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The new year is well underway, and we’ve already started testing out a wide variety of gadgets, devices and components. This week, Devindra Hardawar played with NVIDIA’s RTX 3050 and deemed it a great deal — if it stays at its original price. Steve Dent shot with the Sony’s new A7 IV camera to test out its autofocus, video and image quality improvements, while Billy Steele spent time with both the Jabra Elite 4 Active earbuds and the Shure Aonic 40 over-ear headphones.
The RTX 3050 is the cheapest ray tracing GPU from NVIDIA
Though the RTX 3050 is supposed to be an affordable way to hit 1080p/60fps while gaming, the $250 GPU may wind up costing considerably more due to demand and chip shortages. Devindra Hardawar says the graphics card, which is the lowest priced NVIDIA GPU to also feature ray tracing, is a fantastic component with 2,560 CUDA cores, 8GB of GDDR6 RAM and a boost speed of 1,777 MHz.
Devindra says the RTX 3050 tackled everything he threw at it during testing, averaging 140fps in Hitman 3’s Dubai benchmark. He was impressed at how well the card handled demanding games like Control, where it reached 65fps on average in 1080p (without ray tracing). It also stayed surprisingly quiet and cool at 60 degrees Celsius. While Devindra says it’s best suited to 1080p gaming, he also says it’s an absolute steal – if the price stays low.
Sony greatly improved the autofocus on the A7 IV mirrorless camera
With a higher resolution 33-megapixel sensor, improved video capabilities, and an updated autofocus, Steve Dent found a lot to like about the Sony A7 IV mirrorless camera. He even called the hybrid shooter a near-perfect package, and he particularly liked its sturdy grip, precise buttons and dials and the fully articulated rear touch display. Sony’s well-organized menu system also made it easy for him to navigate through the controls.
The main drawback on this camera is a rolling shutter issue: Steve says while shooting silently in electronic mode, the camera needs to be steady and the subject should be smooth, or artifacts like slanted lines will appear in the shots. However, he was quite impressed with the AI autofocus features, which made the A7 IV easy to use and the most reliable camera he’s tested. At $2,500 the A7 IV is more expensive at launch than previous models, but Steve says the improvements in image quality, video and color science make the A7 IV another winner in Sony’s camera lineup.
Jabra’s Elite 4 Active earbuds combine compelling features and an affordable price
Jabra’s Elite 4 Active true wireless earbuds continue the company’s trend towards offering small earbuds with a wide array of hands-free features. With a IP57 water resistance, they’re also more useful during workouts, and Billy Steele says their small size makes them more comfortable to wear as well. The new model includes features often seen in pricer models like HearThrough, SideTone and Find My, most of which are adjustable in the companion mobile app.
Billy found the Elite 4 Active delivered good but not great sound quality – while they provided decent clarity and nice detail overall, they lacked a wider soundstage and depth. However, he said the call quality was slightly better than most earbuds thanks to the reduced background noise. Battery tests showed that the Elite 4 Active buds lasted a little over seven hours — enough to get through most of a work day — and the $120 price is competitive.
Shure’s Aonic 40 headphones have an impressive battery life
Billy Steele was pleased to see that Shure didn’t make too many compromises when it came to the Aonic 40 over-ear headphones. Made from aluminum alloy and glass-filled nylon, the cans are easy to fold flat for traveling and have physical buttons for on-board controls, but Billy says he found them a bit uncomfortable to wear for long periods of time. He was more impressed by the Shure app, which provides a robust equalizer, plenty of adjustable settings and the ability to make your own presets.
Billy says while the Aonic 40 offers a punchy bass and clarity across volume levels, the soundstage isn’t wide open and songs lack immersive depth often heard with other headphones. The noise cancellation and ambient sound modes were only decent, but the call quality was above average. The $249 headphones particularly excelled during battery testing where they lasted over 30 hours. Overall, Billy says the Aonic 40’s are a relatively affordable option, but lack polish on the finer details.