News

Sony announces the Xperia 1 II, their newest flagship smartphone

A major improvement over the Xperia 1

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Image by GadgetMatch

It’s been a year since the announcement of Xperia 1 during MWC 2019. Although GSMA surprised everyone in the tech world with the cancellation of MWC 2020 due to the novel coronavirus, it hasn’t stopped Sony from announcing their latest devices.

Even if there are a lot of smartphones coming, the Japan-based company is ahead of the game by announcing three new smartphones: the flagship-grade Xperia 1 II, the midrange Xperia 10 II, and a professionally-targeted Xperia Pro that’s currently in development. The new “Mark II” naming scheme even reminds us of Sony’s Alpha mirrorless cameras.

What’s changed

With the debut of Snapdragon 865 chipset last December, Sony decided to equip their newest flagship with the latest chipset. This means there are improvements in performance over last year’s Snapdragon 855.

What’s groundbreaking is the support for 5G, something the Xperia 1 doesn’t have. To be specific, it uses the sub-6GHz spectrum instead of the mmWave. You can read this article to know all the hullabaloos of 5G connectivity.

Image by GadgetMatch

Sony is generous by giving more memory, bumping up from 6GB to 8GB. Instead of offering 64 and 128GB options, internal storage is only 256GB. Don’t worry, storage expandability isn’t limited to dual-SIM models anymore. Expect more battery life with its 4000mAh battery (which is a step up over last year’s 3330mAh).

There’s also a minor cosmetic change on the Xperia 1 II. The camera bump can now be found at the upper left portion instead of the center, making the design language similar to the Xperia 5.

As expected, it will run on the latest Android 10 out of the box.

What remains

Image by GadgetMatch

Just like the Xperia 1, it’s the same type of monolithic slab that’s sandwiched by two Gorilla Glass 6. Although it has a faster 90Hz refresh rate, it’s still the similar 6.5-inch 4K OLED Display with a cinematic 21:9 Aspect Ratio.

The camera system is still a triple 12-megapixel setup but it now has larger sensors and ZEISS optics. The cameras are also calibrated by ZEISS and the lens have a special ZEISS T* anti-reflective coating on them (something you can only find on professional lenses before). Optical zoom is one-step further with three times magnification instead of two.

Although 8K video recording isn’t there, 4K recording now has a 60p option. There’s even an additional 3D ToF sensor for sensing objects and faster focusing. The Eye AF tracking now works in animals too. It can even do 20fps burst shots with AF tracking. Selfie camera is still rated at 8 megapixels though.

Image by GadgetMatch

The Cinema Pro app still exists for professionally-inclined smartphone videography. An added bonus is the touch focus instead of the fixed focus found on previous versions. In addition to that is the new Camera Pro app which does the same job for photographs taken with the Xperia 1 II.

Front-facing stereo speakers also remain. The IP65/68 rating is still present which helps in keeping the device functioning even in harsher environments. Fingerprint reader is still side-mounted instead of an under-display scanner.

Audio jack resurrected

Image by GadgetMatch

Not totally a headlining feature, but for audiophiles, they know that the 3.5mm audio jack was missing last year. Sony has decided to bring it back with the Xperia 1 II. It’s a clever move considering this smartphone is a multimedia powerhouse. This also indicates that Sony still listens to its loyal fanbase.

Pricing and availability

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As stated earlier, the Xperia 1 II only comes in one configuration: 8GB RAM and 256GB of onboard storage. It will be available in Europe with a retail price of EUR 1199 (approximately US$ 1299). The Xperia 1 II only has two color options: black and purple.

Availability is uncertain. A French press release stated it will be available by “spring” or around March. Meanwhile, Dutch and Bulgarian press releases suggest “end of spring”, which is around May.

Pricing and availability in other regions have yet to be announced.

CES 2021

Kingston launches new NVMe SSDs, Workflow Station and Readers

Featuring blazing fast speeds and large storage capacities

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For CES 2021, Kingston has launched new SSDs designed for content creators and everyday consumers. There are also brand-new Workflow Station and Readers introduced that should simplify data management and storage.

The biggest change to the upcoming SSDs is the switch to the faster NVMe interface. All of Kingston’s recently-launched SSDs will come with faster read and write speeds as a result of this change, greatly benefiting the users.

Headlining the new SSD portfolio is Kingston’s Ghost Tree SSD. It features a claimed read and write speed of 7GBs made possible by switching to the newer PCIe 4.0. It will come in different capacities ranging from 1TB to 4TB. Professional content creators should benefit greatly from the blazing-fast performance that this SSD affords.

Meanwhile, everyday consumers can also reap the benefits of NVMe with the NV series. Kingston touts it as an entry-level series utilizing PCIe 3.0 with storage capacities reaching up to 2TB.

There’s also a new external storage solution from Kingston — the X200 external drive. Like the newer external SSDs in the market, this one comes with USB Type-C that allows for transfer speeds of up to 2GB. It comes in different capacities ranging from 500GB to 2TB.

Finally, there’s an SSD designed for enterprise. The DC1500M is a substantial update to DC1000M, adding support for multi-namespaces. It also connects via U.2 interface, which is a newer interface designed primarily for the enterprise sector. Geared towards data-intensive workloads, Kingston touts its needs primarily in cloud computing, web hosting, and virtual infrastructures.

New Workflow Station and Readers

Rounding up Kingston’s CES 2021 announcements is the Workflow Station and Readers. One of its highlight features is the ability to customize the file offload setup allowing for greater flexibility in transferring files, audio, images, videos, and more from multiple sources. It can also simultaneously connect to USB hubs, SD, and microSD card readers.

Alternatively, users can use it as a standalone reader by connecting it to their laptops via a USB Type-C cable.

Price and availability

Kingston hasn’t announced the prices for the newly launched SSDs. However, all of these should come later in many markets globally. Interested users should follow Kingston for updates on prices and availability o their markets.

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Laptops

Report says MacBook Pro 2021 won’t have the Touch Bar

But MagSafe will make a comeback!

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Apple could be planning a major revamp of the MacBook Pro lineup, and it’s expected to go official in the third quarter of 2021. Interestingly, the redesign will include removing the Touch Bar and the return of the MagSafe charging port.

According to TF International Securities analyst Ming-chi Kuo, this will be the first major redesign of the MacBook Pro since 2016. Furthermore, it’ll have square-off sides like the iPhone 12, flatter top and bottom panels, and brighter screens.

It’ll be available in two sizes — 14-inch and 16-inch. And yes, they’ll feature Apple’s in-house processors that leverage Arm architecture. There will not be an Intel option, and Apple’s next-generation chipsets will power it. They’re expected to feature more cores and enhanced graphics.

At the end of November 2020, a MacBook Pro 16-inch with 12-core Apple M1X processor was tipped to be even more powerful than the M1 processor. Earlier that month, a MacBook Pro 14-ich model with Apple’s M1 processor was also tipped.

A report by TechRadar suggested that the 16-inch MacBook Pro model looks a bit slimmer. This could be due to the processor’s efficiency since it doesn’t need aggressive cooling like Intel-powered options.

Most importantly, though, Apple is going old-school and bringing some of the features we’ve always loved. The pill-shaped MagSafe charging connector could make a comeback, and physical function keys could replace the digital Touch Bar. Kuo has also hinted that Apple could provide ports generously to reduce dependence on dongles.

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Gaming

Bravely Default II preorder final demo now available

A must-play!

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Bravely Default II is a Japanese fantasy RPG with lovely art styles reminiscent of a refined version to early Final Fantasy releases. The series gameplay uses the usual turn-based battle system and job system. But, the series is more notable for integrating options to combine and customize job abilities, battle speed, and enemy encounter rates.

Bravely Default II is the newest addition to the Bravely series. So, what’s new? Bravely Default II lets you step into a brand-new world with four new heroes, new stories, and new job roles.

This iteration features a young sailor, Seth, who washes up the shores of one of the five mighty kingdoms of the continent. He encounters an escaped princess, Gloria of Musa, and they both venture out to meet more travellers seeking the truth to their world.

If you’re into RPGs or a fan of the Bravely series, this is the game release to look forward to. The game keeps its charming mechanics while piling on new features so if you want or need a taste of the game, the final demo is out now. Although, you won’t be waiting much longer for the game’s full release because it looking to be released on February 26 exclusively for the Nintendo Switch.

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