Amazfit Stratos Review

Amazfit Stratos Review

HIGHLIGHTS

  • The Amazfit Stratos is a swim-proof fitness watch
  • You can track runs, cycle rides, and swims with it
  • It also shows full notifications and works with both Android and iOS

Xiaomi-backed wearables brand Huami’sAmazfit Stratos is a multi-sport GPS watch with some features of smartwatches. It’s swim-proof, can track outdoor runs, shows you notifications from your smartphone, lets you store music, and promises up to five days of battery life. All this comes at a price tag of Rs. 15,999, which is a pretty good price if it all works well. We used the Amazfit Stratosfor a week to find out whether it’s worth considering as a “smart” watch for fitness enthusiasts.

Amazfit Stratos design and comfort

The Amazfit Stratos looks stunning in photos but the actual product isn’t as good-looking. It’s really bulky, with a thick circular dial and large buttons. While we appreciate the large display, it looks a bit like a flat tyre and isn’t a full circle. The Amazfit Stratos is a bit too bulky to be comfortable for everyday use. It uses a silicone strap and we found that it fit securely and didn’t cause any additional discomfort.

The display is perhaps the biggest weakness of the Amazfit Stratos. It’s an always-on display, which is great, but the positives end there. The glass on top is very reflective, and under bright light, it is hard to read what’s on screen. The backlight tended to hurt our eyes in dim rooms because it lights up the entire screen. With the Amazfit Stratos, waking up in the middle of the night to check the time on our wrist was a painful experience every single time. Even though it has some cool watch faces, the display isn’t good enough to show them off.

One big design flaw with the Amazfit Stratos is its charger. The charging cradle snaps on to the bottom of the watch, but it can fit upside down just as easily. If you accidentally get it wrong, you won’t be able to charge the watch because the pins won’t make contact. While the mechanism works just fine, this oversight could be rather annoying in the long run.

amazfit stratos reflective screen hand gadgets 360 Amazfit Stratos

Amazfit Stratos software and ecosystem

The Amazfit Stratos is compatible with iOS and Android, and you’ll need to download the Amazfit Watch app on your smartphone. The app allowed us to choose to sign in with an existing Xiaomi account, and we tried this first because we had created one when reviewing the Xiaomi Mi Band 2. However, it just did not work, so we had to create a new account. The pairing process was smooth and we found the app to be well-designed. It shows data in neat graphs and you can see historical data quite easily too.

Our issue with the app is that it doesn’t do much. It has a setting to change units from Imperial to Metric, but that change didn’t reflect on the watch. We had to do this from the watch’s settings. Similarly, options such as auto-upload data, 12- or 24-hour clocks, do not disturb mode, etc. can only be changed on the watch.

The Amazfit Stratos uses a proprietary operating system, which is quite common in the fitness segment. Companies such as Garmin and TomTom do the same thing. It takes some time to get used to the interface of the Amazfit Stratos, though. It has a touchscreen, and three buttons for you to navigate through the UI. Press the top one to scroll up, and the bottom button to scroll down, and if you want to select an option, you can use the middle button. The app shows a tutorial to take you through other actions, such as long-pressing the top button to go back, etc. but this is not intuitive at all.

We also noticed that the touchscreen only works if you “wake” the watch by pressing one of the buttons. If you try to use the touchscreen after it’s been idle for some time, it remains unresponsive. These are minor annoyances that add up to make the overall experience feel clunky.

amazfit stratos apple watch gadgets 360 Amazfit StratosApple Watch (left) and Amazfit Stratos

 

However, the watch does show notifications and lets you read full messages even from third-party apps. You can’t reply to any notifications as this watch is meant to be a fitness wearable with notifications, and not a proper smartwatch. While we found the notifications useful, people who need more control might not.

Amazfit Stratos performance and battery life

We can live with an average UI if the Amazfit Stratos does its job from a fitness standpoint. To test this, we ran it through some standard tests. The first is to test the step counter by walking 1,000 steps and counting them manually. Then we checked if the Amazfit Stratos recorded them accurately. The results were surprisingly good — the Stratos recorded 1,002 steps when we counted 1,000.

Our second test was to check if the GPS of the watch was accurate. We first drove a car through a route near our office in Mumbai to establish a 1-km distance as our test track. This route took us under a flyover as we wanted to see if the watch can trace the route accurately. We ran the test with the Apple Watch Series 2 on our left hand and the Amazfit Stratos on our right. The Stratos took three minutes to lock on to a signal in an open space on the main road, which was frustrating. Our Apple Watch found a GPS signal instantly (as it uses a paired iPhone’s GPS when). Most running watches take around two minutes to find a GPS signal, and three minutes is a bit too long.

Then, the Stratos recorded the 1km distance as 1.64km. The Apple Watch had no such issues and it showed the route to be exactly 1km long. When we looked at the route recorded by the Amazfit Stratos, it had marked a start point far from where we had actually begun recording the walk, but once we took a U-turn under the flyover, the Stratos corrected itself.

We tried this test a second time, just to check whether the same error was repeated. On this attempt, it took one minute to lock on to a GPS signal at the same spot, which was good to note. The Amazfit Stratos had a much better showing, but it still wasn’t entirely accurate. On the second try it recorded 1.11km on the 1km route, and its starting point was slightly off.

Overall, this kind of inconsistency is worrying, because we’d always be second-guessing whether the Stratos’ tracking is accurate.

amazfit stratos buttons gadgets 360 Amazfit Stratos

 

We also noticed that the Amazfit Stratos doesn’t have a dedicated tracking mode for strength training or gym sessions, or for other activities such as Pilates and yoga, which are found on several other fitness-oriented wearables. Given that, we used the elliptical training mode to track a 90-minute gym session, and found that the heart rate sensor on the Stratos didn’t do a great job. When we looked at our heart rate during the session, the Stratos always showed a value that was either too low or too high based on how we were feeling at that point. A look at the data later confirmed this.

The Apple Watch showed our maximum heart rate during the session as 191 beats per minute, while the Stratos’ data said this was 175bpm. It was a strenous session during which we felt like we’d fully exerted ourself, and our maximum heart rate definitely should’ve been higher. We could also see the heart rate data peaking at different times on the two watches, and felt that the Apple Watch’s data was more accurate.

Sleep tracking with the Amazfit Stratos was a bit of a mixed bag. We compared its data against what was recorded on the Apple Watch by the excellent Sleep++ app, and found that it was accurate sometimes but not at other times. One day we’d set an alarm for 5.30am and we woke up but went back to sleep. On that day, the Stratos claims that we woke up around 5.30am, whereas the Apple Watch data suggested that we woke up at 7.40am. The latter is closer to reality. When we managed to sleep uninterrupted at night, the data was fairly accurate.

We like the fact that the battery life of the Amazfit Stratos is around five days. Without using GPS, it lasted almost seven days on a single charge. The moment you start tracking workouts using GPS, the battery starts to drain more quickly. It’s worth mentioning that by default, features that could drain power – such as automatically uploading workout data – are disabled.

Finally, we really missed automatic workout tracking feature on the Amazfit Stratos. We did forgot to manually begin a workout on one occasion, and the Stratos didn’t log it for us. With companies such as Fitbit adding this feature to their products, and Apple announcing it with watchOS 5, it would be nice to see this feature come to the Amazfit Stratos as well. We were unable to go for a swim during the testing period, but we did subject it to a shower multiple times and it continued to work just fine.

amazfit stratos apple watch reflective screen hand gadgets 360 Amazfit Stratos

 

Verdict
The Amazfit Stratos looks great on paper but fails to live up to its promise in many ways. We really like the idea of a fitness-focused wearable that shows notifications and looks like a cool everyday watch, but the Stratos’ implementation of many features leaves a lot to be desired. Its bulk makes it uncomfortable to wear every day, and its decidedly masculine styling means that women aren’t likely to find it appealing.

While we think that it could work as a multi-sport watch under ideal conditions, the Amazfit Stratos’ inconsistent performance means that we hesitate to recommend it over products from established brands such as Garmin, TomTom, and even the Apple Watch, which isn’t strictly direct competition for the product. The pricing — Rs. 15,999 — is great for the features offered, but we still think the TomTom Spark would be a better choice for fitness enthusiasts on a budget. Those who can afford an Apple Watch Series 3 would be better served by it.

Update, 31 August 2018: Following the publication of our review, Amazfit sent us a second unit so we could check whether the first one was buggy. This unit was much better at locking on to GPS signals in multiple areas, but it still struggled at the spot we used for our GPS test. This unit recorded a 1km distance as 1.2km, which isn’t good at all. To be completely certain, we used the replacement unit on a 10km run at the Airtel Hyderabad Marathon 2018. This time, it recorded the distance as 10.2km. A deviation of 200m over 10km is acceptable (the best running watches out there can be up to 100m off over the same distance), but we should note that the course was almost entirely in open areas with only one 100m section where we were under a bridge.

Overall, this kind of inconsistency is worrying. Serious athletes would always be second-guessing whether the Stratos’s reports are accurate. Our repeated tests lead us to the conclusion that the Stratos’s GPS tracking might work well in ideal conditions, but it struggles in crowded localities in big cities.

Based on our new findings, we have changed one of the ‘Cons’ from ‘Inaccurate GPS tracking’ to ‘Inconsistent GPS tracking’ and updated the ‘Tracking accuracy’ score from 2.5 to 3.

Pros

  • Battery life
  • Always on display
  • Notifications
  • Accurate step tracking

Cons

  • Poor display quality
  • Inconsistent GPS tracking
  • Inaccurate sleep tracking
  • Awkward touchscreen UI
  • App doesn’t do much

Ratings (out of 5)

  • Design and comfort: 2.5
  • Tracking accuracy: 3
  • Software and ecosystem: 3
  • Battery life: 4
  • Overall: 2.5

[“Source-gadgets.ndtv”]

LG Display Struggles for Footing After LCD Forecasting Error Leads to Crisis

LG Display Struggles for Footing After LCD Forecasting Error Leads to Crisis

The chief executive of South Korea’s LG Display, Han Sang-beom, was determined to deliver a strong message when he appeared before 1,000 employees at the firm’s main manufacturing plant last spring.

So he donned a pair of goggles, picked up a hammer, and smashed a liquid-crystal display screen to bits.

The symbolism was impossible to miss: LCD panels, the company’s mainstay for years, were being relegated to the industrial dustbin. The company’s future would depend on a newer technology, organic light-emitting diode, or OLED.

“I’ve never seen him do such a thing,” said one company official who was present. “His performance showed a grim determination to weather this crisis.”

Yet LG Display’s predicament was in many ways one of its own making. Less than a year earlier, the company had showered employees with perks and bonuses as profits rolled in, driven by the company’s leadership in LCD screens for TVs, computer monitors and smartphones.

But LG Display had misread the market: Chinese competitors were coming on strong, and by early this year prices for LCD screens were plummeting. The fat profits of 2017 turned into big losses in 2018 – and the company abruptly announced in July that it would slash $2.7 billion in capital spending it had planned through 2020.

It did not reveal its total or previous targets but made about $6 billion in capital expenditures in 2017, according to Eikon data.

The company’s troubles stand as a stark example of the risks inherent in hotly competitive technology businesses that require massive capital investment.

“It seems that LG Display made a major miscalculation on its LCD business, not accurately judging the timing to pull away when they could see China’s rapid catch-up,” said Lee Won-sik, an analyst at Shinyoung Securities.

“We knew from last year LCD prices would go down but we did not expect this big and fast fall,” acknowledged one LG Display official, who, like others in this article, declined to be identified because he was not authorised to speak to the media. “Customers had been asking for price cuts, but we didn’t act until it got too late.”

Prices in free fall

LG Display posted five straight years of strong profits after Han took the helm in 2012, riding a tide of LCD screen orders from Apple and strong demand for both phone and TV screens from LG Electronics, which owns more than a third of the display-maker.

LG Display also began to invest in OLED displays, which unlike LCD screens don’t require backlighting and can deliver more natural-looking colours. OLED screens also consume less energy and can be bent and folded.

But the technology is expensive, and LG Display was earning the vast majority of its revenue from LCDs. Until its recent cutbacks, it was running eight LCD production lines in South Korea and another in China.

While LG Display hummed along, Chinese companies, led by BOE Technology Group, were pouring huge sums into LCD production.

By January 2017, BOE had become the No. 1 supplier of LCDs larger than 9 inches, according to market tracker IHS Markit, taking 22.3 percent of unit shipments versus 21.6 percent for LG Display. It was the first time a Chinese display maker had taken the top spot.

By early 2018, prices for many types of LCDs were in free-fall. Prices for 50-inch LCD television panels, for example, slid 32 percent in August versus the same month last year, according to IHS Markit.

LG Display’s big South Korean rival, the display unit of Samsung Electronics, had begun pulling back from LCD years earlier, shutting down older LCD production lines in South Korea beginning in 2010, according to a Samsung Display official. The company now has just two LCD factories in South Korea and one in China.

But LG Display was caught flat-footed and is now furiously slashing LCD capacity. It has closed three LCD production lines since last year and abandoned plans for a new one.

The company in April also rolled out an “emergency management system,” with employees being told to use cheaper flights and cut back on group meals, company sources told Reuters. Cash flow has become a concern: it was negative 838.2 billion won ($743.93 million) in the second quarter, according to Eikon data, and has been negative for three straight quarters.

Three company sources say the company is not planning layoffs for fear of losing talent to China, but some employees are frustrated with cuts in benefits.

“Executives are trying to keep the morale up, telling us media reports about a voluntary redundancy program are false,” a company source with knowledge of the matter said.

OLED a game changer?

LG Display is now betting the house on OLED, and says it can fund $17.6 billion in OLED investments over the next three years. It expects the newer technology to account for 40 percent of revenue by 2020, up from just 10 percent today.

As OLED becomes more prevalent, LG Display’s fortunes could turn, analysts say.

LG Display’s OLED panels have helped its sibling, LG Electronics, take the lead in high-end televisions. Some analysts believe LG Display has been pressured to supply those panels cheaply, hurting its profitability, though the company denies that is the case.

But the OLED market promises to be tough. Samsung boasts that it has been investing in OLED since 2005. BOE is getting into OLED too. There are also still technical challenges in making large-panel OLED TV screens that don’t wear out too quickly, noted Ross Young, CEO of research provider Display Supply Chain Consultants.

Son Young-jun, LG Display’s vice president of public relations, said in a statement that the company is the only producer of large-size OLED displays and had “unmatched technological expertise” in OLED. “The potential and outlook ahead is promising,” he said.

LG Display says its OLED division will turn a profit in the third quarter. It also expects LCD prices to stabilise, enabling it to squeeze profits from the older technology until the newer one matures.

“Given OLED is our answer and solution to the crisis, there’s nothing else we can do other than tightening our belts and pushing for OLED,” a company official said.

[“Source-gadgets.ndtv”]

Apple Watch Series 4 With Bigger Display, ECG Capability Launched

Apple Watch Series 4 With Bigger Display, ECG Capability Launched

Apple Watch Series 4 price starts at $399 in the US; price in India not revealed yet

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Apple Watch Series 4 comes with a 30 percent larger display
  • It has a casing made of black ceramic and sapphire crystal
  • Pricing in the US starts at $399 for the GPS-only model

Apple on Wednesday announced the launch of the fourth generation of its Apple Watch at an event in the company’s Steve Jobs Theater in Apple Park, Cupertino. The latest smartwatch from Apple comes with a new design and larger display – one with thinner bezels compared to last year’s model. It also features ECG functionality that has been given a ‘De Novo’ classification by the US FDA. Other highlights include a ceramic build, optical heart sensor, swimproof capabilities, and more.

At the launch event, CEO Tim Cook claimed that the Apple Watch is the highest selling watch in the world. The company is focusing on connectivity, fitness, and health as the three core elements of its smartwatch strategy. “Apple Watch has become an intelligent guardian for your health,” said Jeff Williams, COO, Apple. “Everything has been redesigned and reengineered.”

Apple Watch Series 4 price

The Apple Watch Series 4 has been priced at $399 (roughly Rs. 28,700) for the GPS-only, non-Cellular variant, and $499 (around Rs. 35,900) for the variant with both GPS and Cellular capabilities. This pricing is the same as that of last year’s Apple Watch Series 3. The latest Series 4 will be available for pre-orders starting September 14 and will go on sale starting September 21 in 26 markets at launch for the GPS-only variant, and 16 markets for the GPS+Cellular variant at launch. Apple’s new watchOS 5 will be available for other Apple Watch models starting September 17.

It will be available in three aluminium finishes, and there is a brand-new Gold stainless finish apart from Silver and Space Grey. Backward compatible is available on the part of wristbands.

Apple Watch Series 3 gets a price cut and is available starting at $279 (roughly Rs. 20,100).

As far as India is concerned, pricing and availability details haven’t been revealed yet.

 

Apple Watch Series 4 specifications, features

The display on the Series 4 is 30 percent larger than last year’s model and comes in new 40mm and 44mm casing options, that are claimed to fit in a smaller footprint than last year’s variants. In terms of design, the latest Apple Watch Series 4 resembles the Series 3 except the near-edge-to-edge design new placement of its microphone for echo reduction.

The smartwatch features the new Apple S4 SoC which contains a 64-bit dual-core processor and a new GPU, with up to two times faster performance when compared to the Series 3. The Series 4 also has a next-gen accelerometer and gyroscope with up to 2x dynamic range and up to 32 g-forces.

The Digital Crown now gets haptic feedback that helps navigate easily in apps like Calendar and Podcasts. The speaker on the Apple Watch Series 4 is 50 percent louder, and the microphone has been moved away from the speaker to reduce echo. Williams also said the back of the new Apple Watch is made entirely of black ceramic and sapphire crystal.

The Apple Watch Series 4 comes with built-in fall detection that can alert emergency services and SOS contacts immediately. Other additions include a ‘low heart rate’ notification, alerts for atrial fibrillation, and electrocardiogram (ECG). Williams stated this is the first ECG product available over the counter, directly to the customer. The results of the new ECG app will be stored in the Health app on your iPhone, and can be shared in the form of a PDF file. These new health features will be available for US customers later this year.

The new smartwatch is touted to be swimproof, has Bluetooth v5.0, and has an optical heart sensor. Apple Watch Series 4 is powered by the latest watchOS 5 – with the UI optimised for the larger display. Apple also showcased certain new watch faces including a new modular face, one with the ability to add several health and fitness statistics, and three new minimal faces to cut down on the amount of information for users who prefer it that way. New watch faces based on fire, water, and vapour effects were also introduced.

[“Source-gadgets.ndtv”]

Canon EOS R Full-Frame Mirrorless Camera With 30.3-Megapixel Sensor, 4K Video Recording Launched

Canon EOS R Full-Frame Mirrorless Camera With 30.3-Megapixel Sensor, 4K Video Recording Launched

HIGHLIGHTS

  • It features a 30.3-megapixel sensor and uses the new RF mount
  • It has DualPixel AF, 4K video and an articulating touchscreen
  • The Canon EOS R will be available in October for $2,299 for the body

Just two weeks after Nikon announced its full-frame mirrorless cameras, the Z6 and the Z7, Canon has officially unveiled the EOS R, which is its first ever full-fame mirrorless camera. The announcement was made at an event held in Tokyo, Japan. The camera has a new RF mount, which means we also have a new series of lenses that were also announced. The EOS R will be available in October for an estimated price of $2,299 (roughy Rs. 1,57,700) for just the body, which undercuts the Nikon Z6 and puts it more in line with the Sony A7 III. Canon will also be offering a bundle for $3,399 (roughy Rs.2,33,300) which comes with the RF 24-105mm F4 L IS USM kit lens.

The new EOS R boasts of a 30.3-megapixel, full-frame CMOS sensor with Canon’s famed DualPixel autofocus (AF) technology and its DIGIC 8 image processor. The ISO range is quite good too, ranging from 100-40,000, with 8fps continuous shooting and a maximum shutter speed of 1/8000sec. The camera also supports 4K video recording up to 30fps, 1080p recording up to 60fps, and HD recording up to 120fps. Advanced shooting modes like Canon Log, 4:2:0 8-bit recoding and 4:2:2 10-bit video output over HDMI are also supported. The camera also has a silent shooting mode but only for single frame shooting. Silent shooting in burst mode will be coming in the future via a software update.

Canon EOS R back ndtv canon

The Canon EOS R features a fully articulating touchscreen and a new multi-function touch bar next to the EVF

 

One of the major highlights of the EOS R is the massive 5,655 selectable autofocus points, compared to 493 AF points on Nikon’s top-end Z7 and the 693 AF points on the Sony’s flagship A9 full-frame mirrorless cameras. This should give the EOS R a big advantage when it comes to tracking fast moving subjects. You get a EVF with a 3.69 million dot resolution as well as a 3.2-inch fully articulating touch display with a resolution of 2.1 million dots. The new EOS R features a new touch bar right next to the EVF, which Canon says “allows users to more easily access their customizable settings, such as AF, ISO and white balance.”

The camera has built-in Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, a single UHS-II SD card slot, and a dust and weather resistant body that weighs around 580g. The EOS R will be compatible with all of Canon’s EF and EF-S lenses through the respective adapters. Canon also launched four lenses at the event, which include the RF 24-105mm F4L IS, RF 50mm F1.2L, RF 28-70mm F2L, and the RF 35mm F1.8 IS Macro. The company also announced a new app called Digital Photo Professional Express for the Apple iPad, which will let users edit CR3 RAW files on their tablet. This will be available in October.

[“Source-gadgets.ndtv”]