Snatching up a new camera can be a considerable investment, especially if you’re after a unit that combines stellar images with a host of features. Fret not friends: We’re here to help. Just beyond the break, you’ll find a handful of photo gadgets that are all available at attractive discounts for the time being.
If there are other cameras, lenses and the like you have your eye on that we haven’t included here — join us and add them to your “Want” list. Every time there’s a price cut in the future, you’ll get an email alert!
Canon EOS 7D (body-only)
Regular Price: $1,500
Engadget Global Score: 86
Buy: 42nd Street Photo
If you’re after a mid-range DSLR for that photo hobby, Canon’s EOS 7D is available at a handsome discount right now. Sure, you’ll have to shell out some extra cash for a lens, but you’ll likely want to nab up a couple of those anyway. The current price tag is the lowest we’ve seen in the last three months, according to our price history tool.
Nikon D600 (body-only)
Regular Price: $1,899
Engadget Global Score: 86
Buy: 42nd Street Photo
For those looking to invest a bit more in their snapshooting exploits, the full-frame Nikon D600 also has received a significant price drop. While it does require a bigger investment, the pro-grade features of this camera are going at a rate on par with the 90-day low.
Fuji X-Pro1 (body-only)
Regular Price: $1,300
Engadget Score: 82
Buy: 42nd Street Photo
It’s no secret that Fuji’s dapper retro stylings have caught our eye a time or two. And now, you can get in on the classic designs with the X-Pro1. This all-black model’s current discount brings the price down to the lowest our price history tool has seen over the past three months.
Regular Price: $800
Engadget Score: 89
There’s a hint of classic styling to Samsung’s NX300, too — for those looking to make a more modest investment, and it’s one that includes some requisite glass (an 18-55mm lens, to be exact). The black version of the WiFi-equipped mirrorless offering is seeing the best rate, so you’ll have to pay extra if you’d prefer either the brown or white options.
Filed under: Cameras
After many “Grasshopper” tests, SpaceX’s first real try at launching a reusable rocket will attempt flight again in just a few minutes — watch the live stream here or embedded after the break. Scrubbed due to a helium leak a couple of days ago, the Falcon 9 rocket is once again facing gloomy skies, but according to launch control, everything is a go. Weather permitting, the launch is scheduled for 3:25PM ET. The Falcon 9-reusable rockets have already undergone their own testing, and you can see the latest video after the break.. Also important is what’s onboard the Dragon cargo ship this rocket is launching. Headed to the ISS, it’s bringing new supplies and a pair of extra-large, bendable legs for our friend Robonaut 2.
Update: We have liftoff. Now that the rocket is aloft, while the capsule will head to the ISS, its first stage will attempt to reenter the atmosphere, and position itself for landing somewhere over the Atlantic Ocean, before falling over into the water. This is still just a test run, but it will help scientists sort out any issues before they attempt a reentry and landing on… land in the future. The live video stream is ending, and it sounds like we’ll have to monitor the @SpaceX Twitter account for updates on the landing attempt.
F9 & Dragon vertical on the pad for today’s launch to the ISS. Weather still a concern–liftoff targeting 3:25pm ET pic.twitter.com/4wRhrtjlbN
– SpaceX (@SpaceX) April 18, 2014
– SpaceX (@SpaceX) April 18, 2014
Filed under: Transportation
It’s no secret, HTC has an image problem. Despite consistently creating some of our favorite phones, it’s failed to reach the heights of popularity of manufacturers like Samsung. That could soon change. In what is almost certainly not a coincidence, HTC has hired Samsung’s former Chief Marketing Officer, Paul Golden. The Verge confirmed the rumor, first picked up by Bloomberg, earlier this afternoon. Golden, who “created and launched the highly successful Galaxy brand for Samsung,” according to his LinkedIn profile, was reportedly hired on as a consultant to Chairwoman Cher Wang.
Among other achievements, Golden attributes his work on the Galaxy brand with “a 4X increase in market share (from 4.5% to 21.0%) in the strategically critical smartphone segment.” HTC has repeatedly pointed back to marketing as one of its weakest points. In 2013, CEO Peter Chou pointed to weak marketing as the reason for poor financial performance, and, as Bloomberg point out, Wang reiterated that issue on April 8th, saying, “We just have to communicate well with our customers. I believe if we can communicate better, we will do better.”
With Robert Downey Jr. holding down the cats and Golden’s ability to bolster the next big thing, perhaps it’s finally HTC’s time to shine.
Were you one of the many enjoying your free “Milk”? Well, Milk Music is having a price increase for a new premium service.
Samsung will still be providing its free basic service, but will be including ads. Currently the service is ad-free as part of a special introductory offer. The premium service will cost you $3.99 for ad-free music after the introductory offer ends.
Milk Music is a streaming radio service powered by Slacker and offered to select Galaxy models. The current device list incldues: Galaxy Note II, Galaxy Note 3, Galaxy S III, Galaxy S4, Galaxy S5.
Unfortunately Samsung has not given many details about what the premium service will include, only that it will be ad-free and have “some exclusive features” for a price of $3.99 a month. What are those features? I guess we will have to wait to find out.
Samsung has not publicized a date for the new service to be available. Meanwhile if you own one of the the noted lucky Galaxy devices, you can download the app at the Google Play Store or with Samsung Apps.
Source: Samsung Tomorrow
The post Samsung to start charging about the price of a gallon for “Milk” appeared first on AndroidGuys.
happy Friday Android peeps! Today is a particularly good Friday for those of you rocking a LG G2 with Verizon though. Verizon has begun rolling out an update to your beloved device that brings you up to Android 4.4.2 KitKat.
The list of enhancements is pretty boring though. Looks like they went through and just renamed a bunch of settings. It will be like learning a new phone all over again. In addition to all the label changes and the obvious OS update, they also improved the Premium Visual Voicemail and the Basic Visual Voicemail.
Go ahead and take a quick check for the update in your device’s settings, just make sure you have 50%+ battery, a Wi-Fi connection and some time to download the file needed.
Looking for a positive take to cut though all the negative press that Heartbleed has been getting? Then the Open Source Initiative (OSI) has one. The news has been full of stories about the exploit in OpenSSL (itself, an open-source project) that has caused a wave of panic around the internet. With much of the public not understanding what open-source is (it’s complex, but mostly involves freedom to redistribute, and access to the code it’s built on), and the fact that all this can be caused by a few lines of edited text, the integrity of open-source software has understandably come under scrutiny. We spoke with a representative from the OSI, and they gave us the positive spin we’d all been looking for.
“It’s actually incredibly beneficial to the community that this has been raised as such an important issue. A lot of folk rely upon open-source software to get through their daily business lives, but they may not be aware that they are relying upon it,” Leslie Hawthorn, a member of the OSI board, told us in an interview.
Hearbleed’s made a large number of people aware of what open-source is for the first time.
Hearbleed’s made a large number of people aware of what open-source is for the first time. The OSI hopes that this awareness will help users realize they can contribute by filing bug reports, ultimately leading to safer software. That will certainly help, but with the Heartbleed vulnerability having gone unnoticed for over two years, would it not have been subject to more than enough eyes to catch it sooner? The OSI concedes that this is more specific to the OpenSSL project itself. “It’s been widely reported that the OpenSSL folks didn’t have the same kinds of financial or human resource contributions that many open-source projects do,” Hawthorn said.
This is perhaps compounded by a general public relations issue between the devoted volunteers behind such projects, and the public that uses them. If you go to the OpenSSL project’s webpage, for example, you won’t see any big banners, blog posts about what to do or links to resources that the public can use to understand Heartbleed. Instead, there’s just one discreet “newsflash” link pointing to a jargon-laden plain text file. Hawthorn admits that this is a typical “engineering” response. Essentially, it says: Here’s what’s wrong; go update your systems. Of course, for the vast majority of bugs, this likely works; after all, when was the last time you headed over to OpenSSL.org to check what’s new? And this brings us back to the question of open versus closed (paid for) software.
“It’s been widely reported that the OpenSSL folks didn’t have the same kinds of financial or human resource contributions that many open-source projects do,” Leslie Hawthorn says.
Hawthorn tells us the OSI thinks that there’s a balance between the two models, but ultimately (as you’d expect) still sings the virtues of open source’s “many eyes, [potentially] fewer resources” setup. Lars Eilebrecht — co-founder and member of the Apache Software Foundation that powers a great many of the internet’s web servers — is more reserved about the situation. “Making something open source doesn’t automatically make it more secure, but it provides the basis for better security. In addition, open-source projects typically have a very good turnaround time for critical security fixes, e.g., hours vs. days or weeks [for close-source projects].” Eilebrecht points to a recent case where Akamai (which sells a service that uses a custom version of OpenSSL) claimed it patched its software up to be secure.
Usually, this is something paying customers just have to trust. In the wake of Heartbleed, however, a researcher investigated Akamai’s product after the update, and found it was actually still vulnerable. This kind of scrutiny is routine for both camps, but usually involving more eyes in the world of open-source software, its proponents argue. Eilebrecht sums the complex situation up neatly when he says, “Unfortunately, the OpenSSL bug has shown that a security bug can hide in plain sight for a very long time despite all the peer reviews of the OpenSSL code.” He reminds us, “At the end, what matters is the number of qualified people peer-reviewing a piece of code to increase the confidence and trust that there are no security vulnerabilities.”
Filed under: Internet
Here’s a shocker: Facebook’s first major update to Paper, its socially-augmented news-reading app, makes it more social. Specifically, the app’s 1.1 update now allows users to comment on posts using photos, added birthday and event notifications and tacked on an unread-message counter to help users keep track of Group activity. Facebook hasn’t fiddled with the user interface much, but content from Bloomberg, Mashable, Popular Science and six other news sources have been gussied up with new, custom article covers. Oh, and the company says its made the app run a little faster, too. It’s not a game changing update, but anything’s better than forgetting your spouse’s birthday — assuming Facebook’s main app didn’t already remind you. Has Paper found its way to your home screen? We’re running a quick poll: skip past the break to drop in a vote or leave us a note.
Filed under: Internet
AT&T on Friday announced that its no-cotnract GoPhone plans will receive extra data allotments each month at no additional cost. Taking effect April 25, the $40 rate plan increases data from 250MB to 500MB per month. The $60 rate plan will improve from 2GB data to 2.5GB data with Wi-Fi hotspots being tossed in as well. Also, a new $45 rate plan will be offered at Walmart stores which includes 1GB of monthly data.
Today’s consumers expect great value and choice, which is exactly what we’re bringing to our GoPhone customers…we’re giving customers more for less, and making it even easier for them to enjoy their smartphones the way they want – all on a superior, reliable network.
The post AT&T bolsters GoPhone offerings with more data, new option appeared first on AndroidGuys.
After last week’s Very Special Episode, we’ve grabbed a Hair of the Dog (or two…or three), a bit of rest, and we’re back for a regular ol’ episode of The Engadget Podcast. We’re discussing a triplet of topics that are assuredly close to your heart and head: the experimental and bizarre phones from Amazon and Google, and the hit security flaw that all the kids are raving about (Heartbleed). The show starts at 12PM ET sharp(ish), so grab your favorite plate of leftovers, a set of cans and a comfy seat. And tune in!
It’s been nearly three years since I reviewed the Xperia Neo, manufactured by what was then Sony Ericsson. The Neo represented just the second generation of Xperia phones running on Android, from a period when Sony was finding its feet in the world of mobile and still chucking out plenty of duds (I’m looking at you, Tablet P). Fast-forward to today and things have changed dramatically under Kaz Hirai‘s stewardship. I’ll tell you this right now: The Z2 is an easy phone to recommend, at least for those living in countries where it’ll definitely be available (a list that includes the UK and Canada, but not yet the US). The only real caveat is the handset’s huge, monolithic construction (a far cry from puny, 126-gram Neo). As you’ll see, if you can get past its size, the Z2 addresses some of the most serious gripes we had with its predecessors, the Xperia Z and Z1, particularly with respect to its LCD display. In fact, in some respects, it’s far ahead of any other Android phone currently on the market.
Let’s deal with the size thing right away. It’s not merely a question of weight, because the Z2 is only 18 grams heavier than the Galaxy S5, which is about as light as phones in this category come nowadays. Sony has actually done an excellent job of keeping the Z2′s weight down: Somehow, magically, it’s a few grams lighter than the Z1, yet it packs a larger display and a waterproof/dustproof casing, with tough, heavy flaps around the slots and micro-USB port.
No, the problem here is with the weight distribution. The Z2 feels wider and taller than it needs to be, and its center of gravity just doesn’t feel very… centered. By contrast, the similarly heavy HTC One (M8) feels like its density is gathered around the spine of the device, so that it rests solidly in the hand. None of these handsets are especially conducive to one-handed use, but the Xperia Z2 is the worst of the bunch in this respect; I dropped it four times in the space of a week, which is a record even for me, and I found it unwieldy for reading in bed, too.
The other issue with the Z2′s design is its blockiness. Visually, I find this attractive — it’s part of Sony’s metal-and-glass design statement, which is further aided by the thinness (just 8.2mm, or one-third of an inch). In daily use, however, the absence of curvature and shaved-off corners can be annoying — even for someone who’s used to carrying something enormous like the Galaxy Note 3. Check out the video above and you’ll see a shot of our own Jamie Rigg putting the phone into his pocket. The ridges of all four corners of the phone are actually visible through the denim of his jeans. (Seriously, watch the video. I had to go through the awkwardness of filming a colleague’s crotch just to make it for you.)
Having said this, it’s worth remembering just how much technology is packed into the Z2: a 5.2-inch display, a big camera module, the extra ruggedness I’ve already mentioned, a microSD slot, a widely compatible LTE modem and all the other gubbins listed in the table below.
|Sony Xperia Z2|
|Dimensions||146.8 x 73.3 x 8.2mm|
|Screen size||5.2 inches|
|Screen resolution||1,920 x 1,080|
|Screen type||Triluminos LCD with 16.7 million colors|
|Battery||3,200mAh Li-ion (non-removable)|
|Ruggedness||IP55 and IP58 waterproof and dustproof|
|Internal storage||16GB (12GB free)|
|Rear camera||20.7MP (1/2.3-inch sensor, f/2.0 lens with 27mm equiv. focal length)|
|Front-facing cam||2MP stills, 1080p video|
|Video capture||1080p, 4K|
HSPA+ (850/900/1700/1900/2100); GSM GPRS/EDGE (850/900/1800/1900); LTE (Bands 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 13, 17, 20)
|Bluetooth||v4.0, aptX, A2DP|
|SoC||Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 (MSM8974AB)|
|CPU||2.3GHz quad-core Krait 400|
|Entertainment||MHL, USB OTG, WiFi Direct, DLNA, Miracast, FM radio|
|Operating system||Android 4.4.2 (Sony-specific UI)|
Something not mentioned in the table: The Z2 apparently has active noise-canceling, to reduce background hubbub when you’re talking to someone through a headset. This only works with specific Sony headsets, and our review sample didn’t come with one, so I didn’t test the feature. Nevertheless, you may see some retailers bundling a pair of compatible earphones (the MDR-NC31EM). And they’re worth a look, too, if only because they’re worth £30 ($50) as a standalone purchase.
More usefully, Sony has also made room for stereo speakers. These are still a bit tinny compared to HTC’s BoomSound, but they’re infinitely better than the single speaker on the Z1. The old model’s speaker was easily blocked by the palm of your hand when the device was held in landscape mode, but now, the speakers are forward-facing and very hard to block — a big tick for Sony.
If any of the above paragraphs left you glum, it’s OK — things mostly get more positive from here on out, and this section is perhaps the most glowing of the lot. The dodgy display that prevented me from wholeheartedly recommending the Z1 has been replaced by something infinitely better: an entirely new, enlarged 1080p panel that has much better brightness, contrast and viewing angles. The difference is obvious and totally welcome, but as a result the Z2′s “Triluminos” display is also a bit less Sony-ish.
This is a manufacturer that has historically trodden its own path with respect to displays, to the point where Sony TVs and, to some extent, Sony phones, have forsaken deep black levels and vivid colors preferred by the likes of Samsung in favor of more detail and more natural color reproduction. With the Z2, however, it looks like Sony has seen a commercial need to deliver something more akin to its rivals and more familiar to potential buyers. I know a couple of people (just one, actually) who really liked the Z1′s display and who might be annoyed by this change of heart, but to my eyes it’s all good. We’re now looking at a display that is at least on a par with other top-end LCD panels.
A couple of notes about setting up the display: Colors tend to be a bit warm, but you can adjust white balance and add a touch of blue in the settings — a tweak that I tried and then decided to keep. I also permanently disabled Sony’s “X-Reality for mobile” engine, because this post-processing effect has gone too far: It makes things look unnaturally saturated, and it also makes 1080p movies look pixelated due to over-zealous edge sharpening.
When you first boot up the phone, you’ll be confronted by Sony’s typical array of media and social feed widgets, which I reckon many users will remove as they begin to personalize the device. By the time you’re done tailoring (perhaps by switching out the stock keyboard for something better, and losing the swirly PlayStation-style animated wallpaper), Sony’s skin and various additions shouldn’t get in your way.
Nevertheless, the manufacturer does leave some residue on your Android experience, and it has to be said that this lingering aesthetic feels dated. Whereas HTC and even Samsung have recently tarted up their skins, and Apple has made the stark shift to iOS 7, Sony’s icons, fonts and layouts feel like they’re stuck in 2012.
Accessing settings is also a bit old-fashioned: You have to open the notifications pulldown, select “quick settings” and then make do with basic toggles, which means most settings (like brightness or selecting a WiFi network) then take a couple more taps before you actually make the desired change. Stock Android, HTC Sense and TouchWiz all handle these mundane things with fewer presses.
One bit of software that’s unnecessarily obnoxious is called “What’s New,” which promotes recent (and mostly paid-for) content from Sony’s music, video and gaming empire. It might be of occasional interest in its app form, but it’s an unnecessary widget and — more seriously — it’s an encumbrance to those who make regular use of Google Now. Instead of just swiping up from the onscreen home button to get into Google’s special card-based interface, which was all that was required on the Z1, you now have to sweep up and to the right, so as to avoid accidentally launching “What’s New” instead.
Having said all this, if you’re a Sony fan, it could be nice to have Sony’s ecosystem readily at hand on the Z2. This is especially true if you already have a Music Unlimited or Video Unlimited subscription, or if you want to play a few Android games using your PS3 controller, or quickly mirror your phone on your Sony smart TV using NFC. The PlayStation Mobile store, however, is still lackluster and short on compelling games.
The Xperia Z2′s 20-megapixel camera is carried over from the Z1, and that’s a good thing. You can check out our Z1 review for an in-depth look at picture quality, including comparisons to the current king of mobile imaging, the Lumia 1020. Suffice to say, this is still the closest you can get to the image quality of a traditional point-and-shoot on a standard-shaped Android phone (i.e., not a Galaxy “Zoom” phone). That means you’ll be able to capture decent snaps even if you decide to leave the house without a dedicated camera.
The Z2′s meaty images don’t result solely from the high resolution, but also from the size of the sensor: at 1/2.3 inches, the chip can suck in significantly more light than any of its Android rivals. Coupled with large JPEG sizes of up to 9MB (albeit, unfortunately, with no RAW option), this yields photographs with less noise and less of the flat “digital” feel that you’d normally expect from a phone camera.
With this sort of optical strength, the camera app almost doesn’t need its plethora of effects and gimmicks, but it supplies them anyway. This extends to the now-obligatory “background defocus” effect, which is a hollow imitation of what the HTC One M8 can do with its depth sensor.
On the whole, I wish Sony had concentrated more on making its camera app more flexible and more suitable to manual photography, the way Nokia has done in recent years. There’s no easy way to control ISO or shutter speed in order to get creative using the stock app; the only quick adjustments that can be made are white balance and exposure compensation. It could have also helped us out with better post-production tools, as the one supplied is extremely basic. As things stand, we’ll just have to go elsewhere for our photography tools.
To some extent, Sony’s unnecessary gimmicks also stretch to video recording, since we now have a 4K recording option that only a few people with 4K displays might be able to appreciate. (If you’re reading this on a 4K display, make sure you choose the full-res setting on the YouTube video above and, unlike the rest of us, you’ll be able to see what these clips really look like).
The good news with 4K is that Sony hasn’t crushed the frame rate as much as I feared, so the footage isn’t ruined by compression artifacts. The camera stores about 450MB of data for each minute of 3,840 x 2,160 footage, which equates to 7.5 MB/s — that’s nearly four times higher than the data rate of video recording on the Z1, befitting the quadrupling of the resolution. This is a roundabout way of saying that 4K clips from the Z2 should at least look similar to the 1080p clips we’re already used to, with the bonus of higher resolution if and when it’s needed.
Unfortunately, my sample footage was let down by the Z2′s microphone, which couldn’t really handle a windy day by the river, as well as by its lack of optical image stabilization (there’s only digital stabilization on offer here) and the fact that it’s almost impossible to keep your left index finger away from the lens. If you intend to use the Z2 for serious videography, consider investing in a decent mount, along with Sony’s new stereo microphone accessory, the STM10 (£30/$50).
Battery life and performance
|Sony Xperia Z2||Xperia Z1||HTC One (M8)|
|SunSpider 1.0 (Chrome browser)||935||762||772|
|GFX Bench T-Rex Offscreen (fps)||27.2||23||28.2|
|GFX Bench Manhattan Offscreen (fps)||11.8||N/A||11.1|
Minion Rush median frame rate*
|Minion Rush battery drain (% per hour)*||22||24||22|
|Battery rundown test||13.5||12.5||11.5|
|*Measured using GameBench Beta.|
Our usual battery of benchmarks largely confirmed my expectations: The Z2 benefits hugely from its upgraded processor, the Snapdragon 801. There are a couple of freak numbers in the table — especially the poor Quadrant and SunSpider scores. However, a number of the other disparities between the Z2 and the HTC One M8 could potentially be explained by the fact that the M8 has been programmed to run benchmarks in a so-called High Performance Mode — so it could simply be that Sony doesn’t mess with clock speeds to the extent that its rival does. On the whole, the performance scores are strong, with gaming benchmarks being broadly on par with the M8.
Moreover, due to the inclusion of a larger 3,200mAh battery, the stamina has increased greatly and is now probably the best of the recent batch of flagships. I say “probably” because these things depend largely on how often it’s under load and how much use you make of the various battery-saving features. From our experience with the Z2, it has great longevity when it’s mostly in standby, but it gets hot and can occasionally be inefficient when asked to handle more taxing activities. This led to a couple of instances where the battery depleted faster than I expected, but on the whole, I never had less than a third of the battery left by late evening. Our standard looped video corroborates (and perhaps slightly exaggerates) this advantage: The phone lasted a full 13 hours and 30 minutes — three and half hours longer than the Galaxy S5.
LTE and HSPA+ performance was solid, with connection strength and data speeds being consistent with other phones we’ve tested on O2′s network in London. The phone didn’t drop its data connection even when, during a couple of instances, the reception indicator showed zero bars. With a couple of bars of signal strength, I got up and down speeds of around 7 Mbps, which is what I expected. Call quality and reliability held no nasty surprises either. I tried calls with and without background-noise suppression and “speaker voice enhancement,” and neither I nor the other party noticed much difference, but in all cases, the audio quality was good.
I’ve had a bit of a roller coaster ride with the Xperia Z2, but I can at least summarize it all with one last trough, and one crest.
The downer is that, personally, I wouldn’t buy this phone. If I wanted the Z2′s camera, coupled with its high-quality display and fast processor, I’d wait to buy it in a smaller version of the handset — which hasn’t been confirmed yet, but must surely be on the horizon given the level of interest in the Z1 Compact. If I wanted a phablet, I’d get a Galaxy Note 3 or hold out for a Note 4. And if I wanted a big, premium non-phablet, I’d probably go for the HTC One M8 — it has a more enticing, more comfortable design, along with a nicer UI and better stock apps (especially in the camera department).
More objectively, though, I can see what Sony was trying to create with the Z2, and it has arguably succeeded in the areas that matter most. There’ll be people out there who appreciate its gorgeous display, solid battery life and granite-like charm, and these attributes are inextricably linked to the phone’s size. If you think that might be you, go ahead. This is a safe purchase, the best Sony phone that has ever been, and definitely among the top three Android phones currently on the market.