Back in March, several days after announcing a $30-per-movie 4K HDR streaming service, Sony unveiled a new generation of expensive TV sets in the Philippines that not only promise ultra-sharp visuals, but HDR or high-dynamic-range lighting as well.
I attended the media event, saw the new screens up close and thought to myself, “Now this is the future of gaming.”
To be clear, I wasn’t talking about 4K technology, which has been around for quite a while, and hasn’t taken off the way it once seemed destined to.
There’s plenty of blame to go around, but I always thought the market wasn’t ready to spend a fortune upgrading to a new TV that, given the right circumstances, could make things look sharper than they already were. If you were sitting a few feet away, you probably couldn’t tell where those extra hundreds of dollars went, anyway.
Plus: TVs are like cars; once you get one, you stick with it for as long as you can until it breaks down or slowly crumbles away. But I digress.
I was referring to high-dynamic range, the latest
advancement in picture quality buzzword in the industry. Only it’s less marketing gimmick to sell TVs and related hardware and more pushing the needle forward in a way that most consumers will notice, in a way that one can see from across the room.
Remember what it felt like, the butterflies in your stomach, when you first laid eyes on a high-def screen? My initial, if limited, experiences with HDR had that effect on me.
What does high-dynamic range mean for picture quality? Let me get technical here for a second. The technology improves visibility in areas of peak brightness and peak darkness, thus allowing you to see a more nuanced range of whites and blacks. Content can look far more realistic than what’s possible with a non-HDR TV, with colors that seem to jump off the screen. So yeah — better picture quality.
If you ask me, out of all the good reasons to upgrade your existing HDTV, HDR is about as good as it gets, because better — not sharper — images is the sort of technical improvement we can all raise our glasses to. Trust me when I say you’re gonna want to own an HDR TV when you see one.
It gets better still: More HDR (and 4K) content is expected to arrive soon. Not just movies and TV shows, not just offline but online, too.
But I’m more excited about what the technology could do for gaming at large. Luckily, we don’t have to wait too long to find out.
Sony has already released a software update that allows all PlayStation 4 models to support high-dynamic-range color in games, though there are none available at the moment; Microsoft’s Xbox One S has the same feature and one game — NBA 2K17 — that’s encoded in HDR format. A post-launch patch for NBA 2K17 will bring HDR compatibility to the PS4.
Yes, a patch. It turns out adding HDR lighting to games doesn’t require much effort, as some game developers have told Polygon. One developer even said it “had an extremely small impact on development,” which is very encouraging to hear.
Optimizing video games to run at 4K? That’s for another discussion. One that may not be necessary when HDR adoption starts to pick up.
[irp posts=”9240″ name=”Sony launched an incredible 4K HDR OLED TV”]
What selfies look like taken on an under display camera
Using the Rakuten BIG
The ZTE Axon 20 5G — the world’s first smartphone with an under display camera — launched in September but not very many people have had a chance to try it. The relatively obscure Vinsmart Vsmart Aris Pro (Vietnam) and Rakuten BIG (Japan) followed suit.
The Rakuten BIG is a 6.9-inch phone with an OLED display. It’s powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 765G chip with 6GB of RAM and 128GB of internal storage. It also has a battery capacity of 4,000mAh.
On its rear is a quad-camera module: 64MP main sensor, and 8MP ultra-wide angle lense, a 2MP depth sensor, and a 2MP macro camera.
If those specs seem familiar that’s because they’re exactly the same as the ZTE Axon 20 5G. Well, almost exactly. There’s a bit of a difference in the battery capacity 4,000mAh vs 4220mAh but that’s still pretty close.
The selfie camera
For all intents and purposes, the Rakuten BIG may just be a rebranded ZTE Axon 20 5G. They also share the same megapixel count for the selfie camera which is 32MP.
If this is the case, the phone might be using the same transparency material that includes new organic and inorganic films, to balance the performance of the display and the front camera.
Here are what some quick selfies look like. These were taken indoors, inside a hotel with sufficient amount of lighting. No editing was applied to the photos but they were resized in the interest of faster load time.
It certainly doesn’t seem like a photo taken by a camera lens with a cover over it. But you can tell the software is doing a lot of heavy lifting. At first glance it looks like a regular selfie, but a closer inspection shows some detail smoothing.
Color reproduction is a little inconsistent too. Here’s a pair of selfies taken just seconds apart.
The selfie on the left is considerably warmer than the one on the write. Note that Ayano was in the exact same place with nearly the exact same pose and angle.
Here’s another sample with a better look at the lights in the background — which probably most represents all the post-processing the phone is doing. Take note that you can’t take selfies in rapid succession. The phone really does take longer than most to process the images.
What we were impressed with though is the video. The picture quality was clear and didn’t have any excessive traces of post-processing during a video call via Facebook Messenger.
Here’s a sample video taken separately after the call with beauty mode turned on. The post-processing is more pronounced here but it certainly doesn’t harm the picture quality.
What do you think of the selfies? Pretty good already for an under display camera?
Price and availability
The Rakuten BIG retails for JPY 69,800 Yen (US$ 665) and is currently only available in Japan. It comes in three colors: Black, White, and Crimson Red.
Huawei Mate 40 Pro Unboxing and Review: Last of its Kind
Every year, Huawei’s Mate series dominate the smartphone world with hosts of new features.
This October, the Huawei Mate 40 Pro finally made its way out of the limousine. As usual, it’s packed with the latest and greatest internals minus the full Android experience. Albeit, you still get support for AppGallery and other existing Huawei services.
With all that mind, is it still worthy to invest your money just to buy this smartphone?
You can watch our Huawei Mate 40 Pro review by clicking this link.
Galaxy Note 20 Ultra: GadgetMatch for the Casual User
So well-rounded, it simply works
The Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra represents the current pinnacle of the Galaxy Note line. That’s why it’s not far fetched to think that it can seamlessly add value to people from different walks of life.
In this second of a three-part feature, we’ll explore how the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra can be a reliable partner for the average, casual user.
In this first of a three-part feature, we’ll explore how the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra can be reliable partner for three specific people:
- The Manager
- The Casual User
- The Multimedia Creative
Note: Link to part 3 will be added when it’s published.
All-around for the well-rounded
Life is all about finding balance. Wherever you are in this walk of life, we always cut a portion of our time to do things that matter: self, hobbies, love, career, health, and more.
But how do you manage to find balance when it feels like we don’t have enough time? The answer is simple: Get an all-around phone that’s as well-rounded as you. In particular, the Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra.
Let me set the record straight: I’m not a techie, a gamer, a selfie master, or an aspiring content creator. I simply don’t fall into any stereotype. While I can try to look like a D-lister, I’m just like the average consumer, using a phone to navigate life in the 21st century.
Though I work in the technology industry, I was never caught up in the hottest specs, highly innovative pieces, great hardware, or monster features. All I ever needed — as I’ve been saying for three years now — is a phone that’s smart enough to carry with for my everyday life.
Having the Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra helped me find the balance I need, accompanying me in juggling my hectic yet blissful life.
Work and play
Being in a remote work setup for god-knows-how-long, I’m used to being glued on my phone almost 24/7. While it’s a habit that I’m still trying to change, I’m thrilled with how I can do my tasks on-the-go. With a 6.9-inch screen, it’s easy to do your work even when you’re away from your desk.
You can browse through social media, switch between apps seamlessly, and multi-task. When you apply the 120Hz refresh rate? Oh, it’s so buttery-smooth, you won’t even consider going back to a lower refresh rate!
In essence, the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra is swift and powerful enough to do whatever tasks you need to do on your phone.
And when things get a little bit boring, you can hop to Spotify, YouTube, or watch your favorite shows on Netflix. With its massive screen, impressive display, and astounding speakers — you’ll feel like you have your portable home entertainment albeit a little bit smaller than the usual setup.
If you want a little bit of privacy, the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra works seamlessly with my Galaxy Buds or with my wired USB-C earphones. Connectivity wasn’t an issue; be it via Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, cellular strength, and even connection between devices.
Not gonna lie, my gizmos are mostly Samsung’s. I’ve fallen in love with it and its ecosystem ever since I switched. I’ve enjoyed its exclusive features and I’ve grown accustomed to One UI.
The art of pleasure
Speaking of experience, the whole shebang with the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra teaches the art of pleasure. I played League of Legends: Wild Rift, watched Lucifer on Netflix, edited my photos on Lightroom, produced a video using Rush, and created art using the S Pen.
Being able to do what makes me sane, feeds my soul, and gives my heart joy is possibly the greatest pleasure I can find in my day-to-day life.
I was able to keep on doing it because of the impressive battery, which lasted me enough to finish one task before charging its juice again. After all, to achieve pleasure you must have enough juice to keep going and be long-lasting.
But if there’s one thing you must not forget: It’s finding beauty in every day, no matter how the weather (or your day) sucks.
Finding beauty in everyday
Beautiful is an understatement when I first saw the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra. It’s polished, sleek, gorgeous, and sexy. Touching it was like caressing someone you’re really passionate about; gentle, smooth, and oozing with desire.
It’s no wonder anyone can fall in love at first sight upon seeing this dandy. Of course, the Note 20 Ultra isn’t the epitome of beauty — but it’s a great accessory to wear to look astonishing.
While it seems like I’m asking people to keep on looking at the phone, beauty can really be found everywhere. The search won’t be difficult, seeing how the Note 20 Ultra is equipped with capable cameras.
You can capture whatever type of beauty you’re looking for. In my case, it’s capturing myself through my mirror selfies and portraits, as well as coffee and furniture.
Like any other consumer, having great cameras is one of my major concerns before buying a smartphone. Thankfully, I was able to capture Instagram- and Pinterest-worthy photos using the Note 20 Ultra — which I may or may not upload to my social media accounts.
Is the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra fit for the Casual User?
Definitely. The Galaxy Note 20 Ultra — to most people — can be too much. Yet it’s perfect for those who just want a smartphone smart enough to get things done.
You don’t have to worry about running out of space, lagging, tinkering to install apps you don’t have, or encountering issues you normally would on a midrange phone.
It’s so well-rounded, it simply works. And for a person who tries to find the balance in doing a little bit of everything, the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra is the perfect GadgetMatch — only the best for someone who deserves the best.
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