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Sony Xperia XZ launched in PH: hands-on and gallery

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We’ve seen the new Sony Xperia XZ up close at IFA 2016 in Berlin, where it was first revealed in September. Since then, the Android flagship has made its way to the U.S, Europe, India, Japan, and other parts of the world. And now, it’s making its way to the Philippines in time for the holidays.

The Xperia XZ, Sony says, combines the best technologies of Sony’s Xperia X and Z range of premium devices, particularly in the camera department, where it hopes to stand out. According to Sony, consumers want a great camera on their phone so the Japanese tech firm set out to deliver what they want by jamming as much tech as possible into a moderately sized and angular device that’s a joy to hold.

It’s also great that most of the exterior makes use of “alkaleido” metal, which gives the phone a shiny-but-not-too-shiny surface. In the hand, it feels a tad slippery, though, so we think it’s best to pair it with a durable aftermarket case.

The Xperia XZ combines the best technologies of Sony’s Xperia X and Z range of premium devices, particularly in the camera department.

There’s a fingerprint scanner embedded right into the physical home button on the right-hand side of the body. The placement may be ideal for the majority because the button sits where the thumb of a right-handed person would naturally land. Sorry, left-handed folks. Positioning the volume rocker too far below the power key isn’t something we’re happy about. Mobile photographers, meanwhile, will appreciate the convenience of the hardware shutter key on the side.

And this being a proper Sony flagship model, the phone is IP68-rated, so prolonged exposure to liquids shouldn’t be a problem. But do keep in mind that Sony’s fine print says not to dunk the XZ in water and not to expose it to pool or salt water. It also has two front-facing speakers that are satisfyingly clear and loud. Their placement is a boon for those who love playing games on their mobile device.

As for the engine room, expect to see a Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 processor paired with 3GB of RAM and 64GB of storage (for the version that will be sold in the Philippines). And while it’s unfortunate that Sony didn’t bump up the memory of its latest top-end handset — and it hasn’t since the days of the Xperia Z2 — the XZ never felt sluggish while we were poking around on the interface.

Sony has opted for the USB-C standard for the XZ, as well as a 2,900mAh battery with adaptive, fast-charging technology, which the company claims will prolong the life of the battery — and by extension, the phone.

This being a proper Sony flagship model, it’s IP68-rated, so prolonged exposure to liquids shouldn’t be a problem.

Still, the biggest attraction by far is the 23-megapixel rear camera on the XZ. It comprises three key elements: an image sensor for capturing fast-moving subjects; lasers for measuring distance and improving autofocus speeds; and an RGBC sensor for true-to-life colors. The XZ is also capable of shooting 4K video at 30 frames per second, except without the benefits of optical image stabilization.

In our brief time with a test unit, we found the main camera to be a solid performer, though we prefer the color reproduction of the Samsung Galaxy S7 edge and iPhone 7 Plus. The 13-megapixel selfie camera takes great selfies and has a wide-angle lens to fit more people in one shot.

In the Philippines, the XZ will be offered in three color options — blue, black, and silver — for P37,990 ($790) and will be available from November 18.

As a quick aside: Don’t hold your breath for an Xperia X Compact release locally; Sony won’t be bringing it to the Philippines this year or anytime soon. We’re told the market goes for bigger phones, as opposed to smaller ones that cost just as much.

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CES 2018

Episode 001: Getting lost at the world’s largest tech show

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In this first epidose of GadgetMatch Podcast we talk about the 2018 Consumer Electronics Show (CES 2018) which just wrapped up in Las Vegas. Michael Josh and Isa share behind the scenes challenges of covering the world’s largest tech show. And the team talks about the most attention grabbing tech from the show including an entire range of Artificial Intelligence and Google Assistant gadgets, Vivo’s new phone with an in-display fingerprint sensor, Sony’s new robot dog, and Razer’s Project Linda.

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Apps

How to hide from Instragram’s new Activity Status feature

It’s on by default!

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Instagram silently rolled out a new feature of its app. If you don’t like your friends to know that you’re online (and also protect your privacy), you might want to take action. Why? Because it’s automatically turned on.

If you have the latest app, you probably noticed something new inside the Direct Messages section. This new feature dubbed “Activity Status” lets your Instagram buddies know if you’re online. If you happen to be scrolling through your timeline moments ago, the status will show that you’ve been available earlier.

This is switched on by default but the data is only shared with users that you follow and those you message privately. There’s no need to panic if you think a stalker will know that you’re online — unless you follow them, too.

How to turn it off?

You can easily switch it off inside the app. Just go to your profile page and tap the top-right icon for Options.

Next, scroll down until you see “Show Activity Status” and switch the toggle button beside.

That’s it! Now that it’s off on your end, your status will not show up to your buddies. Although, you won’t be able to see the status of other accounts as well.

Since the new feature was smoothly included in the recent updates from the Play Store or App Store, it’s not clear when Instagram introduced the function. Some might not have it yet, which could mean it’s still an experimental approach with a limited number of users.

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Automotive

The Best Car Tech of CES 2018

Exciting times ahead!

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We recently wrapped up CES 2018 (see our top picks) and even though the trade show originally revolved around consumer electronics, a big chunk of what was introduced was directed towards connected cities with a focus on making driving a lot smarter.

The idea of self-driving cars surely isn’t new and has been around for quite some time now. It’s basically the concept of what the future is like in addition to flying cars. At this year’s CES, brands who participated made us realize that this “future” isn’t too far away.

Here are some of the most promising cars and car technology that we’re excited to see in the near future.

Assistance

Multiple brands showed off their new toys left and right. There’s the announcement of Amazon’s Alexa coming to cars for voice assistance and content consumption. Toyota will be the next to adapt voice assistance in addition to BMW, Ford, and Hyundai. Meanwhile, Waze has also been integrated into select infotainment systems.

Nissan, on the other hand, is taking the user-machine a step further by introducing the brain-to-vehicle (B2V) technology. It basically uses a system that could read your brain patterns and signals to better prepare for what you’re about to do next while driving.

Platforms

In terms of services, Ford is slightly stepping out of the shadow of car-making and plans to be the new platform for autonomous vehicles. It has partnered with Lyft, Domino’s Pizza, and Postmates to create an operating system which small to large businesses can use for their unique services.

Speaking of unique services, Toyota unveiled its e-Palette concept vehicle which has all the potential to go big in the future of mobility. It’s envisioned as a self-driving vehicle running on Toyota’s tech and platform that other brands can use for food deliveries, as a moving boutique, or even a mobile hotel that you can rent.

As far as ride-sharing goes, expect it to join the bandwagon as smart cities are developed. During the trade show, car tech company Aptiv was present and was hand-in-hand with Lyft as they demonstrated their self-driving cars to the participants of CES. The public could just hail a ride from the Las Vegas Convention Center using the app and enjoy the view of the Strip to their destination.

Additionally, NVIDIA has also added Uber and Volkswagen to their growing roster of brands that will run on the company’s self-driving computer platform.

Cars

Apart from the new platforms, there were cars — quite a lot, actually. From concept to actual models on display, we got a peek at these vehicles that probably want to take on Tesla.

Derived from Bytes on Wheels, BYTON wants to blur the line between digital and automotive with their electric intelligent SUV concept. The new-gen smart device communicates with users and pedestrians via lights and patterns on its grille and recognizes the driver and passengers by face.

Kia was also present with its very own Niro electric crossover. This concept is basically an electric version of the Niro Hybrid but gets a new grille design. Like BYTON, it is now an interactive panel with a built-in Active Pedestrian Warning System, but what makes this something to look forward to is its range. It can go as far 383km (238 miles) before needing to charge again — beating what the Tesla Model 3 can offer.

Car designer Henrik Fisker gave another shot at making vehicles; this time in the form of the EMotion luxury sedan. The vehicle is a level 4 autonomous car and is equipped with the world’s first Butterfly Doors. Fisker also wants to set standards for other EVs so they made the vehicle last up to 644km (400 miles) on the road.

Meanwhile, Hyundai is continuing its push to go green and introduced the NEXO fuel cell electric vehicle. It has a more efficient engine, is a lot quieter, and maintenance is kept to a minimum. Although the best thing about it is that it emits nothing but water vapor. Features-wise, it has autonomous driving, self-parking, self-retrieval — the whole shebang.

In-vehicle Networking

Software updates are an important aspect of vehicles relying on digital systems. Tesla has somehow established its system already but for other car brands, updating hundreds, even thousands of vehicles across a country, is still not an easy task.

Hyundai and Cisco addressed this and aims to overhaul the process of in-vehicle networking. With the use of Ethernet connectivity and the Automotive Linux platform, they promise to be able to roll out updates remotely and it’s as simple as pushing a button.

 

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