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Microsoft scratches surface of the future

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For the hardcore geek, there are at least two milestones, that predate actual usage of a device.

First is the day when a product becomes real. When an enthusiastic CEO or product lead takes the stage and unveils their most exciting piece of tech. Fans schedule online viewing parties, tune into live streams, and collectively drool over the subject of their next gadget fantasy.

Then comes the day when a product becomes theirs. It’s all about the unboxing, an almost ceremonial unwrapping of each accompanying accessory and then the product itself. The most hard core of fans will document this ritual, but in its most basic form, there is focus and reverence, and appreciation of what’s being birthed.

As a tech journalist I do both for a living, except that unboxing videos are shot in our labs, and sometimes I’m get to be there to see things live.

But while being there in person sounds fun, leaks have killed the moment, they’ve caused the extinction of big surprises that have marked great events.

Windows 10 Event

#WINDOWS10DEVICES. Journalists and guests are in for a huge surprise at Microsoft’s Windows 10 devices briefing in New York. Photo by Michael Josh Villanueva

Just this week, from my second row seat at Microsoft’s Windows 10 Devices launch in New York, I listened as an infectious Panos Panay, Windows devices chief, paced all corners of the stage, rallying up excitement for two smartphones the crowd had already seen before.

Panos Panay

THE PITCH. New devices Chief Panos Panay sold the audience on Microsoft’s new vision for the future. Photo by Michael Josh Villanueva

Like most products launched this year, leaks about today’s device lineup were pretty comprehensive, covering notable features, the spec sheet, and even product photos. And there was no beating behind the bush about the elephant in the room, “I know you know about this, you’ve written about it already,” joked Panay. #Guilty.

But like a trooper he convincingly sold us on each expected product.

DSC09968

WINDOWS 10 ON A PHONE. The Lumia 950XL is Microsoft’s new flagship smartphone. Photo by Michael Josh Villanueva.

There were two new Lumia smartphones, the first to run Windows 10. The Lumia 950 and the 950 XL are powerful phones with amazing cameras, but more than that, testaments to the promise of Windows 10 – universality. When connected to a keyboard, mouse, and external monitor, universal apps on these new phones scale into desktop apps. Imagine, Powerpoint on mobile becomes PowerPoint for desktop, you’re building your deck like you would on a PC except that your phone is your CPU.

Surface Pro 4

TABLET HYBRID. The Surface Pro 4 is the tablet computer that other tech companies are trying to emulate. Photo by Michael Josh Villanueva

Then there was the Surface Pro 4, the latest in a device class that Microsoft pioneered, a tablet hybrid that comes with a keyboard cover and pen. In just the last two months we’ve seen both Apple and Google jump on the bandwagon with the iPad Pro and the Pixel C respectively. Last year, Panay had declared the Surface Pro 3, good enough to replace a laptop, this year it was about refining the experience further. A larger, more pixel dense display, better touch sensitivity, more power, and a full sized laptop keyboard cover with a glass trackpad unlike any other we’ve seen on a Windows device.

Do you want me to talk about another device? Panay said in between product announcements until there were no more to expect. Then he said it again, “Do you want me to talk about another device?”

The lights dimmed and a video played, and just like that, surprise, Microsoft was unveiling the first laptop it has ever built. The Surface Book is a 13-inch laptop designed to rival Apple’s MacBook Pro, its magnesium unibody design feels familiar, but at the same time it is one we’ve never seen before. From its “dynamic fulcrum hinge” to innovative liquid cooling system, Microsoft was calling this the ultimate laptop, “ounce per ounce, pound per pound, the most powerful 13-inch laptop in existence.”

By the end of Panay’s presentation, this geek had already been tickled fancy, Microsoft was reinventing the laptop, and somehow its managed to surprise us in the process.

One more surprise was yet to come.

As his presentation came to close, Panay asked his now captivated audience, to watch the same video back, but this time to look closer. My mind went berserk as the video replayed. To borrow the words from GadgetMatch producer Rodneil Quiteles, who was thousands of miles away, following the event via livestream. He writes in our Viber Public Chat, “Holy Xxxx! Surface Book screen just flew off the keyboard. It’s over. It’s friggin over.”

Microsoft isn’t just building another Windows laptop here, with the Surface Book it seems to have taken apart the best of tablet and notebook computing, forging a new device that is both and neither at the same time. Undocked you have a 13-inch tablet with all the bells and whistles of the Surface Pro, but connected you have even more battery life, a dedicated graphics card for intense gaming, visual rendering, and video editing. But maybe even more important, you have the stability of a laptop, allowing the freedom to, as the name implies, use the device on your lap.

But it’s not just the element of surprise here, not just the theatrics, its about a new kind of Microsoft, and a clear cut vision of a future that this tech giant is trying to build.

It was Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella who closed the event, borrowing a line from his own phrase book, he talked about the Microsoft he was trying to build, ““We wanna move from people needing Windows, to choosing Windows, to loving Windows.”

This year I’ve sat through way too many product launches. While it’s only fair to say that the usual suspects came out to play, it was at this event where I was really, truly, blown away. The event left me with a sense of desire I have never felt about a Microsoft device ever.

Perhaps I too can learn to love Windows.

[irp posts=”992" name=”Microsoft Surface Book Hands-On”]

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Fujifilm Instax SQ20 hands-on: How good is it?

Trying out the new Motion Mode on doggies!

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Fujifilm’s sequel to their first ever digital/analog hybrid is here and it’s looking better than ever. The Instax SQ20 is one classy-looking instant camera but what can it do? With a set of built-in filters and new features like the Motion Mode, it looks like a promising device.

I finally try it out, with help from some doggies, on our hands-on video.

The SQ20 retails for US$ 199 in the US, PhP 12,999 in the Philippines, and SG$ 299 in Singapore.

In case you’re having trouble viewing, watch HERE.

READ ALSO: Fujifilm Instax SQ10 review

READ ALSO: Prynt Pocket unboxing and review: A printer that prints videos?

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DALLA DALLA, Crazy Rich Asians: Now Playing

A Valentine’s special!

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While we wait for the Galaxy S10 to launch and MWC 2019 to start, let’s take a moment to celebrate Valentine’s Day!

If you don’t have a date, don’t be grumpy. Sometimes, all you need is self-love and entertainment to keep you going. Have some fun alone time and enjoy what’s now playing at GadgetMatch!

Movies to see

Dragon Ball Super: Broly
Marvin: If you’re single and unhappy about it this month, catching a late showing of Dragon Ball Super: Broly may be the best way to release stress in the theater. It’s by far the best Dragon Ball movie yet with tireless action and gorgeous visuals, plus it’s surprisingly friendly to both old fans and those new to the franchise.

Crazy Rich Asians
MJ: Crazy Rich Asians is a film for those who are ready to take it to the next level. It’s about standing up to people who get in the way of your happiness, and choosing what’s best for the person you love. It’s a dash of romance with a sprinkle of comedy to keep you from crying in heart-wrenching scenes.

TV shows to binge watch

Kakegurui
Rodneil: The anime follows a transfer student who seemed sweet and normal at first, but has an insatiable thirst for gambling. It’s a relatively easy watch and you can follow along even if you’re doing something else.

Games to play

Kingdom Hearts III
Rodneil: There’s too much backstory heading into this game that it can get super confusing, especially if this is your first game in the franchise. The story is clunky at best but the game is a visual spectacle. Push the narrative to the side and just play it for the fireworks.

Resident Evil 2
Marvin: I was too afraid to finish Resident Evil 2 on my own as a kid, so I’m glad it’s been remade for my braver adult self. In line with Valentine’s Day, I’d say it’s a perfect game to play with a partner so that you have someone to hold your hand during the most intense zombie sightings. 💕

Albums/Songs/Podcasts to listen to

Kahit Ayaw Mo Na by This Band
Rodneil: Only caught wind of this song recently and I haven’t been able to stop listening since. It talks about someone wanting to work it out with her/his partner. However, the partner seems unwilling. The music invites multiple listens and the way the words flow is ear-candy.

Shine by Pentagon
Rodneil: My obsession with girl group Twice has served as a gateway to other K-Pop tracks, and this is one of them. It’s simply an absolutely fun song to listen to. A great pick-me-up to get you started in the morning.

Can’t Help Falling In Love by Kina Grannis
MJ: Kina Grannis’ strings and acoustic guitar rendition of Elvis Presley’s classic love song makes you remember how love is a force you can’t resist. The emotion you’ll feel in this song is overwhelming — ranging from the bliss of being in love to confusion and even heartbreak.

DALLA DALLA by ITZY
Vincenz: The song’s unique and dynamic blend of sounds, from a hip-hop centric intro and bridge up to a contrasting, bright chorus, makes it a great and catchy debut song (their visuals are exceptional, too). Message of the song? It’s all about empowerment and self-love!

Gokigen Sayonara (A Happy Goodbye) by IZ*ONE
Vincenz: This song caught my ears with its catchy tune and lyrics, which doesn’t usually happen since most J-Pop releases sound so different. Its lively, electro-pop vibe opposes the song’s message about bidding farewell to someone you truly love, but it works.

Cities/Places to visit

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Boracay
Marvin: Now cleaner and more beautiful than ever, Boracay’s beach is the perfect weekend getaway once again. A lot of activities and shops are still unavailable, but if you simply want to soak in the sun and sea breeze, it would be a great time to go once the tourists leave post-Valentine’s.


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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Samsung Galaxy S10: Everything we know so far

The tenth-generation flagship

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Samsung is set to unveil its new flagship series this month — the Galaxy S10. Even before the phones get announced, we already know a lot about them. From the design to their prices, information about the Galaxy S10 family is already floating around the internet.

Without further ado, let’s get to know the Galaxy S10 phones before they go official.

A slight refresh in design

Design-wise, the Galaxy S10 series won’t look that different from its predecessor, the Galaxy S9, and even its bigger cousin, the Galaxy Note 9. But, it has its own characteristic.

For starters, it’ll have a new display. Samsung doesn’t like the notch (but they do have a budget notched phone), so the Galaxy S10 phones will have a hole-punch camera instead. The Galaxy A8s gave us a preview of Samsung’s plans, but the Galaxy S10 will use Super AMOLED technology, of course.

Alleged Samsung Galaxy S10 and S10+ units | Image credit: AllAboutSamsung

This year, aside from the usual regular and Plus variant, we’ll have a third member of the Galaxy flagship family. Dubbed the Galaxy S10E, this model is going to be cheapest of the bunch. It’ll have to let go of some features to meet its price point, though.

In terms of display size, the Galaxy S10+ will be the biggest at 6.4 inches, in the middle is the regular Galaxy S10 with its 6.1-inch panel, and the smallest is the Galaxy S10E at 5.8 inches.

The superior Galaxy S10+ will have two front cameras and its hole is more of an oblong rather than a circle. This also means that the Galaxy S10+ has less screen real estate than its smaller siblings.

Since the front camera is now smacked inside the display area, Samsung can shrink the bezel even more. The current Galaxy flagships already have edge-to-edge screens, which means the Galaxy S10 phones will have more immersive displays. Although, Samsung has to let go of its iris scanner in order to pull off the true borderless design. In exchange, the Galaxy S10 and S10+ will have in-display fingerprint scanners.

The three Galaxy S10 variants | Image credit: Evan Blass

The Galaxy S10 phones will have curved displays and contoured glass backs, except for the Galaxy S10E model. The camera setup on the back is aligned vertically, similar to the Galaxy Note 9’s.

The base colors for all models are black, green, yellow, and white. There are also talks about a special blue shade and a limited ceramic finish for the Galaxy S10+.

Top of the line as always

In the specifications department, none of the Galaxy S10 models will disappoint. All three Galaxy S10 phones will have at least 6GB of memory and 128GB of storage.

The Galaxy S10+ will have a special variant that’ll certainly be considered overkill with 12GB of memory and a whopping 1TB of storage. Just typing that makes my laptop feel inferior to a smartphone.

Galaxy S10 and S10+ back | Image credit: AllAboutSamsung

Like previous Galaxy S phones, the tenth generation will sport the fastest Exynos and Snapdragon processors available. Currently, there’s the Exynos 9820 from Samsung and the Snapdragon 855 from Qualcomm. It’s unclear, though, if the phones will support 5G out of the box.

The rest of the specs should include USB-C and 3.5mm audio ports. If the headphone jack truly continues to live another year, it’ll be a strong statement against manufacturers that ditched it for certain reasons.

Galaxy S10 reverse wireless charging | Image credit: WinFuture.de

The multiple cameras on the Galaxy S10 phones are quite interesting. We knew Samsung was already developing triple cameras since the second half of 2018. If you can recall, the company released the new Galaxy A7 with three rear cameras and then the Galaxy A9 with four rear cameras.

The camera sensors and features of the Galaxy S10 models have yet to be detailed, but we do know that the Galaxy S10 and Galaxy S10+ will have three advanced shooters on the back.

As for the batteries, the Galaxy S10E will have the smallest at 3100mAh, which is above average. The Galaxy S10, on the other hand, will have a slightly bigger 3400mAh cell, while the Galaxy S10+ will have a long-lasting 4100mAh battery. Fast charging will be supported both in wired and wireless methods. Reverse wireless charging is also anticipated.

How much will it cost?

According to the latest leaked pricing info, the Galaxy S10E will go for EUR 749. The regular Galaxy S10 will start at EUR 899 and will have a more expensive EUR 1,149 variant. As the more premium of the three, the Galaxy S10+ starts at EUR 999. If you want the top-dog variant with 12GB memory and 1TB storage, you’ll have to prepare EUR 1,499.

When will it ship?

The phone is launching on February 20 during Samsung’s yearly Unpacked event. The keynote will take place in San Francisco, California and streamed live on Samsung’s website.

They won’t be immediately available after the launch, but pre-orders are expected to be open the next day. Rumor has it that the phones will be in stores as early as March 8.

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That’s about everything we know about the Galaxy S10 series, so far. Nothing is confirmed until the official launch, so there might be some changes. Are you planning on getting any of the Galaxy S10 phones?

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