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Consumer Reports: Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+ beat iPhone 7 Plus

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We all have our biases, but when you need product rankings, going to an unbiased source like Consumer Reports helps strengthen arguments on which devices deserve the most praise.

In the publication’s latest rankings, Samsung’s pair of Galaxy S8 flagship phones have taken the top two spots for their “stunning camera, long battery life, and gorgeous display in a water-resistant package.”

We see nothing wrong with that. Our own review and hands-on video back up these claims:

The only knocks we have against the pair — and Consumer Reports backs these up — are the awkwardly placed fingerprint scanner on the rear (I’m still not used to it after two months) and Samsung’s immature Bixby virtual assistant.

Otherwise, the Galaxy S8 and S8+ deserve their top spots. Coming in at fourth (we’ll talk about third place later) is the LG G6, which is currently the second most popular — or third if you count the two Galaxies separately — smartphone to have a near-borderless display.

Again, the G6 is a great choice — not just for its beautiful screen, but also because of its solid mix of glass and metal, as well as the surprisingly useful extra-wide camera lens. We have more on those in our own full review:

Fifth place on the Consumer Reports ranking is the aging iPhone 7 Plus. Now, before you think Apple has a disadvantage with the timing of this report and being the oldest of the group, consider that the Galaxy S7 Edge is currently third on the list.

Yes, the Samsung flagship which launched early last year (six months before the iPhone 7 pair) is still a top choice according to Consumer Reports. But this shouldn’t discount the level of quality the iPhone 7 Plus achieves.

If you’ve watched our recent shootout between the Galaxy S8+ and iPhone 7 Plus, you’d see how the latter manages to keep up with the smartphones of tomorrow:

SEE ALSO: Best Premium Smartphones above $600 (June 2017 Edition)

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LG opens up webOS, third-party makers can now use the platform

Android TV has competition

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LG has announced that its proprietary operating system, webOS, will now be available for third parties. TV’s manufactured by other brands such as RCA, Ayonz, and Konka will soon ship with WebOS pre-installed.

The South Korean tech giant has announced that the webOS TV platform ecosystem will be licensed to other brands. More than 20 TV manufacturers from around the world have “committed to the webOS partnership, including brands such as RCA, Ayonz and Konka with more partners expected to join in the future”.

Speaking more over the development, Park Hyoung-sei, president of the LG said the platform is one of the easiest ways to access millions of hours of movies and TV shows.

The announcement is considered a milestone because Google’s Android TV has dominated this segment for the longest time. Sony is among the most popular ones to leverage Android TV via its Bravia lineup. In fact, Xiaomi and a plethora of TV makers actually use Android TV underneath their own skin like PatchWall.

LG had kept the OS exclusive for its smart TVs, but the comparatively smaller ecosystem limits it from reaching its full potential. With more partners, the number of TVs with WebOS shall increase, in turn, attracting developers to the platform.

Unfortunately, LG isn’t offering webOS 6.0 to other TV brands, and the licensing is based on the older webOS 5.0 release. Hopefully, this shall change in the coming future with rising interest from more companies.

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Cameras

Razer’s new webcam: the Kiyo Pro

For work and play

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With Razer showing off their dedication to workers and gamers staying safe and indoors, they’ve announced the new Razer Kiyo Pro.

The Kiyo Pro is a USB camera with a high-performance Adaptive Light Sensor to deliver sharp video quality even in low-light conditions. Combined with an ultra-sensitive Type 1/2.8 CMOS sensor with STARVIS technology, the Kiyo Pro boasts professional-level image quality to video conferencing and streaming.

In this day and age, it’s no surprise that Razer is bringing new webcams especially with work-from-home and new digital communications. Working from home has really become an integral part of professional life today.

However, sometimes built-in laptop cameras lack the resolution and framerates for professional-looking conference calls or streams. They often struggle to cope with low-light and deliver blurry images and that’s where the Kiyo Pro comes in.

The Kiyo Pro is capable of uncompressed full HD 1080p 60FPS. Razer says this will not only ramp up dynamic range but also, correct under- or overexposed areas on the fly, eliminating silhouetting if the subject is lit from behind.

Making sure it’s ideal for video conferencing or streaming, the wide-angle lens on the Kiyo Pro gives you a choice of three fields of view: 103°, 90° or 80°. The 103° view lets everyone fit in a group video call or allow streamers viewers to show off their set up. But, if you’re just looking for a perfect headshot view for meetings or streams, the 80° view will suffice.

Other features

The Kiyo Pro has a range of extra features with flexible mounting options to perfectly set it up. And, its omnidirectional stereo microphone array ensures your voice is properly picked up wherever you’ve mounted it. A separate cover is included to protect the lens and assure your privacy when not in use. 

Razer Kiyo Pro Specs:

Camera Specifications

  • Connection type: USB3.0
  • Image resolution: 2.1 Megapixels
  • Video Resolution: 1080p @ 60/30/24FPS / 720p @ 60FPS / 480p @ 30FPS / 360p @ 30FPS
  • Video encoding: H.264 codec
  • Still Image Resolution: 1920×1080
  • Image Quality Settings Customization: Yes
  • Diagonal Field of View (FOV): 103°, 90°, 80°
  • Focus Type: Auto
  • Mounting Options: L-shape joint and Tripod (Not included)
  • Cable Length: 1.5 meters braided cable

Microphone Specifications

  • Channels: Stereo
  • Audio Codec: 16bit 48KHz
  • Polar patterns: Omni-directional
  • Sensitivity: -38dB

System Requirements

  • PC with a free USB port
  • Windows® 8 (or higher)
  • Internet connection
  • 500 MB of free hard disk space
  • Compatible with Open Broadcaster Software and Xsplit

The Razer Kiyo Pro is already available on Razer’s website with the price tag of USD$199.99 or EUR€ 209.99

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Samsung Galaxy S20, Note20 & Z-series get features from the S21

An update that makes your “old” flagship “new”

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While we expect companies to roll out bug fixes, patches, and improve performance via a software update for years, Samsung is going a step further. It’s bringing features from its top of the line Galaxy S21 series to the Galaxy S20 series, Note20 series, and Z-lineup.

Officially called the One UI 3.1 update, it introduces a new camera mode called Single Take. When you tap capture, it’ll automatically capture multiple pictures and videos simultaneously, allowing you to go through the results later. This also ensures that your focus is in the moment and not fiddle around with various settings on your phone to capture a simple memory.

We all have pictures that include something unwanted. It may be a very tiny and even irrelevant thing, but it still has the potential to spoil a good picture. So, you can use the Object Eraser to edit out distracting objects; simply tap the area you wish to remove. The results may not be as accurate as Photoshop, but it’s more than enough to get some changes done on the go.

Samsung has added improved touch autofocus and autoexposure controller that lets you quickly adjust the picture’s brightness by swiping left or right anywhere on the screen.

If you’re a vlogger, the Pro Video mode can now support Multi Mic Recording. It’ll record audio from the phone’s microphone as well as the connected Bluetooth device. So, your videos can now have some natural background audio as well as your voice.

The South Korean giant might be a little late here as the feature is quite common across many brands now. The Eye Comfort Shield protects your eyes from blue light and automatically adjusts the display’s warmth to minimize strain.

Lastly, the Private Share feature lets you remove all metadata from your pictures. If you aren’t aware, your pictures have many critical meta data like date, time, location, camera settings, and user name. This feature scrubs out all the metadata from pictures so you can share them with anyone without worrying about leaking some private data.

Samsung is leading the flagship segment for the last few years, and its dominance is pretty much unchallenged in the Android world. A prime reason for this success is the company’s investment in not just the latest products, but also the previous generation.

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