BenQ HT 2550 (W1700) & TK800
Type 4K UHD HDR XPR Projectors
A year or so ago, 4K projectors would have cost you a kidney, an arm, and a leg, but with the advent of Texas Instrument’s XPR based DLP chip, they are finally in affordable territory (where affordable is defined as just a single kidney). An influx of ‘budget’ 4K projectors have hit the market and almost all are priced within the 1300-1700 USD range.
Today we will be reviewing the BenQ HT2550 (known as the W1700 in EU) and the BenQ TK800 4K HDR projectors which are priced at $1499 each – both of which were provided to us by the manufacturer for review purposes.
Most of the 4K HDR budget projectors out there will be using the Texas Instrument XPR chip. Some, however, lack certain features (for eg Optoma’s offering has no 3D support). These projectors do not have “native” 4k – but they absolutely are 4K certified projectors. There are two kinds of non-native 4K projectors on the market – enhanced ones, which simply accept a 4K source but output only a 1080p image and XPR ones, which output a “true” 4K image.
The way they accomplish this is by pixel switching (XPR). The chip itself has 1080p pixels but after projecting the first batch of 1080p pixels it shifts 1 pixel to the right and projects another set of pixels and so on. Your brain blends the image together and what you see is an utterly gorgeous true 4K image. A native 4K projector might have a slight edge over these but I have seen both up close and my eyes could discern no visible difference between an XPR-ed 4K image and a native 4k image at viewing distance while the difference between a 1080p PJ and an XPR 4k one is night-and-day.
1. BenQ HT 2550 Vs BenQ TK800: Choosing the right 4K Projector
BenQ chose a very product strategy this time around. They had a single chip that fit in this price segment could either optimize it for brightness (or lumens) and color accuracy. Only, they didn’t. They decided to release two variants that feature the same DLP chip with different color wheel configurations – one optimized for brightness and the other for color accuracy. For some reason, the nomenclature is very different on both and could be misleading to the average joe – which is where this review comes in.
Basically, the TK800 is the projector that you get if you are not interested in having a dedicated home theater and just want it for playing games or casual lounge-use. If you are intending to build a light-controlled dark room than the HT2550 with its superior colors is definitely the way to go.
Another great thing about BenQ’s budget 4K projectors is that they support 3D. Many other manufacturers that are using the same chip do not support 3D. The DLP-link based 3D support only runs in 1080p resolution mode however but this is a pretty big differentiation factor over its rivals. The remote included with both projectors is identical and features a red backlighting for use in dark situations. Through this review, we will help you figure out which projector is the right one for you.
2. BenQ HT2550 (W1700) 4K UHD HDR Projector
The BenQ HT2550 features an RGBRGB color wheel with 2200 manufacturer-rated lumen spec. This means that it is around the ideal brightness for cinematic color quality on a 130-150 inch screen. The BenQ HT2550 is the direct successor to the HT2050 and the difference between picture quality is night and day between the two. Unfortunately, however, the HT 2550 only has a 1.2 zoom factor (compared to the HT2050’s 1.5x) which means you are going to need a lot more to project the same picture size.
The RGBRGB color wheel configuration allows it to project very accurate color and once calibrated – it is indeed a thing to behold. ISF modes are included that you can use to get almost reference color out of the box. All that said, for the perfect black levels to actually appear, you need a pitch black room. Black curtains and perfect ambient light control is absolutely critical. We conducted all our tests at 0 lux ambient light and the results were spectacular.
The 4K image projector was incredibly detailed and the color accuracy was spot on. 4k material flew to the screen with almost picture perfect accuracy. XPR might be a cheap way to get 4k but it is 100% a 4k picture. If it wasn’t the occasional horizontal flicker that I could catch standing 1 foot away from the screen, it would have been almost impossible to tell that this was not native 4k.
So let’s start with the BenQ HT2550 and why you would want to buy it:
- The HT2550 is the “Home Theater” variant and feature superior color accuracy through the use of the RGBRGB color wheel and 2200 manufacturer-rated lumen count.
- This is a projector that would require perfect light control and blackout curtains on every window to truly shine.
- If you are someone that prefers absolutely flowing and natural cinematic colors over oversaturated colors and high contrast. This variant is closer to the Rec. 702 spec than the TK800.
- You don’t have any ambient light issues while watching and have a perfect pitch black environment.
3. BenQ TK800 4K UHD HDR Projector
The BenQ TK800, on the other hand, is a projector that features an RGBW color wheel. The last RGB configuration has been swapped with a “W” configuration that improves highlights in color and general overall luminance. More white light, however, means fewer color lumens. What this essentially means is that you would get a very bright picture – but at a cost of color accuracy.
Now here’s the deal, however, at a massive 3000-lumen count, and an ALR screen that has a slightly negative gain, you are going to get some pretty decent picture quality even with low levels of ambient light. The maximum we suggest ambient light to be at, is 43.8 lux, unless you are watching something that does not require deep black levels (like sports). Which is around the light of a dim-moderately lit room (42 candles to be precise).
Here are the reasons why someone would go for the TK800:
- The TK800 is the “Gaming/Sports” variant and features inferior color accuracy but radically increased brightness through the use of an RGBW color wheel and 3000 manufacturer-rated lumen count.
- This is a projector that can handle a bit of light leakage and would not require blackout curtains.
- If you prefer contrast over color accuracy than this is for you. A good output device for watching sports or playing games.
- Don’t care about ambient light issues like lower black levels.
4. 4K Image Quality, Screendoor and HDR Testing
Now we pit the TK800 against the HT2550 and the difference in color is pretty obvious. Both projectors were tested on the Vivid TV settings and not the Cinema mode. The reason for that is because the TK800 loses most of its white lumens in that particular mode. It is immediately obvious that the HT2550 prefers smooth, flowing color accuracy while the TK800 prefers sharp highlights, a very bright image, and huge contrast.
If you take a look at the sample images above, you will notice how the chameleon on the right has white spots on its stripes. There were no white stripes in actuality, its just the TK800 incapable of projecting that light a shade of blue – while the HT2550 can. The same goes for the red skin under the mouth. While the red on the right is more saturated, the true color is the orange tone on the left. It is also clear that the TK800 has a higher contrast due to its high-intensity whites.
That said, the color quality of the TK800 was surprisingly good considering it’s using only an RGBW color wheel. I have no qualms in saying that unless you are an enthusiast, you won’t even notice the color differences and will be blown away by the bright picture that it projects.
Screendoor effect is virtually nonexistent in both projectors. I compared it to an HT2050 that I had on hand and while you can see the screendoor of the 2050 from viewing distance (14 feet), it is impossible to see any pixelations unless you are as close as 1-2 feet from the screen in the case of the TK800 and 2550. Both projectors passed with flying colors.
HDR testing on the other hand, however, was a bit of a mixed bag. In some cases, HDR10 source material looked good, but in other, the dynamic range actually dropped. The BenQ HT2550 blows away other competitors in this range in standard mode but might have a bit of a tougher time in HDR10. This, however, is not something I am even slightly worried about. HDR10 requires coverage of the entire Rec. 2020 color gamut and no projector or tv under $10,000 is going to give you that image right now. Oh, and whatever you do, stay away from the simulated HDR mode.
5. Brightness levels and Projection
Compared to the rated-brightness spec of 3000 lumens, we read 2600 white lumens (peak) on the TK800 while we read 1912 white lumens on the HT2550. Color lumens were about the same in both with the 2550 taking an edge due to its superior color wheel configuration of RGBRGB. Screen brightness (at 14 feet) was higher for the TK800 at 325 lumens compared to the 2550 at 255.
6. Closeup and packaging
Finally, I have also added some packaging and closeup shots of the dials, buttons and DLP lamps (that sync 3D). The box packaging of the 2550 is much more elegant and classy, while the TK800 features a more blunt and bold approach. The projectors do not feature lens shift, but do feature keystone.
Both the BenQ HT2550 and TK800 offer breath-taking image quality (with the former in the lead in terms of color accuracy and the latter in terms of brightness) at a fraction of the cost of a 4k projector of olde. The dynamic range is spectacular (although HDR mode is lacking, this isn’t something we expect out of a $1500 projector anyways) and the details vividly clear.
With the great lamp life – which is probably the longest of any DLP lamp I have seen by the way – this is a no-brainer for anyone looking to get a big screen. The 1.2x zoom factor is the only complaint I could make to the manufacturer but I guess you can’t have everything all at once. You can pick up the BenQ HT2550 or the TK800 for $1499.
Exceptionally high-value 4K XPR projectors from BenQ that mark the first generation of (relatively) affordable UHD HDR projectors.
Design & Aesthetics9.0
- Very high value (olde 4k projectors started at $3999)
- 3D supported (this is a big deal)
- Crisp and beautifully detailed 4K UHD image
- Two variants: color accuracy vs brightness
- Great lamp life (for a DLP)
- HDR10 image is less than ideal
- Zoom factor is only 1.2
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Acer has had some pretty big announcements today at IFA, from 2 new monitors featuring both G-Sync and Freesync which are VESA DisplayHDR 400 certified, as well as a mixed reality headset with 100 degree FOV at 2880 x 1440.
Acer Launches New Products At IFA
Acer Predator XB273K
Acer has announced two new monitors today, lets start with the G-Sync equipped variant. The Predator XB273K is a 4k (3840×2160) monitor paired with a 144Hz refresh rate for gamers who seek an almost no compromise gaming experience in ultra HD with a high refresh rate as well as VESA Display HDR400 while displaying a color gamut of 90% of the DCI-P3 color space for vibrant colors and high contrast, not as high as HDR1000 like some of the more premium monitors and barely at the minimum to be considered HDR compliant, but quite a bit of money is saved by forgoing that option compared to the $1999 option we covered a few months ago available now. Acer also packs its shielded hood on the monitor to lessen distractions but looks like of weird to be quite honest.
Finally Acer also packs its VisionCare software which is a suite of technologies that protect your eyes during marathon gaming sessions and its Acer ErgoStand which allows you to swivel, pivot and adjust height for maximum viewing comfort.
Acer Nitro XV273K 4K FreeSync Display
Acer has also announced its Nitro XV273K monitor which is quite similar to the XB273K featuring the same IPS UHD display with FreeSync for those using AMD graphics cards. Acer had this to say about it.
Boasting AMD Radeon FreeSync, the new Nitro monitors’ frames sync with the PC’s graphics cards to support dynamic refresh rates, eliminating screen tearing and minimizing lag. Integrated Visual-Response Boost™ (VRB) decreases blur in fast-moving images to achieve the effect of a 1ms MPRT (Moving Picture Response Time). With up to 144Hz refresh rates, the new Nitro XV273K monitor also includes High Dynamic Range (HDR) VESA DisplayHDR™ 400 certification for better contrast and color accuracy and more vibrant colors. Integrated 6-axis color adjustment lets gamers fine-tune color, hue and saturation to best suit the game at hand, while the built-in black boost enables gamers to select from 11 black level options to optimize visual advantage and clearly spot enemies, duck for cover, or navigate curves on a race track.
The monitor comes in three variants, the Nitro XV273K P Which packs a UHD Panel at 144Hz and DCI-P3 90% WCG, the Nitro XV272U P which is a WQHD IPS panel (1440P) at 144Hz wth a DCI-P395% WCG and finally the Nitro XF272U P a WQHD TN panel at 144Hz with a DCI-P3 90% WCG.
It also features Acer VisionCare and a VESA mount.
Finally they have shown off their OJO 500 Windows Mixed Reality Headset with 100 degree FOV 90 Hz refresh rate and a resolution of 2880 x 1440, with dual 2.89 2880×1440 panels with intigrated audio that uses Acers “Patented sound pipe” that will move sound from the headset speakers to the users years and packs a built in mic array.
Upgrades to the body of the headset mean that the lens casing and strap (in a hard or soft version, with the latter being machine washable) can now be easily removed for easier cleaning duties, and the visor can be lifted so you can actually see what’s going on in the real world. Other quality of life (and image quality) improvements include an IPD (Inter Pupillary Distance) dial that allows you to regulate for better image quality and visualization comfort. it also will be bundled with two motion controllers and comes with a 14ft cable connection to your PC via HDMI 2.0 and a USB 3,0 connector downloads the data.
Pricing And Availability
The Predator gaming monitors will be available in Q4 in North America and will be priced as follows.
- Predator XB273K (4k 144Hz G-Sync) $1,299 US, in EMEA, starting at €1499, and in China for ¥9,999.
- Nitro XV273K (4K 144Hz FreeSync) North America, starting at $899 in EMEA starting at €1049 and in China for ¥6,999.
- Nitro XV272U (IPS WQHD 144Hz FreeSync) North America, starting at $499 and in EMEA starting at €599.
- Nitro XF272U P (TN WQHD 144Hz FreeSync) North America, starting at $499 and in EMEA starting at €599.
- The OJO 500 Mixed Reality headset is coming in November for $399 USD and €499 in the EMEA.
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Razer Nommo Pro
15th August 2018
Type THX Certified 2.1 PC Speaker
Years ago, my dad told me about a TV series he’d watched called “Firefly” and the movie “Serenity”. He went on and on about it. How good it was, how I should watch it, how much I’d love it, how I really really REALLY just had to give it a try. When it had all come out, I’d entirely missed the phenomenon and a bit of reading up about it at the urging of my dad didn’t particularly make me think it’d be worth it. A TV series that gets cancelled after 10 episodes and a movie made because the fans were upset it was cancelled didn’t sound that amazing to me. Grudgingly I watched the movie because there was no way I was going to sit through 10 episodes if it was bad.
Well of course I watched the movie and loved it, then watched the 10 episode series and loved it even more. Then I bought it all on DVD. I even bought Serenity on UMD for my Sony PSP, before buying it all over again on Blu-ray. I’ve watched them so many times I’ve lost count. Not that long ago, I was so proud when I came home one day to discover that one of my kids had seen the box set on the shelf and thought it looked interesting so decided to try it out on her own and loved it too. We then watched the rest of the series together!
Why am I talking about how 3 generations of my family have an ongoing fixation with a 15 year old TV series and movie? Well mostly because when I sat down to review a £500 pair of Razer PC speakers (the Razer Nommo Pro), my initial sense was probably something along the lines of what I felt when my dad was trying to convince me to watch Firefly. Meh. I’ll give you a clue as to how this review is going to end up: The parallels don’t end there.
Razer Nommo Pro – In the Box
Back in March I reviewed the Razer Nommo Chroma PC speakers (here) and noted the interesting shape and that hasn’t particularly changed with the Razer Nommo Pro. We’ve still got the hairdryer look, slightly larger than before and also now angled slightly upwards with a somewhat traditional tweeter flourish sitting on top for the high end. This time round however we do get a sub and it’s a sizeable beast.
An optical cable, control pod, 3.5mm aux input cable and obligatory Razer stickers round out the collection. It’s all well packed and suitably hefty to give some reassurance to anyone who has just blown what to me is a huge amount of money for PC speakers that they’re getting a quality item.
Final note, on the contents, I’m somewhat surprised to see that Razer have put a ferrite core around the power lead. Before I delve into much more detail, it’s important to note that audiophiles, audio geeks, lapsed audio geeks (as I consider myself) and others are a superstitious lot. Sound quality is probably 3 parts scientifically measurable, 1 part subjective and 1 part witchcraft. Or maybe that should be 4 parts witchcraft, 1 part science. No actually scratch that, let’s go with 33 parts component quality, 17 parts build quality, 15.5 parts decoding formats, 4.5 parts brand identity, 8 parts snobbery, 10 parts room acoustics, 2 parts personal anatomy and age, 10 parts witchcraft.
Oh damn, I forgot component matching, impedance and other general science. Anyway, you get the idea, there’s a lot that goes into online arguments about audio. One of these things is the benefit (or lack thereof) of ferrite cores which, sure, if you’re setting up a perfect studio for pro use and you’re going to scientifically calibrate everything to the nth degree etc, you may want to consider. But for PC speakers? Ok, maybe it’s a statement of intent and cost be damned. It’s not like they’re expensive, but there may be some audio people out there who feel that it can’t be a proper audio thing without a ferrite core, but at the same time, power inside a PC is likely extremely unclean from an audio perspective with interference all over the place. I just don’t see it likely to particularly make much difference to sound quality.
Razer Nommo Pro Specs
- THX Certified “full range” 2.1 gaming speakers
- Dolby Virtual Surround
- Downward firing sub
- 2x 0.8” silk dome tweeters
- 2x 3” full range drivers
- Frequency response 35 – 20,000Hz
- USB connection to PC
- Bluetooth 4.2
- Optical input
- 3.5mm aux input
- Control pod with power, volume, mute, pairing and source control functions
- Razer Chroma enabled
As is usually unfortunately the case for PC audio, Total Harmonic Distortion (THD) isn’t quoted. That much said, at least you don’t need to purely rely on my aging ears perception of distortion. That’s because these are THX certified speakers. THX has expanded its certification offering in the years since I used to spend too much money on Meridian home cinema systems and it now offers certification for everything from cinemas down to relatively inexpensive hardware for PCs these days. It’s a far cry from the days where you couldn’t really touch a THX certified system for much less than 5 figures and although I’m out of date on the details of all the THX certification levels, a little bit of reading on the THX website seems to indicate that this would be a “THX Certified Multimedia System”.
According to THX, this is for desktop speaker systems for gaming, music and movies and these systems have to pass over 700 tests so although it’s doubtless at the cheaper end of the THX experience, it sounds like they’re still being stringent in how they certify equipment. One of the requirements of this category is that the frequency range needs to go down to 35 hertz and up to 20,000 hertz. Crucially, another aspect is that the speaker has to deliver THX Reference Level volume without any AUDIBLE distortion. THX Reference Level being the volume at which audio content is mixed in THX Certified studios. These systems need to play at 85 dB output plus another 20 dB of headroom at a listening distance of less than one metre.
What this means is that for all intents and purposes, although we don’t have a THD figure, you can be assured that distortion levels are low enough that you won’t notice them at loud volumes. It’s a leaf out of the Apple playbook in some ways. The “who cares about specs, as long as it works” approach. The trouble is, you know who cares about specs? PC gamers and audio geeks. The speakers could be mind-blowing, but I can’t go to my mate round the corner who has an Arcam and can quote me 0.2% THD because he’ll (rightly) just scoff at me.
Sound and Hearing Brief Intro
A lot of audio kit will tend to focus on or around what I refer to as the “standard” 20-20 range. This is talking about the frequency response from the low end to the high with 20 Hz to 20 kHz. “High definition audio” will tend to try to extend that range somewhat, going from single digit Hz up to 40 kHz or even more (100 kHz for the ridiculously expensive Sennheiser Orpheus which will set you back over $50k).
Realistically, as people age, their ability to genuinely hear the more extreme ranges disappears, low ends probably start at about 50 – 60 Hz for most people and will top out somewhere approaching 20 kHz. Below this it is more about “feeling” rather than hearing the bass and above the top end you may get a bit more range in ideal conditions with no other background noise etc but this, coupled with the fact that many people will be listening to lossy audio formats on a range of variable quality phones, sound cards, speakers etc mean that if you want a serious high definition audio experience, you’re unlikely to just look at buying a set of speakers for a PC, it’ll also cost you a lot more.
On the off chance that you’re not aware of how much you lose in the conversion to mp3, I encourage you to visit:
Where you can listen to what gets lost in the compression process of Tom’s Diner (one of the control songs for the development of the original mp3 standard). You’ll obviously realise from this that you lose quite a bit.
Razer Nommo Pro for Music
Razer has review guides it gives out for audio products these days but I have a set way of reviewing audio that allows me to compare products across a broad set of playback situations so as usual, I rip up audio review guides and throw them out the window.
I always tend to kick things off with what is usually a tricky piece for gamer centric audio. Mainly because it’s probably the exact opposite of what the kit has been tuned to. Tchaikovsky’s Symphony #6, Allegro Molto Vivace. In particular the opening few minutes of third movement as recreated by Herbert Von Karajan conducting the Berlin Philharmonic in 1964. At this point, I’m sure that most people reading this review will likely skip ahead to the next audio track, but it’s worth reading on. This is a very quick, delicate and precise instrumental section and over the years I’ve found it useful for its ability to show the general muddiness and lack of precision in audio kit, even pretty high end equipment.
I’ve still got the Nommo Chroma speakers so it’s now a direct comparison. When I reviewed them previously, they performed about as well as I expected, which is to say that they weren’t great. The Pro’s literally blow them away. This isn’t a competition, it’s a walkover. Then a thought strikes me. Since I had kids and got rid of all the real audio geek paraphernalia, I’ve been using a great compromise device, a Yamaha YSP-2500 soundbar. It’s a far cry from a serious system but if I compare it to the 5.1 setup I had almost 20 years ago, it probably gives me 98% of that at a fraction of the price and space I needed (that was before the Meridian stuff, an upper end Harman Kardon receiver and KEF speakers). It’s a £750 soundbar so we’re not talking miles away on price from the Razer Nommo Pro.
Now, before you lose it because you’re an audiophile and I’m comparing a 2.1 system to a virtual 5.1 system with stereo music, I get that. But at the same time, it’s got a stereo mode and it’s all I have on hand in a similar price range and I regularly listen to music through the Yamaha and find it pretty good actually.
Well, surprisingly, I find the Razer Nommo Pro better. I’ll let that sink in for a bit. Yamaha (among many other things) is a decent mid-tier audio company. There’s a hell of a lot of audio expertise working there both in creating and reproducing sound. In many ways it has owned the soundbar form factor having won numerous awards for them. And the cheaper Nommo Pro’s on the first time of asking are winning.
Next up, Eddie Van Halen’s ode to the electric guitar that is Eruption. 1 minute 43 seconds of raw musical energy. Again, the Pro’s destroy the Chroma. The Yamaha though is gaining ground now. Where it (like much audio) struggles with the delicate nature of the classical piece, both the Yamaha and the Razer are much more geared towards big, loud, strong audio and it shows. Even so, that the Razer’s are keeping pace with the soundbar is impressive.
Final audio piece, Pink Floyd Echoes. More an audio experiment than a song and at 23 and a half minutes long, a great excuse to sit back and close my eyes to just enjoy the sound. Half an hour later and I’m a very happy camper. The Razer’s handle the wide ranging song with a decent depth and precision, perhaps a touch bass heavy in places and I find my first opportunity to start playing with audio settings in Razer’s Synapse software platform.
The system is relatively straightforward, there are a number of presets, including a THX option, 3 Dolby options (Game, Movie and Music), along with custom (also with its own Game, Movie and Music presets) adjustments for 60, 250 and 500Hz as well as 1, 2, 4, 8 and 16 kHz with -9 dB to +9 dB options on each. Twiddling the bass down to 25 and using the custom (Music) selection gets me what I’m looking for. I’m sure I’ll spend ages on a specific custom level for my personal taste later.
Note to Razer. Audio geeks like to be able to save multiple custom profiles for their different listening requirements. All this allows you to do is set one. Also, if you’re in custom (Game, Movie or Music) and then change a particular level, it copies the entire preset over to your Custom profile with only the modified bar you dragged changed, effectively overwriting anything you’ve already setup in Custom for yourself.
All in all, the Razer Nommo Pro is excellent with a range of music.
Razer Nommo Pro for Games
It’s Razer, so this is where we should be doing well. My standard fare of Doom (2016), Alien Isolation and Star Citizen will serve here.
Doom is a great game. I’m not particularly good at FPS games but I loved the original and the reboot was amazing (played on medium difficulty since, as I mentioned, I’m not great at FPS!). Games with great audio do their thing by really making the player feel the impact of what is on screen (or not in the case of Alien Isolation!) via sound. Doom is no exception to this and does an amazing job or placing the player in the heart of demonsville. Here the Razer Nommo Pro does a great job as I’d expect. Blasts come with appropriate levels of room-shaking bass and the precision tight sounds of the various weapons come through perfectly. What I do slightly miss here is a dedicated 5.1 system which would give me some proper rear audio. Fiddling the various Dolby and THX options helps things somewhat but of course you’re never going to get the kind of sound you would if there were speakers behind you. Overall however, the sound emanating from the Nommo Pro’s is excellent and I struggle to find fault with them.
Alien Isolation is another great audio game, despite starting to show its age visually. In many ways, the audio is more important at times than what’s on screen and the Nommo Pro’s do an excellent job here of enveloping the user in the terror that is the game. Left and right do a great job and virtual surround does what it’s meant to which is convey that something is rearward even if it sounds unnatural. Precision of sound is absolute.
To Star Citizen and FPS mode again, although here it’s with other people. As usual, I find myself finishing close to last or last although through no fault of the Nommo Pro’s. The audio of the game is excellent as always, positional gunfire, quantum travel and of course my personal favourite, dogfighting brings the exhilaration it should. Audio here is both tool and art. The soundtrack is epic and I love the launcher soundtrack too. It doesn’t get much better than this.
So let’s get the obvious out of the way – I love these speakers. Much like Firefly and Serenity, it was with a degree of trepidation that I sat down to first audition a pair of £500 Razer PC speakers. Because the rational mind says that they simply shouldn’t be. Razer has no business putting out speakers in this price bracket. NO BUSINESS, Y’HEAR ME?! Yet despite that, they’ve done what I thought was impossible and converted me.
As with Firefly and Serenity, I have been totally and utterly won over. The sound is simply excellent whatever I throw at it. Jazz, pop, rock, hip hop, classical, games, movies, these speakers do it all and they do it well. As such, I’ll absolutely give them an award and it is entirely deserved.
This review doesn’t end here however. You see, the problem is that audio is in many ways a geek’s paradise. Since I rediscovered PC gaming 5 years ago or so, I’ve struggled to reconcile my inner audio geek with my PC gaming self. I’ve always chased graphics and frames per second. Audio has always been “good enough”. High end audio in general is a slightly niche market, but high end PC audio? That feels like an extremely niche market. If yesterday you’d asked me “Adrian, I really want a proper good high end audio system for my PC (non-headphone), what should I do?”
I’d probably have shrugged, thought about it and suggested you spend at least a few grand on a decent surround receiver like an Arcam or similar and 5.1 speakers, take an optical out from your PC into the receiver and be on your merry way. If I was genuinely going to take audio seriously again, that’s probably still the route I’d go. Audio out of PC’s I often find a compromise. Just plug some earphones into your PC’s 3.5mm jack and wait for the pulses and buzzes and blips and everything else that pours into your ears, it’s disgusting! Optical out would probably be my best guess at how to isolate the audio from the power blips and other electrical interference that are likely screwing with the audio that gets pumped out of your PC’s 3.5mm jack. Gaming headphones? Lol.
So what we have here is a great system. Razer of course owns THX these days and it feels like a stake in the ground to say “PC gamers no longer have to put up with mediocre audio!” The question really is, will the market bear the pricing? Putting them alongside my (admittedly a few years old now) Yamaha YSP-2500, these speakers hold their own and then some. For that alone the price is justified in my eyes. But look at “high end audio” for the PC. B&W (a company with an exceedingly good audio pedigree) has vacated the space with their excellent initial foray priced at £400. After a few years, they were discontinued and not replaced. Bose (I know, don’t start) top out their PC range at £300. KEF has either the EGG’s at £350 or the LS50’s (which, let’s be honest aren’t really meant to be PC speakers) at £2,000.
There’s absolutely a gap in the market then, the question really is whether the demand is there or not. Maybe it doesn’t need to be, in the Nommo Pro’s, Razer has a halo product. A statement of intent. Build quality is impeccable. The control pod, though obviously mimicking others is perfectly weighted and elegantly put together with only a touch of play in the outer volume ring. Overall build quality is excellent and braided cables throughout feel nice. Razer in many ways created large chunks of the gamer peripheral market. Perhaps they’re now creating a new market. High end audio for the PC which doesn’t cost audiophile money. Can they do it? On this performance, I’d have to say yes. Would I spend £500 of my own money on this? If I hadn’t auditioned them, I’d have laughed at the suggestion. Now? It still feels like a lot of money to spend on PC audio, but the quality is absolutely worth it and realistically I listen to my PC speakers more than my soundbar…
The Razer Nommo Pro’s fully earn themselves an Editor’s Choice award.
The best PC speakers I’ve heard.
Design & Aesthetics9
- Excellent sound
- Tweeters for high end
- Superb fit and finish
- Room thumping bass
- Angled upwards this time
- Synapse integration is good
- Mobile app is good
- Can’t adjust tilt of speakers
- Only one custom profile
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If you’re someone who can’t work, play, or kill time online without your desktop PC blinding you with a spectacle of flashing LEDs, ASUS will now let your external hard drive join the desktop rave. The company’s new FX HDD drive includes its own set of LEDs, illuminating a circuit trace pattern that will sync to the glowing patterns flashing across all of your other devices.
There are certainly valid reasons for wanting your computer’s keyboard to glow with all the colors of the rainbow: it can help highlight certain keys in your peripheral vision, or make it easier to track your progress or performance in a game. The argument gets a little less convincing for a mouse, but a flashing external hard drive? Now you’re just trying to show off your gaming rig.
Aside from the RGB LEDs and support for ASUS’ Aura Sync lighting system, the FX HDD appears to be a fairly run-of-the-mill external drive. Instead of USB-C, it includes one of those microUSB compatible connectors commonly seen on 2.5-inch drive enclosures, as well as bundled software for encrypting your data, or automatically backing it up from your PC or the cloud. It will be available in 1 and 2 TB versions, and while pricing details remain unknown, you can assume the added light show will add at least a few bucks to the drive’s bottom line.
In other news today, Logitech one of the most well known brands in PC peripherals has agreed to acquire Blue microphones, a leader in studio-quality microphones these past 20 years. Their products are used by music artists, legends and talents such as Bob Dylan and Imagine Dragons so they can create their own distinctive sound in the highest quality.
Logitech Mic’s Up With Blue
And that’s not all. If you haven’t heard of Blue’s Yeti and Snowball lines of microphones, you really need to check them out. In truth, you really have heard them … on most of your favorite podcasts, streams and YouTube channels. Because if you’re not using a Blue mic, your go-to internet personalities probably are. We loved Blue and their products the moment we discovered them. And we’re convinced we can do great things together.
“Logitech’s acquisition of Blue Microphones will accelerate our entry into a growing market, and offers another way for us to help bring people’s passions (from music to blogging) to life. Joining with Blue is an adjacent opportunity for us – a new way to grow – with additional synergies related to our existing gaming, PC webcam and audio categories. It’s exciting!”
Logitech CEO Bracken Darrell
“Blue and Logitech have a lot in common. Both companies work at being small, fast and hungry, crafting great products with cutting-edge design and technology. We’re an established leader in the broadcasting space with a strong product portfolio. Logitech has design at its heart, tech know-how and global reach. Together we can do amazing things.”
John Maier, Blue Microphones CEO
For Logitech, this is a new space. But, at the same time, it’s not at all. Gamers are already using our Logitech G webcams to stream. People are video calling with friends and family thanks to Logitech every day. And in business, our audio and video know-how is apparent every time a video meeting takes place at the office. Joining up with Blue and their microphone lines is a logical adjacent opportunity with great synergies.
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Apacer a company known for flash storage has announced new high-speed memory cards, with the microSDXC UHS-I U3 V30 and the microSDHC UHS-I U1 V10 launched by Apacer that are equipped with multiple protections and high durability to ensure uninterrupted video recording in the harsh environments.
Apacer microSD Cards Hit Speed of 100MB/s
Offered in a maximum capacity of 256GB, the V30 memory card complies with SD Association’s latest UHS Video Speed Class 30 (V30) standard, which has a rated minimum speed of at least 30MB per second to support 4K Ultra HD and 3D video recording and high-speed continuous shooting. Available in 16GB and 32GB, the V10 memory card supports Full HD recording demand and is perfect for devices requiring prolonged recording, such as dash cams and sports cameras.
The demand for 4K video recording has been seeing steady growth with sports and aerial photography becoming trendy in recent years. With the size of files growing with higher fidelity video dedicated high-speed memory cards are needed to keep all the storage, you need for every screen. With support for the continuous high-speed mode and a maximum reading speed of 100MB per second, Apacer V30 memory card is tailored for 4K video recording to significantly reduce file transmission time.
It is now available in 64GB, 128GB, and 256GB to offer a maximum of 5.8 hours of 4K recording. Coupled with professional video recorders, smartphones, and digital cameras, users can capture every wonderful moment in daily life.
Apacer is also launching the microSDHC UHS-I U1 V10 memory card with a maximum reading speed of 100MB per second to provide perfect support for Full HD video recording and continuous shooting. Available in 16GB and 32GB, V10 memory card can store up to 8,400 8-megapixel photos or 7 hours of Full-HD videos. It is perfect for devices requiring prolonged recording, such as dash cams and sports cameras, ensuring no miss of important screens!
Interestingly all Apacer memory cards have passed waterproof, shockproof, magnet proof, X-ray proof, and temperature proof tests to support photography in all harsh environments. This is a life saver for those who have more rugged applications like sports cameras, waterproof cameras, drones, and dash cams. Besides, both memory cards are equipped with write protect key feature and error-correcting code (ECC) function, providing the highest standard of protection for your valuable memories.
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Yves Herman / Reuters
T-Mobile is gearing up for 5G in a big way: the carrier just announced a $3.5 billion deal with Nokia for 5G equipment. At this point, it’s the biggest arrangement that we’ve seen around next-generation wireless equipment. T-Mobile says it’ll be using Nokia’s gear to build out its 5G network along 600 MHz and 28 GHz millimeter wave spectrum. That covers both broad availability, as well as spectrum needed for dense urban areas.
The deal is a major one for Nokia, as it’s also competing with Ericsson and Huawei in the networking equipment arena. And while most carriers have been hyping up 5G over the years, this moves shows that T-Mobile is ready to do more than just talk about it. As we’ve covered, 5G networks will be much faster than existing 4G LTE, but they’ll also offer lower latency, which makes it more useful for games and applications that demand speedier response times.T-Mobile previously announced that it will start building its 5G network in 30 US cities this year.
“We are all in on 5G,” T-Mobile CTO Neville Ray said in a statement. “Every dollar we spend is a 5G dollar, and our agreement with Nokia underscores the kind of investment we’re making to bring customers a mobile, nationwide 5G network.”
Magic Leap has been peeling away one layer of secrecy after another now that it’s close to shipping its mixed reality headset. Just recently, it released an AR demo and revealed that it’s working with comics industry veteran Grant Morrison. Now, the company has given us a glimpse of what its operating system an interface will look like through new documents added to its revamped developer guide. TechCrunch has collected a few images and videos circulating on Twitter and Reddit, including a photo of the device’s homescreen and the stock apps that’ll ship with it. Yes, they’re mock-ups, but they can at least give us an idea of what to expect.
Other images show the platform’s gallery and avatar system, both of which take on a flat, 2D look. Magic Leap apparently calls those types of apps “landscape apps,” and you’ll be able to run several at once.
The three-dimensional applications with elements that can interact with your environment, on the other hand, are called “immersive apps.” They’re probably the ones most people are looking forward to, considering they’ll provide the experience Magic Leap has been promising since it first revealed its existence. Remember that whale breaching in a school gym and that tiny elephant that can fit in a person’s palms?
— Giant Space Turtle (@GST_naomi) July 26, 2018
The company’s new documents also show how in-app hand controls may look like and how you’ll be able to create a multi-user experience by tapping the “Cast” button to share whatever it is you’re viewing with a contact.
Magic Leap recently announced that it will start shipping its mixed reality headsets this summer. The company doesn’t have an exact date yet, but so long as the release doesn’t get delayed, we’re bound to see photos and videos of its actual interface and apps in the near future.