Samsung Is Releasing A New Gear VR Headset To Accomodate Galaxy Note8

For those who watched the launch of Samsung Galaxy Note8 last night would notice that the company somehow chose not to talk virtual reality. While the ostrich that became a star during Galaxy S8 launch certainly didn’t appear last night, Samsung do have a new Gear VR headset for its equally new 6.3-inch flagship device.
As it turns out, the new Note8 is apparently too big for the existing Gear VR headset that was just launched earlier this year. Hence, Samsung has to craft a new unit to fit it even though the functions and purposes for both headsets are the same.
Size comparison: Samsung Galaxy S8+ vs Galaxy Note8.
This include backward compatibility with older Galaxy S devices, ranging from Galaxy S6 up till Galaxy S8+. For now, we don’t know if the headset will be making its way into our market or otherwise since it has yet to appear on Samsung Malaysia’s official website.
As a reference, the Gear VR Galaxy Note8 Edition is listed for USD 129.99 (about RM 557) in United States which is around the same price as per its predecessor. In Malaysia, the 2017 Gear VR headset is sold at RM 499 though – so, let’s see if the company able to retain that price tag for our market.
(Source: Samsung US via The Verge)
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Nikon D850 Brings Full-Frame 4K Recording To The Masses

A new full-frame DSLR powerhouse is in, well, the house. Nikon has announced the new Nikon D850 DSLR camera, with a whopping 45.7MP full-frame sensor that also records 4K at full-frame resolution.
The mid-tier full-frame camera from Nikon brings high-resolution images recording capabilities and high-speed capture functions into a single package. The sensor is a BSI CMOS sensor with no low pass filter that is capable to capture images at up to 7 frames per second (9 fps when used with the optional MB-D18 battery grip and EN-EL18a/b battery) at full resolution in RAW format.
The ISO performance of this camera is also very good – with a range from 64 up to 25,600 (and expandable down to 32, and up to 102,400). Focusing is expected to be sharp and on-point, thanks to the 153-point, Multi-Cam 20K AF system borrowed from the Nikon D5.
Video on this camera is another beast altogether, as it can capture 4K videos at 24/25/30p and there is even focus-peaking included for better focusing in manual mode. The videos and images can be shared in one of the two supported cards: XQD or SD.
A cool feature on the D850 is the tilt-screen, which is also touch sensitive for tap-and-capture operations. The magnesium-body of the D850 is also weather sealed, so you can snap away in just about any situation – be it at the humid race track or middle of the city.
It is set to go on sale this September worldwide, with a recommended price of US$ 3,2999.95 (approx. RM 14,120) for the body.
(Source: DPReview )
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Huawei Starts Teasing the Mate 10 While Jabbing Samsung

Huawei is expected to unveil the Mate 10 on 16 October, and leading up to the phone’s launch event, the Chinese company started posting some teasers of the upcoming flagship on its social media accounts. While doing so, the company took a few jabs at Samsung too, which just unveiled the Galaxy Note 8.
Moments before the Galaxy Note 8 was officially announced, Huawei started sharing several Facebook posts with the hashtag #beyondthegalaxy. Although the posts are relatively subtle in the beginning, the company posted the following post not too long after the Note 8 was made official.

Evidently, this is a subtle – or not so subtle – jab at Samsung. After all, the Galaxy Note 8 is the Korean company’s first smartphone with a dual-camera setup. More interestingly, however, is the image itself: it seems to be showing the silhouette of the Mate 10 complete with a dual-camera system.
On Twitter, Huawei is even more unabashed about taking a jab at Samsung. Judge for yourself with these tweets from the company.

Do bigger things? We have a bigger 20MP dual lens. #DoWhatYouWant #LeicaCamera pic.twitter.com/76RJSbWqYO
— Huawei Mobile (@HuaweiMobile) August 23, 2017

#DoBiggerThings is Samsung’s hashtag for the Galaxy Note 8’s launch.

To unpack the future you will need more than a pen. #DoWhatYouWant #HuaweiMobileAI pic.twitter.com/SdsXxGuCqj
— Huawei Mobile (@HuaweiMobile) August 23, 2017

Clearly, this is a reference to the Galaxy Note 8’s S Pen and Samsung’s unpacked event.
At the end of the day, however, a competitive atmosphere is almost always a good thing: it pushes phone makers to innovate and offer features the competition do not have. In Huawei’s case, the Mate 10 could be a more compelling smartphone than the Galaxy Note 8; we’ll find out for ourselves come 16 October.
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Asus Showcases Its ROG Strix RX Vega 56 Gaming Graphics Card

Asus has debuted what may be the world’s first custom Vega-based graphics card called the ROG Strix RX Vega 56 Gaming. It looks very similar to the company’s older Strix-branded graphics cards, featuring the same triple-fan cooling solution along with a massive all black cooler shroud. The graphics card is also equipped with LED-lit areas which are, of course, compatible with Asus’ Aura Sync.

The ROG Strix RX Vega 56 Gaming graphics card will feature technologies like MaxContact, patented Wing-Blade IP5X-certified fans, FanConnect II, Auto-Extreme, and a few others – all of which will, hopefully, allow the graphics card to perform better and be much “cooler” compared to the reference Radeon RX Vega 56. It’s worth noting that this graphics card draws power via two 8-pin power connectors.
Video output of the ROG Strix RX Vega 56 Gaming include: one DVI port as well as two HDMI and DisplayPort ports each. Interestingly, Asus also has a factory overclocked variant of this graphics card called the ROG Strix RX Vega 56 Gaming OC. This graphics card should feature slightly higher clock speeds than the non-OC variant.
Speaking of which, Asus has not revealed the base and boost clock speeds of either graphics card at the time of writing. Likewise, pricing and date of availability were not detailed either.
(Source: Asus)
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Ducky One 711 Mechanical Keyboard with 11 Different Switches Now in Malaysia for RM579

Remember the Ducky One 711 mechanical keyboard? Packed with 11 different switches and seven LED colours – no, it’s not an RGB keyboard – this unique keyboard is now available in Malaysia. Retailing at RM599 (it’s currently going for RM579 instead), the Ducky One 711 isn’t exactly an affordable mechanical keyboard, but it does come with some interesting features.
For one, the Ducky One 711 features double-shot PBT keycaps, which are generally more durable and premium compared to conventional ABS keycaps. Aside from that, the 711 (as its name suggests) also comes with 11 different Cherry MX switches: these include Red, Black, Blue, Brown, Clear, White, Green, Speed, Silent Red, Silent Black, and Tactile Grey.

Of course, Ducky didn’t just put in 11 different switches on the Ducky One 711 without thought. Keys which are often used are equipped with switches with lighter actuation points, while least used ones come with heavier switches – it makes a lot of sense.
Aside from the Ducky One 711, Ducky Malaysia also announced the availability of the Ducky Pocket and Ducky One TKL – it comes with PBT, side-printed keycaps – on our shores. Originally retailing at RM319 and RM389 respectively, these two products can be purchased for RM299 and RM359 instead during the promotion period.

According to Ducky Malaysia, all three of these products are now available from its authorised resellers in Malaysia. Considering the fact that there are only 10 units of the Ducky One 711 up for grabs in Malaysia – only 1,999 units are available worldwide – we’ll act fast if you’re interested in it.
(Source: Facebook (Ducky Keyboard Malaysia))
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Official-looking Renders Of Sony Xperia XZ1 Spotted Online

Official renders of Sony’s Xperia XZ1 have appeared online. The upcoming flagship still looks very Sony-like, as it has yet to move on from the OmniBalance design. Thanks to leaked specs, we know it will be the range topper for the company this upcoming IFA 2017.
According to a information on GFX Bench, the Sony Xperia XZ1 might be one of the first Android devices to run on Android 8.0. The accompanying benchmark lists the Xperia XZ1 as packing a 5.1-inch 1080p display, and running on a Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 chip with 4GB of RAM. Other notable specs include a 19MP rear camera sensor (likely the same MotionEye camera as on the Xperia XZ and XZ Premium), a 13MP front-facing camera, and 4K recording built-in.
A listing on Amazon shows at least two-colour variants will be made available from Sony; a very attractive purplish-pink and the typical black hue.

Something new about this iteration is the back-panel sensor array, which lies on the horizontal axis, perpendicular to the phone. It is wider than the one on the XZ Premium, due to the NFC sensor now located there rather than in the centre-back of the device.
The phone is expected to be announced this 31 August 2017, during IFA in Berlin. Look out for more information on the Sony Xperia XZ1, as well as two other models to be launched alongside this phone – the Xperia XZ1 Compact and a mid-range phone with a possible model name of Xperia X1.
(Source: PhoneArena )
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iPhone 7 Plus Dual Camera Beats the Galaxy Note 8 for One Simple Reason

I’ve been trying out the new Samsung Galaxy Note 8 for about two days now, with a keen focus on its new dual camera setup. After all, while Samsung’s excellent dual-pixel technology on its rear cameras have been class-leading, it would have lagged behind the competition if it did not release a dual camera module; as it is, Samsung is already rather late to the pack.
But within seconds of trying out the Live Focus mode – basically Samsung’s version of Portrait Mode on the iPhone 7 Plus – I was left flustered and pretty disappointed. Perhaps it was both a pity and good fortune that there was only one reason behind this negativity.
Unnecessarily Complex Operations

What irked me about Live Focus was just how unnecessarily complex the whole thing was. Here’s what it does: switching to the telephoto lens, the camera attempts to simulate depth of field effects using computational algorithms.
When the frame has a clearly defined foreground and background, textual prompts (I count three different ones so far) turn yellow (“Live Focus ready.”) to indicate there is enough depth information to enable Live Focus. A slider beneath this text lets you determine the level of bokeh, which is shown in real time as you move the slider. If you prefer, you can also edit this after the photo is taken.

Here’s how Portrait Mode works on the iPhone 7 Plus: switching to the telephoto lens, the camera attempts to simulate depth of field effects using computational algorithms. When the frame has a clearly defined foreground and background, the “Depth Effect” prompt glows from grey to yellow to indicate there is enough depth information to use Portrait mode. Tapping the shutter button captures two images: one with and another without bokeh effects.
Taking photographs has a lot to do with speed. While portrait photography understandably takes a bit more time to prep, it should not have to be this way when using a smartphone. Apple made the right call to keep Portrait mode dead simple to use, and its computational photography algorithms do all the heavy lifting. From my experience, Portrait mode has been delivering some impressive results – even if it is still labeled as a beta feature.

Meanwhile, Samsung went the complete opposite route, complicating the UX with unnecessarily long textual prompts. But the biggest sin for me is that darn slider – why would you want to adjust the effects in real time, with the full knowledge than you can do so after the image has been taken?
Imagine a scenario where you want to take a nice portrait shot of your partner, and making them hold a pose while you adjust the “perfect” depth of field. Not only is that annoying, it strips away the joy of smartphone photography, which has always been about speed and mobility.
Furthermore, the slider does not have a default or automatic setting – when you enable Live Focus, the slider will be at the point where it was last used. For the first few times you use it, it definitely feels confusing – is this what the camera algorithms suggested, or not?
Unrefined UI Design

It almost seems like Samsung was harking back to its old ways, offering features for the sake of having more features, regardless whether they may be useful or not. The bokeh effect slider is a classic example here – there’s no need for it to clutter the camera UI.
Let’s go deeper into the Note 8’s camera UI. One feature I’ve always hated using on smartphone cameras was zooming; after all, it made no difference than to crop in post anyway. But with dual camera setups with telephoto lens, a proper zoom UI suddenly becomes important. And again, Samsung falls short.

Nokia had been way ahead of its time in a lot of things, and the heart fondly remembers its early advances in smartphone cameras – and with it, its camera UI. Nokia’s Pro Camera UI for Lumia smartphones back then was not only aesthetically awesome, it was actually really functional as well. The dial-style manual controls has since been adopted by many smartphone makers.
The iPhone 7 Plus has a similar control, but adapted for a much better zooming experience. Its camera UI has a simple tiny circle that switches between “1x” and “2x”, but if you press and hold that button, a circular dial shows up that lets you slowly zoom all the way to 10x. It’s exceptionally useful when recording videos – operating zoom only needs a single finger.

Contrast this to the Note 8. While it also has a tiny circle that swiches between “1x” and “2x”, you can’t slide up or down the button to zoom beyond 2x (or between 1x and 2x, for that matter). To do that, you need to resort to pinching with two fingers before the zoom slider comes out. It’s unintuitive and primitive, and worst of all, disrupts the shooting experience – especially when recording videos.
Difference in Philosophies

This may be a little off-tangent, but perhaps these differences can be attributed to the way Apple and Android OEMs operate. While Apple has nobody in the ecosystem to fend off, Android OEMs are always adding features that they hope will differentiate themselves from other OEMs. Offering more usually means being better – when that usually isn’t the case.
In the meantime, Apple has always thrived in simplicity. iOS has many limitations that will frustrate many Android users, but as the saying goes, it just works. It’s a simple platform that (thankfully) has adapted features from Android and other platforms to make it more useful, but simplicity by design remains at the core.
In the case of the Galaxy Note 8, Samsung may have felt the need to add more features on its dual camera setup to make it look better than Apple’s Portrait Mode. The Android power user mentality may have seeped through when designing Live Focus, giving users unnecessary power over something that can better be controlled by algorithms.
All is Not Lost

But, as I mentioned earlier, it may be good fortune that the Galaxy Note 8 suffers from merely a UI/UX issue, and not an algorithm problem with the dual camera setup. I’ve tested both the Galaxy Note 8 and iPhone 7 Plus with their respective portrait modes, and it is quite clear that the Note 8’s camera yielded better outputs. Photos shot on iPhone cameras usually lack vibrancy, and it’s the same case here.
As for the depth of field algorithms, both devices seamlessly isolate subjects from the background in real time (though shooting in a crowd is a real challenge for the cameras).
Essentially, Samsung need only tweak the camera UI, because what’s underneath is already really good. Remove that slider (because it is redundant), and textual prompts need not be as long as 14 words.
Having a more intuitive zoom function would be great as well – the pinch-to-zoom gesture will soon be a decade old. There has to be an easier way, and if Apple can find it, why can’t Samsung?

As I mentioned, these are just cosmetic issues that can easily be iterated upon and pushed out via software updates. In recent years Samsung has shown a willingness to listen to feedback and move quickly from there, which leaves me feeling hopeful that things will work out. But until then, I still think the iPhone 7 Plus has the best dual camera setup.
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Report: Apple To Announce iPhone 8 On 12 September, Will Go On Sale On 22 September 2017

Apple is expected to announce its 2017 iPhones next month, but at which date exactly? According to a new report by Mac4Ever, the launch will be happening on Tuesday, 12 September 2017, and will go on sale on 22 September 2017.
Mac4Ever says that they received their information from several French telcos. It matches Apple’s iPhone launch patterns in the past few years, with the announcement set on a Tuesday or Wednesday in early September, and sales happening on Friday the following week. On top of that, Apple’s financial quarter ends on 30 September 2017, so it makes sense for the Cupertino company to release its latest iPhones before that to boost its iPhone sales figures.
iPhone 8 rumoured to come in a new copper colour option
The previous iPhone launch dates were:

iPhone 5 – announced on Wednesday, 12 September 2012 and released on 21 September 2012
iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c – announced on Tuesday 10 September 2013 and released on 20 September 2013.
iPhone 6 – announced on Tuesday, 9 September 2014 and released on 19 September 2014
iPhone 6s – announced on Wednesday, 9 September 2015 and released on 25 September 2015
iPhone 7 – announced on Wednesday, 7 September 2016 and released on 16 September 2016

Of course, the launch date applies for the first wave of launch, usually including countries like the U.S., Australia, Singapore, Hong Kong, Japan, Taiwan, and more. We Malaysians would have to wait a little longer for it to arrive at our shores.
On top of the iPhone 7s, iPhone 7s Plus and the 10th anniversary iPhone 8, Apple is also expected to announce new devices like a 4K Apple TV, and hopefully the Apple Watch Series 3 as well.
(Source: Mac4Ever via: MacRumors)
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Windows Insiders Can Now Test Windows 10 S

Windows 10 S is now being made available for Windows Insiders to test. The stripped down operating system is destined for lower powered devices in education. Of course, there are some limitations to installing the test version as well.
At the moment, the Insider build can only be installed on machines already running Windows 10 Pro or Windows 10 Enterprise Edition. It also does a completely fresh install with no data migration; meaning that people might want to be a bit more careful with testing this version.
Windows 10 S also only allows apps to be installed from the Windows Store. It’s meant to be a limiting feature for education, preventing students from getting too distracted from their work. Nevermind that there are plenty of games available on the Windows Store.
More importantly, the operating system is locked to Microsoft Edge as the default browser. Which may prove to be a deal breaker for a lot of potential buyers.
Still, the goal of Windows Insiders is to test and provide feedback on the product. Which may alter the direction of Windows 10 S if enough people complain about the same thing.
[Source: Windows Blog]
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Leak: List Of Upcoming Asus Z370-based Motherboards

While most of us are still waiting for Intel’s announcement regarding its upcoming desktop-grade 8th generation Core processors, leaks have now started to surface regarding Z370-based motherboards that will accompany them. To be more specific, folks at VideoCardz have obtained a list containing 15 upcoming Z370 mainboards from Asus.
Intel has, unfortunately, not mentioned a specific date on when it intends to launch the new 8th generation family of processors (Coffee Lake). That said, sources are expecting the launch date to be sometime in October 2017 – which should also be the time when we’ll officially see Z370 motherboards being unveiled.

That aside, Asus’ Z370-based motherboards range from those under the ROG Maximus, ROG Strix, Prime, and TUF families. ROG Maximus motherboards consists of the Maximums X Hero, Maximus X Hero (Wi-Fi AC), ROG Maximus X Apex, Maximus X Code, and Maximus X Formula.
Meanwhile, the more flamboyant ROG Strix series will feature the ROG Strix Z370-G Gaming, ROG Strix Z370-Gaming (Wi-Fi AC), ROG Strix Z370-I Gaming, ROG Strix Z370-H Gaming, ROG Strix Z370-F Gaming, and ROG Stix Z370-E Gaming. Asus’ upcoming Prime series of motherboards include both the Prime Z370-P and Prime Z370-A.

Last but not least, Asus’ “reliable” TUF motherboard series will feature two new motherboards: TUF Z370-Plus Gaming, and TUF Z370-Pro Gaming. Unfortunately, aside from their respective names, specifications, images, and prices of Asus’ upcoming Z370 motherboards were not mentioned.
(Source: VideoCardz)
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