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9/05/2019

Regular exercise changes the brain to improve memory, thinking skills

 The story revolves round Madison and her family, having different destinies, fate and view about life, they rally for personal interests, little did they realise they were only running round a globe.
Segregated by religion, Madison and Hassan were forced to call off their blissful relationship, it was indeed a painful quit, but they had little or no option, both families were against them-a flower can’t flourish in a dam of thorns.
Madison was an american lady whose family resided in Nigeria, hassan on the other hand was the Emir of kano’s first son.
After the painful breakup, Madison together with her family left for their home country where she discovered she was pregnant.
Nine months after which she gave birth to a set of identical twins.
The glass was already shattered! She had to raise her kids alone, without hassan’s knowledge.
She named them Michael and Gabriel, they bore her last name; Robertson.
She eventually found love again! This time, a black american.
Everything happened so fast, the got married.
Her new husband died few years into their union, she was once again left alone to cater for her mulattoes- Michael, Gabriel and Nathan.
MICHAEL ROBERTSON:
AGE: 28
PROFILE:
An american CIA who woke up one morning only to get a burn notice.
An underground crime syndicate operating in Nigeria absorbed him, knowing he was a great asset.
His skills and expertise won him the trust of his boss, love of katarina and jealousy the of a colleague.
Michael fell into a trap, a trap carved out of jealousy, he was killed in a bomb explosion, it was all a set up!
Who was the architect?
GABRIEL ROBERTSON:
AGE: 28
PROFILE:
The most naive of his brothers, a loving, caring and soft hearted fellow whose identity carved a pain in his neck.
Gabriel had the same physiological make up with Michael, even their mother always mistook one for the other.
The syndicate didn’t believe Michael was dead, Gabriel was mistaken for Michael, he had no option but to replace Michael in the syndicate.
His sole mission was to avenge his brother’s death and sell out the syndicate.
He was drowned by love, lust and power, all which he inherited from Michael’s past.
Would he be able to let go of all these and avenge Michael’s death?
Would the murderer be fished out?
NATHAN SHERWOOD:
AGE: 22
PROFILE:
Only he and Michael knew his father was assassinated!
Consumed by grieve, quest for revenge and hurts, he set out to kill everyone involved in his father’s death, he believe his step brother was murdered for a significant reason.
He later found out Gabriel was working for the same syndicate that murdered his dad
Geez! He was working with the police, would he watch the only brother he had left go to jail?

HASSAN AZZEEZ:
AGE: 52
PROFILE:
He found himself climbing up the political pinnacle, he found success at the polls, he was sworn in as the president of the republic, his people loved him, but he had enemies within!
In order to clear their coast, they planned to assassinate him.
i
t was a stormy and thundrous afternoon in the city of Kano.
The cloud was pitch black, threatening to cry. The sun found canopy under the thick cloud, warm but heavy wind blew from the south, tossing away any material that dare stand in its way.
Ranty sounds of thunder permeated the magnificiently designed room, Hassan’s heart beats weren’t helping matters, they seem to be in rythme with the thunder.
Each pump of blood pervaded fear within his being. He swallowed hard for the umpteenth time, boils of sweat tickled down his skin, defying the cold atmosphere.
Hassan paced around like someone whose wife is experiencing her maiden labour.
Its high time he let his father know about his decision to renounce islam- a religion his ancestors had practiced so faithfully.
Yes he knew it won’t be easy but the squeaky wheel gets the grease.
He stuck his legs into his slipper, took in a big gulp of air and reached for the door knob.
He turned it slowly and walked out to the hallway, heading to his father, to meet his fate.
Hassan Abdul-Azeez was first born son of the prominent Abdul-Azeez Usaini xvi the 21st century emir of kano.
The emir so much loved his son that he didn’t want anything to separate them, he had Hassan pass through western education here in Nigeria so he could teach him all there is to know about royalty, his plans was for Hassan to succeed him!
He didn’t want royalty transfered to another family.
Hassan opened the palace door with shaky hands and trembling feet. He had never felt like this before! He spent all his life in the modern palace, why was he having this strange feeling now?
His facial expression script it all, he was greatly worried.
His dad sat on the high and mighty throne with two body guards standing by his right and left respectively.
Four chiefs occupied the chairs below the throne.
The palace was well furnished, it looked nothing less of a modern palace, most of its decos were imported.
“sannun ku” he greeted breathlessly, with his head slightly bowed in respect.
“salama alaikum” the chiefs chorused, meaning “peace be unto you”
Hassan sat on one of the chairs by his right.
The Emir knew the kind of son he had in Hassan, hassan was a core introvert, he wouldn’t show in the palace by this time of the day if he had nothing important to discuss.
“is anything troubling the prince? The emir asked on noticing Hassan’s countenance.
“i request to speak with my dad….alone” came the reply from hassan.
The Emir motioned the brown horse tail he was holding.
Action speaks louder than voice, the guards and chiefs deserted the palace as commanded.
Hassan stared blankly at his dad, he was battling how best to present this to his father.
He sighed. ” father, i want to make an important request”
“go ahead son, you know i’ll do anything and everything for you” replied the king who was oblivious of his son’s request.
Hassan threw his father another quick glance; beyond the royal attaire, he saw a man who had a blazing passion for Islam and wishes all his family members to follow in is footprints.
For a moment, Hassan thought of aborting his plans, he thought against it when he remembered the promise he made to Madison.
No! He can’t afford to loss her…..
“father,,, i….i uhm…..i wish to convert to christianity” he found himself stammering.
At the drop of a hat, the tender smile Emir Abdul was wearing drifted to a heart crushing frown.
Hassan could swear he saw real fire replacing his father’s pupils.
“what did you just say?
The emir got up angrily.
Hassan’s heart skipped, he also got up. “calm down dad…..i…”
“shut up” the Emir shouted, and got into a session of loud coughs.
His heart ached badly, Hassan wished he could swallow back his words, too late to cry when the trigger is pulled.
The Emir fell to the floor helplessly, he had been managing cardiovascular attacks for the past few month now.
Hassan grew red with regret.
“Aminu!”
he screamed, a guard ran in almost immediatley.Two reports released this week shed light on the current state of type 2 diabetes in this country, and their conclusions are both promising and sobering. First, the good news: An article in The New England Journal of Medicine shows that rates of diabetes-related problems like heart attack, stroke, and lower-limb amputation are down by more than 50% over the last two decades.

Now the bad news: during the same time period, the number of people with diabetes has soared, according to a report in the Annals of Internal Medicine. In the early 1990s, 5.5% of adults had diabetes. By 2010, the number had nearly doubled, to 9.3%. That translates into about 21 million American adults living with diabetes.

Although Americans are doing a better job of controlling their diabetes, they’re falling far short at preventing it. “The major reason why the prevalence of diabetes is going up is an increase in the number of people who are overweight and obese,” explains Dr. Osama Hamdy, medical director of the Obesity Clinical Program at the Harvard-affiliated Joslin Diabetes Center and author of The Diabetes Breakthrough, a newly published book from Harvard Health Publishing.

Nearly 70% of Americans are overweight or obese. And unless something is done to reverse this trend, millions more could edge closer to diabetes.
The obesity–diabetes connection

To describe how being overweight contributes to type 2 diabetes, Dr. Hamdy uses an automotive analogy. “You have more tissue in your body, so you require more glucose [sugar]. Just as if you have a bigger car, you need more gas,” he says. Insulin—the hormone that moves glucose from the blood into the tissues for use and storage—is like the key to that car.

The more sugar that enters the blood, the more insulin is needed to drive it to its intended destination. The pancreas can pump out extra insulin to meet the need, but over time, the body becomes increasingly less sensitive to it and the pancreas eventually reaches its insulin-producing limit. “Then you get diagnosed with type 2 diabetes,” Dr. Hamdy says.

The upside is that the process can be reversed. When you lose weight, you have less tissue, which means you need less sugar—and therefore less insulin. “You become more efficient, like a hybrid car,” says Dr. Hamdy.

In his own research, he’s found that losing just 7% of your body weight can improve insulin sensitivity by about 57%—more than diabetes drugs can usually do. “What we have seen is that once people start to lose weight in the very early stages of diabetes, they can actually reverse the entire course of the disease,” Dr. Hamdy says.
Minor changes, big results

The ability to reverse diabetes might seem dramatic, but the lifestyle changes needed to achieve it aren’t. The cornerstones of diabetes prevention—diet and exercise—can be easily incorporated into even the most hectic schedule.

Take exercise, for example. “Most people don’t know that if you do short bouts of exercise it is even more efficient than if you do longer bouts,” says Dr. Hamdy. People who can’t carve out time to get to the gym could actually see greater results just by incorporating three 10-minute exercise sessions into their everyday routine.

Here’s a sample schedule:

    In the morning when you wake up, stretch for 10 minutes.
    After you eat lunch, take a brisk 10-minute walk.
    After dinner, strength train with light hand weights or an exercise band for 10 minutes.

Those three 10-minute sessions provide stretching, aerobics, and strength training—all essential components of a well-rounded workout. And if you do them every day, they add up to 210 minutes of activity a week.

An unhealthy diet can also be transformed with a couple of basic fixes. One is to divide your plate into three sections:

    Fill one with lean protein—fish, legumes, beans, tofu, or skinless chicken
    Fill another with green vegetables—spinach, broccoli, kale, or Brussels sprouts
    Fill the third with whole grains—whole-wheat bread, brown rice, quinoa, etc.

The other part of the diet fix is learning how to listen to hunger and satisfaction cues to control portion sizes. Dr. Hamdy recommends assessing your hunger based on a five-point scale:

    Starving
    Hungry
    Ok—satisfied
    Full
    Stuffed

The goal should be to sit down to a meal when you’re hungry, and stop eating when you’re satisfied.

Preventing diabetes can be done, but it takes a real commitment to change. And until more people are willing to change their eating and exercise habits—and pass those habits on to their children—the obesity and diabetes rates will continue to rise.
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Do I need orthotics? What kind?

Here’s why parents need to know about e-cigarettes. First, many more teens are using them. In 2017, 3% of middle school students and 12% of high school students reported using them, and while that may not sound like a lot, since 2011 use has gone up about 500% in middle school and 800% among high school students. And, e-cigarettes can be dangerous.
How e-cigarettes work

E-cigarettes are basically delivery devices for nicotine, the addictive chemical in tobacco. The hope of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is that they might possibly decrease smoking — which would be great, as smoking is the leading preventable cause of death in the United States. It’s the smoke itself that causes the vast majority of the health risk, so the idea was that perhaps if you gave people a way to inhale nicotine that didn’t involve burning tobacco, you might get them away from tobacco, especially if you were able to gradually decrease the amount of nicotine they inhale.

The problem is that not only did it turn out that these devices don’t really help people quit, they are being marketed to youth, and youth are buying them.
Why e-cigarettes are especially dangerous for young people

This is where the danger comes in. E-cigarettes are dangerous for youth in at least three ways:

    Nicotine can affect developing brains, putting young users at higher risk of addiction and mental health problems.
    Inhaling the vapor itself can cause breathing problems.
    E-cigarette use makes it more likely that youth will start smoking tobacco.

This is a big enough concern that the FDA is launching an effort to curb e-cigarette use in youth. They have targeted the major manufacturers (JUUL, Vuse, blu E-Cig, MarkTen, Logic) and are not only examining their marketing practices, but asking them to come up with “robust” plans to curb youth use of their products. They are also looking at other ways to curb use, including education and regulation. Many states have laws regulating the sale of e-cigarettes to youth, and others are considering them.
Here’s what parents need to do

    Get educated. Learn about e-cigarettes and their health risks.
    Talk to your kids about them. Ask about what they know, ask if they have tried them, ask if their friends have tried them. Ask if they see others using them at school. Make sure they understand the dangers.
    Advocate! Talk to your elected officials about better laws to protect our children. Talk to your school and community about education and outreach.
Localized prostate cancer that is diagnosed before it has a chance to spread typically responds well to surgery or radiation. But when a tumor metastasizes and sends malignant cells elsewhere in the body, the prognosis worsens. Better treatments for men with metastatic prostate cancer are urgently needed. In 2018, scientists advanced toward that goal by sequencing the entire metastatic cancer genome.

The newly revealed genomic landscape includes not just the active genes that make proteins, but also the vast stretches of DNA in between them that can also be functionally significant. Most of the genomic alterations were structural, meaning that DNA letters in the cells were mixed up, duplicated, or lost. A major finding was that the androgen receptor, which is a target for hormonal medications used when cancer returns after initial treatment, was often genetically amplified. That could explain why patients often become stubbornly resistant to hormonal therapies: if the androgen receptor is hyperactive, then the treatments can’t fully block its activity.

The research revealed many other sorts of alterations as well. For instance, DNA-repair genes such as BRCA2 and MMR were often defective. Cells rely on these genes to fix the genetic damage that afflicts them routinely every day, but with their functional loss, cancerous changes can follow. Cancer-driving oncogenes such as MYC were common, as were “tumor-suppressor” genes such as TP53 and CDK12, which ordinarily work to keep cancer at bay.

Metastatic prostate cancer differs from one man to another, and likewise, the frequency of these alterations varied among the more than 100 men who provided samples for analysis. By exploring the data, scientists can now develop new hypotheses for testing, and refine personalized treatment strategies to help men with this life-threatening disease. Many people come to my office complaining of foot pain from conditions such as bunions, hammertoes, a pinched nerve (neuroma), or heel pain (plantar fasciitis). I perform a thorough evaluation and examination, and together we review the origin, mechanics, and treatment plan for the specific problem or issue. The patient usually asks if they need an orthotic and, if so, which type would be best.

I recommend a foot orthotic if muscles, tendons, ligaments, joints, or bones are not in an optimal functional position and are causing pain, discomfort, and fatigue. Foot orthotics can be made from different materials, and may be rigid, semirigid, semiflexible, or accommodative, depending on your diagnosis and specific needs.
Different types of orthotics

Most of my discussions center around three types of foot orthotics: over-the-counter/off-the-shelf orthotics; “kiosk-generated” orthotics; and professional custom orthotics. Over-the-counter (OTC) or off-the-shelf orthotics are widely available and can be chosen based on shoe size and problem (such as Achilles tendinitis or arch pain). Kiosk orthotics are based on a scan of your feet. A particular size or style of orthotics is recommended for you based on your foot scan and the type of foot problem you are experiencing. They may help with heel pain, lower back pain, general foot discomfort, or for a specific sport.

For custom prescription orthotics, a health professional performs a thorough health history, including an assessment of your height, weight, level of activity, and any medical conditions. A diagnosis and determination of the best materials and level of rigidity/flexibility of the orthotics is made, followed by an impression mold of your feet. This mold is then used to create an orthotic specifically for you. The difference between OTC/kiosk and custom orthotics may be likened to the difference between over-the-counter and prescription reading glasses.
Which type of orthotic is right for you?

A person of average weight, height, and foot type, and with a generic problem such as heel pain, usually does well with an over-the-counter or kiosk orthotic. They are less expensive, and usually decrease pain and discomfort. However, you may have to replace them more often. Someone with a specific need, or a problem such as a severely flat foot, may benefit from custom prescription orthotics. While more expensive and not usually covered by insurance, they generally last longer than the OTC/kiosk type.

Before investing in orthotics, I recommend spending your hard-earned money on quality, properly fitted shoes specific for your work or athletic activities. You may be surprised to learn that many people have not had their feet professionally measured at a shoe store in years. As we age, our foot length and width changes. And sizing may not be consistent between brands; the same size 9-1/2 narrow shoe may differ significantly from one manufacturer to another.

If your pain or discomfort does not improve with new shoes, try over-the-counter or kiosk orthotics for a period of time. If you see improvement, fine. If not, see a health care professional for an evaluation for custom prescription orthotics.

In my experience, certain groups of people benefit from an examination performed by a health care professional, and a prescription for custom orthotics. These include people with diabetes who have loss of feeling in their feet, people with poor circulation, and people with severe foot deformities caused by arthritis. In fact, Medicare has a program that covers 80% of the cost of diabetic shoes and orthotics, because studies have shown that they decrease the chance of developing an open sore that can lead to amputation.

In summary, if you feel you know what is causing your foot pain, you don’t fall into any of the groups that benefit from professional custom orthotics, and you already wear a properly fitted pair of shoes, go ahead and try the OTC or kiosk orthotics. For most people, these will provide relief. After taking these steps, if you notice no improvement in your condition, then seek out the advice of a health care professional.
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Helping a child with obsessive-compulsive disorder

You’ve heard of mindfulness, but what is it, really? How is it different from meditation? Is mindfulness really helpful? Is it hokey? And can you learn it? Do you need to go to a week-long camp or a psychotherapist or a guru? The answer could be on your smartphone.
What is mindfulness?

There’s no specific definition of mindfulness or meditation, although most writers see mindfulness as one form of meditation, which includes many other activities such as visualization and contemplation. Mindfulness involves focusing completely on what’s going on inside you and outside you — being an observer without getting wrapped up in what you’re observing.

A helpful website to learn about mindfulness is provided by the National Health Service of the UK. The creators of this site suggest that watching your thoughts come and go without getting wrapped up by them is like standing at a bus stop watching the buses come and go without getting on one. You can observe your thoughts or worries come up without getting consumed by them and distracted from the world around you.

In-person mindfulness training typically involves spending a great deal of time in silence, often with eyes closed, learning to note what is going on around you, such as the humming of a light or the sound of cars outside, or the feel of air flowing past your face from the AC. It often involves also noting what is going on inside your body, especially your breath and the sensation of air coming in through your nose or out your mouth. The goal is to be present with these observations, not distracted by worries about your to-do list, your relationships, or some recent event. Often mindfulness sessions are started and concluded with the sound of a chime, which is a tradition that comes from Buddhist meditation practices.

If you learn mindfulness techniques — paying attention to your physical sensations and your sensory perceptions, while learning to observe your thoughts and feelings — you’re likely to manage stress better, have fewer episodes of depression, and less anxiety. Research also shows you may experience a better quality of life and improved health, although less so than for the mental health benefits.
Which app is best, and for whom?

Wearing headphones or being buried in your phone all the time is the opposite of mindfulness. Nonetheless, there are about 280 mindfulness apps in the Apple iTunes app store. These seem like they could be a great way to learn a healthy skill. But how do you pick one?

A recent study by researchers from Lancaster University in the UK examined the most popular mindfulness apps. Of the 280 they found in the iTunes store, they narrowed these down to only include apps that are in the Health and Fitness category, only those with 100+ user reviews, and only those with ratings above 3 on a 5-star scale. This left them with the 16 most popular and potentially helpful mindfulness apps — 14 of which also are available for Android users. (These apps are listed here). Notably, only one of the apps has been experimentally studied — Headspace, which showed decreased depression and increased positive emotions after use for 10 days. However, this does not mean other apps don’t work; they just haven’t been studied yet.

The Lancaster team of two computer scientists reviewed the apps on a number of dimensions to categorize what they actually do and how they do it, and presented its findings at the prestigious Association for Computing Machinery’s Computer Human Interaction (CHI) conference in Montreal this year. They found that apps recommend daily practice of 10 minutes, and they essentially offer pre-recorded audio clips (a female or male voice talking you through mindfulness exercises) or timed sound effects (chimes that sound at the beginning, middle, and end of a mostly silent mindfulness practice session). They also offer ways to keep track of your practice sessions. None of them, however, offer any way of tracking how well you are learning mindfulness or its impact on your life.

Keeping in mind that the crux of mindfulness is noticing what is going on around you, and what is going on inside you, it is striking that only three of the 16 apps emphasized intrinsic or self-directed, silent practice of mindfulness. These three, Insight Timer, Meditation Timer, and Tide, really serve as timers with chimes to start and end your silent practice sessions. The other 13 apps provide audio recordings of someone talking you through focusing on breathing or other physical sensations.

It’s hard to notice what’s going on inside or around you if you’re distracted by someone speaking, even if it is soothing speech, and some reviews of these apps point this out. Research also indicates that the self-directed, silent form of mindfulness practice is more effective than externally guided exercises. Being talked through a breathing exercise is actually a form of relaxation training (learning to release tension from the body), which also has value, but is different from mindfulness training.

The researchers suggest that in the future, tangible objects (like meditation balls or wheels, which are used in traditional practices) could be incorporated into mindfulness training, as well as physiological sensors to track the body’s activity during practice sessions. Look for enhanced mindfulness apps on the horizon.
Which app should you try?

There’s no single best app for everyone. It may be helpful to try a self-guided app first, but if you don’t click with it, then try an app that has verbal instructions or guidance, returning to the self-guided silent app later when you’ve gotten the hang of it.

Even with an app, mindfulness takes practice. Like playing an instrument or a sport, the more you practice, the better you get and the more you get out of it. That’s where the 10 minutes every day comes in. Whatever you try, mindfulness training is considered very safe, and has a good chance of increasing your happiness and peacefulness, and reducing your depression, anxiety, and stress.
Here’s a medical news story that combines a common habit (drinking coffee) with a common skin condition (rosacea) — and it even has a happy ending.
What is rosacea?

Rosacea is probably something you’ve seen plenty of times and didn’t know what it was — or perhaps you have it yourself. It’s that pink or red discoloration on the cheeks some people have, especially fair-haired women. Sometimes there are small bumps that may look a bit like acne. If you look closely (after asking nicely for permission, of course), you’ll see tiny blood vessels just under the surface of the skin. In more severe cases it may involve the chin, forehead, nose, ears, and other skin surfaces. It may affect the eyes, eyelids, and cause thickening of the skin over the nose.

We don’t know what causes rosacea. However, there are theories that it may be, at least in part, a genetic condition, as it can run in families. Because the immune system seems to be involved in the inflammation of rosacea, and because other autoimmune conditions (such as type 1 diabetes and multiple sclerosis) may accompany rosacea, abnormal immune function may play a role. Medications (such as topical anti-inflammatory drugs) and antibiotics can reduce redness and inflammation but there is no cure. Many people seem to be able to reduce signs of rosacea by modifying their diet to avoid foods that trigger it.

Rosacea affects more than 14 million people in the US, including some celebrities, such as Bill Clinton and the late Diana, Princess of Wales. And while it’s not dangerous, it can have a significant cosmetic impact. Caffeine, sun exposure, spicy foods, and hormonal factors are thought to be able to trigger rosacea’s development or make it worse once present. Yet, a new study challenges the connection between caffeine and rosacea.
More coffee, less rosacea?

A recent study analyzed health data from surveys provided to nearly 83,000 women over more than a decade and found that:

    Those drinking four or more cups of coffee per day were significantly less likely to report a diagnosis of rosacea than those who drank little or no coffee.
    Those drinking less than four cups of coffee each day were also less likely to have rosacea, though the protective effect was smaller.
    Consumption of decaffeinated coffee was not linked to a lower incidence of rosacea.
    Caffeine intake from other foods or beverages (such as chocolate or tea) had no impact on the likelihood of developing rosacea.

Why is this important?

These results of this study are more than just interesting observations. If other research can confirm the findings, it could lead to a better understanding of why rosacea develops in some people and not in others. Because inflammation driven by the immune system is thought to play an important role in rosacea, insights into the development of this disease could extend to advances in other autoimmune disorders. Finally, many people with rosacea (or a family history of the disease) who like coffee may avoid it because of the widespread notion that coffee will make it worse. The findings of this study suggest that’s not true.
There are always caveats

As with all research of this type, there are limitations to consider. For example, this study

    only included women, most of whom were white — we’ll need additional studies of men and other ethnic groups to know if the findings extend widely.
    relied on health surveys and study participants’ memories regarding past diagnoses and diet; such survey data may not always be accurate.
    found a link between higher coffee consumption with lower risk of rosacea, but it cannot determine whether coffee consumption actually caused a reduction in rosacea.

The bottom line

Coffee is one of the mostly widely consumed beverages on the planet, and it’s also among the most widely studied. While it can cause problems for some people (such as heartburn, tremor, or palpitations), it’s a source of pleasure and enjoyment for millions. In addition, coffee has been linked with a number of health benefits, ranging from reductions in type 2 diabetes and liver cancer to greater longevity. From this latest research, it appears that you can add the possible prevention of rosacea to the list. If your child has obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), you know that this condition affects not only your child but also your entire family. The guidance that follows can help parents gain a better understanding of OCD, learn helpful strategies to support their children, and ease distress all around.
What is obsessive-compulsive disorder?

OCD typically includes uncontrollable, recurring thoughts (obsessions) and behaviors (compulsions or rituals) that a child feels an urgent need to repeat again and again. For example, your child may repeat a grooming routine until he feels “just right.”

A child may engage in compulsions or rituals to temporarily reduce distress. A child also may complete a compulsion because she imagines that doing so will prevent a scary outcome. For example, a child may tap a countertop three times at the start of every hour to prevent a parent from dying in a car crash. Even though the child logically may know that the two behaviors are not linked, the distress caused by having such obsessions can make the likelihood of the car crash seem possible if the child does not perform the ritual.

Unfortunately, compulsions strengthen obsessions in the long run. This sets up a vicious cycle of obsessions, distress, and compulsions.
How does OCD affect the family?

OCD does not just affect children who have the disorder. It can have an impact on the entire family, resulting in frequent conflicts. For example, the insistence on completing compulsions at specified times and places — such as, at 9:00 AM at home — may make you late for work and your children late for school. OCD also may dictate which family members cannot touch certain objects or say certain phrases, which may make family members feel uncomfortable in their own home.

Parents and siblings understandably can feel resentful for the ways in which OCD can interfere with their daily lives. Parents also can feel guilty about not being able to support their child sufficiently.
How can you support a child with OCD?

Looking for help from an experienced mental health professional is a good way to start. Strategies used to treat OCD go against maternal and paternal instincts, so it is important for children and their parents to be involved in treatment to learn how to manage OCD. The tips below may help.

    Pursue cognitive behavioral therapy. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a specialized psychotherapy that helps people learn the links among thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, and develop tools to address unhelpful patterns. A special type of CBT that focuses on exposure and response prevention (ERP) is considered the gold standard treatment for OCD. This evidence-based treatment helps a child gradually resist engaging in compulsions while learning that the outcome is not as bad as expected — or, at least, can be tolerated. If your child’s symptoms are consuming more than an hour daily, creating distress for your child or family, and interfering with activities, your child may benefit from CBT with ERP. You can ask your pediatrician for a referral, or search for a provider or a program through the International OCD Foundation.
    Try not to accommodate. As a parent, your instinct is to support and protect your child. Unfortunately, OCD feeds on attention and accommodation. For example, if your child asks you to open a door to avoid coming in contact with germs, you inadvertently strengthen OCD each time you open the door. This is because your child’s brain learns that the door handle is something to fear and cannot be handled by him. Try to resist participating in rituals, even if it feels awful to refrain. Giving OCD an inch only encourages it to demand a mile. Resisting accommodation may make symptoms worse before they get better. Think of OCD as a bully who demands lunch money. A bully usually will not accept “no” as an initial answer. Instead, he’ll try to up the ante until he gets the money. However, the bully will learn over time that it is not worth the effort to get no attention and no money. The situation can improve if you remain consistent.
    Understand that your child is probably not trying to be oppositional. If you view your child as defying you on purpose, you may feel angry. This can prompt you to engage in a futile battle of wills. Try to shift perspectives for a moment. Think about something that terrifies you — maybe entering a cage with a hungry tiger. Your human instinct is to escape, and you might do whatever it takes to do so. Now imagine someone trying to force you to stay in the cage. That is what it can feel like for a child to be told that she needs to stop a ritual. Obsessions elicit tremendous distress. Your child may worry that she will not be able to tolerate the outcome of an incomplete compulsion. Remind yourself that OCD is a very convincing bully. You are angering OCD, not your child. It is not your child trying to disrupt the family; it is the OCD.

Seek support for yourself

As noted above, OCD can affect the whole family. Ask your pediatrician or a mental health professional about OCD peer support groups for parents in your community. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) may guide you to one. Some clinicians trained in CBT and CBT with ERP for children with obsessive-compulsive disorder also provide parent guidance. You deserve support, too, and to learn that you are not alone as you help your child manage OCD.
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Smell disorders: When your sense of smell goes astray

While speaking as a panelist on substance use disorder (SUD), I felt it necessary to remind the audience that addiction is a family disease. While family members may not themselves be tethered to use of a substance, we all share in the anger, guilt, despair, and all too often grief that ripple back and forth in a family’s encounter with SUD. I learned early on, “Addiction isn’t a spectator sport, eventually the whole family gets to play.”
What may be harder for some to understand is that the “sport” gets played for a lifetime, even by generations to come. I am reminded of a line near the end of Robert Woodruff Anderson’s play I Never Sang for My Father, “Death ends a life, but it does not end a relationship, which struggles on in the survivor’s mind toward some final resolution, some clear meaning, which it perhaps never finds.”
The struggle to find some resolution to loss due to SUD may take the form of rotating graveside arrangements, memorial gardens or park benches, sponsored public talks, races, and fundraising benefits. These are but a few of the ways families devise to remember a loved one and contribute to the common good in their name.
Unfortunately, the struggle toward resolution can also result in blame, alienation, family disruption, and divorce. The disease has a way of finding its way into the weak spots of a family fabric and causing rot, unless and until the aftereffects are tended to and we find some way to make meaning from a loved one’s overdose death.
One disruption that is almost certain to appear is the alteration of a family’s calendar. While always a constant, grief finds a way to manifest itself in anniversaries new and old — certainly on birthdays, or with an empty chair at holiday tables (a practice some families observe not only in name but in deed), but also the memory of the day someone overdosed, or the last memory of sobriety. The scar of a horrifying discovery or a dreaded telephone call now mars Christmas Day, a wedding anniversary, or what would ordinarily be a celebratory family event.
For me the fall was always a happy time, ever since my early adolescence when I began to play soccer. I’ve played, coached, or been a referee every fall for 50 years. Exactly six years ago, even the same day of the week as I write this, I refereed a game on a bright October Saturday morning. That evening I discovered our son, William, overdosed in our living room. His last words to me as he shut the door were, “I’m going to watch some TV.” There was no mention of injecting heroin. Six weeks of comatose hospitalization followed before he died in our arms.
Every year since, the fall darkens not just with the loss of daylight, but also with the loss of a beautiful light in our lives. William’s November birthday, Thanksgiving, the day he died, the date of his memorial service — all combine to create a season of grief for our family. Nieces who will know him only through photographs and stories will sing him “Happy Birthday” on a day that is anything but happy for those who knew and loved William. Soccer, a sport I love, now competes with a deep seasonal gloom.
The philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer famously said, “All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.” Despite all the loss and suffering, all the beautiful memorials, and all the work of many grieving families and advocacy groups to enlighten us, I fear our society lingers too near stage one, ridicule. Ridicule prolongs shame and stigma, and serves to perpetuate our seasons of grief.

While studying brain injuries in the mid-1990s, I began volunteering in a domestic violence shelter. I noticed that the abuse and problems many women reported were consistent with possibly experiencing concussions. Women reported many acts of violence that could cause trauma to the brain, as well as many post-concussive symptoms. Shockingly, my search for literature on this topic yielded zero results.

When I decided to focus my graduate work on this topic, I was even more shocked by what I learned from women who had experienced intimate partner violence (IPV). Of the 99 women I interviewed, 75% reported at least one traumatic brain injury (TBI) sustained from their partners and about half reported more than one — oftentimes many more than one. Also, as I predicted, the more brain injuries a woman reported, the more poorly she tended to perform on cognitive tasks such as learning and remembering a list of words. Additionally, having more brain injuries was associated with higher levels of psychological distress such as worry, depression, and anxiety.

When I published these results, I was excited about the possibility of bringing much needed awareness and research attention to this topic. Unfortunately, over 20 years later — despite the plethora of concussion-related research in athletics and the military — concussion-related research in the context of intimate partner violence remains scant, representing a barely recognized and highly understudied public health epidemic.
What do we know about intimate partner violence-related traumatic brain injuries?

First, we need to understand that an estimated one in three women experience some type of physical or sexual partner violence in their lifetimes. IPV is not a rare event, and it traverses all socioeconomic boundaries. It is the number one cause of homicide for women and the number one cause of violence to women. For many reasons, including the stigma of being abused, many women hide their IPV — so the chances that we all know personally at least a few people who have sustained IPV are quite high.

Though we lack good epidemiological data on the number of women sustaining brain injuries from their partners, the limited data that we do have suggest that the numbers are in the millions in the US alone. Most of these TBIs are mild and are unacknowledged, untreated, and repetitive. Consequently, many women are at risk for persistent post-concussive syndrome with completely unknown longer-term health risks.
What are the signs and symptoms of IPV-related TBI?

A concussion, by definition, is a traumatic brain injury (TBI). All that is required for someone to sustain a TBI or concussion is an alteration in consciousness after some type of external trauma or force to the brain. For example, either being hit in the head with a hard object (such as a fist), or having a head hit against a hard object (such as a wall or floor), can cause a TBI. If this force results in confusion, memory loss around the event, or loss of consciousness, this is a TBI. Dizziness or seeing stars or spots following such a force can also indicate a TBI. A loss of consciousness is not required, and in fact does not occur in the majority of mild TBIs.

There are often no physical signs that a TBI has occurred. Recognizing that an IPV-related TBI has occurred will typically involve asking the woman about her experience following a blow to the head or violent force to the brain, and then listening for signs of an alteration of consciousness (such as confusion, memory loss, loss of consciousness). Within the next days or week, a range of physical, emotional, behavioral, or cognitive issues may indicate post-concussive symptoms that could include

If a TBI is suspected, a woman should see a doctor if possible. Sustaining additional TBIs while still symptomatic will likely increase the time to recovery, and possibly increase the likelihood of more long-term difficulties.
What can we do?

An important component of addressing IPV-related TBI is to raise awareness and destigmatize intimate partner violence. IPV is unfortunately quite common, and some estimates suggest that millions of women may be sustaining unacknowledged, unaddressed, and often repetitive mild TBIs or concussions from their partners. Talking openly and honestly about this problem, especially in cases were abuse may be suspected, is critical. As we open up this conversation about the commonality of IPV with nonjudgmental acceptance of a woman’s experience, we will be in a better place to hear, understand, and support women who may be unknowing members of this invisible public health epidemic.
Read More »

8/19/2019

Perfect Sound With Great Comfort

For most users, headphones should be able to shut out the rackety world and focus on the songs that move them or prose that inspires them. If you’re dead serious about not missing a single word or note, having noise cancellation is a must. And, today we’ll be looking at Sony’s latest pair of noise-canceling headphones, and why am I compelled to recommend them over the top competitor, Bose QC35 II.

Sony WH-1000XM3, the obvious successor to WH-1000XM2, feels snug and comfortable, has a delightfully balanced sound output, and most importantly excels when it comes to cutting out ambient noise. All of these elements come together to offer a charming listening experience, whether you’re an audiophile, a budding musician, or simply watching movies. In term of sound, the Sony headphones priced at Rs 29,990 are able to reproduce deep bass, but without overshadowing the natural sound.

Sony WH-1000XM3 active noise canceling headphones Review

An improved array of noise-canceling microphones, a finer finish than the previous model, touch controls, and USB-C for charging are elements on the Sony WH-1000XM3 that appeal for your attention. There’s a little trick to listen to ambient sounds clearly even without having to take the headphones off and I love it.

Once you start using them, these elements are certain to make your affair with music, movies, or commentary of any form even more exciting.
Sony WH-1000XM3 Specifications

Let us first take a look at the specifications of the Sony WH-1000XM3:
Driver    40mm dome type
Frequency Response    20Hz - 20kHz (SBC)
20Hz - 40kHz (LDAC, 96)
4Hz - 40kHz (active operations)
Impedance    47 Ohm
Bluetooth    Bluetooth 4.2 with aptX HD, LDAC support
Battery    38 hours (Bluetooth + ANC off)
30 hours (Bluetooth + ANC on)
200 hours (Stand-by + ANC off)
Wired Connections    3.5mm
Noise Cancellation Technology    Active Noise Cancellation & Ambient Sound Mode
Charging Port    USB Type-C
Weight     255 grams
Price    Rs 29,990 (Amazon India / Flipkart)

The WH-1000XM3 noise-canceling headphones have a wide range of frequency response, far beyond the human hearing capacity. Another striking aspect is the long and endearing battery life, almost making you forget about charging the headset.

So, then, let’s start by taking a peek inside the box contents.
Sony WH-1000XM3 Box Contents

Inside the box, you get the following:

    Sony WH-1000XM3 wireless noise-canceling headphones
    USB-C Cable
    3.5mm Aux cable
    Carrying case
    Plug adaptor for in-flight usage
    Instruction manual and other paperwork

Sony WH-1000XM3 active noise canceling headphones Review

While the carrying case is a useful addition, I admire the included Aux cable which comes with a L-shaped connector at one of the ends. This makes it easier to use them with a PC or older gizmos like a classic iPod easier in my opinion.
Sony WH-1000XM3 Design and Build

Sony WH-1000XM3 is not the most visually striking pair of headphones out there unless you prefer minimalism. The all-black or all-beige body is interrupted by copper accents around the grilles shielding the mics and the same colour is seen on the Sony branding on both earcups. The simple design is suited for those who wants nothing but unbeatable sound quality and flawless noise canceling.

Sony WH-1000XM3 active noise canceling headphones Review

When the comfort of Sony WH-1000XM3 is in question, the cushion used on both the earcups and the headband feels assuring and you can wear it for long durations without discomfort. Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve worn the headset throughout the day and even dozed off wearing them at night without feeling distressed or weighed down. But if you plan to wear it all day long, be ready to feel groggy when you finally take them off.

Sony WH-1000XM3 active noise canceling headphones Review

In terms of bendability, the Sony headphones might not be as stretchable as Bose QC35 II, but that does not lead to unwanted hindrance in wearability. When not in use, I have kept the headphones hanging around my neck without feeling the need to take them off and free my neck – simply because these headphones never hinder neck movements.

Sony WH-1000XM3 active noise canceling headphones Review

When it comes to the utility, you get power and ANC buttons (which can be repurposed to bring up Google Assistant) on the rim of the left earcup while the right earcup has touch controls instead of buttons. While the swiping gestures take some time getting used to, the controls are fairly reliable. For play/pause, you double tap in the middle of the right cup, swipe right or left for forward or rewind, and swipe up or down for altering the volume of the headset.

When it’s time to charge them or give the headphones some respite, you can fold them – thanks to the swivel design – into a compact form so that they don’t eat much space on your desk or nightstand. Furthermore, there’s a small dot etched on the left earcup so that it is easy for the visually impaired to distinguish between the left and right earcups.

Sony WH-1000XM3 active noise canceling headphones Review

I’ve used these headphones while out on a run, as well as while working out, and have had no issues with the stability – as long as the headband is resting tightly. However, you will get sweat on the padding and since Sony does not actually speak of any kind of water or sweat resistance, I think you would be better off with limiting these headphones to indoor use.

Sony WH-1000XM3 active noise canceling headphones Review

Overall, I adore the simple and clean design. And while, the touch controls do take a few days of practice to get used to, using the headphones gets much simpler once you have mastered that. At least, compared to buttons which might be difficult to find just by touching.
Sony WH-1000XM3 Sound Quality

I’ve come face-to-face with what I think is philosophical essence of music while using these Sony headphones. This is because listening to music or any form of commentary on the Sony WH-1000XM3 feels like a spiritual experience. The sound is well-balanced throughout all frequencies, producing a rich and delightful experience in all conditions.

    I wish I had another pair of ears so I could enjoy the sound even better.

Sony WH-1000XM3 active noise canceling headphones Review

Honestly, no other headphones come close to this kind of acoustic quality at this price that I have come to experience with the Sony WH-1000XM3. The bass is rich and deep and does not get muddled by other frequencies or distorted at high gain. If you’re listening to music with heavy bass, you will be able to differentiate between the varying notes, and that sensation is preserved even when there’s another loop or instrument layered on top of it. When the bass is strong, you’ll feel a strong wave hitting your ears, but gently. This quality is almost akin to standing in front of bass amp at a concert. You simply feel the bass, not just hear it.

Whether you listen to grunge to smooth jazz, mids on the Sony WH-1000XM3 are unimaginably good. You won’t experience any form of crackling or distortion even if you crank the gain up to ten (or eleven if you’re a Marshall fan). Vocals and other instruments which fall in the range are clear and crisp, and don’t bite into the range of other instruments.

Sony WH-1000XM3 active noise canceling headphones Review

The highs produced by Sony WH-1000XM3 are pretty clear too and do not sound shrill or shrieky in any way. Whether its a trombone or an electric guitar with a chorus effect, the headphones will deliver the right tone without compromising on quality. I’ve embraced many new experimental genres diverging out of rock and heavy metal (my primary appetite for music) for this reason.

There’s good news for cinephiles too as the headphones offer a rich playback experience without letting background scores or dialogues mesh into each other’s territory.

Sony WH-1000XM3 active noise canceling headphones Review

If I have to summarize the sound quality, I’d say that the Sony WH-1000XM3 eerily replicate almost the same experience as the original studio recording. Even though it’s not meant to be neutral studio headphones. Needless to say, you hear a lot of new elements or instruments that might have never heard before.

However, when it comes to calling, the listener on the other end might hear a lot of noise while you struggle to be heard and so I have found myself not using these headphones while calling.

So, if you’re an indie producer or a resolute audiophile, these headphones should definitely make sense to you. You can also enhance the sound further by using the compatible app called Sony Headphones Connect.
Sony WH-1000XM3 Active Noise Cancellation

Active noise cancellation (ANC) is the spotlight feature on the Sony WH-1000XM3, which is also the reason you’re paying the premium. With this pair of headphones, the intensity of noise cancellation can be adjusted over 20 steps, which is really impressive. These settings can be tuned manually using the app, which we’ll learn about in the next section.

Besides ANC, the button can be used to toggle ambient sound, which means that you will be able to hear the background sounds with clarity and this is especially useful when you’re walking on the road or working out with the headphones. Alternatively, you can place your hand over the right earcup to lower the volume of the headphones and activate ambient sound, which comes in handy when someone approaches to talk to you but the feature might test your patience at times.

Sony WH-1000XM3 active noise canceling headphones Review

When ANC is turned on, it blocks out background noise majorly, cutting out any distraction and this has especially helped me focus on work despite being surrounded by talkative colleagues. The feature should also be useful for frequent flyers, irrespective of whether you’re flying a jet flight or a small propeller-driven carrier.

Do note that if you’re accustomed to using noise-canceling microphones, you might feel a sensation similar to altitude sickness or nausea initially but your ears should adapt to it over time.
Sony Headphones Connect App

The companion app for the Sony WH-1000XM3 headphone is pretty useful for displaying a variety of information and allowing you to change a long list of settings to ensure the best sound experience and we’ll learn about each setting one-by-one. First of all, the app shows you the amount of battery on the headset as well as the mode of connection.
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Sony WH-1000XM3 active noise canceling headphones Review
Sony WH-1000XM3 active noise canceling headphones Review

The first setting that you get control over is for Adaptive Sound Control. Based on the sensors from your smartphone, the app can learn if you’re standing, walking, or running and automatically adjust the amount of ambient sound creeping into the earcups, to prevent any accident or mishap due to blockage of sound. You may also choose to turn it off.

Sony WH-1000XM3 active noise canceling headphones Review

Alternatively, you can choose to toggle ambient noise control on or off and select the degree of noise cancellation ranging from zero (complete noise cutoff) to 20 (lowest).

Sony WH-1000XM3 active noise canceling headphones Review

Then, there’s an option to optimize the noise cancellation based on the ambient pressure and presumably, the distance between the drivers and your eardrums. The feature recommends you tune these settings every time you change how you wear headphones. The process takes hardly 20 seconds.
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Sony WH-1000XM3 active noise canceling headphones Review
Sony WH-1000XM3 active noise canceling headphones Review

Next, you can change the spatial positioning of the sound source. You can also change the surround sound effects if you want to enjoy the same sound experience as that of a concert hall or a club etc. as well as adjust the equalizer if you want a brighter or mellow texture. You also get two custom equalizer presets which you can customize to your liking.

Sony WH-1000XM3 active noise canceling headphones Review

Then, you get the options to control playback and to choose between optimal sound quality or a stable connection. When you choose the latter, the connection switches to SBC. Additionally, there’s an option to upscale the quality of lossless formats like FLAC or WAV through Sony’s proprietary Digital Sound Enhancement Engine (DSEE HX) technology.

Sony WH-1000XM3 active noise canceling headphones Review

Lastly, there are options to assign the function of the ANC button and to set an auto-shutdown timer when the headphones are not connected.

There’s one feature I miss in this app and that is the ability to connect or disconnect other devices. But that aside, the wide range of settings enhance the overall listening experience. You can get the app on both – Google Play Store (free) and iOS App Store (free).
Sony WH-1000XM3 Connectivity

Sony WH-1000XM3 runs on Bluetooth 4.2 and supports a wide range of protocols like SBC, AAC, and includes support for hi-res audio formats such as aptX, aptX HD, and LDAC. You should have no problem connecting the headphones to any devices – I’ve tried them with Poco F1, OnePlus 6T, iPhone XR, 2017 MacBook Pro, and a bunch of Windows laptops. While, in terms of laptops, I find the audio quality slightly lacking, but using an Aux cable rectifies that and you can continue using the active noise control with the wired connection.

Sony WH-1000XM3 active noise canceling headphones Review

In terms of the range of connection, the headphones stay connected for up to almost 10 meters (30 feet), even there are thick walls in between. Further, pairing is a cohesive experience, and NFC makes it even easier. When you move out of the connectivity zone and come back, Sony WH-1000XM3 connects very easily.

At the same time, the headphones can stay connected to two devices at once and while the headphones will not play media from two sources at once (obviously), switching between sources is effortless – just pause one and play the other.

For charging, you get a USB-C port which is an unusual sight amidst the sea of micro USB ports on most audio accessories. This, however, does not speed up charging as we will see next.
Sony WH-1000XM3 Battery

Not just sound, the Sony WH-1000XM3 also passes with flying colors when it comes to its battery life. Sony has claimed that the headphones can last for up to 30 hours of continuous playback even when active noise cancellation (ANC) is switched on.

In my test of the WH-1000XM3, I could easily get more than three days of continuous playback during my commute to work, while at work, way back home, and even after that. All of this while continuously using ANC. Even with 20% battery, the headphones easily last for three to four hours of seamless playback and that is commendable – although the low battery warning does come up every now and then.

Sony WH-1000XM3 active noise canceling headphones Review

But for the long battery backup, you’ll have to make do with the long charging duration. To charge fully, the headphones take around 200 minutes (or 20 minutes over three hours). However, you need not necessarily charge the headset only when you have three hours at hand and only 15 minutes of charging can offer you a usage of a couple of hours.

To sum it up, I have no issues spending three hours charging the Sony WH-1000XM3 because it pays off with the insanely prolonged backup.
Sony WH-1000XM3 Pros and Cons

Sony WH-1000XM3, as I mentioned above, brings great quality sound, with tons of optimization options available in the companion app to help you choose the best sound to suit your ears. I also fancy the minimal design and easily graspable touch controls.

While complaining about the headphones will simply be nitpicking, here are the pros and cons of owning the Sony WH-1000XM3 noise-cancellation headphones.

Sony WH-1000XM3 active noise canceling headphones Review
Pros

    Durable build
    Comfortable to wear
    USB-C
    Great battery life
    Versatile and rich recording-quality sound
    20-step noise cancellation

Cons

    Not great for calling
    Can’t disconnect other devices using the app

Sony WH-1000XM3: Studio Quality at Your Disposal

The pair of headphones is clearly one of the best in this price range that you can cozily wear on your ears. Sony WH-1000XM3 feel like the true successor, with much better noise canceling and a crystal clear sound experience.

    Listening to music or any form of commentary on the Sony WH-1000XM3 is a spiritual experience

Besides the striking sound quality, I am in love with the long battery life. Before using these headphones, I faced the predicament of whether you really need to pay Rs 30,000 for the great audio experience and now I can tell you that it is worth each penny.

In this price range, you will find Sennheiser PXC550 (Rs 29,990) if you want a lightweight headset, and the Boss QuietComfort35 II (Rs 26,425).

While I stand by Sony’s stunning clarity, which I can assure is better if you want true and unamplified tones, I’ll also be bringing you a comparison with the Bose QC35 II soon.

Irrespective of that, it would not necessarily take an audiophile to appreciate the sound quality of these Sony headphones. If you’re in the market for headphones priced nearly the same, buying the Sony WH-1000XM3 makes a lot of sense. These are also suitable for gaming, apart from music or other forms of entertainment. As a millennial, the good ol’ idiot box has been an essential part of my growing up, development, exposure to the world around me, as well as primary to my entertainment. For this reason, TVs and not smartphones are my preferred mode of entertainment at home. But over the years, our TVs have become smart as well, letting us do what we needed a smartphone or computer to do a few years ago.

Xiaomi disrupted smart TV market last year and Mi TVs are among the most attractive products the company has made. Now, after smashing competitors with its ultra-affordable HD and full HD smart TVs, Xiaomi has announced a 55-inch 4K UHD LED smart TV with an introductory price of Rs 39,999 and we’ve naturally been eyeing it since launch.

Simply based on the specifications, one can be confident that this TV offers a good value for money. But how well does the Mi LED TV 4X PRO live up to the promise of 4K video, is something we’ll test in this review. Let’s start with a look at the specifications of the massive 4K smart TV by Xiaomi.

mi led tv 4k 55 inch
Mi LED TV 4X PRO Specification
Display Technology    IPS/VA with LED backlight
Screen Size    138.8 cm (55 inches)
Resolution    3840 x 2160 UHD
Refresh Rate    60 Hz
Image Aspect Ratio    16:9
Weight    13 kg (including feet)
Screen Shape    Flat
Audio Wattage    20 Watts
Smart TV    Yes; In-Built Chromecast
Operating System    Android TV (8.1 Oreo)
App Store    Official Google Play Store
CPU    Quad Core Cortex-A53x4 64bit
GPU    Mali-450
RAM    2GB
ROM    8GB
HDR Compatible    Yes; HDR10
Remote    Bluetooth remote with mic
3D Capable    No

The Mi LED TV 4X PRO is decently powered and the quad-core processor, 2GB RAM, and 8GB of storage, seem to satisfy the requirements of a basic smart TV. However, when you bring 4K into perspective, the hardware seems a bit underpowered. Moreover, there’s no dedicated woofer, leaving us with the desire to investigate how well the Mi TV 4X PRO works for reproducing soundtracks or background scores with heavy bass.

But as intended, we shall start by taking a look at the design and the build quality of the display.
Mi LED TV 4X PRO Design and Build

Enormous is the first word that comes to your mind when you visit the Mi LED TV 4X PRO for the first time – we say visit because it will definitely take a lot of room. The 55-inch display is really tempting to look at, and the thin bezels make it look even more compelling. But that impression is washed when you witness the Mi TV from up close.

mi led tv 4k 55 inch

As one encounters the Mi LED TV 4X PRO up front, the illusion about its supreme build quality comes crashing down like hard-hitting truth. You need not switch on the 55-inch Mi TV to understand that its build quality is a glittery sham, mostly comprising thin and seemingly feeble plastic material. The provided base stands seem too frail to hold the weight of the TV, and the upper half of the TV swings dangerously like a bridge in strong wind.
mi led tv 4k 55 inch
mi led tv 4k 55 inch
mi led tv 4k 55 inch

As you move to the back of the display, you can see the same less-than-reliable quality of the construction material. Besides rough edges from the die mold, one can easily feel the bending and flexing throughout the rear panel of the Mi LED TV 4X PRO, which leaves you with nothing but a sense of insecurity about the build quality.

Besides that, there are no button controls on the TV — the only physical button is the power button, which is hidden underneath the infrared receiver under the central Mi branding on the base.

mi led tv 4k 55 inch

The overall impression I got is that the TV will not last me long in this position. Thus, it is only advisable if you’re going to tether it to the wall using a wall mount and not move it very often. Besides that, the TV cannot be called thin but nor does it feel bulky or intrusive despite its size, in my opinion, that is one good thing about it.

Note: you’ll need to buy the wall mount separately for Rs 499

A counter-argument for this seemingly cheap build is that the Mi LED TV 4X PRO is likely to be one of the most affordable 55-inch TVs with a 4K UHD resolution in India. So without any delay, let’s suss out the picture quality.
Mi LED TV 4X PRO Picture Quality

The Mi LED TV 4X PRO has a 55-inch panel with a resolution of 3840 x 2160 pixels. The display can play HDR10 content, although there’s no HDR10+ support. Broadly advertised as an LED TV, which depending on the unit you get is an IPS or a VA panel backlit by LEDs. The first thing we could tell about the display is that it is dull and the colors do not seem striking, nor is it super bright as Xiaomi has claimed it to be.

mi led tv 4k 55 inch

Within the UI, there are options to change the brightness, contrast, sharpness, hue, saturation, and white balance. But despite of cranking the brightness to full, the display fails to produce anything close to stunning picture quality. In most scenarios, the display quality is just decent and not as impressive as one would expect a 4K panel to be.
mi led tv 4k 55 inch
Tiny bezels but nothing more

If you’re expecting to be surprised by the HDR playback of the Mi LED TV 4X PRO, you will only be disappointed. I, honestly, couldn’t figure out any noticeable difference between SDR and HDR content and this is possibly due to the insufficient brightness of the panel. Since it is an LED-backlit panel, there is sufficient dimming of the dark areas on the screen, but not as deep or accurate like in an OLED TV, which suggests that the LEDs for backlight are aligned with the edges and not directly under the panel.

Lastly, what irks me more is that the display is really reflective, so if you’re in a well-lit room, the chances of any light source obstructing your view are high.
Mi LED TV 4X PRO Audio

The Mi LED TV 4X PRO features a pair of 10W speakers at the bottom, which relays a sound output of 20W in total. These speakers get sufficiently loud to fill up a big room very easily without any observable crackling. In our office, the sound from the TV could be heard clearly from over 20 feet away. While there’s no Dolby support, the loud output makes up for it, and Xiaomi seems to have done a fair job in terms of the quality.

mi led tv 4k 55 inch

The only two caveats are that the speakers throw the sound downwards and not straight at you, thereby resulting in slightly lower clarity and less immersive feel. Further, since there’s no dedicated sub-woofer in the TV, the bass cannot be heard. If you want a bass-forward sound, the best option will be to pair the TV with an external home theater unit or a soundbar such as the one from Xiaomi, which we recently reviewed.
Mi LED TV 4X PRO User Experience

In the past, Xiaomi has received much flak for not supporting the direct installation of Android apps on its TV despite running an indirect version of Android. With the newer generation of TVs, Xiaomi has opened the gates to Google Play Services right out-of-the-box and the Mi LED TV 4X PRO runs two interfaces or launchers parallelly – one is the classic Android TV interface which separates apps in an organized and structured layout, alongside Xiaomi’s own Patchwall which curates content from different supported apps like Hungama Music, Sony LIV, Zee5 etc. and shows you a catalog that you can play directly without entering each app separately.
mi led tv 4k 55 inch
Xiaomi’s Patchwall
App Support

I personally prefer using the Android TV interface more, simply because it’s cleaner and uses a font that does not make me cringe. Further, with the support for Google Play Store, you can install a variety of Android TV apps like Hotstar, Facebook Watch, Vimeo, ESPN, Kodi, VLC Player etc. and even enjoy some games including Hungry Shark and Asphalt 8 on the massive screen – although you might need a keyboard or a gamepad to enjoy these. Furthermore, if the apps are not available directly, you can sideload them using a third-party store called Aptoide TV and this enables you to install apps in tablet mode if their Android TV variant is either not available or not supported.
mi led tv 4k 55 inch
Android TV interface

I used Aptoide to install Prime Video, which is not available via Play Store, and the tablet version of Netflix – since the Mi LED TV 4X PRO does not support the Android TV app for Netflix. It lacks Netflix support probably because Xiaomi appears to have opted out of paying the premium for certification, in order to keep the TV’s price low.
mi led tv 4k 55 inch
Using Netflix with mouse

So for all your binges on Netflix, get ready to use Android tablet version of the app, and you would need a mouse since the app is not optimized to be used with a TV remote. Besides that, despite setting the quality to high, we could not enjoy 4K or HDR content on Netflix.
Google Assistant

mi led tv 4k 55 inch google assistant

Thanks to the dedicated Google Assistant button, you can activate the virtual assistant and use the inbuilt mic in the remote controller to speak commands. However, as of now, the Assistant’s usability is limited to launching apps or performing basic searches on YouTube.
Truly 4K?

While there’s a great emphasis on 4K, the TV struggles when running 4K content on services like YouTube, Amazon Prime Video, or Netflix (using the hack). There’s a lot of stuttering and screen tearing while playing UHD content. Unless you have 4K content pre-downloaded, the TV won’t be of much use. Of course, you can always hook up a Fire TV Stick 4K and play 4K content through the supported apps there, but then that makes the Mi TV just a 4K display.

mi led tv 4k 55 inch

Additionally, the elements in the UI are not very well adapted to the 4K resolution and one can see a lot of blurring, which is likely to bog down your experience if you’re particular about nuances like these. I personally did not enjoy playing around the UI as well as the animations, even though there wasn’t that much to complain.
Using Netflix with mouse
Management settings

Overall, while the Android UI is a step ahead of the earlier Patchwall, proper support for apps, especially Netflix, will actually be appreciated. Apart from that, I faced no issues, and the experience was good  – if not specifically great – and you should be able to get used to it, even if you have no experience of using smart TVs.
Mi LED TV 4X PRO Connectivity

In terms of connectivity, the Mi LED TV 4X PRO isn’t very well endowed but features some basic input options including three HDMI ports, two USBs, RCA input, an SPDIF jack, and a TV antenna port. Besides these ports, you get dual-band Wi-Fi which guarantees seamless wireless connectivity, although the Ethernet port ensures that you can enjoy lag-free internet access if you are okay with a wired connection.
mi led tv 4k 55 inch
mi led tv 4k 55 inch

Apart from that, the TV supports Bluetooth 4.2 which is also used to connect with the remote control alongside Bluetooth headphones, speakers, or the official Mi Soundbar. Lastly, there’s inbuilt support for Chromecast so that you can cast from smartphones or Chrome directly onto the TV. Sadly, this doesn’t work while casting Netflix.
Remote Controller

Coming to the remote controller which accompanies the Mi LED TV 4X PRO, it is fairly compact and tactile. As mentioned above, the Mi LED TV remote pairs with the TV over Bluetooth. It has a fairly simple layout, with a power button at the top-most, a dedicated Google Assistant button, direction pad with a selection button in the center, a volume up and down button, a back button, and dedicated keys for the Android home interface as well Xiaomi’s Patchwall UI. Xiaomi’s decision of omitting the numpad can be appreciated, as it results in a light and minimal remote – although I wish it supported the ability to be used as an air mouse.

mi led tv 4k 55 inch

The mic on the top of the remote will also help you in voice searches if you wish to avoid typing one button at a time on the on-screen keyboard. It is not always accurate and does not recognize the commands correctly all the time, but it does the job, more or less.
Mi LED TV 4X PRO: Pros and Cons

The Mi LED TV 4X PRO is surely an intriguing proposition given its large screen and the promise of 4K and while it may feel seem like a useful product, it lacks in certain areas. Here’s a rundown of the advantages and disadvantages of buying the colossal Mi LED TV.
Pros

    Thin bezels
    Great value for 4K
    Android TV interface
    Sufficiently loud and clear speakers
    Basic connectivity options including LAN port
    Google Assistant and voice control built-in

mi led tv 4k 55 inch
Playing Android games like Asphalt 8 on Mi LED TV 4X using gamepad
Cons

    Bad build quality
    Average picture quality
    No direct Netflix or Amazon Prime support
    Speakers lack bass
    Gimmicky HDR support
    UI not optimized for 4K

Mi LED TV 4X PRO: Leaves You Unsatisfied

The Mi LED TV 4X PRO is, by all means, a delightful product, with its ability to accomplish almost everything a basic Android TV can offer. However, both in terms of the hardware and the software, there are some loose edges, owing to the middling build quality and improper app support, especially in the case of Netflix. Besides that, the picture quality is far from impressive considering it is a 4K panel.

mi led tv 4k 55 inch

If good picture quality, surround sound audio and long-lasting build are things on the top of your wishlist for the next smart TV, you should skip this 55-inch unit and grab a smaller TV from another more established brand with proper support for the leading apps. Or, you could check out the 4K Android TV from TCL’s iFFALCON (Rs 38,999) or the Android-certified 4K TV from Vu (Rs 44,999) for better sound and a truer Android experience.

It could fit your needs if you want the massive screen for a large family or for a big room for general TV viewing and already have a soundbar or speaker system. The TV will serve you with basic Android apps and games, and let you enjoy your favorite shows or movies in 4K offline as streaming UHD content can be a painful experience. The Mi LED TV 4X PRO can be a great option for you as it brings good value for money, it’s a shame it won’t satisfy those looking for great picture quality as well.
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The Best Budget Smartphone to Buy Review?

Asus gave us an alternative to Xiaomi’s entry-level Redmi phones with the launch of ZenFone Max M1, as well as the ZenFone Lite L1, just a couple of months ago. And now the company is out to completely take over the budget segment. Asus ZenFone Max M2 is already out now, and brings along plenty of notable changes.

The ZenFone Max M2 (starts at Rs 9,999) might have a familiar feel to it, but it has grown up in terms of the user experience, and is sticking its head out of the entry-level segment. The smartphone is now powered by a Snapdragon 600-series chipset, features dual rear-cameras, a metal back, and also a massive battery, which sees Asus label it as the “most powerful and feature-laden” in its price bracket.

Asus ZenFone Max M2 beautiful

Well, those are some towering claims and I really wanted to put the ZenFone Max M2 to the test. Asus loaned us the black variant of this smartphone and I’ve been using it as a daily driver for the past week, so let’s see if it’s a befitting upgrade or not?
ZenFone Max M2: Specifications

Before we step ahead and share my experience with the ZenFone Max M2, let’s take a quick peek at the specifications table for the device:
Dimensions    158.41 x 76.28 x 7.7 mm
Weight    160 grams
Display    6.26-inch HD+ IPS LCD
Processor    Snapdragon 632
RAM    3/4GB
Internal Storage    32/64GB
Rear Cameras    13MP (f/1.8) + 2MP
Front Camera    8MP (f/2.0)
Operating System    Android 8.1 Oreo
Battery    4,000mAh
Sensors    Rear-mounted fingerprint, Accelerator, E-Compass, Proximity, Ambient light sensor, Gyroscope
Connectivity    WiFi 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.2, GPS, A-GPS, GLONASS, 3.5mm audio jack
Colors    Blue and Black
ZenFone Max M2: What’s in the Box

Asus still seems to be figuring out the vibe of its budget smartphone packaging and has grown up from the bland gray and blue aesthetic. The ZenFone Max M2 comes packed inside a slick black cardboard box, which you can slide out to gain access to all the contents listed down below:

    ZenFone Max M2 (Black)
    10W charging adapter
    microUSB charging cable
    SIM ejector tool
    Clear silicone case
    User Manual & leaflets

It’s good to see Asus include a silicone case within the box as there’s no Gorilla Glass 6 protection on board here as is the case with the ZenFone Max Pro M2.
ZenFone Max M2: Design and Build

Right off the bat, when you take the ZenFone Max M2 out of the box, you will see that the smartphone holds an uncanny resemblance to the ZenFone Max Pro M1, in terms of the rear design. The placement of the dual cameras, the fingerprint scanner, and even the location of the Asus branding are identical.
ZenFone Max M2 vs ZenFone Max Pro M1
ZenFone Max Pro M1 (left) vs ZenFone Max M2 (right)

While the ZenFone Max M1 featured the same polycarbonate build with a metallic finish, it did have its own persona, but the ZenFone Max M2 seems like Asus simply took a tried-and-tested design (ahem! Xiaomi, you know what I’m saying, right?) and simply added a new display and internals to it. However, if you put ZenFone Max M2 next to its predecessor then you’ll see that it’s much larger insize.

    The design of ZenFone Max M2 is bland and unexciting but it’s quite good for a budget phone in this price segment.

The ZenFone Max M2 justifies the much-popular “Max” label with a huge 4,000mAh battery but you’ll be surprised at how light the smartphone feels in daily use – just like I am. The device feels extremely light and is just comfortable to hold, thanks to its soft and curved edges. It’s a pleasure to use the ZenFone Max M2 and the metallic finish too feels good against your palm, without attracting many fingerprints.

Zenfone Max M2 build

The smartphone has certainly grown in size over its predecessor, which was super handy and allowed one-handed use, and it makes reachability an issue on the device. While the power button (which is textured and I love that!) and volume buttons may be within reach, I did find it a bit difficult to access the notifications and quick toggles. The fingerprint scanner placed at the center on the rear is okay-ish. It’s not the fastest I’ve seen but it gets the job done.

This is a sub-Rs 10,000 smartphone and even though the build might be nearly all-plastic with the metal back being the exception, the buttons feel good and are quite clicky. Finally, coming to the port selection, you get a 3.5mm headphone jack on the top and a microUSB charging port on the bottom. No, we’ve not moved to USB Type-C ports on budget phones yet and won’t for some time.
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3.5mm audio jack
microUSB port
power and volume buttons
ZenFone Max M2: Display

Another important aspect of the design this year is the inclusion of a notched display on Asus’ budget smartphones. The ZenFone Max M2 comes with a massive 6.26-inch HD+ IPS LCD screen that holds the notch (comes with its own problems), which is slightly larger than the notch we’ve seen on ZenFone Max Pro M2. I, however, would’ve loved to see a waterdrop notch on this upgraded ZenFone Max lineup.
ZenFone Max M2 notch
ZenFone Max M2 chin

The notch on this smartphone includes a deep-seated earpiece at the center, which also hides a notification LED, a selfie camera, and a soft LED flash to help you illuminate the scenes in low-light conditions. There’s also a huge chin at the bottom – as it the case in most budget phones – without any branding, but I don’t mind it and have got used to it.

Delving into the display specs, the 6.26-inch screen here has a 1520×720 pixels resolution, a 19:9 aspect ratio, an 88.8 percent screen-to-body ratio, and a 2.5D curved glass finish to round it all up. Unlike its Pro sibling, the display doesn’t come with the latest Gorilla Glass 6 protection on top and you may want to take better care of the device by using a screen protector and silicone case.

ZenFone Max M2 display

The screen looks pretty competent in most lighting conditions. It doesn’t matter if you’re using the device indoors or in broad daylight, the screen is easily legible and the color reproduction is pretty standard for a budget phone – which you can tweak based on your liking from the settings. I didn’t come across any display issues over the past week and appreciate the Smart Screen, Night Light, and ambient display features.
ZenFone Max M2: User Interface

The software department is also where the ZenFone Max M2 brings a notable upgrade (or downgrade, depending on the user) over its predecessor and I, for one, absolutely am in favor of it. The ZenFone Max M2 comes with stock Android on board, instead of the company’s proprietary ZenUI 5.0 that came loaded in its predecessor.

zenfone max m2 software

The ZenFone Max M2 runs Android 8.1 Oreo out-of-the-box, which definitely is a little disappointing for a smartphone launching months after Android Pie went official and is offering a pure experience. Asus, however, vows to deliver the Pie update by the end of January 2019, which should come as a relief.

Opting for a clean and bloat-free experience on its budget smartphones seemed to have worked for Asus earlier this year and the company is sticking to its guns with its newest lineup. It may, however, be a setback for users who like custom Android skins like MIUI and EMUI for the myriad of add-on features. Asus has not made any tweaks to the clean experience and it’s the way I prefer it. Of course, you are very likely to find third-party apps to add the features you might miss from Zen UI.

ZenFone Max M2 notch problem

I, however, think that the company seems to be having a tough time with optimizing the Oreo stock UI for the notch cutout as the icons – the network bars and call profile icons – usually aren’t visible fully, and a portion of those are hidden under the notch itself. It surely comes as a huge distraction, with added frustration, but it’s nothing a future OTA update cannot fix.

There’s also a positive thing I would like to point out. Asus seems to be listening to the users, taking their feedback into account as a minor change to the camera UI has been introduced to further simplify the experience. The UI is still a bit intimidating, with HDR, Pro and even a night mode toggle buried in the top bar, and that makes changing to those modes a bit sluggish.

zenfone max m2 camera

Overall, the software experience is simplistic and one surely cannot go wrong with a stock Android interface.
ZenFone Max M2: Performance

The Asus ZenFone Max M2 is the second smartphone to be powered by a Snapdragon 632 chipset to arrive in India, and it’s a notable upgrade over the 400-series chipsets that are seen in as most sub-Rs 10,000 phones. It’s coupled with two RAM and internal storage configurations, i.e a 3GB+32GB variant and a higher-end 4GB+64GB variant.

I’ve been using the lower-end variant of the ZenFone Max M2 for the past week and my experience has been quite breezy, with almost no stutters or lag across the board. It could be credited to the stock Android experience and no bloatware on board. The device can handle most task thrown at it comfortably, with multitasking and RAM management never being of any concern.

The 3GB RAM is enough and doesn’t seem to be creating a bottleneck in daily use, but I expect the 4GB RAM to offer an even fluid experience. The ZenFone Max M2 doesn’t get very hot while using or charging, which is surely a plus.

Turning our attention togaming performance on the ZenFone Max M2, which is critical these days, all thanks to the popularity of PUBG Mobile, I found the phone to stand its ground and extend a more than satisfactory experience. I have adopted a slightly different approach than the typical chatter about how different games perform on this smartphone and provide a better insight into FPS and RAM usage.

I started off my gaming analysis with casual, not-so-taxing games including Supercell’s latest release Brawl Stars and my personal favorite Guns of Boom. Both the multiplayer games, as per GameBench, didn’t block a ton of RAM and offered a stable 58fps and 30fps throughout. I tried bumping up Guns of Boom up to 60fps but noticed multiple frame drops during my fights, so I had to turn it back to 30fps for a smoother experience.

I then moved on to the heavier and more taxing games including Asphalt Extreme and PUBG Mobile, of course. I only completed a couple of laps on the former to know that I really am not that good at racing games, and that 30fps and 600MB of RAM usage is needed to smoothly run this title.

PUBG Mobile, on the other hand, is a lot more demanding. Even though it takes the low setting by default, the ZenFone Max M2 was able to handle the title at medium graphics without affecting the fun multiplayer experience. I got a stable 25fps during a match, with about 700MB RAM usage and a battery drain of 14 percent an hour – which sounds decent enough.

One could notice minor jitters and frame drops on both of these games, but it doesn’t hamper the overall experience in any way.
ZenFone Max M2: Benchmarks

While the performance has been pretty great for me over the past week, here’s a quick peek at the benchmark scores for those interested in numbers. I first ran Geekbench 4 benchmarks, with single and multi-core scores standing at 1257 and 4809 respectively.

I then moved on to AnTuTu Benchmark but was unable to download the companion 3D Bench, which was shown as incompatible for the phone. I’m not entirely sure what the issue there was as sideloading the APK allowed me to run the benchmark app without any hiccups. You can check out a screenshot of the scores right here:

zenfone max m2 benchmarks

These scores are higher than those we’ve seen on the Honor 8C, which I’d reviewed last month, even though both the devices are powered by the Snapdragon 632 chipset. The higher scores of the ZenFone Max M2 show that its performance of this smartphone should be more optimized but I didn’t notice any significant difference in daily use.
ZenFone Max M2: Cameras

Asus ZenFone Max M2 comes equipped with a dual rear camera module, which packs a 13MP (f/1.8) primary camera with a 1.12micron pixel size, paired with a secondary 2MP depth sensor. The rear camera module comes with PDAF, as well as EIS support. There’s also an 8MP selfie camera with f/2.0 aperture, and 1.12-micron pixel size on board.

ZenFone Max M2 camera performance

While that does sound exciting, the cameras on the ZenFone Max M2 are pretty average. We expect them to get better with time as Asus will be rolling out support for AI scene and object recognition with upcoming updates. Overall, the pictures captured using this smartphone are a little oversaturated, lack detail, blows out the highlights, and the camera app has issues with focus and completely stops working at times, which can become frustrating really soon.

Well, for an in-depth take on the ZenFone Max M2 cameras, you can check out all the samples and my experience down below:
ZenFone Max M2 Camera Samples: Daylight Photos

The daylight photos captured using the ZenFone Max M2 are pretty decent and that’s all. They have good color reproduction, offers you enough detail to meet the social media needs, and looks quite crisp when viewed on this smartphone’s HD screen. The dynamic range isn’t that great and one shouldn’t expect Redmi-grade captures. All your photos, though, may not come out as expected as the Max M2 has some problems with locking focus.
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ZenFone Max M2 Camera Samples: Low-light Photos

The low-light performance of the ZenFone Max M2 is quite good and I really like how the dual rear-cameras can capture a ton of light, and bring out the colours even in quite dim conditions. The images do look to be a tad bit on the softer side but it can be fixed via an OTA update. Check out the tiger, timepiece and the lamp perspective picture attached below to see what I’m saying:
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ZenFone Max M2 Camera Samples: Selfies

The 8MP selfie camera on board is decent enough for its price. You shouldn’t be expecting much from the ZenFone Max M2 in this department as the selfies look good in daylight, as well as low-light conditions. There’s a decent amount of detail, good color reproduction but the camera suffers from overexposure and soft photos in artificial lighting.
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ZenFone Max M2 Camera Samples: Portrait Mode

ZenFone Max M2 offers portrait mode photography via both the front and rear camera. It offers good edge detection and background separation, while adding a decent amount of blur to the shot, but I noticed a considerable amount of softening on the edges. The photos also seem to lack detail in some cases, while the camera shines in others. The portrait mode is works in low-light conditions as well.
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ZenFone Max M2 Camera Samples: Videos

Like its elder brother, the ZenFone Max M2 is capable of recording videos of up to 4K resolution and it’s awesome to see Asus include the same in this budget smartphone. If you take a look at the 4K sample recording below, you will see that the color reproduction and sharpness are good but there’s stabilization being used here. The EIS kicks in during 1080p video recording.

As for the videos captured in 1080p, well, this is where the EIS on board comes into play and the recording instantly looks a lot smoother. The colors and sharpness are all intact her as well, and Asus has really done a great job to offer you stabilization at this price point. Check out the 1080p video recording here:

ZenFone Max M2: Audio and Telephony

Like most smartphone these days, Asus has also included only a single bottom-firing speaker on the ZenFone Max M2 and the output is really loud and clear. Just like the ZenFone Max Pro M2, the smartphone also comes with a 5-magnet speaker and the NXP SmartAmp technology in tow and it makes a ton of difference.

The speaker output is super loud when compared to other smartphones in its price range and offers a balanced sound, with good treble, vocal clarity, but low bass, which may not be enough to please most users. The smartphone offers 15 volume steps, which is pretty decent, and the music output is pretty loud, in my opinion, even at 50-60 percent.

zenfone max m2 audio

The 3.5mm headphone jack at the top is also said to offer better sound quality and it was evident in my daily usage, but found it to be dependent on the earphones I was using as well, which is a given.

Coming to the telephony part, well, the earpiece on the ZenFone Max M2 also gets quite loud and the audio quality is pretty decent. The call quality has regularly been great and the callers were able to hear me clearly, with low background noise.
ZenFone Max M2: Connectivity

Most phone brands nowadays are starting to understand what the consumer really wants out of their smartphones and Asus knows it well. This is the reason the company has also included a triple-slot tray on the left edge, allowing you to use 2 micro-SIM cards and one microSD card (storage expandable up to 2TB) at the same time.

I have been using both of my SIM cards, Reliance Jio and Airtel, with Asus ZenFone Max M2 for the past week and I believe there wasn’t any time when I faced an issue with the connectivity. The network bars were always standing tall and the VoLTE icons for both of my SIMs reassured me of the dual VoLTE connectivity on board. The reception is also good and you won’t face any issues in this department.

ZenFone Max M2 connectivity

Further, you get the regular set of connectivity options including Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, Wi-Fi Direct, Bluetooth 4.2, A-GPS, GLONASS, and more. There’s no NFC or other higher-end connectivity options on board.

Just like its elder brother, the ZenFone Max M2 also doesn’t pack in support for 5GHz wireless connectivity and can only connect to 2.4GHz networks. This indicates that you won’t be able to achieve high network speeds and that’s a bit disappointing. Otherwise, I didn’t face any connection issues and got consistent download/upload speeds at home, as well as the Beebom office.
ZenFone Max M2: Battery Life

The battery, usually a big factor in the device’s weight, doesn’t add to the bulk despite the big capacity. Itis obviously one of the main highlights of ZenFone Max M2. The phone includes a massive 4,000mAh battery pack and it easily lasts the entire day on a single charge. I wasn’t able to burn through the battery completely even after a long and tiring day at work.

The ZenFone Max M2 usually delivered five-six hours of screen-on time while I was using the smartphone, which saw me talking on the phone, enjoying videos on YouTube to and from the office, sneaking in a game or PUBG Mobile and more. I usually witnessed the device with 20-30 percent charge left even after the heavy workload, which is impressive, to say the least.

Talking about the charging aspect of the ZenFone Max M2, Asus has bundled a 10W (5V, 2A) charger in the box and it enables fast charging on this smartphone. It’s not as fast as something like Quick Charge 3.0 but it’s decent enough for the price point.

The ZenFone Max M2 goes from being totally dead to 50 percent charge in under an hour, which is okay if you plug the phone in time before going out. It takes the device about 2 hours and 37 minutes to get fully juiced up, I’m really happy with the battery life on the ZenFone Max M2 and it justifies the Max moniker.

ZenFone Max M2 charger
ZenFone Max M2: Pros and Cons

Finally, we have made it to the verdict section of the ZenFone Max M2 review and if you want to know whether it’s a smartphone worth buying, then there’s no thinking twice since my answer is surely a big fat – GO FOR IT!! Asus ZenFone Max M2 not just retains the essence of its predecessor, as well as the Max series, but also brings along a ton of considerable improvements.

The ZenFone Max M2 (starts at Rs 9,999) features a well-known aesthetic, that has now been paired with a massive display with a not-so-massive notch.

The choice to offer a stock Android experience, with almost no bloatware and ads over its proprietary ZenUI is also noteworthy for users looking to buy a reliable budget smartphone in the sub-Rs 10,000 price segment.

Like its elder brother, the ZenFone Max M2 is also out here to kill its closest Redmi rival, the Redmi 5 (starts at Rs 9,990) and Redmi Note 5 (starts at Rs 10,999), which already didn’t sell too well in the market. I’d pick ZenFone Max M2 over those two any day for the larger and better display, huge battery, and stock UI.

    It’s probably the smartphone to buy if you’re on a strict Rs 10,000 budget.

However, if you have a little leeway in your spending budget and won’t mind doling out a couple thousand bucks extra, then there are endless possibilities for the user in the mid-budget segment. You can certainly go for ZenFone Max M2’s elder brother, ZenFone Max Pro M2 (starts at Rs 12,999), which is an awesome device, or you can pick between the Redmi Note 6 Pro (starts at Rs 13,999) and the Realme U1 (starts at Rs 11,999) as well.
PROS:

        Extremely light

    Not a fingerprint magnet
    Good daily performance
    PUBG Mobile runs smoothly
    Stock Android experience
    Pretty loud speaker
    Long-lasting battery

CONS:

    Average cameras
    Unoptimized notch
    Slow charging

SEE ALSO: Asus ZenFone Max Pro M2 Review: The Best Budget Smartphone to Buy?
Asus ZenFone Max M2 Review: The Best Phone Under Rs 10,000?

To round everything up, one could obviously see that Asus ZenFone Max M2 is not only a worthy upgrade over its predecessor, but can be yet another ZenFone smartphone to pose a tough fight to the Redmi phones.

The ZenFone Max M2 is no longer a compact and teensy smartphone but sports a well-known aesthetic, a modern notched display, a pure and stock Android experience, and massive battery. These are all the features that should be enough to convince you that ZenFone Max M2 is a powerhouse but the cameras are yet again a compromise here, something which Xiaomi never seems to have. Asus recently launched the ZenFone Max Pro M2 and it looks like the perfect candidate for the crown of the best budget smartphone. Compared to its predecessor, the ZenFone Max Pro M1, which was a very popular smartphone, the Max Pro M2 (starts at Rs. 12,999) not only seems to fix its flaws, it also seems to bring upgrades that make it a great budget smartphone. Having said that, the question here is, is the ZenFone Max Pro M2 as good as it seems? Well, this is our ZenFone Max Pro M2 review, so let’s find out.

ZenFone Max Pro M2 Review
ZenFone Max Pro M2 Specifications
Dimensions    157.9 x 75.5 x 8.5 mm
Weight    170 grams
Display    6.26-inch Full-HD+ IPS LCD
Gorilla Glass 6
Processor    Snapdragon 660
RAM    up to 6GB
Storage    64GB, expandable up to 2TB
Rear Cameras    12MP + 5MP
EIS, 4K
Front Camera    13MP (f/2.0) with flash
Operating System    Android 8.1 Oreo
Battery    5,000mAh
5V 2A Charger
Connectivity    rear-mounted fingerprint, WiFi 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.2, GPS, A-GPS, GLONASS, 3.5mm audio jack
What’s In the Box

Here’s what you get the ZenFone Max Pro M2 box:

    ZenFone Max Pro M2 (duh!)
    USB-A to microUSB cable
    5V 2A charging adapter
    SIM ejector tool
    Clear silicon case
    Leaflets and documentation

Design and Build Quality

First off, the dull, bland design from the ZenFone Max Pro M1 is gone. The Max Pro M2 features a premium glass-like finish on the back and it certainly looks great. It is plastic but the finish here gives the phone a very premium look and feel.

ZenFone Max Pro M2 Review 1

So, it’s nice but there’s one problem. Even though the back here is not glass, it behaves like glass. What I mean is, the back here is very prone to scratches. Look at the scratches on our unit here. It’s insane… even the glass backed phones we have don’t have as many scratches as the Max Pro M2 does. I think this is the reason Asus bundles a case with the phone. Anyway, the back here has the dual camera setup and the fingerprint scanner, which in my usage, has been fast and accurate, so no problems there.

ZenFone Max Pro M2 Review

The scratch-prone back apart, I love this new design. Plus, I like how lightweight this phone is, especially when you factor in the massive 5,000 mAh battery. Let’s compare the Max Pro M2’s weight with other phones. The Motorola One Power too has a 5,000 mAh battery, but that weighs in at 205 grams, while the M2 weighs in at 170 grams. It’s impressive that the M2 is lighter than a lot of phones that have smaller batteries.

ZenFone Max Pro M2 Review

Moving on to the front, there are changes here as well. The ZenFone Max Pro M2 comes with the notch and I know a lot of you guys don’t like this. I mean, as I’ve said previously, I think a teardrop notch is the best implementation of the notch, but at least the notch on the Max Pro M2 is not as huge as the one on the Redmi Note 6 Pro.

ZenFone Max Pro M2 Review

Apart from that, there are the usual buttons, the microUSB port (ya, no USB-C!), and the headphone jack.

    So, overall, the ZenFone Max Pro M2 looks good and features all the basics you need. I know, the back is very scratch prone but it’s not a big deal, at least that’s what I think.

Display

The ZenFone Max Pro M2 features a 6.26” IPS LCD display and it’s not just larger, the display here is better than the display on the ZenFone Max Pro M1. The color accuracy, the brightness and basically, everything else looks better on the M2 display.

ZenFone Max Pro M2 Review

Take a look at the whites on the Max Pro M1 display and the Max Pro M2.

ZenFone Max Pro M2 Review

So, the display here is good and on par with the good displays in the competition, like the Redmi Note 6 Pro and the Realme 2 Pro. Yes, the Realme 2 Pro’s display is brighter, but apart from that, the ZenFone Max Pro M2’s display is on par and pretty good.

ZenFone Max Pro M2 Review

Apart from the great display, the Max Pro M2 is also the only phone so far to feature a Gorilla Glass 6 in this price range. Now, Gorilla Glass 6 is supposed to bring better drop protection, right? And that’s what the ZenFone Max Pro M2’s ads suggest, so I tested it out. I dropped the phone 3 times to see if the Gorilla Glass 6 holds up. Well, the good news is, the display of the Max Pro M2 is fine and there aren’t even any major scratches. So yes, Gorilla Glass 6 on the ZenFone Max Pro M2 should be fine against usual drops and kudos to Asus really for bringing Gorilla Glass 6 in a segment filled with Gorilla Glass 3 phones.

ZenFone Max Pro M2 Review

Also, if you are wondering, the ZenFone Max Pro M2 features the Widevine L1 license, which means you will be able to watch HD videos on platforms like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video.

ZenFone Max Pro M2 Review
Cameras

One of the complaints I had with the ZenFone Max Pro M1 was its average cameras. Well, the ZenFone Max Pro M2 fixes that. Let’s talk about the rear cameras in the ZenFone Max Pro M2 first.

    Rear Cameras

The phone comes with a 12MP plus 5MP dual camera setup on the back but don’t be fooled by these numbers. I know it seems like a downgrade from the 6GB variant of the Max Pro M1 which had a 16MP camera, but trust me, the cameras on the Max Pro M2 are a lot better. Just take a look at these photos.

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The ZenFone Max Pro M2 takes photos that are sharp and high on detail, especially when there is good light. Some photos turn out a bit oversaturated, but I don’t think this is an issue. Even the portrait mode photos in good light have nice details and decent edge detection. Yes, the colors can be a little off at times, but it’s not a huge problem. When it comes to low light, the Max Pro M2 takes decent photos, but sometimes the photos aren’t as sharp as I’d like and sometimes noise creeps in.

Compared to the Redmi Note 6 Pro and the Realme 2 Pro cameras, it’s a tough call in good light. Look at these photos. All the phones are good here, but I just find the details in the ZenFone Max Pro M2 photo slightly better than the competition, although I like the colors more in the Note 6 Pro photos. So ya, it’s really close. When it comes to low light photos, the Max Pro M2 and Realme 2 Pro do well enough, but the Redmi Note 6 Pro photos are just sharper and they have less noise.
Realme 2 Pro
Redmi Note 6 Pro
ZenFone Max Pro M2
Realme 2 Pro
Redmi Note 6 Pro
ZenFone Max Pro M2
Realme 2 Pro
Redmi Note 6 Pro
ZenFone Max Pro M2
Realme 2 Pro
Redmi Note 6 Pro
ZenFone Max Pro M2
Realme 2 Pro
Redmi Note 6 Pro
ZenFone Max Pro M2

    Videos

When it comes to videos, the Max Pro M2 comes with 4K support, which is something a lot of budget phones miss out on, so that’s good. Here’s a 4K video shot from the phone. As you can see, the video quality here is pretty nice, with the colors looking good and things looking sharp. Yes, the stability is not very good, and that’s because EIS here kicks in at 1080p.

Well, I also recorded a 1080p video, and it’s definitely more stable than the 4K video. However, when I compared the 1080p video from the ZenFone Max Pro M2, the Note 6 Pro and the Realme 2 Pro, I found that the Note 6 Pro and Realme 2 Pro capture videos that are way more stable. It’s surprising really, because all these phones have EIS. I hope Asus makes the 1080p videos more stable in future updates.

    Front Camera

Coming to the front cameras, the ZenFone Max Pro M2 takes some decent selfies, when there’s good light. As you can see in the selfies below, the photos in good lighting have good detail and colors. However, things aren’t as good in low light. The selfies in low light generally turn out to be soft.
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When compared to the Redmi Note 6 Pro and Realme 2 Pro, the ZenFone Max Pro M2 compares well in good lighting but not so much in low light. And if you are wondering, yes, there’s no portrait mode on the front yet, but Asus is bringing that in an update soon.

    Overall, the cameras on the ZenFone Max Pro M2, especially the rear cameras are improved and way better, and while they might not be the best when compared to the competition, they get close and that’s good enough for a budget smartphone.

Performance

The ZenFone Max Pro brings a great upgrade from the ZenFone Max Pro M1 when it comes to the processor. The Max Pro M2 comes with a Snapdragon 660, which is the most powerful processor in this price range. In benchmarks, the Max Pro M2 obviously beats the Snapdragon 636 phones out there like the Note 6 Pro, the Nokia 7.1, and the Moto One Power.

ZenFone Max Pro M2 Review

ZenFone Max Pro M2 Review

When compared to phones with the Snapdragon 660, like the Realme 2 Pro and the Mi A2, the scores of the M2 are more similar to the Realme 2 Pro, and that’s because just like the Realme Phone, the high-performance cores on the ZenFone Max Pro M2’s Snapdragon 660 are clocked at 1.95GHz instead of the regular 2.2GHz.

ZenFone Max Pro M2 Review

Well, to be honest, the lower clock speed isn’t something I really care about because in my usage, the phone has been performing really well. Things have been smooth, be it during day to day tasks or during multitasking. We have the 4GB variant of the phone here, so things should be even better in the 6GB variant.

When it comes to gaming performance, the phone handles games like PUBG Mobile and Asphalt 9 really well. The phone sets PUBG’s graphics settings at Medium by default and on that setting, the gameplay is smooth and almost flawless. I tried playing the game at high graphics, and while things were mostly fine, there was some stutter and lag at times, so ya, I’d recommend you to stick to medium.

ZenFone Max Pro M2 Review

    Overall, the performance on the ZenFone Max Pro M2 is top notch, no pun intended. It’s just the best performance a phone can offer at this price.

Software

The ZenFone Max Pro M2, like the ZenFone Max Pro M1, comes with stock Android on-board and that’s great because stock Android was one of the highlights of the ZenFone Max Pro M1. For those who are confused, while the phone does come with stock Android, it’s not an Android One phone. Well, there’s Android 8.1 Oreo here, and while I was disappointed about it, Asus announced that they will roll out the Android Pie update next month, so that’s promising.

ZenFone Max Pro M2 Review

Anyway, the stock Android experience here has a few changes. There are a few Asus apps here, along with the Facebook app and the Asus camera app. Anyway, it’s not a lot and people actually use some of these apps (like voice recorder, FM Radio etc.), so I wouldn’t call it bloatware. There are also additional features like a few gestures (not navigation gestures, gestures like double tap to unlock) and face unlock, which works pretty fast most of the time.

ZenFone Max Pro M2 Review

While everything’s fine, the stock Android Oreo experience does not seem well optimized for the notch. We all know that Google brought notch support with Android Pie, so it’s not surprising but this is something Asus must have fixed. So, what happens is, in different apps, the notch just marginally overlaps in the top area of the interface. I am not explaining it good enough, so take a look:
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ZenFone Max Pro M2 Review

I know, it’s not a major issue but I just find this a little annoying, especially while playing games. Plus there’s no way to force apps to use the full screen, or hide the notch, so ya, there are a few issues in the ZenFone Max Pro M2. Well, let’s hope Asus fixes this soon.

    Overall, stock Android is something that matters to me. I just prefer stock Android here. If you ask me to choose between the really bad ColorOS on the Realme phones, the ad-ridden MIUI on the Xiaomi phones , and stock Android on the Max Pro M2. I will always prefer the stock Android experience on the ZenFone Max Pro M2.

Battery

The ZenFone Max Pro M2 comes with the same massive 5,000 mAh battery from the Max Pro M1 and while the screen is a bit larger than the M1, the battery performs pretty much the same as the M1.

So, in my usage, the Max Pro M2 easily lasted me for a couple of days on medium usage. Generally, starting the day at 100%, I would end the day at around 50-60% even on a little extensive usage and that is just really good. The battery performance is something that really impressed me in the M1 and it impresses me yet again in the M2.

ZenFone Max Pro M2 Review

When it comes to charging, Asus bundled the 5V 2A charger in the box and in our first impressions video, a lot of you were confused if this is a fast charger or not. Well, the phone does show “rapidly charging” with the in-box 10W charger plugged in, which I think is a QuickCharge 1.0 charger, so it is fast charging the phone, but it’s just not as fast as Quick Charge 4.0, or even 3.0.

ZenFone Max Pro M2 Review

Anyway, so the in-box charger takes 2 hours and 50 minutes to charge the Max Pro M2 from 10 to 100%, which is fine. I mean, the Note 6 Pro and Realme 2 Pro take around 2 hours to go from 10 to 100%, but they also have smaller batteries. So, this is the price you’ll have to pay for the larger battery.

ZenFone Max Pro M2 Review

I also tried out an 18W fast charger with the Max Pro M2 and it took the same amount of time, that is 2 hours 50 minutes, so I guess this the maximum charging speed you can get.
Audio

The ZenFone Max Pro M2 brings improvements from the ZenFone Max Pro M1 on the audio front as well. First off, the speaker here is better. The Max Pro M2 comes with 5-magnet speaker for louder, deeper and less distorted sound quality and NXP SmartAmp technology. Now, all of that is tech mumbo jumbo, but the speakers here are definitely louder than the Max Pro M1 and the likes of the Redmi Note 6 Pro. While the quality here isn’t the best or as great as the Note 6 Pro, it’s decent enough for a budget phone.

ZenFone Max Pro M2 Review

The ZenFone Max Pro M2 also brings better sound quality through the headphone jack. A lot of people have complained about the ZenFone Max Pro M1’s average sound quality with the headphone jack, so I am glad Asus has fixed it with the ZenFone Max Pro M2. I tried my Sony MDR-XB55 in-ear headphones with both the M2 and the M1, and it was clear that the sound quality from the Max Pro M2 is just way better. The sound is louder, clearer and the quality is a lot better. So, it’s definitely better than the Max Pro M1.
Connectivity

On the connectivity front, the ZenFone Max Pro M2 features most of the basics but there are a few things missing, which might disappoint a few users. First of all, there’s WLAN 802.11 b/g/n, which means the phone only supports 2.4GHz WiFi networks. Yes, like Max Pro M1, there’s no support for 5GHz WiFi networks and while this is a little disappointing., if you are wondering if it’s a huge issue, you can check out our article on the same.

ZenFone Max Pro M2 Review

Other than that, there’s Bluetooth 5.0, expandable storage up to 2TB, dual SIM with dual 4G VoLTE support, and there are the usual sensors like accelerator, e-compass, proximity sensor, ambient light sensor and gyroscope.
ZenFone Max Pro M2: Should you Buy It?
Pros:

    Premium looking design
    Vibrant display
    Great performance
    Amazing battery life
    Decent cameras
    Stock Android
    Good speakers
    Gorilla Glass 6

Cons:

    No portrait mode in front camera
    Average video stability in 1080p
    Scratch prone back
    Software issues with the notch
    No 5GHz WiFi support

Okay, that was pretty much it when it comes to our ZenFone Max Pro M2 review/ Now, coming to the verdict. Is the ZenFone Max Pro M2 the best budget phone smartphone to buy? Well, yes! The ZenFone Max Pro M2, which starts at Rs. 12,999 is a phone I will be recommending to a lot of people and that’s because this is just the best all around budget phone out there.

ZenFone Max Pro M2 Review

The changes on the design front make the Max Pro M2 a great looking smartphone. The cameras, while not the best, are good enough for the price and the Snapdragon 660 makes up for a really fast and smooth experience. Plus, like the ZenFone Max Pro M1, the stock Android experience is great and the battery is just impressive. It’s not perfect. The back is very scratch prone, there are software issues with the notch and there’s still no 5GHz support. But are these deal breakers? Definitely not!

ZenFone Max Pro M2 Review

When it comes to the competition, there’s the Redmi Note 6 Pro (starts at Rs. 13,999) with slightly better cameras, but it has a slower processor, an inferior design, and a smaller battery. There’s also the Realme 2 Pro (starts at Rs. 13,990) and Realme U1 (starts at Rs. 11,999), and they both have the trendy teardrop notch designs and great performance, but I cannot live with ColorOS. There are a lot of other phones here like the Nokia 6.1 plus (Rs. 15,990), the Motorola One Power (Rs. 15,999), the Honor 8X (starting at Rs. 14,999) and more, but they all fail to match the ZenFone Max Pro M2’s all around capabilities.
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