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14
Apr

Yahoo Esports keeps you close to the competitive gaming action


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Yahoo has launched a brand new app for Android focusing on Esports. With Yahoo Esports, you can watch live matches, see replays, and check stats of your favorite teams for DOTA, League of Legends, Heroes of the Storm, Counter Strike, and Street Fighter V.

With Yahoo Esports, you’ll get the following:

  • 1080p access to live & recorded video of top games, players and events.
  • Follow every update from all your favorite MOBAs, shooters, and fighting games.
  • Accurate, up-to-date stats for League of Legends, Dota 2, Counter-Strike: GO, Heroes of the Storm, and Street Fighter V.
  • Push notifications and alerts to keep up on all the action!

Yahoo Esports is available now on the Google Play Store.

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14
Apr

HTC 10 initial photo and video samples


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An early look at the HTC 10’s photographic capabilities

After years of ho-hum cameras, HTC’s newly-announced 2016 flagship, the HTC 10, promises a significant bump in photographic capabilities. There’s a new 12-megapixel “UltraPixel 2” camera around the back, paired with dual-tone flash and laser autofocus, behind an f/1.8 lens. And with large 1.55-micron pixel paired and optical image stabilization (OIS), the rear camera should be better than ever at night photography — a major differentiator in mobile photography right now. Around the front, HTC brings us the first selfie camera with OIS, with a stabilized 5-megapixel sensor, also behind an f/1.8 lens.

Our full review of the HTC 10 is on the way soon, with much more on the phone’s photographic capabilities and its redesigned camera app. In the meantime, we invite you to see for yourself — continue below for a handful of photos and video shot on the HTC 10.

Indoor, mixed lighting

The HTC 10 generally does well in indoor conditions with mixed lighting — and even darker, more challenging indoor scenes. Colors are generally accurate and images on the whole look good, if a little soft when viewed up close. As a general trend, we’re seeing the phone bump up its ISO more aggressively than rivals like Samsung’s Galaxy S7, and as a result you’ll see occasional chroma noise in darker areas of indoor shots.

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Outdoor

The HTC 10 has no trouble capturing outdoor environments, as you’d expect from a high-end phone camera. Again, photos appear a bit softer than rival shooters from Samsung and LG, though colors are more lifelike — less oversaturated — and also less aggressively sharpened. Auto HDR mode does a good job of identifying when it needs to step in, though HDR processing does seem to lose some fine detail.

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Selfie camera

In all but the darkest conditions, the HTC 10’s OIS-equipped selfie camera does a decent job of capturing your mug, and anything in the immediate vicinity. Like the rear camera, colors are accurate, and there’s no aggressive sharpening or over-saturation. Focus isn’t always pin-sharp, however.

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Hyperlapse and slow-mo

These video samples show Hyperlapse and slow-motion mode from the HTC 10’s rear camera, both at 720p resolution.


Macro

With an f/1.8 lens, the HTC 10 performs well in macro mode, capturing pronounced bokeh effects while keeping the subject in sharp focus. We’ve noticed the camera can have a little difficulty focusing on closer subjects, even with the help of its laser autofocus. (For sure, Samsung’s Galaxy S7 is far quicker to focus on macro subjects.) We can’t argue with any of the end results, though.

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Night shots

OIS combined with large pixels on the sensor really shine through in night shots, where the HTC 10 captures more accurate-looking pics than the Galaxy S7, which tends to give them a yellowish hue. Again, because HTC’s camera is fairly ISO-happy, you’ll see some grain and chroma noise when you examine these up-close.

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Original files

You can download the original files for all of these images via Google Photos. Just hit the overflow menu (three dots) at the top of the screen, then select “Download all.”

14
Apr

We’re answering all your HTC 10 questions in the Android Central forums!


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We’ve been using the HTC 10 — so hit the forums and ask us questions!

If you’ve read our extensive HTC 10 Preview and still have burning questions, then fear not. Though our full review is still a few days away, you’ll want to head on over to the Android Central forums, where I — along with Editor-in-Chief Phil Nickinson, Canadian editor Dan Bader — will be answering your questions on HTC’s 2016 flagship.

The phone doesn’t go on sale until early May, but we’ve been using it for the past week, and so we’ve had plenty of time to form some early opinions.

Hit the link below and get ready for some Q&A!

MORE: HTC 10 Q&A on the Android Central Forums!

14
Apr

HTC 10 versus Galaxy S7: A grown-up rivalry


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No better rivalry out there today.

It’s no mistake that the Galaxy S7 seems to be everywhere right now. Say what you will about Samsung’s past mistakes, because that’s largely what they are; this is a company iterating at the top of its game, and based on early sales reports, enjoying the fruits of that patience.

HTC, on the other hand, can’t seem to catch a break. Admittedly a much smaller company, it has recently diversified its product lineup to include partnerships with Under Armour in fitness, and Valve in VR. But can it still make a decent smartphone?

In many ways, the HTC 10 mirrors the Galaxy S7 in its acknowledgement of past mistakes, moving to correct what was wrong with the M8 and M9. It’s also a damn fine smartphone.

But how does it hold up to the best Android has to offer? We’re taking a gander at the HTC 10 versus the Galaxy S7.

Hardware

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The HTC 10 feels familiar in the hand because despite its slightly wider body it is, like its M9 predecessor, machined from a single block of aluminum. Solid and hefty, there are no seams or joints to weaken, nor any glass to crack. Even though it is ever so slightly too wide for my hands, preventing it from being used comfortably with a single thumb, it attempts to find good balance between screen size and overall dimensions. This is perhaps even more pertinent because the phone does away with the bottom front-facing speaker that represented HTC’s unique BoomSound solution since the M9. Instead, it moves the second speaker to the device’s underside, going with a front-facing fingerprint sensor in its place.

There is something mature and confident about the HTC 10 — even if it is just another black rectangle.

Around back, the iPhone-like camera bump of the A9 has been replaced by something more familiar for HTC fans. But it’s also on the back where you get a sense of the precision taken to mold the HTC 10 into its current state: an angled bevel that shimmers in the light, appearing smooth or textured depending on the environment.

There is something mature and confident about the HTC 10. Even if it is just another black rectangle, HTC has reason to celebrate what is easily its best, and best-looking, phone to date. From the screen quality to the camera, this is HTC making the best use of the resources available to it. Unfortunately for it, though, when compared to the industry leader, Samsung, some proverbial seams do show through.

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The Galaxy S7 is Samsung, too, at the top of its game. And this year, the drastically altered metal-and-glass design language meets Samsung’s cool maturity. Sure, the S7 is immediately recognizable as a Galaxy, but everything from the curved glass back to the matte finish on the aluminum sides represents the company well. And the fact that Samsung was willing to thicken its main phone in order to squeeze a larger battery and waterproofing finds successfully placating its power users while attracting new users.

At the same time, the S7 is not the S7 edge, which is bigger, curvier and altogether more interesting. Instead, the S7 is just another great phone — kind of like the HTC 10 — which presents a problem at the more expensive end of the Android market. When every $700 phone is great, it’s hard to know which one to buy. No one is going to be disappointed with either device, since the feature variation between the two is a matter of degree, and the stylistic differences a matter of taste. Welcome to Android in 2016.

Specs

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Both the HTC 10 and the Galaxy S7 are tremendously well-equipped for an early-to-mid 2016 flagship. Each one bears the latest processor —in the U.S., both run Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 820 chip; in Canada and Europe, the S7 runs Samsung’s Exynos 8890 — along with 4GB of RAM, 32GB of internal storage, 12MP rear cameras, 5MP front cameras, and a variety of value-added options.

There are some subtle things about the S7 that immediately stand out. For starters, it is IP68 waterproof, which allows it to be submerged in up to one meter of water for an hour. It can also be charged wirelessly, using either the Qi or PMA standard. The former feature is something many people care about, and it’s an engineering feat in itself that Samsung was able to close off all the ports and protect the internals without unsightly covers or obvious gaskets.

On the other hand, the HTC 10 has a USB Type-C port with USB 3.1 transfer speeds, which future proofs it for many years to come. Samsung, in order to ensure backwards compatibility with the increasingly-important Gear VR, maintained a microUSB port with USB 2.0 transfer speeds. Not a huge deal, but certainly something to think about.

The GS7 also has the edge in terms of screen technology. While the HTC 10 has one of the best LCDs on the market today — the company called it the fifth generation Super LCD — it is trounced in terms of vibrance, viewing angles and brightness by the Galaxy S7’s Super AMOLED panel. Slightly better screen density aside, the Galaxy S7’s screen just looks better in more instances, especially outdoors, where it has traditionally been difficult to crank brightness to adequate levels.

The GS7 has the edge in terms of screen technology.

Both devices have fingerprint scanners on the front, but it could be argued (and I’d agree with said arguer) that HTC’s implementation is superior. Not only is the HTC 10’s home button more capacitive than physical, which prevents mechanical problems down the road, the device can be unlocked without turning the screen on. This inevitably affects battery life, by constantly polling the fingerprint scanner, but it’s likely no more disruptive than Samsung’s on-by-default Always-On Display. Pick your poison, I guess. Oh, and HTC’s fingerprint scanner seems a tad bit faster.

Speaking of battery life, both devices are equipped with 3,000mAh non-removable cells. That should equal roughly the same battery life, but in our early tests, the HTC 10 doesn’t stand up to Samsung’s latest flagship. I’m not willing to say that the S7 has demonstrably better uptime, since I’ve only had HTC’s latest for about a week, but it appears that both the camera and the LTE connection engage the battery much more readily than on the S7. It’s possible software updates could fix these issues in the future, but we have to review what we have now (and I’m using a retail version of the S7 that has yet to receive a single patch).

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Operating System Android 6.0.1 Android 6.0.1
CPU Qualcomm Snapdragon 82064-bit Kryo quad-core Snapdragon 820 quad-core or Exyos 8890 octa-core
RAM 4GB 4GB
Display 5.2-inch QHD (2560×1440, 565 ppi)Super LCD 5 5.1-inch QHD (2560×1440, 534 ppi) Super AMOLED
Rear Camera 12MP Ultrapixel + OIS, f/1.8 lens4K video, 120fps slow motion 12MP + OIS, f/1.7 lens 4K video, 240fps slow motion
Front Camera 5MP Ultrapixel + OIS, f/1.8 5MP, f/1.7
Storage 32GB + microSD 32GB + microSD
Charging USB Type-C Quick Charge 3.0 microUSB Quick Charge 2.0 + wireless Qi & PMA
Battery 3,000mAh 3,000mAh
SIM nanoSIM nanoSIM
Waterproofing No IP68 waterproofing
Audio HTC BoomSound Hi-Fi EditionTwo speakers Downward-facing mono speaker
Dimensions 145.9 x 71.9 x 9.0mm 150.9 x 72.6 x 7.7 mm
Weight 161g 157g

Software

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In years past, I’d say that comparing the software between an HTC and Samsung device would be akin to difference between biting your lip and pulling a large chunk of leg hair. Both are painful in competing ways.

Today, running Android 6.0.1, both companies have largely resolved their design foibles, likely by the stern-but-fair hand of Google. HTC’s software, which is still lightly glancingly referred to as Sense but has little resemblance to its predecessors, maintains some of what made the M7 to the M9 great, but recalls the promise of the A9 to defer to Google’s first-party services whenever possible. This means as little app and service duplication as we’ve seen outside of a Moto X — no separate browser or gallery, and very few preloads.

I really like this HTC. It’s careful not to overload users with features.

There are some lingering areas of concern, though: HTC has struck deals with Facebook to pre-install its core app, plus Messenger and Instagram, along with the of-dubious-quality News Republic, and its own Boost+ optimization app. None of these are particularly egregious, and we haven’t had the privilege of seeing how badly T-Mobile, Verizon and Sprint will mess things up, but based on the bloatware found on the S7, anything is possible.

I really like this HTC. It is careful not to overload with features, but retains some of the more useful power user shortcuts, such as Motion Gestures and quick music streaming. Its default theme has some of the nicest icons I’ve seen on an Android device, and features like Personal Audio Profile, which optimizes sound output for your specific headphones, are welcome.

When we turn to the Galaxy S7, it’s clear Samsung tried to tone down its service duplication, but lacked the same commitment as its Taiwanese competitor. There is still a heck of a lot of doubling, from Samsung’s own browser to its own app market, but somehow this is more forgivable this year because it all coheres.

Camera

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Even though both the HTC 10 and Galaxy S7 sport 12MP camera sensors, the experience of using them is very different. This is an area HTC has struggled in previous years, and while the fundamentals are dramatically improved, it hasn’t yet caught up to the industry leader just yet.

First, while HTC has revamped its camera app to be both more intuitive for novices and pro users alike, it still can’t capture great images with the consistency of the Galaxy S7. Whether in bright daylight or lowlight, the Galaxy S7 is able to focus, expose and shoot with very little compromise. But when you blow up the S7’s photos, you see Samsung’s subtle manipulations: it abundantly applies sharpening and noise reduction to make photos look cleaner on a smaller screen. HTC, despite having a more difficult time finding the correct exposure, often captures a scene more true to life. This is a technique Apple has employed with the iPhone, and it has both fans and detractors, depending on where you stand on how smartphone photos are meant to be shared.

See HTC 10 initial photos and video samples

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Both those arguments are moot, though, when you refer to the phones’ professional modes, which allow for manual tweaking of shutter speed, focus, exposure and light sensitivity. With a bit of tweaking, the HTC 10’s slightly larger pixels — 1.55 microns to the S7’s 1.4 — produce cleaner shots that, especially in low light, are more readily editable in post-production.

Both the HTC 10 and Galaxy S7 are tremendous products, but it’s clear that Samsung has the… edge.

On the selfie side, the HTC 10 boasts a 5MP sensor with optical image stabilization, a first in the industry. While that alone is unlikely to have much of an impact on photo quality, it negates having to use the (gasp!) front-facing flash that Samsung was eager to steal from the iPhone. In sufficient light, both phones produce competent shots with the selfie cam, and that’s all that needs to be said about that.

Conclusion

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Both the HTC 10 and Galaxy S7 are tremendous products, but it’s clear that Samsung, even without the aesthetically-arresting edge, has the… well, you get it. Both devices are as fast as a flagship should feel in mid-2016, but Samsung has the edge in screen quality, camera experience, and value-added features like waterproofing.

The HTC 10, though, shouldn’t be dismissed: its combination of superb design, painstaking machining, pared-down software, and pro-friendly camera options helps it appeal once again to the hardcore users who would at one time only consider an HTC product, and today likely migrate towards a Nexus.

14
Apr

Here’s what you need to know about backing up your launcher


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You backup your photos, your music, your documents… Why not your launcher?

We’ve all been there. Just got a brand new phone, still figuring out where all the new features and apps are laid out. But when you go to find one of your favorite apps… it’s not where it was on your last phone. And your app drawer isn’t organized quite the way we had it before. You search and you search, and when you find it you drag it back to where it was on your old phone.

No more. There is a better way.

Not every launcher can be backed up. Fortunately there’s a lot of launchers that can out there, and most of the good ones have options to import your current home screen layout. There are an absurd amount of launchers out there, and while we can’t cover them all, we’ll cover the larger ones, which cover the various types of backups and methods you’ll encounter with your own chosen launcher (should your launcher have one).

Google Now Launcher

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Google’s own launcher backs up the applications on your home screen, meaning that when you set up your shiny gold Nexus 6P, the apps on your home screen should be the same ones you used on your last device. These backups are tied to your Google account, but they’ll only extend to the applications on your home screen, not the widgets (well, widget backup is a bit complicated, as we’ll get to in a minute).

For those who don’t use a lot of widgets and don’t want to hassle with making their own backups, this is excellent. Even for those of use who use other launchers, at least we have some of our apps in order while we wait for those apps to be downloaded.

Nova Launcher

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Nova Launcher, one of the mainstays of the home screen replacement market, does a lot of things really well. It especially does backups really well. A backup does no good if it’s just going to sit on the device itself. We create these backups so that we can restore them if the device fails, or so we can easily bring them to a new device. That means your backup needs to go to the cloud, or at least to another computer. And with Nova, creating your backup and pushing it to the cloud is combined in one step.

We create a new backup by tapping the aptly-named Backup in Backup & import settings inside Nova Settings. The command window that pops up allows you rename the backup on the spot, and then gives you the choice to save to Device Storage, Document storage, or to Share the backup to another service, like Google Drive. You select your service and the backup is created and uploaded immediately. To restore a backup, you’re once again given the choice between Device storage or by browsing the Document storage, which will plug into Google Drive and other cloud services installed on the device.

A note on widgets in Nova backups: while it won’t automatically restore the widgets you were using, Nova backups include placeholders for your widgets in the place, size, and app you used. You need to tap each widget and set it back up, but at least

Action Launcher

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Now we start getting into backups that take a little more effort. Action Launcher does have a dedicated Backup section in Action 3 Settings, however it’s not as intuitive as it looks. I will say that at least Action Launcher warns you about how widgets work in their backups. Like Nova, Action Launcher will back up a placeholder for your widget. However, when you tap it, you will have to select what app and widget template it’s based on, as opposed to Nova, which remembers the app and template.

You can name your backup when you save it, but it can only be saved to one location. You can’t even change that location, though Action Launcher lists the location for you to navigate to with a file manager app. So, if you want to save a backup to Google Drive or another cloud service, you’ll have to create the backup in Action 3 Settings, then navigate to the Backup location in your file manager, and share the file to the cloud. Likewise, when restoring a cloud backup, you’ll have to download the file, copy it back into the Backup location, and then restore it from Action 3 Settings.

Apex Launcher

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Apex Launcher’s backups are a bit of a double-edged sword. See, you can back up your Apex (launcher) settings and Desktop (home screen)settings separately, but you can only have one backup in the folder at a time. So if you’re wanting to back up and restore several different themes on one device, you’ll have to create that Desktop backup, navigate to the backup folder, and copy it somewhere else before you create another backup, otherwise your new backup will be written over the old one.

How do you find the folder that it’ll be backing up to? Since the app wasn’t gracious enough to tell you, you’ll have to go rooting around your file manager looking for it. Apex hides their backups in the Android/data/apexlauncher folder, but there’s not a lot of standardization among launchers as to where they save them. Lightning Launcher, one of the more technical launchers out there, sends its backups not to the Android/data/[app] folder, but rather to a “LightningLauncher” folder it creates in Internal Memory. You may have to look two or three different places before you find the folder, but at least you can find it and offload it to whatever backup platform you’re using.

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Do you back up your launcher right now? If not, you really, really should. If not for yourself, then do it for whatever poor sap is around you while you’re setting up your next phone. Backups are also really useful to have if you’re the designated phone guru for your parents/siblings/grandparents/coworkers/miscellaneous friends, as it means that if they muck something up, you can put things back how they expect them to be and get on with your day.

14
Apr

Add a map, photo and customizable button to your Nexus with Google’s new case


Google has just announced a new case for the Nexus 5X, Nexus 6P and even the Nexus 6, the Nexus Live Case. The case allows you to customize your design, from your favorite picture to your favorite map view, to make the case more personal. In addition to being able to customize it, the case has a built-in button that will launch your favorite application when pressed.

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This is not the first time Google has released specialized cases, in fact, they released some limited edition Skrillex cases for the Nexus 6, but these appear to actually be a complete thought. If you download the Live Case app, you can extend the design of your case to the wallpaper of your phone as a Live Wallpaper. The photo case will show you a slideshow of photos, while the places case will display your current location as the wallpaper.

The cases retail for $35, and you can begin creating your custom case now.

See at Google

14
Apr

You can get a $30 gift card for signing up and using Samsung Pay from April 15 to May 10


Samsung is making yet another effort to get new customers for its Samsung Pay service. From Friday, April 15 to May 10, anyone in the U.S. who has already signed up for Samsung Pay and makes their first three purchases will receive a free $30 gift card.

The promotion site for the deal emphasises the fact that the free gift card offer is only for people who have already registered for Samsung Pay before the offer begins on Friday, but who have not yet used the service. This is clearly meant to encourage people to actually use Samsung Pay for the first time.

The actual gift card can be picked for one of four retailers: Best Buy, eBay, GameStop or Regal Entertainment.

14
Apr

BlackBerry Priv begins sales in Mexico on Amazon


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The reach of the BlackBerry Priv smartphone continues to expand. The latest country to offer sales of the Android-based phone is Mexico.

BlackBerry stated that the Priv is now available on Mexico’s Amazon site. The listing for the phone shows the price for the unlocked version is $15,863.95 Pesos, or about $913. BlackBerry says that Mexico’s president can use a 12-month payment plan to buy the Priv from Amazon.

See at Amazon Mexico

14
Apr

Instagram’s video channels make it easier to find new footage


A couple weeks ago, Instagram increased the limit on video clips users could post to the service from 15 seconds up to a minute. With longer footage, the filter-driven photography app is offering new ways to browse those videos was well. A new update adds video channels to the application’s Explore feed, the spot where you can catch up on what’s popular based on photos and clips you’ve liked.

The Explore tab now compiles videos in feeds for Featured items (like comedy stars) and “Videos You Might Like.” If you happen to come across something you don’t like, you can tell Instagram to keep similar videos out of your feed in the future. Right now, the video channels are only available in the US on iOS and Android, but they’ll roll out to other locales “soon.”

Source: Instagram

14
Apr

The Denon Design Series: Real Hi-Fi for real lifestyles


Denon’s Design Series of devices will do everything that a large Hi-Fi system will, fitting into your life as well as your home and giving you a compact system without sacrificing Denon performance.

Designed to fit around you, Denon has taken its years of experience in creating high-end audio and made a music system that will deliver on the promise of performance, but with a keen eye for contemporary design.  

“The DRA-100 takes the compact form factor of the M-Series and adds the Hi-Fi audio quality of our full-size components. It’s the combination of the best of both worlds: we call it the Denon Design Series: ‘real hi-fi for today’s lifestyles’,” explains Terry O’Connell, president of sales and marketing, Denon and Marantz.

The Design Series consists of the DRA-100 Network receiver, the PMA-50 Class-D amplifier and the DCD-50 CD Player creating a perfect solution whatever your audio needs.  The new creations are eye-catching with a deluxe finish, including soft brushed aluminium with bright silver accents, and gloss and matte black surfaces.

Dubbed “real Hi-Fi for today’s lifestyles,” the three separate units are compact but powerful with the DRA-100 offering everything for the modern connected music fan, while the PMA-50 Class-D amplifier and the DCD-50 CD Player bring a more traditional offering.

“The PMA-50/DCD-50 combination takes the classic approach of separate amp and CD player, but with digital connectivity for hi-res audio via computer, an audio source gaining popularity,” adds O’Connell. “The DRA-100 is the all-in-one solution for the more convenience-orientated customer looking for access to online music services, while having the option to stream hi-res audio up to DSD.”

Denon

The Denon PMA-50/DCD-50

 

 

For that modern listener, the DRA-100 Network receiver offers a variety of playback options with built-in Wi-Fi for hi-res music streaming, AirPlay, Bluetooth and other digital and analogue inputs.

You can choose from thousands of internet radio stations from around the world, to listen to what you want, when you want. The accompanying Denon Hi-Fi Remote App lets you control the DRA-100 with your Apple or Android device for complete convenience.

Those still enjoying the quality of CDs can opt for the PMA-50 full digital stereo amplifier combined with the DCD-50 that features a high quality disc drive that plays music CDs as well as data discs for MP3 or WMA tracks.

But don’t let the inclusion of the CD player fool you. The PMA-50 still packs plenty of modern technologies in its small chassis, including Bluetooth and NFC, as well as USB for music playback.

The DCD-50 features an elegant compact design that can be operated when placed horizontally or vertically thanks to the slot-loading drive and the Clear View OLED display that automatically adjusts accordingly, making it an ideal choice for any home, large or small.

The new Denon Design Series is available now.

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