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PaulOBrien

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About PaulOBrien

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    It's My Party
  • Birthday 07/29/1976

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  1. I dabble in pretty much every bit of tech out there, but there are two bits of tech that really interest me and I’ve never yet got involved with. The first is 3D printing (I still haven’t gone there, but I feel the time is coming) and the second is laser engraving and cutting. I’m not sure what the fascination is with the latter for me (maybe it’s the ‘freaking laser!’ factor), I’m not particularly craft or artistic, but I’ve always just thought the ability to engrave artwork onto stuff is fascinating. With this in mind, when I was asked if I wanted to review the Flux beamo, a new Kickstarter project looking to democratise laser engraving and cutting, I just couldn’t say no! Flux? Who? It’s probably worth starting with a few words on Flux themselves. Of course, when backing a Kickstarter project, the first concern is often ‘am I going to see the product I’m backing’? Thankfully, Flux has a solid pedigree in this regard so for once this is a Kickstarter you can enter with confidence. Taiwan based Flux was founded in 2014 with the goal of making 3D printing accessible to all. $1.6m of Kickstarter funding later saw the release of the critically acclaimed Flux Delta, a modular 3D printer that combined laser engraving and drawing. So what is the beamo? The beamo laser cutter and engraver packs a powerful 30W CO2 laser into an impressively small footprint that’s barely bigger than 4 sheets of A4 paper. It weighs in at 22Kg and it’ll fit in nicely with the most compact of homes or offices, not least because of its smart industrial design. Utilising the classic Flux approach, the design blends cutting-edge technology (pun intended) with impressive approachability, quality and functionality. While it might look like a well thought out consumer product, Beamo actually includes features only normally found in industrial-grade laser cutters including closed-loop, maintenance free water-cooling, a 1,000 DPI laser that is smaller than the width of a human hair with 0.05mm layer depth, an optional rotary add-on for engraving curved objects and even an optional diode laser and CO2 laser for improved cutting speed and efficiency. But what’s it like? By far the best way for me to review the beamo is to talk about my experience as a complete engraving / cutting / 3D printing novice. Honestly, it couldn’t have been any more straightforward. The machine comes well packed in a huge box with everything you need to get started included. Take the beamo out of the box, plug in the Wi-Fi adaptor if required, affix the extraction hose to the back with a jubilee clip (it’s just like a tumble dryer hose), plug it into the mains and turn it on. It really is as simple as that to set up. At this point the huge display on the right of the device (which looks to be Raspberry Pi powered by the way!) springs into life and you’ll quickly arrive at a straightforward touchscreen UI for controlling the machine. From here you can configure Wi-Fi details or view the Ethernet connection details, which will provide you with an IP address you’ll use to connect from your PC. On your PC or Mac you’ll need to download the Beam Studio application which connects to the beamo using the IP address displayed on your machine. A standard sample print is included (together with a small piece of wood in the box, a lovely touch!) to let you quickly and easily see the machine in action. It’s rather impressive! The sample project loads up and has a beamo logo set to engrave and a circle around it set to cut. When kicking it off for the first time and seeing the engraving in action, it’s incredibly cool and exciting, but when it cuts – wow, that’s when it really gets taken to the next level. This thing is AWESOME! After trying the demo project, setting up your own is incredibly easy. The Beam Studio app can import all types of files (including bitmaps, not just vectors), it can convert to monochrome or grayscale and it includes a wide range of presets for different types of materials. After starting the job, the display on the machine itself helps you keep track of progress and there’s a handy ‘abort’ option on the touchscreen display should things go awry. The beamo can engrave and cut cardboard, wood, bamboo, leather and acrylic and engrave fabric, rubber, cement (!), glass, stone, anode metal or stainless steel (with the diode laser). I’ve been a bit of a maniac and shoved all sorts of things in the machine from phone cases to Moleskine diaries to wallets and its handled everything with aplomb. It’s so easy to use and fun, you won’t be able to help yourself. By far my favourite beamo feature is its built in camera. This allows you to take a picture of the bed with your material in place to allow you to perfectly align your image and ensure that things get engraved or cut in the correctly place. The only other action that needs to be completed before kicking off the job is focusing the laser, which is as simple as raising / lowering the laser unit against an acrylic guide (an autofocus mod is available for an additional cost). The reviewers guide for beamo suggested keeping a fire extinguisher nearby was a good idea, which makes sense, but on the whole beamo is designed to be as safe as possible. All fumes are vented out the back by a powerful fan and the machine pauses immediately if the lid is opened. Should I buy a beamo? The $849 cost of entry for beamo is no small chunk of change, but my word, what a machine you get for your money. You’ll quickly find yourself inundated with requests from friends to engrave things and you’ll find yourself looking at everything in a new way with a ‘does it engrave’ thought in your mind. Flux have done an astonishingly good job of making laser tooling available to everyone and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend adding the beamo to your arsenal. Head on across to Kickstarter to back the campaign! View full item
  2. I dabble in pretty much every bit of tech out there, but there are two bits of tech that really interest me and I’ve never yet got involved with. The first is 3D printing (I still haven’t gone there, but I feel the time is coming) and the second is laser engraving and cutting. I’m not sure what the fascination is with the latter for me (maybe it’s the ‘freaking laser!’ factor), I’m not particularly craft or artistic, but I’ve always just thought the ability to engrave artwork onto stuff is fascinating. With this in mind, when I was asked if I wanted to review the Flux beamo, a new Kickstarter project looking to democratise laser engraving and cutting, I just couldn’t say no! Flux? Who? It’s probably worth starting with a few words on Flux themselves. Of course, when backing a Kickstarter project, the first concern is often ‘am I going to see the product I’m backing’? Thankfully, Flux has a solid pedigree in this regard so for once this is a Kickstarter you can enter with confidence. Taiwan based Flux was founded in 2014 with the goal of making 3D printing accessible to all. $1.6m of Kickstarter funding later saw the release of the critically acclaimed Flux Delta, a modular 3D printer that combined laser engraving and drawing. So what is the beamo? The beamo laser cutter and engraver packs a powerful 30W CO2 laser into an impressively small footprint that’s barely bigger than 4 sheets of A4 paper. It weighs in at 22Kg and it’ll fit in nicely with the most compact of homes or offices, not least because of its smart industrial design. Utilising the classic Flux approach, the design blends cutting-edge technology (pun intended) with impressive approachability, quality and functionality. While it might look like a well thought out consumer product, Beamo actually includes features only normally found in industrial-grade laser cutters including closed-loop, maintenance free water-cooling, a 1,000 DPI laser that is smaller than the width of a human hair with 0.05mm layer depth, an optional rotary add-on for engraving curved objects and even an optional diode laser and CO2 laser for improved cutting speed and efficiency. But what’s it like? By far the best way for me to review the beamo is to talk about my experience as a complete engraving / cutting / 3D printing novice. Honestly, it couldn’t have been any more straightforward. The machine comes well packed in a huge box with everything you need to get started included. Take the beamo out of the box, plug in the Wi-Fi adaptor if required, affix the extraction hose to the back with a jubilee clip (it’s just like a tumble dryer hose), plug it into the mains and turn it on. It really is as simple as that to set up. At this point the huge display on the right of the device (which looks to be Raspberry Pi powered by the way!) springs into life and you’ll quickly arrive at a straightforward touchscreen UI for controlling the machine. From here you can configure Wi-Fi details or view the Ethernet connection details, which will provide you with an IP address you’ll use to connect from your PC. On your PC or Mac you’ll need to download the Beam Studio application which connects to the beamo using the IP address displayed on your machine. A standard sample print is included (together with a small piece of wood in the box, a lovely touch!) to let you quickly and easily see the machine in action. It’s rather impressive! The sample project loads up and has a beamo logo set to engrave and a circle around it set to cut. When kicking it off for the first time and seeing the engraving in action, it’s incredibly cool and exciting, but when it cuts – wow, that’s when it really gets taken to the next level. This thing is AWESOME! After trying the demo project, setting up your own is incredibly easy. The Beam Studio app can import all types of files (including bitmaps, not just vectors), it can convert to monochrome or grayscale and it includes a wide range of presets for different types of materials. After starting the job, the display on the machine itself helps you keep track of progress and there’s a handy ‘abort’ option on the touchscreen display should things go awry. The beamo can engrave and cut cardboard, wood, bamboo, leather and acrylic and engrave fabric, rubber, cement (!), glass, stone, anode metal or stainless steel (with the diode laser). I’ve been a bit of a maniac and shoved all sorts of things in the machine from phone cases to Moleskine diaries to wallets and its handled everything with aplomb. It’s so easy to use and fun, you won’t be able to help yourself. By far my favourite beamo feature is its built in camera. This allows you to take a picture of the bed with your material in place to allow you to perfectly align your image and ensure that things get engraved or cut in the correctly place. The only other action that needs to be completed before kicking off the job is focusing the laser, which is as simple as raising / lowering the laser unit against an acrylic guide (an autofocus mod is available for an additional cost). The reviewers guide for beamo suggested keeping a fire extinguisher nearby was a good idea, which makes sense, but on the whole beamo is designed to be as safe as possible. All fumes are vented out the back by a powerful fan and the machine pauses immediately if the lid is opened. Should I buy a beamo? The $849 cost of entry for beamo is no small chunk of change, but my word, what a machine you get for your money. You’ll quickly find yourself inundated with requests from friends to engrave things and you’ll find yourself looking at everything in a new way with a ‘does it engrave’ thought in your mind. Flux have done an astonishingly good job of making laser tooling available to everyone and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend adding the beamo to your arsenal. Head on across to Kickstarter to back the campaign!
  3. On the 19th September, Huawei will launch the Mate 30 series of devices. In line with the companies 'tick-tock' release policy between the P series and the Mate series, we expect to see a new processor (the just launched Kirin 990) together with a doubling down on other key features - a great camera with a long zoom (rumours say that the sensor size will be significantly increased), lots of RAM (at least 8GB) and ROM (likely 256GB), an excellent OLED screen showcasing the latest 'waterfall' edge technology and as has become something of a Huawei signature, excellent battery life. As is customary, a number of new accessory announcements will also accompany the release, including an update to the Huawei Watch GT. The new phones will run Android 10... but of course, there's a problem. At the time of writing, Huawei remains on the US 'Entity List' with no exceptional licences issued, which means that American companies (including Google) are forbidden from doing business with the company in relation to new products. So what do Huawei do? The platform problem For all the talk of Android being 'Open Source', the reality is that this is a little bit of a fallacy in the majority of cases. While a bare bones version of Android is made available in the public AOSP ('Android Open Source Project') repository, this is only useful for situations where the core suite of Google software isn't required. For Amazon and their Fire devices or for handsets that will ship in China, this works. The 'missing bits' - Google Play Services, Play Store, Gmail / Photos / Drives etc. - are replaced by custom equivalents such as the Amazon Appstore or Huawei AppGallery. What about for devices that will ship in territories such as Europe where the 'Google bits' are considered essential? For these markets, there is an additional layer on top of AOSP which provides all the Google goodness. Manufacturers work closely with Google to integrate this layer and prior to release, they complete a strict certification process which deems the software build is ready. This happens not only at initial device release, but every time the software is updated. This close collaboration between a manufacturer and Google is absolutely vital and under the terms of the Entity List restrictions, can only be completed for devices that are already in the market to enable security updates and even then only for a limited period. The Mate 30 series is out of luck in this regard. So what's Huawei's plan? If it looks like Huawei is literally at the mercy of Donald Trump's whim, then that is probably a fair assessment right now. The status of the USA vs China trade war changes almost weekly and is certainly impossible to predict. With this in mind, I'm certain Huawei themselves don't actually know exactly what the situation will be when the launch event kicks off on the 19th. Press pre-briefs have been conspicuous by their absence and I am certain there are multiple contingency plans in place. So let's look at the possibilities. Option 1. Ship with Google software as normal If this is going to happen on Huawei's normal schedule (devices shipping pretty soon after announcement), then something needs to change fast. This could happen in a number of ways - Huawei could be removed from the entity list entirely (unlikely), Huawei's non-infrastructure parts could be removed from the entity list (possible) or the pending licences could be issued for Google and other companies to work with parts of Huawei (most likely). It's widely acknowledged that many US companies are lobbying the government to issue the licences because of the considerable financial impacts on US companies, but government policy is so scattergun that there's simply no way of knowing if this is going to happen. The issue would be easier to manage were the Huawei handset business to be split off from the infrastructure piece completely, which feels like a possibility in due course. Option 2. Announce with Google software as normal with the device to be released 'at a later date' This feels like the most likely option to me right now. The global launch event can go ahead as planned, the device can be released on schedule in China (no Google involvement required) and then 'once things are sorted out' then the global release can follow. But what if things don't get sorted out any time soon? What are the options? As long as Huawei needs to deal with Google as a US company, then their options are limited. But what if control of Android is no longer controlled by Google only? It's feasible that Google could transfer control of Android certification and licencing to a completely independent, non-US company that wouldn't be subject to the strict sanctions currently in place. Far fetched though this may seem, there have been discussions of this nature. Option 3. Globally release the Mate 30 series running Android but without Google services This option is also known as 'commercial suicide'. Consumers expect devices to have Google applications. Even if Google apps aren't pre-installed, there's no way that Huawei can provide a legitimate post-purchase option to get the apps onto devices, as the same restrictions that stop certification would stop Google (for example) putting their apps into the Huawei Appgallery. The same applies for every other US based app developer. The Huawei brand is already being damaged by the saga, but this approach would create a situation that I'm not sure even Huawei could come back from. I don't think this will happen. In a similar way to option 2, Google could find a way to allow the Play Store only to be licenced by a non-US company. One final option here would be for Huawei to work with a non-US, non Huawei owned app store provider, that Google also work with. For example, if a European company launched a new app store and allowed Huawei to pre-install it, and Google put their apps in it, that would be an option. Option 4. Globally release the Mate 30 running Harmony (Hongmeng) OS Is Huawei ready to ditch Android altogether? I don't think so, although I think that they genuinely will be in the future. The biggest issue is the 'app-gap' - I am certain that Huawei could do a good job on the base OS and create compelling hardware and device pricing, but people need to go and get the apps they are used to when they buy a device (just ask Windows Phone!). This approach was already on Huawei's radar, but the latest problems have hugely accelerated development and massively increased investment. Final thoughts The 19th September is going to be fascinating and the Huawei PR teams are certainly going to have their work cut out. The sad thing in all of this is that US policy is likely going to stop those of us outside of the US from enjoying the latest devices from an Android market leader. It's clear to see in the phone market today that Huawei's presence and innovation has driven the market forward to the benefit of everyone. I want that to continue and you should too. Let's hope things get sorted out soon.
  4. On the 19th September, Huawei will launch the Mate 30 series of devices. In line with the companies 'tick-tock' release policy between the P series and the Mate series, we expect to see a new processor (the just launched Kirin 990) together with a doubling down on other key features - a great camera with a long zoom (rumours say that the sensor size will be significantly increased), lots of RAM (at least 8GB) and ROM (likely 256GB), an excellent OLED screen showcasing the latest 'waterfall' edge technology and as has become something of a Huawei signature, excellent battery life. As is customary, a number of new accessory announcements will also accompany the release, including an update to the Huawei Watch GT. The new phones will run Android 10... but of course, there's a problem. At the time of writing, Huawei remains on the US 'Entity List' with no exceptional licences issued, which means that American companies (including Google) are forbidden from doing business with the company in relation to new products. So what do Huawei do? The platform problem For all the talk of Android being 'Open Source', the reality is that this is a little bit of a fallacy in the majority of cases. While a bare bones version of Android is made available in the public AOSP ('Android Open Source Project') repository, this is only useful for situations where the core suite of Google software isn't required. For Amazon and their Fire devices or for handsets that will ship in China, this works. The 'missing bits' - Google Play Services, Play Store, Gmail / Photos / Drives etc. - are replaced by custom equivalents such as the Amazon Appstore or Huawei AppGallery. What about for devices that will ship in territories such as Europe where the 'Google bits' are considered essential? For these markets, there is an additional layer on top of AOSP which provides all the Google goodness. Manufacturers work closely with Google to integrate this layer and prior to release, they complete a strict certification process which deems the software build is ready. This happens not only at initial device release, but every time the software is updated. This close collaboration between a manufacturer and Google is absolutely vital and under the terms of the Entity List restrictions, can only be completed for devices that are already in the market to enable security updates and even then only for a limited period. The Mate 30 series is out of luck in this regard. So what's Huawei's plan? If it looks like Huawei is literally at the mercy of Donald Trump's whim, then that is probably a fair assessment right now. The status of the USA vs China trade war changes almost weekly and is certainly impossible to predict. With this in mind, I'm certain Huawei themselves don't actually know exactly what the situation will be when the launch event kicks off on the 19th. Press pre-briefs have been conspicuous by their absence and I am certain there are multiple contingency plans in place. So let's look at the possibilities. Option 1. Ship with Google software as normal If this is going to happen on Huawei's normal schedule (devices shipping pretty soon after announcement), then something needs to change fast. This could happen in a number of ways - Huawei could be removed from the entity list entirely (unlikely), Huawei's non-infrastructure parts could be removed from the entity list (possible) or the pending licences could be issued for Google and other companies to work with parts of Huawei (most likely). It's widely acknowledged that many US companies are lobbying the government to issue the licences because of the considerable financial impacts on US companies, but government policy is so scattergun that there's simply no way of knowing if this is going to happen. The issue would be easier to manage were the Huawei handset business to be split off from the infrastructure piece completely, which feels like a possibility in due course. Option 2. Announce with Google software as normal with the device to be released 'at a later date' This feels like the most likely option to me right now. The global launch event can go ahead as planned, the device can be released on schedule in China (no Google involvement required) and then 'once things are sorted out' then the global release can follow. But what if things don't get sorted out any time soon? What are the options? As long as Huawei needs to deal with Google as a US company, then their options are limited. But what if control of Android is no longer controlled by Google only? It's feasible that Google could transfer control of Android certification and licencing to a completely independent, non-US company that wouldn't be subject to the strict sanctions currently in place. Far fetched though this may seem, there have been discussions of this nature. Option 3. Globally release the Mate 30 series running Android but without Google services This option is also known as 'commercial suicide'. Consumers expect devices to have Google applications. Even if Google apps aren't pre-installed, there's no way that Huawei can provide a legitimate post-purchase option to get the apps onto devices, as the same restrictions that stop certification would stop Google (for example) putting their apps into the Huawei Appgallery. The same applies for every other US based app developer. The Huawei brand is already being damaged by the saga, but this approach would create a situation that I'm not sure even Huawei could come back from. I don't think this will happen. In a similar way to option 2, Google could find a way to allow the Play Store only to be licenced by a non-US company. One final option here would be for Huawei to work with a non-US, non Huawei owned app store provider, that Google also work with. For example, if a European company launched a new app store and allowed Huawei to pre-install it, and Google put their apps in it, that would be an option. Option 4. Globally release the Mate 30 running Harmony (Hongmeng) OS Is Huawei ready to ditch Android altogether? I don't think so, although I think that they genuinely will be in the future. The biggest issue is the 'app-gap' - I am certain that Huawei could do a good job on the base OS and create compelling hardware and device pricing, but people need to go and get the apps they are used to when they buy a device (just ask Windows Phone!). This approach was already on Huawei's radar, but the latest problems have hugely accelerated development and massively increased investment. Final thoughts The 19th September is going to be fascinating and the Huawei PR teams are certainly going to have their work cut out. The sad thing in all of this is that US policy is likely going to stop those of us outside of the US from enjoying the latest devices from an Android market leader. It's clear to see in the phone market today that Huawei's presence and innovation has driven the market forward to the benefit of everyone. I want that to continue and you should too. Let's hope things get sorted out soon. View full item
  5. Any one can upload the file of honor 4x   "r7 emui style" or "r7 stock beta style" plz ,,, cause the links are broken.

  6. If the leaks and rumours are to be believed (which they are), Google are on the verge of launching 2 new Pixels, the 3a and 3a XL. Based on everything we've seen so far, these are cut down Pixel 3 homages with lower prices, lower spec processors and the same excellent camera we've come to expect from the latest Pixels. I'm all for democratising awesome photography, but I'm not convinced Google have it figured out here. Based on what we've managed to glean from the various leaks to date, the phones will come in at $479 for the XL model and $499 for the regular, both in 64GB flavours, with a 128GB storage upgrade available at additional cost. So let's look at those prices. Right now in the US the full fat 3 XL is $699 and the 3 is $599. Let's extrapolate that to UK pricing. Right now, a 3 XL in the UK is £719 and the 3 is £589. Based on that we can reasonably expect the UK prices for the 3A devices to be £469 and £389 (assuming they are available here). Those are not cheap phones by any stretch of the imagination. OK, so maybe this is the new 'high to mid tier', but I don't think this makes a lot of sense. There's also the little issue of street price. A 3 XL from John Lewis, an extremely reputable retailer, is £619, a full £100 saving over the Google Store. If you're willing to go grey import via eGlobalCentral or similar or even buy a Grade A / Refurb unit you can save even more. Is the full fat 3 XL going to be worth the £150 max delta over the 3A XL? Probably. So let's look at what do you miss out on at the lower price. The phones will likely be plastic, have smaller batteries and yes, they'll still have the 4GB RAM that seems to cause the 'proper Pixels' to be so terrible at memory management. They will of course get 3 years of OS updates and pure Android, but is that really enough? The other issue I have with the Pixels is that they just feel decidedly old-hat compared to flagships and even mid-rangers from other companies. Those bezels. The uber-notch of the 3 XL. Where's the innovation? Arguably the cameras are only so good because of Google's computation photography chops. In a nutshell, I think they should be doing better. Thoughts? Pics courtesy of evleaks
  7. Honor, the 'digital natives' Huawei spin off, have announced the first handset in their Honor 20 range, the Honor 20 Lite. The £249.99 handset arrives on May 15th, before the launch event even for its more expensive, fully featured siblings, and will be available from a wide range of retailers (but not subsidised on any networks). With its triple cameras, gorgeous colour scheme and tiny notch it ticks a lot of boxes, but what's it really like? Pretty impressive at first look is the answer. The 'Phantom Blue' blue to purple shifting colour scheme is stunning, although if you want something more subtle a 'Midnight Black' version will be offered exclusively by Carphone Warehouse for the first 6 months after release. Held next to the flagship Huawei P30 range, a lot of design cues are shared - the positioning of the camera, the curved (plastic with 8 layers of coating) back, that small notch in the 6.21" FHD+ 19.5:9 screen and of course the EMUI 9 software. Honor or Huawei, you get a very consistent software experience nowadays. Of course, at the price point there are some compromises to be hand. The Kirin 710 mid-range processor is very capable and is paired with 4GB RAM and a very generous 128GB of storage as well as offering microSD expansion. A rear fingerprint scanner is included rather than the hot new under screen version but to be honest, it's incredibly fast and works well, as does the face unlock feature, so we're pretty happy with that. What is disappointing is the continuing presence of microUSB (although you do get a 3.5mm jack as compensation and Honor tell us a large part of the market simply doesn't want USB C yet) and we were also dismayed to discover a lack of 5GHz WiFi. The 3400mAh battery should provide excellent stamina when paired with the EMUI / Pie software combo. The triple camera array compromises a 24 Megapixel F1.8 autofocus main camera, a 8 Megapixel F2.4 120 degree wide angle fixed focus camera and a 2 Megapixel camera for hardware enhanced bokeh effects. The software includes the signature AI experience which can now recognise 500+ scenarios in 22+ categories. A 6 second non-tripod super night mode is included, as the company look to cement their position as masters of low light photography. Honor know that selfies are important to their audience and have included a 32 Megapixel front facing camera on the Honor 20 Lite. We'll be updating on Twitter as we spend more time with the device, but in the meantime if you have any questions about the device, feel free to hit us up in the comments.
  8. Honor, the 'digital natives' Huawei spin off, have announced the first handset in their Honor 20 range, the Honor 20 Lite. The £249.99 handset arrives on May 15th, before the launch event even for its more expensive, fully featured siblings, and will be available from a wide range of retailers (but not subsidised on any networks). With its triple cameras, gorgeous colour scheme and tiny notch it ticks a lot of boxes, but what's it really like? Pretty impressive at first look is the answer. The 'Phantom Blue' blue to purple shifting colour scheme is stunning, although if you want something more subtle a 'Midnight Black' version will be offered exclusively by Carphone Warehouse for the first 6 months after release. Held next to the flagship Huawei P30 range, a lot of design cues are shared - the positioning of the camera, the curved (plastic with 8 layers of coating) back, that small notch in the 6.21" FHD+ 19.5:9 screen and of course the EMUI 9 software. Honor or Huawei, you get a very consistent software experience nowadays. Of course, at the price point there are some compromises to be hand. The Kirin 710 mid-range processor is very capable and is paired with 4GB RAM and a very generous 128GB of storage as well as offering microSD expansion. A rear fingerprint scanner is included rather than the hot new under screen version but to be honest, it's incredibly fast and works well, as does the face unlock feature, so we're pretty happy with that. What is disappointing is the continuing presence of microUSB (although you do get a 3.5mm jack as compensation and Honor tell us a large part of the market simply doesn't want USB C yet) and we were also dismayed to discover a lack of 5GHz WiFi. The 3400mAh battery should provide excellent stamina when paired with the EMUI / Pie software combo. The triple camera array compromises a 24 Megapixel F1.8 autofocus main camera, a 8 Megapixel F2.4 120 degree wide angle fixed focus camera and a 2 Megapixel camera for hardware enhanced bokeh effects. The software includes the signature AI experience which can now recognise 500+ scenarios in 22+ categories. A 6 second non-tripod super night mode is included, as the company look to cement their position as masters of low light photography. Honor know that selfies are important to their audience and have included a 32 Megapixel front facing camera on the Honor 20 Lite. We'll be updating on Twitter as we spend more time with the device, but in the meantime if you have any questions about the device, feel free to hit us up in the comments. View full item
  9. If the leaks and rumours are to be believed (which they are), Google are on the verge of launching 2 new Pixels, the 3a and 3a XL. Based on everything we've seen so far, these are cut down Pixel 3 homages with lower prices, lower spec processors and the same excellent camera we've come to expect from the latest Pixels. I'm all for democratising awesome photography, but I'm not convinced Google have it figured out here. Based on what we've managed to glean from the various leaks to date, the phones will come in at $479 for the XL model and $499 for the regular, both in 64GB flavours, with a 128GB storage upgrade available at additional cost. So let's look at those prices. Right now in the US the full fat 3 XL is $699 and the 3 is $599. Let's extrapolate that to UK pricing. Right now, a 3 XL in the UK is £719 and the 3 is £589. Based on that we can reasonably expect the UK prices for the 3A devices to be £469 and £389 (assuming they are available here). Those are not cheap phones by any stretch of the imagination. OK, so maybe this is the new 'high to mid tier', but I don't think this makes a lot of sense. There's also the little issue of street price. A 3 XL from John Lewis, an extremely reputable retailer, is £619, a full £100 saving over the Google Store. If you're willing to go grey import via eGlobalCentral or similar or even buy a Grade A / Refurb unit you can save even more. Is the full fat 3 XL going to be worth the £150 max delta over the 3A XL? Probably. So let's look at what do you miss out on at the lower price. The phones will likely be plastic, have smaller batteries and yes, they'll still have the 4GB RAM that seems to cause the 'proper Pixels' to be so terrible at memory management. They will of course get 3 years of OS updates and pure Android, but is that really enough? The other issue I have with the Pixels is that they just feel decidedly old-hat compared to flagships and even mid-rangers from other companies. Those bezels. The uber-notch of the 3 XL. Where's the innovation? Arguably the cameras are only so good because of Google's computation photography chops. In a nutshell, I think they should be doing better. Thoughts? Pics courtesy of evleaks View full item
  10. Nokia (or HMD Global if you prefer) have today announced a successor to the well received Nokia 7 Plus, the Nokia 7.1 (no Plus this time round). Revealed in London, the device hits UK stores on October 17th priced at £299, planting it firmly in the mid-range and while it does pack a whole host of mid-range specs, it has a number of somewhat unique features too. The 7.1's headline feature, a first for the HMD Global Nokia product line, is the PureDisplay screen, which comes in at 5.84" with a notched 19:9 ratio. The screen is optimised for HDR content (including from YouTube, Netflix and Amazon Prime) and the device also includes a dedicated co-processor which is used to convert SDR content to HDR. As expected, the phone features a Zeiss 12 Megapixel camera with a secondary 5 Megapixel for depth sensing, which is used to enable a Live Bokeh feature. EIS (not OIS) is included, together with Nokia's popular 'Pro' camera mode. Also present is the Nokia signature Bothie mode, which is easy to dismiss as a gimmick but is also in reality quite neat, now with additional enhancements including live streaming and a configurable split between the front and rear cameras (as well as picture in picture). At the heart of the device is a midrange stalwart - the Qualcomm Snapdragon 636 - which is capable if not earth shattering. It has proven a particularly frugal chip in our experience, which could be a real benefit (the battery is 3060mAh in size). We've had an initial try of the device at the launch tonight and although a full test is required, we're initially impressed. Having taken our Nokia 7 Plus along, the improvement in build quality and materials (especially on the back, which is now glass) is pronounced - and the 7 Plus certainly wasn't poorly made! The camera seems decent, performance is smooth and the screen actually is rather good. Of course, there is stiff competition at the price point (not least from the Honor Play at £279, which we are particularly fond of) but the 7.1 does make a strong case for itself, particularly if regular OS version and security updates are important to you. Nokia pledge 3 years of security updates and regular OS updates as part of the Android One programme. Stay tuned for a fuller review in the coming weeks, but let us know what you think of the device in the comments. Also check out my Twitter feed from the event for some sample pics. You can also head over to the Nokia site for more info.
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