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23
Mar

Adding color to to your life with Ultrapop [Review]


Overview – Ultrapop will help you spice up your images with a wide array of color overlays and filters. Developer: Platform Inc. Highlights: Free (can purchase additional filters) In-app access to

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23
Mar

Mimoco MimoPowerTube2 review


Up for review today we have the Mimoco MimoPowerTube2. Specifically, we got our hands on the recently introduced Star Wars design based off Darth Vader’s lightsaber. Like your standard portable power

23
Mar

Five Android app launchers you absolutely need to consider today


So you finally bought that brand-new phone you’ve been drooling over the last couple of months. Or maybe you’re starting to get bored of your relationship with your device and

23
Mar

Samsung Galaxy S7 edge UK review: Awesome is the new ordinary


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Expectations of high-end smartphones are higher than ever, and the competition more fierce than it’s ever been. The Galaxy S7 edge needs to live up to the hype — and it does.

In 2016, if you’re demanding top dollar for a high-end phone, you can’t afford to screw anything up. The technology for phenomenal smartphone experiences is within the grasp of all the major players. And competition is such that any device that misses the mark will be chewed out by critics and rivals alike.

This is the competitive environment into which the Samsung Galaxy S7 series is born.

Samsung, for all its monetary and marketing grunt, hasn’t always knocked it out of the park. In 2015, the number one Android manufacturer was forced into a complete re-think of its industrial design after the previous year’s Galaxy S5 received a lukewarm reception. Even the Galaxy S6, for all its strengths, had a couple of obvious weaknesses: the removal of the SD card slot for expandable storage, and pretty dismal battery life.

To hold onto its crown, Samsung needs to finally deliver the “no-compromises” Galaxy S phone we’ve been waiting on for what seems like an eternity. This year the Korean firm’s curvy Edge Display graduates from quirky sidekick into a starring role — it’s the Galaxy S7 edge, not the flat GS7, which now leads the lineup.

So how does hype compare with reality? We’ve been using the UK-spec Galaxy S7 edge — with Samsung’s own Exynos processor — in recent weeks, and we offer up our considered opinion below.

About this review

I (Alex Dobie) am writing this review after a couple of weeks with the European Samsung Galaxy S7 edge (SM-G935F) in Manchester, UK, and Hamburg, Germany, on the EE and Telekom.de networks. During most of that time the phone was running firmware version G935FXXU1APAW. Shortly before publishing this review it received an over-the-air update to version G935FXXU1APC8. I’ve also been using the GS7 edge with a Moto 360 (second-gen) smartwatch.

In the UK, the GS7 and GS7 edge feature Samsung’s own Exynos 8890 processor, as opposed to the Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 used in the U.S. and Chinese models, so that’s what we’re reviewing here.

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Samsung finally gets it

A refined design

At the risk of stating the obvious, Samsung didn’t need to reinvent the wheel with this cycle of phones. None of our complaints surrounding its predecessor had to do with its look or feel. The Samsung of 2016 (finally) gets design, and a year after the company took a quantum leap ahead in terms of build quality and materials, baby steps forward are just fine.

With a screen measuring 5.5 inches diagonally, the Galaxy S7 edge sits somewhere between the regular GS7 and Samsung’s larger GS6 edge+. By the numbers alone it’s closer to “phablet” territory than you might think.

But there are big big phones and there are small big phones, and the GS7 edge is most certainly the latter. You’re getting a large screen without a whole lot of unnecessary stuff around it. Unlike Apple’s iPhone 6s, which also packs a 5.5-inch display, the Galaxy S7 edge really doesn’t feel like a massive handset.

There are big big phones and there are small big phones.

That’s mainly due to slim bezels, and the curves which permeate the entire device. Subtly curved glass on the phone’s rear makes it a more comfortable fit than its somewhat angular predecessor, while gently tapered edges can be seen at the top and bottom of both the front and rear face.

It’s a bit of a throwback to the now ancient Galaxy S3, which made a big deal about its nature-inspired design and lack of flat sides back in 2012. Like that phone, the GS7 edge almost looks like a polished stone split up by a futuristic metallic trim. The key difference, though, is that the GS7 edge does this and makes it look good. It’s a stunning piece of technology to behold.

The joins between metal and glass are more gentle this time around, with a move away from sharp chamfers giving Samsung’s latest a more organic look while also improving its ergonomics.

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A stunning piece of technology to behold.

The reverse of both GS7s remains something of a fingerprint magnet, on account of the lack of oleophobic coating back there. That has its advantages, however — if a fingerprint-resistant coating was used on both sides of the phone, it’d be even more slick in the hand than it already is. As it stands, the GS7 edge in particular is something of a slippery fish — partly due to its accentuated curves, partly due to the slimmer metallic trim that offers less purchase.

The display itself, naturally, is jaw-droppingly fantastic. Samsung has been pumping out seriously impressive Quad HD SuperAMOLED displays for more than 18 months now, and while it’s hard to say there’s been a huge jump in quality compared to the GS6, that’s mainly because that phone’s screen was already stunning. The redesigned edges make a swipe inwards from either side feel more natural, allowing you easy access to Samsung’s updated suite of Edge Screen applications. At the same time though, that curved display is a little easier to hit accidentally than previous “edge” handsets. It can take a bit of adjustment.

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Sound is one area in which there’s been a real tangible improvement for Samsung. The built-in speaker, situated on the bottom edge, packs much more power than the tinny audio reproduction of the GS6, bringing it into line with impressive bottom-facing speakers from the likes of Apple and HTC. There’s plenty of power and bass behind the GS7’s speaker, although its placement can be problematic when you’re holding the phone in landscape mode.

Naturally, the GS7 edge’s internals have received a tune-up too. Like its flat sibling, the edge runs Samsung’s own Exynos 8890 processor in the UK — an octa-core chip with four low-power ARM Cortex-A53 cores for less demanding tasks, and four beefy Samsung Exynos M1 cores for high-powered stuff. It’s a big deal for Samsung because it’s the first time the company has used its own custom core designs (the aforementioned M1) in a smartphone chipset. And that makes this Samsung phone arguably much more vertically integrated than in years past.

In the U.S., the GS7 series uses Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 820 SoC, a quad-core part that favors fewer, more powerful individual cores.

Hardware features like microSD and water resistance make a bigger difference than improved number-crunching capabilities.

For the most part, both perform fantastically, but we are seeing some anecdotal differences in battery life between the two GS7 variants, with the European Exynos model I’m using seeming to eke a little more life out of the 3600 mAh fixed battery. We’ll follow up with a more scientific test soon.

Suffice to say, day-to-day performance is amazingly speedy. We’re reaching the point of diminishing returns for smartphone performance, where factors like flash memory speeds and software optimizations make a bigger difference to how fast a phone feels than sheer number-crunching potential. Instead, the biggest change is something more tangible — the return of the microSD slot. Right now the Galaxy S7 only comes with 32GB of internal storage, but you can easily augment it by tossing in an SD card and using that for photos or offline music storage. While some may be disappointed at the lack of a 64GB (or even 128GB) option, I can live with 32GB perfectly happily — assuming my photos and music aren’t included in that allowance.

The inclusion of IP68-rated water resistance is also big deal — not because I’m going to be taking the GS7 scuba diving anytime soon, but more for the peace of mind it’ll give me the next time I’m caught out in a rainstorm. Many phones can probably survive an occasional encounter with rain or a spilt drink, but having this guaranteed is a huge plus for Samsung, and a much-needed differentiator. (And doing so without unsightly GS5-style plastic flaps over the ports is also a welcome development.)

Finally, major GS6 tentpole features make a return in this year’s model — wireless charging (including fast wireless charging if you fork out for Samsung’s faster charging pad), Qualcomm QuickCharge 2.0 (fine, not the newer 3.0, but still fast enough) and fingerprint security. The GS7 edge’s single-touch fingerprint scanners worked about as well as the GS6 edge+ for me, which is to say it’s generally reliable, but not as quick or accurate as the iPhone’s TouchID or Google’s Nexus Imprint.

All in all, Samsung has taken a proven design and added the expected incremental improvements to turn last year’s good phone into this year’s great phone. More importantly, the return of removable storage and water resistance, as well as a significantly larger battery, give the GS7 edge some important differentiating features in a highly competitive market.

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A fresh take on TouchWiz

Samsung’s Marshmallow software tune-up

Samsung continues to build its own visual style atop Android, and the Galaxy S7 edge comes with a streamlined TouchWiz interface alongside version 6.0.1 of Google’s OS. Samsung’s take on Marshmallow involves re-tooled, rounded rectangular icons, less visual cruft (such as drop shadows), and a move away from the bright teals and blues of the GS6 era. Instead we’re seeing more greys and whites in the mix, giving things a more muted look. Android veterans will also notice new swooping animations to complement the Material Design-inspired interface of Samsung’s own apps.

Samsung’s take on Android is colorful as ever, and a little more approachable than stock.

Make no mistake, this is Samsung’s UI more than Google’s, but at the same time the company hasn’t stampeded over the work of Matias Duarte and his team. It’s also interesting to note the visual changes that seem influenced by iOS and the leading Chinese phone makers, such as optional rounded “squircle” icons and changes to the power menu.

For the most part, the TouchWiz of 2016 looks reasonably good. Samsung’s UI holds up well next to its contemporaries, being more colorful and playful than vanilla Android, and carefully building upon the Galaxy S6’s software capabilities without becoming mired in the feature creep that characterized the GS3-GS4 era.

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With the exception of the strange light-grey quick settings and notification drawer, the interface looks like a cohesive whole, and performance has been smooth and responsive throughout my time with the phone. I can’t guarantee you’ll never make the GS7 skip a frame, but the times it does are incredibly rare.

Whatever you say about the Edge Screen’s software tricks, you can’t deny it’s mostly there to look cool.

I’ve been using the “edge” variant, and that means I get to play with Samsung’s revamped Edge Screen features. The Edge Screen always seemed like a solution looking for a problem — something Samsung did because it looked cool, then worked backwards to find software features to shoehorn into it. That’s still kind of the case in the Edge’s latest incarnation, but it’s clear the software implementation is far more thoughtful than in previous years. The extra-wide Edge panels give you more room to see information like calendar entries, app shortcuts and weather forecasts. Meanwhile the inclusion of more individual Edge panels — including the hilarious ruler panel from the ill-fated Galaxy Note Edge — give you more ways to use this key software feature. (There are even third-party Edge panels to download via Galaxy Apps if you’re so inclined.)

Then again, there’s nothing about this feature that inherently needs a curved display. And I can’t say I’ve found myself using any of the Edge panels with any regularity. That said, the Edge screen still fulfills its primary function — looking damn cool.

A closer look at the Edge Screen

No longer is Samsung’s curvy display there for decoration alone. The Edge Screen of 2016 is larger, with a more customizable drawer, and an enormous array of new panels to play with. Take a closer look at what the Galaxy S7 edge’s new software tricks can do in our hands-on walkthrough.

Hands-on with the GS7 edge’s new Edge Screen

Samsung’s trademark multitasking features also make a return in the GS7 series. Though later in the year they may be overshadowed by Android N’s split-screen implementation, right now Samsung’s your best bet for running two apps on-screen at once, or juggling a bunch of apps at once in pop-up window mode. And given the GS7 edge’s relatively large screen size, there’s plenty of visual real estate to go around.

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Other software notables:

  • The GS7 edge’s home screen launcher defaults to a 4-by-5 icon grid, which looks a little weird on a display this large. Changing to 5-by-5 grid gives you more space for icons on each screen, while also ensuring the icons themselves aren’t unnecessarily large.
  • Samsung has replaced the Flipboard briefing slide-out panel with the Upday app in Europe. Like Flipboard, it’s supposed to let you create a personalized news feed in your home screen. And like Flipboard, it was one of the first things I turned off.
  • Speaking of things I almost immediately turned off, Samsung’s always-on display is pretty useless in its current implementation, only showing alerts from Samsung’s built-in apps, not third-party stuff. This feature seems unnecessarily hobbled.
  • Samsung’s built-in keyboard has actually gotten pretty good. I’m back using SwiftKey right now. But my “time-to-SwiftKey” — my personal measure of the time before I cave and install my keyboard of choice — was longer on the GS7 than just about any phone I’ve used in recent months.
  • Persistent notification nags in TouchWiz have been eliminated. Samsung’s Gallery app no longer pesters you with useless “Event” collages. And the “app optimization” feature’s regular nags can be disabled as well.
  • My unlocked UK GS7 edge was swiftly updated to the March 2016 Android security patch, a little over two weeks after its release to Nexus devices. It’ll be interesting to see if Samsung can maintain this pace for future security patches. (And how far carrier versions lag behind.)

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A lateral move

A camera that’s dependable and impressive, but not flawless

Generally speaking, Samsung has always excelled at smartphone cameras. And in 2015 in particular the phone maker shipped an industry-leading shooter in the Galaxy S6 and Galaxy Note 5 series.

All of which makes surpassing that high water mark in 2016 all the more difficult.

The numbers really don’t do the GS7’s camera justice.

Samsung’s answer is a new sensor with larger pixels — 1.4-microns, up from 1.12 before — to take in more light, allowing for better low-light snaps, paired with a brighter f/1.7 lens to let more light in in the first place. The trade-off? A lower resolution overall — 12 megapixels, down from the GS6’s 16.

Around the front you’ll find a similar 5-megapixel sensor, also behind an f/1.7 lens for clearer selfies.

The characteristics of the main camera make it easy to label the Galaxy S7 as a side-grade in mobile imaging, not an upgrade. But that doesn’t really do it justice.

It’s true that the GS6 — still one of the best smartphone cameras out there — can produce highly detailed daylight shots rivaling its successor. But that’s balanced out at the other end by the GS7’s superlative low-light capabilities. In exchange for a relatively minor loss in fidelity in daylight pics, you’re getting a camera that’s a generational leap ahead in low-light photography.

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Images appear crisp and sharp, with none of the weird focus hunting I sometimes experienced from the GS6’s camera. Essentially, you can point and shoot and be guaranteed a good-looking photo almost all of the time. That’s been one of the iPhone camera’s greatest strengths, so it’s important to see Samsung reaching this milestone in ease of use.

And thanks to that f/1.7 lens, the GS7 can capture some gorgeous macro shots with backgrounds disappear into a beautiful bokeh effect.

Samsung’s new camera also handles HDR shots in a more realistic way than many rivals, although in some situations the GS7 actually captures less shadow detail than its forerunner. (As a trade-off, areas of fine detail, such as tree branches, didn’t exhibit the weird discoloration and artifacting that we frequently saw from the Note 4 and GS6 cameras.) We also noticed that the newer model was less aggressive about switching to HDR mode when this option was set to “Auto.”

Shootout: The Best Smartphone Camera

Most modern, high-end phones have great cameras. But which is the very best? We’ve pitted the Samsung Galaxy S7 against the iPhone 6s, Google Nexus 6P and Microsoft Lumia 950 in our conclusive smartphone camera shootout. Which phone takes the crown? Hit the link below to find out!

Check out our exhaustive smartphone camera shootout!

As for areas of weakness, like other Samsung cameras the GS7 tends to make low-light snaps look overly warm, especially in reasonably lit indoor shots. We also noticed an occasional instances of motion blur in night shots and indoor food and macro snaps, even with the included optical image stabilization (OIS).

But we’re really nitpicking here. On the whole, this is a phenomenal smartphone camera.

Every smartphone camera needs a quick-launch feature like Samsung’s.

On the software side, Samsung continues to boast the best camera app of any Android phone maker, with a solid Auto shooting mode backed up by new additions like live panoramas — a short 1080p video recorded as you shoot panoramic images — and built-in Hyperlapse for smoothed-out time lapse videos.

What’s more, Samsung’s double-press-home-key shortcut remains my primary method of firing up the camera app. Whether the phone is awake or asleep, this is a super-quick and reliable way to guarantee you’ll be looking at the GS7’s viewfinder by the time you’ve moved it into place. (And with the GS7’s ultra-fast autofocus, chances are your subject will also be in focus and ready to snap.)

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What we’ve been waiting for

All-day battery life

Smartphone battery life is a highly subjective thing, and with a beefy 3600mAh cell inside, the Galaxy S7 edge has a lot to live up to. And we’ve already heard reports of battery life differing between the Snapdragon (U.S.) and Exynos (global) versions of phone, further confusing matters.

Regardless, I’ve been seriously impressed with the longevity of the Exynos-based Galaxy S7 edge I’ve been using. The difference isn’t so much in the total time between charges — though the huge battery capacity surely helps there, as does Android 6.0’s “doze” mode for the times the phone’s idle and stationary. The biggest difference for me is how little battery power the GS7 edge uses when the screen is on and the mobile radios are fired up.

The GS7 edge brings a significant reduction in battery anxiety.

Previous Samsung phones — heck, earlier Android phones in general — have a tendency to tank the battery when you’re browsing on LTE and rapidly switching between apps. Anecdotally, the GS7 edge held up to this type of heavy use far more robustly than the Marshmallow-updated Galaxy S6 edge+ I was using previously.

A good example is traveling with the phone. I would almost reflexively pack my Samsung Fast Charge Battery Pack in a pocket when flying with other Android phones, including the aforementioned GS6 edge+. After switching to the GS7 edge, this stayed in the overhead locker.

In terms of raw numbers, I can get to the end of a regular working day — mostly on Wi-Fi — with a good 50 percent remaining, assuming I’m not charging the GS7 edge wirelessly. Pushing it harder, I can go from early morning to late night without a single mid-day charge, and around six hours of screen-on time. That’s a huge deal, and a new standard for battery life in high-end Android phones.

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Awesome is the new ordinary

The bottom line: The best Android phone — for now

It’s an unfortunate fact that many high-end Android phones of the past year or so have come with a bunch of caveats attached. Samsung’s 2015 lineup just didn’t have great battery life. LG’s offerings lacked spectacular build quality and great-looking software. Google’s Nexus phones had painfully slow cameras.

A truly awesome, pretty much entirely compromise-free Android flagship.

The Galaxy S7 edge is the closest I’ve come to a compromise-free Android experience, to the point where the less desirable things about it are mainly matters of personal taste. Maybe the edge screen isn’t your thing. Or a 5.5-inch display could just be too big (or small!) for you. Or maybe it’s the look and feel of TouchWiz that just cheeses your onions.

At a high level, however, the GS7 edge does pretty much everything right. And you really have to pick nits to find any legitimate complaints.

When awesome is the new ordinary, it takes a lot to stand out. But that’s exactly what Samsung has been able to achieve with the Galaxy S7 edge — a phone that’s good at everything, and exceptional where it’s really important.

The real question is: How will it compare to the challengers yet to come, like the LG G5 and the HTC 10? Only time will tell.

Where to buy the Galaxy S7 edge in the UK

If you’ve decided that the GS7 edge is the smartphone for you, you can turn to several different places to pick one up. It’ll set you back a good amount of money, but as we’ve shown here, you’re getting a lot of phone for your money.

  • See at Carphone Warehouse
  • See at EE
  • See at Vodafone
  • See at O2
  • See at Three
  • See at Amazon UK

Samsung Galaxy S7 edge U.S. review

Want to go in-depth on all the Galaxy S7 edge’s hardware, software and camera features? You’ll want to check out Andrew Martonik’s full review of the U.S. version of the GS7 edge on Verizon Wireless. Hit the link below for an American perspective on Samsung’s new flagship smartphone.

Read our Galaxy S7 edge U.S. review

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23
Mar

Latest HTC 10 Twitter teaser puts the ‘boom’ in its speakers


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HTC continues to offer teasers for its next smartphone, rumored to be called simply the HTC 10, on its official Twitter page. The latest post shows an image of what looks to be the phone’s speakers

The HTC Twitter post states:

Here comes the new boom. You’ll hear it. #powerof10 pic.twitter.com/Ln3XxWZ9BO

— HTC (@htc) March 23, 2016

The image does appear to match the reportedly leaked images of the phone. The company will hold a virtual press event on April 12 to officially introduce the new smartphone.

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23
Mar

Put some super in your screen with this Wallpaper Wednesday


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Don’t let your home screen fall into a rut — switch out your wallpaper!

You don’t have to pull out a complex new theme like Deadpool to bring a breath of fresh air to your home screen. A new wallpaper can do wonders, and launchers like Action Launcher can re-theme your entire home screen around a good wallpaper. In our effort to help brighten your device — and maybe your day — we’re compiling some wallpapers for you to try out.

If you’ve got a wallpaper you use everywhere, share it in the comments below! We’re always looking for something new. Now get your wallpaper picker ready and see what’s in store this week.

Dawn of Justice by cainulgen

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This dramatic scene feels like it’d be a bit too colorful for the Snyderverse we’re about to get, but it’s wonderfully stages and I rather like the reds and blues over the scene as Superman intimidates Batman. And look at his cape! That is some top-notch cape action. And is that a jetpack I spy on Batman’s capeless back? Time to take the fight to the skies. This vibrant wall can pump you up every time you wake your phone.

Dawn of Justice by cainulgen

Loser by The-Orange-One

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Bright. Bold, Beautiful. Just look at that purple hair, too! This gives me a bit of a Futurama vibe to it. The way The-Orange-One has stylized the Metropolis crew for her ‘The Daily Planet Files’ is fresh and just makes we want to binge a whole series in this style. Ya her that, WB?!

Lois is calling you out to step up your game in this wallpaper, or pointing at a specific app/widget (like the pathetic Google Fit widget in the header of this article). If you’re looking for an icon pack to run with this flashy wallpaper, check out Veno!

Loser by The-Orange-One

Emblems of the Heroes by Kalangozilla

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We’re gonna get a pretty big dose of superheroes this week, but let’s not kid ourselves, there’s a lot of heroes out there, and they couldn’t possibly fit them all in? Well, even if they won’ be showing up this go around, that doesn’t mean we can’t show our support with a t-shirt or wallpaper for our favorite heroes! This is a massive gallery of superhero logo wallpapers, along with logos for a lot of popular TV shows, anime, and cartoons. Somewhere in the 13 pages of wallpapers is one that’s right for you. He even has Megaman! The good one!

Emblems of the Heroes by Kalangozilla

Minimal Batman by Cheetashock

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What can I say, a good minimal wallpaper speaks for itself! I will say that like the logo gallery we just mentioned, deviantart user Cheetashock has a collection of wallpapers for the entire Justice League, including John Stewart, Green Lantern that I grew up with and will always be the GL in my heart. (Sorry Hal. Go fly your jets with your silver spoon girlfriend/nemesis.)

Minimal Batman by Cheetashock

Wonder Woman by Struck-Br

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Wonder Woman is the hero I have the highest hopes for heading into theaters this week. The Amazon warrior princess is not without her share of love by the fans, and this retro-looking wallpaper is fit for any device and any fan. And if you see me looking for silver gauntlets this weekend… well, Comic-con is coming up.

Wonder Woman by Struck-Br

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23
Mar

Chronos, an RPG for the Oculus Rift, arrives on March 28


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Chronos, one of the launch titles for the Oculus Rift, has gotten a final trailer before its release next week. The trailer shows off many of the environments you’ll explore and enemies you’ll fight in the game.

Developed by Gunfire Games, Chronos is described as an “Adventure RPG,” combining elements from both adventure and role-playing games. The game features a wide variety of weapons, skills, and powers that players can use in their quests.

Chronos also features an aging mechainc. When you die, your character ages by one year. You’ll need to adapt to this aging process, as you’ll be come slower with age, but as this happens, you’ll also become wiser, and more attuned to magic.

Chronos will be available for purchase beginning March 28.

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23
Mar

Latest Priv update brings a newer Linux kernel to strengthen security


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An update is now available for those with the BlackBerry Priv, and this update also focuses on security. We’ve seen monthly security patches since the phone’s release, but this is a bit different. A recent discovery showed that the Android / Linux kernel was vulnerable to a specific attack, and this update fixes that to prevent issues.

BlackBerry has posted additional details on the update:

This advisory addresses an industry-wide elevation of privilege vulnerability that is not currently being exploited against, but affects, BlackBerry® PRIV smartphones. BlackBerry customer risk is limited by the inability of a potential attacker to force exploitation of the vulnerability without customer interaction. Successful exploitation requires an attacker craft a malicious application (app) and that a user install the malicious app. If the requirements are met for exploitation, an attacker could potentially gain locally elevated privileges. After installing the recommended software update, affected customers will be fully protected from this vulnerability.

If you purchased your Priv from ShopBlackBerry, you should see an update available on your phone. If you aren’t yet noticing the update, you can head into Settings, About phone and check manually for the update.

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23
Mar

HTC 10 — what do you want to see?


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Good news, everyone! HTC still makes phones! The HTC 10 is coming on April 12 in an online-only event, but we’ve been getting teasers for a little while now. Some sort of new speaker system. The promise of an outstanding camera. That’s icing on the cake, right? It’s the meat and potatoes that can really make or break a device these days.

So do this. Think back to the HTC One M7. And the M8. And the M9. There’s been a lot of good that have come from those three phones. Outstanding audio quality. Some great (OK, and some not quite as great) industrial design. Live pictures long before Apple ever did it. One of the first to introduce video highlights, created on-device, just as soon as you hit the shutter button. HTC was ahead of its time in many ways. And in others, yes, it stumbled.

So what do you want to see in the HTC 10? Let us know in the comments. We’ll round up the best responses and share with the class. Clock’s ticking. Get to it!

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23
Mar

Oculus Rift transported us to different worlds in Damaged Core and Dragon Front


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We’re still in the early days of VR, but two games from High Voltage Software are set to break new (virtual) ground.

High Voltage Software has been around for over 20 years and has had to evolve with the latest and greatest in gaming trends. Now that VR is here, the company has a few games slated to hit the Oculus Rift soon, and boy are they impressive! Each game is in a different genre, but both have the ability to set a precedent in those genres when it comes to VR. We went face-on with Dragon Front and Damaged Core with the Oculus Rift!

Dragon Front

Collectible card games have become a hit over the past couple of years especially with the rise of eSports and games like Hearthstone. Well, the developers over at High Voltage Interactive want to build upon the hype with its own card game entitled, Dragon Front.

What makes Dragon Front so special you ask? Well, it will be the first virtual reality card game when it launches sometime this year. The game plays a lot like Magic, in the sense that you draw from a custom 30-card deck, and the objective is to beat your opponent by arranging attacks that slowly takes down their HP.

The game can be played against a single AI or a friend or random opponent online. Players start off by choosing a hero and then once the first cards are drawn you can place your minions down onto the 4X4 grid. Dragon Front plays just like any other collectible card game as cards can only be pulled when you have an allotted amount of Mana.

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This is where the real magic begins. Once you play a minion, it comes to life just below you. This felt reminiscent to Ash throwing out a PokeBall, which made the little kid inside me scream in delight. From here you can have your minions attack enemies that are directly in front of them.

Seeing the actual minions make their moves instead of just cards slamming against each other is an awesome sight that you have to experience to understand. I played against one of the game developers in an online match, and the match took about half an hour to complete. If you’re an experienced card player, Dragon Front is pretty straightforward, and you’ll get the hang of it within 5 or 10 minutes.

The game is slated to launch shortly after the Oculus launch but only in beta form, that way the developers can sort out balancing issues and what not. I was also told the when it does launch the game will be a free-to-play title in the same sense that Hearthstone is.

Dragon Front is easily one of my top three Oculus experiences, and I can’t wait for you all to try it out for yourselves.

Damaged Core

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Most VR games want to make you the center of the action with a vast majority of games being played from a first-person view. That being said, developers are still trying to figure out how to to do first-person shooters the right way. Well, High Voltage isn’t a stranger for trying FPS on something new as they have the critically acclaimed FPS Conduit on mobile devices.

Damaged Core is the resulting product of the studio taking the FPS genre to VR, and damn is it fun. In the game, you take the role of artificial intelligence that can hack robots from the robotic uprising called the Core.

To hack a robot you hold down the Y button and then hover over the enemy that you’d like to control. Once you hack that enemy, you then see from their point of view and can use whatever form of weaponry they have available to them. The thing is you can’t move around. Your host remains stationary but can shoot in any direction until it has taken too much damage at which point you can then transfer to another robot.

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It sounds simple, but the fun comes from taking on waves of enemies and methodically choosing your next host before your current robot host explodes. This keeps you on your toes, and also ushers in some diversification to the gameplay by introducing new enemies. For example, I reached a part in the game where an enemy was able to shield robots in its vicinity from being hacked.

Damaged Core was easy to jump into, yet difficult to master. The constant bombardment of enemies and knowing your time within a host is limited is so thrilling that it was hard for me to put the game down and take the headset off.

Damaged Core comes out post-launch of the Oculus Rift and no details concerning price have been released yet.

These are just two of the first games for VR — the question is, what do you want to play in virtual reality?

See at Oculus

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