If you’re looking to find a powerful phone that doesn’t hit your wallet too hard, then it’s a safe bet you’re looking to get yourself a midrange phone. The Moto Z3 Play is Motorola‘s latest entrant into that market, and the industry veteran has revealed a phone that’s razor-thin, powerful, and has access to Motorola’s full complement of Moto Mods.
But it’s not the only phone in the market vying for your attention. Honor has a solid record with midrange phones, and the Honor View 10 is another great example of a phone that balances power, looks, and costs. But which is better for you? We took a look to find out.
Moto Z3 Play
Honor View 10
156.5 x 76.5 x 6.8 mm (6.16 x 3.01 x 0.27 inches)
157 x 75 x 6.97 mm (6.18 x 2.95 x 0.28 inches)
156 grams (5.50 ounces)
172 grams (6.07 ounces)
6.01-inch Super AMOLED display
5.99-inch IPS LCD display
2,160 x 1,080 pixels (402 pixels per inch)
2,160 x 1,080 pixels (403 pixels per inch)
Android 8.1 Oreo
EMUI 8.0 (over Android 8.0 Oreo)
MicroSD card slot
Yes, up to 2TB
Yes, up to 256GB
Qualcomm Snapdragon 636
HiSilicon Kirin 970
Dual 12MP and 5MP rear, 8MP front
Dual sensor 16MP & 20MP rear, 13MP front
Up to 4K @ 30 frames per second, 720p @ 120 fps
Up to 4K @ 30 frames per second
3.5mm headphone jack, USB-C
Google Play Store
Google Play Store
Sprint, U.S. Cellular
Navy Blue, Midnight Black
$500 (with battery mod)
4 out of 5 stars
Performance, battery life, and charging
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends
The Moto Z3 Play’s Snapdragon 636 is a good midrange processor, and we didn’t have any issues with performance during our initial tests on the device. It should hold up well for most people, with the exception of power users. However, it’s not going to be the equal of the View 10’s flagship-level Kirin 970, which will deliver tons more power and similarly fantastic performance. While both phones are fast and smooth, the Honor View 10 is simply more powerful.
It’s a tougher call to make in terms of battery. The Z3 Play comes with a 3,000mAh battery, but the battery mod adds another 2,200mAh, so it’s capable of two days’ worth of battery life, much like the Z2 Play. The View 10 is equipped with a 3,750mAh monster, and it’s possible to get it to last for two days — though the Z3 Play will have an easier time reaching that goal. There’s similarly fast charging on both devices, with Motorola promising a day’s worth of power in half an hour, and Honor promising a 50 percent charge in 30 minutes — roughly the same.
It’s a tough call to make here, and though the Z3 Play edges out the Honor View 10 in terms of battery life, the View 10’s powerful processor takes the day.
Winner: Honor View 10
Design and durability
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends
Despite all its power, the Honor View 10 is something of a “plain Jane”. The metal body has a matte finish, and something of a minimalist design, but it’s lacking in any real character, especially when compared to other Honor phones. On the other hand, the Moto Z3 Play has a real Motorola-style design, and between the two, we think most people will find the Z3 Play to be more attractive.
There are significant camera bumps on both of these phones, and the Z3 Play’s is positioned so that the phone rocks when laid on its back. Not great. The View 10 is the only of these two phones to come with a headphone jack, and though the Z3 Play comes with an adapter, the lack of the port may be worth keeping in mind if you like your wired headphones.
You’ll want a case for both these phones, due to the slippery nature of the View 10 and the fragile glass on the Z3 Play. There’s no real water-resistance on these phones either, though the Z3 Play does boast a “water-resistant coating”.
For two phones with highly differing designs, these two have a lot in common — and though the Z3 Play is the better-looking of the two, we’re partial to the View 10’s minimalist design and headphone jack. This is a tie.
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends
Both phones are running 2,160 x 1,080-pixel resolutions on 6-inch displays with 18:9 aspect ratios, and it’s just the actual screen tech that differentiates the two. The View 10’s display is an IPS LCD, and it’s bright and colorful enough — but it’s just not capable of beating the Super AMOLED display on the Z3 Play. While the View 10 has a good-looking screen, it just can’t match the deep blacks and rich colors that the Z3 Play’s AMOLED screen is capable of. This one’s clear.
Winner: Moto Z3 Play
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends
The Moto Z3 Play is packing a 12-megapixel and 5-megapixel lens around the back, and an 8-megapixel selfie lens on the front. The camera has always been something of a weak point in Motorola’s past midtier offerings, but the addition of an extra lens means that the Z3 Play is offering a pretty capable main camera. We haven’t had a chance to test it fully, but it has performed well in our initial tests, and we’re looking forward to seeing how it holds up in other circumstances.
We’re not sure it’ll be able to beat the Honor View 1,0 though. You’ll find 16-megapixel and 20-megapixel lenses on the back of the View 10, accompanied by a 13-megapixel selfie shooter around the front. Simply put, the View 10 takes great photos. The Kirin 970 helps out here too, and there’s a specific part of the processor dedicated to A.I. assistance that selects options based on your subject. We’re still not sure how big of an impact it has, but it doesn’t change the fact the View 10 is an excellent all-around performer.
The video capabilities of each phone are similar, and you’ll be able to capture footage in 4K regardless of the phone you pick. The Moto Z3 Play has slow-motion capabilities too, but we’re not letting that weigh too heavily on the outcome. The Honor View 10’s camera is likely to be the stronger performer.
Winner: Honor View 10
Software and updates
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends
You’ll find Android Oreo on both of these devices, but you might not realize it. The Z3 Play runs Android 8.1 Oreo, and it’s mostly stock Android, with a few Motorola additions. In terms of updates, Motorola has promised that the Z3 Play will receive at least two major Android updates — so that’s Android P and Android Q. You may have to wait for it, though — the Moto G5S Plus is still waiting for its upgrade to Android 8.0 Oreo.
The Honor View 10 is different. It’s still running Android 8.0 Oreo, but with Huawei’s Emotion UI (EMUI) laid over the top. EMUI has improved a lot, and the look isn’t as divisive as it once was — but it still divides opinion. If you’re a fan of stock Android, EMUI might come as something of a shock. In terms of updates, Honor hasn’t dedicated itself to any number of Android updates, and it’s not much faster than Motorola when it comes to update schedules — but it has succeeded in updating the last generation of phones.
There’s a lot to differentiate the two phones here, but it’s tough to pick a winner. While the Z3 Play wins points for stock Android, Motorola’s update speed is too slow compared to Honor. This is another tie.
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends
Despite running stock Android, Motorola has crammed some great special features into the Moto Z3 Play. First is the new navigation bar, which uses directional swipes to perform actions, similar to the planned navigation method in Android P. There’s also the usual suite of Motorola apps, including Moto Actions to access certain apps and Moto Voice to trigger device-specific actions, and the integration of Google Assistant and Google Lens into the camera app. Lest we forget — the Z3 Play also has support for the entire range of Moto Mods, which can boost the speaker, revamp the camera, or just boost battery life.
The View 10 has similar Google Assistant functionality built in, but the star for Honor’s phone is the Kirin 970’s NPU processing unit, which handles on-device A.I. it’s not something you’ll be able to point to much though, as it generally speeds up tasks in the background, processing images faster, running Microsoft’s Translator app, and handling the A.I. functions in the camera app.
The Moto Z3 Play runs away with this, thanks to the strength of its Moto Mod offerings.
Winner: Moto Z3 Play
The Moto Z3 Play is making its way to U.S. Cellular and Sprint in the summer, and it’ll cost $500 — though that price also includes a battery mod. The Honor View 10 is currently available for $500 too, and it will only work with T-Mobile and AT&T, thanks to a lack of CDMA network support.
Overall winner: Honor View 10
It’s a tough battle, and both phones have a lot going for them. If you’re really into the idea of the Moto Mods, then the Moto Z3 Play is a great choice for you. However, if you value a solid camera and high performance, then the Honor View 10 wins every time. It’s not perfect — the display isn’t as nice as the Z3 Play’s and the design is lacking — but it’s a fantastic phone that will serve you well.
- Moto Z3 Play: Everything you need to know about Motorola’s modular phone
- Moto Z3 Play vs. Moto Z2 Play vs. Moto Z Play: Should you upgrade?
- Moto Z3 Play vs. OnePlus 6: Can Motorola’s latest beat our midrange pick?
- Play nice and play safe with the best Moto Z3 Play cases
- Moto Z3 Play hands-on review
The moment your plane lands, your phone just became a whole lot less useful.
It took me a few moments to realize what was happening. Landing in Shanghai after a 12-hour Air Canada flight, you could forgive me for being a little groggy when I walked into the terminal, hopped on the free Wi-Fi and said “hmm, my connection isn’t working.” Even though I could load androidcentral.com, nothing else on my phone worked. Gmail wouldn’t sync. Hangouts messages to family members saying I had landed were stuck sending. Google Now wouldn’t refresh to show my current location and weather. The Play Store wouldn’t let me update apps.
It’s telling that the first half-dozen apps I tried to use after landing were all from Google.
The connection speed was fine — it just so happened that the first half-dozen apps I wanted to check immediately upon entering the terminal were Google apps, and they don’t work at all in China. After pulling my brain back together from the long flight, I was obviously aware of the situation. Google services, of course, aren’t available in China — alongside countless other popular services including Facebook, Twitter, Dropbox and WhatsApp.
There are plenty of ways to get around the so-called “Great Firewall” and start using the Google services, but that isn’t what this was about. It was more the immediate surprise of realizing just how reliant I am on Google services — and it took mere minutes of being on a Chinese internet connection to realize it.
The issue is particularly pronounced when you visit the country using a Google Pixel phone. My only browser is Google Chrome, only mail app is Gmail, only photo app is Photos … Google Now is built into the home screen, and Google Assistant is waiting behind the home button. Except, none of it works. Even using voice dictation in Gboard, as I so casually do for dictating several sentences at a time into messaging apps, simply times out and fails because it relies on Google’s cloud.
When you use a Google-branded phone, it’s easy to forget how reliant you are on its services.
When you have a Google-branded phone and make ample use of a dozen different Google apps and services every single day, you sort of forget just how simple and seamless it all is — that is until none of it works, and you’re left scrambling to figure out what alternatives you’d have to use. And because I’ve lived in the Google ecosystem for so long, now embedded so deeply, I don’t actually have an idea of what the best alternatives are. If you look at it a level deeper, installing a new app doesn’t even fix this problem of an over-reliance on Google — installing another email app still won’t give me access to my Gmail account; another calendar app won’t sync my Google Calendar; there’s no third-party app to handle my Google Docs files.
Ironically it’s Google’s own mobile carrier, Project Fi, that provided me with the only way to reliably access all of my Google apps and services with its roaming LTE data (a common strategy for travelers).
This isn’t going to make you switch from Google — but you should keep your eyes open to alternatives.
But even on roaming data, where the Google services are ostensibly not blocked, they’re more of a hassle to use. Services that are designed to lean heavily on Wi-Fi, like Google Photos, YouTube, Google Play Music and Google Drive, become far more burdensome to manage when you’re using them purely over mobile data. What typically feels like a smooth and consistent experience, having data backed up or cached in the background when you’re on Wi-Fi, all becomes far less magical when it’s purely done over LTE. Things don’t just “happen” without your input anymore — sync intervals increase, data isn’t backed up or synced automatically, and apps that require live data streams slow down.
Is being this reliant on Google in itself a bad thing? Unless you plan on visiting China on a regular basis, probably not. Google makes fantastic apps that work extremely well and, for the most part, are completely free. And I’ll keep using them because of that. Returning from my trip today I’m not particularly likely to kick Google Photos, YouTube or Gmail to the curb just because I had a hassle using them in China for the better part of a week.
But what this experience does make me consider is checking out the alternative apps and services the next time one comes around, or Google makes a shift of strategy on one of its core apps. Using a bunch of Google apps on a daily basis is fine, but keeping your eyes closed to the alternatives other parts of the world have to offer isn’t a good idea — it just took a few days in China to remind me of that fact.
The Samsung T5 500GB portable solid state drive is down to $129.99 on Amazon for the first time. This price is an all new low for the T5 and beats the previous low by $20. This deal is even better than last year’s holiday shopping season.
The 250GB version of this SSD also dropped in price recently. It’s down to $99.99 from $120.
The Samsung T5 has gotten quite a few great critical reviews in a short amount of time, including an Editor’s Choice and 4 stars from PC Mag, 4.5 stars from Tech Radar, and a review from Forbes that said it “offers a great sweet spot in terms of size, performance and price.” Amazon users give it 4.7 stars based on 539 reviews. Samsung backs it up with a three-year warranty, as well.
See on Amazon
Dell XPS 15 9560
The Dell XPS 15 is the larger version of the Dell XPS 13, one of our favorite laptops of the last few years. Set them side-by-side, and you can see that Dell didn’t want to mess with a good thing. With the XPS 15 2-in-1 now in the lineup, is the more traditional XPS 15 still worth the purchase? We think so — especially with the update to 8th-gen processors currently available.
Premium is an understatement
Shrouded in a thin plastic sleeve, the XPS 15 rests inside its soft black box, waiting. From the moment you lift the lid off of that box, it’s clear that this laptop is different. The chassis is clad in matte burnished aluminum, inset with a glossy black Dell logo. The seams are soft-touch plastic, and the interior is lined with carbon fiber.
To be clear, that’s real, actual carbon fiber, not just a textured sticker underneath some transparent plastic. You’ll find none of that nonsense here, as the Dell XPS 15 doesn’t compromise on build quality. Every corner, every facet of this laptop feels high quality and robust. From the materials to the layout, there’s not much to complain about. The XPS 15 isn’t just well-designed. It’s well-engineered.
Just enough connectivity
The XPS 15 features an adequate, if not overwhelming, number of ports with an appreciable amount of variety. There are two USB ports, one on either side, a USB-C port, an SD card slot, a standard 3.5mm headphone jack, and an HDMI port. It provides just enough connectivity, even when you’re using a lot of accessories — like an external monitor, keyboard, and mouse.
There is, however, a notable absence, because the XPS 15’s svelte chassis — the venerable Ethernet port is nowhere to be found. So instead, you’ll have to do with investing in an Ethernet to USB or USB-C adapter, if you need faster-than-Wi-Fi internet speeds.
Compared to the XPS 13, which features the same number of ports, but minus the HDMI port, it’s an appreciated step up. You get everything the 13 offers, plus a little extra, which is a good thing if you happen to use external monitors on a regular basis.
Alternatively, you could use the included Thunderbolt 3.1/USB-C port to handle video connections if you have a compatible monitor, or an adapter handy.
Room to stretch out
Laptop keyboards are seldom as comfortable as a full-sized desktop keyboard. Even if you’re not a fan of clickety-clackety mechanical keyboards, the extra space feels luxuriant after using a laptop keyboard for a while. The XPS 15 tries to mitigate that cramped feeling by offering a bit more lateral space than its 13-inch sibling, and its appreciated.
Typing on the XPS 15, even for long periods of time, never feels tiresome. The keys have decent travel for a laptop, offering just enough depth without feeling mushy.
The XPS 15 isn’t just well-designed, it’s well-engineered.
The keyboard features a white LED backlight as standard equipment. The light leaks substantially from under the keys, and it’s not very attractive. It provides utility in the dark — when you need to search for your Function keys — but that’s about it. The light leakage tends to spoil the otherwise high-quality vibe the XPS 15 conveys.
The trackpad is nice and matte, with just enough texture to differentiate it from the soft-touch material along the interior of the laptop. It clicks nicely, and responds well to basic taps and multi-touch gestures.
Compared to the trackpads on similar laptops up and down the Dell lineup, the XPS 15 delivers an unparalleled level of accuracy and control. The Dell Inspiron 15 Gaming, for instance, opts for a cheaper trackpad and the quality gap is stark. On the business-class Dell Latitude, the trackpad feels nice, but it’s not as pleasant to use as the XPS 15 — multi-touch gestures just aren’t as quick and responsive.
The closest comparison is the MacBook Pro 13. Apple has long been the king of trackpad quality, but the Dell XPS 15 comes very close. Its trackpad is smooth, accurate, and it detects multi-touch gestures instantly. Plus, the XPS 15 still has a mechanical click, which might be a bonus for users put off by the MacBook’s simulated click using Apple’s “taptic engine.”
A crisp and nearly perfect display
Our review model of the XPS 15 features a 4K touch screen display, and at first it seemed like overkill for a laptop — particularly a laptop that isn’t primarily for gaming. But once you feast your eyes on its inky blacks and vivid, lively colors, it’s very hard to go back to a run-of-the-mill 1080p display. It certainly helps that the XPS 15 features not only tack-sharp picture quality, but outstanding color accuracy and fidelity.
The XPS 15’s display is an embarrassment of riches, so let’s start with the basics: Resolution. The 4K display panel Dell chose for this model is nothing short of superb. That lavish screen real estate lends itself well to a 15-inch display, as you have enough room for two full-sized windows side-by-side, and the immense resolution ensures that text is silky-smooth and inky.
Moving on to the numbers, the XPS 15 doesn’t just look great, it’s objectively superior to most laptop displays.
Starting with the sRGB spectrum, you can see that a good display will usually land in the 90-99 percent range. With the AdobeRGB spectrum, good displays can land anywhere from 76-80 percent, meaning they’re still incapable of rendering about 20 percent of the colors in that spectrum. The XPS 15 though, hits 99 percent, meaning it’s capable of reproducing nearly every color in the AdobeRGB spectrum without fail.
Not only that, it’s capable of reproducing those colors very accurately. The Dell XPS 13 and Apple MacBook Pro 15, both of which have fantastic displays, land on either side of the XPS 15 when it comes to color accuracy. The XPS 13 has an average color error of 2.65, which is a little too high, meaning colors will look a bit off — they’ll be noticeably different on the XPS 13’s display than they would be in real life.
On the other hand, the MacBook Pro 15 manages an average color error of 0.61, meaning its colors are nearly perfect — good enough for professional-grade color-sensitive work like photo and video editing. The XPS 15 comes in right between them with an average color error of 1.23, meaning its colors are very close to perfect.
But the sound? Flat and lifeless
Fire up Spotify or your favorite streaming app on a laptop, and you should expect your music to sound good. The same goes for games, movies, YouTube videos, and anything else you might watch on your laptop. Laptop speakers have a bad reputation for producing flat, lifeless audio, and the XPS 15 does nothing to buck that trend
The speakers on the XPS 15 aren’t the worst you’re ever likely to use on a laptop, but they crush otherwise dynamic sound by a significant degree. Everything sounds hollow, though the speakers do at least steer away from a muddy, unclear quality.
The XPS 15’s built-in speakers are fine for system alerts and the occasional YouTube video, but for anything else you’ll probably want to invest in a pair of decent headphones.
Quick and capable
Another distinct advantage the XPS 15 has over competitors is its 7th-generation Intel Core i7-7700HQ processor, clocked at 2.8GHz. It’s an upgrade over last year’s 6th-generation model, and it performs a bit better in everyday use but it’s not a massive leap forward. Dell also has an upcoming 8th-gen update on the way, which should bring even more processing power when it arrives.
You can see those performance gains in the comparison to the Asus ROG Strix, which features the 6th-generation version of the XPS 15’s processor, the Intel Core i7-7600HQ. The Strix scores 4,137 on single core performance, and 12,314 on multi-core performance, while the XPS 15 scores 4,594, and 13,814 respectively.
These scores are instructive for a couple reasons. First, you can see that the 7th-generation Intel processors are relatively quick on their feet. Secondly, the performance you gain moving from 6th-generation chips to 7th-generation chips isn’t a large as it has been in the past, so investing in a 7th-generation chip might not be necessary depending on your current needs.
Overall, the XPS 15’s quad-core processor is fast and capable, edging out 6th-generation i7 chips, and blowing past 6th-generation i5 chips with ease.
A sprightly hard drive
Our review unit arrived with a 512GB solid state drive connected over PCI Express. That is what we’d expect to see in a high-end laptop, and it performed admirably.
In our testing the drive beat out competitors in both read and write speeds. Among roughly similar laptops, only two we’ve tested beat the XPS 15. One is the Apple MacBook Pro, which is quite a bit more expensive, and can’t run the same benchmark (as it uses MacOS). The other is Dell’s Precision 5520, which is essentially a workstation version of the XPS 15 – and also a lot more expensive.
Even gaming is pretty alright
Just looking at the XPS 15, you’d never guess that it was a capable laptop for gaming. Black plastic, carbon fiber, aluminum, and a single-colored keyboard backlight? Without any red accents or fierce brand-names like Strix, Predator, or Razer, the humble XPS flies under the radar — and that’s a good thing. By including a solid mid-range GPU in the otherwise business-class XPS 15, Dell has created something of a hybrid, an accidental gaming laptop that eschews every “gamer laptop” design trend.
The GeForce GTX 1050 purring away under the XPS 15’s hood provides enough headroom to comfortably accommodate recent games at medium-high settings if you scale your resolution down to 1080p. Games still look great on this display, but the XPS 15 just can’t reliably handle 4K gaming.
In 3DMark, the XPS 15 outperforms its nearest competitors and performs nearly as well as entry-level gaming laptops like the Dell Inspiron 15 Gaming and Asus ROG Strix GL553VD.
In individual games, the XPS 15 fared well, but you should expect to tweak your settings to get the most out of the GTX 1050. It’s not the fastest graphics card on the market and it shows.
In Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, the XPS 15 managed an average of 25 frames per second at high detail settings and 1080p resolution, while the Inspiron managed 24, and the Strix managed 28. They’re all within the same margin, but for comparison, the Acer Predator 15, a laptop featuring the GTX 1060 graphics card, hit 58 FPS on high detail settings in 1080p.
The GTX 1050 is a capable graphics card, but it’s not quite up to the task when it comes to high-detail settings on very demanding games. You can increase your performance to tolerable levels by turning down shadows, or anti-aliasing though.
Despite its slim profile, the internal fans do a very good job of keeping the XPS 15 cool even while running demanding games for long periods of time. It’s surprising that the XPS 15 is a decent gaming laptop, since it’s not actually designed to be one. To take it one step further, in the recent 2018 update, Dell is offering a high-end configuration with a GTX 1050 Ti, which should gaming that much smoother.
Light, and long-lived
By filing the bezels to the bare minimums, the XPS 15 manages to maintain a very small profile despite its large overall screen size. In fact it’s smaller, though not thinner, than a MacBook Pro 15. Weighing in at just four pounds, you’ll barely even notice carrying this thing around.
Putting it in a small bag designed for 13-inch laptops, the XPS 15 still leaves you with enough room to throw in a water bottle, charger, and even another — small — laptop. It’s a refreshing change.
Battery life is good, but it might not get you through a full workday, and that’s due to the 4K display. Powering all those pixels takes a toll, and we were hard pressed to get more than five hours out of the XPS 15 in everyday mixed use. That said, most of that daily use was performed in a bright office, with the brightness turned way, way up.
On a more sensible power plan, with brightness calibrated to around 100 lux — which is a little under 50 percent brightness — battery life improved significantly. Using browser macro loop, which essentially loads up the same webpage over and over, the XPS 15 managed up to six hours of life.
Dell XPS 15 9560 Compared To
Acer Aspire E 15 (E5-576G-5762)
Asus Zenbook Pro UX550VE
HP ZBook Studio G4
Acer Aspire VX 5-591G 5652
Dell Inspiron 15 7000 (2017)
Dell Precision 15 3510
LG Gram 15 Z960
Samsung Notebook 9 Pro…
Asus Zenbook UX501VW-DS71T
Dell Inspiron 15 7000 (Late 2015)
Samsung ATIV Book 9 (2014)
Dell XPS 15 (2012)
Toshiba Satellite P855
HP Pavilion g6
Lenovo IdeaPad U550
Looking at its nearest competitors, you can see that the XPS 15 provides solid, if not stellar, battery life in most use cases. The video loop provided the best results, with the XPS 15 looping the same video for seven and a half hours before running out of juice. Still, it’s a bit short of what we managed to get out of the Lenovo Yoga 910, and the HP Spectre x360 15-inch, both of which managed upwards of 10 hours before falling flat.
Dell is usually good about keeping bloatware to a minimum, at least on its premium laptops. You’ll likely find a few Dell-branded utilities and registration tools on brand-new laptops, but not much else.
The XPS 15’s only uninvited guest is a trial version of McAfee Antivirus, which nags incessantly, but it’s easily removed with a simple uninstall.
The Dell XPS 15 is protected by a one-year limited hardware warranty, covering manufacturer defects and shipping costs — but the warranty specifies that you’ll need to provide your own box if anything goes wrong.
The XPS 15 is a phenomenal laptop. It does have a few flaws, as the speakers aren’t great, and the battery life could be better, but overall the XPS 15 stands head-and-shoulders above the competition in nearly every way. It’s easily one of the best 15-inch Windows laptops you can buy.
Is there a better alternative?
Yes and no. There are better alternatives if you don’t really need a discrete graphics card and 4K display, two factors which contribute substantially to the XPS 15’s price tag. In which case you might be better off saving yourself some cash and investing in one of the lower-end 1080p models — or even the XPS 13.
The DT Accessory Pack
Ice Red AVA Laptop Backpack
Jack Spade Tech Oxford Slim NYRU1352 Briefcase
AmazonBasics Wireless Mouse
Logitech M510 Wireless Mouse
Sugru Moldable Glue
AmazonBasics 7-inch~17.3-inch Laptop Sleeve
Semi-Transparent Universal Silicone Keyboard Protector
There are other laptops which outperform the XPS 15 in more specialized use-cases. For instance, the Dell Precision 5520 is a much better choice for AutoCAD or other high-intensity software suites on account of its Intel Xeon processor and Nvidia Quadro GPU. But it will run you about $3,700. Dell also introduced the XPS 15 2-in-1 to the lineup in early 2018, though we prefer the XPS 15’s traditional keyboard and more accessible configuration options.
Alternatively, the Acer Predator 15 G9-593 would be a better choice for gaming, since it comes standard with an Nvidia GTX 1060 GPU, which runs circles around the XPS 15’s GTX 1050. It costs about the same as the XPS 15.
Unfortunately, though, specialized gaming or business notebooks have their own unique drawbacks. Gaming performance can kill portability in more ways than one, and the high-end components in professional laptops drive up the price considerably. With the XPS 15 you don’t have to worry about that, as it’s well-balanced without much compromise.
How long will it last?
Longer than it needs to. Seriously, this chassis is rock-solid, and it will very likely outlast its internal components. In three or four years when your CPU is showing its age, a well-tended XPS 15 will likely be just as good-looking as it was the day you bought it. This is the closest any PC manufacturer has come to Apple’s lofty build standards.
Should you buy it?
Yes. This is a solid, reliable, and attractive laptop with a reasonable price, and few drawbacks. It can handle pretty much anything you throw at it, and it looks good doing it.
Blackberry Bold Jack Lenox/Flickr
When Gareth Hurn, Global Device Portfolio head at the BlackBerry Mobile division of TCL Communications, walked into a design meeting a few years ago, he took a stack of phones with him. He had one particular phone in mind to be a benchmark device for the team: The Blackberry Bold 9900.
Hurn wanted to emulate the typing experience from that device — his favorite BlackBerry phone — for the latest project being discussed. This phone would eventually become the BlackBerry Key2, showing that even from day one, it has been a true BlackBerry at heart. After all, TCL Communications licenses the BlackBerry brand name and manufactures the hardware, while the software and security is handled by BlackBerry Limited in Canada.
“We obsessively went into detail on how to make this the perfect keyboard experience.”
“We obsessively went into detail on how to make this the perfect keyboard experience,” Hurn told Digital Trends at the Key2’s launch. ”When people pick up the Key2 and start typing, the larger keys and less slippery matte finish really help introduce people to typing on a physical keyboard.”
All the while, a Key2 was in his hand, and his fingers often grazed the keys as he spoke. It’s no easy task replicating the 9900’s feel. Getting the tactility just right takes time, effort and thousands of humans and artificial key presses throughout the test period.
“There’s something about the physicality,” continued Hurn on how pleased he was with the Key2’s feel. “It’s like holding a magazine, a book, or putting on a vinyl record. It’s something physical, with a different feeling over a something digital.”
Referring back to the Bold 9900 inspiration, he said, “I love that we were able to reinvent that keyboard.”
Reinvent? Is that the right word? Definitely. It’s easy to forget that in 2011 when the Bold 9900 was in the hands of eager mobile typists, the keyboard was just a keyboard. The team couldn’t lift a Bold 9900 keyboard out of the phone and put it in the Key2. Times have changed, and there is a whole lot more tech under the keyboard than ever before. The Key2 has a complex software layer, a capacitive surface, and gesture controls.
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends
Integrating this, and retaining the desired feel and “springiness” that Hurn so loved from the 9900, meant everything from the size and shape had to be subtly altered. Aside from the 20 percent increase in key size and redesigned frets, great attention was paid to the bevelling on the keys. One Key2 gesture lets you “flick” words from the predictive list onto the screen, and doing so requires the keys to have the right indentation and balance, making that flick fast and natural.
Get it wrong, with a bevel that’s too pronounced, and it’s not fluid enough. Hurn’s pleased with the Key2, saying it strikes the right balance between paying homage to the Bold 9900’s keyboard, and the technical necessities of the cutting-edge keyboard on the Key2.
It’s fascinating to hear how TCL Communications’ BlackBerry division continues to pay attention to BlackBerry’s past mobile endeavours, something it did with the KeyOne too, but in a different way.
“The KeyOne was more of an emphasis on something traditional,” Hurn said, noting the modernity of the Key2’s design. “On the KeyOne, we concentrated on doing something that resonated with our core audience, and the design intent was safer.”
BlackBerry didn’t disappear because people fell out of love with physical keyboards.
But the KeyOne found a larger-than-expected degree of success and attracted many other people. Hurn said 50 percent of KeyOne buyers came from other Android or iOS devices. Will the Key2, which draws perhaps even more deeply from BlackBerry’s roots, continue to appeal to more people? The keyboard is the phone’s major differentiator, outside of the desirable security and privacy features. Hurn is confident about the Key2’s wide appeal.
“With the Key2 the goal was to listen to customer feedback,” noting the reduced weight and increased performance over the KeyOne, and drawing attention to the new design which he said was influenced by the silver BlackBerry Passport, providing, “an elegance and simplicity, instead of the gloss of the KeyOne.”
More importantly, although BlackBerry’s heritage is deep inside the Key2 and directly influenced the keyboard feel, in our early use of the phone, we found it considerably more accessible to physical keyboard newcomers than the KeyOne. This is crucial, and we asked Hurn what makes the Key2 so tempting for those used to touchscreen keyboards.
Blackberry Passport Andri Koolme/Flickr
“We use a laptop to type anything of substance, not a tablet,” he said, explaining that on a laptop, “I know what keys I’ve pressed, it’s accurate, and the display is entirely focused on the content and not overtaken by a virtual keyboard.”
Hurn believes, “it’s not such a leap,” to go from the no compromise approach of a laptop to the Key2, thus avoiding the pitfalls of typing on glass. But surely, phones with physical keyboards are dead, right? BlackBerry didn’t disappear because people fell out of love with physical keyboards. Instead, Hurn said the maker wound up in trouble because the operating system didn’t have apps that people wanted to use.
The Key2 may pay homage to its forebears, but it’s definitely a thoroughly modern smartphone everywhere else.
That’s all changed with the Key2. It runs Android 8.0 Oreo, and therefore has all the apps you could want. It also has a keyboard that pulls in the feel from an incredibly successful BlackBerry device from the firm’s past peak, and then adds a innovative software and gesture layer over the top. The Key2 may pay homage to its forebears, but it’s definitely a thoroughly modern smartphone everywhere else.
The Key2 goes on sale at the end of June, and while we’ve already spent some time with the device, our full review will come soon.
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If you’re looking to Venmo your friend for that pizza you ate most of, or need to send your monthly rent payment via the PayPal-owned peer-to-peer payments service, you’ll now have to do it via mobile. Venmo is phasing out support for its web service, which likely won’t affect all that many users. But if you are one of the few folks who use Venmo by going to Venmo.com, begin making alternate arrangements, like downloading the Android or iOS app.
Venmo alerted users to the change via email. If you read your monthly transaction history email, you would’ve seen the following message:
NOTICE: Venmo has decided to phase out some of the functionality on the Venmo.com website over the coming months. We are beginning to discontinue the ability to pay and charge someone on the Venmo.com website, and over time, you may see less functionality on the website – this is just the start. We therefore have updated our user agreement to reflect that the use of Venmo on the Venmo.com website may be limited.
Today, you can log onto the Venmo website in order to see your transaction history, as well as charge friends or make payments. You can also send payment reminders, interact with transactions (via likes and comments), add friends ,edit your profile, and other such actions. But moving forward, you’ll only be able to charge friends or pay them via the Venmo app. This will make Venmo a bit more distinct from parent company PayPal, who relies more on a web interface, and arguably less on a mobile app.
It’s not an altogether surprising move for Venmo either — after all, the service started as a mobile-first platform, and was geared toward mobile-savvy millennials. In many ways, Venmo’s decision is something of a homecoming.
Of course, there are those who are already bemoaning the change (though they’re likely in the minority of users). Some folks have tweeted that they only use Venmo’s web app, while others have questioned the necessity of the decision. But as a Venmo spokesperson told TechCrunch, “Venmo continuously evaluates our products and services to ensure we are delivering our users the best experience … Most of our users pay and request money using the Venmo app, so we’re focusing our efforts there. Users can continue to use the mobile app for their pay and charge transactions and can still use the website for cashing out Venmo balances, settings and statements.”
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Have you ever wondered how 3D printing works, what types of 3D printing exist, or just what 3D printing is used for these days? You’ve come to the right place: We’re going to cover the basic definition of 3D printing, how different versions are used, and some of the incredible things that additive manufacturing techniques are capable of.
3D printing: Basic definition
3D printing is a manufacturing process that creates a three dimensional object by incrementally adding material until the object is complete (this contrasts with subtractive manufacturing techniques such as carving or milling, in which an object is created by selectively removing parts from a piece of raw material). A 3D printer is simply a machine that can take a digital 3D model and turn it into a tangible 3D object via additive manufacturing. While these printers come in many forms, they all have three basic parts.
1. Digital file
The digital file instructs the printer exactly how to create the 3D object. It does this by dividing the object into layers and describing the dimensions of each layer with great accuracy. You then upload the finished digital file into the printer and watch it go to work. Many programs can create these files, including Tinkercad and Blender, which are both beginner-friendly options.
2. Printing machine
The machine has to accurately replicate the layers described in the digital file. That means that it needs enough free and clean space to construct the object, which is why 3D printers typically have a box, vat, or compartment to work in. While techniques vary, these machines usually employ nozzles and/or lasers to lay down the material and then set or cure it for each layer. As you can imagine, these machines must be calibrated very carefully: The most advanced 3D printers only operate in vacuums or at certain temperatures.
3. Printing material
The printer shapes or extrudes the printing material, which forms the printed object. While 3D printed objects are typically made of a single material, that material can be made of many different substances. One of the most popular is ABS plastic, the colorful, extruded plastic used in most home printers. However, 3D printers can also use various types of nylon and resins, some designed to be very hard and durable (all the better for testing prototypes. Other printers may use metals like steal, silver or gold. Some use ceramic materials, while others use synthetic sandstone. There are also many hybrid materials that combine plastics with other materials to add more properties.
Types of 3D printing
3D printing techniques have been around for decades. An important turning point occurred around 2009, when a consumer-friendly version of 3D printing called FDM (fused deposition modeling) became publicly available after that patent expired. That led to a boom in affordable 3D printing devices, and today when most people think of 3D printers they imagine the FDM extrusion style. However, there are many types of 3D printing used in various industries: Here are several of the most important (and if you want to buy your own 3D printer, here’s where to look).
Fusion Deposition Modeling (FDM): FDM uses a simple nozzle to extra plastic filaments, which cool down into the 3D printed shape. This is the cheapest version of 3D printing, and the kind available to consumers. Since it only needs a box, a nozzle, and a system to turn the digital data into movement, this type of printer can come in many different sizes.
Stereolithography (SLA): Technically the first type of 3D printing to be invented back in the 1980s, SLA beams a laser at a reactive liquid resin so it instantly hardens. The object is then pulled out of a vat of this liquid, layer by layer. SLA is capable of much greater detail than FDM, but the printing process is also more complex.
Jetting processes: Jetting is somewhat similar to SLA, except instead of using a vat of liquid, it sprays a jet of reactive polymer onto a base, and then flashes a UV light to harden the polymer before spraying on the next layer (some versions also use powdered material and layers of glue, or change between materials). It’s most similar to modern inkjet printer, except jetting tends to use advanced polymers with unique properties. This method of printing can be very detailed, and it’s frequently used in industrial applications.
Selective Laser Sintering (SLS): This type of printer starts with powdered materials that have very specific properties, such as polymides and thermoplastic elastomers. It uses a powerful laser to rapidly fuse (not melt!) these powders into the correct layers, forming a very durable object. This industrial version of 3D printing is very useful for mass-producing functional parts or prototypes.
Metal printing: Printing types like selective laser melting (SLM) and electron beam melting (EBM) use welding-like techniques to create objects. This printer moves a platform down slowly as layers of powdered metal are added and melted with incredible precision. This type of printing takes very powerful lasers and controlled environment, so it’s not usually seen outside of situational industrial manufacturing.
3D printing industries: Popular uses for 3D printing
It’s hard to find a sector that hasn’t been affected by 3D printing. Manufacturing processes around the world have adopted 3D printing techniques to help solve their problems and improve efficiency. When used in mass production, 3D printing tends to be cheaper than any other method. When used to create prototypes, it’s typically the fastest option. But that’s just the beginning! Check just a few of the incredible ways that 3D printing is currently being used.
- Shoes: Companies like Feetz and 3D Shoes manufacture 3D-printed shoes on demand, with plenty of customization options. Bigger brands are getting into the business, too!
- Houses: Yes, we are printing 3D houses now, too! In fact, manufacturer Apis Ctor has developed a house that can be printed and painted in 24 hours.
- Healthcare materials: Common, disposable healthcare objectives, like sample cups, now often come from 3D printing systems. In the prosthetics world, 3D printing is used to create customized prosthetics for individual’s unique bodies and requirements. Advanced systems are even creating 3D skin grafts made out of biological ink.
- Custom ordering: At home or work and feeling left out of the 3D printing business? Thousands of printing companies now offer 3D printing where you specify objects, materials, and place your order online.
- Set Design: Set design and prop-making have fully embraced 3D printing as a far cheaper, faster way to create very specific props for today’s shows and theater. Think how much easier it is to create an alien environment when you can draw, program, and print a usable version of even the most outlandish or historical objects in no time at all!
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Are you feeling nostalgic for the late 2000s or early 2010s? Well, if you’re in South Korea you can indulge yourself with the hottest smartphone of 2009. ET News reports that South Korean mobile carrier SK Telink has announced that it will once again sale the iPhone 3GS.
When it was first launched in the summer of 2009, the iPhone 3GS, like most iPhones, proved popular with customers and reviewers alike. It’s also an interesting piece of Apple’s history, as it was the last iPhone to feature a plastic casing before the company moved to the now-familiar glass and metal design.
Nostalgia aside, the major selling point of a decade-old smartphone is the price. Priced at 44,000 Won, which is roughly $40 U.S. dollars, the 3GS is the cheapest iPhone you can buy from any carrier. Of course, you shouldn’t expect much in the way of performance or app support; the 3GS only supports iOS 6. For those keeping track, we’re currently on iOS 11 with iOS 12 slated to go live sometime this fall. This means that you won’t get access to any of the latest features nor will the phone run every app found in the App Store. On the other hand, its low price may make it worth something to collectors as a novelty item.
Beyond the quaint factor, the phone can still work well as a barebones device and is capable of making calls, sending and receiving texts, and playing music. It can even browse the web, though it obviously won’t support 4G LTE service. So don’t get your hopes up about streaming your favorite shows on this mobile relic.
It’s also worth mentioning that these are not used 3GS phones, but unopened models. The carrier found a store of the phones in a warehouse and decided to put them back on the market. Since the phones have sat in a warehouse for nearly a decade, Telink will be testing the phones before putting them back on the market to ensure that customers don’t spend 44,000 won on an Apple-themed paperweight. If you’re still interested, you’ll probably want to act fast, since supplies are likely going to be limited.
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Whether you’re a gamer setting up your own YouTube channel or an entrepreneur attempting to create a video of your latest project, you’ll probably have moments where you think, “I wish I could record that!” While many of today’s computers come pre-equipped with microphones and webcams, they don’t always come with options for easily recording your computer or phone’s display at a moment’s notice — that is, unless you know where to look.
With that in mind, let’s go over how to record your computer screen on your own terms, whether you want to do so using a free program you already own or an app that’s chock-full of powerful tools aimed at professional productions.
Recording your screen in Windows 10
If you would rather not download any additional software, there’s a good chance that some of the apps you have laying around can already record your screen, even if that’s not their primary purpose. Here are several apps that you probably have access to right now, and how they can record for you.
Didn’t know you could record your screen with PowerPoint, the presentation software included with Microsoft Office? It’s true — the latest versions of PowerPoint include that feature.
Step 1: Head to the “Insert” tab, and select “Screen Recording.”
Step 2: Click “Select Area” to choose the specific area of your screen you want to record. If you want to record the entire screen, press the Windows Key, Shift and “F.”
Step 3: Click the “record” button,” or press the Windows key, Shift and “R.”
When you’re done you can save the video as a separate file to access or embed as you see fit. Editing and control options are very limited after that, but it’s a great option for quick-and-dirty recording — especially if you’re doing it for a looming presentation.
YouTube Live Streaming
If you don’t want to spend a ton of time recording but still want a video for your YouTube channel, or any other social media platform, then YouTube can help out.
Step 1: Sign into your account as you would normally.
Step 2: Go to “Upload,” click “Get Started” under Live Streaming.
Step 3: Choose “Events,” and select “New live event.”
Step 4: Fill out the required information, and click “Go Live Now.” A Google Hangouts page will open — keep in mind that you are now recording audio and video.
Step 5: On the left, you should see a button that says “Screenshare.” Select it, and choose a desktop window for recording.
Step 6: Click “Start Screenshare,” followed by “Start Broadcast.” You should now be recording!
Step 7: Select “Stop Broadcast” when finished, and save your Event as you wish.
For a more detailed guide to YouTube streaming for gaming Let’s Plays, check out our full guide. Alternatively, if you want to record yourself, Chrome has some quick-recording features now.
If you want an enhanced recording experience from an app specifically designed for more professional — and gaming-oriented — clips, then your best bet is to download one of the apps below.
OBS Studio (free): One of the more advanced freely available screen-recording apps out there, OBS Studio is entirely open source and allows unlimited full-screen recording without watermarks. It has built in streaming functions for those who want to have a live audience while recording and has great hardware support, so 60 FPS recording is perfectly possible. It’s more fully featured than some freemium apps and can take a little longer to set up how you like it because of that, but it’s arguably the best of the free screen-recording apps out there today.
Snagit ($50): Snagit is designed more for start-ups than gamers, with a ton of recording features made for showing off products and creating your own marketing videos, how-to features, vlogs, and so on. If you are planning an elaborate video that includes several types of video and multiple graphics as well as screen recording, Snagit is a great choice for simpler needs. It does cost $50, but if you don’t mind paying for the privilege, the added features are worth it.
Recording your screen in MacOS
If you’re running an older version of MacOS, you can always use the QuickTime Player for basic screen recording (as well as audio recording). QuickTime recordings aren’t easy to edit in post, but if you want a quick and easy recording method on MacOS, it’s one of the simplest.
Step 1: Launch QuickTime.
Step 2: Select “File” and choose “New Screen Recording.”
Step 3: To decide whether mouse clicks and sounds appear in your recording or not, click the small, white arrow and select the appropriate options from the drop-down menu.
Step 4: When ready, click the red record button.
Step 5: You’ll need to select what you want to record. To record the entire screen, click once anywhere. To record only a portion of it, click and drag a box and then click “Start Recording.”
Step 6: When finished, navigate to the menu bar and click the stop recording button designated by the square symbol. Alternatively, if you have one, tap the appropriate symbol on your Touch Bar.
Step 7: To save your recording, click “File,” then “Save,” and choose an appropriate save location and name for the recording.
MacOS screen recorder
Introduced with the new developer beta of MacOS Mojave (available for all users later this year) you can now record video of your screen as well as take screenshots with MacOS’ own screen capture tool. If you’re running the latest version of MacOS, here’s how to do it.
Step 1: Press “Command” + “Shift” + “5” to bring up the screenshot toolbar.
Step 2: Decide whether you want to record your whole screen or just a portion of it and click the respective button. If you chose the latter, you will then need to select where you want to record, otherwise the recording will begin immediately.
Step 3: When you have recorded everything you want to, click the stop button to halt the recording.
Step 4: As part of the new version of MacOS, when a screenshot or recording is taken, they appear as a thumbnail in the bottom right-hand corner of the screen. Click it and choose a save location
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Apple is serving notice that it’s serious about a future in original programming, teaming with Oprah Winfrey for a multi-year partnership. In a terse statement, the tech giant announced that “Winfrey and Apple will create original programs that embrace her incomparable ability to connect with audiences around the world.”
No details were released, but insiders tell The Hollywood Reporter that the mega-deal encompasses everything from movies to TV to apps to books. Notably, the partnership does not include podcasts — Winfrey has her own platform for the podcast version of her Emmy-winning Super Soul Saturday series, which recently hit #1 on Apple Podcasts.
The 64-year-old media mogul will remain the chief executive of OWN, the channel that she launched in 2011 in partnership with Discovery. Under her contract with OWN, which was recently renewed through 2025, Winfrey can appear on camera on other outlets on a limited basis.
As The Guardian notes, this recent partnership is part of a $1 billion push by Apple as it scrambles to gain a foothold in the streaming original programming market. Other projects in the works include a reboot of Spielberg’s sci-fi anthology series Amazing Stories, an ambitious series based on Isaac Asimov’s Foundation trilogy, and a contemporary drama set in the world of morning television starring Reese Witherspoon and Jennifer Aniston.
Winfrey is one of the richest people in the world and her Harpo Films will own any content created under the Apple deal. She was reportedly pursued by other tech companies, likely including Netflix and Amazon. The announcement is a big coup for new Apple video executives Zack Van Amburg and Jamie Erlicht.
A recent report in Bloomberg suggests that Apple may be taking a page from its rival Amazon’s playbook, with a subscription-based model that will offer video services directly through Apple TV rather than individual app purchases. Although Apple is one of the biggest sellers of digital movies and television shows through iTunes, it’s lagging far behind rivals such as YouTube and Netflix in the on-demand streaming arena.
One thing’s for sure — a heavyweight battle among streaming content providers is just getting started, with Netflix signing a multi-year deal with Barack and Michelle Obama for documentary and film production, and Amazon dropping more than $1 billion on a Lord of the Rings series.
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