Saturday, March 16, 2019

LG V40 ThinQ Smartphone Review


It’s amazing how much a smartphone can do. Obviously, there’s calls, and texts, including video calls. They’re also great for photos, videos, checking and sending emails, playing games, and even music. They do so much, our phones tend to be our go to device. We can do everything with them. And every year they keep getting bigger, better, and faster. Which is the right one for you? Enter the LG V40 ThinQ.



While so many used to have a cellphone, camera, camcorder and music player, and even a PDA, now the current smartphone can replace them all! The new smartphones may not do all of those functions excellently, it does all of them at least very good. The big battle that everyone is trying to get better at is at photos and video. But what about audio?



I don’t know anyone who doesn’t like music. And thanks to their increased storage capacity of internal storage, as well as the use of memory cards, you do not have to resort to just streaming services. You can even save your entire CD collection onto your phone, and turn it into the ultimate music player! And this is what really confuses me. Everyone enjoys their music. And we’ll spend $500, $700, even around $1000 on the new smartphone. But then go around and spend $20 or $50 on a pair of headphones at your neighborhood Walmart. For those of you that want to actually enjoy your music there are much better headphones available. Smartphones are also improving on that front as well. Sure AptX will give us CD quality sound, but there’s also hi-res audio now as well.



Hi-Res Audio is starting to go big. If you thought music sounded good on CD, you need to listen to Hi-Res audio. The sound quality is amazing. There are more and more headphones coming out that can handle it as well. But most smartphones aren’t built for excellent audio. That’s were the LG V40 ThinQ comes in. It is probably the most under-rated phone available, and it’s also one of the best smartphones available! It’s one of the few that are also designed for audio.








Features and specs:

Cameras


 TRIPLE REAR CAMERAS



 Standard Angle
 Super Wide-Angle
 2x Zoom Telephoto
 Field of View
 78˚
 107˚
 45˚
 Maximum Aperture
 f/1.5
 f/1.9
 f/2.4
 Sensor Size
 1/2.6"
 1/3.1"
 1/3.4"
 Sensor Pixel Size
 1.40 μm
 1.00 μm
 1.00 μm
 Resolution
 (up to)
 12 MP
 (4032 x 3024)
 16 MP
 (4656 x 3492)
 12 MP
 (4032 x 3024)
 Flash
 LED
 LED
 LED
 DUAL FRONT CAMERAS

 Standard Angle
 Wide-Angle
 Field of View
 80˚
 90˚
 Maximum Aperture
 f/1.9
 f/2.2
 Sensor Size
 1/4"
 1/5"
 Sensor Pixel Size
 1.12 μm
 1.12 μm
 Resolution
 (up to)
 8 MP
 (3264 x 2448)
 5 MP
 (2560 x 1920)
 Flash
 Selfie-Light
 Selfie-Light

  • TRIPLE REAR CAMERAS
  • 16x Continuous Zoom - 2x optical zoom-in, 5x digital zoom-in, and 1.6x optical zoom-out, total 16x zoom from super wide-angle to telephoto zoom
  • OIS+ and EIS - capture sharp images quickly with less blur1
  • Dual PDAF - autofocus using dual PD pixel sensor (standard angle camera)1
  • Triple Shot - capture 3 shots (standard, wide, and tele) and create a short video with one touch
  • Triple Preview - press and hold a camera icon to see a live preview of the 3 rear lenses
  • Super Bright Camera - automatically activated in extreme low light to capture bright photos and video2
  • Manual Mode - adjust shutter speed, ISO, exposure, white balance, and more; save image as raw (DNG) and JPEG
  • Graphy 2.03 - select reference photos that automatically adjust Manual Mode settings
  • Food - adjusts white balance to improve appearance
  • AI Composition - recognizes up to 3 people and adjusts the picture composition based on photography’s rule of thirds
  • AI Cam - intelligently suggests the optimal effect and angle by automatically identifying what’s in the shot
  • TRIPLE REAR CAMERAS & DUAL FRONT CAMERAS
  • Cine Shot - create partially animated GIFs by selecting specific areas to animate
  • Google® Lens - searches what you see and provides relevant online information; features QR code and real-time translator4
  • Backdrop - switch the background to a specific color or an image from the gallery
  • Portrait - bokeh effect blurs the background while keeping the subject in focus
  • 3D Light Effect - apply lighting effects on the background of selfies; options include Natural, Studio, Contour, Stage, Stage Mono
  • Flash Jump-Cut - photos are taken every 3 seconds and saved as a GIF
  • Live Photo - record the action right before and after you take a photo
  • AR Sticker - personalize photos with a variety of pre-loaded stickers
  • Film Effect - choose from 17 preset filters
  • HDR - corrects backlighting with multiple exposure techniques
  • dual front cameras
  • My Avatar - take a picture of yourself to create a personalizable animated emoji2
  • AR Emoji - 3D graphic animals mimic your facial expressions
  • Makeup Pro - manually change the appearance of selfies by adjusting complexion, lip color, or enhancing eyes and eyelashes2
  • Auto Shot - take a selfie with automatic face detection2
  • Gesture Shot - take a selfie with a simple hand gesture2
  • Gesture Interval Shot - make a fist twice to take four selfies in a row2
  • Gesture View - automatically preview the image when bringing the phone close2
  • Selfie Light - screen illuminates for well-lit selfies2
  • Beauty Shot - softens facial features2
  • Quick Sharing - access sharing apps instantly after taking pictures and videos

1 Feature only available on standard rear camera.
2 Feature not available on Telephoto Zoom Lens.
3 App download required.
4 Google Lens not available on Dual Front Cameras for AT&T

  • 4K Video Recording at 60 FPS
  • Resolution: up to 3840 x 2160 pixels (1920 x 1080 default)
  • Steady Record - record smoother, clearer videos on the move with OIS+ and EIS (Electronic Image Stabilization)
  • HDR10 Video Recording - life-like footage with a wide spectrum of color that is rich, accurate, and high contrast
  • Point Zoom - zoom in on any selected area within the frame for more stability and control
  • Video Manual Mode* - adjust audio focus, manual focus, white balance, frame rates, and more
  • Cine Effect - choose from 16 different color grading presets for a cinematic look
  • Slo-mo - HD 240 FPS Slow Motion Video Recording
  • Time-Lapse Video - video where time appears to be moving faster
  • Video Studio* - merge up to 50 photos or videos; trim and add title/text, background music, and theme effect overlays
  •  Audio Tuned with Meridian
  • Boombox Speaker - inner resonance chamber along with top and bottom speakers provide greater sound levels for boosted bass
  • DTS:X Virtual Surround - deep 3D stereo audio experience1
  • 32-Bit Hi-Fi Quad Digital-to-Analog Converter (DAC) - produces crisp, full sound through wired headphones
  • Sound Preset - custom options to achieve different sound experiences
  • Digital Filter - Short, Sharp, or Slow options of Sound Filter characteristics in DAC
  • Super Far-Field Voice Recognition (FFVR) - improved voice recognition picks up commands better in noisy environments from up to 16' away2
  • Wind Noise Filter - minimize wind noise during video recording
  • RAM (Receiver as Mic) - 2 analog mics and the phone’s receiver improve sound clarity while recording in loud environments
  • HD Audio Recorder - choose between Normal, Concert, and Custom modes; record over a separate track
  • Hi-Fi Video Recorder - 2 high AOP mics record higher-quality sound3
  • Hi-Fi Streaming - MQA decoder enables high resolution audio to be packaged in a small size

1 Wired headphones or speakers required.
2 Ambient noise and room configuration may lessen operational distance and accuracy.
3 Available only in Manual Mode.



Display

  • 6.4"* QHD+ OLED Display (3120 x 1440, including notch); 538 ppi
  • FullVision Display - 19.5:9 Aspect Ratio; 84.3% screen-to-body ratio
  • New Second Screen - choose to add a color fill to the status bar
  • Floating Bar - access app shortcuts and call notifications on a movable/collapsible toolbar
  • Always-On Display - time, date, and notifications appear on a sleeping screen
  • Palm Rejection - prevents accidental interactions on the touch screen

* Actual viewable area is less due to rounded corners and notch.

Design & Durability

  • Size: 6.25" (H) x 2.98" (W) x 0.31" (D), Weight: 5.96 oz.
  • Dedicated Google Assistant Key
  • IP68 Dust and Water Resistant1
  • Shock Resistant - MIL-STD-810G Tested2
  • Corning® Gorilla® Glass 5 - protection on front, back, and camera
  • Heat Pipe - absorbs and moves heat away from the processor to help minimize the risk of overheating

1 Tested under controlled laboratory conditions with a rating of IP68 under IEC standard 60529 (Water resistant up to 1.5 meters for 30 minutes). If the product gets wet, use a clean, soft cloth to dry it thoroughly.
2 Compliant with a military standards test (MIL-STD-810G Method 516.6, Procedure IV “Transit Drop”). Device may not perform as tested in all conditions. Test performed in controlled environment. Do not attempt.

Connectivity

  • 4G LTE Network1
  • Mobile Hotspot2 - share a 4G LTE data connection with up to 8 wireless devices3
  • Bluetooth® Wireless Technology Version 5.0
  • Supported Bluetooth Profiles: A2DP, AVRCP, DI, GAVDP, GOEP, HDP, HFP, HID, HSP, MAP, OPP, PAN, PBAP, SPP, HOGP, ScPP
  • Wi-Fi® Standards: 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac
  • Wi-Fi Direct® - connect directly to devices
  • USB4 and Bluetooth Tethering2 - share your Internet connection
  • Android Beam (NFC) - share contacts, web pages, and more
  • Media Server - allow nearby devices to access content
  • Screen Sharing - wirelessly mirror device screen
  • MIDI Device - connect to musical instruments via USB4
  • HD Voice Capable5
  • MirrorLink® - connect to a MirrorLink-capable car to share your screen and apps
  • S-GPS, A-GPS, and Qualcomm® Service for Enhanced Location Accuracy

1 4G LTE Network not available everywhere.
2 Carrier service required. Product features subject to change. Features based on carrier program availability. Additional charges may apply.
3 Depends on network availability. Additional carrier charges may apply.
4 USB cable required (included).
5 HD Voice required on both caller and receiver devices.

POWER & PERFORMANCE

  • Platform: Android™ 8.1 (Oreo)
  • User Interface: LG UX 7.1
  • Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon™ 845 up to 2.8 GHz x 4 + 1.7 GHz x 4 Octa-Core
  • Battery Capacity: 3,300 mAh Non-Removable
  • Charging: USB Type-C™ port; wireless charging1; Qualcomm Quick Charge™ 3.0
  • Internal Memory: 64GB (Usable memory varies by carrier)
  • microSD™: supports card up to 2 TB (cards sold separately)
  • RAM: 6 GB
  • Hearing Aids: Rated for M4, T3




The LG V40 came in an elegant looking black box. Opening the box revealed a well protected phone wrapped in plastic and held in place by custom paper box. The plastic wrapping showed some of the phone’s features. Sliding the phone out of the plastic protective wrap, showed a beautifully elegant black phone. It has an aluminum frame with glass wrapping both the front and back. While gorgeous to look at now, it’s also a fingerprint magnet. Quality of materials used was excellent, as was the fit and finish. This is LG’s flagship phone, and it shows! Also included are the guides, charging cable, wall adapter, some fairly basic earbuds, and a replacement ear tip for the earbuds, as well as a small tool to access the sim card tray. Now it’s time to get it charged.



This is an android device. We won’t be covering all of the details of Android, or the Oreo 8.1 OS that it uses. Although I was a little disappointed that it didn’t come already loaded with Pie 9.0, as Pie was released before the phone was. Walking through the setup was extremely easy. And downloading the LG Mobile Switch app made it very easy to get all of my info from my LG V20 to the LG V40. The app also worked great back when I got my info from my old HTC phone onto the V20. Now that it’s setup, it’s time to put it through the paces.



We’ll start with the display. The LG V40’s P-OLED display is nothing short of breath taking! And while it is huge at 6.4 inches, it does not seem huge. I also like the way it goes all the way to the top, and wraps under the front camera lenses and speaker. Colors really pop with excellent resolution and are well saturated. Contrast is also excellent, and thanks to the high resolution the images are also really sharp! Whites are bright, and blacks are deep and inky black. And whether you are looking at photos or videos, they all look amazing. I liked the 2nd small display at the top of the V20, and am glad to see it is used on the V40, at the very top on each side of the lenses to display notifications for time, email, texts, temperature, wi-fi and signal strength. The always on feature is nice. The screen goes completely black, adjust displays the time, date, notifications, temperature and battery life. The LG V40 ThinQ is a top of the line phone, and the internals also match up to this level of product. It comes with the quality top tier Snapdragon 845, Adreno 630 GPU, 6GB of RAM and 64 GB of memory, as well as an SD card slot. That means you will have the power for all of the apps you use. Whether it’s games you play or music you listen to on your daily commute or documents you may need to access and work on for work, there is plenty of computing power at your fingertips.



When I think of a smartphone, I initially think of talking and texting. But there is also surfing online, playing games, listening to music, as well as taking pictures and recording video. The LG V40 ThinQ does it all extremely well. Calls come in crystal clear, and those who I spoke to heard me crystal clear as well. Text messages were very responsive. All my favorite time passing games also played very well with excellent visuals, responsiveness, and great sound. And when I wanted to turn to YouTube and didn’t have any headphones with me, the built-in speaker played sufficiently loud, and sounded good for a smartphone speaker. There’s an internal cavity to improve bass responses and it did help. Holding the phone I could feel the improved bass as the phone had a little resonance to it. Listening with headphones, my music sounded extremely good. When it came time to use the camera for pictures and video, I was even more impressed.



To me, it’s a little funny how much weight we put on the quality of photos out of our phones. After all, it’s not like it’s a DSLR with a larger sensor and a bunch of glass in the lens. Yet manufacturers have been working hard to improve the quality of the photos and videos. LG has had great success with the V40.



For me, the use of 5 cameras is awesome! You get 3 main cameras; 1 for regular shots, 1 telephoto lens, and 1 wide angle lens. On the front you get 2 cameras for your selfies; 1 regular lens, and 1 wide angle lens. And to bring it all together, they provided a great app that is easy to use! Moving around among the settings and various modes was easy, even for a beginner.

In the main camera page, you have buttons for what will probably be used the most. There is AI Cam, Triple shot, portrait, and google lens. AI Cam did everything for you, and worked very well. Triple shot is just what it sounds like. It takes a pic with each lens, so you get a photo using regular, telephoto and wide angle. Portrait is for when individuals are in the photo. Google Lens is for finding that item or a similar item, so you can buy it online. It is cool in theory, but was hit and miss. Mostly it was a miss. On the bottom of the app are a record button for video and a shutter button for photos. On the side are buttons for telephoto, regular, and wide angle, so you can select the camera lens you want to use. On the top of the app are buttons for setting, mode, colors, switching from back to front cameras, and button to turn off the flash.



Going to the main page. There are options for camera and camcorder. Some of the modes were kinda cool, and fairly self explanatory, like slo-mo and penta shot. Manual modes were pretty cool for both photos and video. For camera, it showed the 9 AF points in the center. At the bottom it showed the graph, WB, Focus, EV, ISO, and Shutter Speed. You could also tap on each of those items and make manual adjustments. For video mode, you had the same buttons on the bottom of the page to make manual adjustments. But instead of the graph, it showed you the quality setting as well as left and right channels to show real time audio levels for the hi-fi stereo sound. There was also a hi-fi button to make adjustments to the audio. Making adjustments was all very easy to do!

Analyzing the photos, I was impressed with the quality. I saw no readily apparent negatives, such as vignetting or barrel distortions. LG did a good job on the lenses. The colors seemed very natural and correctly saturated with good detail. And even in difficult low light settings, it did better than expected with a well useable image.


For video, I’ve always had a hard time with concerts. So I thought I’d see how well it would do with my daughter’s play. The lighting for the junior high schools equipment gave for a good challenge. The HDR definitely helped. But being able to easily go and make brightness adjustments on the fly was even better! I was also impressed with the quality of the audio! You don’t always have great environments when you want to take photos and videos. But the easiness to make quick adjustments made for made for easily usable photos and videos in most lighting conditions. I can’t help but to quote Vader: “Impressive…Most impressive!” It has me more excited and wanting to take photos and video with this phone, then I ever have been with any other phone.



Now it’s time for what has me the most excited on this phone. The audio features. Users of quality wired headphones can rise and shout hallelujah! Not only does the LG V40 ThinQ still have a headphone jack, it also has a quad 32-bit DAC! Going into the phone settings, you can access the sound quality and effects settings. Here you can change volume (if hard buttons stop working) and access the equalizer, which has 13 different sound curves to choose from.



In these Sound Quality and effects setting, you can also access and turn on and off the DTS:X3D Sound and the hi-fi Quad DAC. The DTS:X is pretty cool and gives you a bit of a 3D sound with a few different effects of wide, front, and side to side. But what I love is the hi-fi Quad DAC! It amplifies the sound, and more importantly makes your headphones sound much better! With the Hi-Fi Quad DAC engaged, you also have access to a few sound presets, a few digital filters, as well as the ability to adjust the balance of your headphones.




The Hi-Fi Quad DAC is also not a gimmick. It not only works, it works extremely well! Audiophiles will rejoice. I turned to some of my favorite tracks and every single one sounded amazing. Using my reference Beyerdynamic DT 1990 Pro’s, I was actually a little taken back after hearing some nuances and details that I hadn’t picked up on before! Use some good quality headphones and thanks to the hi-fi Quad DAC, the LG V40 will let you hear things in your music you may not have heard or noticed before! I ended up getting lost in my music, in a listening session that ended up going on for a lot longer than I had planned. And that’s probably the biggest compliment I could give.



Looking back, LG has hit the ball out of the park with the LG V40. With the improvements to phones year after year with manufacturers, it can be hard for some to catch up, or stay ahead of the curve. Some like Samsung, have excellent products themselves. Hi-Res Audio is gaining more and more ground, and gaining in popularity. With the LG V40, Audiophiles have an all in one device. And it also makes non-high res files sound better. After all, if you’re going to listen to your music, enjoy it! With the LG V40, you definitely will!! And LG may just have more market share coming their way thanks to the V40. And if you don’t like wires for your headphones but still want to enjoy hi-res audio, the LG V40 has you covered there as well, with aptX HD compatibility. I was also surprised at some manufacturers not having aptX HD compatibility in their new phones.  At least LG is making audio a priority.



LG has a real winner here with their LG V40 ThinQ. It is very well built, and feels very solid in hand. The finish of the glass and edges are excellent. The screen is gorgeous, and has the power to handle what you throw at it. The cameras also perform great, and sound quality is top rated for what is available for phones. If the LG V40 isn’t on your short list for phones to checkout, it should be. Based on it’s design, features, quality and performance, the LG V40 ThinQ has earned our Editor’s Choice award. For more info and specs, check out their website at www.LG.com.



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Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Gourmia GPC965 Digital ExpressPot 13 in 1 Pressure Cooker Review

Usually, the old wisdom goes that if you get your wife something that plugs in for Valentine’s Day, than you deserve what you get. And that is usually a very unhappy wife. There are exceptions to this, however, and one of those is for something that will make her life easier. And whether it is Valentine's Day, anniversary, or birthday, it would be a welcome gift.  My wife loves her crock-pot. In fact, we own two so we can cook multiple parts of dinner at once. The only issue is that you have to plan so far in advance. My wife works early in the morning, so to be up at 4 am to fill the crock-pot up for dinner is not something she feels up to all that often. Enter in the new sensation in the culinary world, the ExpressPot!

 Features and specs:

AUTO RELEASE: Safely releases steam upon cooking completion, or at the touch of a button.

ADJUSTABLE PSI: From 1.5-12 psi.

MULTI-FUNCTION: Packs a kitchen full of specialty appliances into one powerful pot. This versatile Pressure Cooker can also Slow Cook, Saute/Brown and Steam.

SPEEDSENSE TECHNOLOGY: 1000 watts slashes away cooking time by 70%, while retaining maximum flavor and nutrients in meals.

13 in 1: Boasts a huge variety of 13 easy cooking modes, including Rice, Soup, Stew, Yogurt, Keep Warm and more!

SECURE LOCK TECHNOLOGY: Air-tight lid features a 12 level safety system, remaining firmly locked into place until internal pressure reaches safe levels to open.

6 Qt CAPACITY: Dishwasher safe, nonstick cooking pot removes for breezy cleanup.


The Gourmia GPC965 Digital ExpressPot Pressure Cooker arrived in a sturdy cardboard box printed with pictures of the product. Opening the box, the product was well secured with molded Styrofoam and was enclosed in plastic bags. Materials used in the construction were metal and plastic. Quality of materials used as well as fit and finish was excellent. This was a very well made product. Also included was a meat rack, a measuring cup, a wide plastic spoon, a quick start guide and an owner’s manual.

The Gourmia ExpressPot was a hefty package. This is wonderful, as it makes it almost impossible to tip over while cooking. The quick start guide was easy to follow and the owner’s manual clear and straight forward. We tried a variety of meals in this quick cooking wonder. First, we made a recipe exactly like we would in our slow cooker. If you do this, it works, but some adjustments will need to be made to the amounts of liquids used in the cooking, as the ExpressPot seals and losses literally no liquid in the cooking. It is considerably faster. A meal that would have taken 4-8 hours in the crock-pot took only 1 hour in the ExpressPot. We also tried a number of recipes from the internet. It was wonderful to have everything cooked together. The pot roast and vegetables were tender and well cooked and the orange chicken was quick and had plenty of sauce to accompany it. But our personal favorite was chicken taco bowls. It is destined to become a repeat meal in our house.

This pot does everything you might need. It has a sautee option, so you can brown your meat. It has a slow cooker option, so it can replace your crock-pot. It has a rice option, so it can replace your rice cooker as well! It even has a yogurt option which I am excited to try out! This one appliance can replace two or three other appliances easily, to more room in the cabinet! The internet is abounding in recipes to try for this appliance. We tested a few of them out and found the wonder of being able to have fabulous meals with only an hour or so of notice. All told, it has 12 quick start settings. Just chose the one closest to your main ingredient, like poultry, and then spin the knob to increase or decrease the cook time desired.


What’s also nice is it is extra safe to use.  The steam has an automatic release.  There is no need to have to manually release the steam when it is done cooking.  The ExpressPot does it automatically.  Hearing it release steam for the 1st time was a little startling, but you get used to it.  


So, any wife who loves to cook would be thrilled to receive a Gourmia ExpressPot for Valentine’s Day, or as an anniversary or birthday present for that matter.  It does so many things that we will be evaluating our cabinets soon for things we can now get rid of. And with an MSRP of $199 that is a steal! Based on its design, features, quality and performance, the Gourmia GPC965 Digital ExpressPot 13-in-1 Pressure Cooker has earned our Editor’s Choice award. Congratulations!  For more info and complete specs, check out their website at www.gourmia.com. And here is a simple link to Best Buy, where you can purchase the Gourmia ExpressPot:  https://www.bestbuy.com/site/gourmia-6-quart-pressure-cooker-with-auto-release-stainless-steel/6280306.p?skuId=6280306


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