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V20 both improves and harms LG’s image

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Earlier today, the world witnessed the unveiling of the LG V20. It’s the successor to the warmly received V10 from last year, and it’s the larger counterpart of this year’s LG G5. There’s a lot going for it, including a top-end processor, handy second screen, and unmatched audio chip. However, the real story is how the V20 is carrying LG’s image for the next few months. Let’s talk about its operating system and physique for a few minutes.

As you may have heard from several reports, the V20 is the first Android to come with Nougat out of the box. This is a bigger deal than most people think, because every time a new Android version got released in the past few years, Google’s Nexus series had first dibs on the latest operating system with its newest phone at the time. Things have changed this year, with the seventh generation of Android coming to older Nexus models through over-the-air updates, and then straight to LG’s current flagship.

LG V20 spread

Giving a third-party manufacturer such priority was unheard of just a few months ago. Reports stemming around Google ditching the Nexus program in exchange for a more streamlined Pixel series of smartphones and tablets probably explains the sudden change of method. By spending more time on the yet-to-be-released successors to the Nexus 6P and 5X, Google might be leaving the software distribution to reliable partners.

For LG to be the lucky winner of the Nougat draw can be seen in two ways. Firstly, it’s not surprising; LG was the maker of last year’s Nexus 5X, plus the Nexus 5 and 4 before that. Google has spent years dealing with several brands to work on its vision of the ideal Nexus, but for LG to be the constant go-to option for the smaller-sized products means a lot. On the other hand, it’s highly unusual for Nougat to be represented so prominently on a smartphone brand that heavily skins its operating system. If you compare the LG V20 and G5 to the lighter versions of Android from Sony and OnePlus, you’ll understand what we’re talking about.

Now, let’s move on to the V20’s construction. A highly controversial omission is the compatibility with add-on components called Friends, which were first made available on the LG G5. The Korean company promised strong commitment to the semi-modular platform when the G5 was originally released, and for the newly unveiled LG flagship to exclude it shows a lack of confidence in the system. Not only is this a blow to LG’s image, but to modular phones in general.

We argued last week that modular devices are the next evolutionary step for touchscreen smartphones. By allowing consumers to fiddle around with their handsets and choose exactly which components they want to keep and upgrade, purchase cycles would become a lot more dynamic, and in turn, lead to far less e-waste.

So far, only Lenovo has shown real dedication to the future of modularity. The manufacturer followed up on its stylish, semi-modular Moto Z and Moto Z Style flagships with the midrange Moto Z Play at IFA 2016. For a non-flagship device to carry on the modular compatibility of its predecessors is a step in the right direction, and proves how committed Lenovo has become towards its customizable platform.

We can only hope that the true successor to the G5 will somehow follow through on LG’s modular legacy next year. Backtracking on features has never ended well for smartphone brands, and only alienated users expecting some level of future-proofing.

LG-V20-press-images (4)

If you look at the V20 as it is, clear of any past history or legacies, there’s no denying it’s shaping up to be LG’s best smartphone ever. It’s a clear upgrade over the predecessor critics loved last year; the V20 just happens to be in an unfortunate spot, wherein the expectations are booming after the critical success of the V10, and the shadow of the G5 still lingers.

Only time and our full review will conclude this story. Watch out for that!

Automotive

The Best Car Tech of CES 2018

Exciting times ahead!

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We recently wrapped up CES 2018 (see our top picks) and even though the trade show originally revolved around consumer electronics, a big chunk of what was introduced was directed towards connected cities with a focus on making driving a lot smarter.

The idea of self-driving cars surely isn’t new and has been around for quite some time now. It’s basically the concept of what the future is like in addition to flying cars. At this year’s CES, brands who participated made us realize that this “future” isn’t too far away.

Here are some of the most promising cars and car technology that we’re excited to see in the near future.

Assistance

Multiple brands showed off their new toys left and right. There’s the announcement of Amazon’s Alexa coming to cars for voice assistance and content consumption. Toyota will be the next to adapt voice assistance in addition to BMW, Ford, and Hyundai. Meanwhile, Waze has also been integrated into select infotainment systems.

Nissan, on the other hand, is taking the user-machine a step further by introducing the brain-to-vehicle (B2V) technology. It basically uses a system that could read your brain patterns and signals to better prepare for what you’re about to do next while driving.

Platforms

In terms of services, Ford is slightly stepping out of the shadow of car-making and plans to be the new platform for autonomous vehicles. It has partnered with Lyft, Domino’s Pizza, and Postmates to create an operating system which small to large businesses can use for their unique services.

Speaking of unique services, Toyota unveiled its e-Palette concept vehicle which has all the potential to go big in the future of mobility. It’s envisioned as a self-driving vehicle running on Toyota’s tech and platform that other brands can use for food deliveries, as a moving boutique, or even a mobile hotel that you can rent.

As far as ride-sharing goes, expect it to join the bandwagon as smart cities are developed. During the trade show, car tech company Aptiv was present and was hand-in-hand with Lyft as they demonstrated their self-driving cars to the participants of CES. The public could just hail a ride from the Las Vegas Convention Center using the app and enjoy the view of the Strip to their destination.

Additionally, NVIDIA has also added Uber and Volkswagen to their growing roster of brands that will run on the company’s self-driving computer platform.

Cars

Apart from the new platforms, there were cars — quite a lot, actually. From concept to actual models on display, we got a peek at these vehicles that probably want to take on Tesla.

Derived from Bytes on Wheels, BYTON wants to blur the line between digital and automotive with their electric intelligent SUV concept. The new-gen smart device communicates with users and pedestrians via lights and patterns on its grille and recognizes the driver and passengers by face.

Kia was also present with its very own Niro electric crossover. This concept is basically an electric version of the Niro Hybrid but gets a new grille design. Like BYTON, it is now an interactive panel with a built-in Active Pedestrian Warning System, but what makes this something to look forward to is its range. It can go as far 383km (238 miles) before needing to charge again — beating what the Tesla Model 3 can offer.

Car designer Henrik Fisker gave another shot at making vehicles; this time in the form of the EMotion luxury sedan. The vehicle is a level 4 autonomous car and is equipped with the world’s first Butterfly Doors. Fisker also wants to set standards for other EVs so they made the vehicle last up to 644km (400 miles) on the road.

Meanwhile, Hyundai is continuing its push to go green and introduced the NEXO fuel cell electric vehicle. It has a more efficient engine, is a lot quieter, and maintenance is kept to a minimum. Although the best thing about it is that it emits nothing but water vapor. Features-wise, it has autonomous driving, self-parking, self-retrieval — the whole shebang.

In-vehicle Networking

Software updates are an important aspect of vehicles relying on digital systems. Tesla has somehow established its system already but for other car brands, updating hundreds, even thousands of vehicles across a country, is still not an easy task.

Hyundai and Cisco addressed this and aims to overhaul the process of in-vehicle networking. With the use of Ethernet connectivity and the Automotive Linux platform, they promise to be able to roll out updates remotely and it’s as simple as pushing a button.

 

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CES 2018

GadgetMatch Awards: Best of CES 2018

And the winners are…

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Every year at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, we get a glimpse of the best technology of today and tomorrow.

At 2018’s show, there was no shortage of excellent consumers products and innovations. These are our favorites!

Here are the recipients of GadgetMatch’s Best of CES 2018 Awards.

 

Best Consumer Laptop: Acer Swift 7 (2018)

How do you make the world’s thinnest laptop even thinner? Just ask Acer. The new Swift 7 is a refined version of an already superb laptop, making it the most attractive consumer notebook you can buy today.

 

Best Convertible Laptop: Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

Designed with content creators in mind, the Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 is a spectacular computing machine and possibly the most complete 2-in-1 you can buy today. We love its 4K near-borderless InfinityEdge display, new high power graphics chip, and MagLev keyboard!

 

Best Business Laptop: Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon

Lenovo continues to stand atop the business laptop segment with their legendary ThinkPad line. The Thinkpad X1 Carbon in particular is a glorious machine that combines traditional precision with technologies of the future. This year’s model comes with an HDR display and Dolby Vision making it very much a machine for play as it is for work. We love Lenovo’s offering of three different flavors: clamshell, 2-in-1, and convertible tablet models.

 

Best Television: LG AI OLED TV with ThinQ

There were a lot of eye-catching televisions, but none were as impressive as LG’s AI OLED TV with ThinQ. LG’s OLED TVs are among the best in the world and now with deep Google Assistant and Alexa integration, you’ll feel like you’re watching with your best friend inside your living room.

 

Best Smart Vehicle: Byton Concept Car

Artificial intelligence was the thread that tied many CES 2018 announcements together, and no car maker pulled the technology off better than Byton. The Byton smart intuitive concept car takes AI integration to another level with some of the best tech we’ve ever seen in the modern automotive industry. Everything about this concept car screams the future: unlocking doors with your eyes, a spacious screen filled cabin, and autonomous driving.

 

Best Smartphone: Honor View 10

Huawei continues to make rivals shiver with the unveiling of the Honor View 10. This midrange smartphone offers the same artificial intelligence-backed Kirin 970 processor found on Huawei’s top-of-the-line Mate 10 Pro which also made its US debut at CES this week. We’re excited about the promise of AI on phones at this price point. Thanks to AI, the View 10 will also have the same smart camera that can detect subjects and scenes for the best shot every time. In its price segment, there’s nothing quite like the Honor View 10. It’s a beast!

 

Best Home Product: LG InstaView ThinQ Refrigerator

This isn’t your typical refrigerator. LG’s new InstaView refrigerator is one of several new appliances in their artificial intelligence-capable ThinQ lines. Not only can you knock on its 29-inch transparent display to see what’s inside, this fridge can now intelligently communicate with other household devices. We love how it suggests recipes and sends the exact settings to your ovens. With the LG InstaView refrigerator, the kitchen gets a whole lot smarter.

 

Best Gaming Product: NVIDIA BFGD

Here’s something we never thought we would see: a 65-inch 4K 120Hz HDR display with G-Sync technology. It’s a mouthful, but that’s exactly what NVIDIA was able to assemble for its new Big Format Gaming Display (BFGD) format. We can’t wait to see this connected to our gaming setup!

 

Best Audio Product: Sony Xperia Ear

Even earphones are getting smarter! No device exemplified this more than Sony’s Xperia Ear with its intelligent features. These wireless fitness earbuds are noise-canceling and have Google Assistant built in. Combined with awesome sound and a snug fit, there weren’t any other earphones that we wanted more at CES 2018.

 

Best VR/AR Experience: Lenovo Mirage Solo with Daydream

Finally, a VR headset that doesn’t need a smartphone or messy cables to operate! The Lenovo Mirage Solo makes virtual reality so fun and easy — just like it’s supposed to be. We love how it’s designed for the most comfortable and secure fit, and how it’s World Sense positional tracking system ensures that what you feel in a scene matches your position in the physical space. You have to try them on to see what we mean!

 

Best Camera: Panasonic Lumix GH5S

Panasonic really went all out this time. The Lumix GH5S is designed for incredible low-light photography and cinematography. Not necessarily meant as a replacement to last year’s model – this new mirrorless camera is designed specifically with video content creators in mind! Of particular note is the camera’s flippable screen, and ability to shoot in Cinema 4K at 30 or 60 frames per second.

 

Best Wearable: Sgnl smart strap

With this smart strap, you can make phone calls using just your fingertips. How cool is that? The Sgnl smart strap can be attached to any smart watch allowing you to take smartphone calls by just touching your finger to your ears. And just like that, all your sci-fi calling dreams have come true!

 

Best Lifestyle Product: AirSelfie2

The AirSelfie2 brings together two of the most important tech trends in recent memory: drones and selfies. Forget selfie sticks, whip out the AirSelfie2, let it take off from the palm of your hand, and have it shoot selfies like no other. This next-generation pocket drone is on our must-have travel list of adventure companions and it should be on your list, too!

 

Best AI Product: Lenovo Smart Display

We’re not going to beat around the bush. Lenovo’s Smart Display is our favorite Google Assistant-powered device of CES 2018. If smart speakers aren’t enough for you, then you should definitely try the Smart Display of Lenovo. This device delivers the best of Google Assistant with a portable screen. It can do everything Google Home can and more: make video calls, ask for help with recipes in the kitchen, view maps with directions, and plan your day.

 

Best Robot: Sony Aibo

The Sony Aibo may as well win the award for cutest product of CES 2018, too! This robot dog can view things around it and obey your commands, just like a real dog. It has artificial intelligence built in, so it learns from interactions, meaning no two Aibos are the same. We love how it’s got OLED displays for eyes that convey a whole lot of different emotions. Now, who’s a good doggie?

 

Best Health Innovation: Eargo Max

The Eargo Max eliminates all the traditional hassles of hearing aids and provides a product like no other. What’s most special about these hearing aids are how they are both small and invisible. If you’ve seen how big traditional heading aids can be, you’ll understand how revolutionary of a product this is. The product comes with fluffy flexible fibers that ensure a comfortable fit in your ear canal, battery life of about 20 hours on a single charge, and a charging carrying case. Best of all, they just work!

 

Best Beauty Product: Foreo UFO Smart Mask

Foreo has one goal: to eliminate the need for facial masks and offer a better, smarter solution. The UFO Smart Mask can give you a spa-worthy facial treatment in just 90 seconds. We’d love to go into all high-tech magic, but are just too giddy about this completely awesome beauty tech, not to mention glowing from our recent skin treatment. Where has this been all our lives?

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Hands-On

ASUS ZenFone Max Plus Unboxing and Hands-On

Near-borderless with a large battery!

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It took a while, but we finally have ASUS’ first-ever near-borderless smartphone. And it’s not just a pretty face; it’s got a hefty battery and a pair of cameras at the back, too. Is there any more to the ZenFone Max Plus? Find out in our unboxing and hands-on video.

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