Xiaomi Launches Redmi Note 11 Series



Xiaomi Logo - an orange squircle with stylised white MI lettersXiaomi‘s first launch of 2022 is the new Redmi Note 11 series with a total of four phones, two sizes and all sharing the same design language. Xiaomi’s Note models are a very popular series with over 240 million Notes sold so this will see Xiaomi well into 2022 and with prices from US$179 through to $379, there’s a phone for everyone.

Announced today were four mid-range phones with the best stealing a few flagship features. Starting at the top and working down, Xiaomi showed off the:

          • Note 11 Pro 5G
          • Note 11 Pro
          • Note 11S
          • Note 11.

Sharing the same look, the 11 Pro 5G and 11 Pro are the bigger phones with 6.67″ screens compared to the 6.43″ displays of the 11S and 11. The style is very much on-trend with flat sides (aka flat frames) rather than the normal Android curves.

Rear of a blue phone showing wave patternLooking at the 11 Pro phones first, they look great and come with glass backs in three colours: Graphite Gray, Polar White, Atlantic Blue (Pro 5G) and Star Blue (Pro). The Atlantic Blue has a lovely wave effect to it.

Taking a look at the camera array while round the back, the Pro 5G has a triple camera array with a massive 108 MP main camera, a 118° ultrawide 8MP lens and a 2 MP macro lens. The Pro is similar but  includes an additional depth sensor for bokeh effects. And of course, both models have a 16 MP selfie camera round the front.

Turning to the 6.67″ display, it’s an AMOLED FHD+ screen with 12,000 nits max brightness,120 Hz refresh rate and 360 Hz touch sampling. Simply that means you can play fast action games outside and it’ll be super smooth. The Corning Gorilla Glass screen comes with all the expected eye protections such SGS Eye Care Certification.

Inside the Redmi Note 11 Pro 5G is a Snapdragon 695 – it’s a well respected leading mid-range processor that keeps the 11 Pro 5G ticking over nicely. For the non-5G 11 Pro, it’s a MediaTek Helio G96. Again, a solid mid-range CPU but without 5G features.

In terms of storage, the two phones max out at 8 GB RAM, 128 GB storage and 1 TB of expandable storage. Dual speakers and a headphone jack round out the media features.

Keeping it all going is a 5000 mAh battery which should give a 2 days of typical phone use. Equipped with turbo charging at 67 W, 15 minutes of charge should be enough to get an 11 Pro and Pro 5G through the day. Both phones use the same MMT battery technology to keep the battery cool while charging. And there’s a charger included in the box!

Pricewise, for the Redmi Note 11 Pro 5G (and there will be regional variations on the price)

  • 6 GB + 64 GB – US$329
  • 6 GB + 128 GB – $349
  • 8 GB + 128 GB – $379

Redmi Note 11 Pro

  • 6 GB + 64 GB – US$299
  • 6 GB + 128 GB – $329
  • 8 GB + 128 GB – $349

And for the especially thrifty, there’s an early bird $30 discount on 16th & 17th February at Aliexpress.

Turning to the smaller Redmi Note 11S and 11, it’s very much the same design language with the devices coming in Graphite Gray, Twilight Blue, Pearl White (11S) and Star Blue (11).

The 11S has the same camera setup as the Pro, with 108 MP main shooter, 118° ultrawide and macro lenses plus the depth sensor. The 11 drops the pixel count on the main shooter to 50 MP, but still retains the UW and macro lenses. The selfie camera on the Note 11S is 16 MP but only 13 MP on the Note 11.

For both devices, the display is an AMOLED FHD+ screen with a 90Hz refresh rate and 10,000 nits brightness covered in protective Gorilla glass. Inside, the Note 11S has the same chipset as the Pro in the shape of the MediaTek Helo G96. On the other hand, the Note 11 returns to the Qualcomm fold with the Snapdragon 680.

It’s the same 5,000 mAh battery across the whole range, though the 11S and 11 have to be satisfied with 33 W fast charging that will charge to 100% in under an hour. That’s still pretty nippy. The fast charger is included here too.

Other features include dual stereo speakers, 3.5 mm jack and expandable storage to 1 TB.

Pricewise, for the Redmi Note 11S (and as before there will be regional variations on the price)

  • 6 GB + 64 GB – US$249
  • 6 GB + 128 GB – $279
  • 8 GB + 128 GB – $299

Redmi Note 11

  • 4 GB + 64 GB – US$179
  • 4 GB + 128 GB – $199
  • 6 GB + 128 GB – $229

Like the Note 11 Pros, there will be an early bird discount of $20 at AliExpress on 28th & 29th January.

Overall, the Xiaomi Redmi Note 11 series has a great deal to offer in the mid-range. Strong design, high MP main camera, fast charging, decent processor. There’s a much to recommend here.


FCC to Block ISP Exclusive Deals #1581



FCC to block ISP exclusive deals that lock residents of apartments into a single ISP limiting their provider choice. I applaud them for making this move. While it’s a profit center for most property owners the time has come to allow the consumer to have a choice in ISP’s versus the one getting a kickback.

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Movie Studio In Space #1580



By 2024 there may be a movie studio in space attached to the International Space Station. Then Tom Cruz will hitch a ride to ISS on a SpaceX Flight to film the movie. It’s getting real when they want to shoot a movie in space. Time will tell if they have the money to make it happen.

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Airthings Wave Mini Air Quality Monitor Hands-On Review



It was back in 2012 when the two big stalwarts of the smart home market, Philips Hue and SmartThings, first arrived on the market to automate our homes. Ten years later, almost every home has something “smart”, whether a few lights, Amazon Alexa or a video doorbell.

Perhaps instead of smart homes, the focus should have been on safe and healthy homes first. People will be familiar with smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors for safety but when it comes to healthy homes, it’s more unfamiliar territory. We’ve probably all seen news reports about mold in poor quality housing or air pollution from traffic near busy roads. Everyone knows about smart bulbs but what about smart air quality detectors? These could really benefit asthma and allergy sufferers.

For the healthy home, Norwegian specialists Airthings have a range of products which can monitor for radioactive gases like argon, the presence of VOCs – volatile organic compounds – or predict the likelihood of mold growing. What are VOCs? Airthings says that they’re a combination of gases and odours emitted from many different toxins and chemicals found in everyday products. They come from an array of everyday items including paints and varnishes, wax and cosmetics, cleaning and hobby products, and even cooking and human breath. When you have an enclosed space like a home or office, these emitted gases accumulate and pollute our fresh air. That sounds bad but how bad is it really?

To find out, Airthings kindly send me one of their Wave Mini Smart Indoor Air Quality Monitor (hereafter known as Wave Mini) to try out and I’ve been impressed on a number of fronts – it’s easy to use, can be located almost anywhere inside and seems to give hard data in line with expectations. Let’s take a closer look…

The Wave Mini comes in a small cardboard box that befits the Mini’s size – there’s no wastage here with an excessively large box. Inside is the Wave MIni, a small stand, batteries and some short instructions. Batteries? Yes, this is the first win. There’s no need to locate the Wave Mini near a power socket or to have an unsightly cable as the device uses three standard AA batteries for about two years worth of operation depending on battery brand. Score one.

As you’ll see from the pictures, the Wave Mini is the usual anonymous white with an impressed Airthings logo, and can either be wall mounted or sit on a horizontal surface courtesy of the small stand. The back of the Mini is held in place magnetically so it’s still very easy to change the batteries if the unit is on a wall. Score two.

Airthings Wave Mini rearThe Wave Mini communicates with a smartphone via Bluetooth, (though a new Hub is available as well for those looking to connect up multiple devices). Both Android and Apple devices are supported so the next step is to download the app and create an account with Airthings. Once you’re in the app, it’s pretty much a case of pulling the battery tab on the Mini, adding a device and letting the phone getting on with the job. You can assign the Mini to a specific room too, such as office or bedroom.

The app requires a few permissions and config changes to make sure that it will sync regularly with the Mini. I was on Android and didn’t feel there was anything too suspicious. Once the configuration is done, Airthings recommend putting the Wave Mini in its new home and leaving it there for a week to allow the sensors to calibrate and settle in. Time passes…

The week’s up and now the Airthings app provides information and graphs on the condition of the air in the room. It offers three main measurements – VOCs, humidity and temperature – and combines them to create a mold risk from 0 to 10, with 0 being very low risk and 10 being almost certain. Ok, so it doesn’t sound very exciting but if you have concerns about the air quality in your home, you’re now gathering hard data. The app will also alert on the phone if certain thresholds are exceeded, e.g. it gets too hot or too humid, but these are preset thresholds and you can’t change them.

Here are some example screenshots from the app.

The graphs show that I’ve nothing to worry about in my home – everything was all very normal. There are a few nifty features – you can choose different time periods from 48 hours to a year, and there’s a little cursor that can be moved along the graph line to get the specific data point. The app links to helpful information on the web via questions like “What is humidity?”

A common complaint of smart home technology is that it’s often the male geek controlling the house and that other inhabitants don’t have access to the data. That’s still partly the case here, but the Wave Mini has a single LED on the front that will glow green, amber or red when a hand is swiped in front of it, giving an overall assessment of the air quality. This is great as it negates the need to always review the data on a smartphone and includes more of the household. Looking at some of Airthings other products, they often come with little displays too. Score three for inclusivity.

And if that’s not enough, Airthings offer even more ways to interact with your data. There’s a web-based dashboard, an API, skills with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant and integration with IFTTT. The latter gives some options around “If the temperature is above 30 C, turn on fan”. I had difficulty getting the Alexa skill to work – it wouldn’t recognise “Airthings” and according to some of the reviews, it’s a bit limited anyway.
It would have been good to see direct integration with, say, SmartThings, but if the new Matter standard comes to pass, it may not be an issue.

In terms of the competition, the only one I have direct experience of is Foobot and as far as I know, they’ve left the consumer market. In comparison, both devices collect the same information but the Wave Mini is far neater and more convenient. Score four.

Drawing this to a close, having spent a couple of weeks with the Airthings Wave Mini, I think it’s an easy to use and reliable bit of smart home tech that could really benefit families where either there is an allergy or asthma sufferer, or there are concerns about pollution or mold in the home. Priced at UK£69, the Wave Mini is affordable for most people and could be a real boon in providing solid data when there are questions. Available now.

Thanks to Airthings for providing the Wave Mini for review.


Paypal Faces Class Action Lawsuit for Money Seizures #1579



Paypal for years has been known to seize accounts and not tell the account holders why their accounts have been seized, they will now potentially face a class-action lawsuit by several of those victims that have had their accounts seized of 10’s of 100’s of thousands of dollars.

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Raycon introduces new Power Speaker and Boombox at CES



Music is important to most of us, although our tastes vary, sometimes greatly. From pop, rock and country to classical, Celtic and reggae, we’re all over the map, but all want good sound and sometimes we want it loud. Raycon has unveiled at CES 2022 its new sources for listening to all of your tunes. 

First up is the Power Speaker Ultra, which lets you bring the club wherever you go, with awe-inspiring lighting effects, customizable EQ and multi-link mode for connecting additional speakers.  

Old school looks meet new school sound quality in the Power Boombox, with four audio modes, eight hours of sound and LED party lights wrapped in a spill-resistant case. 

Release dates for these two products have not been announced yet, however, pricing has been, with the speaker carrying a tag of $399.99 and the boombox weighing in at $99.99. You can keep an eye out for both Raycon. 

 


Apeman debuts new line of cycling cameras



Do you bike? I don’t mean Something with Harley Davidson or Indian written on the tank, although those fun also. Yes, I mean a bicycle, perhaps a mountain bike; they’re a lot of fun and seeing your ride in hindsight is enjoyable also. Maybe you’ll see where you went wrong, what caused that crash. Although, to be honest, this is more geared for those who do most of their riding on roads as opposed to trails. 

The new line of portable cameras from Apeman is called Seeker. It features a dual screen removable action camera with built-in safety features. 

What does that entail? Well according to the company’s product announcement at this year’s CES, “The SEEKER R1 aims to address the vulnerability of every cyclist by providing the rider with a clear view of any incoming vehicles from the back.  SEEKER R1 is easy to install and can be mounted onto your bicycle in 3 simple steps. The R1 features the new SEEKER Smart Tail Light which combines an intelligent brake light system, an automated taillight and an anti-collision laser bike lane.  The SEEKER F1, which features a mountable front facing camera, will debut alongside SEEKER R1. It sports a powerful headlight with adjustable light settings, to further enhance your visibility even in the dark.” 

No price or release date have yet been announced yet.