Mirzapur, New Web Series From Amazon Prime Video, Pushes the Envelope in Ways Bollywood Rarely Does

Mirzapur, New Web Series From Amazon Prime Video, Pushes the Envelope in Ways Bollywood Rarely Does

In more ways than one, Mirzapur — Amazon Prime Video’s newest original Web series from India, out now — is a story that isn’t suited for Bollywood’s traditional space: the big screen. None of it has to do with the fact that Mirzapur is an episodic drama, which allows writers to explore characters and chart subplots in manners that isn’t possible on film. Instead, it’s the characteristics and behaviour of those characters, and the level of violence and sex that India’s moral-driven censor board, the CBFC, wouldn’t allow.

“It’s very refreshing because there are very few roles written for women in which their sexuality is acknowledged,” Rasika Dugal, who plays Beena Tripathi, the second wife of the show’s big crime boss in Mirzapur, told Gadgets 360. “We don’t have these conversations about women. Usually, women are objects that have been sexualised, as objects of titillation or as objects of sympathy.”

Also seeMirzapur Offers a Darkly Comedic, Brutal Look at India’s Impoverished Corners

Films from India that have bucked that trend in recent years, the likes of Lipstick Under My Burkha and Veere Di Wedding, can be counted on one hand. Dugal remarked that the scripts she has read for TV shows in the past year have been “far more interesting” than any film scripts she’s read in the past few years. She believes that writers are possibly censoring themselves when it comes to writing for cinema, in contrast to streaming which isn’t regulated by the CBFC.

“Our films are certified in a very, very broad manner: it’s either U, U/A or A,” Ritesh Sidhwani, executive producer on Mirzapur, said. “But there is nothing in between. If you look at TV, you’ve a channel like Discovery Kids, which is only for 9-11-year olds. And there’s a show there, which I was quite surprised to learn, called Little Singham.”

Little Singham is an animated spin-off based on the Ajay Devgn-starrer 2011 action film Singham, which is itself a remake of a 2010 Tamil film. “They started with 60-70 episodes in concept and it’s reached 180-190 episodes,” Sidhwani added. “[That shows] there is an audience for every kind of story. With films, you can go to a 13, 15, and 18 [age bracket], but there shouldn’t be censorship. Beyond 18, once you’re an adult, you can’t tell me to cut something.”

Divyendu Sharma in Amazon Prime Original Series Mirzapur Mirzapur Divyendu Sharma

Divyendu Sharma as Munna Tripathi, Abhishek Banerjee as Compounder in Amazon’s Mirzapur

But until the CBFC gets its act together, stories like Mirzapur‘s will be best told in the streaming domain. In fact, the ideal way to watch even Lipstick Under My Burkha is on Prime Video, which has the film’s uncensored version and not the theatrical release version that was subject to cuts, after originally being denied a release altogether.

That’s not the only way Mirzapur is pushing the envelope. Unlike the majority of filmmaking in India which still relies on ADR (automated dialogue replacement), colloquially known as dubbing, where actors re-record their lines in a studio after filming, Mirzapur made use of sync sound, in which the audio is recorded on location.

“Whenever someone mentions dubbing, I get upset. How will we recreate it in the studio?” Pankaj Tripathi, who plays the show’s central crime figure, Akhandanand Tripathi, asked rhetorically.

“Dubbing, I feel, cheats actors,” Divyendu Sharma, who plays Munna Tripathi, the son of Pankaj’s character on Mirzapur, added. “It’s like, ‘You said it once, now do it again.’ And this time, in a dark room, all alone. It’s so wrong to ask someone to repeat everything. And then, the person on the mic tells you, ‘We’re not getting the right emotion.’ Of course, that’s going to happen. That was filmed in extreme heat, and here I am wearing a sweatshirt in an air-conditioned room. I think it’s a crime to not use of sync sound in this day and age.”

But there’s one aspect that Mirzapur falls short in, technologically. Unlike some Prime Original series from the US, Mirzapur was neither filmed nor mastered in 4K. (Amazon’s previous scripted series from India, Breathe, was notably shot in 8K but received a 2K master.) 4K wasn’t considered for Mirzapur because of two reasons, says Prime Video’s India content chief Vijay Subramaniam, in that not many customers have access to the technology and the post-production infrastructure in India needs to level up.

“We will get there but I don’t think we are there yet,” he added. “Is [4K] important to us? Absolutely.”

mirzapur ritesh sidhwani Mirzapur Ritesh Sidhwani

Ritesh Sidhwani at a press event for Amazon’s Mirzapur
Photo Credit: Chou Chiang/Amazon

From page to screen

Mirzapur comes from the same team behind Amazon’s International Emmy-nominated original series Inside Edge, including producers Farhan Akhtar and Sidhwani, and co-creators Karan Anshuman and Puneet Krishna. The last of those — Krishna — did much of his schooling in the Purvanchal region, the eastern part of Uttar Pradesh the show is based in, which meant he knew people who dealt in the illegal arms and drug business Mirzapur depicts.

None of the on-screen characters are directly based on someone they know, though. “They are all a mélange of many characters and characteristics of many people that we put together,” Anshuman said. “That’s what writers do, right? We steal from real life and make them better.”

And given the large size of the ensemble, Mirzapur is able to paint a vivid, unflinching picture of what life is like in some of India’s most impoverished corners. Anshuman thinks a common theme is “the angst that small-town India is going through, in terms of the aspirations they have, why they can’t fulfil their dreams, and how that goes haywire”.

“And I think we are very, very political in terms of what we stand for, and what our beliefs are,” he added. “The entire writing team — and Ritesh would agree with that — [wanted] to say something beyond just putting a fictional piece out there.”

Mirzapur was part of the original slate that was unveiled at Prime Video’s India launch in late 2016, but having the same creative team as Inside Edge, which premiered in mid-2017, meant it could only go on the floors early this year. Anshuman and Krishna revealed they spent about nine months scripting the first season, going back and forth with Amazon, exchanging drafts and feedback.

“The key here is to accept the fact that the battle is won and lost with the script,” Subramaniam said. “With cinematic TV, you tend to either make it too plot-heavy or not define the motivations of characters as strongly as you need to. But that’s the whole point of the iterative process and we are extremely collaborative.”

Vikrant Massey in Amazon Prime Original Series Mirzapur Vikrant Massey Mirzapur


WWDC 2018 Keynote Invites Sent by Apple, Will Be Live Streamed

WWDC 2018 Keynote Invites Sent by Apple, Will Be Live Streamed

Apple has invited the media for this year’s Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) keynote address, which will be held at the McEnery Convention Center in San Jose, California, on June 4 at 10am PT (10:30pm IST). The venue is the same place where a large number of developers will come together to see the new beta versions of iOS, macOS, tvOS, and watchOS as well as some fresh developer tools and updates to Swift. However, we can expect some of the major announcements at the keynote that will set the base for the entire WWDC 2018 that is scheduled between June 4 and June 8. Apple has additionally confirmed through a banner on its official site that the keynote will be live streamed.

The invite for the WWDC keynote doesn’t confirm any details about what Apple is announcing this year. Nevertheless, it is safe to say that the Cupertino giant will at least announce iOS 12, macOS 10.14, tvOS 12, and watchOS 5 alongside revealing some key tweaks to Siri to make it a tough competitor against Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant. With certain improvements to Siri, we can also expect that the Tim Cook-led army will showcase some new HomePod features at the stage.wwdc 2018 invite WWDC 2018

Last year at WWDC, Apple unveiled the new MacBook Pro and iMac models and previewed the iMac Pro and HomePod. This hints at the arrival of some new hardware developments for this year as well. If we believe some past reports, the company may unveil the iPhone SE 2 at the venue. There could also be a “budget” MacBook variant that will likely to replace the existing 13-inch MacBook Air. A recent report, citing some supply chain sources, claimed the delay of the new MacBook model, though.

For app developers, Apple is speculated to bring a list of changes related to Swift language and Xcode IDE. There might also be some announcements to improve the app experience on iOS devices.

Apple fans will be able to watch the WWDC 2018 keynote live. Since September 2017, Apple is offering live streaming of its keynote sessions across all the major Web browsers, including Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome in addition to Safari and Microsoft Edge. Therefore, watching the keynote live isn’t likely to be an issue even for non-Apple users. Apple, however, prefers users to watch its live streams through Safari on iPhone, iPad, or Mac, or on Apple TV through the Apple Events app.


Lenovo Z5 With Snapdragon 636, Vertical Dual Camera Setup Launched: Price, Specifications, Features

Lenovo Z5 With Snapdragon 636, Vertical Dual Camera Setup Launched: Price, Specifications, Features

Lenovo Z5, the Chinese phone maker’s latest premium smartphone, has been unveiled on Tuesday, alongside the Lenovo A5 and Lenovo K5 Note, at an event held in Beijing. While previous rumours pointed towards an all-display design with no bezels, the smartphone sports a 26.17mm notch on top and a significant 7.69mm bezel on the bottom. Other highlights of the Lenovo Z5 include the latest Qualcomm Snapdragon 636 SoC, a vertical dual rear camera setup with AI capabilities, and an iPhone X-like notch.

Lenovo Z5 price, availability

Lenovo Z5 price in China has been set at CNY 1,399 (roughly Rs. 14,700) for the 6GB RAM/ 64GB storage variant and CNY 1,799 (roughly Rs. 18,900) for the 6GB RAM/ 128GB inbuilt storage. The smartphone is up for pre-orders and shipping is said to begin in China from 10am on June 12.

Lenovo Z5 specifications

The dual-SIM (Nano) Lenovo Z5 runs ZUI 3.9 on top of Android 8.1 Oreo out-of-the-box, and sports a 6.2-inch full-HD+ (1080×2246 pixels) IPS display with a 90 percent screen-to-body ratio, an aspect ratio of 18.7:9 and 2.5D curved glass on top. The handset is fuelled by an octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 636 SoC, coupled with 6GB of LPDDR4X RAM. There is a 3300mAh battery under the hood, with support for 15W fast charge.

In the camera department, the Lenovo Z5 comes with a 16-megapixel primary rear camera sensor and an 8-megapixel secondary sensor, both of which are vertically stacked and come with AI capabilities, HDR+, 4K support, f/2.0 aperture, and an LED flash. On the front, the handset bears an 8-megapixel selfie camera with f/2.0 aperture and full-HD video recording. There is 64GB/ 128GB inbuilt storage, expandable via microSD card (up to 256GB).

Connectivity on the Lenovo Z5 includes 4G LTE, dual-band Wi-Fi 802.11ac with hotspot, Bluetooth v5.0, GPS, 3.5mm headphone jack, and USB Type-C. Sensors onboard the Lenovo Z5 include accelerometer, ambient light sensor, electronic compass, gyroscope, fingerprint sensor, and proximity sensor. Dimensions of the smartphone are 153×75.65×7.85mm and weight is about 165 grams


Garmin Vivoactive 3 Music GPS Smartwatch With Integrated Music Launched

Garmin Vivoactive 3 Music GPS Smartwatch With Integrated Music Launched

Garmin has launched Vivoactive 3 Music, a wearable that takes everything you find in the 2017 model and adds music to the mix. Garmin already has smartwatches that come with GPS and music playback, in its lineup. But for the first time, the features are available on an affordable smartwatch. The Garmin Vivoactive 3 Music essentially comes with space for 500 songs that you can play directly from your watch via Bluetooth headphones. There is no need to carry a smartphone for your music consumption needs.

The Vivoactive 3 Music adds a music player and local storage to the combination fitness tracker and GPS smartwatch. It has been priced at $299.99 (roughly Rs. 20,300), around $50 (roughly Rs. 3,400) more than the Garmin Vivoactive 3. It is already available in the US, and bands of different sizes are available for purchase separately for $29.99 (roughly Rs. 2,000).

Notably, apart from the addition of music, the Vivoactive 3 Music is the same as the Vivoactive 3. This means users will get GPS, a heart rate monitor, contactless payments through Garmin Pay, a swim-safe build, up to 7 days of battery life, and access to the Garmin Connect IQ app store. Garmin says it has introduced several ways to customise with free watch faces, widgets, data fields and apps through the Garmin Connect IQTM store.

Featuring the same functionality and smart connectivity features first introduced on the Vivoactive 3, the Vivoactive 3 Music just adds on-device music storage capabilities. You can download offline music playlists from select music streaming services such as Deezer, iHeartRadio, or you can also transfer music from a PC directly to the smartwatch. Once the music is loaded, you will have to pair the device with a set of compatible Bluetooth headphones.

Coming to other specifications, the Garmin Vivoactive 3 Music sports a 1.2-inch (240×240 pixels) display. In terms of dimensions, the smartwatch measures 43.1×43.1×13.6mm and weighs 39 grams. The company claims that the battery runs for 13 hours in GPS training mode, 5 hours in GPS mode with music playing, and 7 days in smartwatch mode. Connectivity and sensors options include Bluetooth Smart, ANT+, GPS, GLONASS, optical HR, accelerometer, barometer, compass, and thermometer. For water resistance, the watch has Swim and 5 ATM certification.




Lenovo Z5 to Offer 45 Days of Standby Time, Company Teases

Lenovo Z5 to Offer 45 Days of Standby Time, Company Teases

Lenovo has been building too much hype around its upcoming smartphone, and we are starting to wonder whether it will be able to live up to it. After announcing a 4TB mammoth internal storage space, and a full screen no-chin-whatsoever display, the company’s VP Chang Cheng is now claiming that the Lenovo Z5 will have 45 days of standby time. This amounts to 1080 hours of standby time, which is only possible if the Lenovo Z5 packs a dinosaur battery.

This latest information was again posted by Cheng on Weibo. He has been regularly dropping teasers on the social networking site, and the latest being that the Lenovo Z5 can offer up for 45 days of standby time. While standby time is very impressive, the real question is how much it can survive voice calls, video playback, and Web browsing. In any case, the company is expected to hold an event on June 14 and we will know whether all these teasers hold true to their word or not.

Cheng, on the same Weibo post, also announced that the launch event invitations will be rolled out soon enough. Early teasers revealed that the Lenovo Z5 will sport a full screen display with no notch at the top or bottom to house all the sensors. Furthermore, the camera samples leaked recently claimed that the smartphone will sport an AI dual camera as well, at the back. The smartphone is also tipped to come with mammoth 4TB of internal storage thanks to “particle technology”. Cheng claims that with this much storage, the smartphone will be able to hold 2000 HD movies, 150,000 lossless music files, and 1 million photos. Looking at the specification and design details cropping up, we expect this device to be positioned in the premium smartphone range.


Amazon Echo Plus, Echo Dot (White) Released in India; New Doorbell, Motion Sensor APIs Introduced

Amazon Echo Plus, Echo Dot (White) Released in India; New Doorbell, Motion Sensor APIs Introduced

After being launched last month, Amazon has made the Echo Plus and Echo Dot White colour variant available in stock in India. The Echo Dot Grey variant and Echo Sub variants are still listed to be available late October and mid-November respectively. Separately, Amazon has introduced new APIs for developers to support more smart home functionalities into Echo and Alexa-enabled devices. The new Doorbell Event Source, Alexa.RTCSessionController and Motion Sensor APIs will enable users to connect their doorbell press and camera motion sensors to Alexa. This will allow Alexa to shout out when someone is at the door, and turn on voice announcements for the smart home camera, and even allow it detect motion in the house.

Last month, Amazon launched a slew Echo products at its Alexa event, and made a few of them available in India as well. Most of the devices were up for pre-order, and still are, but the Echo Plus and Echo Dot White variant is finally in stock on Amazon. In India, the third-gen Echo Dot (Grey and Black) is listed to be in stock from October 25, and the Echo Sub is said to arrive on November 14. The Echo Plus and the third-gen Echo Dot (White) are in stock, with delivery promised by tomorrow for Prime members. The Echo Dot (3rd generation) is priced at Rs. 4,499, the Echo Plus is priced at Rs. 14,999, and the Echo Sub is priced at Rs. 12,999. As part of the Amazon Great Indian Festival offers, the e-commerce giant is offering the Echo Dot at a discounted rate of Rs. 2,999 and the Echo Plus at a discounted rate of Rs. 11,999. Echo Show and Echo Input were also announced, and are expected to come to India soon, while the Echo Auto, Echo Link, and Echo Link Amp are three interesting products that aren’t coming to India at this point.

In the US as well, the Echo Plus and the Echo Dot are in stock and other devices are back-ordered, with the Sub shipping in late October, and the Echo Show shipping from November 6. Amazon is allowing users to buy the devices, but delivery is promised at a later date. The US availability was first spotted by Android Police.

Separately, Amazon has introduced the new Doorbell Event Source, Motion Sensor, and 2-Way Communication (Alexa.RTCSessionController) APIs to enable Alexa to make voice announcements regarding someone at the door, motion detection in smart home cameras, and build a two-way link between smart display devices like the Echo Show and Echo Spot. These can be used in the US only currently, and other region support will be added soon. “Customers can also set up smart home automations using doorbell or motion events like turning on lights, playing music or custom announcements using Routines within the Alexa app,” Amazon noted on its developer blog.

Smart devices from Ring and August have already implemented Doorbell and Motion Sensor APIs, and the 2-Way communication API has been implemented by Ring, while August is looking to implement it soon. For the 2-Way Communication API, Amazon notes that “it currently supports only WebRTC compliant cameras or 3Ps who use a WebRTC bridge to connect to Alexa. Alexa voice commands are currently only available for full duplex cameras. Half duplex cameras will have push to talk capabilities on the Echo Show or Echo Spot.”


Virtual Reality Can Make Your Mind Sharper, Study Finds

Virtual Reality Can Make Your Mind Sharper, Study Finds

Not just gaming or entertainment, virtual reality (VR) can also help people recall information better as opposed to desktop computers, say researchers including one of Indian-origin.

The team from University of Maryland conducted in-depth analyses on whether people learn better through virtual, immersive environments, as opposed to more traditional platforms like a computers or tablets.

They found that people remember information better if it is presented to them in a virtual environment.

“This data is exciting in that it suggests that immersive environments could offer new pathways for improved outcomes in education and high-proficiency training,” said Amitabh Varshney, Professor of Computer Science, in a survey published in the journal Virtual Reality.

Varshney leads several major research efforts involving virtual and augmented reality (AR), including close collaboration with health care professionals interested in developing AR-based diagnostic tools for emergency medicine and VR training for surgical residents.

For the study, the team used the concept of a “memory palace,” where people recall an object or item by placing it in an imaginary physical location like a building or town.

This method has been used since classical times, taking advantage of the human brain’s ability to spatially organize thoughts and memories.

“Humans have always used visual-based methods to help them remember information, whether it’s cave drawings, clay tablets, printed text and images, or video,” said Eric Krokos, doctoral student in computer science and lead author on the paper.

“We wanted to see if virtual reality might be the next logical step in this progression,” Krokos added.

For the study, the researchers recruited 40 volunteers unfamiliar with virtual reality and split the participants into two groups – one viewed information first via a VR head-mounted display and then on a desktop and the other group did the opposite.

The results showed an 8.8 per cent improvement overall in recall accuracy using the VR headsets, a statistically significant number.

Many of the participants said the immersive “presence” while using VR allowed them to focus better.

“This leads to the possibility that an immersive virtual environment could enhance learning and recall by leveraging a person’s overall sense of body position, movement and acceleration,” said Catherine Plaisant, Senior Research Scientist in University of Maryland Institute for Advanced Computer Studies.




Razer Nari Ultimate review: This haptics-enabled gaming headset lets you literally feel the groove

There’s one area where PC gamers get consistently overlooked: haptics. Haptic feedback (or rumble, in the vernacular) has been a mainstay of console gaming for almost two decades now, and for good reason. Smart usage can both increase immersion and provide invaluable feedback to players, e.g. letting you feel the moment digital tires lose traction on slick asphalt, or warning that an enemy’s shooting at you.

There have been a few experiments, like SteelSeries’s Rival 500—a mouse with built-in haptics. But it’s hard to make a mouse with rumble because it’s bound to affect your aim, and keyboards are too large and heavy to effectively produce the effect.

That leaves us with headsets. Razer’s the latest company to explore this space, this week revealing the new flagship Nari Ultimate. Get ready for sound that rattles your bones, quite literally.

This review is part of our roundup of best gaming headsets. Go there for details on competing products and how we tested them.

Float on

As I said, Razer’s not the first company to explore this haptic headset space. I actually reviewed one such headset a few years ago, the GX Gaming Cavimanus, and once upon a time Mad Catz also dabbled in similar ideas with the FREQ 4D.

It’s a popular gimmick. What better way to make bass feel more intense than to literally vibrate your skull, right? Feel the explosions. Feel the gunshots. Feel the rumble of that V8 engine.

Razer Nari Ultimate

IDG / Hayden Dingman

The Nari Ultimate might be the first to make haptics feel like more than a gimmick though, for a number of reasons.

First and foremost, Razer made a comfy headset. The Nari Ultimate lifts design cues from a number of Razer products without fully matching any. It uses the Thresher’s floating headband design, two metal arcs above another wrapped in both leatherette and sports mesh (on the inside edge). The earcups are similar to those of the Razer Kraken, generously padded and with cooling gel on the inside. And it’s a wireless headset, so the Nari Ultimate duplicates the on-ear controls from the Razer Man O’ War of course.

It’s Razer’s most comfortable headset. Like all floating headband models, it can feel too loose at times—tilting my head forward or back results in noticeable slippage. But I can (and did) wear the Nari Ultimate all day long, no problem.

Razer Nari Ultimate

IDG / Hayden Dingman

The cooling gel is fascinating as well. Like built-in haptics, Razer isn’t first to this idea either—I know Turtle Beach did something similar a few years back, and I wouldn’t even swear that was the originator. The effect is subtle, but when you first don the Nari Ultimate the ears are noticeably cooler than the usual leatherette or sports mesh surface.

Unfortunately the effect doesn’t last long. You’ve got maybe 15 or 20 minutes before the ears heat up to your skin temperature; taking the headset off for a brief period rapidly cools it again. Those dedicated to cold ears can also take the padding off and throw it in the fridge for a bit. And maybe you should, because if I have one complaint about the Nari Ultimate, it’s that once it heats up, your ears really sweat.

Aside from its heat-trap tendencies though, the Nari Ultimate’s a smart little device. It even copies over one of my favorite tricks from the Man O’ War, which is that you can store the USB dongle in the bottom of the right earcup when not in use. As someone who’s lost quite a few dongles over the years, I’ll never stop being grateful for this small courtesy. The volume wheel rounds out the right ear, while the power button, MicroUSB charging slot, a 3.5mm jack, mic mute, and chat-mix are found on the left ear.

Razer Nari Ultimate

IDG / Hayden Dingman

Note that you can use the Nari Ultimate with a 3.5mm aux cable unpowered, though obviously you lose the haptic effects. Keep it in mind regardless, as battery is one of the other weak points—haptics and lighting reduce the Nari Ultimate to a piddling eight hours of runtime. (It’s “up to” 20 with both features disabled.)

Ain’t that a kick in the head

But the haptics. That’s why we’re here, right? Sure it’s comfortable, and sure it’s got cooling gel in it, but those aren’t the features to justify spending $200 on a headset. Certainly not one by Razer. Even if you think Razer’s audio quality is worth $200 (questionable), you can undoubtedly get that same sound from Razer’s recently refreshed Kraken lineup or the lower-price Nari variants, all of which lack haptics.

Razer calls it HyperSense. It was designed by Lofelt, a company experimenting in haptic effects for VR, phones, headsets, and more. HyperSense differs from previous haptic-equipped headsets in two key ways: It operates across the entire LFE range of 20Hz to 200Hz, and it’s processed in stereo.

Razer Nari Ultimate

IDG / Hayden Dingman

What that means for you, the wearer, is nuance. A lot of haptic devices are binary, either on or off, but a few (like the Xbox One controller’s triggers) are capable of more sophisticated feedback—so you can for instance, as I said in the intro, tell when your digital tires have lost traction. The Nari Ultimate is the first headset I know of to fall into this camp.

I find it easiest to notice in music, where there are a lot of easily distinguishable elements. You’ll get a thick oomph of haptic feedback for the kick drum, a rumble for any low-end synths, and maybe a bouncey bit with some haptic reverb for the bass guitar. And the Nari Ultimate’s drivers are sophisticated enough that it can layer all these different rumbles on top of each other.

Jumping over to games then, maybe you drive around Forza Horizon 4 in an angry-sounding dune buggy, tires rumbling over dirt roads, and with the lush EDM soundtrack blasting above the din. Again, you’ve got three different sounds all contributing to the Nari Ultimate’s haptics in tandem. And as I said earlier, the Nari Ultimate works in stereo.

Razer Nari Ultimate

IDG / Hayden Dingman

That’s an important aspect to separating out the various elements as well, and one that’s not so prevalent in music (because low-frequency instruments are usually mixed in the center). So in Horizon you might feel the kick of the soundtrack’s bass drum in the center, and probably the engine most of the time. Turn to the right however, and you might feel that tire rumble slide in that direction—or vice versa, if you swing wide.

It also comes into play in shooters. If you’re getting shot from the left, expect to feel a small kick on that side of your face. Intensity depends on the amount of bass, so a grenade going off will field a slightly larger kick usually, and so on. It’s a neat trick, and one I haven’t seen in other haptic-enabled headsets.

My biggest issue is that the intensity of the haptics is dependent on volume. The louder the headset, the more intense the vibration—and Razer apparently wants you to go deaf. If you listen to the Nari Ultimate at normal, safe levels you will barely notice the haptics exist. Call me an old man, but protecting your hearing is important. There’s an option to crank the intensity in Razer’s Synapse software and I suggest you do so immediately. In my opinion it should default to a higher level, or at least not roll off the haptic effects so sharply as you decrease volume.

Razer Nari Ultimate

IDG / Hayden Dingman

As for the actual audio quality? It’s pretty solid. Razer’s sound profile isn’t my favorite, and the Nari Ultimate is certainly heavy on bass—probably to be expected, given the haptic effects. But both music and games sound relatively clear, with the mid-range and low-end coming through nicely. There’s a bit of a hollow feel to the center channel at times, but like the Man O’ War, the left/right stereo play is fantastic, and in games I find that’s usually a more important factor. Regardless, Razer’s slowly but surely closing the gap between it and companies like HyperX and Logitech.

The microphone is surprisingly decent too. Voice reproduction is good, as is noise isolation. I miss the dedicated mic volume wheel from the Man O’ War though, and the mute button’s too small by half.

Bottom line

The main sticking point is the price. The standard Nari (no surname), the mid-tier entry, runs for $150 and includes every feature from the Ultimate except the haptics. Is a bit of face-rumble worth $50? And for that matter, does the standard Nari compete with devices in its price tier like Logitech’s G533 and SteelSeries’s Arctis 7?

I’d answer yes and no, respectively. The $150 Nari is a tougher sell, and I think you’re probably better going with the G533 or even the Arctis 7 (or a wired headset for half the cost). But the Nari Ultimate’s haptics are seriously neat. Still a gimmick? Sure, maybe—but one I could see taking off. The PC is desperately in need of some haptic devices that aren’t as goofy as the various vests and so-on out there. The headset seems like a smart place to start, and evidently a bunch of other manufacturers have agreed in the past.

The Nari Ultimate is simply the first one that has the tech to make it stick. Feeling the rumble of a tank in the distance or a fat ol’ synth kick in—it’s completely unnecessary, even outright dumb at times, but adds a lot to the listening experience all the same.


Sony Xperia XZ2 Premium Reportedly Receiving Android 9.0 Pie Update

Sony Xperia XZ2 Premium Reportedly Receiving Android 9.0 Pie Update

Sony has reportedly started rolling out the Android 9.0 Pie software update to its Xperia XZ2 Premium smartphone. Earlier this month, the company had released the latest Android build for the Xperia XZ Premium ₹ 39,990, Xperia XZ1 ₹ 34,990, and the Xperia XZ1 Compact. According to the latest report, the update to XZ2 Premium comes with the build number 52.0.A.3.84 and also refreshes the Android security patch to November 2018. Additionally, Android 9.0 Pie is expected to come with features such as a new camera app interface, HDR upgrades, and more. Notably, the update could be a limited rollout in select regions and models, but is expected to be made available globally in the coming days.

Last month, Sony had confirmed the Android 9.0 Pie rollout for four of its Xperia smartphones. Earlier this month, the company released the update for the Xperia XZ Premium, Xperia XZ1, and Xperia XZ1 Compact, following a delay due to a bug. Now, the Japanese phone maker has started rolling out the Android Pie update to its Xperia XZ2 Premium, Xperia Blog reports. According to the report, the Android 9 Pie firmware update for the smartphone comes with build number 52.0.A.3.84 and is 210MB in size. Also, the update brings the latest November 2018 Android security patch.

As per the report, Sony is not adopting Android Pie’s gesture navigation. However, Xperia XZ2 Premium users will reportedly get Sony’s new camera interface. The report also speculated that Sony may have made more changes to the camera as the Xperia XZ2 Premium is the company’s only handset with a dual rear camera setup.

When it comes to other phones in the Xperia lineup, the Sony Xperia XZ2 and Xperia XZ2 Compact had reportedly started receiving the Android 9.0 update in October. Sony had also confirmed that the Xperia XA2, Xperia XA2 Ultra, and Xperia XA2 Plus will get the update early next year.

To recall, the dual-SIM (Nano) Sony Xperia XZ2 Premium was launched in April 2018 running Android 8.0. The smartphone sports a 5.8-inch 4K (2160×3840 pixels) HDR Triluminous display with the X-Reality mobile engine and Corning Gorilla Glass 5 protection. It is powered by the octa-core Snapdragon 845 SoC, coupled with 6GB of RAM. The dual rear camera setup of the smartphone bears a 19-megapixel lens with a 1/2.3-inch Exmor RS sensor, 1.22-micron pixels, and an f/1.8 aperture, as well as one 12-megapixel black and white lens with the same Exmor RS sensor, 1.55-micron pixels, and an f/1.6 aperture. Also, it is powered by the Bionz mobile image-processing engine and Aube fusion image signal processor. On the front, there is a 13-megapixel sensor with a 22mm wide-angle lens that has an f/2.0 aperture. The front camera setup also includes a five-axis image stabilisation. Besides, the handset comes with a 3,540mAh battery with support for Quick Charge 3.0 and wireless charging.


Jio GigaFiber Tops Netflix ISP Speed Index for October 2018 in India

Jio GigaFiber Tops Netflix ISP Speed Index for October 2018 in India

Netflix has released its latest monthly ISP speed index and Reliance Jio GigaFiber has been declared to have the best average Internet speed in India. Earlier this year, Reliance Jio started taking registrations for the highly anticipated Jio GigaFiber broadband service, but the service is yet to receive a wider public rollout in India. As per Netflix ISP Speed Index for October 2018, Jio GigaFiber’s average monthly speed increased from 3.41Mbps to 3.48Mbps. Interestingly, the Internet service provider had debuted at the top of the list in September this year.

While Jio, a new entrant in the sector, continues to maintain its position as the top telco in India in terms of affordability of data consumption, incumbents have been coming up with plans and offers to match Jio’s prices and bundled data. However, Jio GigaFiber is yet to see a wider rollout but is expected to be available across the country soon. Netflix’s ISP Leaderboard shows that Jio GigaFiber continues to stay on top for two months in a row, while Airtel managed to receive the fourth position.

Meanwhile, 7 Star Digital has been positioned at the second spot in Netflix’s ISP Speed Index for October 2018. Its monthly average speed increased from 3.15Mbps to 3.19Mbps. In October, 7 Star Digital managed to topple Spectranet, which is now at the third place in India. At the fifth position in the list released by Netflix, is ATRIA Convergence Technologies.

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Spectranet, Airtel, and ATRIA Convergence managed to deliver monthly average speeds of 3.14Mbps, 3.10Mbps, and 2.89Mbps respectively during October. Further, the top 15 was rounded off by YOU Broadband, Hathway, Syscon Infoway, D-VoiS, Excitel Broadband, Alliance Broadband, Tikona, BSNL, MTNL, and Tata Communications.

It is worth noting that India does not even feature in Netflix’s list of top 10 internet providers in the Asia-Pacific region. In this list, Hong Kong is at the top with a monthly average speed of 3.85Mbps while India has a monthly average speed of 2.73Mbps. Globally, Switzerland has the highest average speed, that is 4.18Mbps.

“The Netflix ISP Speed Index is a measure of prime time Netflix performance on a particular ISP and not a measure of overall performance for other services/data that may travel across the specific ISP network. Faster Netflix performance generally means better picture quality, quicker start times and fewer interruptions,” Netflix noted in its blog.