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It’s a sign of the times when new consumer-grade, commercially available remote-controlled drones just show up unsolicited at our offices with an invitation from the manufacturer to take them for a spin. Drones are big news these days, their reputation alternately buoyed and tarnished by their efficacy as machines of warfare and the lack of solid legalities governing their use, and likewise by their limitless potential across a range of commercial applications and their similarly limitless potential for abuse where personal privacy is concerned.
But aforementioned concerns notwithstanding, unmanned aerial systems will soon be everywhere and DJI Innovations’ Phantom is the kind of system that will surely be a part of that shift. Designed for neither industry nor government, the Phantom is a pretty serious UAS designed for you and me–the average consumer that simply wants to fly. So you can imagine the unrestrained glee with which we unboxed this unexpected arrival in the afternoon post.
DJI is a maker of flight control systems for UAS as well as a handful of complete unmanned aerial vehicles, mostly geared toward aerial photography applications. Most of these platforms are somewhat complex and quite expensive–in other words, best suited for commercial customers or the most serious and well-heeled hobbyists. The Phantom is DJI’s attempt at packaging its technology in a way that is both inexpensive and user-friendly, so much so that anyone can get into unmanned flight. It’s certainly not the only consumer-oriented UAS (see our earlier review of the Parrot AR Drone 2.0) or the least expensive–in fact, it’s a few hundred dollars more than other recreational RC quadcopters. But Phantom lives in a space between the toy quadcopter you might pick up for the kids at Brookstone and the professional-grade hardware that aerial photographers or search and rescue authorities might use.
The features that set it apart: serious range and altitude, a durable construction that withstood the serious abuse (both intentional and unintentional) we threw at it, and a satellite-based stabilizing capability that proved quite effective. But that’s not all there is to the Phantom; there were a few aspects of this product that we found clumsy, non-intuitive, and unnecessarily difficult. So if you’re seriously interested in this kind of technology I strongly recommend you read all the way to the end of this post where Phantom gets a chance to redeem itself, because I’m going to lead off with all the things I didn’t like about this otherwise incredibly fun little machine.
It’s Not Really “Ready To Fly”: Consumer products should be relatively easy to use right out of the box, and indeed DJI describes Phantom as an “all in one solution ready to fly.” But unboxing the drone is not so simple. Attaching the legs with a phillips screwdriver, attaching the propellors with the provided fasteners–this is all stuff that’s expected when you purchase something with “some assembly required.” But actually transitioning from an open box to a vehicle that’s “ready to fly” requires a bit more work. The “Quickstart Manual” is a densely-worded 16 pages long. The battery charging procedure requires its own set of instructions. The calibration process (that is, the process that orients the vehicle’s assorted gyros and accelerometers, as well as syncs it up with various GPS satellites–more on those later) requires some steps that seem nonsensical, like “flip this switch ten times” (ten times!). We don’t mind a learning curve, nor do we mind a little assembly, but “ready to fly” is a stretch.
We Don’t Speak Robot: The basic interface between user and machine is a standard RC helicopter-style controller, the dual-joystick kind that has rotor throttle and vehicle rotation pegged to one joystick and lateral movements controlled by the other. But that’s where the simplicity ends. Much of the rest of the machine-human communication is conducted through a blinking LED on the rear of the ‘craft that speaks in something of a colorized morse code that you, the user, must memorize if you don’t want to keep the quickstart manual (16 pages!) next to you at all times. In different flight modes, the blinking colored lights and their many patterns mean different things. Example: When syncing Phantom to GPS satellites, one yellow blink means you have more than six GPS positioning satellites at your disposal. If you have exactly six, you get a yellow blink, followed by red. Less than five? One yellow, three reds. Exactly five? One yellow, a pause, two reds. Switch to a different flight mode, and the language (and color pattern) changes. It’s kind of like Richard Dreyfus communicating with the aliens in Close Encounters of the Third Kind with all those blinking lights and tones. That is to say, it’s kind of annoying.
The Controller And Aircraft Don’t Talk To Each Other Enough: Aside from the fact that it’s kind of huge, we don’t take issue with Phantom’s handheld RC controller. If you’ve ever flown a RC helicopter, you’ll take to it immediately. One thing we loved about the latest Parrot AR Drone is that in “Absolute Control” mode the user can always control the drone from his or her point of view–that is, no matter which way the “front” of the drone is facing, it will always travel forward, backward, left, or right respective to the direction the pilot is facing. Phantom’s controller lacks the hardware that makes this kind of intuitive flight possible, and while it does have a couple of helpful flight modes (“Home Lock” and “Course Lock”) that peg the directional orientation of the drone either to it’s point of takeoff or the direction it’s facing at takeoff (respectively), if you are walking around and turning as you fly the drone–and you’ll want to–it’s pretty easy to lose that intuitive link between the direction you are facing and the direction the drone is facing.
No Built In Camera, No Drone’s-Eye View: Adding features adds expense, and in the case of aircraft they can also add weight which reduces performance and flight duration. But cameras are so small and cheap these days–the Parrot AR Drone 2.0, the most popular comparable recreational quadcopter, comes with two built-in HD cameras–that we were struck by the fact that the Phantom has none. While it does come with a mount for a GoPro camera (sold separately), that means that it also doesn’t offer a drone’s-eye view, which is one of the more fun aspects of the Parrot and a nice way to pilot the vehicle beyond line of sight (which we aren’t endorsing, since doing so violates FAA rules–but still).
Battery Life: I’d preface this complaint by pointing out that there is nothing about Phantom’s battery life that is not absolutely par for course. Phantom runs on a small, dense lithium-polymer brick that takes roughly 45 minutes to an hour to charge fully. DJI claims a full charge is good for ten to fifteen minutes of flight time. That’s not very long. The good news: we found that we were able to squeeze even a little more flight time than that out of our machine (perhaps because on these flights we were not carrying the added weight of a camera). And fifteen minutes is about average for this kind of product. So this isn’t really a complaint about Phantom, but it is something you should be aware of before you invest in the thing. Somebody please invent a better battery already.
Phantom: All Lit Up
This Drone Knows Its Place: Now that the negative stuff is out of the way, let’s plunge into the many things Phantom gets right. First of all, the unique thing about Phantom is its GPS stabilization. That is, when in GPS flight mode Phantom is actually locating itself in space via several GPS satellites, and this allows for some very stable flight characteristics. With GPS enabled, you can be running Phantom at a dead lateral sprint and then let off the directional control. Phantom will actually pitch slightly in the opposite direction of travel (like applying brakes) and then correct itself back to the point in space where you first let off the accelerator (with GPS disabled, Phantom will right itself and cease acceleration when you release the directional control, but its momentum will continue to carry it some distance). Likewise, with GPS enabled Phantom can hover very precisely even in moderate winds, helpful for capturing aerial photography or video (more on that in a moment).
A good way to test this is to trigger the failsafe landing mode, which returns Phantom to its point of origin should it lose communication with the controller. Flying it on a soccer pitch adorned with plenty of painted lines for reference, we cut the power to the controller several times. Each time Phantom ceased lateral motion, climbed to sixty feet, slowly returned to the airspace over its point of takeoff, and landed itself on the ground below. Even with a stiff breeze blowing it never missed the mark by more than a couple feet, well within the standard margin of error for GPS technology.
It’s GoPro Ready: We love the GoPro. It goes pretty much anywhere, even where the user can’t or won’t, and returns amazing video and still images. Disappointed as we are that there’s no built in camera, the addition of the included GoPro mount is a nice compromise for the user who wants to quickly and relatively cheaply turn Phantom into an aerial photography rig (see some of what we captured with ours in the video below).
It Goes Fast, It Goes Far, It Goes Really, Really High: If I haven’t yet mentioned that this thing is really fun to fly, let me drive home the point here. Other quadcopters are fun, but this thing really moves. DJI lists its maximum flight velocity at 10 meters per second or roughly 22 miles per hour, but it sure feels a lot faster when you’re skimming across the surface of a body of water or careering around a tree-filled park (not recommended). The maximum operating range is listed at 300 meters, or more than three football fields–far enough to get beyond the line of sight that, by the way, the FAA strictly demands you maintain between you and your UAV at all times. The FAA also demands you keep it below 400 feet, so we’re not even going to tell you how high it goes (as law-abiding citizens we couldn’t possibly know), but suffice it to say that it goes very, very high. Very.
Crashes Hardly Slowed It Down: While we didn’t intentionally try to break our Phantom, we did do some questionably intelligent things with it, like fly around our office (we really don’t recommend indoor flight). At one point during an outdoor flight we failed to tighten one of the propellor fasteners down adequately after some on-the-ground maintenance and threw a propellor at roughly 50 feet up, sending our Phantom tumbling from the sky (and providing some excellent video). We crash-landed it several times. We broke propellors (DJI provides spares) and cracked our GoPro mount. But the vehicle itself shows no signs of slowing down.
$679. There are a handful of authorized vendors listed on DJI-Innovations’ website, or you can order from the company directly.
If it seems like the top half of this review was overly critical, well, it’s a review and this is a first-generation product. The bottom line is: This is a really, really fun machine. To be fair, some of the hardware and setup complaints, like the multi-step battery charge procedure, likely stem from DJI doing its best to use generic, off-the-shelf components to keep the cost down. And while the user interface takes a while to get the hang of, make no mistake–I personally found this UAS to be a whole lot of fun, and so did the many Popular Science staffers here that piloted it.
At nearly $700, DJI’s Phantom is no cheap toy and it shouldn’t be treated like one (in fact, it’s a little too complicated a machine for unsupervised use by children). But that’s the point. It’s a UAS that lives in a space somewhere between the toy recreational quadrotors already on the market and the far more serious multi-thousand-dollar unmanned hardware that is aimed at government and commercial work. These technologies are already taking to the sky for some applications and will only proliferate as the FAA further opens up the national airspace to UAS opeations in the next few years. Phantom exists in a pretty empty space right now, but we’d be surprised if it stays that way for long.
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DJI at CES 2023: Osmo Mobile Silver, Zenmuse M1, Phantom 4 CNY
Some companies only have one or two products to show off at CES. Others, however, have a whole fleet. Drone experts DJI aren’t holding back this year either. At CES 2023’s Unveiled floor, it is showing off not one, not even two, but five distinct products, not all of them hardware and not all of them even available already. The latter, a prototype of its CrystalSky Monitor, will surely whet the appetites of more serious drone operators. But even if you’re just more into selfies rather than drones, the new Osmo Mobile Silver might still be of interest.
As the name hints at, the Osmo Mobile is a more smartphone-oriented version of DJI’s Osmo handheld camera and gimbal stick. Instead of using one of DJI’s more expensive cameras, Osmo Mobile lets you use the one you already have in your pocket: your smartphone. The new Osmo Mobile Silver has more than just a different coat of paint. It features a new Beautify mode popular among smartphone camera apps for quickly touching up photos and videos. The Silver is also compatible with the somewhat more professional FiLMiC Pro filmmaking app.
But what if you already own the original Osmo and, for one reason or another, want to use your smartphone instead? DJI has also thought of that and has finally released a solution. Like it’s older Zenmuse siblings, the Zenmuse M1 gimbal combines the best of both worlds, allowing users to mount their smartphones on the non-smartphone Osmo handheld.
Of course, DJI is really about drones. Even the Osmo is just an offshoot of the digital photography aspect of its core product. But not everyone who pilots a drone might be comfortable with the gamepad-like controls of one. Want a larger screen and a more touch-friendly interface? The Ground Station Pro app for the iPad might be your thing. Its ease of use belies the power inside. You can set up to 99 waypoints in its Tap and Go Waypoint mode, with each waypoint accommodating up to 15 actions, like rotation, recording, and others.
But an iPad, or even your smartphone might not be the best screen for outdoor use. Knowing that only too well, DJI is developing what it calls the CrystalSky Monitor, which is basically a 5.5 or 7.85 inch monitor with a very high 2000 nits of brightness. In addition to offering great outdoor visibility, the CrystalSky also promises smooth real-time video on the display itself, or even 4K output on an external screen.
The CrystalSky Monitor is, however, still a prototype and its availability will be announced at a later date. The Ground Station Pro iPad app is now available for free on the iTunes App Store. Both the Osmo Mobile Silver and the Zenmuse M1 are still coming later this month with a price tag of $299 and $169, respectively. And to celebrate the upcoming Chinese New Year, DJI is putting out a special limited edition of the Phantom 4 with designs from renowned illustrator Martin Sati. This reddish Phantom 4 Chinese New Year edition has a phoenix at the very center of its body, symbolizing good fortune and happiness. The drone will sell for $1,199 and will exclusively be found at Apple Stores, DJI Flagship Stores (except Korea), DJI Online Store, and Tmall DJI Store.
DJI OM 5: $159 / £139 / €159
Inside the retail box of the DJI OM 5, you’ll find the gimbal, the magnetic clamp, a removable wrist strap, a USB-C charging cable, a tripod stand, and a carrying bag. The product comes in two colors: Sunset White (used in this review) and Athens Gray. Do note that even though DJI calls it “Sunset White,” the product is basically a very pale pink. See the images above for reference.
There is also an optional accessory called the Light Clamp. This adds a key light to the sides of the magnetic mount, helping you get well-lit selfie footage. This does not come in the retail box and must be purchased separately for $59.
DJI OM 5 vs OM 4: What’s the difference?
C. Scott Brown / Android Authority
There are five main differences between the DJI OM 5 and 2023’s DJI OM 4:
Smaller and lighter: The OM 5 is smaller and lighter than any previous OM gimbal. It weighs just 297g (without the tripod stand or clamp attached) and is about a third of the size of the OM 4 when folded.
Redesigned arm: DJI has completely overhauled the way the device folds up, which is what helps make it smaller.
Extendable arm: We’ve seen built-in extendable arms in other gimbals, but this is the first time we’ve seen it on a DJI product. The arm extends out 215mm (or about 8.4 inches).
New software features: A new feature within the DJI Mimo app is called Shot Guides, which, as the name suggests, gives you tips on how to create cool shots. There’s also a new upgrade to Active Track and a few other tweaks that we’ll discuss more in-depth later.
New color: DJI’s gimbals usually come in just one color, which has been a neutral gray over the past few years. Now, though, Sunset White is thrown in the mix as an option.
Other than those four items, the DJI OM 5 will function similarly to the 2023 version.
Has the DJI OM 5 mounting system improved?
C. Scott Brown / Android Authority
With 2023’s OM 4, DJI introduced a magnetic mounting system to its gimbals. The same system is on the OM 5, but with one major exception: the system does not include the mount that you permanently stick to the back of your smartphone. This was a smart move, as that type of mount was just an all-around bad idea.
Now, your only out-of-the-box option for mounting your phone is to use the included magnetic clamp (shown above). You clamp it around the sides of your phone and then snap the clamp onto the magnetic plate at the end of the gimbal’s arm. Since the clamp goes back to the exact same spot every time you remove it, you’ll only need to calibrate the gimbal once per shoot, which is a huge time-saver.
Timelapse: Your phone sits in a stationary position and records footage for a set period of time. When finished, the software speeds up the footage to create a fast-paced edit.
Hyperlapse: A timelapse shot that adds extra flair by moving the camera from one point to another very slowly while recording.
Panorama: The camera takes photos while it moves from one point to another automatically and then pieces the photos together to make one extra-wide photo. A “Clone Me” option within this feature also allows you to digitally add yourself to various spots within the final photo.
Story Mode: The software instructs you on how to record three or four different shots. You shoot those shots, and then the app edits them all together into a professional-looking video complete with music and even title cards. This is an easy way for anyone to create stunning social media videos without any video editing expertise.
Dyna-Zoom: While you physically move backward, the zoom on your camera zooms in at a similar pace. This creates a slightly disorienting shot that is used for dramatic effect in TV and movies.
There are also two updates to the Mimo app: the updated Active Track 4.0 and the brand new Shot Guides.
Active Track 4.0
C. Scott Brown / Android Authority
Active Track is DJI’s proprietary software system that allows you to auto-track a subject. Using the viewfinder, you highlight a subject you’d like to follow, such as a person, an animal, or even a stationary object. Once highlighted, the gimbal will follow that subject automatically, keeping it centered the entire time. This works even if you, the subject, or both are in motion.
As the “4.0” in the title suggests, there’s nothing fundamentally new here; it’s just better at doing its job. Sure enough, I found this new Active Track system to be better at tracking things, especially when they are not large in the frame. It’s also better at keeping track of fast-moving subjects, which will be helpful for tracking things like kids and dogs.
However, it’s still not perfect. If your subject is too small or too fast, the gimbal won’t track it accurately. It is nice, though, to see DJI constantly improving this useful feature.Shot Guides
At first glance, Shot Guides might make you think it’s a replacement for Story Mode. However, that is not the case. Story Mode is still here and works as it has in previous iterations, albeit with a few more story templates to work with.
Shot Guides is a feature that instructs you on achieving a certain type of shot. It shows you an example shot on the left side of the screen and gives you basic instructions on how to do it. Using the viewfinder on the right side of the screen, you can craft your shot, doing your best to mimic the example.
Once you’ve finished, the Mimo app will show the example shot and the shot you created side-by-side. If you’re not happy with what you got, you can try again.
Battery life: I found battery life to be in line with DJI’s claims, which is about six hours. You can check how much battery life you have left at any time within the Mimo app. However, the three LED dots on the front of the gimbal will also give you an estimate of how your battery is doing without needing to check the app.
Charging: It takes about 90 minutes to charge the DJI OM 5. It uses USB-C connections and comes with a cable, but does not come with a wall adapter.
Video quality: Within the Mimo app, you can choose your video quality. If your phone supports it, you can go as high as a 4K resolution. However, whether you go 4K, 1080p, or 720p, you can only shoot at 30fps on Android. Hopefully, DJI brings 24fps, 60fps, and other options here.
Native camera app: In the promotional materials DJI gave us, it said you can use the gimbal with your phone’s native camera app. This would allow you to bypass DJI Mimo and use the app that comes with your phone. However, this only works on iPhones.
Small phones: Inside the box is a soft sticker that slightly elevates the back of the magnetic clamp. This is ideal for smaller phones that might not work well with the clamp as it is out of the box. Do note that the sticker sticks to the clamp itself — you do not need to stick it to your phone.
Tripod mount: There is a tripod stand included in the box. It’s the same color as the gimbal and gives you an easy way to prop up the device. However, if you want to use the gimbal on your own tripod, the mount is of the standard 0.25in size, so it should fit pretty much any tripod.
Value and competition
DJI OM 5 review: The verdict
C. Scott Brown / Android Authority
With the Osmo Mobile 3, DJI essentially added a folding arm to the Osmo Mobile 2. With the OM 4, DJI essentially added a magnetic mount system to the Osmo Mobile 3. Now, with the DJI OM 5, the company is not only redesigning how it folds to make it smaller and lighter, but also introducing an extendable arm. This makes the OM 5 a pretty big leap forward for the line.
If you’re like me and prize ease of transport when it comes to gimbals, you’re going to truly appreciate the change in size and weight with the OM 5. Likewise, if you own a gimbal and a selfie stick for different functions, you’ll appreciate being able to merge them into one device.
You don’t have to be a fat cat to benefit from Personal Capital’s free tools. In fact, getting a handle on your personal finances is the first step in the journey to financial independence.
Table of Contents
You already know we’re big fans of You Need a Budget because it’s a great tool for budgeting the money you already have. However, when it comes to planning for the long-term future, we use Personal Capital.Tools You Get With Personal Capital
After you’ve created a free Personal Capital account and added all your financial accounts, you’ll see a dashboard displaying a quick overview of your finances.
Additionally, you’ll have access to the Banking, Investment, Planning, and Wealth Management areas of the website.The Personal Capital Dashboard
Each section of the Personal Capital dashboard contains a quick overview and a link to get more detail.Net Worth
Personal Capital tracks your net worth across all your accounts, assets, and liabilities. Select the Net Worth link on the dashboard to view a more detailed graph. You can specify a time period and include or exclude particular accounts.
Below the chart, you’ll see a list of transactions included in the net worth calculation. Drill down by selecting a category like Cash, Investment, Credit, Loan, or Mortgage.Budgeting
Personal Capital’s budgeting tool pales in comparison to YNAB. You can see where your money is going, but you cannot create goals. We recommend ignoring this area and sticking with YNAB for budgeting.Cash Flow
The dashboard’s Cash Flow widget shows you how much has gone in and come out of your accounts over the past 30 days.
Selecting the Cash Flow link will take you to a more detailed graph. It defaults to including data from all your accounts except:
Loan or Mortgage accounts
Transactions categorized as transfers
Credit card payments
You can also select Income or Expense to view graphs organized by category and time period.
Once again, YNAB offers similar reports, especially if you have the Toolkit for YNAB browser extension. If you do want to use Personal Capital to track this information, you’ll need to classify your transactions so they show up in the right categories.Portfolio Balance
The Portfolio Balance dashboard widget shows you the balance in your investment accounts over the last 90 days. More on this below.Market Movers
This dashboard widget displays a daily snapshot of your investments (called the “You Index”) vs. the S&P 500, US stock, foreign stock, and US bond markets.Retirement Savings
The Retirement Savings widget tells you how much you’ll need to save each month for the rest of the calendar year to meet your retirement saving goals.
More on retirement savings below.Emergency Fund
According to Personal Capital, your emergency fund is the total amount you have in your listed bank accounts, which is not as useful as having a budget category dedicated to your emergency fund. Again, we recommend using YNAB for tracking your emergency fund.Debt Paydown
The Debt Paydown widget shows progress on paying your loans during the current year.
Select the Debt Paydown link to view a list of transactions included in the graph.Banking Tools
The Banking menu has links to Cash Flow, Budgeting, Bills, and Open an Account. We’ve described Cash Flow and Budgeting above. The Bills page displays any upcoming bills from your linked accounts.
Open an Account opens a page where you can sign up for Personal Capital Cash, a program that purports to give you higher interest rates than traditional banking products.Investing Tools
Personal Capital’s investing tools are where it shines.Holdings
Similar to the Market Movers section, Holdings displays your investments compared to other indices like the S&P 500.
Below the Holding chart, you’ll find a list of your holdings labeled by ticker symbol and info on the number of shares you own, the share price, one-day change, and total value.Balances
As you would expect, Balances displays the balances of each of your investment accounts over the time period you select.Performance
Performance shows you how each of your accounts is performing in each asset class.
Below the chart is a list of your accounts and information on each account’s cash flow, income, expense, change over time, and balance.Allocation
Allocation displays how your investments are allocated across asset classes.
You can drill down into each asset class for more info on what kinds of investments you have in that class.
This is particularly useful if you’re invested in index funds and want to see how the fund is invested.US Sectors
This section displays a bar graph identifying the US sectors you’re invested in, like technology, industrials, and healthcare.
If you have a 401K or another investment account that doesn’t have a stock ticker, you can manually specify which sectors that account is invested in.Planning Tools
Personal Capital’s planning tools are among its best features—particularly the retirement planner.Retirement Planner
First, you tell the Retirement Planner when you want to retire. Then add any income events you anticipate (like a pension, Social Security, or sale of a property) and your spending goals during retirement. It will use a Monte Carlo simulation to predict your chances of success.
You can create multiple scenarios with different assumptions. What if you want to retire early? What effect will having a part-time job for a few years have on your retirement? This tool will help you imagine a variety of futures.Savings Planner
The Savings Planner tells you if you’re on track to meet your savings goals. It breaks down your savings into taxable, tax-deferred, and tax-free categories.
You’ll also see a list of all your investment accounts and each account’s type, amount saved last year, amount saved this year, and the account’s balance.Retirement Fee Analyzer
The Retirement Fee Analyzer displays information about the fees associated with your investments to the extent that Personal Capital has access to that information. At the very least, it’s an easy way to view the expense ratio for each of your funds.Investment Checkup & Wealth Management
The global gaming market is not in the best position right now. With Bitcoin miners snatching up graphics cards, gamers regularly find themselves paying a premium to build their perfect PC build. Since the GPU shortage isn’t ending any time soon, many gamers are turning to beefy gaming laptops as a replacement. And well, MSI is looking to offer them a complete package with its latest MSI GS66 Stealth 2023 gaming laptop refreshment. It was unveiled with a stunning display, new RTX 30 series graphics, and other features earlier this year. Rivaling Asus’ Zephyrus and Strix series, the MSI GS66 Stealth is a sleek yet mean mobile gaming machine. After using the MSI Stealth GS66 for almost a month now, here is what I think about it.MSI GS66 Stealth Review
I have been using the MSI GS66 Stealth as my daily driver for over a month now. My personal usage leans towards a combination of everyday work, entertainment, and gaming. The config of the MSI GS66 Stealth laptop I have been using includes a QHD screen with the GeForce RTX 3080 GPU. So without further ado, jump in and read about my experience:MSI GS66 Stealth Spec Sheet
Before I share what’s good and bad about the MSI GS66, take a quick look at the key specifications of this gaming laptop:
Weight4.6 lbs (2.1 kgs)
Display15.6-inch (2560 x 1440) 165Hz QHD IPS Display
CPU11th-Gen Intel Core i7-11800H
95W Maximum Graphics Power with Dynamic Boost
RAM16 GB DDR4-3200Mhz
1x HDMI (8K @ 60Hz / 4K @ 120Hz)
Weight4.6 pounds (2.1 kg)
ConnectivityKiller ax Wi-Fi 6E + Bluetooth v5.2Unboxing Experience
We gamers are a breed that loves a sense of showmanship, and in turn, appreciates attractive packaging. So I am pleased to report that MSI’s packaging appealed to me right off the bat. The GS66 Stealth came in a hefty well-packaged box that no doubt protected the laptop against all the dings and knocks. Inside the cardboard box, I first found the laptop’s 230W power adaptor, along with a small box, which housed this mean gaming machine.Design and Build
The GS66 Stealth gaming laptop is one of MSI’s top-of-the-line products, and it certainly shows. When holding the laptop for the first time, I could feel that it is built-well and has a decent heft to it. The GS66 weighs in at 4.6 lbs (2.1 kgs), which is honestly not bad for a gaming laptop with a large battery and top-end specifications. The MSI GS66’s design and build betray the fact the laptop is made for a segment of gamers who want pure performance without standing out in the crowd.
Low-profile design – perfect for users who want a single machine for their work and gaming needs
The design of the laptop is based on a modern and sleek architecture that emphasizes a lower profile while giving the gamer a good feel for the real estate that is there. The entire laptop feels like a single chunk of metal, especially when the lid is closed. However, true to its name, the MSI GS66 Stealth’s outer design doesn’t feature any flashy logos or strips of LED running around the edges. The GS66 is here to be silent and deadly, and that’s what it does.
no flashy LED strips running along the edges – stealthy design
When you lift the lid, the inner portion of the laptop includes a compact keyboard along with a mesh for cooling up-top. While we will talk about the peripherals later, I am a bit disappointed to see that the laptop’s webcam doesn’t have a privacy shutter, which is becoming more and more common these days. With privacy concerns at an all-time high, the lack of a privacy shutter means I will either need to go out and purchase one or risk myself being recorded.
The build of the laptop itself is robust. I am impressed with the metal casing of the laptop, which does not bend or curve under pressure, unlike some laptops. The quality remains consistent throughout, and the laptop’s lid has been reinforced to be more durable. MSI knows well the userbase it’s targeting, and the mature design does live up to those expectations.Display Display Work Performance
Being in a career that requires one to stare at the screen for long periods, it’s almost mandatory for your screen to be sharp and crisp. After using the GS66 Stealth for weeks to type out content and do all my work in general, I am thoroughly impressed by the display quality offered by MSI here.
Not once during my work time did I experience anything less than an amazing screen experience. Setting the resolution at its highest and scaling at 150%, I always had sharp text that was easily discernable and did not strain my eyes. I compared it across my standard 24-inch inch monitor, and at the end of the day, I found myself with stronger eye endurance with the GS66. A factor working for the GS66 is the smaller screen size and hence tightly packed pixels.
If you are a working professional like me, you can safely use this laptop’s display for extended periods without worry. Now hang on while I ask my editor to use this as my daily work laptop.Perfect for Your Entertainment Needs
One of the things besides gaming that I absolutely love is binging Netflix shows, and the display performs perfectly in this scenario as well. The 15.6-inch screen comes with MSI True Color technology and the accompanying software allowed me to calibrate the color settings with ease. However, even without fine-tuning any settings, the experience was amazing.
The brightness control here is apt because it can go low when needed and equally high in other scenarios, making it usable on a sunny day outdoors. I did find the darker shades suffering at the highest brightness, but I will give it a pass since I never use the screen that bright. My time with the MSI GS66’s display while consuming media was more than satisfactory.Gaming on MSI G66 Stealth’s 165Hz Quad-HD Panel
So if you are a gamer who values display quality over anything, the MSI GS66’s display will serve you pretty well.Performance
The MSI GS66 Stealth gaming laptop comes with an 11th-Gen Intel Core i7-11800H CPU, an 8-core processor that clocks in a turbo frequency of 4.60 GHz. Paired with it is the NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080 Mobile GPU. Since the graphics card has a slimmer form factor for laptops, its power consumption has been dialed down. While the desktop RTX 3080 GPU has a 360 watts TGP, the laptop GPU is confined to a range of low wattages, starting from 80 watts and going up to 150 watts. This review unit, the MSI GS66 11UH, contains an 80 watt GeForce RTX 3080 GPU along with 16GB of 3200Mhz DDR4 RAM to match. For storage, the laptop is outfitted with a 2TB Samsung SSD in the PCIe Gen 4 slot.Day-to-Day Performance
As I mentioned in brief before, my daily workflow requires me to have multiple tabs of a browser open along with a few other software. I tested the Intel Core i7-11800H CPU’s performance by going about my business but adding a little more to the mix.
Safe to say, the 11th-Gen Intel i7 CPU performed better than I expected. I had 7 Chrome tabs playing 4K videos on YouTube, along with a simple image editing software and a text editor open in the background. While the fans were quite loud, the CPU held on its own and only used about 42% of its total capacity. The frequency didn’t need to go above 4.02 GHz and stayed that way during my extreme usage. This allowed me ample room to open even more tabs and get work done in a jiffy.
It was no doubt made possible by the i7-11800H’s 8 cores, each clocked 4300MHz effective Clock and averaged around 450Mhz for each core in Active Clock in HWiNFO. The integrated Intel graphics chip kept itself at 1500Mhz. The 16 gigs of RAM was at 72% percent usage, and a part of me wished I had a 32GB configuration, but even with this, the laptop did not stutter or lag at all.
While my daily workflow does not require me to push any laptop, let alone the MSI GS66 this far, I decided to tack more weight on the CPU to be sure gamers and multi-taskers won’t be disappointed with it.Gaming Performance
Now, right off the bat, let me start by saying that it’s fruitless to cross-compare desktop and laptop variants. To make the laptop slimmer, it is obvious that MSI has used the Max-Q GPU variant onboard here. While it certainly makes the machine lighter and slimmer, it naturally reduces performance compared to its desktop counterpart. As I mentioned above, this MSI GS66 review unit has a GeForce RTX 3080 that caps out at a TGP of 95Watts with Dynamic Boost.
With that said, I decided to hit the MSI GS66 with some graphically intensive games to test its performance. I started the test by booting up one of the most demanding games, Microsoft Flight Simulator. After detecting the configuration, the game placed the resolution as 2560 x 1440 and all graphics settings at Ultra.
Flying across the beautiful and vibrant city of Naples, the GeForce RTX 3080 laptop GPU hit a utilization of 99% at 92Watts (at 1440p resolution and Ultra graphics) and gave me a core clock frequency of around 1300MHz. The CPU sat quietly at 45% percent usage and had more room. Microsoft Flight Simulator averaged around 40 FPS with all the graphics settings topped out, and the gameplay felt smooth even at 40 FPS. I did resort to using a lower resolution and got more FPS, but I feel more power provided to the GPU could have given it that much-needed boost at my original settings.
I further moved on to Forza Horizon 4 to test out MSI GS66’s performance, and it was much more merciful on the system. Running the onboard benchmarks took a few minutes, and all the while, the gameplay felt smooth.
Some other games I tested on this laptop are GTA Online, The Ascent, Titanfall 2, and since I got lucky, the Back 4 Blood beta as well. Save for Back 4 Blood, because the beta build was unoptimized, every other game gave satisfactory performances. Titanfall 2 even hit the 144+ FPS mark on max settings. All this performance is without any additional overclocking through software (mentioned below). All things considered, I had a fabulous time gaming on the MSI GS66 Stealth, thanks to the very capable 11th-Gen CPU and RTX 3080 GPU onboard.Benchmark Test Results
While real-world experience is the best way to learn about a laptop’s true potential, the MSI GS66 Stealth didn’t do half bad at benchmark tests. I decided to run 3D Mark’s TimeSpy benchmark to get a score rating. After going through a few cycles of the animation, 3D Mark hit me back with a GPU score of 8478 and a CPU score of 6225. Studying the result further, 3DMark informed me that the score is better than 68% percent of all results which puts the GS66 quite high up there.
Cinebench R23’s Multi-Core benchmark dished out a score of 7313 after multiple cycles. While the score is lower compared to an AMD alternative like the Ryzen 7 5800H, it will perform multi-tasking applications with ease.Software: MSI Center
The MSI GS66 comes with a pre-installed MSI Center software to help gamers further enhance their experience, and it deserves a quick mention in this reviewMSI G66 Stealth Thermals
MSI GS66 has a thermal configuration of 3 fans with 7 copper heat pipes packed in a tight environment. The main heat area of the GS66, in my experience, sits right above the WSAD keys as this is where I felt the temperate crank up while I am gaming or using it for general day-to-day use. The laptop’s fans do compensate for that and output all the air hot air through the side vents.
When it comes to actual cooling, the GS66 is a mixed bag. All the cooling systems operated at peak capacity while I gamed away. While the keyboard hotspot I talked about did get hot to the touch, it was amazing that the GPU did not get a degree hotter than 81. And for the times I felt even that was too much, I turned on the provided Cooler Boost Trinity + feature, which ran all the fans on full power immediately. It helped cool down the GPU by about 11 degrees in 2 minutes, which is amazing. However, the fans get crazy loud, so be prepared for that.Keyboard
It can get a bit difficult for companies to give a balanced keyboard that every gamer loves. The MSI GS66 Stealth includes a SteelSeries custom RGB keyboard. The keys are chiclet-style and feel flat on impact. As someone who uses Red Mechanical keyboard switches as his primary, the laptop’s keyboard was not so bad.
If you are a gamer who loves the RGB trend every company has hopped on, the GS66’s keyboard features a lot of color profiles that make it come to life. Found under the SteelSeries GG software, these color schemes are useful if you want to make your laptop stand out or have a backlit keyboard in general. I am more of a solid red color kind of guy, and that’s what I outfitted the review unit with. You can, however, also use more RGB features like have audio and keyboard sync, display GIFs on keyboards, and more.
When it comes to typing, the keyboard gets a lot of love from me. Currently typing this review from the keyboard, the key travel time has proven helpful in increasing my word rate. The flat keys that annoyed me in gaming prove beneficial in this area, and I actually kind of feel like I’m typing on a MacBook Pro. If you are in the business of dishing out words on the daily, you will definitely take a liking to this tactile keyboard.Trackpad
Since the trackpad supports Windows Precision drivers, you get all the gestures you could ask for. Hence, my daily use with the GS66’s trackpad was made more simple by easing pinch zooming, scrolling, and other easy gestures. As for gaming, I doubt many of you out there play a shooter with your trackpad, but if you do, it went as well as you would expect it to.Speakers and Audio Quality
When it comes to raw audio power, the speakers did get fairly loud during my test. I listened to my favorite playlist of songs, ranging from standard pop songs to EDM/ bass-heavy stuff. In either case, the speakers did quite well, and I could even hear all the instruments in the famous track ‘Do I Wanna Know?’ by Arctic Monkeys. The bass itself was decent and I could definitely feel it when my hands were on the laptop. You can go on to consume media or play single-player games without headphones, but I recommend against getting into competitive gaming or playing for a large gathering with this speaker setup.I/O Ports and Connectivity
The MSI GS66 Stealth provides an ample amount of I/O ports for gamers to plug their peripherals. The laptop gives you two USB Type-C ports, one of which is a Thunderbolt 4 port with fast data transfer and Power Delivery charging support.
You also get 3 USB 3.2 Type-A ports, an RJ45 connector for that speedy LAN connection, and a Mic-in/ Headphone-out Combo Jack. I was also pleased by the HDMI input port that supports up to 8K @ 60Hz and 4K @ 120Hz. While you obviously won’t be able to game that high, you can hook up your monitor to enjoy even greater resolutions while editing or streaming videos. Connectivity-wise, the MSI GS66 is amped up with a Killer ax Wi-Fi 6E and Bluetooth v5.2 for hyper-fast transfer speeds.
While I personally would have loved an additional Type-A port and an SD card slot, I believe the existing connectivity options can be used effectively by gamers and creators alike.Battery and Charging
A bit surprised at this, I investigated and found a bug some MSI GS66 stealth users have faced in the past. It makes the laptop use the primary GPU, in my case, the GeForce RTX 3080, for all its visual tasks. This resulted in unnecessary power wastage and battery drain.MSI GS66 Stealth: Pros and Cons
Strong chassis and robust construction
Amazing Display with a high refresh rate
Capable CPU and GPU combination
MSI Game Center is a treat
Loud speakers, refined audio quality
No privacy shutter on webcam
RTX 3080 held back by low TGP
Average auto heat management
Fans can get too loud
Battery draining bug that should have been fixed by nowMSI GS66 Stealth (2023): A Rather Pricey Affair
If you are willing to tack on more weight to your laptop without compromising on performance, we suggest you check the MSI GE66 Raider (starts at Rs. 1,99,990) gaming laptop with a higher TGP RTX GPU and an SD card reader. However, if you put the nitpicking aspects aside, the MSI GS66 serves as an excellent if not the best gaming laptop out there. It will definitely last laptop gamers and working professionals for years to come, and I’m probably going to recommend it to casual gamers-cum-professionals.
People are spending more and more time on social media platforms. And why won’t they — all their friends, colleagues, acquaintances, and relatives are on one platform or the other, or all of them. Not only does it make it easier to remain connected but it’s also free. That said, while we are not paying any money on these platforms out of our pockets, we are paying with our privacy and data. This allows these platforms to earn billions of dollars from the content that we create and the time that we spend on them. What if there was a social network that not only kept your data private but also let you earn rewards for the time you spend on the platform? Well, Uhive is aiming to do just that, and in this article, we are going to tell you all about it.What is Uhive?
Uhive is an innovative social media platform that operates under the belief of distributing wealth among its users. The British startup behind Uhive understand that it’s the users who spend their time and generate the content that allows the platform to make money. And they are ready to share that success with their users. This was not feasible just a few years ago, but thanks to the boom in cryptocurrencies, it is now possible. Uhive uses its own digital currency, the Uhive token, that exists on Ethereum blockchain technology. You can use these Uhive tokens to do a ton of things and potentially even convert it to money. Now that you understand the basics of Uhive, let’s dig a little deeper to learn more about the platform.Key Features of Uhive
In this section, we will get familiar with the key features of Uhive so you can deeply understand this platform and see if it’s for you or not.1. Interests
Beauty and makeup
Movies and TV shows
News and politics
Pets and animals
Comics and anime
Comedy and fun
Home and lifestyle
Health and fitness
Food and drink
Books and literature
Art and architecture
You can follow these interests and your feed will consist of posts only from these topics. Also, depending on your interactions with posts, the app will show your more posts from that particular interest than others. I have been using Uhive for a couple of days now and it does feel like it understands my taste.2. Spaces
Spaces are what differentiate Uhive from all the other social media platforms. They are personal profiles that you can create in any area/s of interest. What makes it awesome is that you can create multiple spaces across different interests so you are not limited to one profile. So, if you want to share something related to history, you can create your own space in the “History Interest”. This ensures that you have exclusive spaces for posting exclusive things.3. Uhive Tokens
As mentioned, Uhive uses its own “Uhive Token” which is based on Ethereum blockchain technology. The current price of a Uhive token stands at $0.003, but will increase exponentially as more and more people join the platform. Now, you must be thinking – how do I earn tokens? Well, it’s pretty simple actually; you just do what you do on any social media platform. You open the app, read posts and like or dislike them, post content yourself, share posts, and invite others to join. For all of these actions users will be rewarded with tokens, which will land in their Uhive app token wallets several times a day.
Since the platform is just a few weeks old, Uhive is providing new users with an option to earn even more tokens. You can earn up to 50,000 tokens in quite a short amount of time. You can spend tokens on the platform in multiple ways. Here are some of the things you can currently spend your tokens, and some that are coming soon:
Buy and reserve spaces.
Buy attraction for your space.
Get paid a share of the revenue your space/s generate.
Get special effects.
Subscribe to certain spaces.
Allow businesses to sell products or services using Uhive tokens.
As you can see, there are a ton of things to use your Uhive tokens for. Uhive also plans to make their tokens usable in the ‘real world’, by allowing them to be traded on tier-1 crypto exchanges in the near-future. Who knows, soon, you might be able to convert these tokens directly into government-approved currencies?4. Free World and Civilized World
Uhive offers two types of experiences — the Civilized World and the Free World. While the civilized world is the place where you can create your profile/s, follow friends and other users, and do all the other ‘everyday’ social media things you expect, the “Free World” is for people who want to remain anonymous. Here you will be completely anonymous by identity or location. It is an ideal place to express yourself and to free your thoughts without any hesitation. The best part is that you can be a part of both worlds and seamlessly switch between them. So, you are not limited by the restrictions of either world.User Interface and Ease of Use Availability
Uhive is a mobile app-based social media platform. That means there’s no website you can use on desktop (at least for now). Their Android app is in beta on the Google Play Store and you can download it right now. The iOS app is available to download for everyone, but you’ll need to go through iOS TestFlight (download TestFlight app first) for now. Uhive’s team told us they hope to get App Store approval within the next few weeks.
Visit UhiveEarn Money Using a Secure Social Media Platform
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