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Jorge Velez - Roman Birds Music Album Reviews

Inspired by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius, this five-track ambient wonder finds the New York producer letting pulses and motifs overlap until the tracks resemble the inside of a lava lamp.
Jorge Velez has long been prolific, but that’s been especially true in the past few years. Like many underground electronic musicians, the New York producer has taken advantage of the internet’s self-publishing opportunities—in particular, the direct-to-fans platform Bandcamp—to sidestep label gatekeepers, streaming services, and crowded retailers. (Velez’s Bandcamp page currently numbers 26 releases.) Velez first gained recognition a dozen years ago with blippy disco derivatives for labels like Italians Do It Better, but his output has gradually become more esoteric and inward-looking. He’s still capable of ebullient club tracks, as last year’s excellent Forza attests, but many of his long, undulating machine jams sound like late-night missives to himself.

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Huawei MediaPad M5 8.4 Review: Hands-on

Huawei MediaPad M5 8.4 Review: Hands-on
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Tablet launches are few and far between these days, so the MediaPad M5 is something of a rarity. It’s the follow-up to the MediaPad M3 – the number four is considered unlucky in China – and has similarly premium specs.

We’ve spent some time with the tablet to check out how it differs from the old model. We’ve yet to run benchmarks and test out the cameras, so here are our initial impressions. We’ll update it to a full review as soon as we can.




PRICE & AVAILABILITY

Price will depend on capacity and whether you go for LTE or not. This table shows pricing in Euros. We'll update this when UK and US prices have been confirmed.

Connectivity Storage Price
Wi-Fi Only 32GB 349 €
Wi-Fi Only 64GB 399 €
Wi-Fi Only 128GB 449 €
Wi-Fi + LTE 32GB 399 €
Wi-Fi + LTE 64GB 449 €
Wi-Fi + LTE 128GB 499 €

FEATURES AND DESIGN


There’s an all-new design for the M5, and it no longer looks like an scaled up Huawei Mate smartphone. Gone is the stripe at the top of the rear, replaced by an antenna line which hugs the edges.



The lozenge-shaped fingerprint scanner stays below the screen on the front, though.

It comes in two colours - Champagne Gold and Space Grey – and brings everything up to date by replacing the microUSB port with a reversible USB-C port.


Unfortunately, as with many recent phones, the MediaPad M5 ditches the traditional headphone jack and bundles an adapter in the box so you don’t have to use USB-C headphones. It isn’t a deal-breaker but adapters are annoying, especially when you lose them or leave them behind.





Either side of the USB-C port are grilles, one of which houses a speaker. There’s a second at the top of the tablet, which means you get better stereo sound when watching videos in landscape mode. In our brief tests they sounded decent enough, but no better than you’d expect from a thin tablet.

Cameras have been updated so there’s now a 13Mp sensor at the rear and (as before) 8Mp at the front. Conditions were much too dim in the hands-on session to assess whether they’re any good, so we’ll reserve judgement until we can take the tablet out in the real world.

The screen retains the 2560x1600 resolution of its predecessor, which means it also has the same 359ppi pixel density. It’s a 16:10 aspect ratio, which is handy for watching video. It’s taller and thinner than the 3:2 aspect ratio you’ll find on any iPad.


To all intents and purposes, it’s the same as the M3’s screen. That’s no bad thing, as colours are vivid, viewing angles wide and both brightness and contrast are very good. There’s a blue-light reduction mode for night use, a feature you expect to find on all modern phones and tablets.

Hardware

As before, there’s a nano-SIM slot for LTE so you can pop in a data SIM and get online when out of Wi-Fi range.

However, that's only on the SHT-AL09 model. There's a Wi-Fi only version (model SHT-W09), and it's unclear which regions will get which version.

What we do know is that the tablet will come in 32, 64 and 128GB versions, and all have a generous 4GB of RAM. They also have a microSD slot for adding up to 256GB of extra storage.

Aside from the design, the main upgrades are the cameras and the Kirin 960 processor. The M3 had the 950, and the 960 is the chip used first in the Huawei P10 phone. When asked why it didn’t use the more recent 970 from the Mate 10 Pro, Huawei essentially said that would have been overkill.

It’s likely true, too: Android Oreo felt responsive when we tried various apps and there were no noticeable delays launching or switching between apps. You don’t get the artificial intelligence of the 970, but the 960 does have ‘machine learning’.

Combined with Huawei’s EMUI 8.0 software, you can expect the MediaPad M5 to stay fast even when lots of apps are installed. That’s certainly the case with the company’s phones: EMUI does a great job of optimising RAM use and also has plenty of power-saving tricks.

You’ll get – according to Huawei – 11 hours of HD video playback from the tablet and it takes under 2 hours to fully charge from completely empty.

As was our verdict on the MediaPad M3: the M5 looks to be an above average tablet which will compete with Samsung’s Galaxy Tab range, and the iPad mini.

The MediaPad M3 costs £299 for the 32GB version, so the M5 is more expensive. We'll have to wait and see whether UK prices are much lower than the Euro prices announced.

As it stands, the iPad mini would be a good alternative, but that’s only available with 128GB of storage these days. Even so, its £419 price doesn't seem outrageous given that the equivalent MediaPad M5 costs 449€.

SPECS
  • Android Oreo 8.0 + EMUI 8.0
  • 8.4in 2560 x 1600 IPS touchscreen, 359ppi
  • Kirin 960 octa-core processor
  • RAM: 4GB
  • Storage: 32/64/128GB (microSD up to 256GB)
  • 13Mp main camera
  • 8Mp front camera
  • Wi-Fi: 802.11ac
  • Bluetooth 4.2
  • 4G LTE (nano-SIM slot)
  • Non-removable 5100mAh battery
  • Dimensions: 212.6x124.8x7.3mm
  • Weight: 316g

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