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23
Feb

AtomicX V201: All you need is love and these headphones (review)


There are some people who splurge hundreds of dollars in crazy-expensive headphones because they want the best audio quality. There are people who think that the crappy headphones included with their phone are good enough. Then there are people that are willing to trade off a bit of quality in favor of an affordable set, especially if it brings additional features such as Bluetooth and Active Noise Cancelling.

For this ever-increasing customer segment, iDeaUSA has brought the AtomicX V201 headphones to market. If you want a nice looking, sturdy and wireless set with great battery life and good sound quality, then you’re in for a treat.

Design and Build

When opening the box, you will find a rigid case with a faux carbon fiber design. I didn’t expect a case with these headphones, considering that I’ve bought slightly more expensive headphones and they haven’t come with a case. Now I feel ripped off by them.

Anyways, inside the case you will find the following items:

  • AtomicX V201 over-ear headphones
  • 3.5mm to 3.5mm cord
  • MicroUSB to USB charging cable
  • Dual mono to 3.5mm adapter

It was a surprise to see the adapter, since, again, I’ve never had one included in any of the headphones I’ve bought. What I’ve seen included with other headphones, especially with Audio-Technica, is a 3.5 to 6.35mm adapter, and the V201 doesn’t include one. This is not a dealbreaker for 99% of people, and chances are that if you need one, you already have one.

The V201 headphones follow closely the design set by the carrying case, with faux carbon fiber elements on the cups and on the top part of the headband. The rest of the device is made up of plastic.

When you adjust the cups in order to fit your head, you will discover that a metal frame hold the headphones together. There’s also some padding added to the bottom part of the headband and to the inner side of the cups.

On the bottom part of the cups you will find several elements. On the left one, there’s a switch to toggle Active Noise Cancelling. There’s also a microUSB port for charging purposes.

On the right, you will find a power button that doubles as a pause button, plus volume down/previous and volume up/forward buttons. There’s also a 3.5mm plug to connect the included cable. A status red/blue light is also present on both sides.

The carrying case is very nice and has the same faux carbon fiber design.

All of these elements add up to a weight of 210 grams. I haven’t found myself wishing that they were neither lighter nor heavier. They are light enough so that long sessions don’t turn into hell, and they are heavy enough to convey a sense of quality.

Contrary to what some companies are doing, iDeaUSA opted to offer the V201 in black only. Thank you very much, iDeaUSA. Even though I prefer bright colors for some stuff, such as cellphone cases, I would hate to have a bright green thing on top of my head. This device won’t turn heads, that’s for sure, but, in my opinion, that’s how headphones should work.

I’ve been using these headphones basically non-stop for a week and the first day I felt some discomfort on my ears, but the next day it went away. Probably it was just me getting used again to over-ear headphones, which I haven’t used in months. The padding makes a good job here, and the weight means that the discomfort is kept to a minimum.

The whole set just feels very sturdy and strong. I feel like these headphones will serve me well for several years, thanks to a well-designed build and durable materials.

Sound Quality

Normally, Bluetooth headphones are not renowned for their audio quality, unless it is a very expensive piece. Also, when headphones add ANC, audio quality tends to suffer in favor of a more pleasant experience through the reduction of ambient noise.

As I previously said, I have some experience with headphones but I am in no way an expert. I use a pair of Apple EarPods for my daily walk to the university, and I am fine with them, even though I know they are not good.

Sound quality could be improved but it is acceptable.

However, it is easy to notice the difference between a pair of crappy earbuds and the V201. I noticed some sounds in Delain’s Here Comes the Vultures that I have never heard in the (probably) 200 times I’ve listened to that song. This happened with several songs, proving that the sound it produces can be refined and detailed.

In case you were wondering, these headphones can get extraordinarily loud. This will obviously make the sound bleed (and annoy people around you in the process), but listening to The Game by Dragonforce on full volume was almost a concert-like experience.

The padding makes sure that the device fits as comfortably as possible.

I like when headphones have a pronounced bass, and unfortunately the V201 isn’t the best at this.

I heard several songs through the V201 and my EarPods and there were some cases, such as in Shine by Tolmachevy Sisters (don’t judge, a series of weird events led me there), where I could hear the bass drum more clearly through my EarPods.

Also, in some songs, such as Epica’s Edge of the Blade, which is filled with very prominent hi-hat and crash cymbal sounds, some mild distortion could be heard in these high sounds, especially when I increased the volume.

The situation improved when I turned on Active Noise Cancelling. Then, the perceived sound had more punch to it, with richer bass sound and a more dynamic range. This alleviated slightly my complaints about the sound, so I will keep it on.

Talking about ANC, I must say that it is hit or miss. It reduced the clicking sound of my keyboard and this weird sound that the heater in my room does (or maybe it is the normal sound, it’s just that I’m not used to having heaters in my room, but rather fans), but it couldn’t filter rain, for example. It obviously didn’t do a good job in reducing my flatmates’ voices, but it did reduce them a little.

Connectivity

There are several accessories included with the headphones.

The V201 headphones support the latest Bluetooth 4.1 standard. Unlike several Bluetooth devices I’ve used, there is no hissing sound, something that is specially noticeable when nothing is playing.

I did experience a couple of interruptions while playing music, but they lasted a couple of tenths of a second.

Pairing the phones to a Huawei Honor 7 Lite (known as Huawei Honor 5C in other markets), a Nomu S10 and a Windows laptop was extremely easy. Just hold the power button for five seconds and the headphones will change to pairing mode. Choose it from the list of Bluetooth devices and you are done.

If you like, you can use the included 3.5 to 3.5mm cable to listen to your favorite tunes. This works exactly as expected, and the sound quality wasn’t either benefitted nor affected by the change of output.

As a bonus, the headphones include a mic, so you can answer calls through them. You accept a call by pressing the power button. This built-in mic gets the job done. Obviously, it is much better to answer your call through your phone, but the mic is there for when you need it.

Battery Life

The headset features a 500mAh battery that can be charged through the included microUSB cable. There’s no charger included, but come on, it is 2017, everyone has one already.

The charging port is under the left cup, and the device can be charged and used at the same time.

Even though the battery is small, iDeaUSA claims 20 hours of battery life with ANC turned on and 25 turned off. I had ANC turned off almost all the time and I can attest to this fact. I’ve used these headphones on average 8 hours per day and I’ve had to charge them twice in one week.

Charging is another matter, though, and even though iDeaUSA claims two hours battery charging time, I’ve never been able to replicate this. Both times, the battery was charged after a 2.5-hour period. If I manage to get a better time, I will update the article accordingly, but don’t hold your breath.

Conclusion

The AtomicX V201 headphones feature a nice build, responsive controls and good battery life in a nice packaging and a welcoming price. You can use them through the state-of-the-art Bluetooth 4.1 standard or by regular 3.5mm cable. Sound quality could be better, and Active Noise Cancelling can be hit or miss, but the overall experience provided by these headphones is very good.

Considering that you can get them for less than $100 (exactly $89.99 at the time of writing), you get a lot of value for your hard-earned cash. You probably can’t do much better, and definitely can do much worse.

You can get more information about the iDeaUSA AtomicX V201 headphones or buy them from Amazon.

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23
Feb

Reigns : Rule your kingdom with a swipe of your finger (Review)


When it comes to games that give you the role of a ruling king, I’d say that 9 times out of 10 you are in the middle of a deep strategy game, requiring you to know who to barter with, go to war with, and when to adjust the price of wares sold to keep your peasants happy, you rich, and your kingdom thriving. Reigns takes all this, simplifies it dramatically, and turns it into a card-swiping game. Will you raise the price of bread? It will increase your money but will make your people angry. What about a war with the eastern territories to increase your domain? Better yet, how about a nice crusade? It’s all here and more, all in the swipe of a card.

Developer: DevolverDigital
Price: $2.99
Download: Google Play/App Store

Long live the King

Gameplay

The entire game is about Yes or No choices, with some variation. Generally, a swipe to the right will be for “Yes” or a positive response, and a swipe to the left is for “No” or negative. Through this simple, binary response system, the game fleshes out a story where a long time ago a King made a deal with the Devil to have ultimate power but at the loss of his soul. Now cursed to living in an endless cycle of deaths and resurrections, it’s your duty to appease the Devil’s demands or try and trick him.

There are hundreds of cards with more unlocking as you make different achievements through the game. Cards include everything from the army needing more troops, to your miner finding a cave of gold and you deciding to keep it for yourself or share the wealth. You may end up with a bastard son, or you could be a great war hero. This game has incredible variety. All of these choices effect 4 meters at the top of the screen. There is a Religion, People, Army, and Treasury meter. Just about everything you do will either raise or lower the bar for any of these areas, and it’s important to maintain a balance with each of these. If the Chuch gains too much power, they will overthrow the government and you lose, but it they lose all of their power, the pagans overthrow your castle and murder you. No one stat can be maxed or emptied.

En garde!

There are times when you will wander into a dungeon or be challenged to a duel. Swiping right will attack while swiping left will block and charge a special attack. This is a little bit of “rock paper scissors” and a little bit of luck as you aren’t able to choose which specials you throw out, so sometimes you’ll do a dive attack when a sword throw would win the match. It’s fun, but can be frustrating when things don’t go your way and you have no control over it.

There are special situations that will effect these meters as well, romancing a lover will make the people happy and will lock the People meter so that it is unaffected by any choice made. Starting a holy crusade will continuously raise profits and increase the Church’s power over time, but with a steady decrease of the military. There are powerups to save you from famine, mushrooms that let you see the exact increase or decrease of each choice you make, and even a potion to turn all your villagers into rabbits. This game has an incredible amount of variety and even after hours of playing it, there are still a few cards I have not seen yet.

Yeah, sure. Thin the herd.

Graphics

The visuals are all similar to a flat, material design with bright vibrant colors. All the characters are unique and diverse, from the Executioner with his hood hiding his face, to the crazy heretic that released a lion in your village as part of God’s wrath. It’s a simple design, but it’s beautiful and keeps the game moving at just the right pace. You aren’t supposed to be locked into the beauty of the cards, you’re supposed to recognize the character, read what they say, and swipe. The simple graphics compliment the simple gameplay.

Maintain a balance at all times, or the scales will not tip in your favor.

Sounds

The sound is on point, with the low chanting music that one would expect from a medieval game. Every character has their own unique voice and chatter, even if it is something that sounds like it comes out of The Sims. It is a fun way to make the characters seem a little more engaging. Again, there is no over-complication in the sounds, but there are just enough details that prevent if from getting dull.

Longevity

There are hundreds and hundreds of cards available to unlock and the pacing of unlocking them is spot on, with more cards getting unlocked the deeper in the story you get. There are many branching storylines, some dependant on completing other in a single playthrough to unlock. Considering that each life of the King on average only lasts between 5 to 10 minutes, it’s full of quick and achievable goals, but luck plays into getting the cards needed to pull off certain achievements. With the Devil only showing up every 666 years, there’s plenty of time to have fun and explore without having to worry about mandatory story quests, but there’s still plenty of story quests sprinkled throughout. You are able to continue playing after you break free from the Devil’s control to pick up any last achievements that are missing. All in all, the game took me just shy of two weeks of off and on playing to get through the main story.

 

Conclusion

Reigns is a brilliant game. It’s easy gameplay and short bursts of story are perfect for the mobile gamer on the go. The story is engaging, the characters are endearing, and the strategy is easy to pick up but difficult to master. Besides the bit of random luck involved in duels, the game is as flawless as they come. At $2.99, this game knows it’s worth and is worthy of the price tag.

23
Feb

Online product listing unveils the new Asus VivoBook Flip TP203


Why it matters to you

The market for budget 2-in-1 laptops is heating up, which means that consumers should be able to get better hardware at more budget-friendly prices.

It looks like Asus is prepping a new entry in its VivoBook line for release in 2017. A product listing for the as-yet-unannounced VivoBook Flip TP203 has been spotted on a Taiwanese online store, revealing what specs we can expect from the 2-in-1 device.

The VivoBook Flip TP203 is set to feature 8GB of RAM and 128GB of eMMC storage, and can apparently be outfitted with an Intel Apollo Lake processor. This is a step up from the previous model, the TP201, which topped out at 4GM of RAM and an Intel Braswell CPU.

The system boasts an 11.6-inch display, and reportedly offers nine hours of battery life from a single charge. The laptop is touted as an ideal choice for commuters, thanks to its battery life and its small, lightweight design. The system’s desktop footprint is said to be smaller than a sheet of A4 paper.

More: New Asus ZenBook Pro could be a real beast with GeForce GTX 1060 graphics

In terms of connectivity, the TP203 features a USB Type-C port, a USB 3.0 port, a standard HDMI port, and a MicroSD card reader. It also features a fingerprint reader for users who want to use biometrics to keep their device safe and secure.

The fact that eMMC storage and Apollo Lake chips are being implemented suggests that the FlipTP203 will be a budget-friendly 2-in-1, according to a report from Liliputing. Asus is yet to detail the system’s pricing and availability, but if it’s inexpensive enough, this device could carve out its own niche in the growing hybrid sector.

Microsoft’s Surface line has long dominated the market for high-end 2-in-1 systems, but there’s more and more demand for less expensive devices that blur the line between tablet and laptop. A swathe of different manufacturers are fielding their own hybrids aimed at these users, but it remains to be seen whether any one company can seize the lion’s share of sales.

23
Feb

Researchers confirm long-held fears about SHA-1 encryption’s vulnerabilities


Why it matters to you

A paper on SHA-1 encryption’s vulnerabilities evidence that standards need to evolve with the times to ensure that online browsing remains safe and secure.

SHA-1 is a cryptographic hash function that underpins various security applications and protocols to help keep the internet safe. Experts, however, have warned for years that it’s out of date. Now, evidence of the first known “collision” of two files with the same SHA-1 hash has demonstrated that the function is no longer safe to use.

A collision refers to an event where two separate files or messages produce the same cryptographic hash, which malicious entities can use to feign authentication  and facilitate an attack. While this has been observed before in relation to other hash algorithms, this is the first time that two SHA-1 hashes have collided, according to a report from Ars Technica.

More: Misconfigured Pentagon servers could have been exploited for cyberattack

SHA1 was officially deprecated by the National Institute of Standards and Technology in 2011, but the algorithm is still in use despite doubts about its security. In November 2016, Microsoft joined Google and Mozilla in making preparations to start blocking sites that use SHA-1 protection.

A paper that was published Thursday demonstrates that SHA-1 is unsafe as of right now, and should be retired immediately. The paper is the result of two years of collaborative work undertaken by the Centrum Wiskunde & Informatica, a national research center in Amsterdam, and Google’s security, privacy, and anti-abuse research group.

It would take a great deal of computing power to carry out an attack that takes advantage of an SHA-1 collision — however, that kind of muscle is ready available, as long as the perpetrators have enough financial backing. The paper states that an attack could be performed using Amazon Web Services for as little as $110,000.

Google’s disclosure policy dictates that source code used to perform the collision detailed in the paper will be released in 90 days. As a result, the sites and services that still use SHA-1 hashing will need to discontinue their usage of the algorithm before that date, as those materials will make it much easier for an attack to be carried out.

23
Feb

More than 25 wireless carriers are already testing high-speed 5G tech


Why it matters to you

The next generation of mobile networks is nearly here. A recent survey shows that as many as 25 carriers are actively testing 5G technology.

With carriers like T-Mobile pegging 2020 as the launch year for next-generation wireless networks, the dream of gigabit cellular seems further from reach than ever. But a new survey suggests that the dawn of 5G may be closer than it seems. On Thursday, research firm Viavi Solutions revealed that as many as 25 mobile operators are testing next-gen technologies.

Most of the testing remains relegated to the lab, but 12 of those carriers have progressed to field testing. An additional four, meanwhile, have publicly announced plans for 5G rollouts.

More: Intel’s new modem can deliver gigabit download speeds

The preliminary results are impressive. Five of the mobile operators have recorded data speeds of 35Gbps or more in 5G trials — fast enough to download a 5GB movie in roughly a second. Etisalat recorded the highest speed with 36Gbps, and Ooredoo the second-highest at 35.46Gbps. Optus, M1, and StarHub reached 35Gbps. And others reported speeds of up to 2Gbps.

They aren’t the only ones. NTT DoCoMo, in partnership with Chinese phone maker Huawei, achieved peak download speeds of more than 3Gbps during trials earlier this year. Samsung researchers in South Korea managed downloads of up to 1Gbps. And at the Consumer Electronics Show in January, AT&T said it expected its network to deliver speeds of 1Gbps thanks to “optimizations” and “thousands” of new antennas.

Other carriers are testing high-speed, next-gen connectivity in real-world environments. Verizon began deploying 1Gbps networks in select cities earlier this year, and Sprint said that it would deliver 1Gbps speeds in 2017. T-Mobile, meanwhile, claims that it’s the only carrier in the U.S. to have measured 1Gbps on its existing network.

More: Sprint will demonstrate gigabit connectivity at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona

It’s worth noting that most smartphones today can’t reach gigabit speeds, but new chips will change that. Intel recently announced the XM 7650, a new modem that delivers downloads up to 1Gbps across all carriers in the U.S. And Qualcomm’s X16 modem, which powers ZTE’s recently announced Gigabit-capable concept phone, can handle up to 1.2Gbps.

“The pace of 5G development is already beyond the expectations of many observers,” CTO  of Viavi Solutions Sameh Yamany said in a press release. “Now, as the technical delivery of data is starting to coalesce, it is time to think ahead to how future 5G networks can manage the disparate requirements of high data rates, very low latency applications and large-scale IoT services, while maintaining quality of service.”

23
Feb

Text and shop: You will soon be able to browse for stuff within the Viber app


Why it matters to you

The new shopping feature is Viber’s way of hoping people spend more time within the app,

You can talk, you can text, and now, you can shop, all within Viber. The instant messaging and VoIP app is the latest to adopt the trend of allowing for more and more in-app activity to take place. Already, a number of similar messaging platforms have made it easy for users to send money, purchase goods, and otherwise live their lives without ever leaving the app.

Viber’s new “instant shopping” feature will allow you to search for goods within the application and is slated to become available to U.S. users on March 6 in beta. Users in other countries will see a rollout take place throughout the rest of the year. Upon launch, you will be able to shop on Macys.com and also Rakuten.com — Rakuten is the company that owns Viber, so this may be an interesting experiment as to how the company’s various holdings can benefit one another.

More: Viber app offers free calling for those affected by immigration ban

More ecommerce marketplaces are expected to become available ahead of the March debut.

We should point out, however, that unlike apps like WeChat, you cannot actually buy an item within Viber. Once you found something worth opening your wallet for, you have to head to the third-party seller to complete the transaction. The end goal, however, a spokesperson told Venturebeat, is to make the entire experience native to the messaging app.

“Messaging is just starting its journey on mobile devices,” Viber CEO Djamel Agaoua said. “By adding ecommerce capabilities, Viber is bringing a solution for mobile shoppers to share their passion with the people that matter to them in a couple of taps. This is just the first step in a very exciting journey we’re about to take with our users, and it’s only going to get better as we add more partners and gather more feedback.”

23
Feb

OptiTrack’s new tracking system could cause arena-style VR market to explode


Why it matters to you

This new tracking system for virtual reality could increase the number of theme park-style arena-sized VR experiences relatively soon.

Although virtual reality has become a huge business within the home since early 2016, there is also a growing market for theme park-scaled arenas offering premium VR experiences. A great example is the Ghostbusters: Dimension experience at Madame Tussauds in New York City, which combines physical and virtual worlds together for an immersive experience at $55 per adult. There is a tracking system that keeps up with all the head-mount displays (HMD) and fake weapons and that is where OptiTrack comes in.

The company launched a new VR-tracking system on Thursday that is expected to create a boom in the theme park-scaled VR arena market throughout 2017 and 2018. It’s called OptiTrack Active and throws out the reflectors used in older systems to track objects and users. Instead, the new system relies on embedded infrared LEDs and small, high-resolution cameras/trackers that can be mounted essentially anywhere.

More: Facebook and Oculus are working on gloves for finger tracking in virtual reality

To better understand what is going on, let us back up for a second. Arena-sized VR experiences require the user to wear an HMD that is tethered to a backpack-style PC. A typical shooter scenario would have the user wear the HMD, the backpack PC, fake body armor, and a fake weapon. These items would include reflectors arranged in unique configurations so that the cameras and tracking system can keep up with each individual object.

But that setup can be a problem when VR experiences require large stationary objects and multiple rooms. According to OptiTrack, this “passive” system is great for research VR and experiences with lots of open space.

However, with OptiTrack Active’s infrared LEDs, the system can track people and objects based on pulses not seen by the human eye. The system relies on one matchbox-sized printed circuit board installed on each device to be tracked, which controls up to eight LEDs. The system also includes a base station installed at the center of the VR experience that keeps the LEDs synced with OptiTrack’s new low-latency Slim 13E cameras, or the Prime 13W cameras.

One of the benefits of using the new tracking system is that developers can design a single HMD, weapon, or other object that can be manufactured over and over. By contrast, with the previous passive system, each object design could generally look the same overall, but each one was essentially a single manufactured design due to their unique (and costly) reflector configurations.

“We heard the market loud and clear — the leaders in the out-of-home VR space wanted all the tracking performance that OptiTrack systems deliver, but with a way that allows them to build and deploy 500 identical HMDs, not 500 slightly different configurations. The result is the best active tracking system ever built and the lowest cost to rollout to dozens of sites” said Brian Nilles, OptiTrack’s Chief Strategy Officer.

OptiTrack will showcase its Active VR tracking system during GDC 2017. Hopefully, the launch will mean thrill seekers will see more theme park-style VR arenas pop up across the nation over the course of 2017.

23
Feb

OptiTrack’s new tracking system could cause arena-style VR market to explode


Why it matters to you

This new tracking system for virtual reality could increase the number of theme park-style arena-sized VR experiences relatively soon.

Although virtual reality has become a huge business within the home since early 2016, there is also a growing market for theme park-scaled arenas offering premium VR experiences. A great example is the Ghostbusters: Dimension experience at Madame Tussauds in New York City, which combines physical and virtual worlds together for an immersive experience at $55 per adult. There is a tracking system that keeps up with all the head-mount displays (HMD) and fake weapons and that is where OptiTrack comes in.

The company launched a new VR-tracking system on Thursday that is expected to create a boom in the theme park-scaled VR arena market throughout 2017 and 2018. It’s called OptiTrack Active and throws out the reflectors used in older systems to track objects and users. Instead, the new system relies on embedded infrared LEDs and small, high-resolution cameras/trackers that can be mounted essentially anywhere.

More: Facebook and Oculus are working on gloves for finger tracking in virtual reality

To better understand what is going on, let us back up for a second. Arena-sized VR experiences require the user to wear an HMD that is tethered to a backpack-style PC. A typical shooter scenario would have the user wear the HMD, the backpack PC, fake body armor, and a fake weapon. These items would include reflectors arranged in unique configurations so that the cameras and tracking system can keep up with each individual object.

But that setup can be a problem when VR experiences require large stationary objects and multiple rooms. According to OptiTrack, this “passive” system is great for research VR and experiences with lots of open space.

However, with OptiTrack Active’s infrared LEDs, the system can track people and objects based on pulses not seen by the human eye. The system relies on one matchbox-sized printed circuit board installed on each device to be tracked, which controls up to eight LEDs. The system also includes a base station installed at the center of the VR experience that keeps the LEDs synced with OptiTrack’s new low-latency Slim 13E cameras, or the Prime 13W cameras.

One of the benefits of using the new tracking system is that developers can design a single HMD, weapon, or other object that can be manufactured over and over. By contrast, with the previous passive system, each object design could generally look the same overall, but each one was essentially a single manufactured design due to their unique (and costly) reflector configurations.

“We heard the market loud and clear — the leaders in the out-of-home VR space wanted all the tracking performance that OptiTrack systems deliver, but with a way that allows them to build and deploy 500 identical HMDs, not 500 slightly different configurations. The result is the best active tracking system ever built and the lowest cost to rollout to dozens of sites” said Brian Nilles, OptiTrack’s Chief Strategy Officer.

OptiTrack will showcase its Active VR tracking system during GDC 2017. Hopefully, the launch will mean thrill seekers will see more theme park-style VR arenas pop up across the nation over the course of 2017.

23
Feb

Samsung: New Exynos 9 processor nearly halves power consumption, ups performance


Why it matters to you

Samsung’s latest, greatest chip could appear in your next Galaxy smartphone, and is primed for the future with support for gigabit LTE and ultra-high resolution video.

Samsung on Thursday unveiled its next-generation Exynos 9 series mobile processor, which may power versions of the company’s upcoming Galaxy S8 smartphone. Dubbed the 8895, the South Korean firm’s newest system on chip (SoC) is its first built to take advantage of state-of-the-art 10nm FinFET process technology, resulting in a claimed 40 percent reduction in power consumption while achieving 27 percent greater performance compared to the outgoing 14nm construction.

The 8895 boasts an octa-core, 64-bit CPU, combining four of Samsung’s second-generation, custom-designed cores with four Cortex-A53 cores for performance and efficiency, respectively. Heterogeneous architecture means all cores can interact and share tasks simultaneously, enabling faster calculations for artificial intelligence and machine learning.

More: Samsung Galaxy S8 rumors and news leaks

The CPU accompanies ARM’s Mali G71-MP20 GPU, good for a 60 percentgain in performance over its predecessor, according to Samsung. Minimizing latency for 4K virtual reality applications was reportedly one of the key goals for the Exynos 9’s graphics capabilities.

The processor’s party piece, however, might be its wireless modem. Samsung says the 8895 is the world’s first mass-produced SoC to support gigabit downloads over LTE with the help of carrier aggregation. While no domestic carrier can push data at quite that speed yet, many expect to deliver 1Gbps connectivity to customers in select markets by the end of the year.

In addition to download speeds that aren’t really possible yet, the 8895 is also built to take advantage of multimedia content that isn’t really common at this time. The advanced multiformat codec enables playback and recording of 4K content at up to 120 frames-per-second. The chip can power front and rear cameras at a maximum of 28MP each, and sports two image signal processors — one for high quality, the other to conserve power.

Samsung’s processor also features a dedicated vision processing unit for purposes like object recognition and motion detection. Meanwhile, a security processing unit handles fingerprint and iris recognition for device security, as well as mobile payments.

Samsung says the 8895 is in production now, though it hasn’t officially stated which devices it will launch in. In the past, the company’s flagship Galaxy S smartphone line has launched Qualcomm Snapdragon- and Exynos-powered variants simultaneously, so there is a precedent if Samsung decides to go that route. Earlier rumors indicated it might opt for another, more powerful 9 series chip, dubbed the 9810, which has not been announced. Samsung has teased that more Exynos information will be revealed at Mobile World Congress next week.

23
Feb

Apple reportedly has five groups working on wireless charging technology


Why it matters to you

Future Apple products, including the next iPhone, may not need wires to charge.

If you purchased an Android smartphone in the past two years, chances are it supports wireless charging. Samsung, HTC, and Motorola are among the industry heavyweights that have thrown support behind so-called contact-based charging. One notable and historic holdout is Apple, but that may soon change. According to Reuters, the iPhone maker has as many as five different groups within the company working on wireless charging technologies.

The products, assuming they see the light of day, will power future iPhones, iPads, Apple Watches, and other devices. At least one is expected to conform to Qi, the wireless charging standard backed by a group of more than 200 companies. But it’s not clear if it will be compatible with chargers from other companies — the Apple Watch and Apple Watch Series 2 use a proprietary standard that only works with the included charging puck.

More: Apple iPhone 8 rumors and news

The report lends credence to an earlier report. Japanese blog Mac Otakara suggested Apple was developing a separate, contact-based wireless charging accessory similar to what ships with the Apple Watch.

Qi’s an excellent fit for a smartphone. As Mac Rumors notes, it is capable of scaling from less than one watt of power to more than 2,000 watts. As of July, there were more than 140 smartphones, tablets, and other devices that use Qi charging. The Wireless Power Consortium, the organization which certifies new Qi implementations, includes Samsung, LG, HTC, Dell, Canon, Huawei, Sony, Qualcomm, Nokia, BlackBerry, and Sony, among others.

Plans could change, of course — Apple reportedly has as many as 10 different iPhone prototypes under development. But with production on the next-generation iPhones expected to begin as soon as next quarter, the company is likely to settle on a solution soon.

More: Apple’s latest partnership supports the iPhone 8 wireless charging rumor

Conflicting rumors suggest Apple will eschew Qi for true wireless power: Charging at a distance. In early February, Apple parts supplier Dialog Semiconductor inked a deal with wireless charging company Energous to manufacture the latter’s proprietary chip. Energous’ WattUp radio frequency technology can charge devices as far as 15 feet away from a transmitter, even when the receiving device being charged is in motion.

A previous report by KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said Apple will use wireless charging in an upcoming iPhone in 2017 and Energous CEO Steve Rizzone hinted in the past that it partnered with “one of the largest consumer electronics companies in the world.”

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