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The new year is well underway and we have already started testing a wide range of gadgets, devices and components. This week, Devindra Hardawar toyed with NVIDIA’s RTX 3050 and considered it a great deal – if it stays at its original price point. Steve Dent shot with Sony’s new A7 IV camera to test its autofocus, video and image quality improvements, while Billy Steele spent time with the Jabra Elite 4 Active headphones and the Shure Aonic 40 headphones.
although the RTX 3050 should be an affordable way to hit 1080p/60fps while gaming, the $250 GPU could end up costing you 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 covered everything he played during testing, averaging 140fps in hitman 3 Dubai reference. He was impressed with how well the card handled demanding games like To control, where it hit 65fps on average at 1080p (no ray tracing). It was also surprisingly quiet and cool at 60 degrees Celsius. While Devindra says it’s best suited for 1080p gaming, he also says it’s an absolute steal – if the price stays low.
With a higher resolution 33-megapixel sensor, improved video capabilities, and an updated autofocus, Steve Dent really liked the Sony A7 IV mirrorless camera. He even called the hybrid shooter a near-perfect package, and particularly liked its robust grip, precise buttons and dials, and the fully articulated rear touchscreen. Sony’s well-organized menu system also made navigating the controls easy.
The main downside to this camera is a rolling shutter issue: Steve says that when shooting silently in electronic mode, the camera needs to be steady and the subject should be smooth, or artifacts like slanted lines will show up in photos. However, he was quite impressed by the AI autofocus capabilities, 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 true wireless headphones continue the company’s trend of offering small headphones with a wide range of hands-free features. With an IP57 water resistance, they’re also more useful during workouts, and Billy Steele says their small size also makes them more comfortable to wear. The new model includes features often seen in pricing models like HearThrough, SideTone and Find My, most of which are adjustable in the companion mobile app.
Billy thought the Elite 4 Active offered good sound quality, but not great – 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 headphones, thanks to reduced background noise. Battery tests showed the Elite 4 Active buds lasted just over seven hours – enough to get through most of a working day – and the $120 price tag is competitive.
Billy Steele was pleased to see that Shure didn’t make too many compromises when it came to Aonic 40 headphones. Made of aluminum alloy and glass-filled nylon, the cans are easy to fold for travel and have physical buttons for on-board controls, but Billy says he found them a little uncomfortable to use for long periods of time. He was most impressed with the Shure app, which provides a robust equalizer, lots of adjustable settings, and the ability to make your own presets.
Billy says that while the Aonic 40 offers punchy bass and clarity in volume levels, the soundstage isn’t fully open and the songs lack the immersive depth often heard with other headphones. The noise canceling and ambient sound modes were just decent, but the call quality was above average. The $249 headphones particularly stood out during battery tests, where they lasted over 30 hours. Overall, Billy says the Aonic 40’s are a relatively affordable option, but the finer details lack polish.