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10
Mar

Arctis 3 Bluetooth review: Did these headphones change the game on gaming?


Gaming headsets are pretty standardized in 2018. Generally speaking, they are comfy, lightweight headsets made for the long sessions of smashing your friends and enemies, trying to win that chicken dinner.

One brand we’ve reviewed in that space, SteelSeries, also happens to work well with smartphones, too. Personally, I’ve been a fan of the company for years and appreciate the build quality; its products work as advertised. I recently had a chance to try out the newest models, the Arctis 3 Bluetooth, so I jumped at it.

As I expected, the latest in the Arctis line is no different from its predecessor. Right away I found the ear cups to be super comfortable. In testing, I played multiple hours with them, finding the Arctis 3 Bluetooth just as nice as my normal headset.

The headphones have an adjustable “ski goggle” suspension band for comfort and security. Finding the right fit shouldn’t be a problem, regardless of head size and shape. The ear cups feature AirWeave Performance Fabric for keeping your ears dry and cool. You’ll want this for those endless nights of raiding or base defending.

The Clearcast microphone is good, offering broadcast quality with acoustic noise cancelling to ensure your team never misses an order. In my review time I noticed it’s a little bright for my taste but my teammates never seemed to mind.

Having the ability to retract the microphone when not in use is great in theory, but I found that then I wanted it out, had a hard time keeping positions. The flexible mic wanted to keep to the form of the curve that it has when retracted into the ear cup. Also, and this is minor, when retracted, it looked weird having a mic cover stick out even though I was wirelessly connected to my phone.

The variety of connections for the Arctis 3 Bluetooth make them a no-brainer for daily use. When I think about all the places and ways I game, the idea of having one headset for all needs is nice. I’d love to be able to throw one headset in the backpack and know that no matter if I’m gaming on my phone, my home console, mobile with my Nintendo Switch, or my PC, I’m covered. The fact that the headphones are Bluetooth-enabled in addition to all the hardwired adapters gives me confidence this headset is up to the task.

SteelSeries advised that these headphones would work with the Nintendo Switch, something I was anxious to check. Does it? Yes, and it’s awesome. The voice chat on the Switch works through Nintendo’s Switch Chat App over Bluetooth while the in-game sound is delivered over the wired adapter. That might be my favorite part.

Some of the most popular games right now work with multiple people accessing the same game from different devices. Meaning, I can be on my PC while my friends can be on their PS4’s. Until now I would have to jump on a party chat on my PS4 while my in-game audio would come from speakers on my computer.

With the ability to use multiple streams into the Arctis 3 Bluetooth I can have my chat through Discord on my phone (connected via Bluetooth) and wired directly to my PC. Now my in-game audio is in-ear and I don’t have to fight noise bleed from speakers. This is a true game changer if you’ve ever had to deal with audio from multiple sources involving voice chat.

 

I have been very pleased with the Arctis 3 Bluetooth and think they are almost perfect. While the Clearcast microphone sounds good enough, I’d like the ability to detach it from the headset. Also, it would be nice to have a small case to hold all the wired connections for on-the-go purposes.

At $129.99 they are definitely worth the investment for me. The sound quality is good and the ease of connection with any device I can throw at it makes it so I don’t have to think about how connect. I can just hop in and game! For those who do not want, or need, the Bluetooth option, SteelSeries offers a variant for only $79.99. Each is available in a variety of colors.

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10
Mar

AMD’s leaked road map shows plans for Ryzen, Threadripper processors until 2020


Details on AMD’s second-generation Ryzen desktop processors have leaked out over the last several months, and now the company’s entire processor road maps leading up to 2020 is now on display thanks to leaked marketing slides. They reveal what we already know to some extent — that the second-generation Ryzen chips will be based on a refreshed “Zen+” architecture, while the third-generation CPUs will rely on the company’s second-generation Zen2 design. 

But the leaked road maps don’t just focus on Ryzen desktop processors — we can now see what AMD plans for its high-end monster Threadripper processors, as well as its all-in-one Ryzen-branded chips (APUs) for laptops. Here’s a breakdown of what’s to come: 

 

2017 

2018 

2019 

2020 

Architecture: 

Zen 

Zen+ 

Zen2 

Zen2+ 

Process node: 

14nm 

12nm 

7nm 

7nm+ or 5nm 

TR4 Socket 

Threadripper
1000 Series

Threadripper
2000 Series

Treadripper
3000 Series
(Castle Peak) 

Threadripper
4000 Series
(NG HEDT) 

AM4 Socket
(desktop) 

Ryzen
1000 Series
(Summit Ridge) 

Ryzen
2000 Series
(Pinnacle Ridge) 

Ryzen
3000 Series
(Matisse) 

Ryzen
4000 Series
(Vermeer) 

AM4 Socket*
(laptop) 

N/A 

Ryzen
2000 Series*
(Raven Ridge, Zen) 

Ryzen
3000 Series*
(Picasso, Zen+) 

Ryzen
4000 Series*
(Renoir, Zen2) 

Notes 

New CPU core 

Optimized 

New CPU core 

Optimized 

As the roadmaps show, the Threadripper 2000 Series and Ryzen 2000 Series chips released in 2018 will be based on an optimized Zen+ architecture tweaked for better performance and efficiency. That’s not the case for AMD’s Ryzen-branded all-in-one “Raven Ridge ” APU chips for laptops and desktops; they are a generation behind architecture-wise. Raven Ridge actually made its debut at the end of 2017 but didn’t really go “mainstream” until the beginning of the year.

AMD said in 2017 that it would continue to support its new AM4 motherboard socket until 2020, and the leaked road map shows just that. The company moved to the new processor “seat” with the introduction of its Zen-based chips while also launching the TR4 socket for its larger enthusiast-class Ryzen Threadripper CPUs. What AMD plans to do after 2020 is unknown at this point, but customers can swap out their current chips for upgrades for at least another two years. 

AMD essentially has two teams leapfrogging with its Zen foundation. “The core team came together some four years ago, they started building the design, they started creating this awesomeness,” said James Prior, a senior product manager at AMD. “And after they got the fundamentals worked out, they peeled off part of it, started them working on the next-generation micro-architecture.” 

In other words, team No. 1 is currently working on Zen 2 while team No. 2 is wrapping up the Zen+ refresh. Once that’s completed, the latter team will move on to the Zen2+ refresh planned for 2020. But while the Ryzen and Threadripper processors may retain the same socket until 2020, each upcoming release will include new features backed by new motherboard chipsets. So if customers merely swap out their processors, they may not get the full benefits of the newer chips. 

Although not included in the road map above, an additional slide shows the release of value-oriented APUs for 2020 dubbed “Dali.” As the code name suggests, AMD will continue with referencing famous painters, a trend that will officially begin in 2019 with the Matisse (mainstream) and Picasso (mobile) chips. 

Editors’ Recommendations

  • AMD talks details on second-gen Ryzen chips, teases Vega for mobile
  • The Ryzen 7 CPU could see a nice speed increase over AMD’s current chip
  • CPU, APU, WTF? A guide to AMD’s processor lineup
  • AMD Ryzen CPUs With Vega Graphics Review
  • AMD vs. Intel: How does tech’s oldest rivalry look in 2018?


10
Mar

Yep, mining for cryptocurrency can now heat your home


French startup Quarnot recently unveiled a space heater that could potentially pay for itself — someday. By harnessing the massive amounts of heat GPUs generate while mining cryptocurrency, Quarnot’s QC1 heater will not only keep you toasty during the winter months, it could very well earn you a little extra cash.

“The heat of your QC-1 is generated by the two graphics cards embedded in the device and mining cryptocurrencies or blockchain transactions: While heating, you create money,” the QC1 product description reads. “You can watch in real time how crypto markets are trending, on your mobile app and on your QC-1 LEDs.”

Really though, the QC1 heater is a slick-looking device, and it packs some serious power — two AMD Radeon RX 580s — but it retails for $3,600. That is a huge amount of money for what amounts to a space heater, even if it can mine cryptocurrency. Keep mind, that is all it can do, it doesn’t include a hard drive or an operating system. You control it from your phone. It can’t run games, it can’t be used to check your email. For that price, you could just buy a high-end gaming PC with two comparable cards inside and set them up for cryptocurrency mining yourself.

Let’s do a little math. You would have to run the QC1 all day every day for five and a half years mining Ethereum before it paid for itself, at the most recent Ethereum exchange rate. The real story here isn’t the QC1, it’s the fact that it exists at all. Using excess heat from cryptocurrency mining to heat your home is actually a really great idea. Mining cryptocurrency generates a tremendous amount of heat and putting it to good use could make passively mining cryptocurrency more approachable.

Nobody is going to buy one of these things and strike it rich, that part of the cryptocurrency boom is probably over, but as a proof of concept, the QC 1 is a fascinating product. Waste heat has always been a huge issue for server farms, and even offices that run a lot of desktop computers, putting it to use in the home isn’t a bad idea. But at $3,600, it’s not a good one either.

Editors’ Recommendations

  • Ethereum vs. bitcoin: What’s the difference?
  • Litecoin vs. Ethereum
  • The best bitcoin alternatives
  • How to trade bitcoin for other cryptocurrencies
  • What is Ethereum?


10
Mar

Microsoft Launcher beta update includes new features, bug fixes


Microsoft officially rolled out a new update for its Launcher app for Android. The update introduces new features to users who have the beta program installed.

Previously known as Arrow, Launcher allows you to customize your Android device with wallpapers, icon packs, and theme colors. You can also customize your preferred apps and services at the top of the home screen, and link your Windows PC to your device in order to access specific content.

With the latest update, beta users have the ability to get new daily backgrounds from Bing and can also create a custom set of their own. In addition, the wallpapers can be scrollable — which means the background image moves back and forth as users scroll through their phones.

Improvements have also been made to the badge notifications system. Users are now able to control their app notification badges for each of the apps installed on their device.

Another new feature has been added to the lock screen as well. With calendar notifications, you will now always have any upcoming calendar events conveniently show up on your lock screen.

There have also been adjustments made to the user interface. This includes simplified a long-press app context menu and a “What’s New” experience built in.

Microsoft Launcher already includes an app tray feature — which alphabetically organizes the apps you’ve recently used. You can then choose to hide the recent apps or organize the apps horizontally. You’re also able to hide apps that you want to keep private. With the beta version, it now supports the ability to move and clone when users move apps in app drawer to form a folder.

Other updates include bug fixes on the feedback and help page, along with improvements to performance and crash fixing. While there is not an exact release date for when the beta will be public, it should be in the near future.

If you would like to be part of future beta testing, Microsoft has a sign-up page to try out unreleased versions of its Microsoft Launcher app. You can also download the current version through the Google Play Store.

Editors’ Recommendations

  • Soon, you won’t have to be a Windows Insider to test Microsoft’s newest apps
  • Imgur adds looping GIF feature, new iOS news feed before big desktop redesign
  • Picture-in-picture mode comes to Hulu with Live TV’s beta web interface
  • The final ‘Sea of Thieves’ Xbox One and PC beta is available now
  • An update to watchOS 4.3 brings several new features to the Apple Watch


10
Mar

Climb-On Maps changes the climbing game by getting you there faster and safer


Finding climbing routes can be a frustrating process for even the most seasoned of climbers — be it dealing with dangerous walk-offs or fumbling with large guidebooks. After years of not only experiencing this but also hearing from their peers, married couple and avid climbers Rick Momsen and Stefani Dawn decided to create Climb-On Maps.

Their idea was to have it pick up where guidebooks and sites like Mountain Project leave off, offering users clear route types, grades, and count per crag. In its physical iteration, it also provides water- and tear-proof, highly detailed maps of approaches and (non-rappel) walk-offs for some of the United States’ most popular climbing areas.

Of course, there are other climbing apps like SloperClimbing, Rakkup, and ClimbingWeather built to assist climbers with weather conditions, planning routes, and even GPS navigation. But what about what satellite images can’t see and differing GPS systems? These issues limit climbing apps and could spell the difference between life and death.

Boots-on-the-ground map work by professionals like Momsen and Dawn is so important

This is why boots-on-the-ground map work by professionals like Momsen and Dawn is so important. The couple took their passion for rock climbing — and Momsen’s 20 years of GIS (Geographic Information System) experience — and compiled it with route data from Mountain Project and published guidebooks for an area to assemble comprehensive at-a-glance charts. With Red Rock Canyon and Smith Rock State Park already available, the duo decided to launch a map of Joshua Tree National Park on Kickstarter. They hit their campaign goal in just 36 hours.

Demonstrating complete dedication to the climbing community, climbing safety, and to the protection of the environment, the team personally walked thousands of miles, took thousands of photos, wrote copious field notes, and GPS-tracked every trail to create each map. Digital Trends spoke with Stefani Dawn to find out more about the intense preparation and financial resources that went into creating these navigational maps, as well as the lessons learned using Kickstarter to raise money and why all GPS systems and technology are not created equal.

Digital Trends:  Why did Rick and you create Climb-On Maps?

Stefani Dawn: When we were working full-time in other jobs, climbing trips happened on weekends and over limited vacation time. We would go to big areas, like Red Rock Canyon, Nevada and Joshua Tree, California and we’d usually encounter two things: Busy walls in easy-to-access areas or we’d get lost trying to find a climb. Both circumstances took away from our goal of the trip. It was incredibly frustrating. With our love of climbing and experience navigating and mapping the outdoors, we decided to start Climb-On Maps. There are two main challenges with large, complex rock climbing areas that we felt could be addressed with very detailed, climbing-specific maps.

First, there are navigation challenges. Rock climbing guidebooks are primarily designed to focus on information about individual routes. Our maps pick up where guidebooks leave off, providing detailed directions for how to get to a climb. People can also visit less frequented climbing areas, so they don’t have to wait in line.

Next are planning challenges. Climb On provide color-coded, at-a-glance crag summaries that show important information about each wall in an area like the number of climbs, distribution of grades, and specific climbs. This allows climbers to quickly scan the map, see if a wall meets their needs, how difficult it is to get there, and where walls are relative to each other.

Why did you use Kickstarter to fund your latest map and what were the benefits and challenges of turning to crowdfunding?

Until this point, we primarily used our life’s savings or borrowed money to fund the business. We purchased professional GPS units, software licenses, a vehicle to live out, a large-scale plotter, and also had to pay for traveling and living expenses for about a year and a half. It took us almost two years, full-time, to collect data for our first four maps — and that was a period of no income. We turned to Kickstarter because, as a new business, we needed the exposure and a financial boost to print the Joshua Tree map. Our stretch goals help off-set printing for the fourth map, City of Rocks, Idaho.

This current Kickstarter campaign has been a great success and, now that we have products released and people are using them, we’re starting to get great reviews and coverage. It took a lot of work to get here, however, and that’s where the challenge conversation comes in. This is actually our second Kickstarter. Our first attempt we canceled because it was clear it wasn’t going to fund. The reality was if nobody knows about you, Kickstarter is not going to work.

Anyone with business savvy would say, “Well, of course. People need to know about you, why they need your product, and you have to prove yourself first.” But, many new business owners, including us, don’t know exactly what it takes to reach that point.  The learning curve for social media, advertising, promotion, branding, retail, wholesale, and even basic business practices, is significant. Then, as we have learned, Kickstarter has its own unique learning curve. We even hired a company to help educate us on a few things.

How are Climb-On Maps a better product, or more comprehensive, than other phone maps and GPS units? 

The maps for phone apps and GPS units are created with publicly available data, mainly because it’s time-consuming and labor intensive to collect data at a very fine scale. The scale most commonly used in other professional maps is 1:24,000 (i.e., 1 inch = 24,000 inches/.4 miles) because that’s the scale the U.S. Geologic Survey typically uses and the USGS data is the historical source for much of the publicly available data. Depending on the map area, our maps go down to a scale of around 1:1200. That’s 20 times more detailed than other maps.

When we zoom down to the level of our maps, which are in natural areas where publicly available data all but disappears, the only solution is to create our own data at a scale that’s useful. We collect data by using high quality, professional GPS units and walk every inch of the trails we map. We take detailed notes, collect trail attribute data, and take thousands of photos.

The reason we need to go down to such a fine scale is due to the complexity of the terrain. For our map to be useful in the conditions climbers face, we need to be able to inform the climber of the exact way to go under a big boulder, or crawl up a chimney and walk along a ledge. To be meaningful and useful, this all needs to be conveyed topographically, symbolically, and via photos on the map.

Lady Lockoff

What GPS technology does Rick use in gathering information for the maps? How does this tech add to the accuracy of Climb-On Maps? 

The GPS units used by Climb-on Maps are the Trimble T1 GNSS units and we utilize the SBAS differential correction, which corrects signal anomalies. The acronym GPS refers only to the United States’ constellation of positioning satellites, while GNSS refers to all global navigation satellites managed by other countries (Russia, Europe, and China). Being able to access positions from all GNSS constellations — a total of 91 satellites — allows reliable and continuous positioning even while deep in tall canyons or right up against climbing walls.

You don’t use satellite imagery as the background for the maps, but use it in processing the maps — why? How do you define the boundary of a climbing wall?

We avoid satellite imagery because the quality is inconsistent. Problems with satellite imagery include dark shadows, poor resolution, confusing angles, and sometimes unusable distortion — especially with tall cliffs. Rick uses four different satellite imagery sources, aerial photos, and infrared or elevation to digitize and edit background data. When there’s an error, he switches to a different source for a separate perspective. This allows us to be accurate at the scales we’re working with. A printed map is not able to switch imagery sources and we believe that publishing any one source could be dangerous in the problematic areas.

To define the boundary of a climbing wall, we use our GPS points. While out collecting trail and wall data, we make sure to collect bounding routes of the wall (i.e. the first and last climbs on the wall) and then connect the points along the rock formation to show the span of walls that contain the climbs. Since our GPS data is accurate, it’s used as a reference for everything else. We can make detailed navigation notations when building the map because we’ve been there.

Lady Lockoff

What are your thoughts on climbing apps?

Most climbing apps are digital versions of hardcopy guidebooks. Because they’re essentially digital guidebooks, the maps and directions portion of apps are similar to what you would find in these regular books.

Providing GPS coordinates are helpful to let you know if you’re at the right location but they don’t tell you how to get there. This results in the climber making a straight line towards the coordinate — very likely a bushwhack, which is more difficult and far more environmentally destructive than providing a fine-scale map. In large, complex areas, like Joshua Tree or Red Rock Canyon, climbers are often met with the same problem of being confused and wandering lost.

We love digital technology but sometimes the analog product is the way to go

We’ve seen attempts at trying to use GPS guided maps in some of the climbing apps but there are plenty of limitations — the scale of available data, satellite background imagery, quality of GPS units used, and even the GPS units in cell phones. It’s a difficult combination of factors to make right in certain terrain. Let’s say the underlying data is accurate, the quality of a smartphone GPS unit is still a major limitation, especially in dangerous areas. Even with accurate data, a user’s cell phone could be over 100 feet off obstructions.

With a paper map, users are forced to find their location using visual cues and surrounding terrain features. A map can also help you rapidly triangulate your position. That’s very difficult to do with a smartphone — you have to expand and contract the screen over and over again. We love digital technology and rely on it heavily to make maps but sometimes the old school, analog product is the way to go.

Have Rick or you ever had a close-call while researching a location?

Considering the number of miles we’ve covered (over 1,800 miles and counting), we’ve been lucky to come out unharmed. But, we have had several close calls. If you look at any one of our maps, you’ll see a lot of red triangles. Those indicate exposure. We also have an icon in the triangles telling you the level of danger with that exposure should you fall — bone breaking, major damage, or rest in peace. We know the exposure level because we were there, so we’re constantly facing that risk.

There’s one time I would categorize as terrifying. It occurred while I was mapping alone in Joshua Tree and was very isolated. I came across a dangerous boulder field with crumbling rock and 20- to 40-foot pits between boulders. A fall would result in injury and becoming trapped beneath the boulders — there would be no way to be found.

What’s in the pipeline for Climb-On Maps?

Our most immediate plans are to publish the climber’s maps for Joshua Tree and City of Rocks and to promote them. While on the road, there are other climbing areas we plan to explore to see if they’d be a good fit.

We’re also looking to expand into a unique hiking map product, called Choose Your Adventure which is hand-selected, off-the-beaten-path hikes in spectacular areas. The hikes vary for certain adventure styles, from hard-core adventure to a child-friendly map. Each map is based on detailed trail data, so they’ll be accurate and quite different from standard hiking maps.

Editors’ Recommendations

  • Everest: The incredible cost of climbing the world’s highest mountain
  • H-D Snow Hill Climb Sportster w/ Dianna Dahlgren | Harley-Davidson
  • Patagonia’s new line of climbing apparel offers options for rock climbers
  • Harley-Davidson’s Snow Hill Climb debuts at Winter X Games
  • Despite its considerable girth, the Bentley Bentayga will go racing


10
Mar

Will my phone adjust to Daylight Saving Time automatically?


Let’s do the timewarp again …

Twice a year the clocks change (for most of us). We “spring forward” and “fall back,” and depending on where we live that happens on a different day. It’s all sort of convoluted. And this inevitably leads to folks wondering what they have to do to their Android phone so things work right after the switch. If this sounds like you, we’ve got good news:

You don’t have to do anything.

galaxy-s8-always-on-display-multiple-tim

This is the best thing you’ll never have to do for your phone!

Unless you’ve went into your phone’s settings and switched away from the automatic network time (in which case you already know what to do), you won’t have to do a thing. Your Android will check the network for the correct date and time and switch itself on it’s own, changing the system time so that things like calendars and alarms will still be right. The same thing applies when other parts of the world move an hour forward or back on their schedule, and still apply in six months when we change again. And more practically, it’s also what lets our phones know the right time when we fly or drive to a different time zone.

If you’re worried about your phone’s ability to switch the time automatically, go double check your “date & time” settings and make sure your time zone is set properly and that you have “automatic date & time” turned on. The network and phone will handle the rest while you sleep.

10
Mar

Amazon’s Fire TV stick drops down to $25, 4K Fire TV to $45 for Prime members


Cut the cord.

fire-tv-1pfx.jpg?itok=edoXByKi

Amazon has dropped the price of its Fire TV Stick down to $24.99, and the 4K Fire TV down to $44.99 for its Prime members. This is a savings of $15 and $25 respectively.

If you’ve been considering cutting the cord, or want to add some streaming options to a new TV in your home, this is one of the best ways to do it. You can also get the Fire TV 4K for $35 when you prepay for one month worth of DIRECTV NOW service.

This deal is exclusive to Prime members, but don’t worry if you aren’t one. Right now you can sign up for a free 30-day trial of the service to take advantage of the discount and other benefits.

See at Amazon

10
Mar

Samsung Galaxy S9 vs. Google Pixel 2: Which should you buy?


samsung-galaxy-s9-vs-google-pixel-2-6.jp

Samsung’s market leader versus Google’s idealistic view of a smartphone.

Samsung’s flagships may outsell Google’s in massive numbers, but that definitely doesn’t stop many of us from thinking that the Pixel phones are the absolute best expression of Android on a smartphone. The Google Pixel 2 launched into a world where the Galaxy S8 was already over six months old, and now the roles are reversed: we have the brand-new Galaxy S9 to compare to.

The Galaxy S9 shares a lot with its predecessor, but there are strategic improvements that help it match the Pixel 2 — and in some areas it continues to best Google’s little flagship. Here’s how the new Galaxy S9 compares to the Pixel 2 in hardware, software and value.

What’s the same

Despite dramatic differences in initial appearances, there’s a lot shared between these phones. Sure the materials and designs differ, but they’re actually nearly the same overall size. The Pixel 2 is a tad shorter and lighter, but both phones are pretty compact and easy enough to manage in one hand — especially compared to the ever-growing competition in the 6-inch (and-above) smartphone space.

Samsung Galaxy S9 specs

Throughout the hardware you’ll find matching spec and features. The Galaxy S9’s new fingerprint sensor placement on the back matches the Pixel 2, as does the IP68 water resistance, stereo speakers, 64GB base storage and relatively small battery capacity — though the Galaxy S9 does edge out the Pixel 2 by 300mAh there, real-world use of the Pixel 2 shows it can do great things with what it has.

The phones are almost the same size, and filled with the same core specs and features.

For all of the design similarities between the Galaxy S8 and S9, one thing that took a big upgrade was the camera — and it’s exciting enough to have it up here in the “same” section to be mentioned alongside the Pixel 2. The Galaxy S9’s new camera sensor is doing a lot of the same multi-frame advanced processing of images that we hear Google talk about with HDR+ on the Pixel 2. These phones take different types of photos and often come to notably different results in the same scenes, but seeing each one on its own will show you they’re both great. The Galaxy S9 is often a bit truer to the scene and more simple, while the Pixel 2 takes photos that have more color, contrast and drama to them.

Add in its adjustable aperture up to f/1.5 and we see low-light performance that takes a considerable jump up to challenge the Pixel 2 as well. Right now this is still the Pixel 2’s crown, but I’m glad the Galaxy S9 didn’t stick with an iterative setup from the Galaxy S8 — the GS9 has extremely low noise and accurate colors at night. At the same time, the Galaxy S9 adds in 4K 60 fps video, as well as 960 fps slow-motion — both of which best the Pixel 2’s video capabilities in terms of raw numbers, but we know the Pixel 2’s video stabilization is still king.

What’s different

Remember our comparison of the Galaxy S8 and Pixel 2? Well, for the most part, you can just press replay on that. It only takes a glance to tell these phones have completely different identities, with the Galaxy S9’s primarily glass build and glistening curves contrasting with the Pixel 2’s monolithic metal and subtlety. Both execute their designs well, but it’s easy to see why so many people prefer the flashy head-turning design of modern Samsung phones — even if the glass back is a bit more fragile. Not everyone is attracted to the subtle approach of the Pixel 2, even if its metal body may age better.

Polar opposites in design, all surrounding a startling difference in usable screen space for the size.

Then, of course, there’s the difference in usable screen space for the size of the phone. In the same overall hardware package, the Galaxy S9 has a 5.8-inch 18.5:9 display, versus the Pixel 2’s 5-inch 16:9 display. Put another way, over 83% of the front of the Galaxy S9 is screen, whereas under 70% of the Pixel 2 is screen. That’s a startling difference in usable screen space for the same size of phone. Sure the immediate sides of the Galaxy S9 are curved and therefore not all that usable, and full-screen content doesn’t always utilize the space, but it’s tough to shake the feeling that the Pixel 2 “wastes” space on the front of the phone.

What’s inarguable is the difference in screen quality. The Galaxy S9 took the Galaxy S8’s display and made it 15% brighter, adding more brightness to what was already a bright, vibrant and just generally wonderful display. The Pixel 2 also has an OLED panel, but it’s just on a lower level in terms of colors and brightness, not to mention its 1920×1080 resolution is a bit lower as well. The Pixel 2’s display is certainly good enough, but it’s not an industry leader like the Galaxy S9.

Samsung wins on the ‘number of features’ game, but loses by the same account in software.

Samsung is always going to win the “number of features” game, and that’s clear again here with its inclusion of extras like a headphone jack, wireless charging, and an SD card slot. You can argue that having an option of 128GB internal storage on the Pixel 2 negates some of the SD card value, and you could also say the wireless charging is more of a niche feature. But you can’t say that having a headphone jack isn’t a huge benefit — particularly when you don’t have to give up anything else in the hardware to get it. Samsung even adds a really nice pair of earbuds in the box; Google gives you a USB-C headphone dongle.

Now, here’s where things swing in the other direction: the Pixel 2’s software experience. This is a place where Samsung’s approach of “more features” can get in the way of having enjoyable and useful software for many people. Android 8.1 Oreo on the Pixel 2 is smooth, clean, consistent, and great to use. The Galaxy S9 has far more features, but so many of them are set up to be left unused and just sit in your way when you’re trying to do other things. Convoluted processes for doing so many things just seem unnecessary when you see how simple it all is on the Pixel 2. It’s a difference in philosophy and perhaps Samsung’s approach doesn’t bother you, but people who use Pixels know what I’m talking about here — using Google’s take on Android is fantastic, and it stays that way over time with three years of guaranteed software updates.

Bottom line: Which should you buy?

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There’s a lot to digest in this comparison. Much of the core experience and features are shared between the Galaxy S9 and Pixel 2, but the exterior designs, screen and additional features differ widely. There are two clearly different approaches to a high-end smartphone at play here.

There are two clearly different approaches to a high-end smartphone at play here.

The Galaxy S9 is the features king, with hardware that bests the Pixel 2 with extras like wireless charging, a headphone jack, newer processor, bigger battery, and a larger (and nicer) display. The hardware is flashy, which is appealing to many people, even if it’s a bit more fragile. The Pixel 2 is much more subtle in its hardware and simple to use in its software. It has the core features you need, and little extra. There aren’t many headline-grabbing things you can point to, but just use one for a few days, and you’ll see what all the talk is about. It also has a proven great camera, and the track record of software support direct from Google.

Finally, we have to remember pricing. As high-end smartphone prices continue to rise, the Pixel 2 held its ground down at a relatively affordable $649. The Galaxy S9, on the other hand, is roughly $100 more depending which carrier you buy from — which I think is enough of a gap to matter to people when they’re cross-shopping these two phones. If you’re really keeping the budget tight, the Google Pixel 2 is obviously a better choice. If you’re willing to pay more money for more features, regardless of whether the overall experience may be better, you’re likely to go with the Galaxy S9.

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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10
Mar

Today’s best deals you won’t want to miss


Whether you’re looking for new tech gear or household items, we’ve got you covered.

The eBay 20% off sale has turned the deals world upside down with great discounts on Amazon’s Fire TV, Super Mario Run, Vitamix blending bowls and more! There are a lot of great deals you won’t want to pass up.

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If you want to know about the deals as soon as they are happening, you’ll want to follow Thrifter on Twitter, and sign up for the newsletter, because missing out on a great deal stinks!

10
Mar

Wade into your weekend comments


So many fish, so little time.

It’s my favorite time of year. Not because of any tech products we might have seen or talked about, or things that we can buy. Nope. It’s the time of year when the trout are still biting and the weather is good enough that I can get to them. This is the time of the year when I can mosy down to the creek, get my fishing line wet and if I’m lucky, find a big trout who is hungry enough to bite on my poorly placed wet fly. Maybe it’s some primal DNA that still survives inside of me, but there’s nothing I’d rather do than go fishin’.

gone-fishin.jpg?itok=AVpx2elw If you were wondering, yes this is a real thing at a local park; fishing worms on demand.

It’s not something I get to do as often as I would like. Work keeps me busy, nobody can seem to escape that, and I don’t get around as well as I used to so I’m restricted to places where I can get my wheelchair close enough to the water that I can set up and (not catch any) fish, so I look forward to this time of year when it all just clicks together. Even when the fish are smarter than me and I don’t get a single bite, it’s a good day. Soon the weather will be warm enough that people who aren’t a bit crazy will be out and close to the water, so I have to appreciate this time of year while I still can.

By the time you read this, I’ll either be enjoying a brunch of fresh trout filet and some healthy green things my wife forces me to eat or a peanut butter sandwich because the fish outsmarted me. Either way, I’ll be happy.

Take a minute and let everyone know what you’re doing on this fine weekend — and be sure to share any fishing tips if you have them!

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