MadeByGoogle….Pixel2 XL

So Google introduced us to the new family of Made By Google products and despite the many leaks previous, Google were able to show off a few surprises.

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Im just going to share my thoughts on one of the newly announced products and thats the Pixel2 XL.

Design, Right off the bat I’m  really really impressed, my one criticism of the original Pixel XL was that it could be underwhelming to look at but Google have addressed this with a much improved edge like design, although its not quite edge to edge like the latest S8 range or LG V30 its hugely improved. The handset still sports the glass and aluminium two tone rear signature design which is now IP67 rated and has an new coating which kind of resembles plastic but its definitely aluminium underneath.

One other notable thing when looking at the front 2.5d Gorilla glass 5 pOLED screen is that above and below it is two from firing stereo speakers……..finally.

Performance so far continues the breathtaking buttery smoothness of its predecessor and this is aided by the 4GB of ram and snapdragon 835 chipset, meaning this handset glides through anything you throw at it without so much of a hiccup or stutter.

Google Assistant has a few new tricks, not only has it contextually improved via machine learning to give you a more human conversational element it also has a brand new Google Lens aspect which is able to identify what you look at via the camera, and provide you information or action around its result. There is also a new way to action “OK GOOGLE” and thats by squeezing the sides of the phone…….yep you heard correct, its called Active edge and right now its not re-mappable to do anything else but it would be pretty sweet if that could be enabled later.

Camera has always been a big focus for google and since last year the competition has only increased. Recently DXO ranked the iPhone 8 Plus and the Note 8 top of the pile with 94 but Google has ripped back that title with a whopping 98. Now personally DXO rankings I take with a pinch of salt and my advise is not to take them as gospel, like with anything thats there opinion based on a test they created…..so its not one size fits all. What is worth noting is that high end smartphone cameras all perform superb these days, so preference plays a big part image result. A couple of really impressive new elements are portrait mode on the front and the rear, both producing amazing shots and video recording is now support with not just EIS but OIS also. Overall the Pixel 2 XL takes phenomenal images and once again Google have nailed that post processing creating clean crisp results.

Now Playing is a new lock screen feature that will activate when you are in the vicinity of music and the device will then identify the artist and track. From here you can click on the info and then you have the option to play from music source ie play or Spotify, watch the video from youtube or Vevo, or even see more info on the artist. I really like this feature as music identification is not something that been lacking from Google assistant.

Early impressions suggest that overall Google have once again produced a really impressive smartphone. I will be doing a full review once I get a retail unit but for now this could be the android phone to beat.

Let me know what you think, comments below.

 

Galaxy Note 8: The King Returns

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Unless you’ve been sleeping under a rock you know what happened with last years Samsung Galaxy Note 7, so I won’t delve into the failings of the 2016 device.

Yesterday I finally got my hands on Samsung’s latest flagship and it’s safe to say even after 24hrs……it my new favourite device.

Design

Based on the same form factor as the Galaxy S8/S8+ released earlier this year, the Note 8 continues the trend of curved super Amoled infinity gorilla glass 5 front and back which sandwich a metal frame. The overall shape has a more square look which I can only imagine is to provide more surface area for the SPen along with the curvature being less prominent when compared to the S -line.

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Cameras

Sporting a new dual camera setup, you can now take more specialised portrait photos using the tele photo lense. Both cameras have OIS along with a new live photo effect which enables you to control the bokeh effect both pre and post capture.

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I’ve always felt Samsung provided realy strong optics and with the addition of a secondary camera it’s only strengthened that trend. It’s still early days but I’m really impressed thus far and I will continue to put its through its paces over the next few weeks.

S-Pen

In essence the Note 8 shares many characteristics of the S8/S8+ but one key difference is the addition of the S-Pen. Not only has the this become a more natural writing tool it also acts as a very good navigator and selector in just day to day use as the more intricate precision is wonderful to use. With features such as screen write memo, smart select and live message to name but a few, the Spen is still a major differentiator between other OEM handsets.

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Last year the Note 7 really impressed me, until it was taken away following the issues. This year it feels like an old friend has returned and he’s bearing gifts and that’s a good thing.

There is so much to the Note 8 and I will look forward to exploring them over the next few weeks.

 

Did you order a Note 8? What are your thoughts?

 

Apple Keynote: My Reaction…

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Unless you’ve been living under a rock, Apple held  its biggest Keynote event to date yesterday, and on its 10th anniversary of the iPhone it debuted the event at the Steve Jobs Theater.

A fitting venue for what we all knew what was coming either by just following Apples’s annual pattern of previous releases or from the hundreds of leaked info regarding the new device and I do mean hundreds, some to the extent where Tech reviewers across the globe where being sent mock units based on leaked images which the majority proved 100% accurate.

Despite knowing what the device would look like I was still gassed, and on 24 hours of reflection, I wasn’t disappointed. Apple introduced 3 new handsets, the iPhone 8, iPhone 8+ and the iPhone X (pronounced 10).

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Both iPhone 8’s carry the same footprint of its predecessors the iPhone 7’s with some internal spec bumps, new colour coded variants and a glass back to support wireless charging…..yep you heard right….finally. Apple probably missed a trick here, they should of really named these the iPhone 7s and 7s Plus because in reality thats what they are, had they done that the similarity in devices could of been swallowed much easier by the press on first reaction.

The star of the show was the “One More thing” and the all new iPhone X was brought out in all its glory. Price aside, this is the story, this is the revolutionary move many wanted Apple to make years ago but didn’t and this is what will be the most desirable and elusive device Apple has ever made.

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The iPhone 8’s go on pre order on the 15th and will be available on the 22nd, the iPhone X will go on pre order 27th October and be available on the 3rd November. The X is what I will be going for, but the starting price of £999 is just madness…..I mean this is 2016 Mac book territory.

Ive include some brilliant event and device coverage video from some of the top tech reviewers in the game below, do make sure you check them out for a more in depth overview.

Did you watch the Keynote? Will you be buying one of the new device? Leave a comment below.

VERGE

MRMOBILE

JONATHANMORRISON

MKBHD

TECHRADAR

 

 

Why I keep going back to the OnePlus 5…

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It’s been well over 2 months of owning the OnePlus 5 and I have to say, it may well be one of my favourite phones of the year. What makes it so good you say, is it flagship killer features, is it the Dual Camera….for me its the package that OnePlus brings to the table. This has whats lead me to making frequent recommendations to friends and family. Let’s look at the areas I think matter.

DESIGN

Originally some said the phone was a carbon copy of the iPhone7 plus but once you get the phone in your hand, that’s where the comparisons end, in fact I prefer the design from OnePlus, from the slim overall chassis to the slim profile, the OnePlus 5 is a joy to hold and to use, and I have no trouble using the device in one hand. I also added one of the genuine carbon cases on mine and it still maintains its slim design which is also a bonus.

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SOFTWARE

Android software has always felt fragmented due to the different OEMs adding there own layer, think  touchwiz or LG UX as a sample, both have been historically terrible in regards to the smoothness when transitioning from screen to screen and also failing the test of time with lag. The Pixel set the standard last year with a buttery smooth software that just worked every which way and I think that would have to be my number one experience but firmly in second place is what OnePlus has done, the simplicity of stock with just a sprinkle of OnePlus is a wonderful blend so much so I’ve not even been tempted to add a launcher.

Weather I’m using multiple apps, streaming movies and video, music and gaming the one plus doesn’t stutter or skip a beat, it’s slick, smooth, and effortless and as yet to show any sign of lag.

BATTERY

I don’t really deal in screen on time because my usage can alter from day to day, what I do care about is will it get me through a day comfortably……and in this case the answer is absolutely. My habitual usage over a week stems from Spotify, Youtube, Netflix, Amazon videos, Audible and of course social networks along with the odd picture now and again. If you ever do get caught short you have the added bonus of the DASH charger which can only be described as ridiculous, it even makes the fast charging on Samsung or Pixel seem slow and dated.

PRICE

For me the this is the cherry on the cake, If you ignore the reduced prices on other flagships such as G6, S8 or S8+ then you have to be impressed at the £449/499 price tag, I cant think of a single other phone I would recommend above this for the price point, granted the Pixel XL has dropped to £449 but it didn’t launch at that price and its nearly 1 year old. OnePlus are also doing a current student deal campaign which means students can get a further 10% off (UK).

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Overall the OnePlus 5 really is a great device, the specs alone make it a powerhouse (Link Below) but it’s the all round package of price and user experience that really set this apart.

Do you have a OnePlus 5? How’s your experience been? Comment Below.

Full Specs

Netflix DeathNote misses the mark.

Back in October 2006 I doubt anyone really knew how successful a new show called Deathnote would become but what happened over the course of 6 months and 37 episodes was nothing short of phenomenal.

The series seemed to bridge hardcore anime fans and newcomers to the genre and it’s safe to say sparked a cult following internationally.

The story is based around an intelligent boy who discovers a notebook with the power to kill anyone who’s name is wrote in it. Light begins targetting the criminal underworld but as he uses it more and more his God complex grows leading him to believe he is an omnipotent force.

Fast forward to present day, Netflix have brought the rights and have spent 50million plus on turning the fan favourite show into a feature length movie,  a brave move in my opinion.

I watched last night hoping it wasn’t another ‘Dragonball Z evolution’ on our hands and although it wasn’t as bad……it wasn’t that good either.

Netflix DeathNote is ok at best, and I’m probably being generous because I know the original source material.

The first problem is that the pacing of the film is all wrong, too much to soon, so you never get to understand the characters let alone their story and motivations. The next big problem is the casting, bar William Dafoe as Ryuk pretty much every other character choice was a bad one with the clearest example of this being the lead, Nat Wolff aka Light Turner.

In the original Anime Light quickly embraces his new power and has a clear plan on how to make the world better, when compared to the netflix movie the character is basically a teenager struggling with the morale dilemma of this power while also far to interested in impressing his girlfriend Mia. Id even go as far as saying the love story becomes a touch Twilight in nature which just sinks the movie further.

So where do Netflix go from here…..I still believe the project has legs but more as a TV show in which all you would need to do is recast for the characters and stick to the original source material, but as for the movie it’s a complete let down.

Let me know your thoughts, did you enjoy the movie? Comments below.

Note 8: Samsung play it safe

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Samsung took the lid off their latest flagship the Galaxy Note 8 and despite it being one of the worst kept secrets in the tech community, there was still some cool stuff to be unveiled.

The device is very much the same design language of the S8/S8+ , metal frame sandwiched in QHD + super amoled infinity glass and minimal bezels.

The new rear camera was the star of the show at Unpacked with not one but two 12mp cameras on the rear, one wide the other telephoto and both with OIS. This is different to what other manufacturers have done previously and to support it you can capture images with both cameras at the same time. In theory this should provide images with more detail, but I will reserve comment until I get to sample for myself.

Battery was clearly and big area of contention after last years concerns and Samsung certainly didn’t shy away from A) what had happened and B) what they had done to rectify the issue. What stood out over the repetitive apologising and mentioning of the new 8 point safety check was that the Note 8 comes with a 3300mAh battery, when compared to the S8+ which carries a 3500mAH, that came as a surprise, but all things considered it makes perfect sense.

Overall my early impressions are positive and Im excited to have some hands on time with the device.

Check out the Samsung website for a full spec rundown and see below for a couple early hands on videos from some key tech tubers.

MKBHD

Mr Mobile

Unpacked: 8mins

Pre orders look to begin today with a launch date of the 15th Sept and a hefty £869 price tag to boot. Will you be doing a pre order? Is it worth an upgrade over the S8/S8+? please leave a comment below.

12 Hours and counting: The Defenders

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12 hours and counting till the hotly anticipated ‘Defenders’ lands on Netflix, I for one am very excited. The forming of this team of street level heroes seems like it’s taken forever from the debut Daredevil season one which landed on our screens back in 2015 and brought with it a much darker undertone from what we were use to from Marvels previous adaptations.

Daredevil was the first introduction into one of the defenders, and it’s fair to say was an instant hit and still my favourite to date. Over the the last two years we have been treated to Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, Daredevil season 2 with the introduction of the Punisher (My favourite character and many others) all equally as good and then finally Ironfist, which unfortunately was a let down when directly compared to the others.

Defenders will see the unlikely quartet all come together to fend off a new evil and save New york city and expectations are high for what should be a new benchmark in the marvel TV series.

Running order of previous shows:

Daredevil Season 1

Jessica Jones

Daredevil Season 2

Luke Cage

IronFist

Defenders

Punisher (TBC)

Will you be binge watching this weekend? What has been you favourite so far?

The New Home Phone: Google Home Update

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I’m trying to think back to the last time I owned or used a home phone, and i’m sure it was pre 2000’s. Since the rise of Mobile phones Home phones have become obsolete, in fact the only reason I currently still have a landline is because it’s still mandatory in the UK for a Broadband connection.

Well today Google began the roll out of outgoing calls on there Google Home device (US only) meaning you can now ask the device to “call mum” and it will carry out the task. As an added bonus it can actually use the voice recognition software to distinguish users, so if someone in the same household says the same thing, it will access the right contact list and call the correct person.

The extra feature of being able to access local business numbers and call them too have been added so ringing your favourite pizza joint is made easy.

Incoming calls are not yet supported along with emergency services calls, Im guessing this is because there would be no call back feature.

There is no word on when this will hit the UK but when it does, will it be something you use? Is this a return of the home phone in a digital age? Comments below.

DG

Google Allo Gets a Web Browser

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Google Allo has today landed on web browsers, for android users only. Install is very much the same as WhatsApp Web in which a QR code is utilized and scanned.

The Web version of Allo was originally mentioned back at Google I/O, but not date was given for launch.

The app app is a slight combo of WhatsApp and Viber, with plenty of stickers, Smart replay and of course Google Assistant built in.

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With Google assistant you can do things such as ask for nearest restaurant, ask random questions and even set reminders.

Is this latest update enough to sway people to switch? What’s your primary messenger service? Comments below.

Google Assistant: How much do you use it?

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I’ve been using Google Assistant for the best part of 2017 and my usage has changed quite dramatically over that period of time in tandem with some of the evolution’s of the personal assistant thus far. I first intro in Google Assistant was actually back in October 2016 when I purchased a Google Pixel XL and having previously been familiar with Siri on the iPhone I was blown away with just how contextual a voice assistant could be.

During the Honeymoon period I threw everything at it but that soon dulled down to what I call my ‘Habitual Usage’ which tends to be setting alarms, the odd search question, directions and weather reports. This is also echoed on my Google Home which I have been using since around June ’17 with the added request to play my spotify playlists.

I’m fully aware both the Google Assistant on my phone and on the Home can do so much more, but for me I find value in the little things rather than me telling it to play ‘Power’ on Netflix, I reserve that strictly for when I’m showing off to house guests :-).

The year has so far seen some nice subtle upgrades to the Assistant such as Type input, and explore whats new but one thing I would really love to see is the music identifier which resides in Google now. I feel that Google is winning the battle of the Assistants but there is still room for improvement, and I hope that with the launch of the new Pixel later this year we are introduced to some required updates.

Do you use Google Assistant or any other AI? Drop a comment below.

GD