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HUAWEI MATE 9 TAKES ON THE IPHONE 7 PLUS WITH POWERFUL DUAL CAMERAS

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The Huawei Mate 9 doesn't stray from Huawei's design philosophy: it's simple, classy and elegant, but it doesn't exactly stand out in the crowd.

The Huawei Mate 9 doesn’t stray from Huawei’s design philosophy: it’s simple, classy and elegant, but it doesn’t exactly stand out in the crowd.

Huawei’s approach turned out to be different than Apple’s. Instead of focusing on zoom, its secondary camera only took monochrome photos that were combined with the other camera’s color photos for enhanced sharpness and details.

Now, at an event in Munich, the company showed the evolution of that concept with its new phablet flagship, the Huawei Mate 9. The 5.9-inch phone has a dual rear camera with the main sensor taking 12-megapixel color photos, which are then combined with the monochrome photo taken by the other rear camera, which has a resolution of 20 megapixels.

Confused? Yes, the two sensors actually have a different resolution, with the result (in color) being a 12-megapixel photo. Huawei tells me the other, 20-megapixel monochrome photo does wonders for sharpness and detail, but the top resolution you’ll get on a color photo is 12-megapixels. You can, however, take a 20-megapixel monochrome photo, and you can also take photos with a 2x pseudo-optical zoom, though it wasn’t entirely clear to me how is this different from standard digital zoom seen (and seldom used) on basically every smartphone camera out there.

I’ve had a very brief time to try out the phone’s hybrid dual camera system prior to Thursday’s launch, and the photos are indeed very sharp, but it’s hard to say how much an improvement it is over P9’s (already very good) dual 12-megapixel cameras.

The dual cameras also let the phone do another trick from iPhone 7’s book, and that’s bokeh, the depth-of-field effect that makes the object in the front sharp and the background blurry. But Huawei Mate 9 has a slightly more advanced version of the feature, which lets you choose the level of background blurriness you want with a slider, and even apply the effect in post-processing, after you’ve taken a photo.

Other specs on the Mate 9 are unsurprisingly top-notch; the phone combines Huawei’s new Kirin 960 chipset with the latest Mali GPU, which Huawei claims results in very fast performance and top scores in multi-core GeekBench tests. It also has 4GB of RAM and 64GB of memory, stereo speakers, four microphones (which allow for some very precise sound recording) a fingerprint sensor and a 4,000mAh battery. The only line on the spec sheet that might not sound up to par is the screen’s resolution, which is full HD (Huawei has stubbornly refused to go higher than that on any of its phones). It might not look as flashy as the quad HD resolutions seen on some phones, but it also doesn’t drain so much battery, so it’s not a huge downside.

On the software side, the Mate 9 is the first Huawei device to run Android N, and Huawei’s EMUI 5.0, which now — finally — has an app drawer option, so you can make it look a little bit more like Google’s stock Android experience.

The Mate 9 has pretty thin bezels and case, but at 5.9-inches, it might be too large for some.

The phone also has a few nifty, Huawei-specific tricks. The phone uses machine learning (which stays on the device, if you’re concerned about privacy) to learn about your usage patterns and do stuff like predict which app you’re likely to open next and make sure it opens fast. As the phone gets smarter about your habits, it should also get faster over time; 80 percent faster, Huawei claims, after 16 months of use.

Huawei also claims the storage, memory and picture rendering have all been optimized for faster operation. Lastly, the phone now has a secure element called “private space” which you can use to store sensitive data, and even assign a different fingerprint for access.

Finally, a few words on the look and feel. At 5.9-inches, it’s a big phone, and even though its bezels and case are quite thin, it likely won’t be a good choice for those with smaller hands. In Europe it’ll come in two colors: silver and dark grey. It won’t win any originality contests, but combined with Huawei’s great build quality, it looks and feels premium.

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Hardwares

PIXEL SLATE’S $200 PROBLEM: ITS ‘MUST-HAVE’ KEYBOARD IS SOLD SEPARATELY

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I watched Google’s reveal of the much-leaked Pixel Slate with great interest. This was a sharp-looking Chrome OS device, with a great screen and the promise of excellent front-firing speakers. Sure, $599 felt like a lot for a quasi-Chromebook (unless you’re the even-more-expensive PixelBook), especially one that starts with an Intel Celeron processor — but I firmly believe Chrome OS can be premium and doesn’t have to be restricted to only budget PCs.

Almost every shot of the Pixel Slate showed it connected to its folio keyboard, itself a great example of high-end design with its round keys and big touchpad. It was not until the very end of Google’s Pixel Slate announcement that the ugly truth was revealed. That $599-and-up price didn’t include the keyboard, which runs an extra $199 (or a 33 percent premium).

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The new Pixel Slate and its keyboard.Sarah Tew/CNET

And if you want a stylus, that’s an extra hundred bucks on top of that. All-in, for just the lowest-end configuration, it’s a minimum of $899. That’s dangerously close to premium Windows laptop territory, where you could swing a MacBook Air or Dell XPS 13. Want to go to the top-end Core i7 model? That will take you to $1,599 before you add those accessories, per Google’s extended price list:

  •  $599 (4GB RAM, 32GB SSD, 8th Gen Intel® Celeron processor)
  •  $699 (8GB RAM, 64GB SSD, 8th Gen Intel® Celeron processor)
  •  $799 (8GB RAM, 64GB SSD, 8th Gen Intel® CoreTM m3 processor)
  •  $999 (8GB RAM, 128GB SSD, 8th Gen Intel® CoreTM i5 processor)
  •  $1,599 (16GB RAM, 256GB SSD, 8th Gen Intel® CoreTM i7 processor)

But Google isn’t the only offender padding your bill with sold-separately keyboards. I’ve reviewed nearly every Surface tablet Microsoft has ever released, and like a broken record, I bemoan the $129-and-up clip-on keyboard, which is even more of a must-have. Seriously, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a Surface Pro in the wild without a keyboard.

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Trust me, the Surface Pro works much better with its keyboard cover.Sarah Tew/CNET

Apple is another habitual offender. If there’s any doubt that the iPad Pro is primarily pitched as a screen-and-keyboard laptop replacement, just recall the company’s own “What’s a Computer?” TV spot.

 

The Smart Keyboard for the current iPad Pro is $159, plus $99 for the Pencil stylus, making the full package price just north of $900. Having used iPads of various types for productivity and content creation tasks many times previously, I can safely say a keyboard is a must-have for anything more involved than Tweeting.

I’ll even give all these companies a break on the stylus issue. Not everyone needs or uses one, and even though they shouldn’t be $100 a pop, it’s one place where you can cut a corner and still feel like you’ve got an all-day, every-day machine.

The end result is an online or real-life shopping trip that can end up being a lot more expensive than you bargained for after falling in love with an advertisement for one of these two-in-one devices. Until these companies wise up and put their keyboard accessories (often the most impressively designed part of the ecosystem) in the box with the product itself, we should all look at these starting prices as having a huge asterisk next to them.

 

Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL: What you need to know about Google’s new smartphones

Google’s Oct. 9 event: Pixel 3, new Chromecast, Pixel Slate and more

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Hardwares

THE NEW PIXEL 3’S CAMERA WILL LET AI PICK OUT THE BEST PHOTOS FOR YOU

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Google’s Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL smartphones were just unveiled this morning at an event in New York City. As expected, both phones are coming with a near-identical set of front-facing and rear-facing cameras that are powered by artificial intelligence. That allows them to do all sorts of algorithmic work behind the scenes, all powered by what Google calls its new Pixel Visual Core chip.

Among the new AI features built into the Pixel 3 camera are two new shooting modes called Top Shot and Photobooth. Top Shot uses Google’s work in image and object recognition and computer vision to analyze photos and pick the best shots in a given batch. With Top Shot, you’ll be able to capture a number of photos before and after the moment you press the virtual shutter button, while the software will pick out the best shot.

Image: Google

It’s similar to Google’s Motion Photos feature that creates GIFs from short snippets of video. You can still browse through the alternates to pick out others, Google says. Photobooth, on the other hand, takes a bunch of photos of you or your friends using the front-facing camera, but only when it recognizes that the subjects of the photo are making a funny face or smiling. You don’t need to even press the shutter.

Google also announced a feature called Super Res Zoom, which uses a burst of photos to amp resolution when you zoom into a subject, and Night Sight, which uses machine learning to artificially brighten dark spots in photos. For Pixel 3 XL owners, you’ll be able to access a wide-angle lens for a feature Google is calling Group Selfie Cam.

Some of the AI-powered software here, specifically a feature like Photobooth, was built initially for Google Clips, the company’s square-shaped photo and video capturing device that automatically operates on its own to let parents capture moments of their kids. Now, it appears that Google has taken a lot of the knowledge there and integrated it into its Pixel devices to help ease the pain of picking a photo or tinkering with all the settings to capture the perfect shot.

Since the original Pixel, the defining feature of the device line has not been its design or the relatively spartan stock Android it runs, but the camera. Using its advancements in artificial intelligence, Google was able to achieve a staggeringly capable camera that has only improved with last year’s Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL. So it makes sense that Google has put more resources toward improving the Pixel 3 camera and positioning it as one of, if not the most important, reason why you’d pick its device over an iPhone XS or a Samsung Galaxy S9 / Note 9.

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Hardwares

APPLE IS RETHINKING THE HEARING AID — AND NOW ANDROID IS, TOO

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Google is making life a bit easier for people affected by hearing loss — with official hearing aid support in Android.

On Thursday, the company announced that it’s working with GN Hearing to bring low-power hearing aid streaming support to future versions of Android. This means people will be able to connect, pair and monitor their hearing aids from their Android device.

This follows Apple’s Made for iPhone hearing aid program, which allows people to connect and control their hearing aids from iOS devices. You can read more in CNET’s feature on the Apple program here.

Although Apple was first, Google’s move has potentially bigger impact since 85 percent of the world’s smartphones run Android (compared to 14.7 percent for iOS).

A World Health Organization statistic from March says that around 466 million people worldwide have disabling hearing loss, meaning a lot of people could potentially benefit from Android’s support.

Apple and Android aren’t alone in bringing cutting-edge tech to hearing aids. Manufacturers like Bose, Oticon and Harman are also working to make hearing aids smarter with app support, built-in sensors and communication between connected smart devices.

Android’s hearing aid support is designed to have a low impact on battery life while keeping audio quality high. The nitty-gritty details about the hearing aid support can be read on Android’s spec page here.

 

 

 

Source: https://www.cnet.com/news/apple-is-rethinking-the-hearing-aid-and-now-android-is-too/

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