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Nokia 8 Launch, Game of Thrones Season 7 Episode 6 Leaked, Jio Cashback Offers, and More: Your 360 Daily

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Nokia’s upcoming flagship Android smartphone, Nokia 8, is scheduled to launch in a few hours. The Nokia 8 will launch at 12 am on August 17 at an event in London. This smartphone takes its place above other Nokia products such as Nokia 6Nokia 5, and Nokia 3. The company will be hoping to take on iPhone 8 and Samsung Galaxy Note 8 with the Nokia 8, and we’ll find out soon whether Nokia’s ambition will be realised via this flagship smartphone. 

The Nokia 8 launch event time is 7:30pm BST (12am IST), according to invites sent by HMD Global. According to earlier leaks, the Nokia 8 runs Android 7.1 Nougat and packs a 5.3-inch QHD display; a variant with Android 8.0.0 has also been leaked online. Those rumours claimed that the smartphone will be powered by a Snapdragon 835, 4GB RAM, and 64GB storage. Leaks also expect the smartphone to feature variants with 6GB RAM and 8GB RAM. It is rumoured to feature two 13-megapixel rear cameras with optics from Carl Zeiss, and a 13-megapixel front camera is expected as well.

recent report suggests that the Nokia 8 will be priced at EUR 589 (roughly Rs. 43,400). That price puts it in a lower bracket when compared with other flagship smartphones in the market right now. It is also lower than the earlier tipped price of EUR 749 (roughly Rs. 55,300). We’ll find out more about the smartphone once it launches. With only a few hours for the Nokia 8 launch, the wait for all the official specifications and price is not too long.

Update: The Nokia 8 has been unveiled, with HMD Global announcing its specifications, price, and India release plans.

 

Game of Thrones Season 7 Episode 6 leaked online
Game of Thrones season 7 episode 6 has leaked online, after it was accidentally aired by HBO España on Tuesday night and made available on the HBO Nordic website, a full five days before its usual airing date. This isn’t part of the HBO hack from last month, but a separate incident in itself. Gadgets 360 has independently confirmed that the leaked Game of Thrones season 7 episode 6 appears to be genuine. The full version – in full-HD quality with stereo audio – is now circulating across multiple threads on Reddit.

Reliance Jio cashback offers, Vodafone’s new plan
A number of Reliance Jio cashback offers has flooded the market, but none from the company itself. Paytm, MobiKwik, Amazon Pay and PhonePe are offering cashbacks of varying values on recharges of Rs. 309 and above using certain promotional codes. On Paytm, you get cashback of Rs. 76 in your Paytm Wallet, while PhonePe provides Rs. 75 cashback in your account. First time MobiKwik users will get Rs. 159 cashback in form of SuperCash balance, while others will get Rs. 59. Amazon Pay is offering Rs. 99 balance as cashback on the first Jio recharge.

Vodafone has launched a new offer to take on Jio and its Dhan Dhana Dhan Offer. The new Rs. 348 plan has been launched in Rajasthan circle, and provides 1GB of data as well as unlimited voice calls. The validity of this new Vodafone pack is 28 days, much lesser than what Jio’s competing plans.

Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 reportedly explodes, company investigates
Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi says it has initiated an investigation after a report about an alleging Redmi Note 4 explosion was widely circulated on social media over the weekend. Bhavana Suryakiran, a resident of East Godavari district in Andhra Pradesh, was riding a bike over the weekend when the Redmi Note 4 smartphone allegedly exploded in his pocket, according to a local media report. Xiaomi said it is trying to contact the customer and is investigating the matter.

Amazon Echo Dot, Prime Music coming to India 
Amazon plans to launch Echo Dot and Prime Music in India around Diwali, sources have told Gadgets 360. People familiar with the matter have told us that Amazon India has been testing the Echo Dot at its Bengaluru office for at least one month and that the Amazon Echo won’t be available immediately after the two products mentioned above are launched. Echo Dot is a device that can listen to your voice commands and execute actions such as ordering via Amazon among others. The more expensive Amazon Echo is the one Amazon doesn’t want to launch in India immediately, according to sources.

Google reportedly paying Apple $3 billion to remain default iOS search engine
Whenever people buy a new iOS device, Google is the default search engine. That’s not a surprise, is it? What may come as a surprise is that Google pays Apple to be the default search engine on iOS devices. US-based research and brokerage firm Bernstein has saidGoogle will pay Apple nearly $3 billion (roughly Rs. 19,276 crores) this year to remain as the default search engine on iOS devices. Analyst A.M. Sacconaghi Jr. reportedly said that Apple’s iOS devices contribute about 50 percent to Google’s mobile search revenue, which would mean the company may just be ‘too scared’ to step away from the deal despite the payment.

Facebook News Feed gets a major redesign
To make its News Feed more conversational and easier to read and navigate, Facebook has made a few updates to its design, including the comment style and readability, the company said on Wednesday. Facebook separately announced it was rolling out new Facebook Camera features including the ability to go Live using the Facebook Camera – complete with creative effects. Other new features include the ability to great 2-second looping video GIFs, and the ability to create full-screen text posts.

iPhone 8 spotted in assembly line?
The iPhone 8 rumour juggernaut has continued its fine form by producing yet another bit of information about the upcoming Apple smartphone. Mockups from UX designer Maksim Petriv show how iOS 11 UI will morph the top lip bezel in different apps. The most interesting thing is the designer’s visualisation of how different apps such as Netflix, Spotify, Instagram, Twitter, App Store, and even the lock screen will look on the purported iPhone 8 display. Another leak shows videos of the iPhone 8 supposedly on the assembly line in a factory in China. We’d take all these rumours with a pinch of salt but if you’re thirsty for information about the smartphone, there’s more than enough for you to check out.

Samsung Galaxy Note 8 specs, benchmarks leak
Samsung‘s official teaser video for the Galaxy Note 8 smartphone is now live. The smartphone will be launched on August 23 and that means that the leaks are flowing thick and fast. The specifications of the handset have now been leaked via benchmark sites but there’s still some contradictory information particularly about the smartphone’s camera. The smartphone is expected to ship with the S Pen stylus, as everyone expected. One leak suggests that the rear dual camera setup on the Galaxy Note 8 will feature a 12-megapixel sensor with dual-pixel autofocus and a 13-megapixel telephoto lens, with both cameras having OIS and 2X optical zoom. This differs from the previous leaks that suggested that it will feature 3X optical zoom.

Instagram finally gets comment threads
Instagram comments have been next to unreadable for years. Back in the day, if someone tagged you on a post that had several hundred or thousands of comments, there was no way to even access that particular comment save for physically scrolling to it. Now things have come a long way and the service lets you reply to comments. However, until now it didn’t have comment threads, which actually make reading comments much easier. Now you will be able to see separate threads for comments that are replies to your comment. This avoids clutter and makes your conversations easier to read.



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Oppo Find X Review | NDTV Gadgets360.com

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Over the past few years, smartphone manufacturers have started designing devices with bigger displays and thinner bezels. One result is the switch from the traditional 16:9 aspect ratio to the now-trending 18:9 aspect ratio. Apple introduced the notch on its flagship iPhone X (Review) in order to make the screen as big as possible but still accommodate an earpiece and front camera in their usual spots, and a lot of Android manufacturers have followed suit. The notch has also become a popular feature, but now Vivo and Oppo have both showcased a new way to achieve a near all-display smartphone – moving parts.

Vivo recently introduced the Nex (Review) with an all-display front and a selfie camera that pops up when required. Oppo on the other hand has housed all the cameras and sensors of the new Find X in a module that moves up and down. Is the Find X a fancy prototype or a practical smartphone that you can actually live with? We are about to find out.

Oppo Find X Game Oppo Find X Review

 

Oppo Find X Design

The Oppo Find X has the ability to make you go ‘wow’ when you first see it. The face of this phone has thin borders all around the screen. The body has curves just like the Samsung Galaxy S9 (Review) and Galaxy S9 Plus (Review). The back is also made of glass that curves at the edges which makes the phone easy to hold. Oppo sells the Find X in two colours, Bordeaux Red and Glacier Blue. Our review unit was the former option and it is stunning to look at. The use of glass on the back makes the phone a little slippery and one must exercise caution while using it. Oppo also ships a case in the retail box but we did not receive it with our review unit. The power button is on the right while the volume buttons are to the left. Apart from those, the sides are blank. There’s a USB Type-C port at the bottom, along with a speaker grill and a SIM tray.

Dominating the front of the Find X is a 6.4-inch display with a 19.5:9 aspect ratio. Oppo calls it a Panoramic Arc Screen, and says that this phone has a screen-to-body ratio of 93.8 percent. Since the front is all screen, Oppo has positioned the ambient light sensor on the top, along with a secondary mic.

Oppo Find X Cameras Front Oppo Find X ReviewThe module pops up to reveal all the cameras on the Find X

 

Swipe up from the lock screen and the camera module slides upwards, revealing all the cameras and face recognition sensors. You can feel faint vibrations on the metal frame as a motor pushes the module up. When it is open, you can easily see the selfie camera and earpiece, but what you can’t spot are the infrared camera, flood illuminator, dot projector, and ranging sensor. These are used for face recognition, which is the only biometric method of unlocking this smartphone, and is dubbed ‘O-Face Recognition’ by Oppo. At the back, you can see dual cameras and a single-LED flash. Since the Find X lacks a fingerprint scanner, the back is plain and only has the Oppo and Find X logos.

The Oppo Find X does not have an IP rating which might be because of the moving module. We noticed that it was easy to get dust and grime on the sliding module, and you will need to clean it very often. While we cannot comment on how reliable the mechanism will be, Oppo claims that the slider has been tested over 3,00,000 times to ensure expected functionality. Overall, the phone definitely feels very futuristic.

Oppo Find X specifications, software, and features

Let’s first talk about the display, which is what makes the Oppo Find X look so appealing. The 6.4-inch AMOLED panel sports full-HD+ resolution and has vivid output. You can tweak the colour temperature and choose between natural or boosted colours. Since it is an AMOLED panel, the black levels are quite good. Brightness is adequate and the display is viewable outdoors. An always-on mode displays the current time and alerts for missed calls and messages.

At the heart of the Oppo Find X is the Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 processor which is as cutting-edge as it gets right now. It is an octa-core processor with eight Kryo 385 cores, of which four are clocked at 1.8GHz and the other four are clocked at 2.8GHz. To ensure that the processor does not face bottlenecks, the Find X has 8GB of RAM. It also gets 256GB of internal storage which is non-expandable. The Find X is a dual-SIM device and the two Nano-SIM slots are on either side of the tray, which is easy to miss at first glance. It has support for 4G and VoLTE on both SIMs.

Oppo Find X Network Oppo Find X ReviewThe Oppo Find X has support for 4G and VoLTE on both slots

 

The Find X has a non-removable 3730mAh battery and supports for the company’s proprietary VOOC fast-charging standard. Oppo ships a VOOC charger in the box. Connectivity options on the Find X include Bluetooth 5, dual-band Wi-Fi 802.11ac, GPS, and A-GPS. This phone lacks NFC, so you won’t be able to pair to other devices quickly or make NFC payments.

For optics, Oppo has gone with dual rear cameras. Its setup consists of a 16-megapixel primary sensor and a 20-megapixel depth sensor. The selfie camera has a 25-megapixel sensor.

Software on the Find X is similar to what we have seen on other Oppo smartphones. It gets ColorOS 5.1 on top of Android Oreo 8.1. There are multiple customisations which deviate from the stock Android experience. The UI does not have an app drawer and all installed apps are available on the home screens. The submenus within the Settings app have been rearranged, but we could find most settings we were looking for by using the search functionality.

Oppo has added multiple gestures that let you interact with the phone. You get the usual screen gestures that let you launch apps by drawing alphabets when the phone is in standby. Edge gestures put the curved sides to use letting you jump to a previous app by swiping down twice on the edge, or enable multitasking by swiping in the opposite direction on either edge. While the first gesture is useful, the multitasking gesture felt gimmicky. We were also happy with the display’s palm rejection, and we could operate it even with our palms touching the edges.

On-screen navigation buttons are available and you can change the order in which they appear. You also have the option to ditch the buttons altogether in favour of gesture navigation, similar to the iPhone X. There are multiple ways of customising these gestures as per your preference. We switched to gesture navigation since it liberated space at the bottom of the screen, giving us a fullscreen experience pretty much throughout the UI. Smart Call features let you answer a call by lifting the phone to your ear or switching to speakerphone when you take the phone away from your ear. These will save a couple of taps and swipes if you are on the phone quite often.

Oppo claims that its Smart Driving feature blocks notifications and reminders, and reads out a caller’s name and messages when you are driving. It blocked notifications but did not read out anything for us when we enabled it. You also get a gesture to take screenshots, and the phone does have a lift to wake feature that brings the screen to life when you pick this phone up. Dual Apps lets you run two instances of the same app such as WhatsApp and Facebook. The Find X pulses the edges of the display when you have pending notifications, which looks really cool. Sadly, Oppo still hasn’t got notifications right. You cannot dismiss them by swiping them away, and instead, you have to click a delete button every single time, which gets annoying.

Game Space is a dedicated set of options that let you control resources while you game. There are three modes; High Performance allots the maximum resources to selected games; Low Power restricts performance to save battery life; and Balance manages performance and power consumption. The Find X automatically adds games to Game Space as they are installed. When playing these games the phone frees RAM, blocks notifications and calls, and allots the maximum data bandwidth to the game.

Swipe right from the first home screen and you will see the Smart Assistant that Oppo has built in. It isn’t a full-fledged assistant like Google Assistant but it does show the weather, upcoming events, the number of steps have taken each day, and photos from your gallery. You can still summon Google Assistant for any queries you may have.

In terms of apps, you get Google apps preinstalled but you can go ahead and uninstall them. Oppo AppStore, as the name suggests, is an alternative to the Play Store. The Find X also has Facebook, WPS Office, Music Party, and a Phone Manager app. The Music Party app lets you sync multiple phones to play the same song.

Oppo Find X performance, battery life, and cameras

The Find X has powerful hardware giving it an upper hand in terms of performance. We did not notice any lag or stutter while scrolling through the menus and multi-tasking. With 8GB of RAM, the phone keeps quite a few apps in memory saving you from frequent reloading of content.

Oppo’s face recognition technology is good and failed to work only once across a period of four days. You need to swipe up from the lock screen to trigger face unlock or you can make the phone do that by simply pressing the power button. Since this smartphone uses a dot matrix projector that projects 15000 dots, and an infrared camera, it is capable of recognising faces even in pitch darkness. We tried this a couple of times at night and the phone did not disappoint us. The recognition process is quick but the camera module has to slide open each time, which means that there’s a delay.

Oppo Find X Rear Camera Oppo Find X Review

 

We ran benchmarks to gauge the Find X’s performance. It scored 2,90,838 in AnTuTu, and 2,309 and 7,961 in Geekbench 4’s single-core and multi-core tests respectively. It scored 4,646 in 3DMark Slingshot Extreme, while clocking 50fps in GFXBench Manhattan 3.1. We noticed that the phone was a little warm to the touch after a couple of races in Asphalt 9. We also played Clash Royale, Real Car Parking 2, and Alto’s Odyssey. The big display gives you an immersive experience while gaming and watching videos, and the AMOLED display does not disappoint.

The 3730mAh battery in the Oppo Find X is capable of delivering good battery life. In our HD video loop test, the phone managed to clock 13 hours and 53 minutes. With our usage comprising of active WhatsApp and Gmail accounts, an hour using Google Maps for navigation, playing games for a while, and a few calls, we still ended the day with over 20 percent left in the tank. The VOOC charger in the box has an output of 20W and is capable of charging the phone very quickly. The phone managed to charge to 34 percent in 20 minutes, and to 90 percent in an hour. The rate of charging goes down from there, it takes close to 1 hour 40 minutes to reach 100 percent.

The cameras on the Find X are hidden, which should keep them safe from scratches in the long run. Launch the camera app and the module rises up exposing the cameras. There’s no quick shortcut like double-tapping the power button on stock Android. The mechanism has a bit of play, so you will have to be careful and hold the frame when taking photos in landscape.

The camera app has Portrait, Sticker, Pano, Slo-mo and Time-lapse modes, apart from the Photo and Video modes. An Expert mode lets you adjust the white balance, exposure, ISO, shutter speed and focus manually. The Find X has AI scene recognition which helps choose settings accordingly. Oppo claims that it can recognise close to 800 scenes, and while we could not put that claim to the test, we did find that it could recognise a moire pattern and tweak the output accordingly.

There is Google Lens integration in the camera app, which can be used for image recognition. You get a quick shortcut to apply filters before taking shots, as well as AI beautification. If you don’t like the AI beautification you can switch it off or adjust it manually.

Tap to see full-sized Oppo Find X camera samples

 

The Find X is quick to gauge scenes and choose settings. It is also quick to enable HDR or switch to night mode when required. Photos taken with the Oppo Find X have excellent detail and you can make out objects at a distance. It captures colours accurately and the HDR mode allows capturing good details in the sky. In low light, the phone sets the camera up for night mode and bumps the ISO up to capture more light.

When we started testing the Oppo Find X, the photos we took had good details but a fair amount of noise. Portrait mode was slow, and edge detection was average. Using this mode with the rear camera felt buggy and slowed the camera app down. During the course of our review, the Find X received a software update that improved low-light camera performance, and the resultant images had better details. The camera also did a better job at noise reduction. Portrait mode had better edge detection and we did not encounter the same bugs that slowed the phone down earlier.

A ‘regular’ selfie

 

Selfie with Portrait lighting

 

Selfies have good edge detection and details, and the phone automatically enables HDR when required. There are also portrait lighting options which look fairly decent, but it also takes a longer time to process the output just like with the rear camera. Video recording maxes out at 4K for the primary camera while the selfie camera can record at 1080p. When shooting with the primary camera, there is stabilisation available at 1080p but 4K videos lack stabilisation.


Oppo Find X in pictures

Verdict
The use of movable parts to allow for a bezel-less display is a brave move by Oppo. The company has also done justice to this phone by using a vibrant AMOLED panel. This phone also isn’t only about showing off, as the Snapdragon 845 is the most powerful processor in Qualcomm’s stable at this point. With 8GB of RAM and 256GB of internal storage, it is in line with other flagships from leading brands.

Oppo has an uphill task of establishing itself in the new price segment that it has entered with the Find X. With the Pixel 2 (Review) twins and the iPhone X (Review) due for replacement very soon, the Oppo Find X has the Samsung Galaxy S9 (Review), Galaxy S9 Plus (Review), and Huawei P20 Pro (Review) as its main competition. This phone offers good enough hardware and features that make it stand out. Compared to the international prices of the Find X, the India pricing is quite aggressive at Rs 59,990. If you want to rock a device that is unique and are willing to pay the price, the Find X is a very good pick. But if you want to play it safe, you can opt for the Samsung Galaxy S9 instead.


Are Vivo Nex and Oppo Find X revolutionary phones or overpriced prototypes? We discussed this on Orbital, our weekly technology podcast, which you can subscribe to via Apple Podcasts or RSS, download the episode, or just hit the play button below.



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Oppo F9 Pro, Poco F1 by Xiaomi, Nokia 6.1 Plus Launched in India, and More News This Week

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Oppo F9 Pro, Xiaomi’s Poco F1, and the Nokia 6.1 Plus India launches were arguably the biggest pieces of news this week, with each of these targeting a different price point, demographic, and feature set. Starting with Oppo, the company has launched two models in its F9 series in India – the Oppo F9 and Oppo F9 Pro. While the former is priced at Rs. 19,990, the price in India of the latter is Rs. 23,990. The Oppo F9 Pro will go on sale from August 31 across online and offline retailers, while the Oppo F9 will become available to buy ‘soon’.

The only difference between the Oppo F9 and Oppo F9 Pro is the amount of RAM on board – the former has 4GB of RAM, while the latter has 6GB of RAM – both come with 64GB of inbuilt storage, expandable via microSD card (up to 256GB). The rest of the specifications of the smartphones are identical. The dual-SIM smartphones run Android 8.1 Oreo-based ColorOS 5.2, and bear 6.3-inch full-HD+ (1080×2340 pixels) displays with a 19.5:9 aspect ratio.

Powered by an octa-core MediaTek Helio P60 SoC, the Oppo F9 and Oppo F9 Pro feature a dual rear camera setup with a 16-megapixel primary sensor and a 2-megapixel secondary sensor, as well as a 25-megapixel front facing camera. They are powered by 3,500mAh batteries and support VOOC fast charging tech. Both smartphones will be available in Starry Purple, Sunrise Red, and Twilight Blue.

Oppo F9 Pro and Oppo F9 First Impressions

 

Xiaomi’s new Poco sub-brand, focused on ‘speed’, was launched in India this week, ahead of global launches in Hong Kong, Jakarta, and Paris next week. The highlights of the brand’s first offering, the Poco F1, are the fact it bears the top-end Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 SoC, while also sporting the dual rear camera design of the company’s other flagships, at a staggeringly low starting price of Rs. 20,999. It has been launched in 3 RAM/ storage capacities, with the 6GB RAM/ 64GB storage version being the base model, while the 6GB RAM/ 128GB storage model is priced at Rs. 23,999, and the 8GB/ 256GB storage variant priced at Rs. 28,999. These three Poco F1 models are available in three colour options – Graphite Black, Rosso Red, and Steel Blue.

There’s also a fourth option for the top-model – an Armoured Edition – featuring ‘real Kevlar’ on the back panel and priced at Rs. 29,999. The other models use a polycarbonate back. The Poco F1 will go on sale for the first time on Wednesday, 12pm IST on Flipkart and Mi.com. We’ve already described the innards and SKUs, but as for other specifications, let’s note that the Poco F1 runs a speed-optimised version of Xiaomi’s custom Android ROM called MIUI for Poco. Currently based on Android 8.1 Oreo, the company says an Android 9.0 Pie-based build will also make its way to the handset. Besides this, Poco has also released a launcher that can be used for other MIUI-based phones, and it’s currently available as an APK file.

Other Poco F1 specifications include a 6.18-inch (1080×2246) display with 2.5D curved Gorilla Glass 3 protection; a dual camera setup with a primary 12-megapixel Sony IMX363 sensor and a 5-megapixel secondary depth sensor from Samsung; there’s a 20-megapixel camera at the front with HDR and AI Beautify features; storage is expandable via microSD card (up to 256GB), and a 4,000mAh battery.

Xiaomi Poco F1 First Impressions

 

As we mentioned, this week, Nokia mobile brand licensee HMD Global also launched the Nokia 6.1 Plus smartphone in India. The smartphone is the global variant of the Nokia X6, that was launched exclusively in China back in May. It arrived in its present avatar in Hong Kong for the first time last month. At the New Delhi launch event, HMD Global also announced the Nokia 5.1 Plus, which similarly is the global variant of the Nokia X5, for India, saying it would become available to buy sometime in September.

The Nokia 6.1 Plus has been launched in a single RAM/ inbuilt storage variant in India – 4GB/ 64GB – and it has been priced at Rs. 15,999. It will be available in Gloss Black, Gloss Midnight Blue, and Gloss White colour variants from Flipkart and the Nokia online store from August 31, with pre-orders currently ongoing. The smartphone’s highlights include the fact that it is part of the Android One programme, giving it a Google-certified stock Android experience, complete with the promise of timely version and security updates.

 

Other specifications of the Nokia 6.1 Plus include dual-SIM (Nano) support; a 5.8-inch full-HD+ (1080×2280 pixels) display with Corning Gorilla Glass 3 protection; an octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 636 SoC; a dual rear camera setup with a 16-megapixel primary sensor and a 5-megapixel secondary monochrome sensor; a 16-megapixel front camera sensor; inbuilt storage expandable via microSD card (up to 400GB), and a 3,060mAh battery. HMD Global did not detail the Nokia 5.1 Plus price in India, but did reveal it will sport an EUR 199 (roughly Rs. 15,000) price tag.

Nokia 6.1 Plus and Nokia 5.1 Plus First Impressions

Apart from the above three highlights, major smartphone launches this week included the arrival of the Samsung Galaxy A8 Star. Without any fanfare, the South Korean consumer electronics giant on Friday launched the smartphone in the country via Amazon India. A premium Galaxy A-series smartphone, the Galaxy A8 Star is priced at Rs. 34,990, and its biggest highlights are its Qualcomm Snapdragon 660 SoC, massive 6.3-inch Super AMOLED Infinity Display, 6GB of RAM, a dual rear camera setup, and a massive 24-megapixel front camera. It will go on sale from Monday, August 27 in the country. To recall, it was originally launched as the Galaxy A9 Star in China, before being rebranded as the Galaxy A8 Star in other regions.

Samsung this week also officially launched the Galaxy Note 9 in India, though it had revealed its prices when putting it up for pre-orders right after its global launch. Online, the smartphone is available via Amazon India, Flipkart, Paytm Mall, and the Samsung Mobile Store. It is also available via Airtel, which is offering it with a downpayment of Rs. 7,900. Offline, it is available via retail partners.

This week also saw the launch of the first Android Go smartphone from Samsung. Featuring some amount of customisation over Android 8.1 Oreo (Go edition), the Samsung Galaxy J2 Core’s price has yet to be revealed by the South Korean company. It features low-end specifications, such as a 5-inch qHD display, an Exynos 7570 SoC, 1GB of RAM, 8GB of inbuilt storage, an 8-megapixel rear camera and a 5-megapixel front camera.

Chinese smartphone brand Homtom entered the Indian market this week, with three budget smartphones – the H1, H3, and H5 – priced at Rs. 7,490, Rs. 9,990, and Rs. 10,990 respectively. The company says it plans to start manufacturing in India under the Make in India initiative. Speaking of Chinese smartphone manufacturers, Oppo had another announcement to make this week – the launch of the Oppo A5 in India. The smartphone, which features a dual rear camera setup and a display notch, is priced at Rs. 14,990 (MOP) and it went on sale in the country on Saturday. It was launched in China in July.

Xiaomi Poco F1 vs Oppo F9 Pro: Price in India, Specifications, Features Compared 

Oppo this week also launched the Oppo R17 Pro and Oppo R17 in China, its latest flagship models. The former is priced at CNY 4,299 (roughly Rs. 43,800), while the latter is priced starting CNY 3,199 (roughly Rs. 32,600). To recall, Oppo had detailed the specifications of the Oppo R17 earlier this month, but only just launched both the smartphones.

Lava this week launched a new budget smartphone in India, an Android Go offering called Lava Z60s. Priced at Rs. 4,949, it will be available in Black and Gold colour options. It offers low-end specifications, such as a 5-inch HD display, a quad-core SoC, 1GB of RAM, 16GB of inbuilt storage, and 5-megapixel cameras at both the front and back.

Transsion Holdings-owned smartphone brand Infinix on Thursday launched the Note 5 in India, priced at Rs. 9,999 (MOP) for the 3GB RAM/ 32GB storage option, and Rs. 11,999 for the 4GB RAM/ 64GB storage option. It will go on sale via Flipkart from Friday, August 31. Unlike most other offerings from the company, the Infinix Note 5 is an Android One smartphone, and comes with Google offerings such as Google Assistant, Google Lens, and Google Photos pre-installed.

Another brand from Transsion Holdings made a splash in India this week – Itel – which launched three budget smartphones. The Itel A45, Itel A22, and Itel A22 Pro are priced at Rs. 5,999, Rs. 5,499, and Rs. 6,499 respectively.

Amazon’s private label brand, 10.or (pronounced tenor) launched a new budget smartphone in the country this week – the 10.or D2. The smartphone will go on sale via Amazon India, exclusively for Prime members on Monday, August 27, while regular customers will be able to buy it from Tuesday, August 28. The base model with 2GB RAM/ 16GB inbuilt storage is priced at Rs. 6,999 while the top 3GB RAM/ 32GB inbuilt storage model is priced at Rs. 7,999 variant.

 

DTH service provider Tata Sky this week introduced broadband Internet plans in what appears to be an effort to compete with Reliance Jio and its Jio Gigafiber service that opened for registrations last week. The company is offering monthly, three-monthly, five-monthly, nine-monthly, and year-long plans, starting at Rs. 999. It is offering speeds up to 100Mbps.

BSNL this week was reported to have revamped its Rs. 699 broadband Internet plan to offer 700GB of data a month at 20Mbps speeds. Once the 700GB data cap is passed, users will get speeds of 2Mbps. The state-owned telecom operator this week also unveiled a Rakhi Offer that gives buyers of Rs. 399 recharge pack unlimited calls and data for a period of 74 days.

Vodafone had a couple of announcements this week as well. First, it launched new Rs. 209, Rs. 479, and Rs. 529 plans that offer 1.5GB of data per day for 28 days, 84 days, and 90 days of validity, respectively. Next, the telecom operator launched a new Rs. 159 recharge that offers unlimited calls and 28GB of data for 28 days.

Xiaomi Poco F1 vs OnePlus 6 vs Asus ZenFone 5Z: Price, Specifications Compared

After making an announcement to the effect last month, Flipkart this month shut down its eBay India subsidiary. At the time of the announcement, the company had revealed it would soon be launching an e-commerce platform for refurbished goods that was built based on the learnings of eBay India. This week, the company has gone ahead, and launched a platform called 2GUD, currently only available on the mobile Web, but set to make its way to the desktop and also be launched as a smartphone app. The platform offers post purchase warranty ranging from 3 months to 12 months, and products will be serviced through a network of service centres across the country.

Flipkart this week held a one-day sale on Saturday, with exclusive early access from 9pm Friday for its Plus members. Called the Flipkart Superr Sale, some of the top offers included Apple iPad (6th generation) 32GB WiFi, the Google Pixel 2 128GB, the Nokia 5 16GB, the Microsoft Xbox One S 1TB bundle, the Apple Watch Series 3 42mm, the Google Chromecast 2, the Alcatel A3 10 32GB, and Moto Z2 Force 64GB.

Gamescom was happening this week, and a lot of news and updates about games came out of the event, including the announcement of the PUBG Xbox One Version 1.0 release date, as well as the Devil May Cry 5 release date. However, not everything was software, and just ahead of the gaming trade show, Nvidia launched its Turing GPU Architecture in the form of three new GPUs – the GeForce GTX 2070, GeForce GTX 2080, and GeForce GTX 2080 Ti.

Nvidia’s launch made its way into an announcement by another company ahead of Gamescom – Dell. The company unveiled refreshed Alienware 15 and Alienware 17 gaming laptops with per-key RGB lighting, while its Alienware Aurora and Alienware Area 51 gaming desktops gained Nvidia’s new GPU options. Dell also unveiled gaming monitors in 24-inch and 27-inch sizes. Alongside, Dell launched its Alienware Command Center and Alienware Training Academy.

Speaking of laptops, Chinese electronics giant Xiaomi this week unveiled a new model – the Mi Notebook. The launch follows other laptop lineups from the country, including the Mi Notebook Air, the Mi Notebook Pro, and Mi Gaming Laptop. Prices start from CNY 3,999 (roughly Rs. 40,700), and the lineup offers up to 8th generation Intel Core i7 processors.

Vivo this week was in the news for the reported launch of the Vivo Y83 Pro in the country, apart from issuing invites for the launch of the Vivo V11 Pro in India on September 6. Finally, another anticipated phone, the Vivo X23, went official in China, however, beyond its design and few features, not much is known at the moment, but more should become evident when it is launched.

Nokia 6.1 Plus vs Redmi Note 5 Pro vs Xiaomi Mi A2 vs Asus ZenFone Max Pro M1

This week, a OnePlus 6T leak pointed to an October launch for the anticipated next-generation flagship smartphone from the company. The report added that the OnePlus 6T would continue the trend of pricing the smartphone higher than the previous generation, or a marginal $21 (roughly Rs. 1,500).

Two separate iPhone leaks made their way to the Internet this week, with one report claiming that the new 2018 iPhone models will become available for pre-orders from September 14. It adds that faster wireless chargers will also make their way to the market. Meanwhile, another report claims that the models will be launched on September 12, while the LCD display variant is said to sport iPhone 7-like internals.

Former Oppo brand Realme this week made some revelations about its upcoming Realme 2 smartphone. First off, the company revealed that the Realme 2 would sport a Snapdragon 610 SoC, and be available on Flipkart this time around – to recall, the Realme 1 was an Amazon India exclusive. Later, the company revealed that the Realme 2 would have a priced tag below Rs. 10,000, and be powered by a 4,230mAh battery. The smartphone will launch in New Delhi at an event on Tuesday, August 28 – something that was also announced this week.



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Google’s Project Stream to Let You Stream Games Like Assassin’s Creed Odyssey in Chrome

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Google has announced Project Stream. It’s a new video game streaming service designed to allow high-end PC and console games to be played via Chrome. You can sign up for Project Stream now to test the service and there’s no concrete launch or release date for it just yet. The first game that will be playable on Project Stream is Assassin’s Creed Odyssey from Ubisoft. The game is officially available on October 5 and it will be playable through Chrome with Project Stream. No end date for this Project Stream test has been revealed just yet. In order to access Project Stream you need to be residing in the US and have a 25Mbps connection along with a computer running Windows, macOS, Chrome OS, or Linux. The company recommends the use of controller such as the PS4 DualShock 4 controller or the Xbox One controller.

“The idea of streaming such graphically-rich content that requires near-instant interaction between the game controller and the graphics on the screen poses a number of challenges,” writes Google Product Manager Catherine Hsiao in a post on the company blog that details the reasons for choosing a game like Assassin’s Creed Odyssey. “When streaming TV or movies, consumers are comfortable with a few seconds of buffering at the start, but streaming high-quality games requires latency measured in milliseconds, with no graphic degradation.”

It’s unclear if Project Stream is related to Yeti, a rumoured streaming service in the works at Google that may include a controller and console. It could also work with Google Chromecast. According to The Information, the search giant is planning for a serious foray into game streaming, which is currently a nascent market.

This won’t be the only version of Assassin’s Creed Odyssey available via a streaming service. The Nintendo Switch version which is exclusive to Japan is another. As such, it has its own pricing structure: JPY 730 (about Rs. 470) per day or JPY 8,400 (about Rs. 5,440) for two years. If you’re wondering what’s up with the latter, that’s because it comes close to the full price of the game on other platforms: JPY 9,072 on PS4 and Xbox One. It’s the second game to use streaming on the Nintendo Switch, the first being Resident Evil 7.

It’s no coincidence then that Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot has been talking up the benefits of game streaming prior to this announcement, going as far as to say the PS5 and next Xbox are the last-generation of consoles.

“I think we will see another generation, but there is a good chance that step-by-step we will see less and less hardware,” Guillemot said to Variety. “With time, I think streaming will become more accessible to many players and make it not necessary to have big hardware at home.

“There will be one more console generation and then after that, we will be streaming, all of us.”

According to him, that the ability to stream AAA games to more screens was one of the biggest innovations coming in the game industry.

“It is going to help the AAA game industry grow much faster,” he said. “We have to work on the accessibility of those games, to make sure they can be played on any device, but the fact that we will be able to stream those games on mobile phones and television screens without a console is going to change a lot of the industry.”

He thinks that experiments such as Nvidia’s GeForce Now will continue to evolve and become legitimate options.

“There are quite a few people that are working on streaming, like Nvidia,” Guillemot said. “So, we think it’s a trend and that it will continue to evolve. Eventually, the technology will improve dramatically, which will allow us to have a very smooth experience in the big cities of the world.”

In his vision of the future he believes that streaming will eventually be better than using a console or a PC.

“Technology is actually going in that direction. The machines will be more powerful and the system to transfer data will be more efficient, so at one point, we will have a better experience streaming something than having to buy a machine and change the machine regularly,” Guillemot said in conversation with IGN.


If you’re a fan of video games, check out Transition, Gadgets 360’s gaming podcast. You can listen to it via Apple Podcasts or RSS, or just listen to this week’s episode by hitting the play button below.



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Nokia 8 Unveiled, Xiaomi Redmi Note 5A Launch, Asus ZenFone Zoom S in India, and More: Your 360 Daily

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After months of rumours, HMD Global finally launched Nokia 8 flagship smartphone. In terms of design, there are no real surprises here as it’s pretty much the same phone as we saw in all the leaks. However, we now have details about Nokia 8 pricing, availability and some of its ‘unique’ features. The Nokia 8 will be available “globally” in early September at a price of EUR 599 (approximately Rs. 45,000). An HMD Global representative told Gadgets 360 the Nokia 8 India launch will be in early October, and the Nokia 8 price in India will be known closer to launch.

Nokia 8 vs OnePlus 5 vs Samsung Galaxy S8: Price, Specifications, Features Compared

The unibody Nokia 8 is built out of 6000-series aluminium, is IP54 rated and boasts of a new feature dubbed ‘bothie’. What the latter feature essentially does is let you take a picture or video from both, the front and the rear camera, at the same time. The viewfinder splits into two screens for video feed from the front and rear camera. You’ll also be able to livestream a bothie to Facebook and YouTube. The smartphone is powered by a Snapdragon 835 SoC, 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage. There are dual 13-megapixel rear cameras with Carl Zeiss optics.

 

Xiaomi Redmi Note 5A launch set for Monday
Xiaomi’s next Redmi Note smartphone, the Redmi Note 5A, has been confirmed to launch on Monday. The company revealed that the Xiaomi Redmi Note 5A will be announced at an event in China on Monday at 7:30pm China Time. From al the leaks till now, Redmi Note 5A is widely expected to come in two variants: one featuring the fingerprint sensor at the back while another missing the feature. It may feature a 5.5-inch HD display, and will be powered by Snapdragon 425 processor paired with 2GB of RAM and 16GB of inbuilt storage.

Asus ZenFone Zoom S launched in India, ZenFone 4, ZenFone 4 Pro​ unveiled 
On the eve of World Photography Day, Asus unveiled the ZenFone Zoom S in India at a price of Rs. 26,999. The phone sports a dual camera setup at the back comprising of two 12-megapixel sensors  with f/1.7 aperture. The setup has a 25mm wide-angle main lens paired with a zoom lens that offers 2.3x true optical zoom and 12x of total zoom. 

Asus also announced the ZenFone 4 series in Taiwan, which includes the ZenFone 4ZenFone 4 ProZenFone 4 Selfie and Selfie Pro. While the ZenFone 4 Selfie family sports dual front cameras, the ZenFone 4 family sports dual rear cameras. Three of the four smartphones are powered by mid-range SoCs, with the ZenFone 4 Pro the flagship model featuring a Snapdragon 835 SoC. All four run Android 7.1.1 Nougat with the company’s ZenUI 4.0 on top.

Xiaomi to open Mi Home store in Delhi-NCR to boost offline sales
Xiaomi will open the doors of its first Mi Home store in Delhi-NCR later this week as part of its efforts to boost its offline sales. This store is part of the company’s plan to have its smartphones in 1,500 stores across 30 cities by year-end. At present, it is present in 600 stores in 11 cities. For now, most of the smartphones are being sold at the same online sticker price, but in some cases, the price differs by a “few hundred rupees,” he said. Xiaomi India head Manu Kumar Jain told Gadgets 360 the craze for tablets is very low in India, thus the absence of its tablets in the country. On the other hand, it is still exploring whether the Mi Notebook Air is a good fit for the market.

BSNL unveils new double data, talk time, roaming benefits for prepaid subscribers 
Ever since Reliance Jio entered the telecom space, things have never been more competitive. As part of its Independence Day offers, BSNL has announced full talk-time on low priced recharges like Rs. 20, Rs. 40, Rs. 60, and Rs. 80. Coming to data, there is a Rs. 78 plan which offers 1GB of data validity for five days. These benefits and all other voice/SMS, Special Tariff Voucher (STV) and Combo Voucher benefits through different plans are applicable to the user even when they are on national roaming moving forward.

HBO Twitter, Facebook accounts hacked 
HBO just can’t seem to catch a break off late. On Wednesday night, the networks Twitter and Facebook accounts of over a dozen HBO shows were hacked by a group claiming to be OurMine. The message, “Hi, OurMine are here, we are just testing your security ,HBO team please contact us to upgrade the security – ourmine .org”, was posted across both social media platforms around 8pm Pacific Time (8:30am IST). OurMine has become notorious for hacking into high-profile social media accounts. The hacked accounts belong to popular shows such as Game of Thrones, Last Week Tonight, Silicon Valley, Veep, Girls, Ballers, and The Leftovers, among others, along with HBO’s itself. This continues with the series of misfortune for the company, which saw the two Game of Thrones season 7 episodes leaked this year.

Some Apple employees may quit over new ‘open’ office floor plan
Apple’s new state-of-the-art campus is projected to be completed by the end of this year, but some employees aren’t as excited as you’d think they’d be. The new office will introduce an ‘open’ office space which will have programmers, engineers, developers and other employees, all working together. Jon Gruber, a podcaster and blogger that follows the company, says having received emails from employees who threatened to leave the company if the workplaces aren’t suitable.

Samsung S8 reportedly best-selling Android phone in Q2 2017
The Samsung Galaxy S8 (Review) has been selling extremely well ever since it were released earlier this year but a new report from Strategy Analytics has claimed that the handset has managed to become the top shipping Android smartphone in Q2 2017. Though referring to shipments, the report also called the Samsung Galaxy S8 the ‘top selling’ Android smartphone. Samsung managed to ship 10.2 million units of Galaxy S8 and 9.0 million units of Galaxy S8+, together accounting for 19.2 million units, during the second quarter of 2017, as per Strategy Analytics report.

LG V30 seen from all sides in new leaked renders
LG is all set to launch its V30 smartphone at IFA in Berlin, but as always, the leaks never cease. A fresh leak suggest that the big highlight is its dual camera setup at the back, and the almost bezel-less display in the front. Tipster Evan Blass has shared the LG V30 render on Twitter, and knowing his track record, this render could portray a fair picture of the official product at launch two weeks later.

Facebook shut down ‘FB Anon’ internal chat platform 
Launched in 2015 for employees to anonymously voice their concerns, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg shut down an anonymous online chat platform in late 2016 after it was increasingly used to talk about the US presidential candidates and ‘harass’ the company’s employees. According to the report, the online discussion group inside Facebook where employees conversed anonymously turned ugly and transformed the forum into a hub for political comments.





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Microsoft Surface Laptop Review | NDTV Gadgets360.com

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We waited years for Microsoft to launch its Surface tablets in India, and it’s taken even longer for the Surface Book and Surface Laptop to arrive. This family of devices is meant to showcase Windows to the best possible extent – they’re all unapologetically premium, but more than that, they’re genuinely fresh and interesting. Microsoft is competing with its own partners by pushing out PC hardware, and is emphasising design and engineering to set itself apart. It’s pretty obvious that Apple’s success integrating hardware and software has influenced this strategy.

Of all the Surface devices, the Surface Laptop is the most conventional. It isn’t a 2-in-1, and it doesn’t have a fancy engineered hinge or kickstand. It’s meant to strike a balance between portability and productivity, and will appeal to those for whom the Surface Pro with its keyboard cover won’t cut it.

Interestingly, Microsoft had students in mind when it first launched this laptop over a year ago in the US. There’s a lot to go through, so let’s get started.

Microsoft Surface Laptop design

Everyone who sees photos of the Surface Laptop will want to know how its fabric deck feels, and honestly, it isn’t easy to describe even though we’ve used it before on the Surface Pro’s Type Cover. Alcantara is a material that’s 68 percent polyester and 32 percent polyurethane, and it’s a bit like suede with a slightly waxy coating. It isn’t perfectly smooth, but it doesn’t have the texture of cloth either. It didn’t fray or come undone even when we scratched it hard, and it’s moulded like plastic around the keyboard tray. The Alcantara extends all the way to the edges of the deck and is pinched down, leaving room for a fingernail to help you lift the lid when it’s closed.

The material is supposed to be resistant to spills and stains, and Microsoft even says it can be cleaned with warm water and mild soap, two things we wouldn’t want anywhere near a laptop. We can’t yet say how well it will hold up to long-term use, especially for people who tend to use their gadgets while eating.

It’s worth pointing out that the fabric has one major downside – it’s permanently stuck on to the metal chassis. The only way to replace or repair anything on the inside of this laptop is to rip the layers apart with a knife, and there’s no putting it back together after that. In fact, when the Surface Laptop first launched in the USA, it famously received a repairability index score of zero from iFixit.

microsoft surface laptop keyboard ndtv surface

 

As for the rest of this laptop, it’s fairly minimalist but still very noticeable. The lid has a simple matte aluminium finish, but with a prominent and highly reflective Windows logo in the centre. Microsoft has said that it isn’t bringing the Burgundy, Cobalt Blue, or Graphite Gold options to India, which is a pity. The lid is pretty thin and it does bend and flex under pressure, but surprisingly there’s no distortion whatsoever on the screen. The hinge is sunken and completely hidden under the fabric layer. It feels firm, and at least on our brand new unit, the lid didn’t fall even if it was left just barely open. Overall, despite its waif-like appearance, the Surface Laptop seems to be built very well.

The lack of connectivity will be a huge concern for many buyers. The Surface Laptop is even more minimalist than the MacBook Air, with only a single USB 3.0 port, a 3.5mm audio socket, and a Mini-DisplayPort for video output. There isn’t even an SD card slot. Many ultraportables are light on ports, but the Surface Laptop isn’t even that thin or light. In this day and age we would have expected USB Type-C and preferred Thunderbolt 3, but most people will be fine with the far more common Type-A standard.

Your only relief comes in the form of Microsoft’s Surface Connect Port, the tab-like slot on the right used by the bundled charger, which also supports Microsoft’s Surface Dock. This accessory will give you four more USB 3.0 ports, two more Mini-DisplayPorts, Gigabit Ethernet and another audio output, but it’s listed for Rs. 17,560 online in India, which is an absurd amount to pay.

The ports are also a little hard to reach thanks to the Surface Laptop’s inward-slanting sides. Slotting the charger into the narrow Surface Connect Port in particular is an extremely fiddly process, and we wound up having to lift the laptop and bend over to see exactly what we were doing each time.

Next to the ports on either side of this laptop are white patches that look a lot like the antenna lines that are now common on smartphones. They stand out quite distinctly, and unfortunately they look like additional ports or slots that have been blanked out.

microsoft surface laptop powerbutton ndtv surface

 

The keyboard has one major quirk, which is the placement of the power button. Microsoft obviously wanted the Delete key to be in the corner above the Backspace key, but we found ourselves still likely to hit the power button by accident. It also isn’t flatter or stiffer than the keys surrounding it, which would have been the obvious precaution to take. The Fn row has been displaced by the paging keys and various shortcuts, but you can swap the keys’ primary and secondary roles by simply tapping the Fn modifier once, which is quite convenient.

The Surface Laptop is only 14.47mm thick at its thickest point, and weighs only 1.25kg. It’s super portable and super convenient to whip out of a sling bag or backpack. The only thing you get in the box with the Surface Laptop is its proprietary 44W charger, and we love its integrated USB port. You might not have enough ports on the laptop itself, but you can at least charge your phone on the go. However, we found the power cable to be a bit too short.

microsoft surface laptop usb ndtv surface

 

Microsoft Surface Laptop specifications and software

Microsoft is selling the Surface Laptop in five different configurations, ranging in price from Rs. 86,999 to Rs. 2,33,999. At the bottom of the stack you get an Intel Core i5-7200U CPU with integrated Intel HD Graphics 620, 8GB of RAM, and a 128GB SSD. The top-end variant has a Core i7-7660U processor with Intel Iris Plus Graphics 640, 16GB of RAM, and a 1TB SSD. This is a pretty wide range, and so the Surface Laptop competes with premium thin-and-light models including the MacBook Air as well as luxury laptops and 2-in-1s such as the Lenovo Yoga 920 and Dell XPS 13 9370. It’s worth noting that these 7th Gen Intel Core processors are nearly two years old and significantly weaker than current offerings. It’s also surprising that Microsoft has launched such expensive variants here but not the entry-level ones with Core m3 processors and 4GB of RAM.

We’re reviewing the variant priced at Rs. 1,14,999, which has the Core i5, 8GB of RAM, and 256GB of storage. Considering that the RAM and SSD are soldered to the motherboard and there’s no access to them anyway, you’re going to want to account for future needs right from the start. Upgrades are simply not possible.

The touchscreen measures 13.5 inches diagonally but has a unique old-school 3:2 aspect ratio. Microsoft chose this squarish shape for its Surface tablets, and it makes sense when trying to use a device in portrait or landscape. While the look is consistent here, it isn’t necessarily useful. You might think of it as extra vertical space or reduced width. It isn’t the best choice if you watch a lot of videos or need to work on two documents side by side, but it works well for general productivity.

The resolution is completely non-standard at 2256×1504, and makes for a density of 201ppi. Windows 10 scales to 150 percent by default and we found this to be comfortable and crisp. This might not be a 2-in-1, but the touchscreen can still come in handy. We didn’t wind up using touch a lot, but it’s always nice to have. The Surface Pen is supported, but won’t be particularly comfortable to use.

One thing that we don’t often see even on premium laptops is an ambient light sensor, which means that brightness adjusts itself automatically. Above the screen is also a 720p webcam and the sensors needed to support Windows Hello face recognition. Stereo speakers are embedded beneath the keyboard. Microsoft isn’t publishing an exact battery capacity, but iFixit has discovered that it’s a 45.2Whr unit. It’s rated for 14.5 hours of video playback which is impressive on paper, but we’ll see shortly how well it really performs.

Our review unit was running Windows 10 Pro. The Surface Laptop was initially meant to ship running Windows 10 S, a reduced-functionality version of Windows. Somewhat like Windows RT, Windows 10 S made Edge and Bing the default Web browser and search engine respectively, without any ability to change them. Users could also only install apps from the Windows Store rather than just downloading anything they like. This was meant to usher users into an iOS-like walled garden, but due to massive backlash, this edition of Windows has been discontinued. Instead, the Surface Laptop ships with Windows 10 in “S Mode”, which behaves the same. This mode can be disabled at no cost – as long as you find an option that’s buried within the Microsoft Store app. With no clear direction, this might confuse a lot of buyers who just want to download Google Chrome or any other common software.

microsoft surface laptop left ndtv surface

 

Microsoft Surface Laptop performance

The Surface Laptop is very easy to carry around and just pop open anywhere you want to get work done. Its keyboard is the right size and has decent key travel, but felt a little too mushy for our liking, and also flexed in the middle. Still, we were able to type quickly and accurately within no time. The white backlighting is also subtle and useful, and there are three brightness levels to choose from. Although the trackpad is large and smooth, the mechanism is stiff and shallow. It also seemed to decide that we were right-clicking more often than we actually wanted to.

We got used to the 3:2 screen without even realising it. It’s great for reading Web pages and working on Word documents. There are of course thick black bands when watching most video content, and this can be quite distracting because of how reflective the glass is. The biggest problem we faced was with games – some titles simply aren’t designed to scale to non-standard aspect ratios.

The screen is bright and vibrant, and pretty much every video file and stream we tried to watch looked great. We had a problem with video stuttering when we first unpacked the Surface Laptop, which turned out to be due to a missing driver. A quick trip to Windows Update sorted that out in a few minutes.

General performance was pretty much faultless. We had no trouble at all with multiple heavy sites open in browser tabs, with other programs running in the background. Our usual benchmarks gave us decent results for a mainstream laptop. PCMark 10 put up a score of 2,969, Cinebench R15 managed 124 and 334 points in its single- and multi-core tests, and POVRay ran its standard benchmark in 6 minutes, 56 seconds.

Graphics tests and games did not do as well, thanks to the basic integrated graphics capabilities of the Intel CPU. Unigine Valley gave us just 16.6fps on average, at 1920×1080 and using the Medium preset – but it ran stretched to fill up the whole screen. We tried the touch-friendly Age of Empires: Castle Siege from the Microsoft Store, and it ran perfectly well.

We ran Rise of the Tomb Raider’s built-in benchmark at 1920×1080 and it stretched itself to fill the screen. We got just 8.16fps at 1920×1080 using the Low preset, and scaling down all the way to 1024×768 gave us just 15.78fps, which was not only unplayable but looked awful. Doom has an aspect ratio control, but the only resolution available at 3:2 was the native 2256×1504 which is way too high for this GPU to handle. The game did run letterboxed 1280×720, but we only got 15-25fps in real-world gameplay, meaning that modern 3D games are completely out of the question.

While the Surface laptop was practically silent even under heavy load, the keyboard deck did get quite warm. The wrist rest area was fine, but the keyboard itself became quite toasty, especially in the upper middle.

Finally, we come to battery life. The Surface Laptop’s 14.5-hour claim seems to be accurate. We started our day with a full battery. With casual Web surfing and typing plus a bit of video streaming with the screen brightness adjusted automatically, we were only down to about 85 percent in two hours, and we were able to get through a full 8-hour workday before running out of power. The Battery Eater Pro stress test ran for 2 hours, 27 minutes with the screen brightness set manually at 50 percent, which isn’t bad at all for a thin and light laptop.

microsoft surface laptop rear ndtv surface

 

Verdict
Microsoft has designed a very good-looking laptop. It delivers solid performance for everyday tasks, as well as great battery life, while still being slim and light. It feels extremely premium and will definitely grab eyeballs. However, the focus seems to have been a bit too narrow. The looks come at the cost of common usability issues such as only having a single USB port and not being able to upgrade or replace any parts. We think this laptop would be best suited for frequent travellers who care more about work than entertainment.

The most polarising thing about the Surface Laptop is its Alcantara fabric surface. Throughout our review period, we kept evaluating how we felt about the texture and finish, and we have to say that we weren’t exactly bowled over. If you type for a long time, you might not like the texture against your wrists. We wouldn’t miss it at all if it was gone, and we definitely wouldn’t pay extra for it.

That brings us to the matter of pricing, which could also severely restrict the appeal of this laptop. You can do better in terms of portability or performance, or even get a more flexible 2-in-1 for Rs. 1,14,999. In fact, the Lenovo Yoga 730 at exactly the same price has a better processor, double the storage, and two Thunderbolt 3 ports (but an inferior full-HD screen) and still weighs just 1.12kg. You could also consider the Dell XPS 13 9370 and HP Spectre x360 which come in at comparable prices.

The most affordable variant with Intel Iris Plus graphics comes in at Rs. 1,44,999 which puts it right up against the much more appealing Lenovo Yoga 920. It’s also very hard to imagine paying Rs. 2,33,999 just to get 1TB of storage space – for that kind of money you could buy the much more impressive Microsoft Surface Book 2. With that said, there’s a lot to like about the overall package, if you can afford the price.

Microsoft Surface Laptop
Price: 
Rs. 1,14,999 (as reviewed)

Pros

  • Bright, sharp screen
  • Very light and thin
  • Good performance for everyday tasks

Cons

  • Only one USB 3.0 port
  • Gets a bit warm with heavy use
  • Impossible to upgrade or repair
  • Expensive

Ratings (out of 5)

  • Design: 4
  • Display: 4
  • Performance: 3.5
  • Software: 4
  • Battery life: 4.5
  • Value for Money: 3
  • Overall: 4



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Rare Apple 1 Computer to Be Auctioned, May Fetch Over $300,000

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The original Apple 1 computer, which is still fully functional, is set to go on sale in September and could fetch more than $300,000 (roughly Rs. 2.1 crores), the media reported.

Designed by Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak in the 1970s, the rare computer is being auctioned by Boston-based RR Auction and is one of the only 60 of such computers known to still exist today.

RR Auctions is preparing to take bids on a functioning, late Byte Shop-style Apple-1 model, with the expectation that it will go for more than $300,000. That’s about the same you can expect to pay for the speedy and sexy 2019 Aston Martin DBS Superleggera, among many, many other awesome things, CNET reported late on Sunday.

Apple Computer 1, also known later as the Apple I, or Apple-1, is a desktop computer released by the Apple Computer Company in 1976.

The auction lot would include not just the motherboard but also the original manual and a period-style monitor and keyboard to fire it up to showcase how powerful an Apple computer was in 1976.

Apple 1 expert Corey Cohen restored the machine earlier in 2018 and has officially given this particular computer an above average 8.5/10 rating, according to Mashable.



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Harry Potter Video Game Footage Leaked, ‘Magic Awakened’ and ‘Magic Forever’ Possible Titles

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Footage of what appears to be a Harry Potter game currently in development was leaked Tuesday, which shows a character creation screen, exploring areas such as Hogwarts’ Great Hall, potions and spells, and running around from third-person perspective. The video has since been taken down after Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment filed a copyright claim, suggesting the footage is indeed from a game, which has been confirmed by reports.

A Reddit user with the handle ‘VapeThisBro’ (whose account doesn’t exist anymore) uploaded the leaked footage to YouTube on Tuesday, claiming they recorded it after being asked to take part in a focus group study at a mall. The video was accompanied by marketing blurb, which says that the Harry Potter game is an ‘open-world action RPG’ which will be set in the 19th century and follow a character who gets late acceptance to Hogwarts, in the fifth year.

The Forbidden Forest will have an important role to play in the all-new original story that is “separate from the books or films”, it adds, involving someone known as Professor Elezar Fig. Players will able to choose from eight different Wizard classes as they go up against dark wizards and goblins, while being free to pick their own house and choose “a path of good or evil”.

Eurogamer and BBC News have since confirmed the project’s existence. The former revealed that Utah, US-based Avalanche Software, the studio behind the now-defunct Disney Infinity series, is working on the Harry Potter game and that it’s still “at least a year away” from release. BBC reporter Lizo Mzimba tweeted later that several titles are being considered including ‘Harry Potter Magic Awakened’ and ‘Harry Potter Magic Forever’.

Mzimba added that other Harry Potter video games are “also thought to be on the way”. We are already aware of one: Pokemon Go developer Niantic is working on Harry Potter: Wizards Unite, which is expected to release sometime next year. It all forms a part of J.K. Rowling’s expansion of her Wizarding World, including the stage play Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, the controversial Fantastic Beasts film universe, and the launch of Portkey Games under Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment that gave us the terrible Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery earlier this year.


If you’re a fan of video games, check out Transition, Gadgets 360’s gaming podcast. You can listen to it via Apple Podcasts or RSS, or just listen to this week’s episode by hitting the play button below.





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Lenovo K8 Note India Sale, Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017) & Galaxy A7 (2017) Price Cuts, and More: Your 360 Daily

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The Lenovo K8 Note (Review) went on sale in India for the first time today, following its unveiling last week. The K8 Note is available exclusively on Amazon in India, and if you manage to buy one, you can choose between Black and Gold colour options. The next sale will be held on August 25. The Lenovo K8 Note variant with 3GB of RAM and 32GB of storage is priced at Rs. 12,999, but you can spend just Rs. 1,000 more for 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage. During the launch sale, buyers were offered a discount on Moto Sports headphones, up to 80 percent off on Kindle ebooks, and a special Idea tariff pack from Idea which includes 64GB of 4G data and unlimited calls for 56 days for Rs. 343.

The Lenovo K8 note has a 5.5-inch full-HD screen and dual rear cameras. It is powered by a deca-core MediaTek MT6797 SoC, and has a 4000mAh battery. It is a dual-SIM phone with a separate microSD card slot, and supports 4G VoLTE as well as Wi-Fi ac. It also runs Android 7.1.1 with no custom UI, in a first for Lenovo.

 

Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017), Galaxy A7 (2017) get price cuts in India
Samsung has officially cut the prices of its recently launched Galaxy A5 (2017) and Galaxy A7 (2017) smartphones. The Galaxy A5 gets a reduction from Rs. 26,900 to Rs. 22,900, while the Galaxy A7 goes from Rs. 30,900 to Rs. 25,900. Samsung hopes that this move will boost sales during the Indian festival season. The two phones were launched in India in March this year, originally priced at Rs. 28,990 and Rs. 33,490 respectively. The phones sit well below Samsung’s premium Galaxy S8 models, but offer relatively premium specifications and designs.

Xiaomi claims exploding Redmi Note 4 was damaged by impact
Xiaomi has released preliminary findings from its investigation into an incident in which a Redmi Note 4 allegedly caught fire in a man’s pocket in East Godavari, Andhra Pradesh, causing burns on his thigh. According to the company, the fire was most likely the result of an “extreme external force” applied to the device. Xiaomi says it was able to retrieve the device from the affected man after negotiating for a week, and that damage to the rear cover, battery and screen all indicate that such force was applied. According to initial reports, the man was riding his bike when he felt the phone burning in his pocket, and he immediately stopped and threw it away from him.

BSNL launches its own mobile wallet
State-owned telecom operator Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) has launched its own mobile wallet, developed by and co-branded with Mobikwik. The company hopes that its 100 million customers will use it to pay bills and transact online, expanding the reach of mobile commerce to rural and semi-urban parts of the country. Users can book bus tickets, make purchases, and pay bills through the wallet app, without using cash. The public-sector telco has stated that over 1.5 million merchants are already able to receive payments using the BSNL wallet.

Infosys CEO resigns due to pressure from co-founder
Vishal Sikka has resigned from Infosys with immediate effect, a little over three years after taking over as CEO and MD. He will, however, continue to remain Executive Vice Chairman of the company, while COO U.B. Pravin Rao will take over as interim CEO. Sikka reportedly quit because of “false, baseless, malicious and increasingly personal attacks” that he has sustained over several months, which he added were undermining all the good work that has been done and taking all the passion and excitement out of his job. The Infosys board has put out a statement expressing regret and distress over Sikka’s decision, calling the attacks unfounded and demonstrably false. A new CEO will be appointed by the board by March 31, 2018.

Asus promises Android O updates for ZenFone 4, ZenFone 3 series smartphones
Asus has announced it will provide Android O support for last year’s ZenFone 3 smartphones, along with the new ZenFone 4 models released recently. Smartphones of both series will receive the update by the first half of 2018, the company says. ZenFone 3 models running older versions of the ZenUI skin will also be upgraded to ZenUI 4.0, which is said to be lighter and have less bloatware, but still add new features such as the ability to run two instances of some apps.

Micromax launches Evok Dual Note, continues teasing Infinity series
Micromax has launched a new model called the Evok Dual Note. The device is exclusive to Flipkart, and boasts of dual rear cameras along with a front flash. It is priced at Rs. 9,999 and features a 5.5-inch full-HD screen, MediaTek MT6750 SoC, 3GB of RAM, and 32GB of storage. A variant with 4GB of RAM has also been announced, but its pricing and availability are not yet known. The device supports 4G with VoLTE and runs Android 7.0.

Micromax also continues to tease its upcoming Canvas Infinity smartphone, which seems likely to have a taller 18:9 screen and narrow borders. The new model is set to be launched on Tuesday. Anyone interested in the launch can register for updates on Micromax’s website. No prices or other specifications are known yet.

Coolpad Cool M7 launched, new India flagship coming soon
Coolpad has launched its Cool M7 model in China. The device features a slim body with a single rear camera, a 5.5-inch full-HD screen with curved-edge glass, dual-SIM support, a Snapdragon 625 SoC, 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage. The company has not said anything about plans to launch this device in India. However, the company will be unveiling an unknown “flagship” device in India on Sunday. Teasers suggest that it will have a metal body and 6GB of RAM. Coolpad is also promising “sturdy sophistication” and will probably target style-conscious buyers with this new device.

Xiaomi Mi Mix 2 rumoured to feature 3D face recognition
Xiaomi’s upcoming Mi Mix 2 is set to improve upon its predecessor in a number of ways, one of which could be the addition of a 3D face recognition feature. Screenshots purporting to be from this device have appeared on the Internet, and indicate that a head-shaped silhouette will be displayed on the screen when the phone is trying to authenticate users’ faces. The device could launch as soon as next month, and is expected to have a 6.4-inch borderless screen plus a Snapdragon 835 SoC, a 4500mAh battery, and up to 8GB of RAM with 256GB of storage.

Google’s Project Treble coming to older phones
Project Treble, Google’s attempt to fix Android ecosystem fragmentation, is coming to existing smartphones later this year. The software framework was initially pitched as a feature for Android O devices, but it has not been announced that smartphone manufacturers are working on supporting existing models. Google’s own Pixel devices are going to benefit from Project Treble, but no third-party names have been confirmed yet. Project Treble will allow Android updates to be delivered quickly and without much disruption, and should allow for simpler and more frequent updates, thus fixing the problem of relatively modern phones being left behind.

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Salt and Sanctuary Nintendo Switch Review

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Salt and Sanctuary for the Nintendo Switch hits the hybrid console two years after its PS4, PS Vita, and PC release. It’s a 2D action platformer that borrows liberally from Dark Souls. Made by Ska Studios, who have been responsible for some Xbox 360 indie classics like Charlie Murder and The Dishwasher: Dead Samurai, Salt and Sanctuary follows the developer’s edgy, violent design aesthetic and features hand-drawn characters.

Like most games inspired by Dark Souls, the focus in Salt and Sanctuary is on exploration and combat instead of storytelling. Sure, there’s a plot of sorts, which has you shipwrecked on an island in search of a princess, but it just serves an excuse to traipse around an island filled with sinister dungeons and cursed monuments. Where it differs from its inspiration is in traversal. There are more than a few platforming sections and your progress isn’t just dependent on your combat skills but in your ability to hop across chasms. Furthermore, Salt and Sanctuary has some variance in combat, allowing you to juggle enemies in the air while slashing them to bits like in the Devil May Cry games and there are certain abilities that can let you glide through the air with ease.

While these embellishments freshen things up a bit, they also layer an all too familiar fighting system. Much like Dark Souls, you’ll need to anticipate when to land an attack, when to parry, and of course, when to dodge thanks to your character’s complex animations that you need to wind up before striking a blow or deflecting a hit. You’ll collect salt, which aids you in levelling up, and can use sanctuaries – just as you would use bonfires in Dark Souls – to upgrade your abilities. Dying has you losing all your accumulated salt and items and you can regain them once you defeat the enemy that killed you the first time around. All of this results in gameplay that’s similar to Dark Souls, which isn’t a bad thing at all.

queen of smiles nintendo switch nintendo_switch

Apart from this, you can populate sanctuaries with merchants and blacksmiths, granting you to get better gear as you keep playing. Throw in a skill tree not too dissimilar to Final Fantasy X’s sphere grid as well as a full set of elemental magic to try out as well as the ability to upgrade weapons and armour independently, and there’s enough to keep you progressing through its gritty, twisted world.

However, Salt and Sanctuary isn’t without its failings. There’s no map. Coupled with its 2D sprawling level design, it’s easy to get lost. Plus, there’s little information on character classes. Outside of any knowledge you might have of warriors, knights, and mages, the lack of details makes it tough for newcomers to decide what to pick. Also, in handheld mode, the game’s text is a bit too small to read. This isn’t a problem when playing in docked mode on a big screen though. And it doesn’t help matters that the Nintendo Switch’s Joy-Con buttons feel too small either, making use of a Pro Controller mandatory.

As derivative as it may sound, Salt and Sanctuary is an enjoyable romp on the Nintendo Switch thanks to its entertaining combat. It’s good enough to warrant checking it out despite some concerns. With Dark Souls for the Nintendo Switch missing in action, Salt and Sanctuary is an enjoyable way to get your Souls fix.

Pros

  • Gritty looks
  • Polished combat
  • Multiple progression paths

Cons

  • No map
  • Game text too small in handheld mode
  • Character classes could have more information

Rating (out of 10): 8

Gadgets 360 played a review copy of Salt and Sanctuary for the Nintendo Switch. The game is available via Steam, PS Store, and Nintendo eShop right now at $17.99 (around Rs. 1,238). It will be available as a physical cartridge on the Nintendo Switch via Leadman Games later in the year.


If you’re a fan of video games, check out Transition, Gadgets 360’s gaming podcast. You can listen to it via Apple Podcasts or RSS, or just listen to this week’s episode by hitting the play button below.



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