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Mr. Tophat - Dusk to Dawn Music Album Reviews

The Swedish producer and frequent Robyn collaborator offers an ambitious three-album suite of understated, occasionally disquieting techno nocturnes.
Hardcore Robyn fans already know the work of Swedish producer Rudolf Nordström, aka Mr. Tophat. He co-produced “Baby Forgive Me” and “Beach2k20,” two of the gorgeous, gently filtered house-pop tracks from last year’s Honey; his own 2017 release Trust Me, a three-song, 35-minute EP of throbbing, desaturated grooves, featured Robyn throughout. His latest solo release, Dusk to Dawn, is an ambitious three-album suite of understated, occasionally disquieting techno nocturnes. More melodic than the distortion-warped A Memoir From the Youth, two and a half hours of mostly chill, mid-tempo house conceal interesting moments within slack expanses. At its best, it’s a triple-album endurance listen that rewards partial concentration; at its slowest, it’s an illustration that Tophat’s signature long-format tracks don’t scale.

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Lenovo Yoga C630 WOS Review: Hands-on Impressions

The Lenovo Yoga C630 WOS shows that Snapdragon laptops are beginning to grow up, with a slick design and build to match the mammoth battery life and 4G access.

PRICE WHEN REVIEWED
  • $849.99
Lenovo was one of the first manufacturers to build a Windows device running on a Qualcomm Snapdragon processor - the Miix 630 - and it’s extended that support to Qualcomm’s second Windows chip with the new Yoga C630 WOS.


The ‘WOS’ stands for ‘Windows on Snapdragon’ just to help make sure you know what you’re getting: a processor designed by Qualcomm, best known for its mobile chips, which offers always-on internet and longer battery life than competing Intel devices.

At IFA 2018 we went hands-on with the new Lenovo laptop, which looks to be the slickest, most sophisticated Windows Snapdragon device yet, and here’s what we thought.

PRICE AND AVAILABILITY
Lenovo hasn’t set a firm release date for the Yoga C630 WOS, but has said that it will be available from November 2018, with prices starting from £899/$849/€999.

DESIGN AND BUILD
The first thing you notice about the C630 WOS is that it’s an impressively slim, lightweight design - kind of a necessary prerequisite for Lenovo’s ambitions that this be an always-on, always-connected device that you take with you on the go.

At just 125.5mm thick and 1.2kg, this is undeniably slender. It doesn’t feel flimsy or cheap though - the aluminium body emphasises that this is a high-end device, as does the thinly-bezelled display (except for the big gap below the screen).
Since this is a convertible laptop, you can flip the display all the way back to use the C630 as a tablet. The hinge feels sturdy and solid - crucial in a convertible - and the whole thing is light enough to keep it usable as a tablet, which isn’t always true of 2-in-1 devices.

It’s not the thinnest laptop around, nor the lightest, nor the least-bezelled, but it strikes great compromises on each in the name of sticking to a relatively friendly price point. The dark grey colour scheme perhaps veers a little too close to the dull and professional for our liking, but otherwise this is an attractive piece of kit, and feels like a clear step up from the first wave of Qualcomm Windows devices.

KEYBOARD AND TRACKPAD
The keyboard and trackpad are always tricky to assess after just a few minutes with a laptop, but at first blush there’s little to complain about here. Lenovo hasn’t tried to do anything outlandish with either the keyboard or touch pad, but both are comfortable and generously sized.

SCREEN
The C630 packs in a 13.3in Full HD IPS touchscreen, despite its diminutive form factor. It’s crisp and bright, with vibrant colours and quick responses. It’s also compatible with the Lenovo Pen (sold separately) and Windows Ink if you want to use a stylus with it.

Again, a screen is a bit tricky to fully assess in a brief preview, but we’ll put it through its paces properly when we get the chance to fully review the laptop.

CORE SPECS AND PERFORMANCE
Alright, here’s where we get to the really interesting stuff. The C630 WOS is the very first device revealed that runs Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 850, the company’s first processor built specifically - and exclusively - for Windows devices.

Qualcomm boasts that the new chip offers 30 percent better performance and 20 percent better battery life and internet speeds over the Snapdragon 835, so this could be a substantial leap. In practice, it’s pretty close to the 845, the current flagship mobile chip, but is tuned slightly faster, along with improved thermal management and battery capacity thanks to the optimisation for larger Windows devices.

There are some pretty big benefits to opting for a Qualcomm chip over a traditional Intel laptop, but it basically boils down to two main things: a battery that lasts 20+ hours; and the ability to connect your laptop to 4G LTE so that you can access the internet wherever you are.

The downside is that on a pure performance count, this will never match equivalently priced Intel devices. That’s fine if you want a laptop for checking emails, word processing, and maybe light image editing, but if you want to do anything more intensive like playing games or editing videos, you’d almost certainly be better off sticking with Intel.

The other consideration is software compatibility - not only because this defaults to Windows 10S, a version of the OS that limits you to certain pre-approved apps, but also because not every application will be compatible with the Qualcomm chip at all, meaning you take the risk of performance issues and errors in some software.

Beyond the main chip, the C630 comes with a choice of 4GB or 8GB of RAM, along with 128GB or 256GB of storage - so not heaps once you factor in the Windows installation, but probably plenty for the sort of light, online-focussed use this is really built for.

In any case, it all seemed pretty nippy at IFA, darting around Windows happily enough whether using the keyboard and trackpad or the touchscreen, but we’ll put it through more rigorous testing when we get our hands on one in the office later this year.

CONNECTIVITY AND AUDIO
As we’ve already said, one of the key selling points of the C630 is the access to 4G LTE internet, this time supporting speeds up to 1.2Gbps. Naturally that means you’ll have to pay extra for a data plan, but expect to see mobile networks sell the C630 with data bundled in to keep things simple.

Beyond that, you have the usual Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 5.0, along with two USB-C ports (one for charging) and a headphone jack. The lack of USB-A, HDMI, or even a MicroSD slot is a bit limiting, but increasingly common in small form-factors - just bear in mind you’ll need to either buy a dongle or kit yourself out with a new set of USB-C accessories.

As for login, there’s both a fingerprint scanner and a webcam (in the bezel above the screen, you’ll be glad to hear) which you can use for login with Windows Hello if you want to.

BATTERY LIFE
Battery is the other area that Qualcomm and Lenovo are both keen to hype up when it comes to the C630. The first wave of Snapdragon devices promised battery lives of 20 hours or more, but Lenovo claims its latest laptop can handle a ridiculous 25 hours or more on one charge.

We certainly didn’t get 25 hours with the laptop, so it’s impossible to say right now if this is all hype, but either way we’re confident you can expect a lot of usage time from one charge.

Combine that battery life with the fact that this uses USB-C to charge - quite possibly what you already use to charge your phone - and it probably frees you from the stress of carrying a bulky charger with you every time you take the laptop out.

SPECS
  • Windows 10 S or Pro
  • 13.3-inch FHD (1920 x 1080) touch display
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 850 processor
  • 4GB or 8GB RAM
  • 128GB or 256GB storage
  • 2x USB-C 3.1
  • 3.5mm headphone jack
  • Windows Hello compliant fingerprint reader
  • Camera
  • Bluetooth 5.0
  • 12.5mm x 307mm x 216mm
  • 1.2kg
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