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27
Oct

The first NBA game of the season will be streamed in VR


NextVR has announced that it’ll stream tonight’s opening game of the NBA season to all of its users in virtual reality. If you have a Gear VR (and compatible handset), then you’ll be able to watch the Warriors take on the Pelicans as if you were court side. It’s early days for the technology, so virtual viewers will only have one viewing angle during the event, although it’ll switch to another for the pre-game ring giving ceremony. In an interview with Wired, NextVR’s Brad Allen revealed that users will also be limited to a 180-degree view. Instead of being able to turn around and see the audience around you, you’ll be shown the NBA, Turner and NextVR logos. Viewers will also be listening to the sounds of game as if they were there, rather than listening to a commentator, although that could well change with future broadcasts.

Source: Wired, USA Today

27
Oct

Mini review video: our verdict on the Surface Pro 4 in under a minute


Mini Review: Surface Pro 4

With each generation of the Surface Pro, Microsoft gets closer and closer to fulfilling its promise of a tablet that can replace your laptop. Last year’s Surface Pro 3 was certainly powerful enough to take on similarly priced notebooks, but the keyboard wasn’t as comfortable, and it wasn’t particularly easy to use in your lap either. Fortunately, the new Surface Pro 4 mostly addresses these flaws, with a sturdier keyboard, improved pen and slightly lighter design. Unfortunately, the battery life is about the same as last time, delivering just over seven hours of video playback in our tests. If Microsoft were to extend the runtime and include the keyboard dock in the box, we’d be inclined to give the Surface an even higher score. Even as is, though, we can finally say it’s well-rounded enough to replace a laptop.

27
Oct

Facebook gives staff slow internet to understand the developing world


India Daily Life

Many have accused Silicon Valley of being out of touch, and for good reasons: among other things, it acts as if the entire planet has access to super-fast, always-on internet connections. Facebook, however, wants to give its employees a wake up call. It’s starting up “2G Tuesdays,” an optional initiative that slows down its office internet access to speeds you see in rural India and other developing areas. It’s a blunt reminder that even an ordinary web page can take minutes to load on a basic connection, and that anything Facebook can do to save data will make a huge difference. While it only subjects people to pokey internet access for an hour, that might be enough to ground staffers in reality.

[Image credit: AP Photo/Tsering Topgyal]

Source: Business Insider

27
Oct

Enjoy all the trailers from PlayStation’s Paris Games Week event


Sony had plenty of titles to show off at its inaugural Paris Games Week press conference today, from Star Wars: Battlefront to No Man’s Sky, Dreams and Gravity Rush 2. It showed off some new games, including Gran Turismo Sport, Vector (made in collaboration with the musician Avicii), Housemarque‘s Matterfall and Detroit: Become Human from Beyond: Two Souls creator David Cage. We also got a closer look at Wild, the fantastical, mysterious, open-world game from Rayman creator Michel Ancel. See trailers for all of these and more, including some videos not shown on-stage today, all handily collected below. You can even read along with our liveblog and pretend the conference is happening all over again, at your own speed.

27
Oct

Verizon and Motorola unveil the DROID Turbo 2 and DROID Maxx 2


It happened! After a good deal of churning the rumor mill, we finally get to know the full scoop on the new Droids. Today, Verizon and Motorola announced two successors – the DROID Turbo 2 and DROID Maxx 2. It’s interesting that the Maxx skipped out last year and was resurrected this year. Let’s check out the different approaches these brothers take.

DROID Turbo 2

mot-droid-turbo2-expanded

First up is the successor to last year’s DROID Turbo, which was a 2014 Moto X variant. What changes does the Turbo 2 bring? You’ll find quite a lot, but what Motorola is touting the most is the new ShatterShield technology. As the name suggests, it is essentially extra protection to make the front glass virtually shatter-proof.

This is a bold claim, but Motorola is certain of the robust system it has developed, enough to guarantee that the screen will not crack or shatter (your display and embedded lens will actually be warrantied for four years). But how does it work? The screen uses an integrated system of five layers, designed to absorb shock.

ShatterShieldLayers_v2

You can find more details about the ShatterShield technology on Motorola’s blog, here.

The design of the Turbo 2 is very reminiscent of this year’s Moto X, which isn’t a bad thing. One benefit of this is that you’ll have access to Moto Maker this time (the original Turbo wasn’t customizable). The Turbo 2 can be equipped from three different material choices: soft grip, ballistic nylon, or genuine Horween leather (pebbled texture).

Soft Grip

Soft Grip

Ballistic Nylon

Ballistic Nylon

Leather

Leather

Another throw-in is (if you buy the 64GB version by Dec. 31st) you’ll be able to change your phone to another custom design of your liking, within two years of the date of purchase.

Here is the specs breakdown for the Turbo 2:

  • Display: 5.4″ screen (AMOLED panel and QHD resolution)
  • Chipset: Snapdragon 810 SoC with 3GB of RAM
  • Storage: 32GB or 64GB, expandable with microSD (up to 2TB)
  • Cameras: 21MP rear (f/2.0 aperture, Phase-Detect Autofocus) and 5MP front (f/2.0 aperture, wide-angle, and 1.4um pixel size for better low light performance)
  • Battery: 3,760mAh capacity
  • OS: Android 5.1.1 (Lollipop)

The display size of 5.4″ is interesting. Recalling last year’s 5.2″ size, it looks like there was some conflict with jumping Turbo users to 5.7″ (although Motorola didn’t hold back for Moto X users). 5.4″ appears to be a middle-ground compromise.

We see the infamous Snapdragon 810 chipset once again, can’t shake it off. Motorola is touting the new and improved 21MP camera sensor, assumed to be carried over from the 2015 Moto X. The battery capacity is very generous, at 3,760mAh. You’ll also have quick charging and Qi wireless charging on-board.

The Turbo 2 is considerably more expensive than the Moto X Pure, at $624 off-contract. Financing with Verizon translates to $26/month over 24 months. If you want the version with more storage and a design refresh, it will be $30/month over 24 months ($720 full retail price).

Turbo 2 product page

DROID Maxx 2

mot-droid-maxx2-expanded-specs

The original Maxx was known to be a battery beast. Motorola and Verizon have renewed the focus on battery life with the Maxx 2. Let’s go over what it brings to the table.

It may be easier to think of the Maxx 2 a variant of the Moto X Play. It’s a mid-ranger. This is generally okay, since battery life is the name of the game here. However, what’s interesting is that the Turbo 2 has a slightly bigger battery. I feel like if this phone isn’t pushing that battery spec to the max, and is just a straight-up mid-end variant, then it should be under a different nomenclature.

Here is the specs breakdown for the Maxx 2:

  • Display: 5.5″ screen (1080P resolution and Gorilla Glass 3 protection)
  • Chipset: Snapdragon 615 SoC with 2GB of RAM
  • Storage: 16GB, expandable with microSD (up to 128GB)
  • Cameras: 21MP rear (f/2.0 aperture, Phase-Detect Autofocus) and 5MP front
  • Battery: 3,630mAh capacity
  • OS: Android 5.1.1 (Lollipop)

Just about all the hardware is toned down in comparison to the Turbo 2 (with the exception of the main camera). Motorola didn’t feel the need to change the Moto X Play’s display size of 5.5″. This guy won’t have access to Moto Maker either. You have two standard designs to choose from – Black with Deep Sea Blue Back or White with Winter White Back. However, the back shell is removable, and Motorola will have some other color options to swap with.

mot-droidmaxx2-personalize

As you can probably guess, the Maxx 2’s appeal is pricing. Financing the Maxx 2 over 24 months will only be $16/month. You wish to buy it outright, that equates to $384.

Maxx 2 product page

Both of the new DROIDs will be available at Verizon really soon. It can order them online or find them in stores this Thursday (Oct. 29th). Is one of these your next phone?

The post Verizon and Motorola unveil the DROID Turbo 2 and DROID Maxx 2 appeared first on AndroidGuys.

27
Oct

IBM Providing Employees With Free or Reduced Cost Apple Watch as Part of Health Insurance Plan


Extending its partnership with Apple, IBM is now planning to provide its employees with free or discounted Apple Watch models as part of a “Commit to Health” initiative that will see the Apple Watch distributed to employees under their health insurance plans.

Based on the health plan an IBM employee chooses, they can either get a subsidy that covers the full cost of an Apple Watch or the option to purchase an Apple Watch at a reduced price. IBM is likely hoping its employees will take advantage of the Apple Watch’s fitness tracking capabilities, racking up steps and meeting exercise goals to stay healthy.

IBM had a similar program that saw employees provided with Fitbit activity trackers, but it is not clear if the Apple Watch is supplementing this program or replacing it. With the Fitbit program, exercising and taking steps let employees accumulate points that were able to be redeemed for merchandise or charitable donations.

applewatch
Several health insurance companies and businesses have teamed up to adopt similar programs in an effort to cut down on healthcare costs, incentivizing exercise and activity with lower premiums and other rewards. Fitbit, for example, works with a large number of companies to incorporate activity tracking into corporate wellness programs.

Most of these programs existed before the Apple Watch launched, but the Apple Watch itself has proven to be a highly useful tool that motivates wearers to exercise, and it’s possible additional companies could follow in IBM’s footsteps in the future.

The Apple Watch encourages users to stand up once per hour, exercise, and burn calories to achieve goals. Many early Apple Watch adopters have said the device has motivated them to make better lifestyle choices, increasing their daily activity. Jim Dalrymple of The Loop, for example, credits HealthKit and the Apple Watch for his weight loss of 40 pounds.

(Thanks, Eric!)


27
Oct

Can LG’s V10 help it get back on the right track?


LG V10 Vs LG G4 Quick Look-11

Don’t look now but LG is possibly in the midst of its own project valley, but this one is of an entirely different nature. Korea’s “other” big OEM broke away from its oft-dismissed Optimus product line back in 2014 when it introduced the LG Optimus G, and made major movements the next year with the LG G2 follow-up. Unfortunately, despite offering some top-notch kit in 2014’s G3, things started getting a bit stale. By the time 2015’s G4 hit, it was ironically the distinct lack of change that garnished the most positive attention.

To say that LG has hit a proverbial wall in its pursuit of profits is quite apropos given the company’s latest quarterly performance report. This is precisely why the revelation of the company’s newest offerings, the LG V10 and the LG Urbane 2, are so critical for the company’s future.

The Rise from “Obscurity”

While LG was never an unknown player in the early days of the smartphone game, it wasn’t exactly a dominant one. The company had some impressive devices, such as the Optimus 3D or Optimus 2X, however in light of the overbearing OEM skin and Samsung’s near-total reign over Android – not to mention HTC’s relevance at the time – many of LG’s better phones were ignored.

lg g3 vs lg g2 (8 of 15)

Things changed when the Optimus G was released. The device had some killer specs, a new design, and it was chosen by Google to be the base on which the Nexus 4 was created. When 2013 hit and the G2 released, LG was turning major heads, in no small part due to its use of rear placed buttons, something that was met with much discussion. Still, it had an all-new design and to this day is still beloved by many an LG fan.

Ain’t nothing but a G-thang

When the G3 hit last year, many were skeptical it could surpass the high heights of its predecessor. While there was technically a QHD smartphone released in China already, the G3 would be the world-at-large’s first introduction to such pixel progress. Also touted was a laser focusing camera. Unfortunately despite the solid spec set, LG seemingly put off more than a few buyers due to a concerning number of software issues present. Add an extremely dim display – even when set to maximum brightness – and it’s easy to understand why many felt it to be an inferior product. At least LG updated it to Lollipop in lickety-split fashion.

2015’s major flagship, the G4, was seemingly put out to pasture before it was even announced, thanks to a comment LG insists was mistranslated: A spokesperson had indicated there would be a device coming later in the year that would be positioned above the G-brand. We devoted some time imagining what such an impossible product would be. While the G4 did improve upon some elements from last year’s offering (a brighter display, more camera options, a better optimized skin) arguably the only real reason it got so much attention was for the company’s inclusion of microSD support and a removable battery.

The LG G4 was seemingly beloved by many simply for being too similar to its predecessor: microSD and a removable battery.

Indeed the real “claim to fame” that the G4 has is simply that it didn’t do anything different. Rather than use a metal frame or a glass back like Samsung, LG opted to once again make liberal use of plastic — though a leather back was also an option. The Galaxy S6 haters were suddenly smitten with this “devotion to customers”, though it was inevitably more the conglomerate being unprepared for Samsung to have put out such premium products. Indeed the device has sold quite poorly and LG’s 2015 finances have suffered as a result.

Fast forward to this past week and that “mistranslation” suddenly seems like it was actually correctly reported all along. The V10 was announced and is being positioned…above the G-series. The device, which is expected to “cost as much as an iPhone 6 Plus” is:

A whole new world

Regardless of one’s personal opinion on the V10’s ticker, the phone itself represents LG thinking outside the box and trying to add extra functionality to what has become a very mundane form factor. Samsung tried this last year with the Galaxy Note Edge, though the waterfall-type slope wasn’t to everyone’s liking. Still, even without the ticker the V10 offers up something else that LG had previously been unwilling to do: redesign its products.

Truth be told, the G3 and G4 looked remarkable similar to each other, though with some subtle differences of course. Both had the same curved back design. This in-and-of-itself is not so bad, but the fact that LG used it on seemingly every product it produced made the whole thing less original.

LG V10 Hands On-17

With this new premium product, the design is just off-the-charts. The back itself is made of a very elegant silicon material, and instead of being a “mold” that fits over the rear, looks almost like it’s a sheet that has been wrapped over the top and bottom parts of the device. Even the pattern on the back offers a very different take on the whole “boring plastic” design, even if it isn’t made of genuine leather as with some G4 rear panels.

Adding to the design differences is the fact that the phone is substantially solid. Just take a look for yourself:

Whereas LG was preoccupied with the rear panel in the past (see the G Flex and G Flex 2), all the hyped self-healing in the world wouldn’t be of use for a nasty fall. Here the company has made structural engineering changes to ensure that the device can withstand impact in a way that makes seemingly all other phones buckle at their proverbial knees.

Is it worth it?

LG V10 02

LG has indicated its new flagship will cost as much as the iPhone 6S Plus. The 16GB configuration of said device starts at $749 before tax. Indeed V10 models on eBay as of this moment are priced well over $1000 from Korean sellers eager to take advantage of their country’s early release, despite the actual retail price of 799,700 won (roughly $690).

Now that the phone has started to land in the US, it turns out pricing in the states will be around $600. That means it will definitely occupy a premium segment of the market. In fact, it is also more expensive than the company’s own G4, which has been significantly discounted since it first launched, possibly as a result of the reportedly bad sales performance. Both AT&T and T-Mobile will be carrying it, though it may also be offered unlocked eventually.

The question becomes just how important the improved durability, secondary ticker, fingerprint sensor, and overall redesign are to each potential consumer. Spec-wise, the phone is really more of a G4 rehash than it is anything truly new, though given what’s inside, that is hardly anything to scoff at. That said, we are just months away from the Snapdragon 820’s release, and with it promises of some major advancements.

Some critics have been quick to point out that last year’s Galaxy Note Edge had two displays fused together and thus legitimately made use of a new form factor. The argument continues that LG simply took one 5.9-inch one and cut off some to make room for the cameras. This isn’t rocket science here, it’s just arts and crafts.

LG took a 5.9-inch screen a cut off part to make room for the cameras. This isn’t rocket science here, it’s arts & crafts.

Purely a pipe-dream?

LG V10 Hands On-14

Behold: the entire benefit of LG’s 2015 line-up according to a segment of Samsung-sour.

While the internet may be excited about the LG V10, unfortunately that doesn’t necessarily mean customers will be; after all it’s one thing to talk-the-talk, but it’s quite another to walk-the-walk. Much as how angry Samsung fans claimed to be running to the G4 earlier this year, the sales of the device – or lack thereof – have hurt LG’s profits. A recent report from Korea indicates that the V10 isn’t faring well there at all despite its brand new status.

Gven how few people apparently purchased the G4, could this device be DOA? Considering the starting price is quite high and the specs aren’t burning through the roof, there is a very real possibility that the mainstream consumer will avoid the V10. For those who don’t care about a removable battery or microSD support, the Galaxy Note 5 and Galaxy S6 Edge+ still provide a very potent pair of rivals.

For what it’s worth, the fact that the Galaxy Note Edge didn’t sell very well could be taken as an indicator that only the most die-hard of phone-heads are interested in the potential of a dedicated separate screen.

A different design

LG V10 Hands On-12

Question: Does this look more attractive than the glass back of the Galaxy S6 family?

While the V10 certainly has a new-fangled, luxurious design, will the mainstream consumer feel it to be worth the expenditure over the Galaxy offerings? Or even the G4 itself? Those in the market for a different design may be inclined to go for the G Flex 2 which, ironically enough, sports a faster SoC than either the G4 or the V10 despite being released significantly earlier.

It would not be unthinkable to picture a customer at a store confronted with a choice between the Galaxy Note 5 and the V10, and come out thinking the former is the better buy. It has the S-Pen, it has an AMOLED screen, it has the glass back…even if the customer doesn’t understand any of these terms, their own sense of judgement is the best litmus test: is LG just right or has the decision to use a “lesser” back still hurt its visual voice in the face of competition?

Wrap-up

LG V10 Hands On-25

Regardless of one’s personal thoughts on the V10, it seems quite clear that the internet has widely accepted it with open arms, and the vast majority of opinions have been quite positive. LG may very well be on the verge of its next big thing. At the same time, in this game success is ultimately measured by sales and profits, not by the number of “likes” a device may get on the internet.

LG has certainly proven that it has the ability to think outside the box once again here, but the ultimate question is just how many consumers will purchase the V10 in a very crowded, price-sensitive market? Especially among the tech-savvy, the promises of the Snapdragon 820 as well as whatever offerings next year brings with it means that dropping a cache of cash this last in 2015 may ultimately be money spent prematurely. Only time will tell, though; even if the Lost Odyssey is re-discovered, it may be as easily overlooked as another was.

We would love to hear your thoughts on the matter. Drop us a comment below!

27
Oct

Imagination’s new Ci40 Creator IoT board will run Brillo from Google


Creator Ci40The next few years will see a rapid expansion in the number of devices, i.e. “things”, connected to the Internet. Some forecasters are estimating that there will be between 20 to 40 billion “things” on the Internet by 2020, far more than the number of humans. This Internet of Things (IoT) is going to be big business and all the major electronic companies are scrambling to stake out their territory.

One company which is well placed to reap the commercial benefits of the Internet of Things, is Imagination. Last year Imagination released it Ci20 Creator single board computer and now the company is preparing to launch a new board aimed specifically at the Internet of Things.

brillo-key-features

Today Imagination has announced that the Ci40, which will use a dual-core MIPS based processor, will run not only Linux (which let’s face it was a foregone conclusion) but also Brillo from Google. Brillo, which was announced by Google during its 2015 I/O conference, is the search giant’s new OS and platform for the Internet of Things. And as you would expect it is based on Android and has a minimal set of system requirements. It also has broad silicon support, which is where Imagination comes in.

Imagination is well known for its MIPS CPU architecture, one of the the officially supported architectures of Android, plus its range of PowerVR GPUs. It also has a comprehensive communications platform called Ensigma, which will include support for 5G. But the key here is the MIPS architecture.

Creator Ci40 SoC

The new Ci40 board will use a dual-core MIPS interAptiv CPU, which is being manufactured by Global Foundries using a 40nm process technology. In an age when the leading chips from Samsung and Qualcomm are using 14nm and 20nm process technologies, then 40nm might seem a bit old. However by using a mature process node Imagination and Global Foundries are ensuring high yield rates and low costs, both of which are vital for IoT. According to Imagination, the Ci40’s CPU will boast a performance of 2.5 teraFLOPS while only using three watts.

Imagination will be making more announcements about the Ci40 during November including which communications standards it will support and details about availability.

27
Oct

‘Street Fighter V’ launches on February 16th, 2016 with Dhalsim


At Sony’s Paris Games Week on Tuesday, Yoshinori Ono, the mastermind behind Street Fighter 5, made a series of stunning revelations. First, he revealed that Dhalsim, everybody’s favorite ass-kicking yogi, will be among the 16 playable characters when the game launches. Second, the game will hit North American and European store shelves on February 16th 2016. Finally, and most excitingly, Ono-san announced that six additional characters will be available within the first year of gameplay. What’s more, they’ll be unlockable — for free — using the in-game “fight money” currency. No DLCs here, folks, you’re going to have to earn these characters the old fashioned way: by beating the snot out of your opponent.

27
Oct

Hands-on with Motorola’s shockingly sturdy Droid Turbo 2


Motorola’s new Droid Turbo is here, and its arrival might be a tough pill to swallow for Verizon customers who just shelled out cash for a new Moto X. After a bit of hands-on time, though, it’s clear that the Droid Turbo 2 has plenty of compromises of its own. Slideshow-335140

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