The recent confirmation that Google is charging ahead with its Ara modular smartphone concept1 may have triggered public interest in the idea of a smartphone you can take part and put back together again, but it’s important to remember that LG has already got on phone on sale that does this, albeit to a slightly less drastic degree. The LG G52 is easily one of the most interesting handsets we’ve reviewed in a while, offering some genuinely different to its competitors. Its modular design involves removing the bottom of the device and attaching new components which bestow the phone with new functionality, and while this doesn’t go as far as Google’s Ara concept, it’s a neat element to set the G5 apart from the crowd. Only two modules are available at present, and we’ve spent the past few weeks messing about with both.
LG G5 Cam Plus And Hi-Fi Plus Review: Cam Plus
The more affordable of the two modules currently available, the 80 Cam Plus3 is – as you might expect – focused on photography. It adds a bump to the back of the phone which makes it easier to hold with one hand, but thankfully that’s not all; it also comes with a range of physical buttons and a 1200mAh battery to give the G5 even more stamina. A quick-launch switch can be found on the bottom edge of the Cam Plus and this instantly boots the phone into camera mode when the screen is asleep. On the side there are two physical keys, one of which acts as a two-stage shutter for photos, allowing you to refocus the camera without having to tap the screen. The second controls video recording. Finally, there’s a scroll wheel which is in charge of zoom, and this automatically switches between the 8 megapixel wide-angle camera (for a zoomed-out shot) and the 16 megapixel standard lens, which is a neat touch.
However, it’s still a digital zoom so don’t expect too much – the wheel also lacks any feedback when turned, which feels a bit odd.
These physical controls do make taking photos easier; pressing a button is always going to be preferable to stabbing at a touchscreen, but the module doesn’t actually do anything to enhance the images or video you’re capturing. To do that you’d need to replace the phone’s camera, and that’s obviously not possible with LG’s design. Having another 1200mAh of battery power is possibly the biggest benefit of the Cam Plus; while the G5 never has any issues lasting an entire day, that additional helping of juice means you can use the phone quite aggressively and still have power in the tank by the time the evening rolls around.
LG G5 Cam Plus And Hi-Fi Plus Review: Hi-Fi Plus
At twice the price of the Cam Plus module, the Hi-Fi Plus unit is naturally a harder sell. Made in conjunction with Bang & Olufsen, the unit is far less bulky than the Cam Plus unit and only adds a few millimeters to the bottom of the phone. Inside is a 32-bit digital audio converter and headphone amp which – when used with high quality audio sources and a decent set of cans – produces truly amazing sound quality.
The G5’s 24-bit DAC is already a step ahead of the 16-bit DAC seen in the Samsung Galaxy S7, but with the Hi-Fi Plus module installed the results are incredible. This is the best audio you’ll ever get from a smartphone, but you obviously need to ensure the tracks you’re playing are encoded at a high enough standard or you won’t feel the benefit. The Hi-Fi Plus unit can also be used with other devices as a stand-alone DAC and amp, so if you’re keen on your “high res” audio then it’s a worthy purchase – however, I can’t help but feel that for most casual music lovers, the ideal of spending 1504 on such a unit is going to be hard to stomach.
LG G5 Cam Plus And Hi-Fi Plus Review: The Future
While the Cam Plus and Hi-Fi Plus modules are interesting to use and show that LG is at least thinking outside of the box, neither could truly be deemed essential, and neither really gives a compelling argument for the whole modular phone concept. Worryingly, LG is yet to confirm if any other modules will be released in the future, which could suggest that its modular dream begins and ends with these two units. That would be a real shame, because while the G5 doesn’t go as far as Google’s Ara, there’s definately untapped potential here. Just imagine bolting on a proper physical gaming interface on the G5 for arcade titles or emulation, or a cheap-and-cheerful module which simply expands the battery capacity of the unit without adding too much bulk to the phone itself. It could even be possible to add another camera to the device by including it in a module, or packing a larger, more powerful speaker so the handset can be used as a fully-fledged portable music system.
While these ideas might sound unexciting of half-baked, if LG – or a third party manufacturer – could produce them at a low cost, they’d become the kind of accessories you would happily invest in, picking a different module to suit the needs of your day. Going on a long trip? Better pack the physical gaming module with its built-in battery. Visiting a friends for a barbeque? Attach your speaker module for some open-air tuneage. LG needs to harness this level of focused customization with cheap add-ons rather than 150 high res sound units. Changing modules on the G5 is practically effortless, so why not encourage people to swap them out on a daily basis to make sure they have the functions they need?
It remains to be seen if LG will stick with its modular approach when the inevitable G6 comes around, but I for one hope that it isn’t a flash in the pan and the Korean company sticks with the idea.
There’s a lot of potential here, and hopefully devices like the G5 and Google’s ARA will prove the worth of a modular phone.
The SD-ZB2512 is Panasonic s top-of-the-range bread maker, and it certainly looks fancier than the rest of the range. I particularly like the contrast between the shiny metal body and gloss black lid and control panel. Its tall, skinny proportions mean it has a smaller footprint than many bread makers I ve seen, so you re more likely to find space for it on your kitchen counter. Like the cheaper SD-2511, review coming soon, the ZB2512 has a built-in fruit and nut dispenser, which will add your extra ingredients automatically at the right moment in the baking cycle. Unlike its cheaper sibling, the ZB2512 also has an automatic yeast dispenser. This will add the yeast at just the right moment, so you don t have to worry about it interacting with the other ingredients in the bread pan and activating too early. It also has an ambient temperature sensor, so will adjust its baking program according to the amount of heat in the kitchen. The bread maker comes with two measuring spoons and a couple of measuring cups, both of which have lids so can be used to store starter dough for sourdough bread. The manual is similar to the SD-2511 s, but the more expensive bread maker s instructions are at least in colour. The manual is clear and easy to follow, and the ingredients lists for standard bread recipes such as white and wholemeal are nice and simple. You shouldn t have any problems buying bread flour, salt, sugar, butter and bread machine yeast in your supermarket.
The bread maker s control panel is simple and easy to use. There s no fiddling required to fit the bread pan, and it locks into place with a slight twist. After that, just press the menu button until you get to the recipe you want, choose a small, medium or large loaf, select how dark you like your crust and press Start. You can also set the delay timer for your loaf, so it will be ready to take out up to 13 hours in the future.
The only fiddly part is adding the yeast; unlike the fruit and nut dispenser, which is removable to make it easy to measure out your ingredients, the yeast dispenser is fixed in place, and my natural cackhandedness meant some granules always missed the hole.
I was slightly sceptical about the yeast dispenser, but it did make a difference to the bread the machine produced. Just like the cheaper Panasonic SD-2511, the ZB2512 produced consistently evenly risen and well-baked loaves, but the white loaf in particular was a revelation. It was excellent bread, lovely and light and fluffy, with no hint of chewiness. The wholemeal has a consistent texture, too, which made it easier to cut cleanly than most. The raisin bread had an even distribution of fruit and was delicious.
It may be expensive, but I m a big fan of the Panasonic SD-ZB2512. It s the only bread maker I ve seen with an automatic yeast dispenser, and this helped the machine produce consistently excellent loaves of bread. It s a superb bread maker and a Best Buy. Buy the Panasonic SD-ZB2512 now from John Lewis1
Features Timer type Delay Fruit and nut dispenser Yes (+ yeast dispenser) Number of programs 33 Time to make standard medium white loaf 4h Time to make standard medium wholemeal loaf 5h Custom bake memory None Accessories included Wheat kneading blade, rye kneading blade, 2x measuring/sourdough cups, measuring spoon, sourdough starter spoon Dimensions (HxWxD) 382x389x256mm Weight 7.6kg Power usage Standby 0.5W Making white loaf peak 568W Energy used for white loaf 0.41kWh Buying information Warranty One year RTB Details www.panasonic.co.uk2 Part Code SD-ZB2512KXC
Wading through Panasonic’s range of Viera TVs can be just as confusing as Samsung’s1. They’ve all got longwinded names with lots of digits and characters that can easily leave you in a bit of a daze. There is some method to the madness, however. So like learning a foreign language, it all begins to make sense after a while. Fortunately, we’ve had plenty of Panasonic TVs pass through the Expert Reviews office, so we know our TX-58DX902B from our TX-50CS620B. In this article, we’ll bestow that wealth of experience on you. It means the next time you’re browsing the deals online or staring at a wall of screens in an electronics store, it’ll all make perfect sense.
Breaking down a typical Panasonic TV model number
We’ll use the Panasonic Viera TX-58DX902B for our example. All of Panasonic’s Viera TVs have a model number beginning with ‘TX‘. This is the region code Panasonic uses for the UK, so if you see a model with this it means it’s a UK model rather than a grey import that really shouldn’t be on sale in the UK. This could be important when shopping online in particular. If you buy a non-UK model you might find it doesn’t come with a UK 3-pin plug or the warranty might not be honoured if the TV ever develops a fault. Related: What size TV should I buy?2
Next up, is the screen size. The two digit screen size is usually found after the hyphen, in this case, 58in, but that’s not always the case. Some retailers, like Richer Sounds, drop the hyphen when listing the model number but that’s easy to work around. Next, you have the series range, in this case, DX. It’s here where things can potentially get a little confusing.
With just one exception, see below, Panasonic’s 2016 models are LED-lit LCD TVs – the display technology used in the vast majority of modern TVs. The image is created by an LCD panel and is lit by a series of LEDs either behind or to the side of the LCD panel. Panasonic’s range is now dominated by Ultra HD (UHD) or 4K models, which have four times the screen resolution of standard Full HD TVs. The DX range contains the premium, high-end UHD models. Then there are the CX and CR models, which are the entry-level UHD-capable TVs. The difference here is that CR denotes curved-screen models.
For Panasonic’s Full HD models, these are broken down into the premium DS range followed by the mainstream CS range. The differences between these can be subtle, though. DS screens have faster 400Hz refresh rates for smoother action, but both feature backlight dimming, for improved contrast, and both have the Freetime EPG interface. The physical designs do vary considerably, though, with the DS models looking smarter. You may also see C range TVs, which sat right at the bottom of last year’s range but there are no 2016 models in this series. Sitting on its own is the CZ range, which currently only consists of one model, the TX-65CZ952B, Panasonic’s first OLED TV and also its most expensive.
Next up, you have the model identifier. In the case of our example, the 902B. This is how Panasonic differentiates different models within a range. Essentially here, the higher the number the more premium the TV but Panasonic also uses model identifiers to differentiate cosmetic differences between TVs, such as stands and colours.
In the case of the 902B versus the 802B, the former is Ultra HD Premium, uses the superior Studio Master HCX+ processing chip and uses superior local dimming. Little wonder then it costs 1,000 more. If you’re looking for Ultra HD content to watch, have a read of Ultra HD and 4K: The definitive guide & what you can watch.4
Some popular Panasonic TVs from Amazon:
The iPhone 7 Plus Will Implement LG G5 Imaging Technology, According To Analysts
Apple will apparently use LG for the dual-camera technology inside its upcoming iPhone 7 Plus models. I can t say I blame them either; the LG G5 s camera is bloody superb1 and was easily one of my favourite features of the phone when I tested it a couple of months back. But why the switch to LG at the 11th hour? Apple had commissioned Sony to build the camera units for its upcoming iPhone 7 range. However, Sony is now said to be struggling with the demands placed on it and this has resulted in Apple seeking an additional source (LG) for camera units as well, which means, if true, that BOTH Sony and LG will be making units for Apple s iPhone 7.
We think Sony may not be able to deliver its full share of dual cameras to Apple due to: (1) lower-than-expected yield, and (2) damage to its production facility from the April earthquake in Kumamoto. As a result, we think LGI will gain majority share of the initial dual camera orders from Apple; hence, we upgrade to Buy.
This is great news for LG and even better news for iPhone fans because the LG G5 s dual-camera unit was utterly superb, offering a depth of field previously impossible on phones. Apple will not use the same unit though; it will be tinkered with and updated and brought in-line with the iPhone s internal spec. This should not be cause for concern, though, because Apple has a solid track record with its cameras, which have just got better and better with each new iteration. Additional reports have also confirmed that Apple will bring OIS to the standard iPhone 7 models as well.
Previously this technology was reserved for the more expensive — and better — Plus models. This year, however, the differentiating factor will be the dual-cameras on the iPhone 7 Plus models. And that by itself is quite a USP, indeed!
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Bengaluru: In a bid to improve its seller ecosystem, the country’s largest online retailer Flipkart has rejigged top-level roles in its core marketplace business. Samardeep Subandh, who joined the Bengaluru-based e-tailer as its marketing head in December last year, has taken over as head of categories.
Subandh, who boasts of over a decade of experience in marketing and sales with FMCG giants such as HUL and Marico, will be reporting to Flipkart’s CEO Binny Bansal. He is expected to help drive up sales for multiple categories, especially mobiles and appliances – a major growth area for the e-tailer which is now being challenged by rival Amazon. Amit Bansal, head of large appliances; Rishi Vasudev, head of fashion retail; and Adarsh Menon, who leads electronics and automobiles, will now report to Subandh as part of the latest internal restructuring. Besides, former MobileStore COO Ajay Veer Yadav has joined Flipkart as VP of mobiles category in order to counter aggressive moves from Amazon India. Recently, Motorola’s Moto G series, which is one of the most popular handsets in the country, joined hands with Amazon for an exclusive sales deal, after having been on the Flipkart platform till recently. A Flipkart spokesperson confirmed the senior-level reshuffle and appointment of Yadav to TOI.
Yadav’s mandate would be to boost mobile sales with the help of his multi-category and cross-functional knowledge in retail and marketing. Flipkart is believed to have closed December 2015 with an annualized GMV of ?4.5-5 billion with sales slowing down in key categories, especially in mobiles which were the mainstay for the online retailer. GMV is the overall sales done on an e-commerce platform without factoring in discounts and returns via sellers. Flipkart doesn’t officially comment on its GMV.
Anil Goteti, a company veteran who was heading the mobiles category at the e-tailer, will now head the marketplace platform to focus on improving seller experience, enhancing sellers’ reach and strengthening the overall merchant ecosystem. Another area where Amazon has been making speedy progress with a 250% jump in sellers’ base in 2015 over the previous year. Flipkart has about 85,000 sellers on its platform now. Goteti is replacing Manish Maheshwari, who left the online commerce major to join Web 18 as CEO in April this year.
Goteti has played several roles in Flipkart, steering categories like books, home, furniture and business analytics for the during his tenure. As the head of marketplace, he will report to Binny.
The latest set of developments come after a few months of a major management reshuffle at Flipkart which saw Sachin Bansal moving to the role of chairman, making way for Binny to take over as CEO. The top-level changes have come in the backdrop of Amazon gaining market share from domestic rivals like Snapdeal and Flipkart. Mukesh Bansal, Myntra’s co-founder and former commerce platform head at Flipkart, left the Bengaluru-based company after the reshuffle along with Ankit Nagori, who was chief business officer at Flipkart. Recently, Flipkart’s chief product officer Punit Soni also resigned after having been given no clear role in the company post the restructuring.