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The Sonos Beam is by no means cheap, but is well worth the investment for a fantastic soundbar.
The Sonos Beam is an unassuming soundbar. Small, with just a few buttons, it looks like it would be easily drowned out by a party, and struggle to keep up with a blockbuster movie or a legendary game soundtrack… but that’s just not the case.
Staying true to the Sonos brand, the Beam pumps out a loud, rich sound no matter the task you set it. Bass-heavy songs, Hans Zimmer soundtracks and lively action scenes are easily taken on, but unsurprisingly, that kind of performance doesn’t come cheap.Setting the speaker up
As part of the packaging experience, Sonos has improved its use of eco-friendly materials. Inside the box, you won’t find any of the usual Styrofoam packaging that’s usually holding a speaker in place. Instead, Sonos uses a combination of cardboard and a nice black fabric wrapped around the Beam.
Getting the Beam set up isn’t as simple as just plugging it in. You’ll need to download the Sonos app and go through a set-up process. This includes configuring your TV, changing a few settings and connecting the speaker to the Wi-Fi.
This wasn’t the quickest process for me but after some searching on forums, it turns out that this came down purely to the very specific TV I had. Once set-up, I was able to connect my Android phone, iPad and TV, as well as activating it via Google Voice assistant (Siri is also available).
There are only a couple of ports on the speaker. Along with the charging cable input, there’s an HDMI ARC and an ethernet port.
If your TV has a HDMI ARC port, you will be able to plug the speaker straight in. If you don’t have this option (more likely on an older TV), Sonos includes an optical adaptor which allows you to connect to a different port in your TV.
If you connect via HDMI ARC, you can then control your soundbar with the volume button on your TV remote. Otherwise, the Sonos app allows you to change the volume on any connected device (like an iPhone, tablet or Android device). It is worth noting that you do need to sort the app to use this soundbar, even if you’ve plugged it into the TV.
If you buy the Beam and then decide down the line you want more of a surround sound feel, you can invest in other Sonos speakers and pair them with the Beam. A Sonos Sub and a couple of Sonos One speakers can all be paired easily to spread the sound across a room.The key features
One of the biggest factors that makes the Sonos Beam stand out is its versatility. Because it isn’t just a soundbar for your TV, you can connect your different devices and use the Beam to play music through your favourite streaming service.
While a lot of the best soundbars can only be used on their own, the Sonos Beam can be connected to other Sonos speakers. This means you can continually expand your home studio, adding a Sub speaker, or a couple of Sonos Ones to play sound from other points in the room.
The Sonos Beam can be set up with Google Assistant or Siri, allowing you to activate it with your voice. This can only do relatively simple commands around music unless you pair it with a streaming stick like Amazon Fire or Google Chromecast.
With certain films, songs, games and TV shows, you’ll also be able to use the Sonos Beam’s Dolby Atmos quality audio. This is a surround-sound technology that expands the height channels of your audio, making it sound like it is surrounding you, coming from above and around.
Normally, Dolby Atmos is offered in cinemas or from a full surround-sound system, but certain soundbars can condense it down. This works differently to most Dolby Atmos speakers and uses psychoacoustics to trick the listener into hearing a more impressive soundstage.
While the Sonos Beam can’t offer the same immersive experience as bigger Dolby Atmos speakers or surround sound, it does a pretty solid job for its size and price.
Apple users get the added feature with a Sonos Beam of TruePlay. This allows you to calibrate the speaker to your room using its built-in microphones. This will improve the audio for your exact set-up. However, you do need an iOS device for this.
As the 2nd generation of this speaker, it is noticeably more expensive than its predecessor. However, that comes with a more premium build for the front grille of the speaker, better sound and connectivity, and an overhaul of the Dolby Atmos experience.Sound experience
The most important factor of any speaker is how it sounds, and whether you’re listening to music or watching a film, the Sonos Beam excels.
Everything from the deepest bass of a song to the screech of tyres and explosions in films were crystal clear. Despite its size, the speaker packed enough power that I could at times feel the bass vibrating across the room.
As mentioned above, the Sonos Beam makes use of Dolby Atmos. For a lot of shows and films, this didn’t make a massive difference but occasionally I found it hugely improving my viewing experience.
While watching Netflix’s Drive to Survive, the Beam did a fantastic job of translating the power of the cars, engines roaring over the tense music. With Dolby Atmos, it really felt like you were there as a car crashes into a barrier at 200mph, the noise bouncing around you.
The same goes for the final fight in Avengers: Endgame. Lasers, bullets and rubble sound like they are flying past you as the ultimate battle unfolds. While a full surround system or larger speaker with Dolby Atmos will work much better, for its size the Beam utilises Dolby Atmos surprisingly well.
There doesn’t have to be lots of action for the Beam to perform. While watching the Oscar-awarded climbing documentary Free Solo, heavy breathing, rocks falling, and a tense soundtrack flew across the room in crystal clear quality.
I had a similar experience while gaming. During my tense and challenging playthrough of From Software’s Elden Ring, the soundbar captured every terrifying screech of a dragon, sword swing and the sound of my out-of-breath character running for his life – all while amplifying the beautiful soundtrack behind.
While this is designed first and foremost as a soundbar for your TV, you can play music through the Sonos Beam. Of course, this is by no means going to beat out similarly priced speakers designed purely for music, but the Beam is still an excellent performer for songs.
Unless you’re very much an audiophile trying to squeeze every drop out of your speaker, the Beam will double up as a more-than-capable speaker for music, especially when it comes to bass- and drum- heavy songs.
With Muse’s Knights of Cydonia, the horse-trot inspired drum pattern and sci-fi guitar sounded fantastic through the speaker, even when the sound was smacked up to deafening levels.
The aggressive bassline of Morning by Beck felt powerful without being overpowering, and the same goes for Thundercat’s Heartbreaks + Setbacks. Try out the pristine and well-recorded Get Lucky by Daft Punk or Radiohead’s Weird Fishes and you’ll get a blemish-free experience, enjoying the music as it was meant to be heard.Fitting the speaker in
Most soundbars tend to look good, especially at this price point. Sleek designs can be found across the majority of brands, but the Sonos Beam has the benefit of not being absolutely huge.
If you don’t have a large TV unit or are hoping to not take up too much room, the Beam will fit in your home better than the average soundbar. It spans a total width of just 65cm which is smaller than most mid-size to large TVs.
That means you can put it in front of the TV, on a shelf, TV unit or somewhere slightly more tucked away than larger soundbars.
It comes in either black or white. Both colours look sleek, but those who like a more unique or colourful design might be slightly disappointed.Verdict
There are a lot of soundbars out there, and the Sonos Beam sits firmly in the middle. It is by no means affordable, but it is also nowhere near the priciest one you can pick up, even within Sonos’ own range.
While it takes a few extra steps to get set up, it is an easy speaker to use from then on and offers some nice additional features like voice assistants, TruePlay for iPhone users and Dolby Atmos.
However, the Sonos Beam feels hard to critique. Music, films, games, TV shows – whatever task you throw at it, this speaker seems capable of it all. The fact that it performs so well despite its more compact size also makes this a pretty obvious choice for those with less space in their home.Alternatives Sonos Arc
The bigger brother to the Sonos Beam, the Arc takes a lot of what works about the Beam and improves on it. Yes, it does cost a lot more at £799, but that price secures you a far larger speaker, a much more convincing Dolby Atmos experience, and obviously an improved audio experience.
If you don’t mind how much money you’re spending, there are few soundbars that can offer a better performance than this.
While the Sonos Beam is a great all-round soundbar, it is still quite expensive. Sony’s HT-X8500 speaker comes in at a lower price while offering an audio experience that isn’t that far behind the Beam.
It has Dolby Atmos, is easy to setup, offers a fantastic audio experience, and like the Sonos Beam, is relatively compact compared to a lot of soundbars these days.
JBL Bar 2.1
The JBL Bar 2.1 soundbar crams a lot of value into its more affordable price tag. Along with the Dolby Atmos soundbar, you also get a subwoofer to go with it. Getting this kind of combination would normally require a much larger investment.
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A soundbar can give your TV a serious upgrade in terms of audio fidelity and power: music gets more immersive, dialog becomes more distinct, and bass sounds really kick when you’ve got a soundbar set up as a replacement for the default speakers built into your television. Luckily, it’s not hard to learn how to connect a soundbar to a TV.
You don’t need to put aside half a day to get your new piece of equipment set up. Most soundbars are relatively straightforward to install, and most TVs will automatically recognize when you’ve attached a new audio device.
The soundbar featured in the photographs accompanying this article is the Sonos Beam (Gen. 2), but no matter which soundbar you’ve bought to upgrade your home theater setup (and whichever TV you’re connecting it to), you should find much of the setup process is similar.Know what all the connection ports do
Most soundbars come with some type of HDMI port. David Nield
Before you start plugging in cables, get familiar with the ports on the back of your soundbar. If you’re not sure what something is, check the included instruction manual, and if you don’t have a hard copy you can usually download a digital one from the manufacturer’s website.
The familiar HDMI (High-Definition Multimedia Interface) port is the one you’re most likely to see. HDMI cables transmit top-quality audio and video together, though in the case of a soundbar it’s obviously just audio. You might also see references to HDMI ARC (audio return channel), which introduced two-way audio in 2009, and HDMI eARC (enhanced audio return channel), the 2023 update that added higher bitrates, better surround sound, and support for more audio codecs.
It doesn’t matter whether your soundbar has HDMI, HDMI ARC, or HDMI eARC, you’re still going to connect that port to your TV. But it’s worth noting that if you have basic HDMI without those additional acronyms, you might not have access to the same features and sound quality carried by the newer connections. So if you have an older soundbar without eARC support, you might want to think about an upgrade.
You may also see an optical digital audio port, either on its own or alongside an HDMI connection. This will get you high-quality audio, but not quite as good as what you’d get with HDMI eARC, and this type of port has gradually been phased out on newer models as the eARC standard has taken over.
On the oldest, smallest, and cheapest soundbars, you might also see a 3.5mm analog audio cable port. You can use this to connect your soundbar to your TV, but you won’t get the best audio quality. Additionally, you should see a port for the soundbar’s power cable. In the case of the second-generation Sonos Beam, there’s also an Ethernet port for a more direct (and stable) connection to the internet, if it’s needed.Connect your soundbar to your TV
Look for the HDMI port on your TV to connect your soundbar. David Nield
The usual rule of electronics applies here: Switch off everything you’re working with while you get it all connected. Power up your soundbar first, and then connect the soundbar to your TV. As mentioned above, this will usually be via an HDMI cable, though you might also need to use one of the alternative ports.
[Related: How to fix the annoying audio delay on your soundbar]
Older HDMI cables will work with an HDMI eARC soundbar, but you won’t get all the best features. It’s the same with TVs, where HDMI eARC has been available on sets manufactured in the last few years: You’ll still get sound out of an older television with a non-eARC HDMI port, but you won’t be able to get the top audio quality that eARC supports.
If your TV has an HDMI eARC port, that’s the one to go for when it comes to making the connection, otherwise, any spare HDMI port will do. Once you’ve connected the soundbar to the TV, ensure the cables are firmly in place. If you’re using optical digital audio or analog audio, look for the corresponding port on your TV, which should be marked accordingly—your TV’s instruction manual can help.
Finally, get your TV and soundbar positioned the way you want (as well as your subwoofer, if one is part of the equation), then power up the television first, followed by the soundbar. If all goes well, the two devices should successfully connect to each other and work pretty much straight away.Finish the soundbar setup
With all the cables connected to the Sonos Beam (Gen. 2), it’s almost time to sit back and enjoy. Sonos
Connecting a soundbar to a TV isn’t a particularly tricky task, and you’ll usually find that your equipment works immediately—particularly if you have newer hardware that supports the latest standards. Try putting on some sports or a movie to hear the difference in the audio quality.
You should also take some time to play around with the audio settings on your TV. We can’t give you instructions for every single model, but the audio settings menu shouldn’t be too hard to find with your TV remote. In some cases, you might have to specifically choose the soundbar as the audio output to force sound to exit your connected speaker instead of the TV’s defaults. You might also find you can adjust the audio output quality and enable extra features (such as Dolby Atmos or DTS:X).
One acronym to look for while you browse these settings is CEC (consumer electronics control) or HDMI-CEC. Essentially, these enable you to control your soundbar’s volume and on-off state using your TV remote (and via the HDMI cable). Most of the time, you’ll want to have this enabled, and it will likely be enabled by default on the majority of sets anyway.
Your soundbar may have a few settings to play around with too, though—again—we can’t give you a comprehensive guide to all of the soundbars out there. The Sonos Beam (Gen. 2) has touch controls on the unit itself for volume control, as well as an accompanying mobile app that enables you to beam audio to it straight from the apps on your phone, for example.
All that’s left is to enjoy the benefits and the improved audio quality of your new soundbar. If everything isn’t working as it should, try swapping to a different HDMI port on your TV, switching out the HDMI cable for a different one (a brand-new one if possible), and diving into the audio settings on your television set.
After much anticipation, Qualcomm has finally announced its next-gen Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 flagship processor for Android phones. While Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 was not exactly a success, 8+ Gen 1 brought some much-needed improvements. This time around, the silicon maker is hoping to turn the tide with a new CPU design and much-touted thermal efficiency. So in this article, we bring you an in-depth comparison between the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 vs 8 Gen 1. You will find the differences between these two processors and what improvements have been included in the latest chipset. So on that note, let’s jump to our detailed comparison between Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 and 8 Gen 1.Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 vs 8 Gen 1: Detailed Comparison (2023)
In this comparison between Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 and 8 Gen 1, we have discussed the CPU and GPU improvements, benchmark numbers, ISP enhancements, AI processing, 5G modem, and more.Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 vs 8 Gen 1: Specifications
We have compared the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 and 8 Gen 1, spec-by-spec in each category below. Take a look at the table below to find quick information on both processors.
Snapdragon 8 Gen 2Snapdragon 8 Gen 1
CPUOcta-core, Kryo CPUOcta-core, Kryo CPU
4x 1.8GHz (Cortex-A510)
Process TechnologyTSMC’s 4nm processSamsung’s 4nm
GPUNew Adreno GPU 740; Hardware-accelerated Ray TracingAdreno 730 GPU; Snapdragon Elite Gaming
Machine Learning and AINew AI Engine, Hexagon Processor7th-gen AI Engine; 3rd Gen Sensing Hub; 27TOPS
ISPTriple 18-Bit Spectra ISP; Cognitive ISP, Snapdragon SightTriple 18-Bit ISP; Snapdragon Sight
Camera CapabilityCapture photos up to 200MP, 36MP triple shots with ZSL3.2 Gigapixels per second, 240 12MP photos in one second
Video Capability8K HDR, Bokeh Engine 28K HDR, 18-bit RAW, Dedicated Bokeh Engine
Up to 3.5 Gbps Peak Upload
WiFi SupportWi-Fi 7Wi-Fi 6 and Wi-Fi 6E
BluetoothBluetooth 5.3, LE Audio, Dual Bluetooth Antenna, aptX LosslessBluetooth 5.2, LE Audio, Dual Bluetooth Antenna, aptX Lossless
NavIC SupportNavIC SupportSnapdragon 8 Gen 2 vs 8 Gen 1: CPU Upgrade
If we compare the CPU of Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 and 8 Gen 1, there is a vast difference in design and particularly in thermal efficiency. Let’s start with the CPU design first. The Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 was built on Samsung’s 4nm process node, which was not received well due to throttling performance issues, poor battery life, and worse thermals. Qualcomm immediately switched to TSMC’s 4nm fabrication process with the Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1, and it saw stable improvements in both performance and thermal efficiency.
With the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2, Qualcomm has tweaked its CPU configuration. Now, you get a mighty Cortex-X3 core clocked slightly higher at 3.2GHz (same frequency as 8+ Gen 1), 2x Cortex-A715 cores clocked at 2.8GHz, 2x Cortex-A710 cores clocked at 2.8GHz, and 3x Cortex-A510 cores amped at 2.0GHz.
As you can see, this year Qualcomm has gone with a 1 main + 4 performance +3 efficiency CPU design, which can further be defined as a 1+(2+2)+3 design. In an official confirmation to XDA, Qualcomm said that the two Cortex-A715 and A710 have been added for 32-bit support. Not just that, the A715 core is much more power efficient (~20%) than A710.
If we compare the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 with the recent Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1, the margin reduces to 25% in performance and 10% in power efficiency, which is not bad per se. All in all, the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 is a meaty upgrade over the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1/ 8+ Gen 1 and sees a good bump in performance while keeping the thermals in check.Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 vs 8 Gen 1: Geekbench Score (Leaked)
Geekbench score of Snapdragon 8 Gen 2
Here, we have extrapolated the Geekbench score of Snapdragon 8 Gen 2, 8 Gen 1, and 8+ Gen 1, so you can get a good idea about the CPU performance improvements. As you can see, the SD 8 Gen2 is a massive upgrade over the SD8Gen1 and has considerable improvement over the SD 8+ Gen1.
Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 vs 8 Gen 1: Geekbench ScoreSnapdragon 8 Gen 2 vs 8 Gen 1: Adreno GPU
Comparing the GPU aboard the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 vs 8 Gen 1, we again see a huge improvement. The new Adreno 740 GPU on the 8 Gen 2 delivers 25% faster performance when stacked against SD 8 Gen1’s Adreno 730 GPU. At the same time, it consumes 40% less energy, which is even better. So while playing games on Snapdragon 8 Gen 2, the device will offer better performance while running cooler and delivering better battery life.
Snapdragon 8 Gen 2
If we compare the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 against the 8+ Gen 1, the performance difference comes down to 15% and power efficiency by 10%. Apart from that, Qualcomm has introduced hardware-accelerated Ray Tracing on the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 as part of the Snapdragon Elite Gaming feature set. The chipset also adds support for Unreal Engine 5 and Metahuman frameworks.
As for benchmark numbers, we haven’t yet performed synthetic tests like GFXBench and 3DMark Wild Life Extreme Stress Test, so we will reserve our full judgment for now. But on paper, the GPU on the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 seems promising and is better than the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 by miles.Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 vs 8 Gen 1: Triple ISP
Snapdragon 8 Gen 2
Apart from that, Bokeh Engine 2 has been enhanced for capturing cinematic videos and now you can also shoot 8K HDR videos and do 10-bit HEIF photo capture. Moreover, the ability to shoot 200MP photos and 36MP triple camera capture are all the same on both ISPs. However, Qualcomm has this time partnered with Samsung and Sony to optimize shooting on 200MP sensors.
Snapdragon 8 Gen 1
One more difference here is that Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 now supports the AV1 codec, which was not available on previous-gen Snapdragon chipsets. Overall, both the ISPs are capable, but 8 Gen2 brings new features to make the camera experience even better on Android phones. But we would like to point out that it’s up to the discretion of OEMs to cherry-pick whether they want to utilize a feature or not.Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 vs 8 Gen 1: AI and ML
In the AI department, Qualcomm has done a solid job and upgraded the AI processor to a new architecture. Powered by the latest Hexagon processor, the AI unit on the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 is now 4.35 times faster than the AI engine on the SD 8 Gen 1. It also offers 60% better performance per watt while performing INT4 operations. Qualcomm also announced that 8 Gen 2’s new AI engine delivers faster and more accurate results in natural language processing with multi-language translation.
The AI engine on the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 is also responsible for powering the Cognitive ISP feature, as detailed above. Besides that, the SD 8 Gen 2 packs an improved Sensing Hub with dual AI processors for custom wake words, always-sensing cameras, etc. To sum up, the AI engine on the 8 Gen 2 has received a good performance bump. Most notably, the power efficiency numbers are significantly up. So yeah, the SD8Gen2 brings more AI capabilities than the already great 8 Gen1.Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 vs 8 Gen 1: 5G and Wireless Tech
Yes, you will be able to use two 5G SIM cards at the same time on the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2. Apart from that, the X70 5G modem has an AI-powered co-processor that helps in enhancing latency, speed, coverage, power efficiency, and much more. Finally, both the 5G modems support mmWave and sub-6GHz bands in SA and NSA modes.
Not to mention, you have dual Bluetooth antennas on the SD 8 Gen 2. Besides that, both the processors have support for Bluetooth LE and aptX Lossless codec for CD-quality audio streaming. Finally, support for India’s NavIC positioning system is present on both chipsets.Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 Outperforms Snapdragon 8 Gen 1
Xiaomi’s onslaught on the Indian smart TV industry, which kicked off earlier last year, has proved to be a runaway success. The Mi TV lineup has only grown over the course of 2023 to help Xiaomi build a strong foothold over the home entertainment market. Well, the Chinese giant is now looking to enhance your TV viewing experience with the launch of their Mi Soundbar (Rs 4,999) in India and that too at a pretty tantalizing price tag.
Xiaomi sent over the huge Mi Soundbar to us for a review, and I have been using it over the past week. So, here’s how my experience with Xiaomi’s Mi Soundbar has been so far:Mi Soundbar: Specifications
Calling the Mi Soundbar huge isn’t an understatement, it is 33 inches in length and holds eight speakers, but it’s still quite lightweight and weighs just under 2 kilograms. If you want to delve into the specifics of the speaker setup, well, Xiaomi has packed two 0.75-inch dome tweeters and two 2.5-inch woofers to bring the crisp audio experience to the table. This is coupled with four passive radiators that help boost the bass – which is a prime selling point for the Mi Soundbar. You can check some key specifications listed below:
Dimensions83 x 7.2 x 8.7 cm
Speakerstwo 65mm woofer units + two 20mm dome tweeters + four passive radiators
Connectivity Options3.5 mm stereo AUX, fiber optic, coaxial S/PDIF, red and white line-in, and Bluetooth 4.2Mi Soundbar: What’s in the Box
Mi Soundbar (you cannot miss this one)
Wall mounting accessories
The Mi Soundbar has a number of connectivity options and I would have much preferred if Xiaomi provided a 3.5mm AUX or optical cable in the box over the S/PDIF one.Mi Soundbar: Design and Build
The Mi Soundbar is no different from several other Xiaomi products we have seen in the recent past. The classy design and minimal aesthetic of the Mi Soundbar, should make it attractive to the masses.
The Mi Soundbar is a massive cuboid, and comes only in white (for the plastic body with a matte finish) with a grey fabric mesh on the front to cover the speaker unit. There’s a subtle “Mi” branding on the top right of the soundbar and I like that.
This color combo makes it look sophisticated, and I kind of like it, but it also makes me wary of handling the Mi Soundbar. It catches dust and grease pretty easily and that could ruin its look, which is why I’d have loved it if Xiaomi had a black variant of the soundbar as well.
If not a display, Xiaomi could have at least provided a remote with the soundbar to allow users to adjust the volume from the comfort of their sofa set or bed. It’s one of the key ingredients missing from the recipe here and many of its competitors do have an edge here.
The Mi Soundbar can be installed in 2 different forms under your television set. You can either choose to just connect the power and input cables and then place the soundbar below your TV on a table, or mount it on the wall – great if your TV is also mounted. Xiaomi even provides the accessories — screws and screw mounts — required to mount the Mi Soundbar within the box but you’d have to do the heavy lifting yourself.
If you decide to place the Mi Soundbar on a table top, the body will rest on three sturdy rubber feet which can be found at the bottom – two near the ends, and one sitting in the middle. They will not only keep your Mi Soundbar from directly touching the table but also makes it skid-proof and absorb the vibration from the speakers.
Mi Soundbar: Connectivity
Xiaomi offers you a number of different options to connect the Mi Soundbar to your TVs, laptop or smartphone. Firstly, you can obviously turn to Bluetooth to connect any of the devices to the soundbar but the audio output won’t really be the best, well, because wireless audio streaming is still not there yet. It supports A2DP music playback, which is sweet, however, still not as good as its wired alternatives.
Wired Connection Ports
The wired options include the familiar 3.5mm AUX port, the red and white Line-in ports, a black S/PDIF (co-ax) port, followed by the optical port. It means you’re not going to face any issues when connecting to your Mi TV as it has all of these ports. However, I was using the Mi Soundbar with one of the smart TVs at the Beebom office and it worked perfectly fine in my case.
The ports are arranged neatly on the rear, with buttons to switch between them laid out on top. These connectivity options can be switched between pretty quickly and easily, with just the press of a button. An LED indicator above the button tells you which source is playing. It requires you to have the necessary cable attached to the soundbar (which you might need to buy yourself) to get the output. You’ll have to flip the rocker switch to turn on the soundbar once you’ve connected it to the power source.
No HDMI or USB Ports
However, I won’t be too harsh on Xiaomi for the lack of these connectivity options because the company is giving users access a great audio experience at a pretty reasonable price.Mi Soundbar: Audio Quality
We already know what’s packed inside the Mi Soundbar, so let’s get down straight to the meat and gravy of this product – the audio quality. Xiaomi promises that the soundbar is designed to deliver a “thrilling cinematic” experience and well, I was astounded to see it make good on this promise the moment I plugged it into my MacBook Air. Yeah, it was my first taste of using a soundbar and I kicked off the testing with my daily drivers before moving to a smart TV.
Listening to Songs
Well, let me preface my experience by saying that you’re not going to be impressed with the Mi Soundbar in this scenario. While the soundbar gets loud and has a ton of treble and bass that a lot of people may approve of and like, but I have to warn you that the soundstage isn’t well-balanced in this case.
While the music listening experience isn’t particularly great here, you can’t overlook the movie and TV season-viewing aspect of the Mi Soundbar.
Over the past weekend, I spent all my time in bed binge-watching a new sci-fi mystery show called Travelers on Netflix. I realized that the true purpose of Mi Soundbar is to make it possible for you to appreciate your favorite movies and TV shows with a fuller and cinematic audio experience. The soundstage is pretty well-balanced here and one can not just distinctly hear the dialogues clearly, but also the sound effects with heavy bass, as well as higher frequencies. Movies sound fantastic on the soundbar. .
Also, I have a medium-sized room at home and the Mi Soundbar was loud enough to give me an improved viewing experience as compared to just using the TV’s speakers. Placing the soundbar on a table under the TV was satisfactory in my case and also, I did notice that the rubber feet here are strong enough to hold the soundbar in place.
Xiaomi has certainly put in much effort to tune the sound of the Mi Soundbar for a better home entertainment experience and while it seems to work for binge-watching movies, it all boils down to preference when listening to music.Mi Soundbar: Should You Buy One?
Finally, let us answer the one question that you’re here for, and it’s whether you should get Mi Soundbar for your home or not. Well, Xiaomi has designed a soundbar that extends a well-balanced and full output for binge-watching movies on Netflix or listening to music when you come home after yet another tough day at work. And if you’re a bass lover, well, your day will be made. So, Xiaomi has probably added another feather to its overflowing hat with the launch of Mi Soundbar in India and I think it justifies the Rs 4,999 price tag pretty well.
There may be a few chinks in its armor such as the lack of a remote or a few I/O ports, however, the sound quality makes up for these imperfections.
Mi Soundbar is perhaps one of the better options available on the market in its price range and there’s no denying it. But, there’s a possibility that you want to use a remote. Well, in that case, you can get the F&D T180X 2.0 TV Soundbar (Rs 5,490) which should offer you a similar soundstage due to its 3-inch drivers and 1-inch tweeters. You can also pick the Philips DSP-475 U Soundbar and subwoofer combo (Rs 4,500) if you want to add that extra thump to your experience.
Powerful bass and treble
Amazing sound for movies and TV
No Remote Control
Lacks few I/O ports
Not great for just music
SEE ALSO: Xiaomi Poco F1 Review: Flagship of the Masses!Xiaomi Mi SoundBar Review: Cinematic Sound At a Bargain
After smartphones, Xiaomi now strives to dominate the home entertainment market and the Mi Soundbar is the perfect addition to their enormous portfolio in India. It serves as a perfect companion to their Mi TV lineup, that has been selling really well, and brings a lot of value to your viewing experience. It’s sleek, light and more importantly, affordable, to make you want to pull out your wallet and buy one almost immediately.
Fast as any Gen 4 drive
Should work with PS5Cons
No hardware encryption
No heat spreader included
Only 1- or 2TBOur Verdict
If you put aside the lack of encryption, everything else about the Exceria Pro is good or excellent. It’s one of the fastest Gen4 designs, marginally undercuts most of its competitors and provides a sufficient lifespan for most users.
For those wondering who Kioxia is, this business went under the modest title of the Toshiba Memory Corporation before it was spun off from the rest of Toshiba and given new branding.
But long before that happened, Toshiba Memory Corporation invented NAND Flash memory in the early 1980s, the memory technology at the heart of the Kioxia product I’m reviewing today.
In the chronicles of Gen 4 NVMe storage, Kioxia hasn’t exactly rushed to deliver its first products to market. Others got their products out much earlier, though some of these early designs didn’t live up to their billing and have subsequently been replaced with revamped second-generation solutions anyway.
So what has the Exceria Pro got to offer PC builders that they can’t get from rivals like Samsung, Crucial and Corsair?Design & Build
The review sample sent by Kioxia was a 2TB version of 2280 M.2 stick, and this comes without a heat spreader attached to the single-sided NVMe board.
What’s slightly odd is that Kioxia created a label for the top face of the Exceria Pro that covers all the chips except for the NAND module on the far left, enabling us to easily read that part number without removing it.
These NAND modules are BiCS TLC 3D Flash Memory, and on the 2TB drive, there are four chips, each probably containing two 1Gbit NAND modules and half as many on the 1TB drive. Because the performance of the 1TB drive is as good or better than the 2TB reveals, the bandwidth between the controller and the NAND must be the same on both capacities.
Kioxia doesn’t offer the Exceria Pro in any other capacities, as this product is considered exclusively for ‘Professional users’. This is perhaps why there’s no sizes smaller than 1TB available but doesn’t explain why there’s no 4TB option.
Many NVMe board makers go with designs where the controller and discrete electronics are at one end, the design of the Exceria Pro has the NAND modules at either end with the controller sitting in the middle.
Where other brands are happy to provide detailed specifications of their controller and cache configuration, Kioxia doesn’t include this information in the specs. The controller is almost certainly a custom part created by the makers specifically for this product, but Kioxia hasn’t confirmed or denied that assumption.
To get the full performance from the Exceria Pro requires a Gen 4 PCIe M.2 slot with all four lanes, delivering a maximum of 8GB/s of bandwidth from the drive to the host system.Specs & Features
Being a little late to the Gen 4 SSD party, I wondered what Kioxia included that might set the Exceria Pro aside from the herd.
In the specifications, Kioxia quotes a read and write speed of 7,3000 and 6,400MB/s and maximum IOPS of 800,000 reading and 1,300,000 writing. Those numbers are right at the top of what Gen 4 drives can achieve with this 8GB/s interface and are bordering on the theoretical limits.
The TBW (Total bytes written) is 400TB for the 1TB model and 800TB for the 2TB design. I should clarify that those numbers are calculated based on the worst possible random write scenarios. Both drive sizes should survive the five-year warranty if they stay within those TBW boundaries.
One feature that’s notably missing is hardware encryption, available on several competitor products such as the Corsair MP600 Pro LPX and Crucial P5 Plus. Arguments have been made that gaming drives don’t need hardware encryption, but given how Kioxia has positioned the Exceria Pro as being above its enthusiast pitched Exceria Plus G2 series, perhaps it should have had it.
It is much more difficult to be critical is the performance that this unit can deliver, being up there with the Seagate FireCuda 530 and Kingston KC3000 in terms of raw speed of reading and writing.Performance
One peculiarity of this design is that the 2TB has a 20% lower read IOPS than the 1TB model but 18% faster write IOPS. This hints that whatever cache mechanism Kioxia uses favours the extra space on the larger drive. But, conversely, for best read speeds, the amount of NAND is a hindrance.
In synthetic benchmarking, the Exceria Pro 2TB hit the quoted 7,300MB/s read speeds but fell slightly short on the write performance, generally being closer to 6,000MB/s.
ATTO is an old but reliable test that isn’t often fooled by caching tricks and it recorded a peak read of 6.97GB/s and a best write speed of 5.62GB/s. And finally, PCMark 10 storage test for system drive scored the Exceria Pro 2723 on my test system, which is highly respectable.
These results put the Exceria Pro on par (or a little better in some tests) than the two best Gen 4 drives we’ve previously reviewed, the Seagate FireCuda 530 and Kingston KC3000.
My only concern about this design is that the lack of a heat spreader makes reaching the thermal limits of this design more likely under stress and that without active cooling, it will throttle.
While benchmarking, it did reach 75C on a few occasions, the point where throttling is employed by the module to avoid overheating.Price
In the UK, the Exceria Pro can be found for around £172.98 and £294.99 for the 1TB and 2TB models through the online retailer Ebuyer, though it is more expensive at other retailers such as LamdaTek and Comet.
However, Kioxia tells me that once sufficient stock enters the market the price will be £249.99 for the 2TB option, a level that would make this drive an instant success.
Sadly, customers Kioxia withdrew from the US market in 2023, resulting in its line-up of consumer flash and storage products are no longer available in the United States. It can still be found through imports from Japan and Europe, though based on the current high cost of international mailing, this might not prove economically viable.
If we compare the 2TB drive with its competitors, even at the current pricing the Exceria Pro is cheaper than the Seagate FireCuda 530 (£317.99), Samsung 980 Pro (£319.98) and Corsair MP600 Pro LPX (£312.22), but many of those designs do come with a heat spreader.
It’s undercut by the WD Black SN850 (£284), but that drive has much lower write performance than the Exceria Pro.
Overall, if you don’t intend to add a heat spreader, you can save a small amount by picking the Exceria Pro, and that might be more significant for those with a tight budget or who are building multiple systems.
Check out our chart of the best SSDs to see all your options.Verdict
The stand out feature of this design is the excellent performance, and Kioxia has aggressively priced it to get it better noticed by system builders.
Therefore, if you intend to drive an SSD to the point of NAND failure, then the Seagate or the Kingston might be a better choice.
Unless you must have hardware encryption, the Exceria Pro is a good choice for performance-related tasks. The lack of the integrated heat spreader allows it to be installed in a laptop, and it is equally at home in a desktop system.
The only caveat to PS5 and laptop use are that when this drive works hard, it gets hot, and without a heat spreader, it can throttle. In a desktop system or a PS5, a third-party heat spreader is probably a solid investment. How well it works in a laptop will be directly related to how much ventilation and the room it has in the M.2 slot.
A 4TB model would have been nice, but not all makers offer this option, and maybe one can be added later.Specs Kioxia Exceria Pro: Specs
Capacities: 1TB and 2TB
Form Factor: M.2 Type 2280-S2-M
Flash Memory: 112-Layer BiCS TLC 3D Flash Memory
Dimensions: (L x W x H): 80.15 mm x 22.15 mm x 2.23 mm
Weight: 8.0g (2TB), 7.6g (1TB)
Interface: M.2 NVMe PCI slot (PCIe Gen4, downgradable to Gen3, Gen2 and Gen1)
Quoted Sequential Read: 7,300MB/s
Quoted Sequential Write: 6,400 MB/s
Quoted Random Read IOPS (1TB, 2TB): 1,000K, 800K
Quoted Random Write IOPS (1TB, 2TB): 1,100K, 1,300K
Total Bytes Written (1TB, 2TB): 400TB, 800TB. Active Power Consumption: 8.9W (typ.) Warranty: 5 years
You wouldn’t know it from Apple’s launch show yesterday. Sure, the iPad 2 has a faster processor with jacked up graphics and the inside pipeline to an App Store insanely flush with games. But if we’re talking gaming as serious business here, where were all the game developers lined up with “killer” demos?
Nowhere, as usual. Blame Apple. For all the company’s magical “post-PC” preachifying, it’s never been any good at getting out in front of its technology and selling it more than conceptually to gamers.
At the original iPad launch, Apple devoted a fractional few minutes to a handful of upscaled iPhone games before abandoning the topic altogether. Apple’s Game Center, an elegant albeit simplistic matchmaking and achievement tracking tool, is really just a watered-down imitation of Microsoft’s Xbox Live. And at yesterday’s iPad 2 event, no one bothered to mention gaming at all, much less raise a flag for it.
Apple’s reluctance to promote itself as a vanguard of the games industry hasn’t stopped developers from all but hijacking the company’s technology to truck in games by the semi-load. And it hardly takes a genius to look at a physics puzzler like Angry Birds, which its developer Rovio claims has been downloaded nearly 100 million times–a figure that dwarfs the estimated 20 million copies sold by Activision’s Modern Warfare 2–to see just how meteoric a force “AppleGaming” has become.
So what if Apple hasn’t happened to gaming. Gaming happened to Apple.
Apple vs. NintendoSony
And looking at where the iPhone is today, it’s easy to imagine Apple going rounds with the 3DS. Sure, Nintendo’s handheld offers auto-stereoscopic 3D (no need for glasses), dual screens, access to Nintendo’s IP stable (Mario, Donkey Kong, Zelda, etc.), and a deterministic (buttons) interface.
Who knows what that demographic adds up to out of an estimated 140 million Nintendo DS units sold worldwide. But during its peak months, the DS sold around two million units (in the U.S.). Apple’s iPhone routinely doubles that, and–chew on this figure–some analysts believe Apple’s on track to sell a cool 75 million iPhones worldwide in 2011 alone.
And the NGP? It’s pretty simple: Sony doesn’t seem interested in Apple’s demographic, and I’m pretty sure they’re already positioning their upcoming “portable console” to sell more to mainstream-enthusiast gamers like me.
Apple vs. XboxPlayStation
Enter the iPad. It offers a screen that’s at least netbook-worthy. You can plug it into a cradle and type on it with a keyboard. True, it’s still miles away from an Xbox 360, PS3, or PC, and if you want to play Call of Duty or StarCraft II, you’re definitely reaching for a gamepad or keyboard and mouse, not a slate.
But what if Apple let you run the iPad out to another display and drive with a more traditional gaming interface? Right–it’s as liable to happen as Apple dismantling its “Checkpoint Charlie” approach to the App Store.
But what if, right? Shoot the moon with me. What if Apple shoehorned something like its Apple TV technology into the iPad? What if the iPad could connect to a larger screen either wirelessly or through a docking cradle and let you channel retooled versions of applications (chiefly games, but alternatively Netflix, Hulu, etc.) culled from its over 300,000 App Store apps?
What if the iPad became your set-top console?
And you know, what’s so fanciful about any of that? The first-generation iPad’s already pretty adept at rendering visually complex games. Have you seen EA’s Dead Space running on the iPad at near-720p resolution?
What do you think? Am I off the reservation here? Or is Apple sitting on a potential NintendoSony, XboxPlayStation (and beyond) killer?
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