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12
Aug

Sony Xperia XR vs Xperia Z5: What’s the rumoured difference?


Sony is one of the only manufacturers left to announce a new flagship in 2016 and it looks like the beginning of September might be when we will see it appear.

The name is a little up in the air at the moment though, after the company scrapped the “Z” series at Mobile World Congress and marked the “X” series as its future. There have been a couple of names rumoured, but we are going with the Xperia XR for the sake of this feature.

We’ve compared the rumoured specs of the Xperia XR, also called Xperia F8331, to the Xperia Z5 to see what the differences are, based on current speculation.

Sony Xperia XR vs Xperia Z5: Design

There have been several leaked images of what is claimed to be the next Sony flagship, all showing a device that follows the same OmniBalance design Sony smartphones exhibit.

The Sony Xperia XR is claimed to be coming with a brushed metal finish measuring 146.4 x 71.9 x 8.1mm. Based on the leaks, it looks like the fingerprint sensor will remain on the side power button, while USB Type-C will be present for charging and data transfer.

The Sony Xperia Z5 also has an OmniBalance design but it features a tempered glass rear with a metal frame rather than an all metal finish. The side button is present with the fingerprint sensor but the Z5 appears to offer a slightly more rounded top and bottom compared to what is expected for the new device.

The Z5 measures 146 x 72 x 7.3mm, meaning it has a similar footprint to that suggested for the Xperia XR but it is slightly slimmer. The Z5 measures 154g and features Micro-USB.

Sony Xperia XR vs Xperia Z5: Display

The Sony Xperia XR is said to be coming with a 5.1-inch display and a Full HD resolution. This would put its pixel density at 432ppi, which is lower than competitor devices like the Samsung Galaxy S7 and LG G5.

There was talk of Sony introducing a pressure sensitive display for the next Xperia, but those rumours have since died down. We’d love to see a higher resolution for VR, and an edge-to-edge display like the Xperia XA would be welcomed, but leaks suggest neither will be the case.

The Sony Xperia Z5 comes with a 5.2-inch Full HD display, which puts its pixel density at 424ppi. There are a couple of Sony technologies on board, including X Reality, but all-in-all, the Z5 has a pretty standard display with no fancy features.

Sony Xperia XR vs Xperia Z5: Camera

It is thought the Sony Xperia XR will offer the same sensor as the Xperia Z5, X Performance and X smartphones on the rear, which would mean a 23-megapixel resolution.

Leaked images suggest the camera layout will change however, with a dual-LED flash reported to be sitting beneath the camera lens, rather than next to it. The front-facing camera resolution hasn’t been mentioned, though we’d expect 13-megapixels like the X Performance and X smartphones.

Rumours have said the Xperia XR will be capable of 4K video recording from both the front and rear cameras however, meaning we can expect at least an 8-megapixel sensor for the front if this is true.

The Xperia Z5 features a 23-megapixel rear camera, coupled with a 5-megapixel front camera. There is an LED flash, a sensitivity of 12,800 ISO and a wide angle front lens.

Sony Xperia XR vs Xperia Z5: Hardware

According to rumours, the Xperia XR will arrive with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 processor. Other hardware specs haven’t been detailed in any plausible rumours, but we would expect to see 4GB of RAM, 32GB of storage and a battery capacity around 3000mAh.

We’d like to see IP65 or IP68 water and dust resistance return, something that was missed off the spec sheet for the X and XA, and we’d like to see USB Type-C, which is expected as we mentioned previously.

The Xperia Z5 comes with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 processor, 3GB of RAM, 32GB of storage and a 2900mAh battery. There is microSD support for storage expansion too, which is also something we’d also expect for the new device, and the Z5 is IP68 and IP65 water and dust resistant.

Sony Xperia XR vs Xperia Z5: Software

The Sony Xperia XR will probably launch on Android Marshmallow rather than Android Nougat and it will more than likely feature Sony’s bloatware over the top.

The Sony Xperia Z5 launched on Android Lollipop but it has since been updated to Marshmallow and will probably see an update to Nougat at some point.

We’d expect Sony to announce a couple of new software features with the new flagship as is normally the case, but the experience between these two devices should be pretty similar overall.

Sony Xperia XR vs Xperia Z5: Conclusion

Based on speculation, the next Sony Xperia flagship should improve on the Xperia Z5 in terms of performance and hardware, as you would expect from a succeeding device.

The leaks also suggest the design will stay familiar but incorporate more of the Xperia X range, as well as changing things up slightly, but not so much that you wouldn’t recognise it as a Sony smartphone.

For now, everything is speculation, even the name. We will keep this feature updated as we hear more though so keep checking back over the next few weeks. You can read our next Sony Xperia rumour round up for more detail on the rumours and leaks surrounding the Xperia XR.

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12
Aug

Virtual reality programs could help paralyzed patients walk again


Results from a recent experiment have demonstrated that special brain-machine interfaces, when used in addition to exoskeletons and virtual reality, could very well help paralyzed patients regain movement after spinal cord injuries. In short, virtual reality physical therapy could eventually help patients to walk again.

The system and its resulting experiments, conducted by Duke University neuroscientist Miguel Nicolelis and his colleagues, was successful in opening up partial restoration of muscle control and sensations in patients’s lower limbs. This was possible after the patients were put through an aggressive training regiment with brain-controlled robotics and VR technology. This level of recovery is unprecedented in patients with long-term paralysis, according to the research, and was successful in restoring some sensation to eight patients previously diagnosed with spinal cord injuries.

The training programs utilized brain-machine interfaces (BMIs) in conjunction with virtual reality tech to establish communication between the brain and a computer, which gives patients control over external devices using only their mind. Virtual reality assisted patients with visualizing the brain-controlled movements and mind-body awareness. With a representation of their own bodies they were able to better make a connection between VR and their physical beings to make the training regimen more successful.

Patients regained varying amounts of sensation, ranging from some feeling and muscle control to an astonishing ability to move in a 32-year-old woman who had been paralyzed for 13 years. She was able to move her legs on her own with her body weight supported by a harness after just 13 months of treatment.

While these experiments aren’t the first to test treatments like this one, they are certainly some of the more promising ones. The researchers are looking forward to testing out additional treatment plans in the future on more recently-injured patients to see how things change.

Via: Gizmodo

12
Aug

Netflix’s pricey Baz Luhrmann hip-hop drama arrives today


Of all the Netflix productions, including the critically panned, $90 million Marco Polo, none have had as difficult a gestation (and high a price tag) as The Get Down. You can now download the hip-hop drama, set in the Bronx of the 1970s and created by notorious perfectionist Baz Luhrmann. It reportedly cost $120 million and strained relations between its director, producer Sony Pictures and Netflix, but the end result is “both messy and wonderful,” according to Variety.

The series takes place in New York in the ’70s when the city was in ruins and nearly bankrupt. Despite the problems, it gave birth to hip-hop, disco and punk, in part due to the desperation of artists to break from poverty. The series follows a band of teenagers who develop hip-hop from “The Get Down,”or four-break groove that forms a song’s core. The main cast, made up entirely of actors of color, includes Justice Smith, Jimmy Smits, Giancarlo Esposito and Will Jaden Smith. Luhrmann directs the premier 90-minute episode.

Though the film suffers from balky pacing and some patented Baz schlock, it’s been well-received by critics with a 73 percent average rating. Most agree that the $120 million budget is all on the screen and that the production accurately captures the era. Netflix is only releasing six of the twelve episodes instead of the entire season as it usually does, and the second half will come sometime in 2017.

Via: CNET

Source: Netflix

12
Aug

The best cheap compact camera


By Amadou Diallo

This post was done in partnership with The Wirecutter, a buyer’s guide to the best technology. Read the full article here.

If you want to buy a decent and basic point-and-shoot camera at an affordable price, the Canon PowerShot Elph 350 HS (the IXUS 275 HS outside of the US) is the camera you should get. After 32 hours of research, considering 24 different models, and doing some real-world shooting with the best of them, we found that the 350 HS is both simple to use and capable of delivering sharper photos with more-vibrant colors and cleaner images in low light than the competition. The PowerShot Elph 360 HS is the newer model, but the two cameras are virtually identical in features and performance. We recommend either camera equally, so keep an eye on pricing and buy whichever one is cheaper.

Who should buy this

The Canon 350 HS is nowhere near as thin as an iPhone, but it is still compact enough to slide into a loose-fitting pants pocket. Photo: Amadou Diallo

The low-end point-and-shoot market has been all but destroyed by smartphones, but for some people, a dedicated camera still makes sense. The major advantage of a stand-alone camera is that it has a zoom lens, which makes a world of difference when you can’t get physically close to your subject. Cheap cameras like this also have the advantage of being extremely simple to use, and their low price means that if the camera is lost or damaged, it’s a lot less painful, making these models great first-camera choices for kids and teens.

How we picked

If you’re looking to buy a digital camera for about $200, it’s mostly a matter of separating the wheat from the chaff—and you’ll find a lot of chaff. For years, camera makers have pumped out what feels like dozens of near-identical models that get bargain-binned almost immediately and are generally worthless. Lately they’ve slowed down the pace because fewer people are buying these cheap cameras, but you still have a lot to wade through.

We spent dozens of hours looking at more than 20 widely available sub-$200 cameras. We quickly dismissed a great number of them due to specs that just didn’t measure up to those of some of the more competent alternatives. Cameras with CCD sensors, in particular, are best avoided, as they’re usually limited to just 720p video, have slow shooting rates of around one frame per second, and generally don’t go beyond an ISO of 1600. With these limitations in mind, we removed the vast majority of the cheap cameras. We also eliminated cameras that had lower-resolution 230,000-dot screens, because 460,000-dot screens allow for sharper images on playback. We also cut any cameras that didn’t feature optical image stabilization (which helps you take steadier images), as well as those with poor user reviews on Amazon.

Our pick

The Canon 350 HS produces reasonably accurate colors when shooting outdoor scenes.

For most people looking for an affordable, basically decent camera, the pocketable Canon PowerShot Elph 350 HS—with an impressive 12x zoom—is the way to go. It takes sharp, brightly colored photos with minimal effort and produces cleaner low-light images than the competition. It keeps image noise to a manageable level up to ISO 800 (and even ISO 3200 is acceptable if you’re only going to post photos to Facebook). Plus, Canon’s engineers have set exposure parameters to prioritize faster shutter speeds in low light to avoid camera shake and blurry photos.

Though Canon’s DSLRs get all the attention, the company has long been a go-to brand for basic, affordable low-end cameras. If you want a solid option on the cheap, you can trust a Canon to be good for whatever price you paid for it. That hasn’t really changed over the years, and the 350 HS offers much of what you might expect in this class of camera. It covers the basics, and its flaws are more forgivable than much of the competition’s.

Canon updated the 350 HS with the release of the PowerShot Elph 360 HS, which is identical to the 350 HS apart from the color selection, so we suggest buying whichever model is cheaper.

Touchscreen selfie master

The Nikon S6900 has a fold-out rear stand that lets you take hands-free selfies.

If our main pick and its newer variant are both unavailable, we also like the Nikon Coolpix S6900. It suffers in low light because the camera stubbornly chooses slow shutter speeds, which can lead to blurry photos (the main reason it isn’t our top pick). But the S6900 does have a tilting and touch-sensitive rear screen and a faster high-resolution burst speed than our main pick. It also comes with a clever built-in stand that lets you prop the camera up in portrait-shooting position on a flat surface, which is great for taking selfies without having your arm in the picture.

Greater zoom and battery life

The Samsung WB350F is a solid option if you’re itching for something with a longer zoom.

If you’re willing to carry a slightly bulkier camera and sacrifice a bit of image quality for much greater zoom range, the Samsung WB350F is solid. Its 21x zoom range is bigger than that of any other camera in this class, its battery lasts 60 percent longer than the one in our main pick, and it has a wealth of wireless connectivity options.

What you get by paying more

If you’re willing to spend more cash, you can give yourself a huge image-quality boost by getting a compact camera geared more toward experienced shooters. We cover those upgrade models in our guide to the best point-and-shoot camera under $500. Those mid-tier cameras have significantly larger sensors and lenses that let in much more light across their entire zoom range, giving you the ability to capture sharp, clean images indoors and at night.

This guide may have been updated by The Wirecutter. To see the current recommendation, please go here.

12
Aug

Photo-editing app VSCO is turning off its sync feature today


Almost two years ago, the popular photo-editing and sharing app VSCO released a big iOS update that, among other things, brought the app to the iPad. At the same time, VSCO added a sync feature: if you imported a photo into your VSCO library and made edits on your iPhone, the same photo and edits would appear on your iPad (and vice versa). It was a handy feature, letting you make changes on the iPad’s big screen while sending them to the iPhone for easy sharing to apps like Instagram. However, as of today, that sync feature is going away.

VSCO announced the change with an email to users a few weeks ago, but today is doomsday for the feature. At the moment, sync appears to be working, albeit in limited fashion. I’ve been able to import photos into my VSCO library on both my iPad and iPhone and have edits stay in sync. That’ll probably disappear before long, however, so don’t necessarily rely on it. The good news is that none of your images will be deleted and there’s an “export all” feature to save them to your camera roll. But if you delete the app from a device, those images and edits will be gone for good, so make sure they’re backed up somewhere.

Despite the quality of VSCO’s edits, the app has always been a little confusing, so removing sync might actually make for an easier experience in some regard. And while the experience of making edits on one device and having them appear on another was nice, you can always export your edited photos to the camera roll and have the same image appear on another device thanks to iCloud’s photo library or Google Photos. Given the amount of photo syncing and backup options out there, it does make sense for VSCO to stay firmly focused on editing.

VSCO also recently pushed out a visual redesign in the iPhone app, but most of those changes haven’t come to the iPad yet — maybe as the company removes its sync feature, it’ll put the apps back on par from a visual standpoint.

Source: VSCO

12
Aug

Hillary Clinton is co-hosting a podcast about her campaign


On top of serving as Secretary of the State and New York Senator, Hillary Clinton can now add “podcast host” to her list of many accomplishments. The Democratic presidential nominee is co-hosting With Her, a new show which will chronicle her historic run for office. It’s also the first podcast launched by a presidential campaign. Pineapple Street Media is producing the show, and it’s also co-hosted by that company’s founder Max Linsky, who’s also known for the app and website Longform.

The first episode, which was published today, features Clinton talking about getting the Democratic Party nomination, as well as her frustration with Congress’s inability to fund Zika prevention measures. You can expect eventual appearances from Clinton’s VP choice, Tim Kaine, as well as other staffers and supporters.

While podcasts still have a fairly limited audience, launching a show of her own is a smart way for Clinton to speak directly to her most ardent supporters. And while opponents are still playing up issues around her private email server, the podcast lines up with her strong tech policy stance, which includes plans for increasing broadband internet access, STEM education availability and student loan help for budding entrepreneurs.

This is the very first episode @pineapplemedia has put out in the world! And @WBJenna made it all happen 🙏🇺🇸🍍 pic.twitter.com/YSVHCbq91T

— max linsky (@maxlinsky) August 12, 2016

Via: 9to5Mac

Source: “With Her” (iTunes)

12
Aug

Reuters: Congressional leaders were briefed on DNC hack last year


As new details emerge on the hacks of the Democratic Party, we’ve yet to learn the scope of the damage. Yesterday, Bloomberg reported the people behind the DNC hack had much larger aspirations that included NATO and top security officials. Reuters now reports that Congressional leaders were briefed on Russian cyberattacks that targeted the Democrats last year. Sources tell the news outlet that due to the top secret nature of the information, those officials weren’t able to inform the targets about the issue. The FBI confirmed publicly that it was looking into Russia’s involvement in the ordeal in late July after Wikileaks published thousands of DNC emails.

Reuters explains the reason for withholding those details was due to the fact that the US government was continuing to monitor the efforts of the culprits. Disclosing any info would have revealed its sources and methods for doing so. All of the details on the matter were kept to a small number of government officials who needed to be alerted that US intelligence had determined that two Russian agencies or their proxies were attempting to breach the Democratic National Committee.

The report’s sources also indicate that DNC officials weren’t told about the initial security breach until months after the first Congressional briefing. Even then, no ties to the Russian government were mentioned. Following the attack on the DNC, cyberattackers went on to access information at the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign. What’s more, the attackers are said to have used a method known as “spearphishing,” or accessing private email accounts of the organizations’ employees, to gain access to more sensitive info.

Reuters also reports that interim DNC chair Donna Brazile sent out a memo this week detailing a plan to create a “Cybersecurity Advisory Board” within the committee. The memo explained that the board would work to prevent future attacks and make sure that the DNC’s cybersecurity measures are the best they can be. With new information coming out seemingly every day, we likely have a long way to go before we know how long this went on, what information was accessed, who knew about it and which government organizations were affected.

Source: Reuters

12
Aug

Virgin Media TiVo update adds smarter Series Link+ feature


While we wait for more details on Virgin Media’s new V6 set-top box and the 4K service arriving with it, the company’s showing it hasn’t yet forgotten about those aging HD TiVos currently sitting beneath TVs across the UK. Several new features are being bestowed upon these boxes as part of a platform update, the most notable of which being Series Link+. This not only tells your TiVo to record every subsequent episode of a series, as you’d expect, but also searches on-demand platforms (including Netflix) for any episode of the same show, collating it all in the one folder in the My Shows tab — should you need to start from the very beginning, say.

Another handy new feature lets you bookmark shows or movies — whether you find them on live TV, on-demand or through Netflix — to revisit later, either via a new dedicated folder or the familiar My Shows tab. Other, minor tweaks include a more visually driven UI that swaps on-demand programme lists for images and channel names for logos, as well as a better smart search feature within the on-demand and catch-up menus that’ll start working after being fed a single letter. Finally, you’ll be able to pick up where you left off if you have to bail on an on-demand session early — a convenience that was previously only available when watching recordings.

When Virgin Media customers will get access to these new features is a bit of a gamble. The update has begun rolling out today, but it’ll be a couple of weeks before it reaches every last set-top box.

Via: Pocket-lint

Source: Virgin Media

12
Aug

Your hard drive’s sounds could help hackers crack your system


File this under a totally bizarre and improbable way to hack someone. Security researchers have recently demonstrated a way to use the sounds of your computer’s hard drive to possibly transmit information. In short, they can use it to gather your data without you knowing.

Weirdly enough, the DiskFiltration hack, as it’s called, works by taking control of a hard drive’s actuator. Much like the arm of a record player it moves back and forth across a hard drive’s platters to read and write data, and while it moves it makes a series of various sounds. Using the right type of malware, hackers can use those very sounds for some extremely shady machinations. If the right person is listening for the right thing, those noises can let go of a lot of information like an encryption key.

The DiskFiltration method only works up to about six feet and it’s limited to a data rate of about 180 bits per minute. That’s obviously not very fast at all, but it’s quick enough to capture an encryption key in about a half hour. The entire idea and method of execution is massively impractical but it does work, except with solid-state drives. Still, it’s a very weird and very real way of intercepting data. As if people needed another way to do so.

Via: Gizmodo

Source: Cornell University Library

12
Aug

iPhone 7’s Secondary Speaker Holes May Be Purely Cosmetic


While multiple sources and leaked components have pointed towards iPhone 7 models having dual speakers, which could very well be the case, a new design drawing spotted by French website NWE suggests the additional holes may be purely cosmetic to give the bottom edge a symmetrical design.

The text in the documents refers to the area that occupies the 3.5mm headphone jack on current iPhones as having simply a microphone and microphone mesh, with no mention of a speaker in that location. Most of the secondary holes would be non-functional, except for the one furthest to the right, which would double as a microphone.

The veracity of the photo cannot be confirmed, and the rumor conflicts with some previous reports, but at least one previous iPhone 7 design drawing has depicted the left speaker grille as ornamental. In the photos, the secondary holes are not cut all the way through except for what would be normally be the microphone hole.

iPhone-7-speaker-grille-closed-off
The inclusion of dual speakers or lack thereof will be known for certain in less than a month. Apple is expected to announce the tentatively named iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus on September 7, likely followed by pre-orders on September 9 and retail availability on September 16 in first-wave launch countries.

Related Roundup: iPhone 7
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