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The best Chromebook deals (October 2018)

The best Chromebook deals (October 2018)

The best Chromebook deals (October 2018)

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If you want to buy a Chromebook for yourself or someone else, it’s pretty easy to find one on a budget. After all, that’s the whole idea behind Chrome OS devices — they serve as a cheaper alternative to Windows laptops. However, some Chromebooks have reached even lower prices due to recent sales or discounts.

Read Next: Protect your Chromebook with one of these covers and cases

We’ve rounded up some of the best Chromebook deals on the internet, so you won’t have to go searching too hard to find a solid Chromebook notebook at a good price. New deals and price cuts pop up all the time, so we will update this post as new Chromebook deals show up.

Editor’s tip: New to the world of Chromebooks? Our What to expect from Chromebook Buyer’s guide helps explain what a Chromebook can and can’t do, buying options, and setup guides for first time Chromebook users.

Google Pixelbook

Want to get your hands on what may be the best Chromebook you can buy for a lot less money? Amazon is currently running a sale on the Google Pixelbook, offering it for just $792 — over $200 less than its normal $999 price tag. This model of the Pixelbook includes a 7th generation Intel Core i5 processor, 8GB of RAM, and 128GB of onboard storage. It’s 12.3-inch touchscreen display can flip 360 degrees so it can be used as a tablet. It also comes with Google Assistant out of the box and its battery will last up to 10 hours on a single charge. This deal probably won’t last long.

Get it at Amazon

Samsung 11.6-inch Chromebook

If you ready want to get a new Chromebook for a rock-bottom price, Amazon currently has such a Chromebook deal from Samsung. The retailer is currently selling this 11.6-inch Chromebook with an Intel Celeron processor running at 1.6GHz. It only weighs 2.54 pounds and it should offer up to 11 hours of battery life. Amazon is selling this Samsung Chromebook for just $165.80 with 2GB of RAM and 16GB of storage, and if you want a bit more, you can get this model with 4GB of RAM and 32GB of storage for $206.68, which is still extremely affordable.

Get it at Amazon

HP Chromebook 14

HP is one of the biggest Chromebook providers, and its Chromebook 14 is a solid notebook. You can get this model right now an amazing price. The notebook has a 14-inch display, with an Intel dual core Celeron N2840 processor inside at running at 2.16Ghz. It also has 4GB of RAM, 16GB of storage, and a battery that should last up to nine hours on a single charge. You can grab this HP Chromebook 14 model on Amazon right not for just $212.77, which is a tiny price to pay for a 14-inch notebook.

Get it at Amazon

Acer Chromebook R 13

Acer is another major source for Chromebooks, and right now you can get one of its best models, the Acer Chromebook R 13, in a nice deal on Amazon. Its large 13.3-inch Full HD display rotates 360 degrees so you can use it in tablet or tent model. Inside there’s a MediaTek MT8173C Core Pilot quad-core processor running at 2.1GHz, along with 4GB of RAM and 32GB of onboard storage. It also has an excellent battery life of up to 12 hours on a single charge and is very light at just 3.26 pounds. You can get the Acer Chromebook R13 right now on Amazon for just $329.99, a $70 discount from its normal $399.99 price tag.

Get it at Amazon

That’s a look at some of the best Chromebook deals available right now. Did we miss any Chromebook deals you would like to see added to this list? Let us know in the comments!

The best Chromebook deals (October 2018) syndicated from barbarawalston.wordpress.com/

Posted by JohnEllrod on 2018-10-09 01:28:18

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Design Milk Travels to… Amman

Design Milk Travels to… Amman

Design Milk Travels to… Amman

via WordPress connorrenwickblog.wordpress.com/2018/07/27/design-milk-tr…

The seven main hills of Amman stand sentinel to one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world, one buzzing with the telltale signs of modernity at its core accompanied with the haunting hum of antiquity interspersed along its periphery. Tourists arrive in droves for short stays here within the capital of Jordan before heading out with plans for days to be spent floating weightlessly upon the saline buoyancy of the Dead Sea or navigating the achingly beautiful narrow passage into the heart of the ancient Nabataean city of Petra by foot. But in doing so, visitors forgo the opportunity to explore a city beginning to embroider the tapestry of its ancient past with a emerging art and design scene.

WHERE TO STAY

Motivated by hunger, my first morning in Amman was spent huffing and puffing up and down a series of serpentine streets, each interconnected to a see-saw of stairs. Imagine someone throwing a plateful of noodles onto paper and tracing the outlines to map a city, and you’ve got an approximation of Amman’s dizzying streets. I endured the Sisyphean butt-kicker in hopes of finding Salaheddin Bakery (مخبز صلاح الدين), an Abdali neighborhood staple specializing in kaek, a fingertip-scorching loaf of freshly baked sesame seed encrusted bread impregnated with a holy trinity of baked eggs, cheese, and za’atar. Perhaps it was a case of positive reinforcement by way of taste buds after devouring that unforgettably delicious sandwich, but afterward I felt confident and committed to exploring Amman by foot. Obviously a level of fitness is required to walk such demanding geography, but the reward is the ability to scratch the itch of curiosity tickled by Amman’s countless alleys, courtyards, and hidden gardens.

Staying at a hotel central to downtown is advisable for this purpose, allowing easier access to Amman’s historical sites, the souk, galleries, shops, and restaurants. Even so, be ready to jump into one of the 11,000 yellow taxis servicing Amman.

Photos: La Locanda Hotel

La Locanda Boutique Hotel, Jordan’s first themed boutique hotel, is nestled in the precipitous and picturesque neighborhood of Jabel Al Weibdeh, the artistic heart of Amman. The hotel is close to many of the city’s most vibrant galleries, most notably the center for contemporary Arab art, Darat Al Funun. The tree-lined avenues dotted with shops and cafes allow for leisurely walks with the opportunity to frequently stop.

Photos: Wild Jordan Center

Don’t let the name throw you off, the Wild Jordan Center is a hidden gem and our favorite accommodations for longer stays in Amman. Comprised of five “lodges” (really just apartments, complete with kitchenettes), the center offers guests an Instagram-worthy view overlooking Old Amman, with the iconic Citadel clearly visible from every window and balcony. The lodges are named after nature reserves protected by the Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature. With the evocation of a lodge, one might expect rustic decor, but each room is actually decorated in contemporary furnishings. The adjoining restaurant serves visitors and guests alike local seasonal fare served with a health conscious bent; nearly every table presents a densely populated and picturesque view of city life below. I also remember the adjoining gift shop as particularly well stocked with small wares, clothing, handmade items, and foodstuffs.

Photo: W Amman

Those seeking the refuge of a recognizably global style of accommodations may find the contemporary 280 guest rooms and 44 suites of the W Amman in the Abdali neighborhood to their liking. If you’ve stayed at a W Hotel before, the financial district hotel won’t throw any surprises, sharing the identifiably sleek W-style décor that has made the brand a dependable beacon for vacationers and business travelers alike.

Notable mentions: Four Seasons Hotel Amman \ The House Boutique Suites \ Grand Hyatt Amman \ The Art Hotel

WHERE TO PLAY

Photo: Gregory Han

The Jordanian National Gallery of Fine Arts’ collection of contemporary art isn’t comprehensive, but it offers an excellent starting off point with a curated selection showcasing the diversity of styles, techniques, and subject matter specific to Jordan and the surrounding regions. The museum is actually comprised of two buildings separated by a sculpture garden in between, with temporary exhibitions housed in the smaller north side Building 1, with the majority of its permanent collection housed across inside Building 2. The neighborhood and museum are both surprisingly quiet, delivering unhurried contemplation and appreciation of the artwork on display.

“A Chair Tale” exhibition during Amman Design Week at the Jordan National Gallery. Photo: Gregory Han

The Darat al Funun could be considered the Jordanian equivalent of The Getty in Los Angeles – a hillside cultural center dedicated to the intersection of contemporary and ancient art, academia, and cultural outreach overlooking its host city. But how many museums can claim its own excavated ruins of a 6th-century Byzantine church sitting on its grounds? Just be ready to climb an endless ascension of stairs while exploring Darat al Funun’s intimate gardens, library, temporary exhibitions, and hopefully a stop at the hillside cafe. Each spot rewards curious minds with strengthened calves.

Photo: Gregory Han

Tiraz sits on the outskirts of a residential section of Amman, and inside its unassuming walls resides the magnificent Widad Kamel Kawar dress collection, the most complete assemblage of both Palestinian and Jordanian dress, alongside the largest collection of Syrian dresses outside of the country. A deeper appreciation of the region and its people is revealed in inspection of the dizzying intricacy decorating the collection’s dresses, each fashioned to communicate the extended history of its wearer and their community through the craft of detailed embroidery. The museum also hosts temporary exhibits; during our visit the intricate pixel-like geometry of Jordanian designers Nisreen and Nermeen Abu Dail of Naqsh Collective greeted visitors from the courtyard, with a more extensive display within.

Photo: Gregory Han

Photo: Arini Zain Cultural Plaza

Arini is the physical outpost of the Arabic online architecture and design site, Herskhazeen, and one of the more important institutions focused upon the promotion, dialogue, and investigation of contemporary design and architecture in the Middle East. Visitors are bound to discover an ever-changing landscape of immersive installations like Dalieh – the Kinetic Canopy [shown above], alongside operating as a nexus of the city’s creative class.

Notable mentions: Mujib Chalets \ Wild Jordan Center \ Feynan Ecolodge

WHERE TO SHOP

Photo: Gregory Han

When we slipped into Turbo for a breather during Amman Design Week, we weren’t quite sure what to make of the former abandoned car repair shop outfitted by graphic designers Saeed Abu-Jaber and Mothanna Hussein. Was it a graphic design studio? A coffee bar? A gallery? A pop-up shop? The answer is simply, “yes” (and also the answer to whether you should drop in). Their multidisciplinary studio is most easily spotted by their bright yellow espresso machine and an iconic tiger sculpture.

Photo: Kama

After spending an afternoon sampling Kama’s selection of gourmet local olives, oils, spices, nuts, chocolates, and snacks – each packaged in elegant contemporary Arabic geometric motifs – our evening was spent valiantly attempting to find extra room in our luggage to bring back home an assortment of gifts. Kama’s delicious design is a choice opportunity to bring back a taste of Jordan (or enjoy some in your hotel room, as I might be guilty of).

Photo: Shams Amman

Home décor, flowers and plants, food, and even a weekly yoga class all intersect at Shams Amman and their adjoining Al Balad Café. I discovered the shop after looking for the intricate and colorful art of Mo Rusan, whose arabesque prints would not look one bit out of place in a William Morris catalog.

Photo: Mo Rusan

Jordan River Foundation has two outposts – one inside the city and another within the Queen Alia International Airport, conveniently located just before the security gates at the departure lounge. Both represent the non-profit efforts of Her Majesty Queen Rania of Jordan, each designed to spotlight a vibrant catalog of modern home décor and accessories handmade using traditional embroidery and woodworking techniques. Proceeds go to funding training programs to empower local women and children, making it destination for conscious consumerism.

Photo: Jordan River Foundation

Notable mentions: Tumayr – Garden Shop \ Jordan Craft Center \ Jacaranda

FINAL WORDS

Upon arrival, Amman can seem like an overwhelming tangle of sights, sounds, smells, and textures. But by carefully pre-populating a Google Map with sights to visit, that seemingly impenetrable mass reveals a very walkable city. Download the rideshare app, Careem, and connecting those dots on your to-do list becomes even easier.

Photos: Gregory Han

Amman Design Week is only in its second year of existence, but what it lacks in history it makes up for in its immersive breadth, exploring design beyond the esthetic and deep into the realm of relevant social, cultural, and environmental issues. Examples include ‘Kutleh’ by Rula Yaghmour (left) a “carved” seat made with scraps from the stone industry and construction projects, and ‘Left of Passage, Right of Passage’ (right), an installation by Anmahian Winton Architects, inspired by Wadi Rum, the geological Jordanian wilderness immortalized by T E Lawrence as “vast, echoing and godlike”. A visit scheduled during this celebratory span presents Amman at its most festive and finest from an arts and design perspective.

via design-milk.com/

Posted by Connor Renwick on 2018-07-27 17:13:28

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Best Photo Editing Apps 2018: 17 apps to improve your snaps

Best Photo Editing Apps 2018: 17 apps to improve your snaps

Best Photo Editing Apps 2018: 17 apps to improve your snaps

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best overall mirrorless camera

Sony A7R III

The Sony A7R III is our pick of the best overall mirrorless camera because it combines a high resolution 42.4MP sensor with seriously high speed 10fps continuous shooting. The A7R III is as versatile as a professional mirrorless camera can get.

£2,790.00

View deal

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We’re constantly downloading and testing new photo-editing apps on a rolling basis.

As it stands, Affinity Photo is the best overall photo-editing app, even though it’s available only for the iPad. Our favourite free photo-editing app is Snapseed, which is available for both Android and iOS.

If you’re ready to upgrade to a standalone camera, check out our more specific roundups:

Best DSLRs

Best Compact Cameras

Best Waterproof Cameras

Best Action Cams

How we test photo-editing apps

We put every app through a series of rigorous tests to see how they perform. This includes importing some test snaps, subjecting them to each app’s full range of tools and exporting them to examine their performance.

We’ve downloaded hundreds of apps for Android, iOS and iPad to bring you this list of our favourites. If you’re also looking for the best camera phone to pair them with, check out our buying guide for those too.

Snapseed

Best free photo editor

Load a photo into Snapseed and it first resembles any me-too one-click filter tool, with you prodding a thumbnail to update the look of your pic. And even if that’s all you download it for, it’s a good choice, because the presets are pretty great.

As an editor, Snapseed excels. The range of tools is wide, covering the basics (tune, crop, rotate, heal and vignette), adding pro-level stuff (curves, DNG support, precision masking, perspective), and enabling you to be properly creative (double exposure, frames, text and grunge overlays).

Working with tools is wonderfully tactile, with you dragging up and down to select a property and then left or right to adjust an effect’s strength. Best of all, you can visit your edit stack and amend any of your previous steps at any point – everything you do in Snapseed is non-destructive.

And those filters? You can make your own, simply by saving an edit to the Looks tab. For a fiver, this app would be a bargain; for free, it’s an essential part of any mobile photographer’s toolkit.

Get Snapseed for Android (free)

Get Snapseed for iOS (free)

Affinity Photo

Best desktop-quality editor

Apple argues that the iPad has what it takes for properly advanced creative fare, yet detractors claim you need a PC or Mac. Affinity Photo puts a mark squarely in Apple’s win column.

In short, it’s more or less Photoshop on your iPad. More specifically, it’s desktop Photoshop rival Affinity Photo as reimagined for the iPad, in the sense you get all of the desktop version’s tools, but in an interface you can zip about with using an Apple Pencil – or your fingers.

Given that this is desktop-quality pro-level editing, you shouldn’t expect immediacy. Affinity Photo may baffle at first, as you get lost in its many palettes and options. But once mastered, you’ll have by far the most powerful photo-editing solution on mobile.

There are too many features to list, but highlights include unlimited layers (adjustment layers and masks are both supported), live filters, task-orientated workspaces, RAW support, lens correction, panorama stitching, retouching and correction tools, an advanced brush engine, and the means to export to PSD so you can continue working in Adobe’s powerhouse if you wish – although, given what Affinity Photo offers, chances are you mostly won’t need to.

Get Affinity Photo for iPad (£19.99)

Pixelmator

Best pro editor for iPhone

Prior to Affinity Photo’s arrival, Pixelmator was the closest you could get to Photoshop on an iOS device. Even now, there are good reasons to recommend the app over its rival.

In a sense, Pixelmator feels like pro-level editing for the rest of us. Its interface is friendlier and simpler than Affinity Photo’s – and, although the app is less capable, that doesn’t mean it’s lacking in features.

If you’re starting with a blank canvas, Pixelmator offers a range of templates. When working on collages, there are powerful layer and brush systems. And when fine-tuning a single photo, you can wipe away blemishes, make subtle adjustments, or totally obliterate your image with lens flares and warp distortions.

Another key reason Pixelmator is worth grabbing is that it works on an iPhone. A lack of RAW support is a black mark, but the app does support HEIF in and PSD out. So for those occasions where you want to do more than Snapseed can cope with – concocting a multi-layered photographic masterpiece on the move – Pixelmator is an affordable, powerful, usable choice.

Get Pixelmator for iOS (£4.99)

Adobe Photoshop Fix

Best for adjusting portraits

We’ve mentioned Photoshop a couple of times already, but Adobe made the decision to not (yet) produce a full-fat version of its hugely popular image editor for mobile (even if there is one in development for iPad). Instead, it appears content to carve off bits of Photoshop and shove those slices on to app stores as focused, streamlined, self-contained products.

Adobe Photoshop Fix, as its name suggests, is designed for fixing images. Powerful healing tools remove unwanted components, and you can rapidly adjust shadows and highlights, or add a dash of colour with a brush.

Perhaps the best bit, though, is the Liquify section. This enables you to warp, swell and twirl images in various creative ways. And if you load a portrait, the app intelligently figures out where the subject’s features are, so you can make subtle adjustments (or not-so-subtle ones, if you always fancied giving someone a really big nose).

Desktop Creative Cloud users get an added bonus, too: share what you’re working on to Photoshop, and moments later it will pop up on your Mac or PC, all your edits included as individual layers for further tweaking.

Get Adobe Photoshop Fix for Android (free)

Get Adobe Photoshop Fix for iOS (free)

Adobe Photoshop Lightroom CC

Best for quick pro adjustments

Our second Adobe app is to some extent included because many photographers are wedded to Lightroom on the desktop. It’s easy to see why: that app enables you to quickly and efficiently catalogue, find, and edit a huge collection of photographs. Having similar features while on the go is seductive.

For the Adobe Creative Cloud subscriber, then, you get a smart, serious app with selective edits, some rather lovely presets, and a slew of sliders to adjust light, colour, detail, grain, and distortion. It works with RAW, makes it simple to organise, rate and manage photos, and even enables you to quickly find the ideal pic by utilising Adobe Sensei – an AI that auto-tags imagery based on content.

But even if you’re not currently paying for any Adobe products, Lightroom is worth a look. For free, you won’t get Adobe Sensei, web galleries and selective editing. But you’ll still get a decent set of high-quality tools for making adjustments, and an app with a superb sense of focus, rather than throwing as many tools at the wall as possible to see what sticks.

Get Adobe Photoshop Lightroom CC for Android (free)

Get Adobe Photoshop Lightroom CC for iPhone (free)

Instagram

Best for getting a photographic following

Instagram is a giant in the social-networking space, and it’s that ability to follow and be followed (in the non-creepy sense) that’s at the heart of the app. Whatever you upload can easily be shared with thousands of people, and you can keep an eye on other photographers whose work you like. For individuals and companies alike, Instagram is a key social network pillar, alongside Facebook and Twitter.

When it comes to shooting and editing, the app offers plenty of options, even if it occasionally lacks coherence. Using the built-in camera, you can overlay live effects, slap on stickers and text, and scribble all over the end result. If you fancy being a touch more measured, you can load an existing photo, and work with Instagram’s built-in editing tools.

These include a range of popular filters, adjustments, and smart vignette and tilt-shift effects. Edits are non-destructive while you’re in the app, but committed forever once you’re done. Like the instant cameras Instagram was influenced by, this one is best thought of as an editing tool for photographers keen on speed, immediacy and being in the moment.

Get Instagram for Android (free)

Get Instagram for iPhone (free)

EyeEm

Best for selling your snaps

To some extent, EyeEm resembles a straight-laced Instagram. Much like that social network for photographers, EyeEm initially appears to be focused on building a community of like-minded snappers – but it adds the lure of helping you make a buck from your creative endeavours.

Sign up and you can take pictures using the built-in camera, or load existing ones. EyeEm includes built-in editing functionality: a handful of filters; adjustment tools; cropping. There’s nothing here to threaten the Snapseeds of this world, but enough for fine-tuning a photo before you share it with all and sundry.

As noted, though, the big draw is the potential to sell your photographs. Naturally, you’re in ‘needle in a haystack’ territory – it’s a lottery whether you’ll make it big. But if you amass a following and the right person spots you, who knows?

When you do sell something, EyeEm splits the proceeds with you 50/50; and in the meantime, you can delve into ‘missions’ that encourage you to shoot specific themes, awarding prizes to the best entries.

Get EyeEm for Android (free)

Get EyeEm for iOS (free)

VSCO

Best for film emulation

Like Instagram, VSCO mixes up an online community, a camera, and editing – but the biggest draw is its filters, which emulate a wide range of classic films. They’re also available for desktop, but you get a selection for free within the mobile app, and any one can be applied to a photo with a single tap.

Of course, VSCO offers more than filter application: on taking a snap with the camera or loading a photo, you can perform all kinds of edits. VSCO’s tools are straightforward, but ideal for quick adjustments, crops and skews, and you can quickly amend skin tones, add grain, and experiment with vignettes. It’s possible to adjust the order of tools, too, providing faster access to those you use frequently. Edits can later be further refined by opening the image in question from VSCO’s Studio tab.

The community side of things lacks the finesse of Instagram, but you can still follow and be followed. Unusually, there’s also a paid membership tier, VSCO X. For $19.99 per year, you’ll get pro tips, additional tools (borders; saving adjustment combinations as recipes), and more filters. And if you’re made of money, you can grab yet more pack presets, some of which are handily aimed at specific genres of photography such as portraiture and landscape.

Get VSCO for Android (free)

Get VSCO for iOS (free)

Camera+ 2

Best all-in-one camera/editor

There’s a lot going on in Camera+ 2, although the app cleverly avoids becoming an airplane dashboard (unlike some of its more button-heavy rivals) – in part by ‘hiding’ its many options until you need them.

When launching the app, you get a strip of buttons across the top of the screen for accessing different camera types. A zoom slider sits within the viewfinder, but tap elsewhere and you bring up manual controls. Initially, you can adjust exposure, but more taps get you to focus and white-balance options.

Further controls lurk in the button next to the shutter, enabling you to toggle a grid and spirit level, location capturing, and RAW, along with switching camera modes. Timer, stabiliser, slow shutter (for long exposures), and smile options are all included too.

Although fiddlier than Obscura 2 for manual controls, Camera+ 2 does a good job of balancing accessibility and power. But it also makes a play for the editing space with a wide range of filters, cropping options and adjustment tools. Short of you being wedded to specific filters, there’s nothing here to threaten Snapseed. But if you prefer an all-in-one solution to standalone apps, Camera+ 2 is an excellent combined camera and editor for iOS.

Get Camera+ 2 for iOS (£2.99)

Camera FV-5

Best manual Android camera

Designed specifically for photography enthusiasts, Camera FV-5 is about giving you as much manual control as possible over key camera settings.

The user interface is straightforward, making good use of gestures. You adjust manual focus with a vertical drag, and can pinch to zoom. You also get direct control over white balance, and can assign a range of functions to volume keys, such as ISO or EV adjustments.

The app also includes a number of shooting utilities. There’s a burst mode and self timer, and an option for tapping anywhere on the display to take a photo. Bracketed and time-lapse exposures are available as well, along with RAW capture – although the diversity in the Android ecosystem means that some features aren’t supported on all devices.

Still, Camera FV-5 is worth a look, and you can always use Google Play’s refund system if your phone doesn’t play nicely with the app. Alternatively, if you just want to find out whether the app is a good fit for you, check out the free lite version, which limits output resolution and disables RAW support.

Get Camera FV-5 for Android (£2.49)

Obscura 2

Best manual iPhone camera

Whereas Camera+ 2 attempts to be all things to all people, Obscura 2 is a more opinionated take on a manual camera for iPhone. It marries old and new – swish, streamlined minimalism meets a dial-based interface that echoes controls found on classic real-world cameras.

This isn’t just a nod to nostalgia, though. Using a dial to do everything from pick a new tool to finely adjust the likes of focus and exposure proves extremely pleasing in use. You can quickly get at all kinds of functionality with a single thumb, and very carefully tweak properties when you want a photo to be just so.

There’s plenty of format support: RAW, HEIC, JPEG, Live Photo and depth. And beyond the timer, flash control, grids and spirit level, you also get a range of great-looking filters, which can be applied to new shots or those already in your library. Beyond that, there’s no editing, but as an alternate snapper to Apple’s stock Camera app, Obscura 2 is an excellent choice.

Get Obscura 2 for iPhone (£4.99)

Retrica

Best toy camera

This camera app acquired a decidedly self-absorbed social feed during a major revamp in 2018. The creators may as well have scrawled “we really want to be Instagram for selfies” across the screen in pen. Fortunately, Retrica’s camera bits remain a lot more interesting.

You get great filters, some of which ape old-school point-and-clickers and cheapo experimental, toy cameras. There are loads, so fortunately the selection list can be managed; if you’re not sure what to pick – or fancy a surprise – there’s a button to select a random filter before you shoot.

Beyond stills, you can capture short videos and animated GIFs, and there’s a collage option too. That shoots pics into a user-selected grid at pre-set intervals. The resulting images often look wonderful, and manage to provide a sense of time in a way that’s far more evocative and exciting than a moving image.

Regardless of what you shoot, it’s possible to slap stickers, scribbles and text over the end result before duly saving it to your device or foisting it on the world at large. So while you might want to avoid Retrica’s social side, get it on your phone for everything else.

Get Retrica for Android (£free)

Get Retrica for iOS (£free)

Hipstamatic

Best retro analogue camera

This app infuses the joy of analogue into the digital realm. Classic mode gives you a fully rendered old-school camera, with multiple exposures for arty shots, and the means to swap out lenses, films and flashes. Those who hanker after minimal aesthetics and/or more control get a Pro mode, for tweaking focus, shutter speed and ISO alongside ‘analogue’ set-ups.

This all gives Hipstamatic something of a split personality, but flexibility is its strength. The app can effectively ape old kit. But when you need to capture Raw, keep originals and filtered shots, and edit existing images, those capabilities exist too. In fact, the editor’s great – you can apply a set-up with a tap, or pick it apart to adjust specific properties.

Ultimately, Hipstamatic is still really a fancy filters kit welded to a manual camera, but the best apps are often about feel – and Hipstamatic feels superb to use. And on those days when you want to go full-on authentic retro, you can lock Classic mode, which disables editing and saves only Hipstamatic filtered images – thereby casting pristine originals into oblivion.

Get Hipstamatic for iOS (£2.99)

Pic collage

Best for multi-image grids

This handy app helps you make collages from your favourite snaps – and with a kind of effortlessness that’s greatly appealing. But this is also twinned with a versatile feature-set, which offers flexibility regarding what you eventually output to your device or social media.

You can create cards, freeform layouts or grids. The last of those is the option to which most users will gravitate. Select a group of images and the app suggests a layout. You can choose something different, muck about with what’s provided, or opt to begin with a blank canvas and insert images one by one.

Layouts can be tweaked, as can the background colour. But there are loads of other editing tools lurking: image adjustments; stickers; text; entry animations; even freeform doodling. Impressively, you can add three videos to your grid as well, should imagery that doesn’t move no longer cut it for you and your friends.

For free, there are limits – an enforced watermark, and restricted access to stickers and backgrounds. But a single two-quid in-app purchase forever removes the former and is well worth grabbing.

Get Pic Collage for Android (£free)

Get Pic Collage for iOS (£free)

Plotaverse

• Best for making photos move

You may be familiar with cinemagraphs – photographic stills with isolated areas of animated content that play in a loop. They’re popular for showing running water or a flickering blade of grass in an otherwise static scene. Such creations usually start as a series of stills or a video recording, but Plotaverse works in reverse, allowing you to infuse any existing still image with movement.

On loading a photo, you tap out anchor points and drag animation lines. The former lock portions of the image, and the latter define in which direction – and how far – a segment should move. You must take care when creating a ‘plotagraph’, because it’s easy to make a mess. But as your plotting mastery increases, that along with the app’s smarts enables you to fashion billowing clouds and dazzling animated geometric architectural patterns.

The concept is superb, and the end results can be fantastic. Unfortunately, the app has clutter welded to it in the form of a slew of IAP and a social network. Still, live inside the Plotagraph tab and you’ll find it a compelling way to add new life to old snaps.

Get Plotaverse for Android (free + IAP; £4.99 to remove watermark)

Get Plotaverse for iOS (free + IAP; £4.99 to remove watermark)

Retrospecs

• Best for turning photos into pixel art

What people now call retrogaming graphics were once just graphics – back then, computers and consoles just weren’t powerful enough to display more than a handful of luridly coloured pixels. However, the aesthetic remains a firm favourite, for nostalgia but also because such artwork stands out in an era of high-res HDR photography. Retrospecs reimagines your photos as if they’ve time-travelled from those halcyon days.

For free, you get a handful of systems to play with; a one-off IAP unlocks the rest. You can then revel in transforming your snaps (or any other image) into something that could have once graced a TV screen attached to a SNES or a ZX Spectrum.

Retrospecs goes beyond any contemporaries in its sheer glorious geekiness. Sure, you could just tap a filter and be done. But why stop there, when you can fiddle with dither modes, process videos, fashion glitch animations from stills, or go the whole hog and construct your own virtual ‘systems’? So whether you lived through the era or just fancy recreating it, Retrospecs is a must.

On Android? Try the broadly comparable 8Bit Photo Lab instead.

Get Retrospecs for iOS (free + £1.99 IAP)

EDITOR NOTE: please update Pic Collage to “best for multi-image grids” or similar.

sok-edit

Best for freeform collages

Elsewhere in this round-up, we feature Pic Collage, an app that excels in placing photos into an editable grid. But if the word ‘collage’ for you evokes images of gleefully hacking away at photos with scissors, and slapping cut-outs together with glue, you need a copy of sok-edit.

The app’s all friendly, chunky buttons that beep when pressed. Load a photo, tap the scissors, and you can chop out sections by dragging a finger. Each individual piece can be moved, cloned, flipped and deleted. Text objects can be added and manipulated in similar fashion.

For free, you get to work with three ‘layers’, but the one-off IAP removes that limitation – along with the watermark. The only real downsides are the text tool’s solitary and pixelated font, and the inability to save layered collages to rework later.

Also, you might consider sok-edit a bit rough and ready, but then that’s the point. If you want precision and geometry, Pic Collage exists for that. For playfulness and an immediacy that echoes working with paper, sok-edit is a must-have download.

Get sok-edit for Android (free/£1.09)

Get sok-edit for iOS (free/99p)

The post Best Photo Editing Apps 2018: 17 apps to improve your snaps appeared first on Trusted Reviews.

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Posted by Daniel Brayton on 2018-12-20 20:49:49

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Xiaomi Mi Mix 3 hands-on: The bezel-less slider phone

Xiaomi Mi Mix 3 hands-on: The bezel-less slider phone

Xiaomi Mi Mix 3 hands-on: The bezel-less slider phone

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Slider phones are back and I couldn’t be happier. Nothing beats that satisfying snap as the phone clicks back into place. Xiaomi has updated the form factor for 2018 though, with a large bezel-free display, four cameras and premium ceramic build material. This is our Xiaomi Mi Mix 3 hands-on.

What strikes you when you see the Mi Mix 3 is its screen. A 6.39-inch Full HD+ AMOLED panel from Samsung with 19.5:9 aspect ratio and 600-nit peak brightness occupies 93.4 percent of the phone. There’s no notch and only the smallest chin beneath the screen, which is covered in Gorilla Glass 5. You can enable an always-on display in the settings and you can adjust the color temperature of the display.

The Xiaomi Mi Mix 3 delivers a 6.39-inch AMOLED display with 93.4% screen-to-body ratio and no notch.

Pick up the Mi Mix 3 and the first thing you’ll notice is its weight; it is easily among the heaviest phones I’ve ever used. At 218 grams, it’s 10 percent heavier than either the Vivo Nex (199 grams) or the Galaxy Note 9 (201 grams). The Mi Mix 3 is a little slimmer and shorter than the Note 9, but has a more aggressive curve on the ceramic back panel so it feels a little less “edgy.”

The manual sliding mechanism is the standout feature here, with neodymium magnets used to lock the slider in place when open or closed. As you start to push the display in or out you encounter slight resistance as the magnets interact and then get that nostalgic click as the screen pops into place. It feels great and Xiaomi claims it can withstand 300,000 cycles. Unlike other phones with hidden cameras, the mechanism is fully manual, so no motor is required. This is a much better solution and much less likely to suffer from failure.

The manual slider mechanism uses neodymium magnets to lock the screen in place. It’s cool, nostalgic, and infinitely satisfying.

The default slider action is to launch the front-facing camera, but it can also be customized to answer incoming calls or launch certain apps. The slider sounds can be swapped out too, so adding a lightsaber noise is easy as pie. Speaking of pie, the Mi Mix 3 launches with MIUI 10 and Android 9 Pie out of the box. When the Mi Mix 3 is in landscape mode while gaming, sliding the screen over will reveal an in-game menu to hide notifications, record the screen, or take a screenshot.

The slider isn’t just for fun. Like other bezel-free phones including the Oppo Find X and Vivo Nex, the front-facing camera only pops up when required. If you’re not using the face unlocking sensor or the front-facing camera, the phone can stay in its default state. So it’s only when you want a selfie or need to unlock your phone that you need to slide the screen down to reveal the cameras. The extra layer of security adds some peace of mind.

The front-facing camera only pops up when required and there’s no motor to worry about.

Those front-facing cameras are a 24MP Sony IMX576 with 1.8-micron pixels and f/2.2 aperture lens and a secondary 2MP camera for portrait mode and bokeh effects. The main sensor uses pixel binning in low-light situations to combine light data from four adjacent pixels, dropping the resolution to 6MP and then upscaling the image back to 24MP. AI-supported portrait mode, studio lighting effects, and AI beautify settings round out the selfie options. I noticed some lens flares at the bottom of the frame, presumably from the overhead light bouncing off the edge of the screen section which sits right below the camera lens.

There’s an included case in the Mi Mix 3 box that has a cutaway at the bottom, so you can still slide the screen down with a case on. The USB Type-C cable in the box also has a kind of scalloped sheath so you can charge your Mi Mix 3 and still use the slider (other USB Type-C cables don’t let you do this). There’s a free 10W wireless charger in the box and 5V/3A, 9V/2A, 12V/1.5A charging brick (with support for Qualcomm Quick Charge 3.0).

The battery is a diminutive 3,200mAh cell, with the slider mechanism to blame for the smaller battery capacity. The Xiaomi Mi Mix 3 supports Qualcomm Quick Charge 4+ if you want to buy an optional additional charger, as well as the regular Qi standard.

Flipping the phone over, the familiar ceramic build material and camera layout remain intact, with a stylish MIX logo towards the bottom. A capacitive fingerprint scanner provides options if you don’t want to use the face unlocking on the front. The Mi Mix 3 includes NFC for contactless payments.

The bottom edge has twin speaker grilles but only the one on the right is a speaker, the other just conceals a microphone. It gets decently loud and doesn’t sound terrible either, but it’s a far cry from excellent. It goes without saying there’s nowhere to include a headphone jack on a slider phone and I’d do my best to keep the Mi Mix 3 away from water as it’s not IP rated. You’ll find a 3.5mm-to-USB-Type-C adapter included in the box so you can easily use your existing wired headphones.

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Xiaomi Mi Mix 3 announced: Slider design, four cameras, no notch for under $500

Xiaomi Mi Mix 2S Review: The luster remains

The dual cameras on the back are both 12MP sensors. The main sensor is a Sony IMX363 with 1.4-micron pixels and dual pixel autofocus. An f/1.8 aperture lens sits on top with four axis OIS. The secondary sensor is a Samsung S5K3M3+ with 1-micron pixels and a 2x optical f/2.4 aperture lens in front.

Both cameras support various AI modes, but the main Sony sensor is the one handling 960fps slow-motion video (at 1080p or 720p). It’s not true 960fps like you’d find on a Galaxy Note 9 though, as the IMX363 doesn’t have built-in DRAM on which to store such high frame rates before offloading them to the image buffer. The Mi Mix 3 uses frame interpolation to achieve 960fps, meaning it won’t be as high quality as that found on a device with built-in DRAM on the sensor.

Xiaomi made a big deal about the Mi Mix 3’s low-light performance via night mode, posting side-by-side images with the Huawei P20 Pro showing the Mi Mix 3 to be superior. Some of the differences were pretty minimal, and we’d have to put the Mi Mix 3 up against the latest from Huawei, the Mate 20 Pro, to see if Xiaomi has truly outpaced its Chinese competitor in the low-light stakes. I don’t have a Mate 20 Pro with me in Beijing, so you’ll have to wait a little longer for that comparison. The Mi Mix 3 achieves its low-light results via multi-frame noise reduction, AI light metering, and AI image stabilization and calibration.

The Xiaomi Mi Mix 3 specs top out at 10GB of RAM and 256GB of storage with the Snapdragon 845 for ~$720.

The rest of the specs of the Mi Mix 3 are top notch, with the Snapdragon 845 mobile platform with Adreno 630 GPU running the show. There are several variants of the Mi Mix 3: 6GB with 128GB of storage, 8GB with 128GB, 8GB with 256GB and a special limited-edition “Forbidden City Palace Museum” version with 10GB of RAM and 256GB of storage. Prices are as follows: 6GB/128GB 3,299 yuan (~$475); 8GB/128GB 3,599 yuan (~$520); 8GB/256GB 3,999 yuan (~$575); 10GB/256GB special edition 4,999 (~$720). All versions use UFS 2.1 flash memory and LPDDR4x RAM.

Xiaomi Mi Mix 3

Display

6.39-inch AMOLED
2,340 x 1,080 resolution
19.5:9 screen ratio

SoC

Qualcomm Snapdragon 845
Octa-core, up to 2.8Ghz

GPU

Adreno 630

RAM

6GB/8GB/10GB
LPDDR4x

Storage

128GB/256GB
UFS 2.1

Cameras

Rear cameras
Main: 12MP with 1.4 micron pixels, 4-axis OIS, f/1.8 aperture (IMX363)
Secondary: 12MP 2x telephoto with 1.0 micron pixels, f/2.4 aperture (S5K3M3+)
Video: 4K at 60/30fps, 1080p at 960/240/120/60/30fps, 720p at 960/240/120/30fps

Front cameras
Main: 24MP with 1.8 micron “super pixels”, f/2.2 aperture (IMX576)
Secondary: 2MP sensor for depth effects (OV02A10)

Audio

USB Type-C
No headphone jack

Battery

3,200mAh battery
Quick Charge 4+
10 watt wireless charging

IP rating

N/A

Sensors

Rear fingerprint
Hall
Accelerometer
Gyroscope
Proximity
Ambient Light
Electronic Compass
Barometer

Network

GSM: B2, B3, B5, B8 CDMA 1X, EVDO: BC0, BC6, BC10
WCDMA: B1, B2, B3, B4, B5, B6, B8, B9, B10
TDD-LTE: B34, B38, B39, B40, B41(2496-2690)
FDD-LTE: B1, B2, B3, B4, B5, B7, B8, B12, B13, B17, B18, B19,B20, B25, B26, B28, B29, B30, B66

Connectivity

Wi-Fi: 2×2 MIMO, MU-MIMO, 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, 2.4G/5G
Bluetooth 5.0
AptX/AptX-HD support
NFC
Dual frequency GPS (GPS L1+L5, Galileo E1+E5a, QZSS L1+L5, GLONASS L1, Beidou B1)

SIM

Dual nano-SIM
Dual 4G standby

Software

MIUI 10
Android 9.0 Pie

Dimensions and weight

157.9 x 74.7 x 8.5mm
218g

Colors

Jade Green
Onyx Black
Sapphire Blue

Xiaomi’s voice assistant, Xiao AI, can be accessed via the dedicated assistant button on the left of the phone. It will likely be replaced by Google Assistant on the global version but I couldn’t get this confirmed. 5G support will be coming on the limited edition version but not until next year. As always, take any claims of “5G” with a pinch of salt. You’ll need your carrier to support it at any rate. The Mi Mix 3 thankfully features global bands.

The Xiaomi Mi Mix 3 comes in three colors – onyx black, jade green, and sapphire blue – the most Xiaomi has ever offered at launch. It will be available in China on November 1, with select global markets to follow. There are currently no confirmed launch markets or prices outside China.

What do you think of the Xiaomi Mi Mix 3? Would you buy one if it comes to your market?

Xiaomi Mi Mix 3 hands-on: The bezel-less slider phone syndicated from barbarawalston.wordpress.com/

Posted by JohnEllrod on 2018-10-25 18:29:23

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Sony XBR-65Z9F Ultra HD TV Review

Sony XBR-65Z9F Ultra HD TV Review

Sony XBR-65Z9F Ultra HD TV Review

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Available in both 65” and 75” sizes, there’s no wish for smaller sizes from Sony’s top tier televisions.

Great images deserve to be seen on large screens, and Sony’s XBR-65Z9F (or commonly known as the 65Z9F) delivers the goods with the help of Sony’s 4K HDR Picture Processor X1 Ultimate ensuring that no fine detail will be missed. An incredibly deep integration of apps through Google Play puts the world’s streamed content at your fingertips. Connect an Ultra HD Blu-ray player through one of the four HDMI 2.0b inputs, and you’ll push the envelope of UHD at home.

Highlights

Sony XBR-65Z9F Ultra HD TV

Extremely accurate grayscale and color with CalMAN AutoCal

High Dynamic Range over 1800 nits peak

Wide Color Gamut covering DCI-P3

HDR10, HLG, and Dolby Vison support

HDMI 2.0b with HDCP 2.2 and eARC

Plenty of streaming options

Introduction

Sony has introduced landmark televisions in its past; the legendary Trinitron in 1968, WEGA in 1997, and Bravia in 2005. Each attempted to push the envelope in home video reproduction to tell the stories of tens of thousands of filmmakers. With the new Master Series, inspired by Sony’s expertise in mastering content creation with filmmakers and Ultra HD HDR technology, the filmmaker’s intent has never been seen so beautifully at home. The Sony 65Z9F – a backlit LED/LCD – is one of two technologies Sony makes available. The other is an OLED, the Sony 65A9F. Both deliver outstanding images, and each fulfills the criteria of the UHD Alliance for LCD and OLED displays. The reviewed 65Z9F has deep black levels due to the dimmable zones behind the LCD panel yet is capable of extremely bright highlights of up to 1800 nits when the content demands it – and it does so with little compromise. Let’s take a closer look at this television to see how.

SONY XBR-65Z9F ULTRA HD TV SPECIFICATIONS

Panel Type:

VA LCD

Backlight:

Full Array Local Dimming (approximately 100 zones)

Resolution:

3840 x 2160

Color Depth:

10-bit panel, 12-bit processing

High Dynamic Range:

HDR10, HLG, Dolby Vision

Screen size:

65” (75” also available)

Aspect Ratio:

1.78:1

Input Signal Compatibility:

up to 18Gbps, 3840 x 2160p @ 60Hz

Video Inputs:

4x HDMI 2.0b w/HDCP 2.2, 1x composite A/V, RF antenna

Audio Out:

optical, headphone, internal speakers

Data Inputs:

3x USB, 1x RJ-45, Wi-Fi, IR blaster

Dimensions with Stand:

W57.25” x H35.75” x D12.4”

Dimensions without Stand:

W57.25” x H33” x D2.75”

Weight:

65lbs with stand, 62.2lbs without

Price:

$3499

Warranty:

One Year

Company:

Sony

SECRETS Tags:

Sony, XBR-65Z9F, Ultra HD TV, Ultra HD, HDR, Television, LCD, LED, TV Review 2019

Linkbacks

VIZIO PQ65-F1 65” Ultra HD Television Review

VIZIO P65-F1 65” Ultra HD Television Review

Design

Designed elegantly to fit any room décor, the 65Z9F has a thin, black, and lightly speckled finish on its bezel. If you prefer to mount it on a table instead of the wall, the feet are easily attached and look great from a distance. One person could do the job of removing this TV from the box and assembling it, but it’s not recommended due to the 65-pound weight and awkwardness of carrying such a large display. Panels are snapped to the rear and the feet conceal all the cabling. The rear of the TV looks just as simple as the front without a mess of spaghetti cables. Inputs are 100% 21st Century; there are four HDMI 2.0b inputs, one with eARC to transfer DTS:X and Dolby Atmos audio from a UHD Blu-ray player to a surround receiver or preamp. Three USB ports and an ethernet input accompany the HDMI and Wi-Fi is built in. There is a composite video input via mini jack, just in case you’ve got a retro gaming system on hand.

Due to the full-array local dimming (FALD) backlight, the 65Z9F measures 2.75” thick, much thinner than its predecessors from years ago. We often praise the images of FALD televisions for their superior video when compared to panels that are edge-lit. But to differentiate between their OLED televisions that have perfect blacks across the screen, Sony has reduced the number of zones in this year’s Z9F to that around 100 compared to about 600 on the previous 65Z9D (Sony doesn’t release the information of exactly how many zones there are). In the time before Sony made consumer OLEDs, the 65Z9D was over-engineered to set a major reference for high fidelity LCD. With its Backlight Master Drive system, it would illuminate images tightly to lighted objects and darken in the black areas of the screen. As a result, the cloudiness/halos that’s commonly seen in dark areas on a typical LCD TV was significantly reduced to look like an OLED. The new 65Z9F does achieve an excellent black with FALD, but the reduction in LED zones is noticeable. The 65Z9F is also significantly lower in price than its predecessor, but because of the reduction in dimmable zones, the 65Z9F can’t be considered a direct successor even though its naming suggests it.

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There is a design advantage of the Z9F over the Z9D regarding its off-angle viewing. The TV accommodates extremely wide viewing angles without a significant loss in color or dark level details. LCDs usually look the best for those who sit directly in front of the screen while those sitting off to the sides experience a loss in color fidelity. Not so here. The TV’s screen material has some significant ambient light rejection which shoots the light out sideways rather than directly back at the viewer. This is due to an optical filter placed within the LCD stack; it spreads the light around horizontally and less back at the viewer. The perceived contrast ratio is increased for a much more pleasing image. I noticed this horizontal light spread when I shone light on the screen. The benefit is the picture was easily watched without glare no matter the time of day. Considering most living rooms aren’t light-controlled, that’s a great feature to have.

The Z9F also gets a huge video processing update with its Picture Processing X1 Ultimate. It’s two times more powerful than the previous generation as it compares hundreds of objects in the input signal to objects referenced within the processor (specific shapes like beaches, sky, faces, video noise, etcetera). The processor is tuned specifically for this display and reacts very quickly as content changes. Sony claims the resulting image is much more refined than any other TV regardless of the signal source or bitrate. The dual database works in two processes: first it applies the noise removal and then it provides the upscaling to the 4K panel using X-Reality Pro.

Two other features of interest are X-Motion Clarity and X-Tended Dynamic Range Pro. The first one applies picture motion processing for those who want the image smoothened out a bit versus watching the natural judder of 24 or 30fps video. Sony provides various presets that are user-customizable. For those who like the black frame insertion modes (to mimic CRT motion), Sony has provided some additional engineering behind this mode. It’s a localized function to ensure the image remains bright (inserting black frames generally reduces light output). Sony blinks the backlight brighter behind moving objects to counter the darkening effects of black frame insertion. X-Tended Dynamic Range Pro brightens regular Rec.709 content to try to make it look like true HDR material. Using this feature is a matter of personal preference. Regular HD material isn’t mastered this way, so the TV is interpreting how it would look in HDR.

The remote control is not backlit or very fancy, although I do like its lightly fuzzy texture and feel of the keys. The layout is like Sony remotes from the past decade but now it’s completely sealed and smooth for easy cleaning (and your dinner won’t get stuck between the keys). All menu access and navigation controls are in the approximate center of the handset, and it’s a bit traditional (and welcomed) compared to the multitude of wand and swiping remotes coming from the Korean manufacturers.

Setup

Sony menus have always irked me. I find them repetitive because I can access the same menu functions from several different on-screen locations all by pressing different buttons on the remote. I think Sony’s intent is to use them as hot keys, but I feel like I’m being led further down the rabbit hole into an endless labyrinth of icons and settings menus. The location of some functions has always been questionable. For example, the energy saving mode and aspect ratio options are in separate submenus and not grouped with the main picture adjustments, even though they directly affect image quality. The user also needs to find the external input menu to activate the deep color functionality of each HDMI input. (VIZIO also does this for some unknown reason. Ed.) Again, a challenge for novice users and too much clicking about for advanced users.

Turning on the TV for the first time requires a brief initial setup that customizes the TV to your location, internet settings, and sets you up with the Google Play store if you have a Gmail account. If you don’t, you’ll want to consider getting one for this television to use more of the apps. Android 8.0 offers a dizzying array of apps and menus that took me many tries to find where items were located. I made mistakes more than once. Twice. Three times. Oh, and maybe four or more. Maybe I’m getting too old to learn this Smart TV or maybe it’s an inherent design that I just couldn’t master quickly. Some of the most frequently used apps like Netflix and YouTube are easy to find, but you’ll really need to become familiar with the location of other content or apps. For example, I needed to download the CalMAN for BRAVIA app to be able to calibrate it with precision using my measuring instruments (more on this later). It took me quite a while to find but once I did, adding it was a breeze. Although when I tried to find the app again after exiting the Smart TV interface, I had forgotten the key sequence to access the page I downloaded it to. Since your Smart TV chops may be better than mine, my recommendation is to spend some time with it at your local big-box store. It’s the only real way to test your comfort in navigating Smart TV functions.

The television can be controlled from a variety of devices including Alexa and Google Home & Chromecast. There will be an update to add support for Apple’s Airplay 2 and Homekit control through Siri. Sony wanted to include all three as to not leave any users out. The TV’s far field mic is built into the panel rather than the remote and can be turned off if one is concerned about privacy.

In Use

All viewing was done with the television calibrated correctly to video standards. UHD-HDR was set with a grayscale of D65, color adjustments made to DCI-P3 within the BT.2020 color gamut, and gamma set tightly to ST.2084. Peak white was approximately 1800 nits. HD content was calibrated to D65 gray, BT.709 color, and 2.4 gamma, with reference white set to 100 nits (although you could artificially stretch the video out further to compete with ambient light).

Ultra HD & 1080p Viewing

Fury is a fictional World War II drama about a tank crew moving through Germany during the final days of the war. Shia LaBeouf stars alongside Brad Pitt in this fairly bloody film depicting the challenges that soldiers faced when operating heavily-armored military tanks. While the story is not on the scale of Saving Private Ryan or Dunkirk, director David Ayer makes a decent film, albeit a cocky depiction of Americans pummelling mindless Germans. The UHD disc is razor-sharp with a wide range of contrast. The climactic night assault is a visual treat as the Sony’s screen flashes bright to dark from the guns and the explosions. The Sony 65Z9F had no issues delivering the range of brightness needed for this film to not only enhance the story line, but to deliver us closer to the action! This film is bright when it needs to be, and dark shadows are seen with details intact. The color palette varies throughout, but leans slightly more to a drab, warn-torn appearance.

The next title I watched was the old 1981 Sam Raimi horror classic, The Evil Dead. This UHD title sparked some discussion among reviews and forums as if a 4K transfer of a 16mm film was needed over the 1080p HD version. With the TV calibrated to the appropriate levels for HD and UHD, the answer is a definite yes! Doing a direct comparison between the HD and the UHD editions, the Sony 65Z9F exhibited a greater sense of depth with many shots, fewer compression artifacts, and the addition of HDR. While the increase in detail won’t blow you away, there is a noticeable improvement in some shots. The resolution of film grain – which can be quite intense at times – appears very smeared on the 1080p HD disc but is highly articulated in 4K. And the HDR! Glares from the chrome bumpers on Ash’s ’73 Oldsmobile Delta 88, the headlights beaming down the dark road on the way to the bridge (only to be found destroyed) show the excellent contrast capability of the 65Z9F. The exterior night shot views of the cabin, with the lights on inside and the outdoor light bulbs glowing on their own all exhibit greater contrast than the HD version, which appear very flat and uninteresting by comparison. Since much of this movie takes place at night, I did notice the reduced local dimming zones because the LEDs clouded up some black areas. In the second photo below, you can see the LED zoning of the Z9F with a very black test pattern. Using two headlight shots of The Evil Dead, one of UHD-HDR and one of HD-SDR, the Sony XBR-Z9F shows the extra bright highlights even if the film detail isn’t a slick as today’s digital films. Note that the image of the HDR headlight cannot be realized on your computer monitor but it visibly had significant differences in light texture compared to what looked like a blob of dull light on the HD version of the film.

Blue Planet II is BBC’s follow up to Blue Planet with gorgeous shots of underwater creatures in mostly native 4K. Blue Planet II is great demo material to wow your family and friends, as well as a look at what’s happening under the deadly waters that cover the earth. Diving down to coral reefs and to the extreme depths of the Marianas trench, this multi-part documentary shows us alien life in its natural habitat. The Sony 65Z9F delivered color beautifully and dynamically. The blue water in all its shades was is far more vibrant and deeper throughout the hues. The intricate textures of fish are so prominently displayed with Sony’s fine detail, no doubt due in part to the superior Picture Processor X1 Ultimate. Short of booking your next scuba diving adventure, the 65Z9F is your trip to shimmering water, exotic fish, and illuminated aqua life on coral reefs!

I also tested the TV’s smooth gradation feature using the IMAX title Rocky Mountain Express. Not only is it an engaging documentary about the building of the Canadian Pacific Railway through Western Canada and challenges of such a feat, it’s also an early UHD transfer of a 70mm IMAX film that has some visible banding in light to dark transitions. I wanted to see if Sony’s Smooth Gradation feature would smooth it out, but it didn’t, so the problem is in the source material. Using test patterns, I was able to smooth some fine steps, but the result with moving video, as when viewing the black and white portraits of those who spearheaded the railway, introduced some artifacts that I hadn’t seen before with the feature turned on low. I tested it only with HDR content, and while it didn’t deliver as expected, the feature is better-suited for 8-bit content.

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Viewing 1080p material upconverted to Ultra HD exhibited more detail as there are now four times as many pixels reproducing the video. The result is reduced stepping on diagonals, and the X1 Processor likely contributes to a virtually artifact-free upconversion. Previous Sony 4K models always introduced a little bit of ringing to contrasting edges of 1080p material, evident on test patterns and less so with real 1080p content. Now upconversion looks flawless! Watching the same films above in their respective HD versions is solid. This is a very fine 1080p television that follows the rules to make good looking video once calibrated. While 100nit HD material doesn’t wow as much as UHD-HDR content, and even though there are fewer local dimming zones than the previous 65Z9D, Picture Processor X1 Ultimate ensures that the Sony 65Z9F does a remarkable job delivering the 1080p goods.

On the Bench

After watching all those great images on the calibrated television, I’ll share with you my test results. To measure the Sony 65Z9F, I used a Konica-Minolta CS-1000A spectroradiometer with CalMAN software, using the CalMAN for Bravia workflow and the downloaded app in the television. HD/UHD-HDR test patterns came from a Murideo FRESCO SIX-G pattern generator and cross-referenced with a R. Masciola UHD test disc from an Oppo UDP-205.

SDR Grayscale & Gamma Tracking

Unlike other TVs that have fully independent image memories, Sony uses some of its picture settings across various modes and on each input. They’ve designed the TV so that the calibrated grayscale and gamma for HD also forms the basis for UHD – and it works very well. These settings are also used for multiple inputs and picture modes and can’t be customized independently. For example, grayscale within the Expert modes will be the same for all picture modes and inputs, but the LED Brightness can be set independently. When one input with HD and UHD-HDR10/DV is calibrated, I needed to ensure all my settings were appropriately selected for each input including the streaming image mode. If using just one HDMI input with all sources connected to an external HDMI switcher in a receiver, this isn’t a concern. But for people who have all sources connected directly to the TV, take some notes and ensure your calibration modes are copied over!

For this review, I jumped right into the CalMAN for BRAVIA software provided by SpectraCal. I didn’t calibrate using only the user menu controls because I wanted to challenge it to perform to its fullest potential. Sony TVs are typically good to go once all unnecessary and/or extra processing has been defeated. But how much better can it get? Quite a bit actually, especially in the darkest parts of the picture. Once the television is connected to the software, your calibrator needs to follow a few rules before the AutoCal takes place. I chose to calibrate in Custom for Pro 1 picture mode (designed to replicate Sony’s BVM broadcast monitors) using Expert 1 grayscale settings. Prior to calibration, the image is too blue, and the gamma is slightly darker than 2.2.

Sony XBR-65Z9F Grayscale and Gamma before calibration, Custom for Pro 1 picture mode.

During calibration, it’s recommended to keep the local dimming feature off and the gamma set for 2.2 for correct HDR calibration. When turned on, gamma readings were all over the map and that’s typical of a FALD display. Sometimes you can cheat by using high APL or full screen patterns but with this Sony I couldn’t. So, I went through a gamut of tests with my profiled C6-HDR colorimeter and my K-M CS-1000A just to see how it performed under a variety of scenarios. Ultimately, I still calibrate with my Konica-Minolta on the final pass because it still performs better than a profiled meter when giving accurate luminance readings and measuring the darkest images. Gamma for HD can be readjusted after the calibration to one’s preference.

Depending on the AutoCal settings and the meter used (as well as the sensitivity settings of the meter), it took me about an hour and a half for the AutoCal process. That’s significantly longer than what others will experience as I set my meter for the highest sensitivity and for the most thorough option on the television. The longer time paid off because after calibration, grayscale was perfect! Using a 20-point grayscale adjustment, there was no way the image could get any better than this, including the level just under 5%. The AutoCal process allows manual control in the CalMAN menu after the automation takes place just in case the user wants to manually adjust some areas.

Sony XBR-65Z9F Grayscale & Gamma after calibration, Custom for Pro 1 picture mode

SDR Color Gamut & Luminance

The AutoCal calibration measures and adjusts at 75% color saturation levels. Even though there are options to measure at different points (as all CalMAN’s options show up in the workflow), don’t be tempted to do it. The results will be very wrong. Sony has included color management settings this year and the AutoCal does the adjustment for you. But unlike the grayscale settings, it’s not universal to all inputs and picture modes. Since there’s no “copy to all” function, you’ll need to manually copy the settings if you want to use them on each input, the forced Netflix Picture mode, or for HDR content. Some might find this a bit of a pain, but it works well for UHD-HDR since you’ll need different color calibration settings for UHD even though grayscale stays the same.

Sony XBR-65Z9F, BT.709 color gamut, post-calibration

HDR Tests

With an HDR signal, the user can set slightly different image parameters in the picture mode, but Sony maintains that most of the calibrated settings set for HD during AutoCal (as well as manual calibration) are also good for UHD. It’s near perfect in the areas that were calibrated for HD (codes 108-504) and the HDR highlights beyond code 504 measure slightly blue. If we are to have an error, we’d want a blue one as it will be hardly noticeable. I used the contrast control to set the output of code values respective of their input luminance target (using 504 as my reference) and the result was a tightly displayed UHD gamma (the calibrated white line hugs the yellow target line). This is excellent performance for a TV as it’ll display most HDR content without missing out on things that sparkle. The Sony will display white intensity perfectly up to about 1500 nits and from that point it begins to tone map the rest (the white line roll-off) until its calibrated peak just above 1800 nits (a higher peak output is achievable but at the expense of raising the luminance of each code, which is wrong).

Sony XBR-65Z9F Custom for Pro 1, HDR grayscale and gamma, post-calibration

Since there’s a separate CMS adjustment for UHD content, I plugged in the numbers from the HD calibration only to find they weren’t a good match. “I can do better,” I thought. So, I calibrated the Sony XBR-65Z9F colors first with the Murideo Fresco SIX-G HDR pattern generator, then used the R. Masciola UHD Blu-ray as a cross reference for what’s coming from the OPPO UHD Blu-ray player. After manually calibrating the CMS controls in the Sony’s UHD image menu, the results of the color calibration, referenced to the BT.2020 gamut, are shown below.

Sony XBR-65Z9F Custom Pro 1 HDR Picture Mode, BT.2020 color gamut, post-calibration

Conclusions

The SONY XBR-65Z9F delivers reference images at bright levels. At $3500, it’s worthy of serious consideration when compared to more-expensive competition. After calibration, it’s a statement HD and UHD-HDR television for homes or post-production facilities that monitor their content on consumer televisions.

Likes

Excellent HD color and grayscale

Very sharp Ultra HD resolution and upconverted 1080p

Very bright and accurate HDR up to 1800 nits

Apple Airplay 2 & HomeKit, Alexa, and Google Chromecast control

Traditional remote

Would Like To See

Copy To All Inputs option for picture adjustments, and then customize if needed

Less cluttered Smart TV screen

Streamlined menu system from one access point

I wish I had more time with this TV to go through the rest of my UHD discs. I get addicted to TV when something new comes along, so I tend not to go to the gym as much as I should. What else can I say? This Sony XBR-65Z9F has me excited to purchase more HDR content and subscribe to Netflix. This TV doesn’t suffer from banding artifacts like some of its competitors and its color reproduction is extremely good for HD and UHD material. I miss the greater number of local dimming zones from the previous 65Z9D. It seems Sony has saved the ultimate black level for their reference OLED panel, the XBR-65A9F, which I was fortunate to preview along with this television. When deciding on a TV, you’ll need to decide if the uniform black levels are more important to blinding, bright highlights. Artistically, both televisions offer a unique take on the content with everything else being equal. After watching projectors for such a long time, the color accuracy and brightness of the Sony 65Z9F is a sight to behold.

The post Sony XBR-65Z9F Ultra HD TV Review appeared first on HomeTheaterHifi.com.

Sony XBR-65Z9F Ultra HD TV Review published first on 123movieshub.tumblr.com/

Posted by edithrusch on 2019-04-10 17:26:22

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Google I/O 2019: Here’s Everything You’ll Be Excited About

Google I/O 2019: Here’s Everything You’ll Be Excited About

Google I/O 2019: Here’s Everything You’ll Be Excited About

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It seems like yesterday when we were discussing Android Pie, Material Design 2.0, Flutter Apps, and other Google I/O 2018 expectations. And here we are today – talking about the Google I/O 2019 dates and predicting everything that might be announced in the event.

Yes, you got it right.

Three days back, Google shared a tweet on its I/O account to give a hint about Google I/O 2019 dates and timings, which was soon cracked by a nerdy coder.

Later, Google’s CEO, Sundar Pichai confirmed that the Google Conference 2019 will be a three-day event starting from May 7, 2019. And it will take place at the venue where it has been organized for the past three years – Shoreline Amphitheater in Mountain View, California.

While this single news is enough to fill our heart with excitement, let’s have a look at what to expect from I/O 2019 and what will be its impact on the developers’ world.

1. Android Q

Undoubtedly, the biggest announcement at Google I/O Event 2019 will be about the next Android OS version, Android Q.

Android Q, the 10th Android OS and successor of Android Pie, is rumoured to have Dark Mode, Desktop Accessibility and other such features.

But, it’s the Google Conference 2019 Event where we will find which feature predictions will become a reality and which won’t. It’s in the event where the Google team will share Android Q’s characteristics and help us understand its impact on the market when it joins the Android Pie vs Android Oreo OS War.

Besides, it is expected that we might get some hint about the Android Q name at the event – as it is quite tough to guess any dessert item whose name begins with Q.

2. Pixel Watch

Though Google shared that it has no plans of launching any smartwatch this year, the market researchers have revealed that a Pixel Watch might be introduced at I/O 2019. This Pixel Watch will run on the Wear OS that Google offers to companies like Sony, Motorola and LG for their smart wrist watches.

And a proof of this is the Google’s recent deal of $40M worth of smartwatch technology with Fossil and rumours that some Google employees were seen surrounding two new devices with codenames “ Salmon” and “Medaka”.

3. Google Coral

Another Google IO 2019 highlight that we might see is Google Coral.

Google Coral is termed as a secretive device recently spotted on GeekBench. The device is having a 6GB RM and has the fastest mobile processor of Qualcomm, i.e, Snapdragon 855. It is having an average frequency of 1.78 GHz and is expected to run on the forthcoming Android 10.0 version, Android Q.

With such impressive features and timeline, users are assuming it to be a Chromebook or Pixelbook. However, nothing is revealed by Google yet, which is adding fuel to the excitement for the Google event this year.

4. Upgraded Google Assistant

Just like last year, Google experts will announce some new updates to Google Assistant, adding to the 43 best Google Assistant features that make it better than Siri.

The team is envisaged to showcase a report on how Google Duplex feature, the one that enjoyed limelight in the last conference, has outperformed in the market and what all ways they are planning to integrate Machine learning into the mobile world.

5. Google Fuschia

As we shared in an earlier article, Google is planning to go beyond the world of smartphones with Fuschia. Keeping the same plan in consideration, it is expected that the Google team will reveal some insights of the cross-platform operating system at Google I/O Event this year.

While this is all for now, we will keep you updated with everything about the Google I/O 2019 announcements and ticket procedure, as the event gets closer.

The post Google I/O 2019: Here’s Everything You’ll Be Excited About appeared first on Appinventiv Official Blog for Mobile App Development.

Google I/O 2019: Here’s Everything You’ll Be Excited About syndicated from trackmyphoneapp.wordpress.com/

Posted by Rosalind Will on 2019-01-28 16:11:39

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The 8 best new phones we can’t wait to get our hands on in 2019

The 8 best new phones we can’t wait to get our hands on in 2019

The 8 best new phones we can’t wait to get our hands on in 2019

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iPhone XR

Best New Phones 2019: Galaxy S10, iPhone 11, Pixel 4, OnePlus 7 and more

While 2018 has been a transitional year for phones, Samsung and Apple both played it safe; Sony finally changed its design and Chinese brands like Xiaomi, OnePlus and Honor experimented with in-display security and slider mechanisms to remove the notch. 2019 though looks like it might be massive – 5G anyone?

So what does the year have in store? Let’s have a look into our phone-shaped crystal ball and see what’s coming.

1) Samsung Galaxy S10

After a fairly forgettable year for Samsung’s phones, 2019 is surely going to see the Korean company make a huge splash with its next flagship, the Galaxy S10.

Early rumours are suggesting Samsung will celebrate the tenth anniversary of, let’s be fair, the only true iPhone rival, with a number of devices. One, the Galaxy X, might even use the foldable display tech debuted in December, possibly incorporating a ‘pin-hole’ notch to try and keep the screen-to-body ratio as high as possible.

A huge design change is certainly in order as we’ve had the same Galaxy blueprint for two versions now. Considering the last time Samsung switched up its design – killing the bezel and curving the screen – it heralded a new era of phone craftsmanship we’d be expecting something similar this time.

Related: Snapdragon 855

Samsung Galaxy S9

An in-display fingerprint sensor seems a given (especially as Qualcomm is building support for the tech into its next flagship chip – which will likely power at least some versions of the S10) as does a switch to new, simple One UI.

One UI is a big rethink of Samsung’s software, removing some of the childish elements that had been around since the TouchWIz. Expect gesture control aplenty, UI elements built to be controller with one hand and a more elegant overall feel.

Likely release date: Q1 2019 – Feb/March

2) OnePlus 7

OnePlus loves publicity and the maker of the excellent OnePlus 6T has already announced it’ll be launching a 5G device with EE in the UK sometime during the first half of 2019 – and the smart money is on it being called the OnePlus 7.

Getting so ahead with this announcement feels like it could backfire especially when pushing 5G in its infancy might not be the best port of call for a brand like OnePlus. It’ll no doubt boost the price of its phone and there are arguably more important parts requiring more attention – especially the camera.

We’d make the prediction you’ll see two OnePlus 7 variants (to be honest it could ditch the number altogether and go for the OnePlus 5G) in 2018: a 5G enabled version that’ll be pricier and less ‘consumer’ alongside a more typically OnePlus-priced phone.

Likely release date: First half 2018

3) Sony Xperia XZ4

We’ve been harsh on Sony phones in the past, however the Xperia XZ3 signalled a step in the right direction. It ditched that awful omnibalance design, used the brand’s TV knowledge to calibrate a fantastic OLED and improved the camera tech.

With the Xperia XZ4, it seems an obvious to bring over some of the DNA from the XZ Premium series: dual cameras and some form of a 4K screen should be a given.

Sony Xperia XZ3

A 4K display is far from a necessity on a phone but it would give Sony that headline grabbing feature Samsung, Huawei and Apple don’t have.

The Xperia XZ4 would also likely be one of the first phones to utilise the 855 chipset from Qualcomm.

Likely release date: Q1 2019 – Feb/March

4) Moto G7

Motorola hasn’t released an exceptional flagship high-end phone in years, though it has released exceptional flagship budget phones.

The G-series is the pinnacle of budget smartphones, constantly picking up critical acclaim and racking up sales. It’s Motorola’s biggest seller and that makes it super important for the brand.

Related: Moto G6

Early rumours suggest the Moto G7 will probably have a notch and we might see some of the design DNA from the newer Motorola One. Hopefully the price will remain low and the camera will remain impressive.

Moto’s biggest challenge is the increasing popularity, and quality, of Chinese brands producing cheap phones with high-end specs. Pocophone, an offshoot of Xiaomi, and Honor are two such brands and it’s becoming increasingly hard to ignore them.

Likely release date: Q1 2019 – Feb/March

5) Huawei P30 & Huawei P30 Pro

Huawei’s rise in terms of an astronomical increase in the quality of its products has been unheralded in 2018. The Huawei P20 Pro and Huawei Mate 20 Pro are two of the best phones of the year with fantastic cameras and features you just don’t see elsewhere.

The Mate 20 Pro, for example, can wirelessly charge other Qi-enabled phones and it’s the only mainstream device that boasts 40w charging – juicing the huge 4200 mAh battery up in less than an hour.

Having these features available now, makes the prospect of what’s coming next even more exciting. The P30 series will no doubt pack the 7nm Kirin 980 and hopefully it’ll take camera optics once again to a new level.

Our biggest request to Huawei is, as always, please do something about the software. EMUI remains poor and its iOS-like look is at odds with the lovely hardware Huawei now crafts.

Huawei Mate 20 Pro

Likely release date: Q1 2019 – Feb/March

6) New iPhone 2019

Even though the iPhone XS and XR are still fresh on shelves, eyes are already turning to what Apple might have up its sleeve for 2019.

5G seems out of the question at this rate, rumours suggest this’ll be held until 2020, so it’ll be interesting to see what tentpole features the new iPhones are hung upon.

A larger redesign seems the most predictable, along with the usual improvements to camera and performance. iOS 12 will hopefully be in line for a radical redesign and we’d hope 2018 will finally be the year Apple’s includes a fast charger in the box.

Likely release date: September 2019

7) Google Pixel 3 Lite

The Pixel 3 Lite is the rumoured baby sibling to the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL. It’s said to pack the same excellent camera as the non-Lite devices but with the plastic body, more mid-range processor and a headphone jack.

Whether this device turns out to be real remains to be seen – but colour is excited if that unbeatable Pixel camera turns up a phone with a more wallet-friendly price-tag.

Image Credit: @OnLeaks/91mobiles

Likely release date: Q1 2019

8) Google Pixel 4

Leading on nicely from the Pixel 3 Lite, the Pixel 4 will likely be Google’s 2019 flagship. Excitement builds purely on the camera: each Pixel has packed the best camera on a phone and if the Pixel 4 continues then it could be the best of 2019.

Likely release date: Late 2019

Which phone are you looking forward to the most in 2019? Tweet us @trustedreviews

The post The 8 best new phones we can’t wait to get our hands on in 2019 appeared first on Trusted Reviews.

The 8 best new phones we can’t wait to get our hands on in 2019 syndicated from netspytracker.wordpress.com/

Posted by Daniel Brayton on 2018-12-30 11:33:11

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Gboard and Android Pie for Chromebooks might finally arrive soon

Gboard and Android Pie for Chromebooks might finally arrive soon

Gboard and Android Pie for Chromebooks might finally arrive soon

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The HP Chromebook x2 recently received an update on the Canary channel that introduced Android 9 Pie.

With the update also came support for Android keyboards, namely Gboard.

The update might be coming to other Chromebooks very soon.

The best way to fix Chrome OS’ bare-bones software keyboard is to just bring Gboard over. While Google is at it, why not also bring some of that delicious Android 9 Pie support? According to XDA-Developers, that is exactly what Google looks to do with Chromebooks eventually.

XDA-Developers noticed that their HP Chromebook x2 on the Chrome OS 72 Canary channel jumped from Android 7.1 Nougat to Pie, skipping over Android Oreo. The Google Pixelbook also received the Pie update on the Canary channel back in October, so it might be only a matter of time until other Chromebooks get the update.

XDA-Developers

Based on what we saw on the Pixelbook, the changes with Pie are mostly aesthetic. The Android Settings page has the same colorful Pie look, while the Google Assistant pop-up is more prominent than before. The update also includes more Material Design aesthetics, which means plenty of white.

Editor’s Pick

The best Chromebooks for students (October 2018)

Despite Apple’s well-publicized attempts to be the top dog in school computers, Google has made quick headway in overtaking the tech giant. In just a few years, it’s become the face of school computers.

Chromebooks now …

Android Pie also means Android keyboard support, something that Chrome OS really needs. XDA-Developers noticed a new “Keyboard apps” section in the Input Method settings, but the listed keyboard options could not be enabled. Those keyboard options include Gboard, which would be a significant upgrade over the stock keyboard in Chrome OS.

Even though Gboard could not be enabled, its appearance in the Chrome OS 72 Canary channel means that support for it and Android Pie should roll out to Chromebooks very soon. For now, this is all a work in progress that could further propel Chrome OS into something even more useful.

Gboard and Android Pie for Chromebooks might finally arrive soon syndicated from barbarawalston.wordpress.com/

Posted by JohnEllrod on 2018-11-17 19:35:29

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Android Games Retrospective of 2018

Android Games Retrospective of 2018

Android Games Retrospective of 2018

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Another year, another gazillion games on the market. Android certainly didn’t leave those hungriest high tech lovers without a decent bite to eat, or several to be exact, in terms of new gadgets released. We’ve had Google Pixel 3, Samsung Galaxy S9, OnePlus 6T, Huawei Mate 20 Pro, Huawei P20 Pro, Xiaomi Mi 8 Pro, Samsung Galaxy Note 9, LG V40 ThinQ, Sony Xperia XZ3, and the famous Razer Phone 2, all out this year and packing the newest Android 9 or newer version.

The short version is – Android stormed the market in 2018 with its high-tech, and naturally, the games followed. However, a successful business is not one that neglects its returning customers, and this is why there were a number of games still playable on mobile phones that are a couple of years old.

Android Games in 2018 were a balanced mix of old-school titles ported on mobile, some new and innovative ideas, and even PC games brought to the smartphone audience.

Pie anyone?

The 9th major operating system version, Android Pie, was released on August 6th, 2018. IT was announced in March, made available for testing from May to July, and finally, it was here. It brought a new user interface and the quick settings menu, the clock was moved to the left, the ‘dock’ was now semi-transparent, battery saver was no longer visible, and so on. The critics particularly praised the new screenshot button addition in the power options and the Lockdown mode that disables biometric authentication. We’ve gotten several practical and visual improvements and there were no drawbacks what so ever.

A balanced Hardware and Software Improvement

Now, these hardware and software upgrades naturally affected the App market big time, and we actually even had changed to the App Store itself. Firstly, the Ads localization and restriction was enhanced, while at the same time the companies could affect a wider audience. Both the companies and the users gained from this, while the gaming market flourished as it seems.

How Android Handled Gaming From The Beginning?

The web is recently filled with various pools and lists at the face of the upcoming Holiday season. The lists agree on several points, while also disagree on many other. The very first game launched for Android in 2018 was HQ Trivia, which launched just a few moments after midnight on January 1st. It had occasional network issues but marked a good start for Android since it was an innovative quiz multiplayer game that was enormously successful right from the start.

2018 was continued in similar fashion, as almost all important game titles were ported or release exclusively for Android, and here are some of our important picks and honorary mentions.

Android, were you good the whole year?

PUBG Mobile was an unavoidable inclusion as this game is officially credited with making the Battle Royale gameplay style popular. It began on PC but quickly spread on other platforms, and it came to Android in February 2018. The best thing about it was that it did not require a heavy duty powerful phone and the game took off immediately. It quickly reached top scores and reviews all over the web and surpassed 20 million active users in its first month.

The adaptation to mobile was actually quite kind on the game and it featured aim assist, which is a must in games like these, and other accessibility improvements like communication and such. PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds was not that demanding in terms of graphics and CPU, so it didn’t lose much with porting. In fact, you probably won’t notice the difference at all.

Monster Hunter: Stories RPG originally released for Nintendo 3PS, was an impressive addition by Capcom. The game brought a completely new RPG experience by combining the mechanics of a dozen other similar games that feature collecting monsters, free roam worlds and action gameplay. Instead of a turn-based strategy style, the game offered also a turn-based but somewhat different and but also a traditional rock/paper/scissors action.

The game brought enormous content and was fitted nicely for mobile gameplay in terms of controls. Its visuals were also done very smart, with the models resembling the traditional anime paired with low and backgrounds. It made an easy to run, light game, with huge content and it got excellent reception by the audience.

The Room: Old Sins is the 4th game in this indie puzzle franchise which has been and stayed critically acclaimed. This edition had almost perfect ratings on Google Play and all other major review sites. It is a continuation of all previous titles but it also elevated the experience to a premium mobile level, offering excellent graphics and immersive gameplay at the palm of your hand.

Pocket City is a city building Sim game, which was a bullseye hit for Android, considering the audience was starved for such titles. The gameplay style is similar to Sim City and other simulations, except it focuses more on the macro aspect of it. You build streets, city blocks, infrastructure, and manage every aspect of the society in general. The launch was somewhat unsuccessful, but the game, later on, gained a bigger following and has reached respectable figures.

Fortnite’s arrival was just a matter of time and it came approximately at the same time as PUBG. There isn’t much to say about this game that hasn’t been said before, as it surely enjoyed the same enormous success on Android as it did on all other platforms. It was recently adapted and expanded the already gigantic Fortnite’s prowess to the Android audience successfully.

Assassin’s Creed: Rebellion was released on November 2018 and passed the scrutiny of even the roughest of critics and reviewers, like the Android Police which gave it a 4.5-star rating. Its turn-based squad strategy gameplay style was paired incredibly well with the standard Assassin’s Creed universe. IT featured excellent stealth mechanics and even innovative options for mobile users and was immediately successful.

Teslagrad is a relatively recent addition for Android, but the game originally came out in 2013 on Steam. It is a 2D side-scroller game that features old-school puzzle and platform elements and combines them nicely in a retro-style fun extravaganza. It is still too early to say how it will do on Android, but it’s a worthy inclusion in any list as the game already received highly positive feedback overall.

Android Games Retrospective of 2018 published first on touchgenweb.weebly.com/

Posted by JosephWillson on 2018-12-28 13:37:22

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DJI Osmo Pocket: all you need to know about DJI’s tiny vlogging cam

DJI Osmo Pocket: all you need to know about DJI’s tiny vlogging cam

DJI Osmo Pocket: all you need to know about DJI’s tiny vlogging cam

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Smartphones aren’t exactly slouches when it comes to shooting video, but DJI thinks it has just the thing to take your YouTube vlogging and Instagram Stories to the next level – its new DJI Osmo Pocket video camera.

Announced on 28 November 2018, the Osmo Pocket is a tiny 4K camera with a three-axis gimbal, which helps you shoot smooth footage and cinematic effects like pans and slo-mo.

We’ve now reviewed DJI’s latest handheld gimbal, so for an in-depth look at its strengths and weakness plus some sample videos, head to our DJI Osmo Pocket review.

Looking for a quick breakdown of the Osmo Pocket’s main features or an answer to a specific question? We’ve rounded up everything you need to know in this handy guide.

Related: Best drones 2018

DJI Osmo Pocket Release Date and Price: When is it available and how much will it cost?

The DJI Osmo Pocket is available to buy now for £329 ($349 in the US).

That price is much higher than the DJI Osmo Mobile 2, which recently came down to just £109 after Black Friday. This is because DJI’s Osmo Mobile range doesn’t have a built-in camera or a pocketable form factor, instead relying on your camera to take the video and photos.

While that makes the Osmo Mobile 2 much cheaper, it does mean your phone is out of action when you’re filming. It’s also far less portable at 29.5cm long, compared to the 12cm Osmo Pocket.

DJI Osmo Pocket versus GoPro Hero 7 Black: What are the main differences?

The Osmo Pocket does undercut the GoPro Hero 7 Black on price, which is currently £379.99 and probably its closest rival.

The two mini cameras do have their differences: the Hero 7 Black is fully waterproof to 10-metres and relies on impressive electronic image stabilisation, which largely negates the need for a mechanical gimbal in handheld situations where there is good light.

Electronic stabilisation does, though, struggle a bit in darker conditions, as the below side-by-side comparison shows. Still, although there is a waterproof case in the works for the Osmo Pocket, the Hero 7 Black remains your best bet if you’re looking for a mini video camera that can survive extreme sports and all weather conditions.

DJI Osmo Pocket specs: What camera and features does it have?

Despite rumours that the DJI Osmo Pocket would have the same one-inch Hasselblad camera as the DJI Mavic 2 Pro drone, it actually has a 1/2.3-inch sensor – that’s the same size as the GoPro Hero 7 Black and in the ballpark of most flagship smartphone cameras.

Still, the lens has a respectably bright aperture of f/2.0 and the Osmo Pocket can shoot 4K at 60fps and 1080p at 120fps for slo-mo videos, plus 12-megapixel stills.

Unlike the fixed focus GoPro Hero 7 Black, the Osmo Pocket’s camera allows you to choose focus points. This means you can get some lovely bokeh background blurring, although the downside is that the autofocus can occasionally hunt for focus.

On the handle, there’s a touchscreen that shows a live feed from the camera and controls the camera, while below that are a recording/shutter button and a function button.

There’s also a built-in stereo microphone, and you will also be able attach an external microphone via an 3.5mm adaptor (though there’s no price or release date for that yet).

The Osmo Pocket is charged via USB-C, which means you can top it up via external batteries, and uses microSD cards for storage.

Perhaps the most interesting new feature, though, is the new DJI Mimo app, which it connects to via Bluetooth. This brings some familiar features, like ActiveTrack (for automatically following subjects) and Timelapse, plus some new ones like Story Mode.

The GoPro Hero 7 Black is fully waterproof without a case and relies solely on electronic image stabilisation.

DJI Osmo Pocket battery life: How long can the Osmo Pocket last between charges?

Inside the Osmo Pocket, there’s a 875mAh battery, which is smaller than the one found in the DJI Osmo Mobile 2 and GoPro Hero 7 Black, and similar to the one found in the original DJI Osmo.

Our tests confirmed DJI’s claim that you can get around two hours of 4K/30fps video from a charge, which is impressive considering the Osmo Pocket’s size.

In real world use, where you’ll mostly be shooting shorter clips, the Osmo Pocket will last you most of the day. You can top it up by plugging an external battery into its USB-C port and it recharges quickly, from flat to full in just over an hour.

The battery sadly isn’t removable, but DJI has told us that “DJI’s service centre will be able to replace the battery of older Osmo Pockets for a fee”.

DJI Osmo Pocket Design: What does the DJI Osmo Pocket look like?

As the name suggests, the DJI Osmo Pocket is incredibly small for a gimbal-stabilised camera, and by far the most compact we’ve seen.

It fits easily into your palm and comes bundled with a protective, rubberised cover, which promises to make it much more like a GoPro than the more awkward Osmo Mobile 2 for quick, off-the-cuff shooting.

Above the record and power buttons, and below the little touchscreen, there’s a removable cover that lets you attach other accessories like a control wheel.

Unfortunately, there’s no tripod mount on the underside of the DJI Osmo Pocket, which seems like a strange omission. You’ll be able to remedy this with an accessory, though there’s no word yet on when this will be released and how much it’ll cost.

DJI Osmo Pocket Accessories: What accessories are available for the DJI Osmo Pocket?

The Osmo Pocket already has eight confirmed accessories – some of these are available to pre-order now (with stock due in January 2019), but others still don’t have prices or release dates.

Here’s the full list with our hands-on thoughts of each one.

Controller Wheel (£53)

Probably the most useful of the Osmo Pocket’s currently available accessories, this wheel gives you crucial manual control of the camera’s movement for both panning and tilting.

While you can turn the camera via your smartphone in DJI’s Mimo app, it isn’t always easy to maintain a constant speed or direction using the touchscreen d-pad. It’s just a shame the Controller Wheel isn’t included in the box.

Wireless Module (£53)

Without this handy stand, it isn’t possible to wirelessly control or preview Osmo Pocket shots on your smartphone – you have to plug your phone directly into the Pocket via its included Lightning and USB-C connectors.

The Wireless Module is useful if you’re planning on doing lots of shots to camera and is also great for keeping the Pocket steady while you record motionlapses. The Osmo Pocket can stand up on its own without it, but it gives it some extra stability to stop it toppling over in the breeze.

Accessory Mount (£23)

While its price is a bit steep considering it’s essentially a piece of moulded plastic, the Accessory Mount is useful if you already have GoPro accessories that you want to screw the Osmo Pocket into. We’d probably only consider buying it as part of the Expansion Kit though…

Expansion Kit (£99)

This kit includes the three accessories above (Controller Wheel, Wireless Module and Accessory Mount), giving you a saving of £30 compared to buying them separately.

Like the ‘Fly More’ bundles DJI offers for its drones, it’s well worth buying the Expansion Kit if you can afford it – the extra functionality and control you get from the wheel and wireless module make a big difference to what you can do with your Osmo Pocket.

ND Filters Set (£tbc)

Marking the Osmo Pocket out as something for pros to consider, this pack of ‘Neutral Density’ (ND) filters help limit the amount of light coming into the lens to varying degrees.

This can be used to help lengthen shutter speeds for adding motion blur to videos or stills, or help cut down some of the flaring issues you can get in very bright conditions.

Charging Case (£tbc)

This very smart charging case helps keep your Osmo Pocket’s battery topped up if you’re out for a long day of shooting, while keeping your ND filters safely stashed away.

The downside is that it means the Osmo Pocket is no longer pocketable and there’s no obvious place to store your smartphone connector either. Still, it’s one to consider if you’re travelling and likely to be away from mains power for a while – for example, when hiking or camping.

Extension Rod (£tbc)

Like shooting from high vantage points or over crowds? The Extension Rod connects to the Lightning or USB-C connector and gives you an extra 31 inches of reach, although there’s no price or release date for it yet.

Waterproof Case (£tbc)

One of the GoPro Hero 7 Black’s big advantages over the Osmo Pocket is that it’s waterproof without needing a case, but this accessory addresses that to an extent. The Waterproof Case can go to depths of up to 60m, although it’s fairly bulky compared to a GoPro.

DJI Osmo Pocket verdict

The DJI Osmo Pocket is a very handy little sidekick for vloggers, YouTubers or anyone who just wants to take a step up from smartphone video.

The Pocket’s 4K camera itself isn’t spectacular, but the effects its gimbal and software let you create often are. Its stabilisation is superior to both the GoPro Hero 7 Black and flagship phones like the Google Pixel 3, while its vlogging modes and ability to track faces and objects make it very easy to use.

The downsides of the Osmo Pocket are that its built-in microphone is pretty average and it isn’t waterproof without a case, so you have to be a little careful in inclement weather. You may also have to invest in a couple of accessories to get the most out of it.

But the Pocket’s software and versatility are only going to get better from here and right now it’s a useful, unique camera for travelling, vlogging and boosting your social media production values.

What do you think, are you excited about the DJI Osmo Pocket and what would you like to see from it? Let us know on Facebook or on Twitter @TrustedReviews.

The post DJI Osmo Pocket: all you need to know about DJI’s tiny vlogging cam appeared first on Trusted Reviews.

DJI Osmo Pocket: all you need to know about DJI’s tiny vlogging cam syndicated from netspytracker.wordpress.com/

Posted by Daniel Brayton on 2018-12-21 17:36:24

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