Google’s Portrait Mode Is Now Available To Most Android Smartphones

Google’s impressive Pixel 2 Camera app with its single-lens Portrait Mode is now available on phones running Samsung’s Exynos processors. This third party solution is part of an effort to get the Portrait Mode from the app working on phones that don’t necessarily have the dual-camera setup to simulate a shallow depth of field.
The latest port of the Google Camera App also features the highly-praised HDR+ mode for high dynamic range images. Although, there are drawbacks when running on hardware that isn’t optimised for the process. The portrait mode is not available for selfies, and the app may take some time to process images.
Developers have been working to port the Camera App since the Pixel 2 became available to the public. Earlier builds were already working on Qualcomm powered devices, but this is the first time that it has successfully been tweaked to run with Samsung’s Exynos processors.

Getting hold of the port requires the user to download and install a third party app. It’s not exactly something that everyone would do, but it may be worth the effort to add a little more to your phone’s camera. Just don’t expect it to have a smooth and seamless performance. This is, after all, a third party port.
(Source: XDA-Developer via PhoneArena )
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CES 2018: Sony’s MP-CD1 Projector Is Small Enough For Your Pocket

Sony has announced a compact projector designed for mobile users. The MP-CD1 is smaller than a modern smartphone, yet is capable of projecting images up to 120 inches in size on any wall.
The projector uses Texas Instruments’ DLP IntelliBright technology to help boost brightness without compromising image quality. This is thanks to complex algorithms and advanced image processing built into the projector itself.
Powering the projector is a 5000mAh battery which can be charged with the included 3A adapter for fast power top-up. Better still, Sony is using a USB Type-C plug so the projector can share the same cable as your smartphone; one less cable to carry around.
It boots up in 5 seconds for speedy operation, and thanks to a standard HDMI port, it can accept just about any input device in the market. Plus the optional wireless HDMI adapter enables wireless connectivity with smartphones and other playback devices. The dongle is powered by USB so it can even be powered by the projector directly without any external cables whatsoever. The projector also supports direct smartphone connectivity via MHL.
The Sony MP-CD1 is expected to go on sale in Spring 2018, with a suggested price of US$399.99 (RM1,588).
(Source: Android Police)
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CES 2018: vivo Showcases First Phone with In-screen Fingerprint Sensor

As expected, vivo is demonstrating the first smartphone with an in-screen fingerprint sensor right here at CES 2018. For the most part, it works just like a conventional fingerprint sensor, only you don’t actually see the sensor – it’s really quite impressive.
Made in collaboration with Synaptics, the fingerprint sensor will only be “visible” when it is needed; a fingerprint icon will be shown on the display whenever the sensor is active. Users will then only need to place their fingerprints on top of the icon for authentication.

What’s particularly impressive here is the fact that this isn’t just a demonstration of the technology. According to vivo, the in-screen fingerprint sensor will be available on a ready-to-produce smartphone soon. In fact, it’s set to be released sometime in early 2018.
Considering the timeline set out by vivo, there’s a good chance the Chinese company will officially unveil the unannounced smartphone next month at MWC 2018. After all, that’s where most phone makers introduce their latest and greatest smartphones yet – the perfect event for vivo to introduce the new technology on its new smartphone.

Nonetheless, it’s definitely exciting to finally see a smartphone with an in-screen fingerprint sensor become a reality. Hopefully, it won’t be long until consumers can get their hands on the new vivo smartphone.
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TNB outage takes down DiGi network in Klang Valley – all services affected

Update [11.41AM]: DiGi has confirmed that the power outage has been rectified. Those who are still experiencing network issues are advised to restart their devices. DiGi has also clarified with us directly that the sporadic issues affecting customers outside Klang Valley is not directly related to the incident this morning.
Update [11.23AM] A post update on DiGi’s community site has attributed the outage to a power issue, and DiGi are working with TNB to resolve the outage. However, this particular message only attributes the outage to the Klang Valley area. We can confirm however that based on the reports that we received, the outage also affected users in other parts of the country, including Sabah and Sarawak.

— Initial Post —
DiGi’s mobile network is experiencing intermittent issues across the country. We have been receiving reports from customers as early as 8 am that their connection to the DiGi network, both for cellular as well as mobile data is severely affected.
We have reached out to DiGi to get an update on the situation. At time of writing, there has been no updates on any of their social media channels.
Developing story…
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Samsung Announce Mass Production Of 2.4Gbps 8GB HBM2 Modules

Samsung Electronics recently announced that it has begun mass producing the 2.4Gbps 8GB HBM2 memory controllers. The company’s second generation HBM2 module (also known as “Aquabolt”) currently features the fastest DRAM data transmission speeds to date. Samsung Electronics further mentioned that that the introduction of a faster HBM2 module “should accelerate the expansion of supercomputing and the graphics card market.”
When it comes to performance, Samsung Electronics’ second generation HBM2 memory controller features a “pin speed” of 2.4Gbps at 1.2V. In comparison, the first generation HBM2 module by the company came with speeds of 1.6Gbps at 1.2V and 2.0Gbps at 1.35V; which means that the new HBM2 package comes with an improvement rate of about 50%.

Samsung Electronics say that a single Aquabolt HBM2 module is capable of transfer speeds of around 307GBps, which the company claims is 9.6 times faster compared to the older HBM2 memory controller. Four of these Aquabolt HBM2 memory controllers when stacked are able to churn out an eye opening data transmission speed of 1.2TBps.
Aside from improvements in bandwidth speeds, Samsung Electronics’ new HBM2 module is also fitted with an “additional protective layer” at the bottom of the package to increase its physical strength. Unfortunately, it’s not known when we’ll get to see this memory controller be used in consumer-grade products, but one’s best bet would probably be sometime in late 2018 or 2019.
(Source: Samsung)
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tapp – A New Prepaid Service that Lets Users Customise Their Own Plan, and Sell Back Unused Quota

If you’re looking for a new mobile plan, here’s one that you might want to consider – tapp. tapp is a new prepaid service runs on Digi’s 4G+ network. What makes it stand out from other similar services is that it gives you full control of the minutes and data you need each month, and if you are unable to fully utilise them all, you may sell it back to the company and earn tapp Credit.
You can make your own plan on tapp, just decide on your budget and validity (1 to 30 days), then pick how much data and call minutes you need. To make things even more interesting, the digital service also allows you to modify your plan anytime you want – trade your data for minutes, or the other way around.
You can also purchase additional minutes or data to add to your existing plan, or if you still have balance at the end of the validity period, tapp will automatically buy your balance and credit to your account. The “buy back” price from tapp is only 65% of the original price, but it’s still a very good deal to be able to get back part of the credit rather than letting everything go to a waste. tapp Credit can be used to purchase a plan, make calls, and send messages.

tapp is currently only available for Android devices. You can get started immediately by downloading the “TAPP MY” app from the Play Store, and sign up using your Facebook or Google account. After that, pick your own number, and enjoy free calls and messages to other tapp users. However, if you wish to have the full tapp experience like the ability to customise your own plan, you will need to purchase a tapp SIM from its website.
The new prepaid service also claims to be completely transparent, which is why it shows you the rates upfront. Calls and messages to other tapp users are completely free with no data charges, while local calls to non-tapp numbers are charged at RM0.20 per minute, and messaging costs RM0.15 per message. Just download tappConnect app to use this feature. To top up your tapp Credit, just buy a Digi Softpin Reload Voucher at any Digi Store, or a Digi Partner like convenience stores, supermarkets, pharmacies, petrol stations, and more.

Do note tapp is still pretty new, and is still in beta. There are some things it can’t do, like support for iOS devices, Uber, Netflix and Snapchat. Mobile hotspot is not available yet, and there are no international roaming at the moment. In addition to that, similar to Ookyo, tapp requires VPN in order to work properly, which explains why it’s not available on iOS.
Interested? Visit tapp now to find out more and to get started.
(Source: tapp via: Amanz)
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Dark Souls Remastered Coming To All Major Gaming Platforms

The original Dark Souls is making a return to all major gaming platforms. Dark Souls Remastered will see the original title from Bandai Namco re-released with graphical updates and improved multiplayer features; and importantly includes the Artorias of the Abyss DLC.
Dark Souls Remastered will see the graphics improved to modern standards, allowing it to hit the maximum capabilities of the platform its being played on. In the case of the PS4 Pro, this means upscaled 4K at 60 fps (the regular PS4 caps at 1080p). PC gamers will be able to run the game at native 4K at 60 fps; provided their rigs can handle the load.
Nintendo wasn’t left out either, with the Switch version of Dark Souls Remastered also being announced through a Nintendo Direct Mini stream. It won’t have the visual fidelity of the other platforms, but it does offer the option to play Dark Souls on a handheld.

Lordran beckons… #NintendoSwitch #Playstation4 #XboxOne #PCgaming pic.twitter.com/mShA6tbqmU
— Dark Souls (@DarkSoulsGame) January 11, 2018

One last improvement being added to the Dark Souls remaster is increasing the multiplayer party limit to six people. Allowing more friends to join the same game and suffer together in the unforgiving game.
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DiGi network experiencing severe downtime across the country – all users affected

[Update 11.23am] A post update on DiGi’s community site has attributed the outage to a power issue, and they are working with TNB to resolve the issue. However, this particular message only attributes the outage to the Klang Valley area. We can confirm however that based on the reports that we received, the outage also affected users as far away as Sabah and Sarawak.
DiGi’s mobile network is experiencing intermittent issues across the country. We have been receiving reports from customers as early as 8 am that their connection to the DiGi network, both for cellular as well as mobile data is severely affected.
We have reached out to DiGi to get an update on the situation. At time of writing, there has been no updates on any of their social media channels.
Developing story…
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AMD To Begin Distributing Firmware Updates To Patch Spectre Vulnerability

AMD may have been spared from the potential fallout of the Meltdown vulnerability in modern processors, but that doesn’t mean it’s in the clear. The company has also been exposed to the two Spectre flaws, and will be pushing out patches to resolve the issue.
For the most part, AMD has been maintaining that there is a near zero risk to its products. Mostly because Spectre is much harder to exploit, and then AMD processors are only vulnerable to the second form of the speculation execution exploit.
Despite this, the company is working with hardware partners to release firmware updates for EPYC and Ryzen systems. It is also working with Microsoft to figure out why an earlier Windows 10 patch was preventing AMD powered computers from booting.
Mark Papermaster, AMD’s Senior Vice President and Chief Technology Officer, wrote “while we believe that AMD’s processor architectures make it difficult to exploit Variant 2, we continue to work closely with the industry on this threat. We have defined additional steps through a combination of processor microcode updates and OS patches that we will make available to AMD customers and partners to further mitigate the threat.”
Both Meltdown and Spectre have loomed over Intel and AMD these last couple of weeks, with many companies scrambling to ensure that they are not affected. Microsoft, on its part, admits that any patches may have a negative impact on older Intel processor performance. There’s no word if something similar may affect AMD, but it doesn’t yet look like the case.
[Source: AMD]
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Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon (2018) Hands On: So, So Close

Every year since 2012, Lenovo went out of its way to create what it deems to be the ultimate mobile warrior machine: the ThinkPad X1 Carbon. Each year (aside from the touch panel hiccup in 2014), it inches its way to perfection. This year, however, Lenovo has developed its most complete X1 Carbon yet – but no, it is just so agonisingly close yet again.
The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon has barely changed its design since its inception six years ago. It sports the same handsome matte black body, and retains the classic ThinkPad touches such as the ThinkPad logo with red LED at the bottom right side of the lid and of course, the iconic TrackPoint.

This year Lenovo is jazzing it up a bit, offering the X1 Carbon in a metallic silver option that it began introducing in 2015 in other ThinkPad series. There’s also a subtle “X1” logo that’s somewhat oddly placed on the lower left side of the lid. The bezels have also shrunk a little, too.
The ThinkPad X1 Carbon has been around for half a dozen years, and yet it still manages to surprise the moment you lift the laptop up – it has no right to feel this light. But it does, thanks to a carbon fibre composite that makes up the chassis. The entire laptop weighs just 1.13kg, making it the world’s lightest 14-inch laptop.
Here’s where it’s so easy to geek out on the X1 Carbon: nothing has been compromised, and yet Lenovo keeps adding more features on this machine. The X1 Carbon passes military standards for drops and spills, while the keyboard is – still – the best on a laptop of this size. The trackpad is very accurate too, while Lenovo is promising up to 15 hours of battery life. At this point, this is already a great Ultrabook for those who are always on the move.

But this year, Lenovo chose to upgrade the display in a really meaningful way that adds no value to its core ThinkPad customers: the 2018 ThinkPad X1 Carbon (and 2018 ThinkPad X1 Yoga) has a HDR panel with 100% Adobe RGB colour gamut, a maximum brightness of 500 nits, support for the new Dolby Vision HDR standard, and a resolution of 2560 x 1440. Lenovo also added Dolby Atmos support for most of its ThinkPads since 2017.
So now, it doesn’t just take someone to lift the X1 Carbon to be impressed by it – the laptop’s exceptional brightness and rich colour reproduction really make it stand out.

On a separate note, Lenovo claims that extensive user feedback was taken and considered when designing the I/Os of the ThinkPad X1 Carbon. Given its strong business roots, there was no way the laptop would go the MacBook Pro route and only offer USB Type C ports. For 2018, this is very refreshing: the 15.95mm ThinkPad X1 Carbon sports 2 USB 3.0 ports, 1 HDMI port (yes, it’s possible!), 2 USB Type C Thunderbolt 3 ports, a microSD card slot, 1 headphone jack, and a docking connector that can be connected to the ThinkPad Docking Station. There’s also space for an “anti-spoof” fingerprint reader below the keyboard.
The rest of the hardware specs are what you’d expect from a premium Ultrabook: Intel Core i7 processor with Intel UHD Graphics 620, up to 16GB RAM, up to 1TB PCIe SSD, and an IR camera for Windows Hello. The USB Type C charger also supports Rapid Charge, and finally, the X1 Carbon packs in near-field dual array microphones (like on smart speakers) for better voice recognition and input.

In addition, the 14-inch display’s bezels have also shrunk a little, but Lenovo is ensuring that the webcam remains at the top of the display where it should be. For added security, there’s even the ThinkShutter physical cover for the webcam, and a bright red dot painted on the cover to provide peace of mind for users. Lenovo reps tell me there was a lot of engineering put in place to integrate the ThinkShutter system, even if it looks like a simple slide shutter; the red dot even had about a dozen iterations in size and colour before Lenovo chose the one.
Essentially, that’s what epitomises the ThinkPad X1 Carbon. As laptops get ever thinner and lighter, its engineers are coming up with uniquely innovative new ways to make that a reality on a ThinkPad, without sacrificing structural integrity and durability that ThinkPads are known for.
So is this the perfect laptop for the mobile warrior? Not quite – and it isn’t entirely Lenovo’s fault.

With the announcement of the Intel Core processors featuring AMD Radeon Vega integrated video chips and initial benchmarks pegging its performance to be around the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 level, this series of chips will be a game changer not just for gaming laptops, but also for Ultrabooks. Intel is claiming that these chips could even be fitted into laptops less than 17mm in thickness – just a tad above the X1 Carbon’s current thickness.
With a HDR WQHD display and a similar performance to that of an entry level gaming laptop, the next gen X1 Carbon will be one incredibly versatile machine – and one that will be favoured by more than just its core enterprise and business customers. I can already imagine photographers and video editors looking at this machine as an on-site editing machine, thanks to the colour-accurate display and Vega chip. And of course, with that same Vega chip, X1 Carbon owners can actually play decent games.

It is of course disappointing that this ThinkPad X1 Carbon isn’t fitted with this new chip, but it is very likely that Lenovo was already in advanced levels of development and optimisation when the Intel with Radeon Graphics was ready for production. It does not, however, take away the fact that this year’s ThinkPad X1 Carbon is arguably still the best premium Ultrabook in the market. But with a starting price of $1700 (about RM6800) for the Core i5 model, near-perfection won’t come cheap.
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