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9
Mar

NASA releases first images of Jupiter’s bizarre geometric storms


Jupiter is a big, complex, chaotic planet. It has long been known as the most dominant feature in our sun’s orbit, but it wasn’t until last May that the planet’s internal features began to be revealed. During a few close passes, NASA’s $1.1 billion Juno spacecraft collected data on the gas giant that revealed cyclones the size of Earth and a surprisingly strong magnetic field.

Now, data collected by Juno have uncovered more never-before-seen features on its north and south poles. In a study published this week in the journal Nature, a team of scientists report bizarre geometric storms surrounding a single massive cyclone on each of the planet’s poles. The storms measure seven thousands miles across and reach wind speeds nearing 220 miles per hour, which would classify them as Category 5 hurricane here on Earth.

On July 4, 2016, Juno rendezvoused with Jupiter to perform a series of close passes that would bring the spacecraft just a couple thousands miles above the gas giant’s top cloud layer. Using its sophisticated instruments, Juno began to peer beneath the planet’s clouds for the first time, snapping photos and measuring Jupiter’s infrared, microwave, ultraviolet, gravity, and magnetic features.

Among the many mysteries Juno scientists sought to uncover were Jupiter’s poles, previously hidden from our telescopes due to the planet’s nonexistent tilt. When Juno finally beamed back images of the north pole, scientists were shocked to find eight cyclones circling a single storm in the middle. Later, the south pole presented a similar arrangement with five outer storms.

Alberto Adriani, a co-investigator for Juno’s Jovian Infrared Auroral Mapper (JIRAM) and lead author of the paper, explained that the storms are likely the result of Jupiter’s heat and rotation speed.

“The high rotation of the planet — about 10 hours for a complete turn around its axis — and the heat coming from the lower levels of the atmosphere certainly have a great impact to the formation of the cyclonic pattern we have observed over the Jupiter’s poles,” he told Digital Trends.

As with many space discoveries, it’s not always clear how or why the findings are relevant to us on Earth. Sure, Jupiter’s strange storms are cool, but why does it matter?

“Space research has a triple value,” Adriani said. There’s the knowledge itself, the search for which “pushes our minds to try to understand what we don’t know.” Then there are the technological advances that enable such a discovery in the first place, some of which can be used to study things like space weather, which have an immediate impact on Earth.

“Last but not least, economically speaking every euro [or dollar] invested in research comes back to the society,” Adriani, and that return on investment is often multiplied by many factors.

Editors’ Recommendations

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  • Digital Storm packs plenty of Nvidia GTX punch in its tiny Project Spark PC


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9
Mar

Zortrax M300 review


Research Center:
Zortrax M300

When it comes to 3D printing companies, Zortrax doesn’t enjoy the same level of name recognition as, say, Makerbot or Ultimaker — but it’s been making 3D printers for quite some time. In fact, the company’s M200 printer (which was released back in 2012) is widely regarded as one of the best FDM printers you can buy.

For this reason, we were very excited when the company announced the new M300: a bigger, badder version of its flagship machine. To find out how it stacks up, we put the printer through its paces over the course of a month. Here’s how it went.

Standout Features and Specs

The first thing that you’ll likely notice about the M300 is that it’s huge. This isn’t exactly a desktop printer, so you should definitely plan to allocate some space for it. Weighing in at 110.2 pounds, and measuring 18.6” x 19.2” x 26.1” in external dimensions, this thing is a big, beefy bastard of a printer. Luckily, that also means that it has a rather large build area — boasting a spacious 11.8” x 11.8” x 11.8” envelope.

Bill Roberson/Digital Trends

Bill Roberson/Digital Trends

Bill Roberson/Digital Trends

Bill Roberson/Digital Trends

Some other neat features you’ll find on this machine are: a heated bed (which boosts adhesion and helps prevent print warping), semi-automated bed leveling, a small LCD screen for navigation, and removable front/side panels.

The M300’s otherwise great foundation is marred by a myriad of small design flaws.

The M300 also comes with something we’ve never seen before, which had us scratching our heads in confusion. This “feature” is a perforated build plate — something that doesn’t make much sense for a machine that squirts out molten plastic to make objects. We’ll get into why shortly.

Unfortunately, this seemed to be a running theme with the printer. While it’s clearly well-made and boasts an admirable feature set, the M300’s otherwise great foundation is marred by a myriad of small design flaws and puzzling oversights.

Setup and Config

Getting the M300 set up is relatively straightforward and easy to do, but does require a bit of assembly and some heavy lifting. Once you’ve got the printer freed of its packaging and tie downs, you’ll need to attach the printer’s build plate. Luckily, doing so isn’t particularly difficult, and only requires you to attach a few wires into a clearly-marked socket.

Bill Roberson/Digital Trends

After that, you can fire the printer up and start feeding filament through to the hot end, which Zortrax’s onboard instructions will walk you through. The printer’s semi-automatic bed calibration is also quite simple, and guides you through the leveling process before you fire up your first print.

Overall, the M300 certainly isn’t the simplest machine we’ve ever set up, but it’s still pretty damn easy. As long as you’re capable of reading and following basic instructions, you shouldn’t have any trouble.

User Interface/software

While the M300’s onboard controls are simple to use and understand, there are a couple little hiccups in the onboard software interface that make it a pain to print with. For example, once a print is started, you’re locked out from interacting with the machine any further. There’s no pause/resume function, and no way to adjust settings on the fly, or even cancel a print outright. The only way to stop a print is to switch the machine off — which is puzzling, because in most modern printers, these features come standard. Needless to say, the M300’s unfinished software led to some annoying usage issues down the line.

Removing a finished print from the M300 is like pulling Excalibur from its stone while you’re trapped in a broom closet.

As for offboard software, the M300 is designed to work exclusively with Zortrax’s proprietary slicing program, Z-Suite. Downloading the program required the serial code from the back of our printer, and asked for it again during installation. While this isn’t the worst thing in the world, we felt it was excessive, redundant, and mildly annoying.

Once we had Z-Suite up and running, we were pleased with it’s clean interface, easy-to-navigate design, and fun visuals — then immediately disappointed with its oversimplified print options. The program seems geared more toward beginners and is therefore very easy to use, but unfortunately it leaves out a bunch of “advanced” print customization options that are extremely important. For example, there’s no clear way to turn off support structures, rafts, or even fine-tune the infill settings. This is extremely frustrating, and generally means you’ll burn through filament more quickly.

Design/Build Quality

The M300’s design takes a page of Z-Suite’s book, and by that we mean it has a strong foundation and is clearly well made, but is also peppered with annoying drawbacks. Individually, these problems aren’t a big deal, but together they’re enough to spoil an otherwise stellar machine.

We’ll start with the good stuff. The M300 boasts one of the sturdiest frames we’ve ever seen in a 3D printer. It’s built like a bomb shelter, and would probably print just fine during a magnitude 8.7 earthquake. It also has a clean, attractive look to it, and comes with side panels that allow you to hide its mechanical guts from view.

Bill Roberson/Digital Trends

But then there’s the perforated build plate. It’s a bit of a double edged sword, since it keeps prints stable during printing, but also makes them a huge pain to remove once the print is finished. To make matters worse, there’s also no easy way to remove the print bed from the printer — so you’re forced to pry, scrape, and wrench on the print from within the limited confines of the printer’s interior chamber. In other words, removing a finished print from the M300 is like pulling Excalibur from its stone while you’re trapped in a broom closet.

Most of our prints came out incredibly clean, detailed, and almost completely error free.

Oh, and one more thing: The perforations on the build platform effectively prevent you from printing without a raft (a support structure that’s a few layers thick, printed beneath the object to aid adhesion and prevent warping). If you do, the best case scenario is that you’ll end up with a bunch of plastic nubs on the bottom of your object. The worst case scenario is that your print won’t come free easily and will crack when you try to pull it off the build plate (which happened to us on a couple occasions).

What’s most frustrating, though, is that this perforated design is completely unnecessary. Our best guess is that Zortrax included the perforations in order to boost bed adhesion. But the thing is, the M300 already has a heated bed and automatically prints with rafts — both of which would’ve likely done the trick and mitigated any adhesion/warping problems. The perforations are redundant, and cause more problems than they solve.

Zortrax M300 Compared To

Robo C2

Monoprice Mini Delta

Ultimaker 3

FormLabs Form 2

NewMatter MOD-t

M3D Micro

MakerBot Replicator (5th Gen)

Pirate3D Buccaneer

3Doodler 2.0

3D Systems Cube

Ultimaker 2

Formlabs Form 1+

Unfortunately, the M300’s issues don’t end there. Another big design flaw we encountered was the printer’s the bowden tube assembly. The bowden tube, which is what guides the filament to the print head, is secured to the back of the printer via adhesive pads on the back of plastic clamps. The glue on these pads eventually failed mid print, causing the filament to unravel from the spool and knot up — ultimately jamming the printer and ruining a 13-hour print.

Without any sensors in place to detect filament running out or jamming, or even being able to pause it when it happens, attempting to use the M300 for large-format, multi-hour prints is risky business.

Print Performance

Despite the struggles on both the hardware side and software interface, both the included print (a strange, bottomless bottle) and our standard 3DBenchy test print came out remarkably well.

With it’s max print resolution of 90 microns and outstanding dimensional accuracy, most of our prints came out incredibly clean, detailed, and almost completely error free, giving us one of the best Benchy boats we’ve ever printed.

The M300 also handles gaps and overhangs right along with some of the best FDM printers we’ve seen, and earned our praise on virtually all the prints it finished. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to give it many more chances to prove itself due to hardware issues, but were thoughtfully impressed with the level of print quality we saw in the pieces we completed.

Bill Roberson/Digital Trends

When it comes to reliability, though, the M300 definitely needs some work. When it completes a print, that print will undoubtedly look great — but the machine doesn’t always complete the print jobs you give it. Until you secure the bowden tube and prevent it from breaking loose and tangling up your filament, the M300 shouldn’t be trusted with big, multi-hour prints. Thankfully, that’s the only real reliability issue, though. We never experienced any warping or prints that detached from the bed.

Our Take

The M300 is like a dumpy house built on a solid foundation. In its current state, it’s not something you’d want to live in, but if the landlord gave it a few small touch-ups, it’d be a great place to hang your hat.

In other words, the M300 has the potential to be an amazing machine, but its aforementioned design flaws are holding it back. With an update to the software and firmware, this printer could potentially be at the top of its class. Mid print options, more control in Z-Suite, and a print bed that doesn’t have holes in it would take the M300 to the next level.

Is there a better alternative?

Considering the M300’s $2,990 price point, there are dozens of alternatives that will provide better performance and reliability.

For a bit more money, you can get yourself a Formlabs Form 2 SLA printer — a machine that’s vastly superior to the M300 in terms of print quality, and is widely considered to be one of the best consumer-level 3D printers on the market. It’s worth noting, though, that due to the Form2’s resin-based printing technique, it’s a bit trickier (and stickier) to work with in some ways.

If SLA printing doesn’t sound appealing and you’d rather snag an FDM printer, we highly recommend the Ultimaker 2+. It offers better print performance, a comparably-sized build area, and none of the annoying problems that plague the M300. For $2,999, you can even get the Extended edition, which has a taller build area and allows you to create larger parts.

Another solid choice would be the Lulzbot Taz 6, which isn’t nearly as good-looking as the M300, but is far more reliable, upgradable, and streamlined. If what you’re after is a workhorse that can do job after job without fail, then the Taz 6 is the printer to get. It’s also a few hundred dollars cheaper, and offers a nearly identical build envelope.

How long will it last?

The M300’s sturdy construction and outstanding build quality will likely keep this printer running for a long, long time. That being said for the hardware, the software and firmware of this printer are already outdated and in need of an upgrade. If Zotrax comes through with an update that irons out some of the kinks, this printer will keep on tickin’ for years.

Should you buy it?

At this point, no. With other options out there that offer more bang for your buck, the M300 isn’t a printer we can recommend — at least not right now. While its large build volume, impressive print quality, and sturdy structure are alluring, its myriad design flaws and limited control of print parameters make it one of the most frustrating printers we’ve ever used. If those issues were addressed, the M300 would be a dream, but for now, you’d be wise to spend your money elsewhere.

9
Mar

Take 20% off almost any eBay order of $25 or more today only


Want a new computer, console or smartphone? This discount will take up to $100 off the item of your choice.

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Today only, eBay is having a flash sale and offering 20% off orders of $25 or more site-wide with promo code PSPRING20. There’s a maximum discount limit of $100 which is pretty great, and the exclusions are only items in the Coins & Paper Money, Gift Cards & Coupons, and Real Estate categories. Unlike most of the other eBay coupons we’ve seen, this deal is not limited to specific sellers! You can use it on any order over $25 as long as the items aren’t in those excluded categories. This code is limited to one use per account.

This flash sale makes it a great day to grab a deal on a pricey device you’ve had your eye on for a while – especially considering there are already some decent deals on eBay that this code will only enhance. You could take the Nintendo Switch console down to just $224 which is an insane deal, or the Xbox One X down to $400 which is an unheard-of price – until now that is.

You could also find some stellar deals from retailer-specific eBay stores, like Best Buy’s. There you could grab some wireless BeatsX headphones for $68 with the code, a Philips Hue Starter Kit for $56, a 1TB Western Digital Hard Drive for $40 or the Ring Video Doorbell 2 for $160.

Other hot deals you should take notice of today include:

  • Canon Pixma TS9020 All-In-One Printer – $41 (from $53)
  • Bose QuietComfort 25 Noise-Cancelling Headphones – $128 (from $160)
  • (Open-box) Apple Pencil for iPad Pro – $72 (from $90)
  • Logitech C920 webcam – $48 (from $60)
  • Samsung 860 EVO 250GB SSD – $76 (from $95)
  • HyperX Cloud II gaming headset – $80 (from $100)
  • Dell P2715Q 27-inch 4K monitor – $384 (from $480)

See at eBay

9
Mar

Fortnite Battle Royale by Epic Games is coming to Android and iOS


Soon you’ll be able to battle on your phone!

There a lot of people out there who enjoy Fortnite Battle Royale; it’s currently the most watched video game on Twitch.tv, and Epic Games has come up with a way to get even more people involved: it’s coming to mobile.

For those of you who don’t know, Fortnite Battle Royale is a 100-person FPS free-for-all where you fight to be the last man standing. You are dropped on to the map with just a pickaxe and have to hunt for weapons and building materials to help you fight through for the win. It’s a tense game with plenty of light-hearted moments and the cartoony graphics make it fun to watch and now, with the arrival of a mobile version, you never need to be far from the action.

Epic Games had this to say about the mobile release:

Fortnite Battle Royale is coming to mobile devices! On phones and tablets, Fortnite is the same 100-player game you know from PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC, and Mac. Same gameplay, same map, same content, same weekly updates. Starting Monday, you can sign-up for the Invite Event on iOS. Support for Android will be coming in the next few months.

That “coming in the next few months” is always ominous for those of us in the Android community, but it makes sense for Epic Games to get Fortnite out to as many hands as possible in the shortest time, so I assume it won’t be long. If you do have an iPhone or iPad, however, you can sign up now for the chance to play it as soon as it’s available.

Starting Monday, March 12, sign up at http://www.Fortnite.com for the Invite Event on iOS. Email invites will start rolling out soon thereafter. When you are invited, you will receive an email with a link to download the game from the App Store. If you don’t receive an invite right away, don’t worry. We’ll be adding more players regularly over the coming months. Players who receive invites from Epic will also get friend invite codes to share with others. (Epic Games)

And that’s it for now. We will keep you posted when more Android news rolls around, but for now, be excited that Fortnite Battle Royale will soon grace your phone and support cross-play to boot! At the moment only Xbox and Switch seem to be left out, but not for long I imagine.

9
Mar

Microsoft ‘version’ of Galaxy S9 and S9+ now up for pre-order


Just like last year, you can get Samsung’s latest phones with a push to Microsoft’s ecosystem.

Just like last year with the Samsung Galaxy S8, Microsoft is now taking preorders for the Galaxy S9 and S9+, with an expected launch date of March 16. Microsoft’s store listing is quick to point out how well the Microsoft Launcher and Microsoft apps such as Cortana, OneDrive and Office work on the Galaxy S9, however it doesn’t appear these apps come preloaded — they’re just available for download as part of the setup process.

See Samsung Galaxy S9 at Microsoft

samsung-galaxy-s9-plus-black-5.jpg?itok=

Hardware-wise, nothing has changed here — this is identical to the standard U.S. unlocked Galaxy S9 and S9+. That really just makes Microsoft another retailer where Samsung gets some exposure outside of the structured carrier network, and of course gives Microsoft’s growing Android app portfolio a larger potential audience. And really, this is the best way to go — it wouldn’t be in anyone’s interest for Microsoft to get its own hardware version of these phones.

Remember that Galaxy S8 ‘Microsoft Edition?’ Samsung says it never existed …

Microsoft’s current mobile strategy involves adopting Android smartphones and encouraging users to install things like the Microsoft Launcher and apps onto the device. Since Microsoft is no longer focused on Windows 10 Mobile, buying an Android device and loading it up with Microsoft software is now what Microsoft encourages users to do, and so far, it’s working out pretty well.

See Samsung Galaxy S9 at Microsoft

Samsung Galaxy S9 and S9+

  • Galaxy S9 review: A great phone for the masses
  • Galaxy S9 and S9+: Everything you need to know!
  • Complete Galaxy S9 and S9+ specs
  • Galaxy S9 vs. Google Pixel 2: Which should you buy?
  • Galaxy S9 vs. Galaxy S8: Should you upgrade?
  • Join our Galaxy S9 forums

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9
Mar

4 things the Garmin Vivoactive does better than the Fitbit Ionic


Choose your fitness tracker wisely, because it will probably last you a while.

Both Fitbit and Garmin have long had a presence in the consumer electronics market, with both companies focusing on fitness gear and GPS accessories. In 2018, that means both companies are producing fitness bands, with notifications and other smartwatch features present as well. Fitbit’s latest device is the Ionic, while Garmin’s current flagship is the Vivoactive 3.

fitbit-ionic-watch-face-arcs.jpg?itok=0K

I’ve been wearing the Vivoactive 3 for a little over a month, primarily as a smartwatch. I don’t do any fitness tracking in my normal use, but did for the purposes of this article. Here are some things the Garmin Vivoactive 3 does better than the Fitbit Ionic!

The design

garmin-vivoactive-3.jpg?itok=Jl7c-xxc

Tastes are subjective, but I think most people would agree that the Vivoactive 3 looks significantly better than the Fitbit Ionic. With the right watch face, it doesn’t look any different than a regular wrist watch. The Ionic looks… unique, to say the least. Whether that’s good or bad will depend on the wearer, but if you want a fitness tracker that can blend in with any wardrobe, the Vivoactive 3 is the device for you.

Flexibility

fitbit-ionic-watch-face-retro-sunset.jpg

Both the Ionic and the Vivoactive 3 have swappable bands, but the Vivoactive 3 uses standard 20mm connections while the Ionic uses a proprietary system. Fitbit has had a history of quality issues with its watch bands, so a standard connection is much more comforting. Third party bands for the Ionic are about the same price as standard 20mm bands, but the standard bands will work on more devices.

Flexibility…again

garmin-vivoactive-3-button-left.jpg?itokgarmin-vivoactive-3-button-right.jpg?ito

With its round display and single button, the Vivoactive 3 can be worn on either wrist. Even better, the interface can be flipped so that the single button is on the left or right side of the watch. This may not sound like a big deal, but when I had the button on the right side of the watch, I kept accidentally pressing it when I would hinge my wrist up. Meanwhile, the three buttons on the Ionic mean it can really only be worn in one orientation, so you’ll have to adjust how you wear it if you accidentally press one of the buttons.

Price

The Vivoactive 3 retails for $269, while the Ionic runs for $300. A $30 difference isn’t much in the long run, but money saved is money saved.

See Garmin Vivoactive 3 at Best Buy

See Fitbit Ionic at Best Buy

A few places that are equal

fitbit-ionic-4_0-5ukm.jpg?itok=VqF-Kys2

In my experience, the Vivoactive 3 was perfectly accurate for fitness tracking, and most reviewers have found the Ionic to be equally great. Both watches have tap-and-pay option for NFC-enabled payment terminals. Both Fitbit and Garmin allow users to customize their watch faces, with a healthy store of third party options. Both watches support iOS and Android, but Fitbit actually goes one further by supporting the tens of Windows 10 Mobile users.

What say you?

Have you used the Fitbit Ionic or Garmin Vivoactive 3? Share your experience below!

More: Fitbit Ionic review: More fit than bit

9
Mar

Here’s how to get the absolute best deal on a Samsung Galaxy S9


Don’t miss out!

Samsung is running a decent trade-in program right now alongside its additional student discounts, but if you really want to get the cost of the new phone down, we have an idea for you. This isn’t as straightforward as some of the other ways, but sometimes you have to put in a little legwork to save big. So, let’s break this down for you.

Today only, eBay is running a sale that saves you 25% on any purchase of $25 or more when you use coupon code PSPRING20. How does this help you? Well, you can use the discount to purchase an already-affordable phone to trade in for more than what you pay for it. Seems simple, huh?

samsung-galaxy-s9-plus-retail-box.jpg?it

Samsung will give you $300 in trade-in credit for a Galaxy S7, and with the coupon code from above, you can pick one up for around $140 from a few different sellers. You’ll have to wait a few days for it to arrive, but to basically get an additional $160 off your new Galaxy S9, it’s well worth the time and effort.

Here’s a quick breakdown of the entire process of maximizing your savings:

Buy Samsung Galaxy S7 using coupon code PSPRING20
Head to Samsung.com
Pick the Galaxy S9 or S9+ of your choice
Select the trade-in you purchased
Complete checkout process
Send your trade-in to Samsung within 15 days of receiving your new phone

The process isn’t overly complicated. Sure, you could probably just trade in the phone that is in your hands right now, but odds are that isn’t as good of a deal. Once you take advantage of the offer as stated above, you can keep your current device as a backup, or even head to Swappa to sell it to help pay off your new phone.

If you’re a college student, you can take advantage of this additional savings.

Samsung Galaxy S9 and S9+

  • Galaxy S9 review: A great phone for the masses
  • Galaxy S9 and S9+: Everything you need to know!
  • Complete Galaxy S9 and S9+ specs
  • Galaxy S9 vs. Google Pixel 2: Which should you buy?
  • Galaxy S9 vs. Galaxy S8: Should you upgrade?
  • Join our Galaxy S9 forums

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9
Mar

Instead of getting stranded, get this discounted Aukey jump starter


It’ll save you a time or two.

Right now you can pick up this 12000mAh 400A jump start kit for just $35.37 when you use the coupon code 4ROTYUNC. This is the lowest price this has ever hit.

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Aukey’s jump starter can be used for cars, boats, motorcycles, and lawnmowers. It’ll even charge your phone. It also has a flashlight to help light your path. For these reasons, an item like this is essential in your car. Keep it in your glovebox or trunk next to your first aid kid and you’ll always be prepared. Hopefully, you’ll never have to use it, but you’ll be glad to have it on hand.

This features 2 USB ports, 400 peak amps, and 12000mAh of backup charging power. Your purchase is backed by a 2-year guarantee.

See at Amazon

9
Mar

Motorola reportedly laid-off 50% of its Chicago engineering staff


The Moto Z line could also be in jeopardy.

Motorola’s seen decent success with its affordable G and E-series phones, but according to rumors that have recently started going around, it looks like the company’s had better days. There’s a lot to this story, so let’s dive right into it.

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Earlier this week, 9to5Google spotted a post on “TheLayoff” from someone referred to as an “Ex-Motorolan.” According to this user:

Motorola Mobility (Lenovo) just tapped 50% of their Chicago workforce on the shoulder to let them know they are being laid off. Their expected last day of work is April 6, 2018. Sad… and to think this was my dream job getting out of college.

Shortly after this started to pick up steam, Liangchen Chen — the owner of the keyboard mod for the Moto Z we saw at CES last January — linked back to the story on TheLayoff and said:

We cannot move on to production until we finish OTA update server implementation with Moto’s side. And the above layoff has a huge impact on current situation and future. This is the most I can tell at this moment.

Chen was then asked by a user on Indiegogo if this meant Motorola was getting rid of the Moto Z series after they released the Z3, and to this, Chen said, “To be honest, it looks even worse than that…”

After this news broke, 9to5Google received a tip from an anonymous source supposedly confirming that between 1/3 and 1/2 of the engineering staff at Motorola’s Chicago headquarters had been laid off. However, shortly after this, a Motorola representative reached out with the following comment:

In late 2017, Lenovo announced a worldwide resource action that would occur over the next several quarters, and impacting less than two percent of its global workforce. This week’s employment reductions are a continuation of that process. We are reducing our Motorola operations in Chicago, however, this did not impact half of our workforce there and our Moto Z family will continue.

What’s this mean for the future of Motorola? It’s hard to say for certain right now, but it certainly seems to me like something bad is happening. I don’t forsee Motorola’s current lineup of phones for 2018 being impacted too much, but the future beyond that does look troubling.

Based on what we know so far, what’s your take on all of this?

Moto Z2 Force

  • Moto Z2 Force reviewl
  • Moto Z2 Force specs
  • This is the Moto 360 Camera Mod
  • The ultimate guide to Moto Mods
  • Moto Z2 Force vs. Galaxy S8
  • Join the discussion in the forums!

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9
Mar

Samsung Galaxy S9 vs. Galaxy S8: Should you upgrade?


This one is a tough sell — but a sell Samsung isn’t really trying to make in the first place.

It doesn’t take long to realize the Galaxy S9 is very similar to its predecessor. Hand the two phones to an average person, and they wouldn’t likely know which one is the “newer” device. They have extremely similar designs, the software is near-identical and the insides haven’t dramatically changed either.

Nevertheless, people who love their Galaxy S8 are likely to be interested in anything Samsung has to offer, and will want to know whether the next flagship is worth their time and money. Here’s what you can expect when looking to upgrade from the Galaxy S8 to the Galaxy S9.

What’s the same

Samsung seems happy with its current design language because it kept things nearly identical for its 2018 flagship. The Galaxy S9 is almost the exact same physically as the outgoing Galaxy S8, with only a 1.2 mm reduction in height and 8-gram increase in weight separating the two. The metal and glass are both thicker, but you’d be hard-pressed to tell if someone didn’t let you in on the secret. You may notice the subtle change from a glossy to lightly textured finish on the metal — but the actual feel of it isn’t much different.

Physically, these two phones are nearly identical.

That means that the screen size remains the same at 5.8-inches in the Samsung standard 18.5:9 aspect ratio, with the same resolution, curved sides, rounded corners, and Gorilla Glass covering. The buttons all remain in near-identical positions, including the Bixby button on that left side underneath the volume rocker. Inside you have the same 64GB storage (plus SD card slot), 4GB of RAM, wireless charging, fast charging and all of the other Samsung standards. It also notably did not improve charging speeds, leaving things at Quick Charge 2.0 levels.

The important thing to note here is that nothing has gotten worse or less capable for 2018 — Samsung only built upon and improved from the Galaxy S8. In a way that’s a feature of this release, as so many times we see companies try to push the envelope year-over-year in a way that ends up leaving behind well-liked features from previous versions. So, look on the bright side.

What’s different

The most substantial change in the Galaxy S9 is an all-new camera setup, comprised of a new “Super Speed” Dual Pixel sensor and a lens with a physically variable aperture. The sensor promises to dramatically reduce grain and improve fine edge processing, which was a sore spot of the Galaxy S8 in low-light scenes. Speaking of, the move to an f/1.5 aperture will also let in more light in badly lit scenes, giving that improved sensor even more to work with. The new sensor also gives the Galaxy S9 a 960 fps super slow-motion mode, going well beyond the Galaxy S8 for a super dramatic effect.

Lots of subtle improvements, and absolutely no downside.

Even though the battery hasn’t gotten any larger, the Galaxy S9 has more efficient processor that can help with overall longevity. Whether you get the Snapdragon 845 or Exynos 9 version, both processors are more frugal with power for normal tasks, which in the end will save you battery. Just how much is really going to depend on how you use the phone, but considering the rest of the experience has remained effectively constant, don’t expect this to be a massive improvement.

Samsung’s only claimed improvement with the 5.8-inch display for 2018 is a bump in brightness, but at a 15% increase that’s pretty substantial. That puts the GS9’s display roughly on par with the Galaxy Note 8 in overall brightness, and that’s noticeable over the Galaxy S8. The Galaxy S9 bests the S8 and the Note 8 with audio, though, firing up a second speaker above the screen for stereo sound that’s louder and has crucial stereo separation.

And it’s a relatively small thing, but the one real change to the usability of the Galaxy S9 is its fingerprint sensor, which is far easier to reach and use than on the Galaxy S8. It makes the swipe-down gesture for the notification shade more useful, and generally reduces frustration when you’re trying to unlock your phone — something you do hundreds of times a day.

Should you upgrade?

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I’ll say it right away: most people who have a Galaxy S8 shouldn’t expect to upgrade to a Galaxy S9. And with all of Samsung’s product decisions and messaging around the Galaxy S9 launch, it doesn’t expect many people to make the one-year upgrade either. There’s a massive base of Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S7 owners out there that are being targeted here, getting a refreshed and improved Galaxy S8 that’ll still look fantastic compared to those older phones.

If you bought your Galaxy S8 on day one last year and are coming up on one year of ownership, you may be willing to sell off your phone to a third party and pay up the difference, but even in that case you’re looking at hundreds of dollars of outlay to get this newer phone that isn’t that much better. The one thing you could say for upgrading is that the Galaxy S9 does everything the S8 does, plus more — you don’t lose anything in the upgrade process. That being said, it’s tough to argue that a new camera system, moved fingerprint sensor, slightly faster processor and brighter screen is worth the hundreds of dollars it’ll cost to make the jump.

Samsung Galaxy S9 and S9+

  • Galaxy S9 review: A great phone for the masses
  • Galaxy S9 and S9+: Everything you need to know!
  • Complete Galaxy S9 and S9+ specs
  • Galaxy S9 vs. Google Pixel 2: Which should you buy?
  • Galaxy S9 vs. Galaxy S8: Should you upgrade?
  • Join our Galaxy S9 forums

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