Apple MacBook Pro (16-inch), Panasonic Toughbook 55, Huawei Nova 5T, Amazon Echo Buds, and more: Reviews round-up

From Apple's latest version of its pro-level laptop to Amazon's entrance into the wireless earbuds market, here's the kit we got out hands on in November.
By ZDNET Editors, Contributor
1 of 13 Apple

Apple MacBook Pro (16-inch, 2019)

Although Apple risks alienating some users who bought the updated 15-inch MacBook Pro just a few months ago, there's no doubt that the new 16-inch MacBook Pro raises the bar for Apple's professional laptop range. It's still expensive, of course, but the larger display, and impressive performance and battery life really throw down the gauntlet for its large-screen laptop rivals. With its improved audio system, it's clear that Apple has once more begun to focus on the creative users who have always been its most loyal audience.

For more see: Apple MacBook Pro (16-inch, 2019) review: Bigger and better, but still expensive

2 of 13 Panasonic

Panasonic Toughbook 55

Panasonic's Toughbook range is not directly comparable with the kinds of laptops designed for office workers or mobile professionals. In the field, it's the rugged characteristics that are most important, and here Panasonic generally excels. This semi-rugged laptop has a lot going for it. Our main design niggle is the cramped touchpad. That aside, long battery life, a range of user-configurable components that should enable multiple use cases, and Panasonic's rugged-device pedigree all count in its favour.

For more see: Panasonic Toughbook 55 review: Sturdy and versatile, with long battery life

3 of 13 Dynabook

Dynabook Portégé X30-F

The Portégé X30-F is a lightweight and compact laptop with a well-made keyboard and a matte FHD screen. Battery life is good and it's great to see Wi-Fi 6 here. The flimsy lid is a concern, it would have been nice to see another USB 3.0 port, and with the lack of a camera cover and screen-obscuring technology it's arguable that Dynabook is falling behind key competitors on some security features. The Portégé X30-F is pricey enough for such features to be expected as standard. 

For more see: Dynabook Portégé X30-F-14U review: Lightweight and compact, with Wi-Fi 6

4 of 13 Dynabook

Dynabook Portégé A30-E

The Portégé A30-E has a 'bare bones' feel about it. There is no AccuPoint, no lens cover for the camera, lacklustre speakers and a somewhat flimsy chassis. The general design is workaday, with relatively broad screen bezels, the lid is rather too flexible, and there is flex in the keyboard too. All-day battery life is certainly possible, but this may not be enough for Dynabook's newest laptop to keep itself at the top of business buyers' lists, especially if they look around at what else they might get for the money.

For more see: Dynabook Portégé A30-E review: A basic business laptop with all-day battery life

5 of 13 Huawei

Huawei Nova 5T

Huawei's Nova 5T shows what can be achieved with a £399 handset, offering good battery life, a high-quality screen, solid build, plenty of storage, dual SIM support and a snappy processor. Photography fans will appreciate the dedicated macro lens, too. However, there's plenty of competition at this price point, and not just from Huawei's Honor handsets: recent UK market entrant Xiaomi's excellent Mi 9T Pro is probably still the mid-range smartphone to beat.

For more see: Huawei Nova 5T, hands on: An appealing mid-range smartphone

6 of 13 Sandra Vogel/ZDNet

Honor 9X

For the price, the Honor 9X is a very decent handset. Good battery life, a large notch-free screen, plenty of internal storage, acceptable cameras (if you don't mind waiting for the pop-up and don't need high-quality night-shooting), and a distinctive chassis. It's certainly one to shortlist if your budget tops out at around £300.

For more see: Honor 9X, hands on: Budget big-screen smartphone with pop-up front camera

7 of 13 Oppo

Oppo Reno 2Z

Given the Reno 2Z's screen quality, speedy in-screen fingerprint reader, classy industrial design, decent performance and good battery life, £329 represents superb value for money. A 3.5mm headset jack and support for two SIMs and a MicroSD card at the same time are welcome extras. Photography fans should check that the camera array is useful for their needs, and not be lured by the pop-up front camera and four rear cameras. Oppo has just set the standard for handsets in the £350 price bracket.

For more see: Oppo Reno 2Z review: A superb-value mid-range smartphone

8 of 13 Acer

Acer ConceptD 3 Pro

The ConceptD 3 Pro's strong performance represents very good value for money, allowing it to tackle high-end graphics work for well under £2,000. However, its weight, modest display resolution and battery life suggest that it's best suited for use as a desktop replacement system, perhaps paired with an external monitor, rather than as a regular travelling companion for business or creative users who spend a lot of time on the road.

For more see: Acer ConceptD 3 Pro review: A good-value desktop replacement with Quadro T1000 graphics

9 of 13 Fujitsu

Fujitsu Tablet Stylistic Q509

The 10.1-inch Fujitsu Tablet Stylistic Q509 is small and light, and although it has MIL-STD 810G certification, you'll want to avoid too many bumps and drops. While optional mobile broadband is welcome, the Celeron processor and moderate RAM complement seem somewhat underpowered. The screen lacks brightness, but the stylus is responsive and a keyboard is available if required. Still, the Stylistic Q509 (£579 ex. VAT, plus £160 for the keyboard) might struggle to fulfil its jack-of-all-trades brief.

For more see: Fujitsu Tablet Stylistic Q509 review: Lightweight, rugged and versatile

10 of 13 palmsolo/ZDNet

Samsung Galaxy Tab S6

The Apple iPad may be the most popular tablet - and it is indeed a great device - but the Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 has functionality that may make it a better tablet for business use. This functionality includes Samsung DeX integration, mouse/trackpad support, S Pen functionality with Air Command utilities, and external storage. For the size, specifications, and capability, the Tab S6 is a very affordable tablet solution for the enterprise. The Wi-Fi model Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 is available now for $649.99 with 128GB internal storage or $729.99 with 256GB internal storage.

For more see: Galaxy Tab S6 review: Samsung offers up an affordable, capable tablet for business

11 of 13 Amazon

Amazon Echo Buds

When it comes to wireless earbuds, you might think the new AirPods Pro are the best available, but it is clear they are not the best for everyone. The $130 price of the new Amazon Echo Buds is right for the quality of music and functionality. We thought the Echo Buds sounded great. The Amazon Echo Buds don't blaze new trails in earbud technology, but they offer what people need for exercise or commuting, while providing easy Alexa hands-free functionality.

For more see: Amazon Echo Buds review: Best mix of value and features in wireless earbuds

12 of 13 Plantronics

Plantronics Backbeat Pro 5100

At £159.99 (inc. VAT; $169.99) the Plantronics Backbeat Pro 5100 True Wireless Earbuds compete with Apple's entry-level £159/$159 AirPods. Understandably, the sound quality is nothing like what you get with a good set of cans, and if you're a fan of deep, rich bass or full immersion in orchestral or rock music, then you'll be disappointed. On the other hand, audio quality stands up well to the true wireless competition, and for music while you work or travel it more than passes muster.

For more see: Plantronics Backbeat Pro 5100 True Wireless Earbuds, hands on: Comfortable and great for calls

13 of 13 Garmin

Garmin Venu

The Garmin Venu is available now for $399.99 in four different colors with one size, 43mm. Its touchscreen is very responsive and it's nice to see an extremely capable GPS sports watch with a display that challenges the Apple Watch and Samsung Galaxy Watch lines. The Garmin Venu is an excellent GPS sports watch for the typical busy professional who spends time in the gym. Its smaller size, vibrant AMOLED display, and plethora of health-tracking features make the Garmin Venu a device to seriously consider.

For more see: Garmin Venu review: Vibrant AMOLED display makes this one of the best GPS sports watches for the masses

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