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Samsung Galaxy S8 Launch

Samsung just launched the Galaxy S8 and S8+ in New York and London, but is it going to be the game changing device they say it is?

Bigger screens, almost no bezel, a hidden Home button, multiple biometric sensors, a new digital assistant called Bixby, and a desktop experience (Dex) … the event was steeped in hype as expected but is this all really innovation?

The new larger curved screen, dubbed Infinity, does look great and will apparently provide higher resolution and richer colours, but it seems more of a progression rather than a revolution.

The hidden home button is not entirely new either, as Microsoft phones have this already and without the extra hardware. Samsung say it feels better though I’ll have to reserve judgement on that until I get my hands on one.

Microsoft also had the jump on Samsung with facial recognition with the Lumia 950, but there are more options here on the S8 with fingerprint, iris, and facial recognition. The demos showed an almost instant response in the unlock process, whereas the Lumia can take a few seconds to recognise the user. Choice seems to be the key on security for the S8, with pin and password bringing the total to five.

Bixby might be the game changer, context is everything when it comes to digital assistants, and it seems that this butler might be the one to smash it.

And finally … Dex …. this is a cool feature along the lines of Microsoft’s Continuum feature on the Lumia 950. This has the potential to pull the business users in, especially as Microsoft are providing all the business apps for Android devices that users will want.

Will the game be changed? I guess we’ll all find out on the 21st April.

 

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A straight look at Curved Screens and the iPhone8

Since their release, curved monitors have attracted a lot of attention. And up until today; it was rumoured that the new iPhone8 was going to have a curved display. Now ever since it has been confirmed to only be a rumour, people have gone from loving the idea of a curved screen to not being so keen on it. This makes us ask the question “Why were we so hyped for it in the first place?”

It is generally believed that a curved display will help improve your immersion with whatever you’re watching, but something often glossed over is that you have to spend up to three times more or a curved screen when you can get a perfectly normal flat one that does the same job. I can understand ramped up prices for screens that are forty inches wide, but if you want a normal 27-inch monitor it’s around 350 dollars curved. Furthermore, you have to be sat directly in front of the screen that you’re watching for a proper viewing experience. This is a huge fault as it makes viewing with family or friends nigh-on impossible. This is made even more of a problem by the next big problem. They are extremely difficult to bolt onto a wall.

Samsung has offered a solution to both theses problems with their new product, the “flexible” screen. The flexible screen allows you to quickly switch between curved and flat screens with a simple press of a button. Now, this comes with its own downside in that it is most likely going to be very expensive, especially considering that a curved screen already costs a hefty sum more than a normal screen. This means that if you are looking for a screen for the whole family, you shouldn’t get a curved screen.

That only leaves one major market for curved screens, gamers. If you’re a gamer then you don’t have the problem of multiple viewers, as you’ll be the only one on your PC. You don’t need to worry about dual monitor setups because you can but 40-inch monitors to cover your whole desk. But even this comes with its faults. Firstly, if you want to be immersed like the advertisements say, then you’ll be unhappy to know that you will have to sit unnaturally close to the screen, and even more annoying than that, nausea. Many gamers have said that prolonged exposure to curved screens can induce nausea. I think it’s safe to say that if you’re buying a curved screen for your gaming experience, then you’re a hardcore gamer, and therefore you’re bound to have at least some prolonged exposure to the PC.

This is why to go back to my original topic, I don’t think it’s a huge loss to not have a curved screen on the new iPhone8, especially considering that 256GB iPhone 7 already costs 920 pounds, and apple have already announced that they are improving the 3D touch function from the iPhone7, which is bound to drive up prices. One thing is for sure, if you aren’t glad that the iPhone 8 isn’t going to have a curved screen, your wallet will be.

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NES Remake- Built in games?

Gaming giants Nintendo have announced an upcoming remake of their first game console, the NES. The console is said to be released on November 11th 2016, and will include 30 built in classics to use instead of having a cartridge based system, these will include titles like Donkey Kong, Megaman 2 and Super Mario Bros. The console remake is of a much smaller size, so is being sold as a miniature console retailing at $59.99 on launch day. An item like this is like gold to any collector. And we can see it will be a huge hit from the feedback from Nintendo’s fan-base.

 

Nintendo say that “We wanted to give fans of all ages the opportunity to revisit Nintendo’s original system and rediscover why they fell in love with Nintendo in the first place.” this to me sounds like a great opportunity for Nintendo as they can show their younger audience some real nostalgia, and what it was like at the dawn of video gaming ages.

Classic controllers will also be sold separately for 9.99, but owners of the Wii or Wii U classic controllers will be able to use those as they are compatible with the micro console.

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Pokemon Go- Taken by storm!

Pokemon Go, a new release from Nintendo is growing more and more popular every day. It has truly struck gamers worldwide with a sensation to get out of their caves and get outside playing this new game! The game uses augmented reality to place these creatures across cities and towns worldwide, and also generating things like gyms and beacons in places of high interest to tourists and locals.

Although this seems like a lot of fun to some people, In some cases it has led to lots of trouble. Including unsightly discoveries and armed robberies. Here’s more on that.

In recent news, A 19 year old girl named Shayla Wiggins found a dead body by the Big Wind River in Wyoming. She says “I was just trying to get a water Pokemon” and “If it wasn’t for this game i probably would of never even gone down there” Despite what she found she says she will continue to play Pokemon go as if the incident had never happened.

In other news, 4 armed robbers have used Pokemon go as a lure for victims by using the Pokemon lure module feature on the app, it spawns more Pokemon in a specific area for 30 minutes at the players cost, this as acted like a trail for gamers alike to come and catch some rare Pokemon, and has resulted in an armed robbery at 2am in the morning, the result of this is that these men are now in custody. Niantic, a joint developer with Nintendo say that “We encourage all people playing Pokemon GO to be aware of their surroundings and to play with friends when going to new or unfamiliar places. Please remember to be safe and alert at all times.”

Overall despite this games immense popularity worldwide, it does have potential dangers to the wrong people and I advise people stay safe when playing the app, but also have fun playing a great game!

 

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Xbox- Project Scorpio

At the most recent E3 conference in Los Angeles Microsoft have announced their new console, the Xbox- Project Scorpio, this console is the most powerful console to date, and includes an 8 core CPU and promises 6 teraflops of processing power.

This new creation from Microsoft claims to support “Fully native 4k gaming” unlike the rest of the current generation of consoles which only support HD 1080p gaming. Along with this the new console will also offer multi platform gaming, on titles like Rocket League where you will be able to play with users from other Microsoft products. But is 4k gaming a real selling point for most home users? Probably not. Although the uprising of 4k televisions in home the vast majority of people still use a 1080p screen, making Project Scorpio of no benefit to them.

But that’s not all, at E3 this year Microsoft also announced their other new revamped console, the Xbox One S, “S” standing for slim as the console is 40% slimmer that its predecessor console, The well known Microsoft product the “Power Brick” has been removed from the system also, which would make a great selling point for users who want a clean console. It also includes a 2TB hard drive, compared to the previous 500GB and 1TB modelsThe new colour scheme of the Xbox “Robot White” as Microsoft calls it looks very aesthetically pleasing and will satisfy lots of customers who were keen on the looks of the “Sunset Overdrive Edition” Xbox One console that was white also. Although the Xbox One S doesn’t support 4k gaming, it supports 4k video playback and Blu Ray. The release date of the console is August 2016, and Project Scorpio is due late 2017.

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The new Lily bot drone

Lily is a drone that is able to follow and record you without you controlling it. And there has been up to £34 million in pre-orders.

In a Month they had sold over 60,000 Lily bots in America alone. But it has now been released worldwide for everyone to enjoy.

Lily is a round robot with blue LED lights as eyes so it is quite appealing to young people who want to buy it.

The 10.29-inch-wide by 3.22-inch-tall device can fly 50 feet up and comes equipped with a 1080p HD camera. Lily is also waterproof and all you need to do to get her started up is you throw her up into the air and as it falls it will automatically turn on. All you need is a little round disc (beacon) which comes with the bot and as you start to ride or run it will follow the signal of the disc.

 

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When will the self-driving car come ?

Google self-driving car… there’s a new car on the streets and there have only been 2 ever made.

These cars cost up to £2 million. But it is worth the price because all you have to do is when you have started to drive you put it into auto pilot and it will take over.

It can drive you anywhere at the click of a button and a voice command for where you are going on the satnav (GPS). It can’t park automatically but when you want to have a rest, you just put it on and let it drive for its self. The steering wheel also retracts so you have more room to move around and enjoy your journey.

There is a down side to the Google car though, and that is it is powered by electricity and whilst it uses all that battery power efficiently, the car still runs out relatively quickly. But that does not mean that you are not able to drive it from one part of the country to the other because it comes with its own power supply and it does that to make sure you don’t run out in the middle of no where.

 

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Thoughts on the Acer C720 Chromebook!

First introduced in 2011 the Chromebook has been around for a while and I have to say I’ve never managed to get my hands on one so after being given the chance to use an Acer Aspire C720 Chromebook, I jumped at the chance. It’s quite a nifty little machine, the boot up of the actual book is amazing (takes roughly about 2 secs to boot). The battery life seems to last forever which means no more leaving your device on charge 24/7. Signing in via your Google account is quite helpful as well.

Keeping in mind I’ve never used a Chromebook before, I have to say it only took around 2 minutes to basically discover and master all the handy little features on this. Google also gave a really informative help window which starts up when you log in for the first time, but don’t worry, if you want to visit again after closing it or shutting down, it’s simple to get back again, all you have to do is go to the bottom right of the screen, click on the mini toolbar and click on the question mark symbol. It had everything I needed to learn about when using it.

The touchpad shortcut features are extremely helpful. I’ve made a list to explain the features.

Move the Cursor Move your finger across the touchpad.
Click Press or tap the lower half of the touchpad.
Right-click Press or tap the touchpad with two fingers. You can also press and alt and click with one finger.
Scroll Place two fingers on the touchpad and move them up or down to scroll vertically or left and right to move the page horizontally.
Move between pages To go back to a page you were just on, swipe left with two fingers. To go forward to a page you were just on swipe right with two fingers.
See all open windows Swipe down with three fingers.
Switch between tabs

 

If you have more than one browser tabs open, you can switch between them by swiping left or right with three fingers.
Drag and drop Click and hold the item you want to move. while holding, move the item and release your finger to drop the item to its new location.

This Chromebook comes along with a lot of great features including, video chat and phone calls, you can also have up to 10 members in Common hangout (a better version of the app Google Hangout). Which is perfect for business when you have clients and team members to work with.

There is also a free storage app called Google Drive which gives you 15 GB of storage if personal but for work and school accounts you get 30 GB!  Although you have to pay for more, you do get free, two years of 100 GB storage when you purchase a Chromebook which is nice.

A music app which can use Spotify and sync with your iTunes by transferring your iTunes music, called Google play. It also comes with a Chrome app-store which you can find thousands of apps which can tailor to your needs (working, gaming, personal, etc). Chromebook also has its own built in photo editor and can print wirelessly using Google Cloud Print, also using Google drive you can access your own files saved locally via this app too! Another unique feature with the Chromebook is its own virus protection software and layers of security which means you don’t have to get any anti-virus software (which is always a pain, in my opinion). Plenty of customizability as well from your own wallpapers, browser theme, profile picture and the Google app store also has many apps which work with Chromebook to allow you to customise your device even further. But the best feature has to be working offline, if you have one of those rare, or not so rare, incidents where your connection drops then you can use many of the Chromebooks apps offline which means even the lack of internet connectivity won’t disturb your work. You can use Gmail, Google Docs, Calendar, Google Keep, Play movies and edit photos, there are also many apps you can use offline that you can find in the store as well!

There are a couple of things I can’t get on with like I feel the keys are quite small, I end up pressing the wrong thing half the time and the power button is centimetres away from the backspace which I have been close to pressing a bunch of times. The backspace is too small as well, as when I’ve mistyped something I’ve ended up putting a load of pluses in front of the word instead of going back, which might just take some getting used to but it is incredibly annoying.

The power and smoothness is really quite good it has an Intel Celeron 1.4Ghz processor which seems to be alright for this Chromebook, the start-up as mentioned before is amazing, loading web pages, apps and games. Although some higher spec games ran at 20fps, I preferably wouldn’t run games on this anyway as this isn’t what it was built for, but little games like Matching Jewels and whatnot works perfectly fine and that’s all that would be needed for this as I would use this for work and possibly novels/little stories. The memory is a 16GB SSD which is extremely low but storing documents on the web is a lot better as they back your documents up which means you don’t need to waste time doing that and if anything went wrong with this Chromebook you would lose absolutely nothing! One other thing I’m not 100% keen on would be, most applications for this open via the web, I would rather just use Microsoft Word or Google Docs as an application, if your internet is slow I’m sure this would affect it.

My overall opinion of the C720 Chromebook is its pretty good, it’s not for everyone but in a workplace this would be extremely suitable, start up times are perfect, loading documents and apps fine. It seems to respond fine to typing and all shortcuts on the keyboard and the touchpad. Plus, the battery life is extremely long and perfect for work time it can last over eight hours!

I think this is a nifty little machine and depending on your job a Chromebook could be perfect for you. There are dozens of Chromebooks available out there from a variety of manufacturers, some well-known, others rather obscure. The specifications vary as much as the prices, but most are a cheap computing solution for consumers and professionals alike.

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Google Glass – Where has it gone!

Some of you may be wondering where Google Glass has disappeared to, one of the most talked about techs during 2014 just up and disappeared perhaps it tried its own pair on and got lost with google maps (joking aside). The product seemed to just drop off of everyone’s radar which is extremely weird as it’s a mini computer which you can use as glasses! It sounded like an amazing idea at the time but as it started being revealed the product dropped in popularity very quickly, there were issues with privacy and security and people weren’t sure if Google could use this to spy on you. The privacy being that Google or any person who knows their tech could potentially hack into it being able to see everything you do and more, this would be very worrying and if Google could have guaranteed that it was impossible for that to happen I believe that the product would have sold like hotcakes!

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Solid State Drive maintenance

Whilst doing some upgrades and maintenance on a workstation recently, one of our team ran a Defrag on the system drive.

Once completed he rebooted the machine to continue with the upgrades, only to find the system would no longer boot. After the usual round of startup repair processes, the machine still wouldn’t boot.

To cut a long story short (too late), what my colleague didn’t know was that the system drive was in fact a Solid State Drive rather than a conventional hard drive. It would seem that the defrag process had inadvertently corrupted some of the operating system files, and obviously to the extent where a repair was not possible. Fortunately a clean install of the OS and applications got the machine back online fairly quickly, but it made us think about our policies on defragging, and what effect it might have in the lifespan of the drive

The default settings for the most recent Windows versions have scheduled defragmentation processes turned on, even if the OS is aware of the SSD being present.

Having recently swapped my own hard drive for an SSD I thought I’d check out the health of it after 12 months of wear, and was surprised to find 2% wear already. I do occasionally have to handle large files which are apparently the bane of SSD longevity, but I wasn’t expecting this amount of wear in such a short time. Although at my current wear rate and assuming I don’t file my disk any more than it is currently I should expect another 7 or 8 years out of the drive.

There is a good deal of debate on the web about SSD lifespan and whether to defrag them or not, but the overriding message does seem to be “don’t defrag”. My colleague’s experience above would seem to concur with that.

SSD’s utilise a disk cleaning process called TRIM, which clears sectors when files are deleted rather than just removing the header information or marking the sector as available. If TRIM is not used then the write performance can be impacted quite significantly as the sector has to be cleared before it can be written to.

The speed of SSD’s and the way they write files pretty much negates the need for defragging, despite some defrag tools claiming to improve performance even on SSD’s. The tools that come with SSD’s usually provide TRIM controls, provide useful information on the status of the drive, and should be installed as a matter of course.

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