We covered nearly a hundred products on our YouTube channel in 2020 and countless more here on the site. But while we return all our review units, there are some products we get sad about having to send back — so sad, in fact, that we end up buying them for ourselves (or at least have wishful thoughts about buying them) because we simply can’t live without them.
What follows are some of the gadgets that our staff really liked.
Australia is the largest country, geographically, and is a continent in itself. It lies in the southern hemisphere so the weather changes are opposite than those of India. Australia has five of the 30 best cities in the world for students to live in based on student mix, affordability, quality of life, and employment opportunities. The capital of Australia is Canberra.
Australia has the third-highest number of international students in the world after the United Kingdom and the United States. It also has seven of the top 100 universities in the world. Australia's national quality assurance system is unique in its structure and rigor. The Australian Quality Training Framework has been set up by the government to strengthen the quality assurance processes in education.
College Fit: At the higher education level, students have a wide range of options when they choose a college or university. Although there are agencies that attempt to rank colleges and universities, the concept of “fit” is also important. The GPA* of admitted students are important, but majors offered, location, number of students enrolled, and campus culture are all factors influencing a prospective student’s decision. Some colleges and universities are publicly funded, while others are privately supported.
*GPA means grade point average. It is the average of all grades received.
Popular student destinations: The top universities in Australia are The Australian National University, The University of New South Wales, The University of Melbourne, The University of Western Sydney, and Monash University (in no particular order). The area of New South Wales on the east coast of Australia is the centre of all its renowned academic institutes. Most of the best colleges in the country are situated in cities like Sydney, Canberra, Brisbane, Melbourne, and Perth. About 107,673 Indian students are studying in Australia during the academic year 2018-19. Accounting, Master of Business Administration (MBA), Health Care, Information Technology, and Hotel Management are the popular courses Indian students pursue in Australia.
From November 16, 2019, Adelaide, Perth and Gold Coast are classified as regional by the federal government. This allows the cities' university graduates an additional year of post-study work rights (PSWR). Also, the graduates in Darwin city can stay for two more years and Ph.D. graduates can stay up to six years. Even after receiving the regional status for migration, all cities other than Sydney, Melbourne, and Brisbane will not be entitled to the Destination Australia scholarships. Only areas classified as 'Inner Regional Australia' to 'Very Remote Australia' remain eligible for Destination Australia. Darwin as the only capital city which has access to both the scholarship scheme and an additional two years of PSW. The number of visas set aside for regional migration will increase from 2000 to 25,000.
Safety in Australia: Australia is a multicultural society that welcomes people from other cultures, countries, and backgrounds. While the majority of Indian students studying in Australia have a positive experience of living and studying in Australia, there were a number of incidents of assault as well as of robbery during 2009 and 2010, which affected not only Indian students but also members of the larger Indian community in Australia. Presently, no such incidents have been reported and active efforts have been made by the Australian government to prevent such untoward incidents from happening in future.
Australia is diverse in its geography and climate. The country is located in the southern hemisphere. This means Australia's summer starts in December and winter begins in June. Nearly a third of Australia is in the tropics where the average temperatures are in the mid 20 degrees Celsius. The southern areas are in a temperate zone.
Australian Capital Territory – This region covers Canberra. It has hot, dry summers, and cold winters with occasional fog and frequent frosts. The average temperature in summers would be around 30°C to 15°C; in winters it would be around 11°C to 0°C.
New South Wales – This region covers Sydney and its weather is very relaxing all around the year. The average temperature in summers would be around 22°C to 40°C; in winters it would be around 17°C to 8°C.
Northern Territory – This region has a tropical climate, and has two distinct seasons, the 'Wet' and the 'Dry'. The Wet season spans from November until April and is characterized by increased humidity followed by monsoonal rains and storms. The 'Dry’ season, from May until October, is characterized by warm, dry sunny days and cool nights. This region covers Darwin. The average temperature in the wet season would be around 33°C to 25°C; in the dry season, it would be around 35°C to 21°C.
Queensland - Warm summers and mild winters are what you can expect here. This region covers Brisbane. The average temperature in summers would be around 20°C to 30°C; in winters it would be around 20°C to 10°C.
South Australia – This region experiences mild weather with sunshine all year round and covers Adelaide. The average temperature in summers would be around 17°C to 30°C; in winters it would be around 15°C to 6°C.
Tasmania - Snow falls in the mountains in winter. However, most people in Tasmania live in towns and cities near the coast. The ocean moderates the temperatures there. It covers cities like Hobart and Devonport. The average temperature in summers would be around 25°C to 10°C; in winters it would be around 11°C to 4°C.
Victoria – This region covers Melbourne. It enjoys warm summers, pleasant springs, mild autumns, and crisp winters. The average temperature in summers would be around 26°C to 15°C; in winters it would be around 13°C to 6°C.
Western Australia - This region covers Perth and is famous for its long days of sunshine, spotless blue skies, and brilliant beaches. The average temperature in summers would be around 31°C to 18°C; in winters it would be around 17°C to 7°C.
Australians are known to be friendly and helpful people, with a great sense of humor. Australia is considered one of the most competitive nations on Earth. This covers all areas of life including the workplace. While English is Australia’s national language, there are certain words and expressions that have come to be regarded as uniquely Australian through common usage. Some of them might seem strange to non-Australians.
Australians love their sport, both playing it and watching it. The most loved sports in Australia include Australian football, rugby, and cricket. This relatively benign climate has resulted in a country where people spend a good deal of time outdoors at beaches, in the countryside or on sporting fields as either spectators or participants.
Indians living in Australia
There were nearly 592,000 Indian immigrants living in Australia in 2018. They represent the second-largest immigrant group by country of origin, after China. Almost one-third of all Indian immigrants resided in Victoria.
Firstly, you need to decide whether you want to live in university managed accommodation, or with a private landlord. Choosing university managed accommodation can also give you a catered or self-catered option. Catered accommodation offers the benefits of your meals being cooked for you and a degree of certainty with meal costs.
If you have an idea about what you prefer, the accommodation office at your university will be able to tell you what accommodation they have available - so that’s the place to start. If you are thinking of renting from a private landlord or if your chosen university can’t offer you anything in its own residential facility, the accommodation office should be able to provide you with a list of private properties and landlords in the area.
Wherever you choose to live, you should make sure that you know your contractual rights and responsibilities. In most cases you will be asked to enter into a tenancy agreement, which you should read thoroughly before you sign.
Orientation week is mandatory for international students so ensure that you arrive before it starts. This is the time where you will be introduced to the university and its services, as well as enroll in your classes. It is essential that you read your guidebook, which is provided by the college. The guide explains each part of the admission process.
Along with sport, colleges offer extra-curricular activities that provide students a wide range of experiences. Music, drama, science and literary societies in colleges offer opportunities for outdoor education and other leisure activities. Visits to theatres, concerts, and places relevant to the courses of study such as art galleries and museums, religious centres or historical sites, scientific companies and projects are all part of college life.
These vary between study programs and levels. For each course, Indian students will need to meet a minimum English language requirement. Along with that, a minimum academic record of 65% and above in class XII will be required. Foundations and Diploma programs are available for students who have secured below 60%. The student should have completed 18 years of age before joining a degree program.
It is important to note that these numbers are just for reference purposes, the actual numbers may differ from university to university.
The following documents also need to be submitted:
• Attested copies of mark sheets of class X, XII, and the Bachelor's degree (if applicable)
• At least, two academic reference letters from professors who have taught you most recently
• If you have work experience then two letters of recommendation from the employer/manager who knows you well and can comment on your professional abilities
• Statement of Purpose (SOP)
• Photocopied score reports of GMAT / IELTS / TOEFL
• Portfolio (in case of Students applying for art and design courses & architecture programs)
• Others (certificates/achievements at the state and national level and extracurricular activities)
• Proof of funds
Most of the colleges in Australia accept online applications. You will have to visit each college's website to apply. In most cases, you will have to make an account on the college website to provide your basic information, submit the scanned version of your documents, and pay application fees. You will be informed about the application process and its stages through this account. Please refer to the website of the colleges of your choice to know the process of applying.
Application fee: All colleges require that you pay an application fee while applying. The fee amount will differ depending upon the college and course being applied to, so check with individual colleges about their application fee.
Steps: The common steps to applying for admission are as follows:
• Search for colleges and courses
• Contact schools and visit websites for information
• Narrow down your list of schools
• Take the entrance exams like SAT, GMAT, GRE, TOEFL, IELTS
• Write SOPs and ask for LORs
• Apply to the colleges which fit your interests
• Appear for video interviews to the colleges who shortlisted you
• If accepted, apply for a student visa
SOP: A Statement of Purpose (SOP) is your introduction to the college and admission officers. It is always written in first person and describes the reason for applying to a particular college. It needs to highlight why you are a perfect fit for the college and why the college should accept you. The style of writing could differ from formal to casual, but it is important to remember that it should reflect your personality as well.
Essay: Essays are also required to be submitted by a prospective student. Essays are an important part of the university admissions process. Students may be required to write one or two essays, along with a few optional essays too. Common topics include career aspirations, strengths and weaknesses, skills, experiences, and reasons for considering a particular school.
LOR: A letter of recommendation (LOR) is a reference letter written by a third party describing the qualities, characteristics, and capabilities of the prospective student to recommend him to the college in terms of that individual’s ability to perform a particular task or function. The third-party could be a professor, direct manager, etc.
Australia generally has two intakes i.e. February and July, with few universities offering multiple intakes in September & November. You should start your admission process around six months before the application deadline. Typically most universities have three deadlines, during one intake. It is up to the convenience of the students, which deadline to aim for. You should be done with your language and aptitude tests by three months before the deadline. The last three months should be dedicated to filling out the application form properly.
It is essential to ensure that the ‘complete application process’ along with appearing for interviews and visa application procedures should be complete by Nov-Dec for the February intake.
If you are looking to get admission into vocational courses, then some courses may have admissions open in January and perhaps even May or July.
International English Language Testing System (IELTS), Test Of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) and Pearson Test of English (PTE) are all standardized language tests, which are required to be taken for the purpose of getting admission into colleges. These follow different formats, structures, and result bands. These tests are different in various ways but many colleges ask for anyone of the results. So it's up to the student to decide which exam to appear for.
Repetition of exams: IELTS can be taken an unlimited number of times. TOEFL can be retaken as many times as wished, but cannot be taken more than once in a 12-day period. Same with PTE, it can be taken as many times as desired. You must wait to receive your scores before you can book your next test.
Fee: The fee for these exams is INR 14,000 for IELTS, INR 13,625 (US $180) for TOEFL, and INR 13,300 for PTE.
Time to apply: Ideally, if you are aiming at the September intake you should appear for these exams by November so that you can apply before the first deadline. The universities you will be applying to will mention which exam results they will accept. But if they give a choice to go for either of these, then the choice depends on you. The time required to prepare for IELTS/TOEFL/PTE would depend on the existing English language proficiency. You may require 2 to 4 months of preparation before the exam date.
GMAT - The Graduate Management Aptitude Test is used to measure the abilities of the potential MBA aspirant to undertake higher education in the field of business or management. It measures the mathematical, English, and reasoning skills of the student.
GRE - The Graduate Record Examination is another test required to be taken by students applying to graduate schools to pursue MA or MS. Increasingly many business schools are also accepting GRE scores for the purpose of granting admission for an MBA.
Repetition and Fee: You can give GMAT an unlimited number of times, subject to five times a year, and a gap of 30 days between two tests. You can take these tests with a gap of 30 days from the first time. The cost of GMAT is Rs 18,797, and GRE is Rs 14,44.
Ideally, if you are aiming at the September intake you should appear for these exams by November so that you can apply before the first deadline. The preparatory duration generally ranges from 4 to 6 months.
Average Scores: The average GMAT accepted across universities is 520. The average GRE score is 145 for Verbal, 160 for Quantitative, and 4.0 for Writing.
It is important to note that these numbers are just for reference purposes, the actual scores may differ from university to university.
The first condition to start your Study in Australia process is to have an English language test like IELTS or PTE- Academic as a proof of your English language skills. Once you have this you need to follow below 7 steps for your Study in Australia Application
Apply for offer letter
The first and foremost step is to apply for a offer letter in a university or a college you choose to study. One of the most crucial factors here is to choose a course relevant to your previous studies and any work experience you may have.
Prepare for your GTE Assessment
GTE is very important to clear. If you fail GTE criteria your Study in Australia application will be refused. So prepare this document with utmost care. Mention all the points which indicate that you are a genuine student whose only intention to go to Australia is o study.
Pay for your Tuition fees
Once you have prepared your GTE documentation and got it approved by the University you pay your tuition fees to get COE to apply student visa to Australia. COE is confirmation of Enrollment for Australia
Prepare your visa file
Once you get your COE from The University you prepare for your visa documents, arrange for your medicals and any other paperwork relevant for your Study in Australia visa application.
Lodge your application
After preparing your visa file you lodge your Australia student visa application with Australian Embassy online. You pay your embassy online at this stage
Wait for the decision
After lodging your Australia student visa application you wait for the decision of your application. The current processing time for Higher education student visa applications to Australia is about 18 days to 1 month.
For any further query you may have about Australia student visa application please contact West Highlander. West Highlander based in Chandigarh is the best study In Australia consultant. Ms Parwinder Kaur one of the key team members of West Highlander is a MARA agent registered with office of Mara Australia
The Galaxy Buds Live (or the Galaxy Beans as they should have been called) aren’t the perfect pair of true wireless headphones, but they fit my specific needs perfectly. That’s because I wanted a pair of earbuds to wear while cycling. So for starters, they couldn’t be too bulky or have a stem that’d catch on the straps of my helmet. Nor did I want a pair of earbuds that were too good at blocking out environmental noise; it’s more important for me to hear incoming traffic than the end of a guitar solo. That turned the Beans’ open-air design from a negative into a positive for me. Throw in a USB-C port and support for wireless charging, and you’re left with my favorite gadget of the year. — Jon Porter, reporter
The Oculus Quest 2 is a big compromise as a platform, since it ties virtual reality directly to the Facebook service. As a gadget, though, it can’t be beat. The Quest 2 is the first piece of consumer VR hardware without a big and obvious compromise. It’s self-contained and can be used without any wires, but you can also plug it into a laptop to play higher-powered games. It’s light enough to wear without hurting your head, although it’s best when tricked out with an alternate head strap and some special short-cord headphones. And it supports some of the best VR games around, including my personal obsession Beat Saber. The Quest 2 isn’t quite the Nintendo Switch of virtual reality — but it’s surprisingly close. — Adi Robertson, senior reporter
Reviewing the new Peloton bike, the Bike Plus, has been a bright spot in a horrifying year. I’m still testing it and working on the review, but the small bugs I’ve found so far don’t take away from the fact that having a place to listen to good music, sweat, and work out all my 2020 frustrations has been incredible. I need an outlet for everything I’m feeling from being cooped up in my apartment. That said, the bike costs nearly $2,500 with a $40 monthly subscription plan attached. It’s a massive cost that is tempting for me to spend, but I do wonder if, when the pandemic wanes, I’ll crave in-person gym experiences again. — Ashley Carman, senior reporter
The PS5 was one of my most highly anticipated pieces of tech this year, and I am happy to say it has lived up to the expectations I set for the console. While I still have concerns on how expandable storage will work, I find the PS5 to have had a stronger launch than its competitor, the Xbox Series X, for this reason: namely, the DualSense is one of the most innovative controllers I have seen in the last few years. Its haptic feedback and adaptive triggers provide extra realism to immerse me even more in the games I play. — Taylor Lyles, writer
I reviewed a whole bunch of convertible laptops this year, but the Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 is the closest to being one that I’d actually consider buying. There are certainly things I don’t love about it: the keyboard is a bit flat for my taste, and the lack of USB-A ports means I can’t connect some of my peripherals without a dongle. But when it comes to the most important aspects of a 2-in-1 laptop, the XPS 13 doesn’t just check all the boxes — it blows the boxes off the page. The build quality is exceptional, the touchpad is comfortable, the 16:10 display is roomy and gorgeous, the battery life lasts all day, and the chassis is unbelievably thin and light. You can even play games like Overwatch at well above 60fps. As someone looking for a reliable, portable machine, I really couldn’t ask for anything more. — Monica Chin, reporter
DJI’s new Mini 2 drone is the drone I didn’t really expect to love as much as I do. It’s not the ultimate do-it-all drone — in fact, it misses a lot of features you’d find on more expensive drones. The Mini 2 doesn’t have any obstacle avoidance sensors, it has a tiny photo sensor, and photos are only 12MP. But it also nails the basics: those 12MP photos look sharp, dynamic range is good for that small sensor, and video looks crisp. It also has two awesome features: it includes DJI’s OcuSync 2 wireless connectivity and it weighs only 249g. OcuSync 2 enables radio transmission and a nearly impeccable connection, compared to the flaky Wi-Fi connection in the original Mavic Mini. And being a sub-250g drone means you don’t need FAA registration (but be sure to follow other FAA regulations). It’s easy to bring anywhere you go and it’s incredibly fun to fly. If you’re a content creator, drone enthusiast, or a total beginner, this is a perfect drone to get. — Vjeran Pavic, senior director
The iPhone 12 mini isn’t the best iPhone 12 for most people. If you asked me, I’d tell you to get the regular iPhone 12 or maybe the 12 Pro Max, especially if you really care about the camera. But the 12 mini is my favorite and the one I purchased. It has been a very long time since we’ve had a small phone with true flagship specs. Usually, smaller phones are either nonexistent or deeply compromised. With the 12 mini, there’s really only one compromise that matters: the battery life isn’t great. That’s the reason I don’t recommend it right off the bat. But if you’re aware of that battery life and think it can fit into your lifestyle, having a small phone again is great. It just feels like it was designed for human hands instead of being designed to maximize the screen size. That’s why it’s my favorite. — Dieter Bohn, executive editor
Fujifilm went back to the basics with the Instax SQ1, which is absolutely the least tech-y gadget I reviewed this year. With no screens, only two shooting modes, and a rotating ring around the lens that turns the camera on and off, the SQ1 feels more like a toy than a $120 camera. And it’s perfect that way because it inspires creativity and fun. Although it’s a bit bulky, the joy it provides by instantly developing memories in that iconic Polaroid frame still makes me want to bring it everywhere. Plus, taking photos of the contents of your friends’ refrigerators and then hiding the photo under the milk carton never gets old. — Becca Farsace, senior director