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31
May

Essential Phone (PH-1) vs Samsung Galaxy S8 vs S8+: What’s the difference?


The Essential Phone, or PH-1, is the latest in the line up of Android smartphones. It comes from one of the original creators of the Android platform, Andy Rubin, and it has been designed with minimalism and durability in mind. 

It has an edge-to-edge display and a body built from titanium, but how does it compare to its competition? Here are the differences between the Essential Phone and Samsung’s Galaxy S8 and S8+. You can also read how the new device compares to the Pixels in our separate feature.

Essential Phone (PH-1) vs Samsung Galaxy S8 vs S8+: Design

  • Essential slimmest device, but heaviest 
  • S8 lightest and smallest in width
  • Essential titanium and ceramic, Samsung’s glass and aluminium and waterproof 

The Essential Phone features a titanium frame, a ceramic rear and a Corning Gorilla Glass 5 protected front. Aside from a small bezel at the bottom and a cutout for the front camera lens, the front of the device is pretty much bezel free, making for a pretty striking design.

It’s nice and slim, measuring 141.5 x 71.1 x 7.8mm, though pretty weighty at 183g. The rear sees a flush dual-camera setup, a circular fingerprint sensor, and two magnetic pins for attaching modules, such as the company’s charging base or 360-degree camera.

The Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+ both feature an aluminium frame with a glass rear and like the Essential Phone, there are minimal bezels for an almost-all screen front. Dual-edge displays are present on both, as is a singular rear camera lens, rear-mounted fingerprint sensor next to the camera lens and a dedicated Bixby button on the side of the devices. 

The Galaxy S8 is the slightly smaller of the two, measuring 148.9 x 68.1 x 8mm and hitting the scales at 155g, while the S8+ measures 159.5 x 73.4 x 8.1mm and weighs 173g. Both are IP68 waterproof.

  • Samsung Galaxy S8 review

Essential Phone (PH-1) vs Samsung Galaxy S8 vs S8+: Display

  • Almost bezel-free displays on both Essential and Samsung devices 
  • Essential has smaller screen, S8+ has largest display
  • Samsung devices offer higher resolutions and HDR

The Essential has a 5.7-inch IPS LCD display with an unusual resolution of 2560 x 1312 pixels and a ratio of 19:10. This results in a pixel density of 504ppi across the almost entirely bezel-free display.

As Essential opts for LCD over AMOLED, the display is likely to deliver accurate colours and images, though not as saturated or vibrant as an AMOLED panel would offer.

By comparison, the Samsung Galaxy S8 has a 5.8-inch Super AMOLED display, while the S8+ offers a 6.2-inch screen, meaning both are larger and likely to be punchier than the Essential Phone.

The two Samsung devices opt for a ratio of 18.5:9 and a Quad HD+ resolution of 2960 x 1440, resulting in respective pixel densities of 570ppi and 529ppi, both of which are sharper than the Essential, though this may not be noticeable to the human eye.

Samsung also offers Mobile HDR on the S8 and S8+, making the two Galaxy devices ready for when HDR content arrives for mobile on Amazon Video and Netflix.

  • Mobile HDR: Dolby Vision, HDR10 and Mobile HDR Premium explained

Essential Phone (PH-1) vs Samsung Galaxy S8 vs S8+: Camera

  • Essential Phone has dual-rear cameras, both 13MP
  • Essential and Samsung devices all have 8MP front cameras 
  • Samsung devices have wider aperture

The Essential Phone features a dual-camera on its rear, featuring two 13-megapixel sensors, both of which have an aperture of f/1.9. Like Huawei, one sensor is monochrome, the other colour, and they can be combined to take better low light shots.

There is an LED flash on board the Essential Phone, as well as phase detection autofocus and laser detection autofocus. An 8-megapixel sensor is also present on the front, featuring an f/2.2 aperture and 4K video recording capabilities.

The Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+ both have a Dual Pixel 12-megapixel rear camera sensor, featuring an aperture of f/1.7, along with an 8-megapixel front camera, also with a f/1.7 aperture. 

On the rear, there is an LED flash, phase detection autofocus and optical image stabilisation, while the front camera offers autofocus too, as well as Auto HDR. Both sensors offer excellent results.

Essential Phone (PH-1) vs Samsung Galaxy S8 vs S8+: Hardware

  • Latest processors under hood of all three devices with 4GB RAM 
  • No microSD on Essential Phone but more internal memory
  • Largest battery capacity in S8+, all three have quick charge

The Essential Phone features Qualcomm’s latest chipset, the Snapdragon 835, which is supported by 4GB of RAM and 128GB of internal memory. There is no microSD slot so no storage expansion with this device.

In terms of battery, the Essential Phone features a 3040mAh capacity, which is charged via USB Type-C and it supports Qualcomm’s Quick Charge technology. There is no 3.5mm headphone jack on board, though the Essential Phone does offer stereo speakers.

The Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+ feature either the Exynos 8895 chip, or the Qualcomm Snapdragon 835m depending on the region. Both model variations have 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage and both offer microSD support for storage expansion up to 256GB.

The Galaxy S8 has a 3000mAh battery capacity, while the S8+ has a 3500mAh capacity, both of which are charged via USB Type-C and support quick charge. There is a 3.5mm headphone jack on both the S8 and S8+.

Essential Phone (PH-1) vs Samsung Galaxy S8 vs S8+: Software

  • Essential Phone offers pure Android software, no bloatware
  • Samsung devices offer different experience, though still Android 

The Essential Phone will launch on Android Nougat with no bloatware, offering a pure Android experience.

The Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+ on the other hand also run Android but they have Samsung’s TouchWiz software over the top, meaning the experience will be slightly different. The Samsung devices also have the Bixby voice assistant and Google Assistant, while the Essential Phone will likely only have Google Assistant. 

We’d expect all three devices to be upgraded to Android O when it launches later this year, though nothing has been confirmed as yet.

  • What is Bixby? Samsung’s smart AI explained

Essential Phone (PH-1) vs Samsung Galaxy S8 vs S8+: Price

  • Essential Phone slightly cheaper than S8 and S8+
  • Essential Phone not available as yet

The Essential Phone will start from $699 in the US when it goes on sale in the third quarter of 2017. It will be available in four colour options.

The Samsung Galaxy S8 costs £689, while the Galaxy S8+ costs £779. It comes in five colours, though not all are available in all regions.

Essential Phone (PH-1) vs Samsung Galaxy S8 vs S8+: Conclusion

The Essential Phone has plenty of things going for it. It will seemingly offer a solid build based on its materials, it has a nearly bezel-less display, dual-camera and powerful hardware, as well as a raw Android software experience. 

The Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+ are fantastic phones though and tricky ones to beat. They offer lovely designs, sharp and vibrant displays, excellent cameras and great performance.

The Essential Phone is likely to be a little cheaper when it becomes available, and it’s certainly striking, while the Samsung handsets are already available and they have proved themselves as excellent handsets. The decision between these devices will therefore probably come down to how soon you want a new device and which design you prefer.

31
May

SoundCloud beats Spotify to Xbox One music streaming


SoundCloud keeps expanding its influence to stay competitive with the likes of Spotify and Pandora. It borrowed $70 million last March to enhance its push into new markets, added new tiers to its subscription service, brought Chromecast streaming to iOS and continues to update its offerings with listener-friendly updates like “The Upload.” Now, the audio service is coming to Xbox One with a new app for subscribers to SoundCloud Free, Go, or Go+. A beta version of the app should also be available on Windows 10 PCs and tablets by the end of the week.

While Pandora and TuneIn apps are already available for Xbox One — along with Microsoft’s own Groove — Spotify has yet to come officially to the gaming platform. With the new app, SoundCloud users will be able to access all of their favorite tracks and new releases, play and skip tracks with Cortana, Microsoft’s voice-assistant and even pin their playlists to the XBox interface for easy access. SoundCloud is fully integrated, too, letting players listen to tunes in the background while playing games or navigating the console’s dashboard.

31
May

A 3D printer gave my Nintendo Switch a real D-pad


Nintendo has a long history of building innovative game controllers — the company put shoulder buttons on the SNES gamepad, added force feedback to the N64’s bizarre controller and made a fad out of motion controls with the Wii. Its most enduring innovation, however, has always been the humble D-Pad: a simple plastic cross that lets players input eight different direction inputs with precision and ease. Strangely, however, this iconic control pad was left out of the Nintendo Switch’s default controller design, and I miss it every time I play the system. So, I did what any reasonable tech blogger would do: I used a 3D printer to make my own Nintendo Switch D-pad.

Okay, “make” might be a bit of an overstatement — I didn’t personally design or print anything — but when a friend of mine asked if I wanted to run anything through his new magic 3D fabrication machine, I knew exactly what I wanted. Just days after Nintendo’s January Switch reveal, Thingiverse user EmperorFaiz uploaded the Nintendo Switch D-Pad Mod — a DIY plastic cross that fits over the left Joy-con’s separated directional buttons. I had absolutely no confidence a homemade, stick-on accessory could make the Switch controller feel more like a traditional gamepad, but I also had nothing to lose: My buddy told me the file would take less than ten minutes to print up and cost less than 30 cents. So, I had him make one. And it worked. It worked really well.

The DIY D-pad won’t stay attached to the Switch’s Joy-con without a dab of mounting putty or sticky tape, but once it’s installed, it feels almost exactly like a traditional D-pad. I used it to break lines of falling blocks in Puyo Puyo Tetris, take out flying rats in Shovel Knight and explore the depths of the underworld in Blaster Master Zero. It felt natural, and after a few minutes of play, I forgot it was there.

That’s probably because EmperorFaiz’s accessory works on the same principal as Nintendo’s original patent: balancing the arms of the control pad’s cross over four physical inputs and smoothly pivoting on a ball at the pad’s center. The inputs the pad presses are the exterior buttons instead of interior toggles, but if the accessory is properly placed on the Switch controller, it doesn’t matter. It still works — well enough to consistently pull off special moves in Ultra Street Fighter II: The Final Challengers, at least.

As much as the DIY accessory made me wish the Switch shipped with an official D-pad solution, I understand why it doesn’t. Eliminating the traditional input allowed Nintendo to make the two Joy-con controllers more or less symmetrical when held sideways — which makes it possible to split them up to use as separate controllers for multiplayer gaming. Giving the left Joy-con traditional directional buttons would have crippled it as a standalone controller. As an easily removable mod, EmperorFaiz homemade accessory seems like the perfect solution. Unfortunately, it’s not.

The DIY D-pad is well designed, easy to install and a complete joy to use — but using it on a regular basis might damage your console. After about a week of use, my console started showing scuff marks where the edges of the cross touched the Joy-con’s plastic front, and the outline of a circle was now visible where the accessory had been pivoting between the controller’s face buttons. These friction marks are minor, for now, but it’s possible these scrapes could develop into deeper scars with further use.

For me, the scuffs on my Joy-con are a deal-breaker, but if you don’t mind having a little wear on your controllers or happen to have a spare set, EmperorFaiz’s D-pad design is a fun, geeky solution for one of the Switch’s minor problems. It’s not as nice as Nintendo’s official Pro Controller, or even the 8Bitdo bluetooth gamepads — but if you have access to a 3D printer it’s by far the cheapest way give your Nintendo Switch that classic retro-controller feel.

31
May

Toyota’s latest infotainment system is powered by Linux


Toyota will be the first US automaker to use “Automotive Grade Linux (AGL)” for its 2018 Toyota Camry. In case you’re understandably confused by all the competing infotaintment platforms, AGL is an open-source system based on, you guessed it, Linux. It boasts 200 members from various sectors including Toyota, Honda, Mercedes, Qualcomm, Intel and Samsung. The system is designed as an option to offerings from tech companies like Google and Apple, giving automakers a solid base that they can easily customize and update.

The AGL platform gives drivers “greater connectivity and new functionalities at a pace that is more consistent with consumer technology,” said Toyota VP Keiji Yamamoto in a press release. He’s referring to the fact that automakers are notorious for using slow, outdated tech in their homegrown entertainment systems. As a result, consumers prefer higher-tech, more current gear like Android Auto and Apple’s Carplay, which many car companies now offer either instead of (or on top of) their own systems.

Automakers aren’t crazy about giving tech companies such a prominent place in their cars, but they also need to give drivers what actually want. That’s where AGL comes in, returning control of the center console to automakers, while letting them easily update or modify the tech.

Toyota is still using Entune branding, with AGL 3.0 forming the base for its latest Entune 3.0 system in the Camry. AGL reportedly gave it reference apps including a media player and tuner, navigation app, wireless capabilities and vehicle controls. The automaker used those to make its custom Scout navigation app, but there’s no word on others that will be available in the Camry. In theory, it can pick and choose which it includes — for instance, it could easily offer sat-nav on some models but not others.

At the same time, Toyota will be able to offer Android Auto and Carplay if it chooses. The tech will eventually come to other Toyota vehicles, along with models from sister company Lexus. The system may appear in vehicles from Mazda, Mercedes and Ford, as Autoblog points out, so those and other AGL members will no doubt be watching the Camry release closely.

Source: The Linux Foundation

31
May

Coming soon to Tesco: Currys PC World outlets


Tesco is already a solid if unspectacular seller of consumer tech, but a new partnership with Dixons Carphone looks set to take things up a notch. In an announcement today, the UK’s biggest grocer confirmed it will open two Currys PC World outlets inside its stores, allowing shoppers to browse a selection of TVs, computers, white goods and accessories.

The first store will open next month in Tesco’s Milton Keynes Extra store, with a second being opened in Northampton in late August. As well as a wider selection of products, Currys PC World will offer “laptop repairs, advice and comparison services” — allowing customers to switch their broadband and energy supplier while they do their weekly shop.

For Tesco, the move will allow it to fill space in its bigger stores, which may help it avoid closures. However, it also suggests the supermarket giant is moving quickly to counter the threat of Sainsbury’s, after it acquired Argos and began rapidly installing kiosks inside its supermarkets.

Retail Week reports that the two companies will assess the tech store-in-store concept for a year before making a decision on whether to roll it out nationwide. For now, anyone outside of Milton Keynes and Northampton will need to visit their local Currys PC World to research their next gadget purchase before checking out it on Amazon.

Source: Tesco PLC

31
May

Waze expands it carpooling experiment across California


Alphabet’s Waze Rider carpool offering is expanding its service area in California. Now, no matter where you are in the Golden State, you’ll be able to grab a ride, TechCrunch reports. Prior to this, it was limited to cities in the Bay area and Israel. As we’ve previously written, Waze Rider isn’t supposed to compete directly against ride-hailing platforms.

Rider limits its drivers to making only two trips per day and they’re only reimbursed for mileage ($0.54 per-mile), but the other side of that is the service is far cheaper than competitors. A trip from Oakland to downtown San Francisco runs about $4.50 versus $10 – $12 from the competition. You need to book in advance as well, and there aren’t as many drivers around, typically.

With this expansion, that could change — as could the price for riders. In February, the company formerly known as Google said that if the service caught on riders would possibly have to cough up an extra 15 percent per-ride. We’ve reached out to the company for more information and will update this post should it arrive

Source: TechCrunch

31
May

The first UK eSports degree is event management in disguise


eSports are bigger than they’ve ever been, but we can’t exactly allow teenagers to pursue a job in their chosen industry without demanding a formal qualification of them now, can we? Cease your fretting, because come September 2018, Staffordshire University will take charge of quality control by running the UK’s first eSports degree programme. If you’re thinking it’s all combo practice, mainlining Red Bull and week-long LAN parties, sorry to burst your bubble. The three-year BA (Hons) course is more geared towards setting students up for the business and event management side of eSports.

The first year will be more of an introduction to the industry and culture of eSports, as well as the ins and outs of streaming. The following two years has students hosting progressively larger and more commercial events, learning about community management, legal stuff and what it takes to build an eSports brand. There’ll be a bit of gaming in between all this, of course, with six competitive gaming societies to choose from and scholarship moneys for the most promising pre-pro gamers.

Scholarships for particularly talented players aren’t uncommon and many universities now have official eSports teams. Degrees dedicated to the industry, however, are on the rare side, though it’s fitting that Staffordshire University would pioneer such a course in the UK since it offers various degree programmes in video game development. Anyone interested in the three-year BA starting September 2018 can hit up the uni’s open day on June 10th, but bring your own controller yeah?

Via: Business Insider

Source: Staffordshire University (1), (2)

31
May

NASA’s first mission to touch the sun launches in 2018


Today, NASA announced the details of a mission that will take us directly into the sun’s corona. Nicola Fox, the Mission Project Scientist for the Parker Solar Probe Mission at Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, revealed the probe’s mission to the public: to touch, measure, and analyze the atmosphere of our sun.

By sending the Parker Solar Probe into the corona of the sun, NASA is hoping to answer such questions such as: Why is the corona, the top layer of the sun’s gaseous atmosphere (visible only during a solar eclipse), hotter than its surface? And why does the atmosphere become so energized that it escapes the sun, turning into solar wind? These might seem basic, but understanding these issues will help us further understand the solar wind and how it affects the Earth.

The Parker Solar Probe’s mission is scheduled to launch in 2018 aboard a Delta IV Heavy rocket, utilizing its third stage because of the high speed the spacecraft will need to travel — roughly 118 miles per second. It will use Venus flybys over the course of seven years and 24 orbits for gravitational assists to get closer and closer to the sun. The end goal is to be about 4 million miles from our star.

As you can imagine, the heat shielding for this probe, which will be seven times closer than any previous mission to the sun, will be extensive. In fact, that’s why the mission has taken so long to develop — the materials necessary had to be invented before we could send it on its way. The heat shield was developed using a carbon-carbon composite and will be required to withstand temperature extremes — from the heat of the corona, up to 2,500 degrees F, to the cold of space. The team is also designing solar panels that can swing into and out of the spacecraft, depending on the probe’s distance from the sun.

NASA still has some work to do testing the Parker Solar Probe before it’s ready to go, but it won’t be too long before it heads to the sun: the probe’s 20-day launch window will open on July 31st, 2018.

Source: Parker Solar Probe, NASA

31
May

Amazon’s attempt to reinvent TV shopping has failed


Style Code Live seemed like the perfect bridge between Amazon’s online retail dominance and its increasingly accomplished Prime Video service. Nothing is that easy, however, and it all didn’t quite pan out: the show is over. The cancellation was unceremoniously abrupt: According to a Page Six report, the show’s staff were informed of the end of last week, with social media accounts deleted the same day.

The show attempted to deliver a QVC-style interactive shopping show, livestreamed each weekday on Amazon’s site for free — no Prime subscription needed. Things were kept lightweight and playful, with regular celebrity guests (of varying quality) mixed in with fashion and beauty advice — and naturally, a carousel of featured items ready to be clicked-on and bought up by viewers. The show focused on social media influencers alongside celebrities you may have actually heard of, in a bid to ensure people were watching. There’s certainly a difference between typical Amazon shopping experience and buying clothes seen on a show built to make you… buy the clothes you see.

It’s unlikely to stop Amazon’s efforts to make more money in fashion retail. The company continues to experiment — this wasn’t even its first foray into fashion TV. In hardware, Amazon’s Echo Look is a camera dedicated to fashion selfies, connecting to Amazon’s shopping hive mind for new suggestions and wardrobe additions. On the retailing side, the company now has its own clothing labels, and continues to try and crack high-end fashion. While its Prime video offerings continue to strengthen, Amazon has discovered that live TV is a different challenge entirely.

Via: TechCrunch

Source: Page Six

31
May

Twitch’s Stock Stream gives you real money to invest


Ever since the start of Twitch Plays Pokemon, we’ve seen gamers collectively play everything from Dark Souls to a claw machine, beat every Pokemon generation and create modern art. And now with Stock Stream, Twitch viewers can play the stock market in the best way possible — with someone else’s money.

Stock Stream went live yesterday and allows viewers to vote every five minutes on which stocks to buy or sell, using $50,000 fronted by a software developer. The move that gets the most votes is initiated automatically through the free trading app Robinhood.

There are some limitations. Day-trading regulations require the pool of money to stay above $25,000. If it dips below that amount, trading has to stop and the game is over. And there are some small repercussions for those participating. If a stock you voted for is purchased and does well, you’ll get points (for whatever that’s worth). But if something you voted for does poorly, you’ll get docked, though the scoring rules are likely to change.

Trusting a random group of people with thousands of your own dollars seems like it could easily go awry. But with only 78 trades happening per day, even a colossal failure is likely to happen at a fairly slow place. As of writing, Stock Stream is down for the day but up around $40 over all. And if working to make someone else more money feels like a gross capitalist use of Twitch, just check out the Bob Ross channel or the end of the Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood marathon. Those are always a good time.

Via: PC Gamer

Source: Stock Stream

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