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26
Aug

Recommended Reading: Meet the brothers behind ‘Stranger Things’


Turned Upside Down
Adam Sternbergh,
Vulture

Netflix darling Stranger Things returns for a second season this fall and the hype is already building. Vulture caught up with the Duffer brothers, the twins who created the nostalgic series that’s equal parts horror and adventure. The duo chats seasons 2 and 3, including details of how they plan to end the show at the conclusion of the fourth season.

Inside Waymo’s Secret World for Training Self-Driving Cars
Alexis C. Madrigal, The Atlantic

It takes an elaborate setup to test autonomous vehicles. The Atlantic offers a unique look at both Waymo’s virtual and physical testing grounds.

Mic’s Drop
Adrianne Jeffries, The Outline

After building a reputation for amplifying heroes and taking down villains, Mic laid off a huge chunk of staff in a pivot to video. The Outline offers a backstory, including the site’s focus in the aftermath of the 2016 election.

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26
Aug

The director of ‘Final Fantasy XV’ isn’t finished yet


Final Fantasy XV took a long time coming. After a decade of delays, it’s not surprising that both Square Enix and the game’s director, Hajime Tabata say they aren’t finished with Noctis and his bro squad. With not even a whisper of Final Fantasy XVI, the rest of this year (and to some extent 2018) is focused on the Final Fantasy XV universe: PC versions, more chapter expansions, more mobile iterations and a multiplayer mode. I talked to Tabata, the man who steered the fifteenth iteration to the finish line, here at Gamescom. He explained what worked, what didn’t and somehow tricked me into evangelizing about that mobile game. (Unfortunately, he didn’t say a thing about that bizarre Assassin’s Creed collaboration, mere hours before it was announced.)

What was the reaction to FFXV at launch?

Hajime Tabata: Most of our fans seemed to enjoy the experience, which was great to hear. Some, however, didn’t feel satisfied with the final part of the game. [The team subsequently adjusted the final chapters of the game in an update.]

Many thought that Chapter 13 was difficult, so we adjusted to game to ensure those players were more satisfied. After the game launched, we had already planned the subsequent DLC chapters and a multiplayer mode, which will launch in full later this year. These parts of the ‘universe’ are aimed at expanding the story of FFXV, to increase player satisfaction further.

So what is the Final Fantasy XV universe all about? We already had a short-run anime series and full-length CGI movie ahead of launch.

HT: The “universe” can be split into two halves. Firstly, with the anime and movie, we were looking to increase awareness of the game to different audiences and fans, to build up to the game’s release.

After launch, we shifted focus to both improve and expand the existing game — to build upon the feeling of your comradery within the game. We also wanted to bring the game to those that hadn’t (or were unable) to play the console titles, leading to a PC version and the Pocket Version.

What do these extra parts of the universe add?

HT: If you watch Kingsglaive or Brotherhood, I think you’ll get a better view of the world where the game is set. A grander scale, a more fully-realized story. That said, some fans who only see one part might be left with a negative impression; that they’ve missed parts of the tale.

Would you do something similar to this again?

HT: Perhaps not exactly the same. In some ways, this was an experiment. We’re going to build on that; we will make something epic again. I’d like to think we’d focus on the individual parts a little more, so they might better stand alone.

Final Fantasy XV’s development was notable in that the team actively sought out feedback from players and fans following beta demos and updates. Was there anything that surprised you from that feedback?

HT: The game was a simultaneous world release (a first for the series), and this meant we got to see the nuances in playstyle from gamers around the world. In one of the bigger demos, Episode Duscae, feedback from European and American gamers was largely positive, with many gamers praising the freedom of gameplay. With a lot of our Japanese players, however, they were less impressed with the open world style — they didn’t like the degree of freedom.

opener1.jpg

Square Enix

Is your house filled with Cup Noodles and tent equipment now?

HT: (Laughs) I have one tent set.

With Final Fantasy XV Pocket Edition, why try to cram a home console game into mobile? Won’t this disappoint fans?

HT: There isn’t just one type of Final Fantasy fan. Perhaps some core fans might see this as a lesser experience, but I don’t think that’s true. This is about broadening the audience for the game. This is for those that don’t have a console, those who were unable to play FFXV until now. We wanted to proved a way for people to play everywhere — to try a Final Fantasy game. We’ve also tried to make a game that’s focused on rapid gameplay, one that’s ideal for mobile play.

Why try to make multiplayer for a game that’s typically a solo experience?

HT: We wanted a mode where players could enjoy the world of FFXV with a friend — an experience that focused again on comradery. The mode focuses on the ten year gap that occurs during the game, as players join the elite Kingsglaive squad of soldiers. The parts we wanted to deliver on included a rich avatar creation tool, where players could make the character they want, that the story was included in the game canon, and that battles and controls were as responsive as the original game. Players can choose roles in combat, as part of a team of four, based on weapon choice. Some are healers and support, others are attackers.

Will PC players be able to mod Final Fantasy XV at launch? What are your thoughts on that?

HT: There are were limitations to the game to ensure it ran on consoles, but that’s less of an issue with PCs — especially when it comes to modding. PC gaming has a culture of customization and modification, and we want to ensure that those gamers can do what they want to the game. We’re looking into the possibilities of a dedicated level editor. We want to ensure that gamers will be playing FFXV for a long time to come.

This interview was translated and edited for clarity.

Follow all the latest news live from Gamescom here!

26
Aug

High-end tablet takedown: Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Tablet vs. Microsoft Surface Pro


Lenovo’s ThinkPad line remains one of the most-recognized brands in computing, known for its solid build quality and excellent keyboards. The company has leveraged the ThinkPad name in the Windows 10 2-in-1 market, with its 360-degree convertible ThinkPad X1 Yoga and detachable tablet ThinkPad X1 Tablet. The second generation of the latter hit the streets recently to take on Microsoft’s Surface Pro at the high end of the Windows 10 tablet market. Here, we pit the second-generation Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Tablet versus the Microsoft Surface Pro to see which machine is most worth its relatively high price.

Other than their basic form factor, the two machines couldn’t be more different. The ThinkPad X1 Tablet is the no-nonsense, robust sedan with its iconic ThinkPad design aesthetic, and the Surface Pro is the sleek, modern sports car representing the height of Microsoft’s tablet refinements. Read on to see which company’s philosophy resulted in the best Windows 10 tablet.

Specs

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Tablet (Gen 2)

Microsoft Surface Pro (2017)

Size
11.4 x 8.2 x 0.3 inches
11.5 x 7.9 x 0.33 inches
Weight
1.69 pounds
1.69-1.73 pounds, depending upon processor
Display
12.0-inch IPS multi-touch display
12.3-inch PixelSense multi-touch display
Resolution
2,160 x 1,440 pixels (216 PPI)
2,736 x 1,824 pixels (267 PPI)
Operating System
Windows 10
Windows 10
Storage
128GB SATA SSD, 256GB, or 512GB PCIe SSD
128GB, 256GB, 512GB, or 1TB PCIe SSD
Processor
7th generation low-power Intel Core i5, i7
7th generation Intel Core m3, i5, i7
RAM
8GB or 16GB LPDDR3
4GB, 8GB, 16GB LPDDR3
Camera/Webcam
Front 2MP, Rear 8MP
Front 5MP, Rear 8MP
Touch
10-point multi-touch
10-point multi-touch
Connectivity
Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.2, WWAN optional
Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.2, LTE later this year
Sensors
Three-axis gyro, accelerometer, ambient light sensor, barometer, and Windows Hello fingerprint sensor
Ambient light sensor, accelerometer, gyroscope, Windows Hello infrared facial recognition sign-in
Battery
37 watt-hour lithium cylinder
45 watt-hour lithium polymer
Ports
1 x USB  3.0 Type-A, 1 X USB 3.1 Type-C Gen1, 1 x mini-DisplayPort, microSD card reader, NanoSIM, headphone jack
1 x USB 3.0 Type-A, microSDXC card reader, Surface Connect, headphone jack, mini-DisplayPort, Cover port
Price
$1,450 to $2,250
$800 to $2,700
Availability
Newegg

Newegg, Jet.com, Microsoft

DT review
3 out of 5
4.5 out of 5

Built like a tank versus sleek and stylish

One of the hallmarks of Lenovo’s ThinkPad line is an emphasis on durability. That’s why ThinkPads have universally been built with materials and designs that are meant to stand up to some real abuse. In the case of the ThinkPad X1 Tablet, the material might be plastic, but it’s a plastic that’s been engineered and tested to meet the 12 MIL-SPEC 810G requirements along with 200 quality checks. The look and feel is unequivocally ThinkPad as well, with a black color scheme throughout and the usual Thinkpad keyboard– complete with the iconic red TrackPoint nubbin in the center — utilized on the detachable keyboard cover.

The Surface Pro, on the other hand, follows Microsoft’s own recognizable design and build aesthetic. The chassis is made of a tough aluminum-magnesium alloy and sports a build that exudes quality and elegance. There isn’t an uneven seam or unsightly blemish anywhere on the understated and sleek tablet, and the new Signature Type Covers and Surface Pens add a festive splash of color. The Surface Pro feels like a fusion of glass and metal, and there’s no doubt in a buyer’s mind that the high price is justified — at least in terms of build quality and the design’s attention to detail.

The main difference between the two machines is that dropping the Surface Pro from even a moderate height is a profound “uh oh!” moment that’s bound to result in some serious damage, whereas similarly dropping the ThinkPad X1 Tablet will generate significantly less anxiety. The Thinkpad isn’t indestructible, but it’s far more likely to survive more than the usual bumps and jostling created by the typical office worker or road warrior.

At the same time, as long as you’re careful with it, the Surface Pro is also well-built, and takes a back seat to no PC in terms of design quality. If you don’t need to take your tablet into extreme environments — another benefit of the ThinkPad’s MIL-SPEC design — then you’ll be plenty confident that the Surface Pro will hold up just fine. We think most people will appreciate the sleek and modern Surface Pro design over the ThinkPad X1 Tablet’s more businesslike demeanor, and for that reason, we give Microsoft’s tablet the win.

Winner: Microsoft Surface Pro

The race car analogy holds true in performance, as well

Lenovo gave the nod to battery life and thermal management with the ThinkPad X1 Tablet, choosing low-power seventh-generation Intel Core i5 and i7 processors rather than their full-speed siblings. Our review unit was equipped with a Core i5-7Y57 CPU, for example, and the line maxes out at the Core i7-7Y75. That choice means that the machine’s battery capacity will be used more efficiently and that the machine won’t get as hot. In fact, the ThinkPad X1 Tablet is fanless and runs completely silently no matter the workload.

The Microsoft Surface Pro, on the other hand, is equipped with a choice of seventh-generation Intel Core CPUs, from the m3 at the low end to the i7 at the high end. Our review machine benefited from the very fast Core i7-7660U, and it burned up our benchmarks. In fact, in our most exacting Handbrake test, which converts a 420GB video file to H.265 format, the Surface Pro scored our fasted results yet for a dual-core laptop of any kind. And, Microsoft managed to make the Core m3 and i5 versions fanless, meaning that you’ll only worry about system noise if you’re pushing the Core i7 to its maximum.

The results were exactly as expected. The Surface Pro scored a solid 4,671 in the Geekbench 4 single-core benchmark, and 9,384 in the multi-core test, compared to the ThinkPad X1 Tablet’s 3,837 and 7,163 scores, respectively. And the ThinkPad took a very long 1,810 seconds to convert the test video compared, to the Surface Pro’s spectacular 822 seconds. Clearly, if you need highly portable processing power, then the Surface Pro is the way to go.

In terms of storage performance, Lenovo made the wise choice of equipping the ThinkPad X1 Tablet with the very fast Samsung PM961 solid-state drive (SSD), which scored a fast 1,478 MB/s in the CrystalDiskMark read test and 1,237 MB/s in the write test. The Surface Pro’s Samsung PM971 SSD was respectable at 1,104 MB/s and 936 MB/s, respectably, which is plenty fast but not quite as fast as the ThinkPad. In real-life use, this difference isn’t likely to be noticeable, however, but if you work with really large files then you might benefit somewhat from Lenovo’s component choice.

Overall, while the ThinkPad X1 Tablet provides solid productivity performance, it’s held back somewhat by the choice of low-powered processors. The Microsoft Surface Pro, on the other hand, is a real speedster, and it takes this particular category by a fair margin.

Winner: Microsoft Surface Pro

The usual flexibility in tablet input options

Today’s Windows 10 tablets are nothing if not exceedingly well-equipped when it comes to getting information into them. Detachable keyboards, active pens, and touch display mean that whether you want to type, handwrite, or draw, your needs will be well met. In addition, Windows 10 Hello password-less support is to be expected.

Greg Mombert/Digital Trends

Lenovo’s ThinkPad X1 Tablet is no exception here. It enjoys a 10-point multi-touch display that’s plenty responsive, and an active pen with 2,048 levels of pressure sensitivity to provide for some precision when writing on the display. Full Windows 10 Inking is supported, of course. The Lenovo detachable keyboard will be familiar to anyone who’s accustomed to using ThinkPads, with very similar keys and a solid typing experience in spite of the shallower-than-usual key travel.

The typical Lenovo TrackPoint is embedded in the center of the keyboard and works as well as always, and the touchpad is a fine if perhaps pedestrian experience. Lenovo opted for a fingerprint scanner to provide for Windows 10 Hello duty, and its location to the right side of the display is convenient. Fingerprint registration was consistent and fast.

Mark Coppock/Digital Trends

Microsoft upped the ante a bit with the latest Surface Pro, by implementing a significantly improved Surface Pen that enjoys 4,096 levels of pressure sensitivity, a new tile feature, and dramatically improved 21-millisecond responsiveness thanks to a hardware accelerator dedicated to pen input. That makes the Surface Pen the best Windows 10 tablet by far for artistic types. As usual, the PixelSense multi-touch display is incredibly responsive, and the Signature Type cover provides an excellent typing experience with precision response and more than sufficient key travel. The Type Cover touchpad is equally good. Finally, Windows 10 Hello support is provided by the usual Surface infrared facial recognition camera, and logins were reliably fast and accurate.

You can’t go wrong with the input options on either of these tablets, but we find that the new and improved Surface Pen gives the Surface Pro the nod in this category.

Winner: Microsoft Surface Pro

Some connectivity is better than others

Given that tablets are usually thin machines, packing in a serious complement of ports is usually a challenge. Lenovo managed to equip the ThinkPad X1 Tablet with a solid selection of connections that allow it to both keep up with the future and maintain compatibility with the past. The ThinkPad X1 Tablet has the increasingly common USB Type-C port to go with an old-school USB Type-A port, meaning that you can connect to a few peripherals without the need for a dongle. The USB Type-C port also doubles as the charger. Lenovo has included a mini-DisplayPort, a microSD card reader, and an audio jack. Interestingly, the ThinkPad X1 Tablet also supports snap-on accessories, such as the $150 productivity module that provides an HDMI port and a projector attachment, and the Lenovo OneLink+ for docking.

With the Surface Pro, Microsoft stuck with its stubborn reluctance to incorporate USB Type-C, or generally to equip its tablet with more than the bare minimum of connectivity. There’s a single USB Type-A port, a mini-DisplayPort, an audio jack, and a microSD card reader. The Surface Connect port provides power as well as a connection to the useful Surface Dock accessory that greatly expands connectivity — as long as you’re stationary, that is.

If the Surface Pro has a real weakness, it’s in its lack of mobile connectivity. There’s talk of a Surface Connect to USB Type-C dongle coming at some point, but that just pushes the problem down the road (and out the side, if you will). Lenovo has been considerably more considerate of its users by making the ThinkPad X1 Tablet a better-connected machine.

Winner: Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Tablet

One display shines brighter than another

Like smartphones, tablets are all about the display. It takes up an inordinate amount of a tablet’s physical real estate, and you’re likely to use a tablet closer to your face and for more media consumption tasks than the typical laptop. That means that having a quality display with good sharpness is even more important with tablets.

The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Tablet has a display that checks most of the boxes but doesn’t really stand out. Contrast and brightness are good but not great. Color gamut coverage is less broad than we’d like, which makes the ThinkPad less suitable for photographers and artists who need dynamic colors. The 12-inch display is in the 3:2 aspect ratio, which Microsoft popularized with its Surface line, that is better for productivity work because it’s extra tall and can display more information while causing some letterboxing in video. The resolution is 2,160 x 1,440, which equates to a decent 216 PPI of sharpness. Ultimately, it’s a fine display.

Mark Coppock/Digital Trends

On the other hand, Microsoft has always used absolutely spectacular displays in its Surface line. If you were to pick one universally superior characteristic of Surface machines, display quality would be at the top of the list. The Surface Pro inherits the same basic display that shipped with the Surface Pro 4, and there’s nothing wrong with that. The only area of weakness is in slightly less-than-average AdobeRGB color gamut support, but sRGB support was very good. At the same time, contrast and brightness are both ridiculously high for a non-OLED display,  and the 12.3-inch display — with the usual 3:2 aspect ratio — runs at a 2,736 x 1,824 resolution resulting in a 267 PPI. It’s a sharp, bright, and contrast-rich display that’s good for working, viewing photos, and watching video.

The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Tablet’s display is fine. It’s average, and it gets the job done. The Surface Pro display, however, is simply superior to most machines, the ThinkPad included.

Winner: Microsoft Surface Pro

Equally thin and light, but one lasts longer

If you compare the dimensions of the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Tablet and the Microsoft Surface Pro, then you’ll notice that they’re very close in size and weight. The ThinkPad is just a touch thinner at 0.3 inches versus the Surface Pro’s 0.33 inches, and the high-end Surface Pro is a bit heavier than the ThinkPad X1 Tablet at 1.73 pounds versus 1.69 pounds. These are minor differences, however, and don’t mean much in practice. The Surface Pro does win some points here by packing a larger display into those very similar dimensions.

Lenovo left some money on the table, however, by sticking with the 37 watt-hour battery from the previous generation. Even with the low-powered processor, that limits the useful life of the ThinkPad X1 Tablet when you’re away from a plug. Microsoft actually increased battery size with the latest Surface Pro, from 38 watt-hours to 45 watt-hours. The results are predictable.

Whereas the ThinkPad X1 Tablet lasted for eight hours and 16 minutes in our video looping test, the Surface Pro lasted for a much stronger 10 hours and 16 minutes. On our more grueling Peacekeeper battery test that runs a machine through a series of CPU-intensive web pages, things were a little closer, with the Surface Pro giving out after five hours and 21 minutes and the ThinkPad lasting five hours and two minutes. That’s a more impressive result for the Surface Pro, however, considering that it was running a much faster and more powerful Core i7 processor, compared to the Lenovo’s low-power Core i5.

One of the advantages of the Windows 10 tablet form factor is its portability. Being able to last longer without needing to carry around a charger is a huge benefit, and the Surface Pro takes a commanding lead in this category.

Winner: Microsoft Surface Pro

Availability and Price

Both the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Tablet and the Microsoft Surface Pro are expensive machines. The Lenovo starts out at $1,450 (sales are common, so make sure to check in regularly) for a Core i5-7Y54 CPU, 8GB of RAM, and 128GB SATA SSD. The ThinkPad X1 Tablet hits a high of $2,250 for a Core i7-7Y75 CPU, 16GB of RAM, and a 512GB PCIe SSD. Even when discounted, that places the ThinkPad in the “very expensive” range when it comes to tablets. Note that Lenovo includes the keyboard cover and active pen in these prices — keep that in mind.

Microsoft takes a different tack with the Surface Pro. It starts out at a much more reasonable $800 for a configuration with a Core m3, 4GB of RAM, and 128GB PCIe SSD, but goes all the way up to $2,700 for a Core i7, 16GB of RAM, and a 1GB PCIe SSD. It appears, therefore, that you can get in at a much more reasonable price with the Surface Pro, as long as you’re willing to give up some performance.

Not everything is as it seems, however, because Microsoft includes neither the $160 Signature Type Cover nor the $100 Surface Pen. That makes the fully-equipped low-end Surface Pro a less-palatable $1060 and the high-end model an even more stratospheric $2,960. Ouch.

Even so, the bottom line is that you can purchase a Surface Pro for less money than you can a ThinkPad X1 Tablet. Performance at that level will be similar, and you’ll enjoy better battery life with the Surface Pro. These are expensive machines, no doubt about it, but the Surface Pro offers more flexibility and thus wins this round as well.

Winner: Microsoft Surface Pro

Conclusion

Our head-to-head comparisons aren’t always clear cut. Some come down to the wire, with minor differences adding up to tepid wins for one machine or another. Clearly, this one’s different.

If you’re a ThinkPad fan, or you simply need a machine that can be roughed up a bit, then you’re going to lean toward the ThinkPad X1 Tablet. For everyone else — and that’s most people looking to pick up a Windows 10 tablet — the Surface Pro is the obvious choice.

It’s more attractive, it’s faster, it lasts longer on a charge, and you can get it for less money. The Surface Pro has to work hard against lower-priced machines to justify its high price, but that doesn’t apply when it’s pitted against an equally expensive tablet like the ThinkPad X1 Tablet.




26
Aug

High-end tablet takedown: Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Tablet vs. Microsoft Surface Pro


Lenovo’s ThinkPad line remains one of the most-recognized brands in computing, known for its solid build quality and excellent keyboards. The company has leveraged the ThinkPad name in the Windows 10 2-in-1 market, with its 360-degree convertible ThinkPad X1 Yoga and detachable tablet ThinkPad X1 Tablet. The second generation of the latter hit the streets recently to take on Microsoft’s Surface Pro at the high end of the Windows 10 tablet market. Here, we pit the second-generation Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Tablet versus the Microsoft Surface Pro to see which machine is most worth its relatively high price.

Other than their basic form factor, the two machines couldn’t be more different. The ThinkPad X1 Tablet is the no-nonsense, robust sedan with its iconic ThinkPad design aesthetic, and the Surface Pro is the sleek, modern sports car representing the height of Microsoft’s tablet refinements. Read on to see which company’s philosophy resulted in the best Windows 10 tablet.

Specs

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Tablet (Gen 2)

Microsoft Surface Pro (2017)

Size
11.4 x 8.2 x 0.3 inches
11.5 x 7.9 x 0.33 inches
Weight
1.69 pounds
1.69-1.73 pounds, depending upon processor
Display
12.0-inch IPS multi-touch display
12.3-inch PixelSense multi-touch display
Resolution
2,160 x 1,440 pixels (216 PPI)
2,736 x 1,824 pixels (267 PPI)
Operating System
Windows 10
Windows 10
Storage
128GB SATA SSD, 256GB, or 512GB PCIe SSD
128GB, 256GB, 512GB, or 1TB PCIe SSD
Processor
7th generation low-power Intel Core i5, i7
7th generation Intel Core m3, i5, i7
RAM
8GB or 16GB LPDDR3
4GB, 8GB, 16GB LPDDR3
Camera/Webcam
Front 2MP, Rear 8MP
Front 5MP, Rear 8MP
Touch
10-point multi-touch
10-point multi-touch
Connectivity
Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.2, WWAN optional
Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.2, LTE later this year
Sensors
Three-axis gyro, accelerometer, ambient light sensor, barometer, and Windows Hello fingerprint sensor
Ambient light sensor, accelerometer, gyroscope, Windows Hello infrared facial recognition sign-in
Battery
37 watt-hour lithium cylinder
45 watt-hour lithium polymer
Ports
1 x USB  3.0 Type-A, 1 X USB 3.1 Type-C Gen1, 1 x mini-DisplayPort, microSD card reader, NanoSIM, headphone jack
1 x USB 3.0 Type-A, microSDXC card reader, Surface Connect, headphone jack, mini-DisplayPort, Cover port
Price
$1,450 to $2,250
$800 to $2,700
Availability
Newegg

Newegg, Jet.com, Microsoft

DT review
3 out of 5
4.5 out of 5

Built like a tank versus sleek and stylish

One of the hallmarks of Lenovo’s ThinkPad line is an emphasis on durability. That’s why ThinkPads have universally been built with materials and designs that are meant to stand up to some real abuse. In the case of the ThinkPad X1 Tablet, the material might be plastic, but it’s a plastic that’s been engineered and tested to meet the 12 MIL-SPEC 810G requirements along with 200 quality checks. The look and feel is unequivocally ThinkPad as well, with a black color scheme throughout and the usual Thinkpad keyboard– complete with the iconic red TrackPoint nubbin in the center — utilized on the detachable keyboard cover.

The Surface Pro, on the other hand, follows Microsoft’s own recognizable design and build aesthetic. The chassis is made of a tough aluminum-magnesium alloy and sports a build that exudes quality and elegance. There isn’t an uneven seam or unsightly blemish anywhere on the understated and sleek tablet, and the new Signature Type Covers and Surface Pens add a festive splash of color. The Surface Pro feels like a fusion of glass and metal, and there’s no doubt in a buyer’s mind that the high price is justified — at least in terms of build quality and the design’s attention to detail.

The main difference between the two machines is that dropping the Surface Pro from even a moderate height is a profound “uh oh!” moment that’s bound to result in some serious damage, whereas similarly dropping the ThinkPad X1 Tablet will generate significantly less anxiety. The Thinkpad isn’t indestructible, but it’s far more likely to survive more than the usual bumps and jostling created by the typical office worker or road warrior.

At the same time, as long as you’re careful with it, the Surface Pro is also well-built, and takes a back seat to no PC in terms of design quality. If you don’t need to take your tablet into extreme environments — another benefit of the ThinkPad’s MIL-SPEC design — then you’ll be plenty confident that the Surface Pro will hold up just fine. We think most people will appreciate the sleek and modern Surface Pro design over the ThinkPad X1 Tablet’s more businesslike demeanor, and for that reason, we give Microsoft’s tablet the win.

Winner: Microsoft Surface Pro

The race car analogy holds true in performance, as well

Lenovo gave the nod to battery life and thermal management with the ThinkPad X1 Tablet, choosing low-power seventh-generation Intel Core i5 and i7 processors rather than their full-speed siblings. Our review unit was equipped with a Core i5-7Y57 CPU, for example, and the line maxes out at the Core i7-7Y75. That choice means that the machine’s battery capacity will be used more efficiently and that the machine won’t get as hot. In fact, the ThinkPad X1 Tablet is fanless and runs completely silently no matter the workload.

The Microsoft Surface Pro, on the other hand, is equipped with a choice of seventh-generation Intel Core CPUs, from the m3 at the low end to the i7 at the high end. Our review machine benefited from the very fast Core i7-7660U, and it burned up our benchmarks. In fact, in our most exacting Handbrake test, which converts a 420GB video file to H.265 format, the Surface Pro scored our fasted results yet for a dual-core laptop of any kind. And, Microsoft managed to make the Core m3 and i5 versions fanless, meaning that you’ll only worry about system noise if you’re pushing the Core i7 to its maximum.

The results were exactly as expected. The Surface Pro scored a solid 4,671 in the Geekbench 4 single-core benchmark, and 9,384 in the multi-core test, compared to the ThinkPad X1 Tablet’s 3,837 and 7,163 scores, respectively. And the ThinkPad took a very long 1,810 seconds to convert the test video compared, to the Surface Pro’s spectacular 822 seconds. Clearly, if you need highly portable processing power, then the Surface Pro is the way to go.

In terms of storage performance, Lenovo made the wise choice of equipping the ThinkPad X1 Tablet with the very fast Samsung PM961 solid-state drive (SSD), which scored a fast 1,478 MB/s in the CrystalDiskMark read test and 1,237 MB/s in the write test. The Surface Pro’s Samsung PM971 SSD was respectable at 1,104 MB/s and 936 MB/s, respectably, which is plenty fast but not quite as fast as the ThinkPad. In real-life use, this difference isn’t likely to be noticeable, however, but if you work with really large files then you might benefit somewhat from Lenovo’s component choice.

Overall, while the ThinkPad X1 Tablet provides solid productivity performance, it’s held back somewhat by the choice of low-powered processors. The Microsoft Surface Pro, on the other hand, is a real speedster, and it takes this particular category by a fair margin.

Winner: Microsoft Surface Pro

The usual flexibility in tablet input options

Today’s Windows 10 tablets are nothing if not exceedingly well-equipped when it comes to getting information into them. Detachable keyboards, active pens, and touch display mean that whether you want to type, handwrite, or draw, your needs will be well met. In addition, Windows 10 Hello password-less support is to be expected.

Greg Mombert/Digital Trends

Lenovo’s ThinkPad X1 Tablet is no exception here. It enjoys a 10-point multi-touch display that’s plenty responsive, and an active pen with 2,048 levels of pressure sensitivity to provide for some precision when writing on the display. Full Windows 10 Inking is supported, of course. The Lenovo detachable keyboard will be familiar to anyone who’s accustomed to using ThinkPads, with very similar keys and a solid typing experience in spite of the shallower-than-usual key travel.

The typical Lenovo TrackPoint is embedded in the center of the keyboard and works as well as always, and the touchpad is a fine if perhaps pedestrian experience. Lenovo opted for a fingerprint scanner to provide for Windows 10 Hello duty, and its location to the right side of the display is convenient. Fingerprint registration was consistent and fast.

Mark Coppock/Digital Trends

Microsoft upped the ante a bit with the latest Surface Pro, by implementing a significantly improved Surface Pen that enjoys 4,096 levels of pressure sensitivity, a new tile feature, and dramatically improved 21-millisecond responsiveness thanks to a hardware accelerator dedicated to pen input. That makes the Surface Pen the best Windows 10 tablet by far for artistic types. As usual, the PixelSense multi-touch display is incredibly responsive, and the Signature Type cover provides an excellent typing experience with precision response and more than sufficient key travel. The Type Cover touchpad is equally good. Finally, Windows 10 Hello support is provided by the usual Surface infrared facial recognition camera, and logins were reliably fast and accurate.

You can’t go wrong with the input options on either of these tablets, but we find that the new and improved Surface Pen gives the Surface Pro the nod in this category.

Winner: Microsoft Surface Pro

Some connectivity is better than others

Given that tablets are usually thin machines, packing in a serious complement of ports is usually a challenge. Lenovo managed to equip the ThinkPad X1 Tablet with a solid selection of connections that allow it to both keep up with the future and maintain compatibility with the past. The ThinkPad X1 Tablet has the increasingly common USB Type-C port to go with an old-school USB Type-A port, meaning that you can connect to a few peripherals without the need for a dongle. The USB Type-C port also doubles as the charger. Lenovo has included a mini-DisplayPort, a microSD card reader, and an audio jack. Interestingly, the ThinkPad X1 Tablet also supports snap-on accessories, such as the $150 productivity module that provides an HDMI port and a projector attachment, and the Lenovo OneLink+ for docking.

With the Surface Pro, Microsoft stuck with its stubborn reluctance to incorporate USB Type-C, or generally to equip its tablet with more than the bare minimum of connectivity. There’s a single USB Type-A port, a mini-DisplayPort, an audio jack, and a microSD card reader. The Surface Connect port provides power as well as a connection to the useful Surface Dock accessory that greatly expands connectivity — as long as you’re stationary, that is.

If the Surface Pro has a real weakness, it’s in its lack of mobile connectivity. There’s talk of a Surface Connect to USB Type-C dongle coming at some point, but that just pushes the problem down the road (and out the side, if you will). Lenovo has been considerably more considerate of its users by making the ThinkPad X1 Tablet a better-connected machine.

Winner: Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Tablet

One display shines brighter than another

Like smartphones, tablets are all about the display. It takes up an inordinate amount of a tablet’s physical real estate, and you’re likely to use a tablet closer to your face and for more media consumption tasks than the typical laptop. That means that having a quality display with good sharpness is even more important with tablets.

The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Tablet has a display that checks most of the boxes but doesn’t really stand out. Contrast and brightness are good but not great. Color gamut coverage is less broad than we’d like, which makes the ThinkPad less suitable for photographers and artists who need dynamic colors. The 12-inch display is in the 3:2 aspect ratio, which Microsoft popularized with its Surface line, that is better for productivity work because it’s extra tall and can display more information while causing some letterboxing in video. The resolution is 2,160 x 1,440, which equates to a decent 216 PPI of sharpness. Ultimately, it’s a fine display.

Mark Coppock/Digital Trends

On the other hand, Microsoft has always used absolutely spectacular displays in its Surface line. If you were to pick one universally superior characteristic of Surface machines, display quality would be at the top of the list. The Surface Pro inherits the same basic display that shipped with the Surface Pro 4, and there’s nothing wrong with that. The only area of weakness is in slightly less-than-average AdobeRGB color gamut support, but sRGB support was very good. At the same time, contrast and brightness are both ridiculously high for a non-OLED display,  and the 12.3-inch display — with the usual 3:2 aspect ratio — runs at a 2,736 x 1,824 resolution resulting in a 267 PPI. It’s a sharp, bright, and contrast-rich display that’s good for working, viewing photos, and watching video.

The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Tablet’s display is fine. It’s average, and it gets the job done. The Surface Pro display, however, is simply superior to most machines, the ThinkPad included.

Winner: Microsoft Surface Pro

Equally thin and light, but one lasts longer

If you compare the dimensions of the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Tablet and the Microsoft Surface Pro, then you’ll notice that they’re very close in size and weight. The ThinkPad is just a touch thinner at 0.3 inches versus the Surface Pro’s 0.33 inches, and the high-end Surface Pro is a bit heavier than the ThinkPad X1 Tablet at 1.73 pounds versus 1.69 pounds. These are minor differences, however, and don’t mean much in practice. The Surface Pro does win some points here by packing a larger display into those very similar dimensions.

Lenovo left some money on the table, however, by sticking with the 37 watt-hour battery from the previous generation. Even with the low-powered processor, that limits the useful life of the ThinkPad X1 Tablet when you’re away from a plug. Microsoft actually increased battery size with the latest Surface Pro, from 38 watt-hours to 45 watt-hours. The results are predictable.

Whereas the ThinkPad X1 Tablet lasted for eight hours and 16 minutes in our video looping test, the Surface Pro lasted for a much stronger 10 hours and 16 minutes. On our more grueling Peacekeeper battery test that runs a machine through a series of CPU-intensive web pages, things were a little closer, with the Surface Pro giving out after five hours and 21 minutes and the ThinkPad lasting five hours and two minutes. That’s a more impressive result for the Surface Pro, however, considering that it was running a much faster and more powerful Core i7 processor, compared to the Lenovo’s low-power Core i5.

One of the advantages of the Windows 10 tablet form factor is its portability. Being able to last longer without needing to carry around a charger is a huge benefit, and the Surface Pro takes a commanding lead in this category.

Winner: Microsoft Surface Pro

Availability and Price

Both the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Tablet and the Microsoft Surface Pro are expensive machines. The Lenovo starts out at $1,450 (sales are common, so make sure to check in regularly) for a Core i5-7Y54 CPU, 8GB of RAM, and 128GB SATA SSD. The ThinkPad X1 Tablet hits a high of $2,250 for a Core i7-7Y75 CPU, 16GB of RAM, and a 512GB PCIe SSD. Even when discounted, that places the ThinkPad in the “very expensive” range when it comes to tablets. Note that Lenovo includes the keyboard cover and active pen in these prices — keep that in mind.

Microsoft takes a different tack with the Surface Pro. It starts out at a much more reasonable $800 for a configuration with a Core m3, 4GB of RAM, and 128GB PCIe SSD, but goes all the way up to $2,700 for a Core i7, 16GB of RAM, and a 1GB PCIe SSD. It appears, therefore, that you can get in at a much more reasonable price with the Surface Pro, as long as you’re willing to give up some performance.

Not everything is as it seems, however, because Microsoft includes neither the $160 Signature Type Cover nor the $100 Surface Pen. That makes the fully-equipped low-end Surface Pro a less-palatable $1060 and the high-end model an even more stratospheric $2,960. Ouch.

Even so, the bottom line is that you can purchase a Surface Pro for less money than you can a ThinkPad X1 Tablet. Performance at that level will be similar, and you’ll enjoy better battery life with the Surface Pro. These are expensive machines, no doubt about it, but the Surface Pro offers more flexibility and thus wins this round as well.

Winner: Microsoft Surface Pro

Conclusion

Our head-to-head comparisons aren’t always clear cut. Some come down to the wire, with minor differences adding up to tepid wins for one machine or another. Clearly, this one’s different.

If you’re a ThinkPad fan, or you simply need a machine that can be roughed up a bit, then you’re going to lean toward the ThinkPad X1 Tablet. For everyone else — and that’s most people looking to pick up a Windows 10 tablet — the Surface Pro is the obvious choice.

It’s more attractive, it’s faster, it lasts longer on a charge, and you can get it for less money. The Surface Pro has to work hard against lower-priced machines to justify its high price, but that doesn’t apply when it’s pitted against an equally expensive tablet like the ThinkPad X1 Tablet.




26
Aug

Follow the Android Central team at IFA 2017!


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There’s the show, and then there’s the show.

IFA 2017 is quickly approaching, and before you know it Android Central is going to have people on their way to Berlin to cover one of the larger trade shows of the year.

It’s shaping up to be a great show, and there are always twists and turns beyond what we’re expecting. Even though the show technically starts on September 1, we’ll be on the ground from August 28 covering everything we possibly can.

You can see all of our official IFA 2017 coverage right here, but you’d be missing out on a lot if you don’t also follow the team outside of the website. For a look at the behind-the-scenes views from events, the after-hours fun and all of our travels, you should follow each member of the team on their favorite social media platforms:

Andrew Martonik: Twitter | Instagram

Alex Dobie: Twitter | Instagram

Derek Kessler: Twitter | Instagram

Mark Guim: Twitter | Instagram

Phil Nickinson (Modern Dad): Twitter | Instagram

Michael Fisher (MrMobile): YouTube | Twitter | Instagram | Snapchat | Facebook

And of course, if you want to follow the official Android Central feeds, you can do so on Twitter, and of course on Facebook and on Instagram!

26
Aug

Vobot is like an Amazon Echo Dot, only slightly more fun (but definitely more flawed)


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Vobot looks cooler and is a little more fun than an Amazon Echo Dot. But it’s lacking the one feature that makes Alexa Alexa.

We’ve already established that the Amazon Echo Dot is the first device you should get if you’re looking to start out with Alexa. But there’s one problem: It looks like an oversized hockey puck. Not exactly what I’d call fun.

Enter Vobot. It’s a sort of dot-matrix-looking alarm clock that bats its eyes at you — and has Alexa built in. I’ve had one sitting in my 7-year-old daughter’s room for a bit now, and it’s exactly the sort of fun little alarm clock she needs right now. Combine that with her obsession with the current weather (she’s always asking Alexa what it’s like out there), and it’s the perfect little device, for about $50.

OK, it’s almost perfect.

Vobot suffers from the same fatal flaw that all but doomed the Amazon Tap at launch. In order to trigger Alexa, you have to press a button. And the button on the top surface of Vobot isn’t exactly easy to find by feel.

And that’s a shame. Because the rest of this thing is a decent and relatively inexpensive device that I’m happy to have in my kid’s room. While the dot-matrix display looks retro to me, it’s sort of a future-retro thing for a kid born in 2010. It cycles between the time, day and date — also perfect for a kid who doesn’t always have that sort of knowledge at the ready. (Oh, to be young again and not have to worry about that.) Tap the button, and you’ve got pretty much everything Alexa can do, at the ready.

The speaker isn’t exactly anything to write home about (though it’s decently loud at 5W), but then again I wasn’t expecting it to be. Vobot does have an aux port, so you can plug it into another speaker if you want. It’s all powered by a Micro-USB plug, though, and chances are you already have one of those laying around. There’s also a battery backup built in, so you won’t lose your alarms should the power go out. (This isn’t a portable device, though.)

The dot-matrix display looks retro to me, but it’s sort of a future-retro thing for a kid born in 2010.

An unexpected surprise was the setup process. You’ve got to hook Vobot into your Wi-Fi, and connect it to your Amazon account. Those are the sorts of things that often go off the rails when it comes to inexpensive products. But the Vobot folks nailed it. You hit up myvobot.com, connect whatever device you’re on to the Votbot itself, feed it your local Wifi info, connect it to Amazon, and you’re done. That took me about 45 seconds.

So the bottom line here is you’ve got a fun little Alexa-enabled alarm clock for about $50. Having to hit a button to activate Alexa is a bit of a bummer. But if my 7-year-old can pick it up without any issue, chances are you can, too.

See at Amazon

Amazon Echo

  • Tap, Echo or Dot: The ultimate Alexa question
  • All about Alexa Skills
  • Amazon Echo review
  • Echo Dot review
  • Top Echo Tips & Tricks
  • Amazon Echo vs. Google Home
  • Get the latest Alexa news

See at Amazon

26
Aug

‘Dishonored’ gets unleashed in ‘Death of the Outsider’


Our next taste of Dishonored isn’t DLC — it’s an entirely new standalone title called Death of the Outsider, which lands on September 15th. That might seem like an odd move for developer Arkane Studios, but it probably makes sense. Dishonored 2, like the original game before it, never quite reached the audience it needed to. The series built up a loyal fanbase (myself included), but it’s typically been overshadowed by bigger, flashier titles. So for one last hurrah in the Dishonored world, it makes sense to take a stab at a cheaper ($30) and smaller experience. Who knows, if it succeeds, perhaps the series would fair better with bite-sized entries, similar to Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice.

Death of the Outsider stars Billie Lurk, a character who first showed up in the first Dishonored DLC, and subsequently played a larger role in the sequel. She was involved with the group who assassinated Dunwall’s Empress, which set off the events of the first game. Billie was always an intriguing character in the series — her tale of redemption, from sell-sword assassin to someone who ultimately helped restore the royal order, was a fascinating one. So it’s about time she has a chance to shine on her own.

Just like every game in the series, Billie arrives with entirely new abilities of her own. “Displace” is her version of Corvo’s “Blink” teleportation skill. While she could just use it to jump to a new location, she can also deploy a marker, walk away from it, and warp to it later. The marker still has to be within her line of sight for it to work, but being able to delay when you teleport opens up entirely new ways to deal with enemies. You could, for example, appear right in front of a group of baddies, alert them, and then Displace to a marker somewhere behind them.

“Foresight” is an entirely new type of power for the series. It lets you stop time and glide around the world in a spirit form, all the while marking enemies and potential treasure. Since Billie doesn’t have the “Dark Vision” skill that Corvo and Emily did, this is the only way she can see where enemies are, and where exactly they’re looking. You can also combine Foresight with Displace by placing a marker and teleporting to it, all without alerting enemies. Combined, those two powers also adds a ton of strategic options for dealing with groups of enemies.

Billie also has the ability to steal another characters face, which brings to mind the adaventures of Arya Stark in Game of Thrones. The subject has to be alive for you to copy their identity, and every step you take eats up a bit of magic. It’s a smart way to get through crowds without fighting. And depending on who you’re impersonating, you can also open up doors that would normally be locked to you. And one more thing: Billie can also listen to rats, which lets her hear about potential clues and secrets.

Since Billie doesn’t get her powers from the Outsider — the mysterious, god-like figure who seems to be manipulating everything in the series — she has a slightly different relationship with them. For one, she doesn’t have to worry about stockpiling magic potions; instead, she relies on cooldown timers. So while you’ll still have to be careful about when to use your powers, you can still use them more freely than before, with the confidence that they’ll be back in a few seconds.

Another big change for Dishonored? Your actions don’t affect the overall outcome of the story. So you don’t need to worry about things getting too chaotic (and increasing security) if you accidentally behead a few guards, instead of knocking them out non-lethally.

Together, all of these changes make for a very different Dishonored experience. While I’d typically play the series slowly and methodically, with the hopes of being as non-lethal and sneaky as possible, I felt liberated during my hour with the game. I still erred on the side of stealth, but I also felt less pressure to re-do a scenario if it devolved into a bloody fight. And since I didn’t have to worry about collecting potions, I used my new powers liberally.

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Arkane Studios/Bethesda

The main crux of the game is Billie’s quest to, you guessed it, take out the Outsider. (And yes, there’s a way to do it without actually killing him.) My demo started by having me track down the whereabouts of the Eyeless cult, who appeared to worship the mysterious figure. But on top of that, you can also pick up contracts for assassinations and other dirty work at underground merchants. It’s a simple addition, but a useful one to Dishonored. I always enjoyed exploring the series’ wonderfully vibrant environments, and now you have even more of a reason to. It also makes the game feel like Hitman, which is pretty good company.

Aside from the new powers, Death of the Outsider should feel familiar to Dishonored 2 players. It brings you back to the city of Karnaca, and the map hasn’t changed much since your last visit. But it also shouldn’t be difficult for newcomers to get their bearings, either. I can’t really judge the overall plot yet, since I spent most of my time testing out Billie’s new powers. In the end, it’s more Dishonored, so I’m grateful for that.

Follow all the latest news live from Gamescom here!

26
Aug

The Morning After: Weekend Edition


Hey, good morning! You look fabulous.

Welcome to the weekend. We’ll take a look back at some of the big stories from earlier this week — remember the eclipse? — and some of Friday’s big stories including our review of the Samsung Chromebook Pro.

It’s coming back.‘Black Mirror’ season four teaser trailer

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Black Mirror is coming back to depress us all, and Netflix has revealed the cast and directors for season four’s episodes in a 50-second teaser trailer. Yes, it looks like one of them is about a killer robot.

We like big phones.The Galaxy Note 8 has arrived

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And it hasn’t exploded yet, which is good. Check out our hands-on preview plus all the coverage from Samsung’s event right here.

Easier to get than Nintendo’s SNES Classic Edition.The Xbox One X may be a tough sell, but Microsoft says it’s selling

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Sure, Devindra isn’t convinced by Microsoft’s sales pitch for the Xbox One X, but apparently someone is. Microsoft announced the Project Scorpio Edition has sold out, claiming it has more pre-orders in five days than any Xbox ever. Details for pre-orders of the standard edition will come next month, before the “world’s most powerful console” ships November 7th.

One tiny problem.Samsung Chromebook Pro review

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This Chromebook Pro “has a great screen that flips around so you can use it as a tablet and it’s one of a few Chromebooks that supports Android apps.” Unfortunately, despite being delayed, Nathan Ingraham found that Samsung’s Core m3-powered convertible laptop suffers from relatively short battery life and a price that’s higher than the similar Asus Chromebook Flip.

Oreo is officially the next name for AndroidIt’ll be on the Pixel very soon.

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Google loves to make a big splash when it reveals the name for the latest version of Android. But the company is going all out this year, using the solar eclipse as an opportunity to reveal that Android O will henceforth be referred to as Oreo. It makes at least a little sense to tie this reveal into the eclipse — those iconic photos of the solar event are a bit evocative of Oreos, after all.

But wait, there’s more…

  • Amazon’s answer to ‘Black Mirror’ is ‘Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams’
  • Life with AI: One week with Microsoft Cortana
  • Essential PH-1 review: A beautiful blank slate
  • ‘Half-Life’ writer reveals the story that could’ve been Episode 3
  • Bad Password: The connected person’s guide to surviving an alt-right protest
  • Nintendo’s SNES Classic Edition is better than its predecessor, but not perfect

The Morning After is a new daily newsletter from Engadget designed to help you fight off FOMO. Who knows what you’ll miss if you don’t subscribe.

26
Aug

What will it take to sell smartwatches? Just make us feel something


Tech firms don’t understand what makes us want to buy a watch. It’s not the latest Qualcomm processor, it’s not a heart-rate sensor, and it’s not a complex calendar app to help plan your day. We buy a watch because of how it makes us feel when wearing it. A watch — in fact, any wearable device from glasses to brooches — is a piece of jewelry. We wear it because it makes us feel good.

Tech is notoriously bad at replicating the emotion we get from a painstakingly well-chosen piece of clothing or accessory, yet the fashion and tech worlds continue to clunkily converge, just with little impact. Almost no-one is getting it right, and it’s because manufacturers haven’t made a smartwatch that tugs at our heart strings like it should.

Where is the, “Absolutely, positively, really, must-have-it” smartwatch? It seems such an obvious thing, so why is it proving so difficult?

Tech is impersonal

Time to roll out the excuses. The first one is that old standby: It’s a piece of tech, and it’s never going to be personal. The rationale is your smartphone, fridge, TV, and almost every other product you plug in or charge up has been mass produced, and is therefore one-in-several-million. There wasn’t much love put into its creation, and it almost certainly wasn’t hand-crafted by an artisan with skills passed down from generation to generation, in a century-old atelier somewhere in Switzerland. It has no soul. How, then, could you hope to form an attachment to it?

Personality has become a marketable selling point for smartphones.

I don’t accept this. Yes, it applies to your fridge, because unless you’re deranged, Samsung doesn’t expect you to fall in love with it. It will come as no surprise to any company that we can form attachments to the more personal items, however, particularly things we wear. Hardly a trade secret. It just seems so ripe for exploitation.

What’s more, personality has become a marketable selling point for smartphones and Internet of Things hardware over the past couple of years, due to the rise in virtual assistants. Whether it’s the Rock hitting his goals with Siri, or Alexa waking us up with an amusing alarm call, tech companies want these products to be a part of the family.

We’re being pushed into a relationship with our tech this way, yet all the while the same industry is searching for a way to get us buying wearable tech. The understanding is there. Why then, isn’t there a range of smartwatches we’re rushing out to buy?

It’s because smartwatches don’t have a use

The problem lies with how smartwatch projects are being greenlit. The general public is apparently confused about why they would need, or want, smartwatch. It’s not just regular people either, Huawei’s CEO said exactly the same thing, and apparently questions his team when they present a new smartwatch idea, challenging them to provide a, “tangible need” for the device. He’s correct in doing so, but isn’t yelling the right question at the engineers. Hint: It has absolutely nothing to do with a “need.”

Edox Chronorally

Fulfilling a need is an engineer’s dream, and the tech way of doing things. Conjure up a list of features, and needs everywhere will be satisfied. Wrong. Digital Trends Editor in Chief Jeremy Kaplan correctly said recently, “manufacturers will need to concentrate on people, not products,” to grow the wearables market. He suggested devices need to solve a specific problem, or enhance our lives. He’s right, but care is needed because this can easily lead to us all being buried under a list of newly proposed features. Let’s be very clear: Features are not the answer.

Learn from the masters

People’s desire, not needs, are the answer. A smartwatch should be something we can’t stop ourselves wanting to buy. We see it, we love it, picture it on our wrist, and start counting out the pennies until it’s ours. For that to happen, tech companies need to learn from the masters in Switzerland. Swiss watchmakers get it right because they understand that presentation, design, and — you’ve guessed it — desirability sells the product, not features. Yes, horologists will bang on about heritage and movements; but most people don’t really care. They care about it looking good, and making their heart beat a little faster. They want that all important dopamine fix.

A better question may be, when’s the last time you saw a smartwatch you wanted to buy at all?

I know only too well. I attended Baselworld 2017 earlier this year, where I saw hundreds of watches, both smart and analog. Of the many I saw, one in particular stayed in my mind. The Edox Chronorally wasn’t the most expensive I saw, or the cheapest; but it felt right when I handled it, and I adored the way it looked on my wrist. The color was “me,” it’s a limited edition which appeals to my inner collector, and it has just the right amount of tech-cool about it to keep me interested. After wearing it just for a few moments five months ago, I now own one. I got to choose the limited edition number, it arrived in a huge presentation box, and I have been treated as nothing but a valued customer by the company.

Have you seen a smartwatch and still wanted to buy it five months later? A better question may be, when’s the last time you saw a smartwatch you wanted to buy at all? The answer shouldn’t be never, because ultimately, a smartwatch and an analog watch are very closely related. We don’t need either, so we should be presented with ones we just desperately want. Tech companies need to chat more with Swiss watchmakers, and there’s plenty the Swiss watch industry can , so it’ll be a fair knowledge swap.

We’re getting closer

To me, there’s absolutely no good reason why a smartwatch can’t be a buying decision made with the heart. Made, designed, and marketed correctly, a carefully considered smartwatch has the same chance of success as any number of “proper” watches. Don’t start on about handing it down to future generations either. Fashion analog watches — from Swatch to Armani, by way of Diesel and Invicta — sell by the truck load, and arguably they have an equally limited “lifespan,” just due to the high-fashion design, rather than battery life.

Montblanc Summit

Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

Montblanc, Movado, Porsche Design, Louis Vuitton, and various other companies have made smartwatches. They’re fine, but they’re still pushing tech ahead of style. They’re also monstrously expensive for what is a relatively ordinary product. Where’s the excitement? I’m supposed to crave the joy of wearing one of these watches, not feel like I’m buying a new edition of Microsoft Office. I want Swiss style with a beautiful high resolution touchscreen, some sapphire glass, a properly stylish body, a selection of straps, and enough power to smoothly run the operating system. No pointless garnish, no rubbish software features. Spend the money on design and materials please. So far, only Tag Heuer comes close.

Cool designs, smashing presentation, and drop-dead good looks sell products. When we put them on and feel great, we associate that confidence with that device. It encourages us to wear it, and to buy another one in the future, often from the same company. GPS tracking and wrist-made contactless payments aren’t selling points for watches. They’re selling points for phones. The sooner tech companies understand this, the more people will be tempted to buy a smartwatch.




26
Aug

How to take a screenshot on the Galaxy Note 8


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Learn it now, use it forever.

Being able to take a screenshot is one of the core competencies of using a smartphone. With the Galaxy Note 8 a screenshot becomes even more crucial, with its S Pen giving you all sorts of options for marking it up. Going a step further, the phone actually gives you a few different ways to capture a screenshot, whether you want to grab a small section of the screen, the whole screen, or even more than what you currently see. Here’s how to do every kind of screenshot on the Note 8.

How to take a one-page screenshot

Taking a single screenshot of your entire screen is simple enough. Samsung gives you two ways to do it.

Screenshot using a key combination

Open the content you wish to screenshot.
At the same time, press and hold both the power button and volume down button for two seconds.
You’ll see the screen flash, and the screenshot will briefly appear on the screen.
The screenshot will be instantly shareable, but also remain in your notifications and Gallery for sharing later.

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Screenshot using a palm swipe

Open the content you wish to screenshot.
Place your hand vertically along the left or right edge of your Note 8, and swipe in from that edge with your hand touching the screen.

  • If this method doesn’t work, check Settings > Advanced features to enable “Palm swipe to capture.”

You’ll see the screen flash, and the screenshot will briefly appear on the screen.
The screenshot will be instantly shareable, but also remain in your notifications and Gallery for sharing later.

Capture more

No matter how you initiate your screenshot, after capturing you’ll briefly see a set of options at the bottom of the screen, including “scroll capture.” This “scroll capture” button makes the phone scroll through the content shown on your screen and take multiple screenshots, which are automatically stitched together into one long screen showing everything together. This is particularly useful for capturing a full webpage, a set of directions or a long restaurant menu online.

Just tap “scroll capture” as many times as you want, and as soon as you’re done you can share, edit or save the screenshot just like any other.

Take a screenshot with the S Pen and Screen Write

If you’re inclined to take a screenshot and then get to work on it with your S Pen, you can do just that.

Open the content you wish to take a screenshot of.
Take out the S Pen to launch Air Command, tap on Screen Write.
The screen will flash and capture a single screenshot.
You’re now instantly taken to an editing pane, where you can write on the screen with the S Pen.
In the top toolbar, you’ll see options to change the color of your pen, enable an eraser and undo/redo your strokes.
When finished, tap Crop, Share or Save to complete your work.

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Samsung Galaxy Note 8

  • Galaxy Note 8 hands-on preview
  • Complete Galaxy Note 8 specs
  • Galaxy Note 8 vs. Galaxy Note 5: Which should you buy?
  • Which Galaxy Note 8 color should you buy?
  • All Galaxy Note 8 news
  • Join our Galaxy Note 8 forums

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