Features

A beginner’s guide to Harry Potter: Wizards Unite

Wizards, unite!

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Niantic, Inc. has just rolled out its brand new game to over 150 countries worldwide over the weekend. Harry Potter: Wizards Unite is also a location-based game that uses augmented reality and builds on the current platform of the company’s games Pokémon Go and Ingress.

Quick disclosure: I’m far from being a Potterhead so I might not get the right terms related to the franchise in this article. Although, I’m a long-time and current player of Pokémon Go hence I checked out Wizards Unite.

Onto the game itself. If you’re like some players I know who would rather just get to the game right away and skip the numerous pages of introduction and dialogues, the main plot of the story is pretty simple. A mysterious event called Calamity has struck resulting in certain magical items and beings to scatter in the real world.

It is your job as part of the Statute of Secrecy Task Force to bring these items, people, and creatures back to the Wizarding World and complete your registry. This registry acts like your Pokédex and tells you what you have and things to look out for.

Throughout the game, you will come across different terms, items, and structures. Let’s take a quick look at the basic elements of the game:

Professions – Just like in the books and movies, you can choose from three types of professions once you reach level six. These are Auror, Magizoologist, and Professor.

Each has its own strengths and weaknesses and complements the other two during battles. It’s important to note that you can later on switch professions if you wish to but the upgrades already bought could no longer be reattributed.

Confoundables vs Foundables – In Wizards Unite, foundables are those you hunt down to bring back to their proper time and location. Meanwhile, you banish the confoundables that are responsible for getting the foundables stuck in our world.

Casting Spells – In order to banish confoundables, you need to cast spells by accurately tracing the pattern shown on your smartphones. There are about ten spells available as of the time of writing but the company says they will eventually be adding more. In addition to accuracy of tracing, speed also plays a big part to achieve a “Masterful” trace (there’s Fair, Good, Great, and Masterful).

Spell Energy –  You’ll need to have spell energy to cast spells. Initially, you’re allotted up to 75 energy points and you use them whenever you try to cast spells on the confoundables. When it reaches zero, it’s basically the equivalent of running out of Pokéballs and you could no longer “catch” foundables.

Structures – Structures like Inns and Greenhouses are your way of getting more spell energy and ingredients to make useful potions. Inns will give out energy by dining in them, while Greenhouses churn out ingredients to make different potions. So playing in areas densely populated with Inns and Greenhouses will ensure you have the resources for a more efficient grinding session.

There’s a third kind of structure and it’s the Fortress. A fortress is a place where up to four friends can join forces and battle together different sets of magical creatures to further upgrade their abilities and come across rarer entries for the registry. Every tier gets tougher and tougher so it encourages players to team up with new players and overcome stronger foes.

Potions – As mentioned earlier, you can concoct your own potions by getting ingredients from Greenhouses. As per usual, these potions vary with different effects and can be used in battles either to heal yourself, make the spell more effective, or prevent the foundable from departing away and missing the chance to add it to your registry.

Portkeys – To get you moving while playing the game, you’ll be able to collect Portkeys that only open after walking certain distances in the real world. Right now there are 2KM/5KM/10KM variations of Portkeys and once it’s opened, it has the power to bring you to different locations so you can collect items and even XP.

Now that most of the basics have been covered, here are some tips to keep in mind while playing based on me and my wife’s experiences.

  • Download all assets as soon as you can. This will make loading times faster while performance will be more stable.
  • Turn on Trace Auto-Align to make encounters with AR slightly faster
  • An Inn with a green color serves up to 10 energy points, purple and blue give up to seven, brown up to six, and a pink one only dishes out a maximum of three energy points.
  • Master Notes are secret patterns that reduce brewing time of potions. Figure it out by checking the available patterns at the Potions Info page.
  • As the stages you battle in Fortresses level up, magical creatures grow stronger. Having a friend to fight alongside you will be needed even more so in the higher tiers of Fortress matches.
  • If you see a floating icon with a beam of light above it, it means it’s a high risk foundable with high rewards. Be sure to get it!

  • Use Dark Detectors for rarer foundables to appear, Exstimulo potions against higher risk foundables, and Baruffio’s Brain Elixir before claiming rewards like Portkeys to get double XP.
  • Flags and smoke from Greenhouses and Inns, respectively, signify they’re still on cooldown.
  • Be sure to have enough energy before battling at Fortresses. Quitting during an unfinished session will render the Runestone useless.
  • Turning off AR during encounters is easier for the phone and will save precious battery life.
  • Just keep on playing. Niantic’s games reward players who just keep on exploring new things (or simply staying) in the game.

If there’s anything we missed or if you want to add to these tips, be sure to leave a comment!

Hands-On

Samsung Galaxy Fold hands-on: An expensive sneak peek into the future

It’s not for everyone

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2019 is the year of the foldable phone. First in the ring was Samsung’s Galaxy Fold. Announced in February, it was supposed to launch as early as April. As we all have probably read or heard, its early release to reviewers was met with a lot of issues. Samsung had to delay its official launch.

Over the last few months they’ve been busy reworking the Fold; now it’s tougher than ever and ready for the real world.

A reintroduction

In some ways you can think of the Galaxy Fold as a 7.3-inch tablet that you can fold into a candybar phone with a 4.6-inch display.

When folded, all buttons are on the right hand side of the device: volume rocker, power button, fingerprint sensor, and its SIM tray.

On the bottom a USB-C port and speaker grilles.

What’s changed?

Samsung focused on addressing the main issues that plagued its first release. Some users previously peeled off what they thought was a screen protector that turned out to be a very important protective layer. That layer is now tucked under the bezels so you don’t even know it’s there.

There’s also a cap that is meant to prevent dust and dirt from getting underneath the protective layer.

The hinge, too, has been reinforced. The gap between the hinge and the display has also been reduced.

Having used the original Fold, I can say that opening and closing i feels more secure. Even if you feverishly snap it open and close. All these changes have been made to ensure the phone survives the rigors of the real world.

One UI has also been optimized for the Fold. Home, back and multitasking buttons for example can be flushed to either side of the display for one handed use.

To open more windows alongside the app that’s already open just swipe from the right side and use apps edge to launch new apps. Closing windows is one tap or swipe away.

When you’re on an app and a notification comes in, you can press and drag the notification to open it as a separate window, so you can respond to a WhatsApp message easily, for example.

Even if you have two displays you can seamlessly switch between both by enabling a setting called App Continuity. That way whether you’re adding a contact on the big screen, or using your map on your small screen, you can close or open the display and continue what you were doing seamlessly.

Imperfect innovation

While the changes are much improved, the Galaxy Fold is not perfect. The front display is very small and is very hard to type on. I’d use it for things like Instagram, maybe. Even then, I’d benefit from the larger display. Not all apps support the squarish form factor, either. YouTube videos of course will only fill to fit a portion of the display. Although there are games like Asphalt 9, that are optimized to fill the display.

The Galaxy Fold doesn’t use a glass display, so there will always be creases in the middle. That’s just a limitation of the technology.

Otherwise, make no mistake — its a top of the line device. It’s got high end specs, and the same cameras as Samsung’s current flagship smartphones: three rear cameras and two selfie shooters up front.

Wireless charging and reverse wireless charging are also available, along with a few other bells and whistles.

Is this your GadgetMatch?

I am excited about the Galaxy Fold, and am thrilled that it’s full steam ahead. It’s an early device and it can get only better with time. What needs to happen now is app developers and Android need to optimize for this new, niche form factor.

With a price tag of US$ 1,980 in the US, SG$ 3,088 in Singapore, and PhP 109,990 in the Philippines, the Galaxy Fold is not for everyone — not even for people who can buy it outright. It’s for early adapters who want to get their hands on new technology ahead of everyone.

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Entertainment

Hotel Del Luna, Frozen 2: Now Playing

Get ready to have a magical adventure this November!

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November started pretty magical. Right after Halloween, a lot has happened in the tech scene including the birth of the 108-megapixel monster, the Mi Note 10, and the resurrection of Motorola razr. In the midst of all these momentous launches, our team still found the time to catch up on the latest in pop culture. Here’s what’s Now Playing in GadgetMatch!

Movies to see

 

Frozen 2
MJ: After six years, the most-awaited sequel is here to give us one last magical adventure. Set during the fall season, the film is about the adventures of Queen Elsa and her cohorts, seeking the truth about the past in order to protect the kingdom of Arendelle from a new threat. In between their adventures, we were rewarded with bursts of laughter, heartwarming lines, scenes that made us hold onto our seats, and lessons about change.

Frozen 2 — despite being a film made for kids and kids at heart — is a bit heavy for a Disney movie, with Elsa, Anna, and the rest of the crew enduring an emotional journey. However, the film is a call for us to go out of our comfort zones, head into the unknown, let our guard down, take chances, and risk in the name of love.

 

Ford v Ferrari
Kevin: The movie revolves around two special individuals — visionary car designer Carroll Shelby (Matt Damon) and the fearless racer Ken Miles (Christian Bale). It was based on the historic Le Mans race in 1966 and tells the story of how car manufacturer Ford, wanted to beat the dominating cars of Ferrari and succeeded. Of course, with the help of Shelby and Miles.

Damon performed really well portraying his character but Bale completely transformed himself into another person yet again so you really feel the life of his character. Apart from that, another thing that stood out was the film’s sound design and how the cars’ engines roared and zoomed past you as if you were actually there. It’s simply an entertaining piece for all ages and a very refreshing movie about cars and racing without the overload in testosterone.

 

Knives Out
Luigi: Nothing beats a traditional whodunnit story. This oddjob of a story comes from The Last Jedi’s director, Rian Johnson. Like most mystery stories, everyone is a suspect and everyone is trapped. However, the story’s uniqueness comes from its wit and its stellar cast including a Chris Evans doing very non-Captain America things.

Shows to binge-watch

Hotel Del Luna
MJ: If you’re struggling with moving on, Hotel Del Luna is worth the watch. With themes about letting go, resentment, forgiveness, and love, it’s difficult not to fall in love with the show and its characters. It also has stunning cinematography and captivating soundtrack that would give you a different high even after you watched it. While people are iffy since it’s the talk of the town, this K-drama is definitely worth the hype. It’s one of the best shows I’ve watched this year, hands down.

La Casa De Papel (Money Heist)
Chay: Whether or not you’re a fan of foreign language material or stories about heists, there’s more to love about La Casa de Papel also known as Money Heist on Netflix. It tells many stories — stories of love, hope, inequality, injustice, and friendship. You will fall in love with one or two or three characters from the series. While a robbery sounds so wrong (it is, in fact, very wrong), you will find yourself rooting for the Money Heist squad to succeed.

The End of the F***ing World Season 2
Vincenz: The last season was a cliffhanger, and just like it, there were a lot of unexpected events that happened in the second installment of  The End of the F***ing World — including several new characters. The portrayals of Alyssa and James may look apathetic but it’s for us to realize that actions speak louder than words, and there is always a bigger picture behind. I’m not trying to spoil but one thing I learned (that serves as a reminder for everyone): Say what you feel before it’s too late.

Queer Eye: We’re in Japan!
Chay: I grew up watching shows about makeovers — from Clean House to How Do I Look? to Shabby Chic. Queer Eye is basically all those makeover TV series from the 90s combined, and more. Set in Tokyo, the latest season feels like Terrace House meets the Fab 5. Despite the language barrier, the stories of the heroes this season are just as heartwarming and inspiring as their American counterparts.

Fleabag
Chay: Fleabag is a comedy that often breaks the fourth wall to involve the audience in her mishaps. Her character is often perceived by everyone in her life to be up to no good — who fucks up everything — making her very relatable. The entire series is only two seasons long with six episodes each, making it an easy binge when you’re stuck in traffic.

DC’s Legends of Tomorrow Season 4
MJ: One of my favorites, DC’s Legends of Tomorrow took a magical turn as the heroes — well, they call themselves Legends — save the world from demons and magical creatures. The troop travels through time to fix and destroy these fugitives in order to protect history. It’s time to refresh your memories and binge-watch it before Season 5 begins in January 2020!

Watchmen
Luigi: HBO’s Watchmen was a huge surprise for me. As a fan of the original comic, I initially thought that this sequel series was either a weak adaptation of the original or an unnecessary sequel. Fortunately, Watchmen is a hugely entertaining balance between its own story and fan service. Old fans will delight in the numerous references to comic events. New fans, however, will appreciate the timely story deeply embedded in racial politics and technological progress.

Albums/Songs/Podcasts to listen to

Frozen 2 Original Soundtrack
Chay: Only time will tell if any of the new songs in the Frozen sequel will be a hit like ‘Let it Go’. My favorite in the soundtrack is ‘Lost in the Woods’, mostly because of the cheesy, albeit poignant, sequence in the movie featuring straight white male Kristoff. After belting it all out, Sven, his reindeer best friend, tells him, “Your feelings are real. Feel what you feel. Let your guard down and let your feelings out.” Toxic masculinity, whomstve?

Modern Love
Chay: New York Times’ popular column was recently adapted into an Amazon series and while everyone has been raving about it on my feed, I haven’t had the time to watch a single episode yet. Its podcast counterpart, however, is much easier to access and digest as the episodes are all available on Spotify. Each essay is performed by actors, and the authors also get a few minutes at the end to talk about their stories. Reading Modern Love articles has been my go-to commute companion for a while now, and having a podcast to listen won’t change that anytime soon.

Bomb by AleXa
Vincenz: AleXa is a Korean-American who recently made her debut as a K-Pop soloist. Unlike any other K-Pop song, it heavily relies on electronic sounds and heavy bass. Her powerful dancing performance and vocals add up to the invigorating song. The music video gives me a Cyberpunk 2077 vibe (and even the same feels as 2NE1’s ‘Come Back Home’).

Dumb by BVNDIT
Vincenz: BVNDIT (pronounced as bandit) continues to prove their female dominance with their latest upbeat, Latin pop song. Digging into the lyrics, it talks about a guy being “dumb” for not having the courage to pursue her — and it actually made her numb. Dark red visuals are dominant, which may signify that their love desire is dying. It gets better as their vocals and synchronized choreography continue to scream “power.”

Games to play

Luigi’s Mansion 3
Luigi: I can hear the groans already. “Of course, Luigi is suggesting Luigi’s Mansion 3.” Well, Luigi’s third outing as a ghostbuster is really one of the smoothest Nintendo Switch experiences I’ve had this year. This massive action-puzzle game is right up every Switch user’s alley. If (a) you have a Switch, (b) you need an appetizer before Pokemon Sword and Shield, or (c) you want a polished platformer, grab Luigi’s Mansion 3.

Now Playing is the GadgetMatch team’s favorite games, movies, TV shows, and more each month. If you’re curious to know what we’re into at the moment, this is what you should check out. So grab your popcorn, get some drinks, and enjoy what’s now playing!

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Hands-On

Motorola razr hands-on: Futuristic phone in the body of nostalgia

The price we have to pay to move forward

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The iconic Motorola razr flip phone is back — bringing what we love from the past, into the future.

Like many of you, I love a good old nostalgic release, which is why I’m incredibly excited that this phone made its comeback. Of all the phones that ruled the late 90s and early 2000s, there’s nothing more iconic than the Motorola razr V3. It was a sleek, edgy, and fashion forward flip phone. From its launch in 2004, about 130 million razr V3’s were sold — making it the best selling clamshell of all time.

Like the original, the new Motorola razr is a flip phone, so you can answer and end calls like a boss.

Just like the hottest phones of this year, the new razr, too, is a foldable phone; or to be more precise, a phone with a foldable display. The main difference is instead of unfolding horizontally into a square tablet, it folds out vertically.

Inside there is no physical keyboard where there once was. Instead it’s all display — 6.2 inches of Flex View pOLED of it. Surprisingly there’s no noticeable crease on the screen. Motorola says the hinge is designed to flex into the shape of a water drop to avoid this. We’ll have to see over time if this indeed solves the challenge of the folding display technology.

When opened up, the new Motorola Razr feels just like any other smartphone. It’s just as tall and as wide but much thinner; except for the lip at the bottom which houses most of the phone’s components as well as its fingerprint sensor, which is fast and accurate.

When you turn the phone on you’re greeted by Android OS. That means all your favorite apps are right here. There’s a small notch on top of the display to make room for the earpiece and a 5MP selfie camera.

When you fold the phone close, you’ll find that it’s wider than the original razr V3. Motorola says bringing back the clamshell form factor using foldable display tech is meant to solve a customer pain point — portablity.

On the outside, there’s a secondary 2.7″ gOLED Quick View display. It’s not as high resolution  as the main display, but i’ts good enough for showing the time and notifications.

You can also tap to view a notification. There’s also Google Assistant Voice Detection, whichyou can use to dictate a text messages reply.

The Quick View display can also be used for taking selfies using the 16MP rear camera. You can just flick the phone twice to activate the camera. Smiling or flashing your palm will trigger the shutter.

The rear camera features an opening of f/1.7, electronic image stabilization, dual pixel and laser autofocus, dual LED flash. It also serves as the main camera when the phone is flipped open.

Just like the original Moto Razr — the new 2019 model is sleek and stylish. With an aluminum chassis and sharp edges. The back side has a carbon fiber-like textured finish that feels like plastic — the only sore spot in its otherwise ultra premium feel. At launch it will only be available in black, but fingers crossed we get other color options too. Motorola says its employed a special zero gap mechanism that gives this foldable display a level of toughness that will survive the rigors of the real world.

In the hands, the phone feels super sturdy. Even if it’s got a foldable screen it doesn’t feel fragile at all. In fact I think I wouldn’t mind just snapping it open and close without a worry.

Button and port placements are like this: volume and power on the right hand side. A USB-C port on the bottom chin as well as speaker. The phone has no headphone jack but ships with a pair of USB-C headphones and a USB-C to headphone jack adapter. There’s also no SIM card slot instead as it only supports e-SIMs. It’s also water and dust and resistant.

Is this your GadgetMatch?

From the star studded guest list at tonight’s launch event, it’s pretty clear that Motorola is targeting the hip, fashion forward market, and not the pro techie crowd. If you look at its spec sheet, this is meant to be a midrange smartphone — with Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 710 processor, 6GB of RAM, and a measly a 2510mAh battery, albeit with a bundled 15W Turbo Charger. But specs isn’t really what the new razr is about.

In the US the Motorola razr will be available exclusively on Verizon, and pre-orders start December 26th. It will hit stores beginning January 9, 2020. It will also be available in select markets across Asia, Europe, Latin America, and Australia.

The pricetag? US$ 1,499 USD. Is that too much to pay for a futuristic phone in the body of nostalgia? Let us know in the comments below.

Watch our hands-on:

SEE ALSO: The Motorola razr is now a foldable smartphone

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