Review: UGREEN Digital AV Adapter

Want to wirelessly share something to a bigger screen but don’t have an AirPlay nor Chromecast compatible device? The UGREEN Digital AV Adapter is your device-agnostic solution.

Overall: it’s quite a nifty accessory to have if you don’t have a new TV nor don’t want to be tethered to one wireless standard.

While new and upcoming TVs have been adding native support for either Apple AirPlay or Google Chromecast, what about those who don’t have a new TV? How else can you wirelessly mirror your mobile device or laptop’s display? That’s where UGREEN tackles this problem with their Digital AV Adapter (a.k.a Wireless Display Dongle).

Does that mean I decided to put it through its paces

Easy setup out of the box

The dongle/adapter is quite small that it fits into the palm of your hand. It’s also quite portable and you can easily hide it away from view to declutter your work area.

Packaging comes with the essentials: the actual dongle w/ HDMI output cable (0.5m), micro USB power cable (1m), and the brief manual. Initial setup requires you to connect to the dongle via Wi-Fi to configure it (it even shows you the instructions on TV when connecting it via HDMI). The process is meant to have it connect to your home’s Wi-Fi network (also lets you upgrade its firmware).

As with any product, you would definitely want to know the specs of this accessory.

Wireless frequency2.4 GHz / 5GHz
Wireless protocols802.11a/b/g/n/ac
CPUARM Cortex-A7 dual core 1.2 GHz
Resolution4K @ 30Hz
FullHD (1920x1080) @ 60Hz
HD (1280x720px) @ 60Hz
Video format support.mp4, .avi, .wmv, .mkv, .mov, .rm and .rmvb
Operating current300-400mA
Weight300g

However, the instructions could use better wording to explain the steps (English may not be the strongest point for a Chinese company, but things can be lost in translation). Any average person who’s familiar with doing software/hardware setups should easily be up and running.

Setup instructions shown when connecting the dongle

Both AirPlay and Chromecast

Most TVs in the market integrate either AirPlay or Chromecast exclusively, which means you’d need either an Apple or Android-powered device to use it.

What about someone who visits your home and wants to mirror something but uses a standard that’s not compatible (e.g. you use iOS for AirPlay but the guest has an Android device that works using Chromecast)? The UGREEN Digital AV Adapter helps to solve that issue.

Note that it does require using one of your HDMI ports, so that’s a minor trade-off if you don’t have plenty of HDMI ports on your TV. Also, it needs power via the micro USB port; accompanying long cable should help you connect it either using a USB power adapter, or even to your console (which would require you to keep it powered).

Putting the UGREEN Digital AV Adapter in action

Since I had linked the UGREEN Digital AV Adapter to my home Wi-Fi network, it immediately showed up across my devices. I decided to put it to use on the following: iPad Pro (2020), iPhone 11 Pro, Samsung Galaxy S20 FE, and 15-inch MacBook Pro.

Connecting either my iPhone 11 Pro and Samsung Galaxy S20 FE devices proved to be easy. The UGREEN dongle showed up within seconds and then a tap to select it. Within few seconds, my smartphone display was mirrored onto the TV.

Watching videos from streaming apps and even playing music worked without issues. When it comes to gaming, it can be a mixed bag cause it depends on the amount of visual fidelity of the game itself.

  • Playing Need For Speed: No Limits worked like a charm but there was random lag/frame skips on the TV (not on the smartphone itself).
  • Playing Angry Birds had no issues.
  • Music playback via Spotify was clear with no interruptions.
  • YouTube playback was smooth

Best part is that your mobile device’s orientation easily mirrors itself on the TV, so it’s best you use your smartphone/tablet in landscape mode to fill up the entire TV display area.

If you have any MacBook, it connects in the same way just like the iPhone/iPad. You can choose to mirror or have your TV serve as an extended display.

Verdict

After putting it through its paces (playing videos, games, and even mirroring the display), a dongle like this definitely helps to eliminate cable clutter regardless of your setup. Whether it’s at a business meeting or even at home, you can rest assured that

Pros

Small and portable

Easy to plugin and setup

Works with multitude of devices using either AirPlay or Chromecast

Easily switch between wireless bands with a simple button press based on your device

Cons

Instructions could use better wording in English, especially for first-time users

Display unit needs to have extra HDMI port

Verdict: Recommended

The UGREEN Digital AV Adapter is officially available at Store974 (Qatar) and Sharaf DG (UAE).

QFZA is setting up first laptop production facility in Qatar

Did you ever think you’d see electronics produced in the Middle East? The Qatar Free Zones Authority looks to make it possible with the first electronics production facility in the country.

The Qatar Free Zones Authority (QFZA) is looking to double down on the technology sector. After announcing the first Google Cloud region in the Middle East, QFZA is setting up a state-of-the-art production facility to manufacture electronics in Qatar.

The facility will use 2,500 sqm in the Umm Alhoul Free Zone. The factory is possible from a partnership between iLife Digital (intelligent robotics and electronics company based in Florida, USA) and Prime Technologies (a subsidiary of Ali Bin Ali Holding). It’s where foreign expertise and a local conglomerate partner up to nurture domestic industries.

Produce Local and Export Regional

iLife and Prime Technologies will use the factory to create iLife-branded electronic devices: laptops, PCs, smartwatches, mobile phones, and likely more. The factory will support logistics and R&D activities, along with a customer solution center.

According to QFZA, production at the new factory is expected to begin in August 2021 with the expectation to produce up to 350,000 electronics a year. It will also be an employment boost by creating 160 new jobs (including 144 skilled opportunities). Customers across the MENA region will benefit from a local technology powerhouse.

Pairing such a production facility with the presence of the Qatar Science and Technological Park and the branch campuses of US universities in Qatar Foundation creates the exciting potential for technology manufacturing in Qatar. Young scientists in Qatar will have the opportunity to perform research, innovate and develop new technologies with commercial implications.

Qatar Free Zones’ technology ecosystem gives the entity the opportunity to create cutting-edge yet affordable products for Qatar and the MENA region. It also offers consumers a valuable local alternative to products made further afield.

Given the strategic location of Umm Alhoul Free Zone, it’ll be convenient to facilitate the trade integration of these manufactured products across the MENA region – whether it’s by air or sea freight.


Image Credit: QFZA

Smartphone Market Performance in the Middle East in Q4 2020

How did the GCC region (Qatar, UAE, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Oman, and Bahrain) fare with sales and shipments of smartphones in Q4 2020? With the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the International Data Center sheds more light with their Quarterly Global Mobile Phone Tracker.

New smartphones are released/unveiled close to Q4 of the calendar year. Q4 2020 proved to be slightly different especially with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Whether you’re an iOS or Android user (maybe even both like me), the IDC (International Data Corporation) has provided some insights with the latest Quarterly Global Mobile Phone Tracker report for the GCC region (Qatar, UAE, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Oman, and Bahrain)

Market across the GCC

The overall mobile phone market of the GCC region experienced quarter-on-quarter (QoQ) growth of 8.2% in Q4 2020, totalling 5.38 million units. During the COVID-19 pandemic, consumer spending was mainly focused on essentials. This resulted in built-up demand and has been evident for iOS devices.

Overall smartphone shipments grew 2.3% QoQ to 4.26 million units, covering both iOS and Android-powered models. In terms of value, the smartphone market totalled $1.62 billion in Q4 2020, up 39.5% QoQ.

Feature phone shipments increased 38.3% to total 1.12 million, and its market value grew 22.2% over the same period to reach $19.2 million.

We know that the largest markets for smartphones in the Middle East are UAE and Saudi Arabia.

5G became a standard with new models released in the final quarter of 2020. Hence, 5G devices accounted for 16.5% of all smartphone shipments across the GCC region in the same time period.

Apple grows but constrained

Apple devices saw a remarkable 55.7% QoQ increase in shipments in Q4 2020.

Akash Balachandran, a senior research analyst at IDC, clearly states that this can be attributed to the launch of the iPhone 12 series (standard and mini, followed by the Pro models). This also extends to the iPhone 11 series, which still proves to be popular in spite of the newer lineup replacing them.

The iPhone 12 series was unveiled in Oct 2020, with shipments followed after the Apple event.

Nobody envisioned that there would be a supply-chain issue on the components for both models, curtailing the maximum growth Apple would have experienced in the region.

Android among the OEMs

With Android clearly powering the majority of OEMs licensed to use the mobile OS from Google, it all comes down to which smartphone maker takes the largest share.

Samsung saw shortages of certain key models, leading to a QoQ decline in shipments of 4.1%. However, it still dominates the GCC region overall by 42%.

Samsung Galaxy S20 FE looked to take best of S20 but packaged into a better price.

The majority of Samsung’s portfolio continues to be made up of low-end and midrange devices, leading to a decline in the vendor’s overall value share. While the Galaxy S20 and Note 20 series likely didn’t yield the same results in the previous quarters, the Galaxy S20 FE proved to be quite a popular model due to its pricing.

Supply shortages saw Xiaomi post a very slight 0.9% QoQ decline in shipments. That placed them third in both units and value after Samsung and Apple, having effectively taken Huawei’s place in the smartphone market.

So you can easily group Oppo and other makers into the Others group.

Looking ahead to 2021

As we now enter Q2 2021, the GCC smartphone market is forecast to have experienced a minor 0.7% QoQ decline in shipments in Q1 2021. “Supply constraints will likely continue to hamper growth in the region due to chipset and component shortages across most smartphone brands in the first half-year,” says Ramazan Yavuz, a senior research manager at IDC.

Significant growth is expected in the shipments of 5G-enabled devices in 2021, particularly as they increasingly become available in mid-tier price bands among Android devices.

As Samsung actively promotes its Galaxy S21 series in the region, it still faces competition from other Android OEMs with a balance of price and specifications.

We can also expect an update to the iPhone SE to help upset the balance between Android OEMs.

Go Ultimate and Epic with the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra

Samsung cranked up their Unpacked event by one-upping their new S21 family with the all-new Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra supporting the S Pen and more.

It wouldn’t be Samsung unless they unveil a highest spec model of a new smartphone. With the Samsung Galaxy S21 and S21+ already out of the bag, they’ve taken it further with the new Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra.

The differences may have you thinking twice on whether you want to jump straight to this model. It’s got much of the S21 and S21+ feature set, with some distinct improvements in certain areas to make this model standout.

If you’re the type that wants to see the specs, see the table below before diving deep into some of its unique features.

 Galaxy S21 Ultra
Display6.8" Edge WQHD+ @ 3200x1440 (515 ppi); Adaptive 120Hz refresh rate (10~120Hz); HDR10+ certified
Rear Camera12MP Ultra Wide Dual Pixel f/2.2 FOV 120
108MP wide-angle f/1.8 Phase Detection AF, FOV 83 w/ OIS
10MP f/2.4 Dual Pixel AF, Optical 3x, FOV 35 w/OIS
10MP f/4.9 Dual Pixel AF, Optical 10x, FOV 10 w/OIS
Laser AF sensor
Front Camera40MP f/2.2 Phase Detection AF, FOV 80
Battery5,000 mAh
Storage128 GB/256 GB (12GB LPDDR5) and 512 GB (16BG LPDDR5)
Connectivity5G (NSA, SA, Sub6/mmWave), Ultra Wide Band

Wi-Fi 6E

802.11 a/b/g/n/ac (2.4 GHz and 5 GHz); NFC; Bluetooth 5.0, USB 3.1, Type-C 1.0 reversible connector
ColoursPhantom Silver, Phantom Black

Under the Hood

Just like the S21 and S21+, this model is also powered by a new 5nm fab SoC with mix of power-efficient and high-performance cores. It’s going to be the Exynos chipset, since Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 is meant for the US markets.

As an added connectivity bonus, this model supports the new Wi-Fi 6E standard alongside the Ulta Wide Band standard. 5G is also available supporting both Standalone (SA) and Non Standalone (NSA) networks.

Finger or S Pen?

If you’ve heard whispers that the Galaxy S series would support the popular S Pen, it turns out to be true. However, this nifty stylus support is exclusive to the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra, and the occassion also resulted in Samsung announcing two new S Pen models that are supported using Wacom’s technology.

Best part is that you can bring your existing S Pen for use, buy a fresh one, or even use third-party models certified by Samsung.

Although the S Pen has been a signature identity of the Galaxy Note series, this brings up one important question for their products. Will Samsung retire the Galaxy Note family and keep the Galaxy S Ultra as the high-end productivity-focused model?

Camera… Ultra-graded!

One clear look at the back side, it’s taken the same design cue for the camera bump to be flush with the binding chassis. The biggest difference comes down to the number of camera sensors. It’s the most visually distinguishing trait to show that the Samsung Galay S21 Ultra is really meant to be for the highest end group of users.

Along with both an Ultra Wide and Wide Angles lens, there are two Telephoto lenses to give users the flexibility of zooming in for those close shots from a distance. They work both for photos and videos, so you never have to worry about whether you can catch that moment from afar.

Paired with the HDR-comaptible display, you’ll be able to capture 12-bit HDR photos using the wide-angle sensor. However, it’s not clear whether it can also capture HDR videos as well.

I want one… NOW!

Preorders are already up and running in many of the countries in the Middle East, with special pre-order gifts bundled based on which model you order:


Image Credits: Samsung Newsroom

Hello to the new Samsung Galaxy S21 and Galaxy S21+

Riding the tech wave from CES 2021, Samsung’s annual Unpacked event was brought forward by a month to unveil the new Samsung Galaxy S21 series.

If trends tell us something, it’s that we have an estimate time period when teh brands unveil new products. Samsung has always used February as the month to unveil the new Galaxy S series. That changes today, as they moved up their Unpacked keynote to CES 2021 and unveiled three Samsung Galaxy S21 series of smartphones.

It’s clear that 5G is here to say, and good thing that they haven’t done a separate 5G-only model at a premium. It’s now a mainstay standard, given the rollout across many countries worldwide including the Middle East region.

Camera gets visual makeover

The early leaks have proven to be accurate, as the rear triple camera bump looks flush being meshed with the binding chassis near the top corner.

The standard with a triple rear camera system is already known: Ultra Wide, wide-angle, and telephoto. There’s been some improvement to the aperture for allowing more light, especially for low-light and night scenery. An extra oomph with this new system is that Samsung is keen to allow third-party apps to leverage them, which includes both Instagram and Snapchat (once they update their apps).

If you thought 4K was just becoming a standard for video recording, Samsung is keen to march ahead with 8K video. Want a high-res still for a photo but couldn’t capture it? You can grab a 33MP still from the 8K video using the improved 8K video snap.

Going Above and Under

Last model saw an adaptive refresh rate reserved only for the highest end SKU, and this year’s makes is a standard across the entire family. The display can easily adjust between 48Hz – 120Hz for it’s new Dymanic AMOLED display.

Don’t foget that it’s also HDR10+ certified, especialyl if you’re looking to watch such type of content.

Keeping it powered with full visual fidelity and fast performance is a new 5nm fab ARM-based chipset, yielding even better AI and GPU performance. Of course, it’s the Exynos chipset that is destined for all the markets worldwide (including Middle East).

What’s not there?

All of the Samsung Galaxy S21 models omit the microSD card slot, which has been a staple with previous models to expand storage. So you’re stuck with the storage option you select during teh purchase stage.

Plus, no more charging adapters in the box save for the USB-C charging cable. This gives it a smaller packaging footprint and so many devices meet the minimum power requirements.

The Unpacked Surprise

From my experience, Samsung always has a special guest for making a special announcement. This time, it’s from Google where they’re further expanding their partnership.

Google will make the S21 Series an Android enterprise recommended device, which will greatly help businesses looking to have their employees use a smartphone that meets both the security and performance demands of work.

Pre-Order it

Preorders are already up and running in many of the countries in the Middle East, with special pre-order gifts bundled based on which model you order (based on your country of residence):

When you compare the prices of its year, you’ll likely notice that they start much lower than last year’s S20.

If you’re looking to glean over the key specs of both models, here’s a simple table that sums it up.

 Galaxy S21Galaxy S21+
Display6.2" Flat FHD+ @ 2400x1080 (421 ppi); Adaptive 120Hz refresh rate (48~120Hz); HDR10+ certified6.7" Flat FHD+ @ 2400x1080 (394 ppi); Adaptive 120Hz refresh rate (48~120Hz); HDR10+ certified
Rear Camera12MP Ultra Wide f/2.2 FOV 120
12MP wide-angle FOV w/ OIS
64MP f/2.0 phase detection AF telephoto FOV 76 w/ OIS
12MP Ultra Wide f/2.2 FOV 120
12MP wide-angle FOV w/ OIS
64MP f/2.0 phase detection AF telephoto FOV 76 w/ OIS
Front Camera10MP f/2.2 Dual Pixel AF, FOV 8010MP f/2.2 Dual Pixel AF, FOV 80
Battery4,000 mAh4,800 mAh
Storage128 GB and 256 GB (8GB LPDDR5)128 GB and 256 GB (8GB LPDDR5)
Connectivity5G (NSA, SA, Sub6/mmWave)

802.11 a/b/g/n/ac (2.4 GHz and 5 GHz); NFC; Bluetooth 5.0, USB 3.1, Type-C 1.0 reversible connector
5G (NSA, SA, Sub6/mmWave), Ultra Wide Band

802.11 a/b/g/n/ac (2.4 GHz and 5 GHz); NFC; Bluetooth 5.0, USB 3.1, Type-C 1.0 reversible connector
ColoursPhantom Violet, Phantom Gray, Phantom Pink, Phantom WhitePhantom Violet, Phantom Silver, Phantom Black

Image Credits: Samsung Newsroom

Fan-favorite features at better price with Samsung Galaxy S20 FE

Many people would like to have some of the premium features of higher-end models but at a lower price. Samsung has heard those calls and has unveiled the new Samsung Galaxy S20 FE, releasing soon in the Middle East.

Apple has easily brought some of the higher-end features to a lower price point with the iPhone SE. The new Samsung Galaxy S20 FE is the answer that will rival other Andoird smartphones at a lower price point.

People would definitely want to have the latest smartphones that can last long. The current economic conditions has definitely influenced the purchasing power for consumers. This new model has taken the approach by focusing on three pillars at an equally-appealing price point.

Cameras, performance, and colours

Samsung has taken the best of the Galaxy S20 series and maybe a touch of the recent Note 20 as well. The Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 SoC chipset is the heart and soul powering the whole device with latest wireless connectivity and power management.

While a single camera may be the iPhone SE’s shortcoming, the Samsung Galaxy S20 FE gives you a trio of camera sensors. Plus, the powerful Night Mode will be present as well.

If a faster responsive display would just be exclusive to higher-end models, you get to enjoy buttery smooth 120Hz refresh rate.

Giving it an extra sense of durability in terms of water and dust protection, the device is IP68 rated for added protection. You also have the advantage of wireless power charging, including reverse charging with compatible accessories.

Although it only comes in two storage options, you can also expand it using a microSD card. Wwhether it’s two physical SIMs or one physical SIM with an eSIM (enabled with software update in select markets based on carrier), Dual SIM is available.

Rather than keeping 5G for select models while also spurring adoption and wide-spread availability, this models supports both 5G (SA/NSA) and 4G LTE. That makes it a truly global phone at this price point.

 Samsung Galaxy S20 FE
Display6.5-inch flat FHD+ Super AMOLED Infinity-O Display (1080×2400 @ 407ppi); 120Hz refresh rate
Rear CameraUltra Wide 12MP (f/2.2 with 120-degree FOV)

12MP Wide-angle Super Speed Dual Pixel AF w/ OIS (f/1.8 with 79-degree FOV)

8MP Telephoto (f/2.4 with 76-degree FOV)
Front Camera32MP dual pixel AF (f/2.2 with 80-degree FOV)
Battery4,500 mAh
Memory8 GB LPDDR5 (4G LTE and 5G)
Storage128GB/256GB (5G) and 256 GB (4G LTE)
Network support5G: NSA, SA, Sub6/mmWave
LTE: 4x4 MIMO, Upto 7CA, LTE Cat.20
Connectivity802.11 a/b/g/n/ac/ax (2.4 GHz and 5 GHz); NFC, Bluetooth 5.0; USB3.1, Type-C 1.0 reversible connector
Dimensions and weight74.5 x 159.8 x 8.4mm; 190g
ColoursCloud Navy/Lavender/Mint/Orange/Red/White

As part of their commitment to keeping the OS fresh, this model will get three generations of Android OS upgrades as well.

Where can you get one?

Given the specs of teh samsung Galaxy S20 FE, I’m anticipating that this model will easily be popular for those looking for a great Android device. Pre-orders have opened up across the following markets (you’ll also get the Galaxy Buds+ for FREE).

After planning to find a suitable replacement for my current Android-powered device (Huawei P20 Pro), this new model looks like the perfect fit to bring me back to the Samsung Galaxy S series. I’ve already placed my pre-order for it.

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