8 500 / fitcorp.co.za
Bose QuietComfort 35
R8 000 / dionwired.co.za Active noise cancelling. Planes? No problem. People? Perish the thought. Just your tunes. Which takes care of the quiet part (however quiet Death Metal Mix No 47 manages to be). Comfort? That too. Stuff says ★★★★★ So effective, you won’t know you’ve landed
R4 000 / connoisseur.co.za Active NC for half the price of the competition, 30-hours of battery and a mere 150g? Yip. We’ve long been AKG fanatics and the N60NC does nothing to diminish the regard that we have for their cans. Stuff says ★★★★★ Powered up so long you’ll forget to charge them
★★★★★ R2 500 / audicoonline.co.za Proof that good wireless sound needn’t bankrupt you. 20 Hours of life and rock-solid.
★★★★★ R1 600 / musica.co.za You get 40mm drivers, a built-in mic, 16 hours of battery life and fold-flat flexibility.
R650 / sound-magic.co.za
Jabra Elite Sport
R3 500 / circuitcity.co.za For serious in-ear fitness tech, you have to get Jabra’s Elite Sport wireless buds. In-ear heart monitoring, 9 hours of battery life, and a gnarly (and detailed) fitness-focussed app are the highlights here. Stuff says ★★★★★ The smartest fitness partner you’ll ever have
Skullcandy Smoking Buds 2 Wireless
CliffCentral UnWired Headphones
R2 600 / myistore.co.za Yes, you’ll look silly, but their range is astounding, as is call quality and ease of use. Worth looking like you’ve rammed a white pipe in one ear and out the other before bending down the protruding bits. Stuff says ★★★★★ We hope the others are taking notes
★★★★✩ R900 / luksbrands.com Punchy sound without breaking the bank and a removeable neckband make these shine.
★★★★✩ R550 / takealot.com For the podcast- and budget-conscious, these cheap in-ears are surprisingly solid.
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WIRELESS SPEAKERS TOP TENS
HOT BARGAIN BUY BUY
UE Wonderboom R1 500 / takealot.com
It might resemble a can of baked beans wearing a colourful jersey with a cross on the front, but don’t let that put you off: the UE Wonderboom is the best compact Bluetooth speaker you can buy. It’s waterproof, the rechargeable battery beneath its mesh exterior is good for eight plus hours, and the sound it produces is staggering given how compact it is. If that wasn’t enough – and it ought to be – it’s also one of the most affordable portable speakers out there. Boom.
Stuff says ★★★★★ The Wonderboom shouldn’t be as good as it is for the price, but it is ● NOW ADD THIS Joox Want to get the proverbial party started? But where to start? Joox’s numerous curated playlists can help. from R29/week / joox.co.za
4 5 6
7 DreamWave Tremor
UE Boom 2
With 50W of thumping audio output, a humongous 20800mAh rechargeable battery that provides up to 18 hours at medium volume (or eight at full tilt), and the most rugged body we’ve ever seen in a speaker, the Tremor is a real beast of a portable noise maker.
Years making in-ear monitors for musos means UItimate Ears knows its bass from its mids. Water-, dust- and drop-proofing along with 360º sound, 15-hour battery life and a slick app so friends can play DJ makes the Boom 2 our pick of the mid-sized pack.
Stuff says ★★★★★ It’ll last all day: come rain, snow, sand or being rolled down a hill
Stuff says ★★★★★ If you were going to take one of these surfing, this is the one
R6 000 / takealot.com
R1 700 / ultimateears.com
8 9 10
★★★★★ R3 700 / dionwired.co.za A killer speaker that’s also become a far more affordable one in recent months.
JBL Pulse 3
★★★★★ R4 000 / bose.com Pretty pricey, but potent for its size, and the LED light show is utterly mesmerising.
★★★★★ R800 / installpro.co.za A massive price drop makes the 705 such a bargain it’s worth getting two to pair up.
JBL Flip 4
★★★★★ R2 000 / myistore.co.za Like a Pulse without the lights, the new Flip adds Siri and Google Voice to its skillset.
JBL Clip 2
★★★★★ R900 / incredible.co.za A pocket-sized party package that delivers pounding performance while being pound-proof.
Skullcandy Barricade XL
★★★★★ R1 900 / luksbrands.co.za An unusually understated offering from Skullcandy, both in looks and bass treatment.
★★★★★ R5 700 / musica.co.za It’s not a stadium stack but it wouldn’t look out of place on a tiny stage with large sound.
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TOP TENS HOW TO BUY
HOW TO BUY A PRINTER
Ink-spitters rank alongside dishwashers and geysers as one of the most infuriating household gadgets… but it doesn’t have to be that way
If your camera and printer are both PictBridge-compatible, you can connect them directly for easy printing.
JARGON BUSTER DPI
PPM / IPM
‘Dots per inch’ is the key figure for print quality. You’ll want a high DPI if you’re after sharp, detailed photos.
‘Pages per minute’ is the printing speed for text and images. ‘Images per minute’ is the equivalent for photos.
THE INK-REDIBLES 1
Fancy physical copies of your best snaps? Then an inkjet printer is for you. They produce images with superior quality compared to laser types… plus, while the ink cartridges don’t last as long, they are cheaper – handy if you only need to print sporadically. Laser printers like the Brother HL1210W are speedier and more cost-effective for frequent use. ● Get this: Brother HL1210W
NOW BUY THESE
THE FINE PRINT 2 Multitasker
Most printers these days are all-in-one, which means they’re capable of printing, scanning and copying. Still, don’t just assume the printer you’re looking at will have all of these features – always search for that ‘all-in-one’ tag. Not every all-in-one printer will be able to fax… but aside from dinosaurs and conspiracy theorists, who needs that? ● Get this: HP Deskjet 3785
3 Easy access
Printers can be frickin’ frustrating when it comes to connecting your devices. Fortunately, there are now several easy ways to do it. If your printer is Google Cloud Print-enabled, you can print wirelessly with your Android or Windows device; AirPrint does the same but with Apple gadgets. And then there’s Wi-Fi Direct, which does it via your network. ● Get this: Epson EcoTankL4150
● A 3D PRINTER
4 Photo ready
If you’re getting a printer for your snaps, you may be tempted to buy a dedicated photo model. However, most standard printers will do the same job but with added features for a similar price, so you might do better to go for an all-in-one. Look out for one with a high DPI for great images and PictBridge compatibility for plug-in printing. ● Get this: Canon Pixma Pro-100S
If you want to print out actual grabbable objects (and don’t fancy relying on your origami skills), you’ll need a 3D printer. The M3d Micro Plus is a decent option, and a bit of a bargain at R8 700.
5 Pocket Sprocket
The HP Sprocket is a good option if you just want to print photos from your phone. It’s pricey and lacks features found in all-in-ones, but it makes up for that with portability. ● Get this: HP Sprocket
It’s impossible to make paper sound exciting, but if you’ve invested in a fancy printer you don’t want to skimp here. Waltons does copy, photo and multi-purpose paper at reasonable prices.
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TIPS & In every world TRICKS there’s a hidden
Captain Toad. Find him and he’ll reward you with a moon.
Hold Y to throw your hat and then, if you hop onto it, you’ll get an extra boost for your jump.
GAMES TOP TENS
Super Mario Odyssey R850 / Switch
Jam-packed with inventiveness, this is a crazily enjoyable video game – one that’s big and silly and totally essential if you’ve got a Switch. Not only does it show off what Nintendo’s portable console is capable of, but it also reminds you why Mario has endured for so long now. Its variety elevates Odyssey above any other recent platformer – and roaming free around vast new kingdoms, possessing all sorts of critters with your magic hat, just feels great.
Stuff says ★★★★★ Eccentric, unpredictable and riotously entertaining, Mario’s return is a blast ● OR PLAY THIS A Hat in Time Don’t own a Nintendo Switch? You can still quench your 3D platformer thirst with this adorable indie title. R320 / PS4, Xbox One, PC
Monster Hunter: World
Forza Motorsport 7
From a flame-spitting dinosaur to a poison-puking bird, there are plenty of critters to kill in this RPG. But it’s the addictive weaponupgrade tree and online co-op multiplayer that will dig their claws into you. That and nailing the perfect pose for your screencap.
This hyper-realistic racer looks absolutely jaw-dropping, especially when played on the Xbox One X, but it’s not just its graphical power that’s in top gear – this is gaming nirvana for proper petrolheads, while the driving assists will aid beginners.
Stuff says ★★★★★ Beast-slayin’, gear-makin’ fun for newbies and pros alike
Stuff says ★★★★★ A ‘greatest hits’ from Forza’s past, with excellent yet accessible driving
R975 / PS4, Xbox One
R1 000 / Xbox One, PC
Dragon Ball FighterZ
Horizon Zero Dawn
Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle
Assassin’s Creed Origins
Far Cry 5
★★★★★ R975 / PS4, Xbox One, PC Gorgeous to look at, and one of the greatest fighters we’ve ever played.
★★★★★ R1 000 / PS4 Fighting robot dinosaurs with a bow and arrow in a dystopian future – need we say more?
★★★★★ from R750 / PS4, Xbox One, PC This sci-fi shooter reinvigorates Bungie’s space loot epic in almost every way.
★★★★★ R900 / Switch The most bonkers Mario mashup yet has some surprising tactical depth.
★★★★✩ from R1 000 / PS4, Xbox One, PC The best Assassin’s Creed in yonks, but it’s not quite the pharaoh of open-world games.
★★★★✩ R975 / PS4, Xbox One, PC A few minor gripes aside, this is a brilliant evolution of the open-world FPS series.
★★★★✩ R800 / PS4, Xbox One, Switch, PC Purists might prefer PES, but for full-throttle fun, FIFA 18 is our football game of choice.
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NEXT BIG THING?
mind-reading cars lease say this is called the Honda Acorah. Top-drawer punning, but sadly the answer’s no – and for two good reasons. Firstly, it’s not made by Honda. And secondly, this mind-reading motor isn’t just for gullible pensioners. No, this is the all-electric Nissan IMx Kuro concept car. It’s one of those crossover SUVs, which means it’s both bigger and smaller than it looks at the same time; but as your mother always used to tell you when you were younger, it’s what’s inside that really counts.
Who’s inside? Derren Brown? It’s what, not who. Start thinking more along the lines of HAL: the IMx Kuro has Nissan’s brain-to-vehicle (B2V) tech on board. This uses a headset to read the brainwaves of the driver and, if necessary, start to apply the brakes or turn the wheel before your feeble human body can react to do so. The effect will be barely perceptible – it certainly won’t feel as if some sort of autopilot has taken over – but it could save vital milliseconds, enough to make all the difference in avoiding a collision at high speed. Talk about clairvoyant.
Never heard of her. Very droll, but the wizardry doesn’t stop there. The IMx Kuro’s AI also allows the driver to tinker with controls on its minimalist OLED dashboard using eye movements and hand gestures alone – and if you’d rather let the car do all the thinking, it has a fully autonomous ProPilot mode. The batteries offer a maximum range of over 600km – and if you park up and plug it in for a long time it can return unused power to the local grid, before making sure it’s juiced up and ready to drive you home when you return. Ever seen Derek Acorah do that?
DON’T MISS THE NEXT ISSUE! ON SALE 9 JULY
The Camera. Reimagined. Introducing the new Samsung Galaxy S9 and S9+. Now with radical 960FPS Super Slow-mo so you can capture the moment within the moment. Innovative features include a stunning super low light camera thatâ€™s brilliant in the dark and an AR Emoji, animated to look just like you.