Monday, July 23, 2018

Sony unveils world's first 48-megapixel smartphone sensor

Source: https://www.engadget.com/2018/07/23/sony-48-megapixel-smartphone-sensor/

Is it best to have a high-resolution smartphone camera sensor or a lower-resolution one with better light sensitivity? Sony says you can have both with its latest stacked CMOS image sensor. The IMX586 has the "industry's highest pixel count" with 48 megapixels, bettering high-end cameras like its own A7R III, all squeezed into a phone-sized 8.0 mm diagonal unit. At the same time, four adjacent pixels can be added together during low light shooting, yielding a 12-megapixel sensor that delivers "bright, low noise images," Sony said.

Putting 48 megapixels on a chip that size yields a 0.8 micron pixel pitch, which would normally give you high resolution but poor nighttime shooting capability. However, Sony's "Quad Bayer" color filter array can also merge four pixels into one. That yields an effective pixel pitch of 1.6 micrometers, significantly better than Google's Pixel 2 XL (1.4 microns), one of the best low-light smartphone cameras out there.

Quad Bayer sounds much like the "Pixel Fusion" tech used by Huawei in its P20 Pro smartphone. It reportedly uses Sony's 40-megapixel IMX600 to deliver high resolution images, but can also join four pixels together to create a 10-megapixel sensor with much better light-gathering capability.

Sony's signal processing tech also allows fast output speeds and dynamic range "four times greater than conventional products." To wit, it would let you record 4K (4,096 x 2,160) video at 90 fps, and 1080p at a time-stopping 240 fps.

Sony, which spun off its image sensor division in 2015, currently dominates sensor sales for both smartphones and premium DSLR/mirrorless cameras. Last quarter, it vowed to maintain that position by spending up to $9 billion developing new tech. First samples of the 48-megapixel chip will arrive in September 2018, but Sony generally reserves new sensors for its own devices -- so you might see it appear first in Sony's Xperia XZ line of premium smartphones.

Source: Sony

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Monday, March 26, 2018

The first Chrome OS tablet comes from Acer

Source: https://www.engadget.com/2018/03/26/acer-chromebook-tab-10/

There have been many Chrome OS devices with touchscreens, but there haven't been pure tablets. You've always had an attached keyboard as a fallback -- until today, that is. Acer has unveiled the first Chrome OS tablet, the Chromebook Tab 10, and there's nary a keyboard to be found. The 9.7-inch slate is aimed at squarely at education, where the all-touch input and light weight (1.21 pounds) could make it a better fit for younger students. Appropriately, there's a bundled battery-free Wacom stylus that lets kids draw and take notes.

The rest of the specs won't blow you away. There's a Chrome OS-oriented six-core, Rockchip-made OP1 processor, 4GB of RAM, 32GB of expandable storage, a 2-megapixel front camera and a 5-megapixel rear shooter. The most cutting-edge feature is a USB-C port that can charge other devices in addition to the tablet itself. Instead, the real allure is Chrome OS itself: it gives schools a secure, Google-centric tablet that runs Android apps and can be easily managed.

Acer will ship the Chromebook Tab 10 to North America in April for $329, and to Europe, the Middle East and Africa in May for €329. Don't expect to buy one yourself, though. Acer is only making the tablet available to commercial and education customers For now, at least, this is more about competing for classroom share that would normally go to basic Android tablets or iPads.

Source: Acer

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Friday, January 19, 2018

Intel's new cameras add human-like 3D vision to any machine

Source: https://www.engadget.com/2018/01/18/intel-realsense-ready-to-use-depth-cameras/

Intel has released two ready-to-use RealSense depth cameras, the D415 and the D435, that can add 3D capabilities to any device or machine. They both come in a USB-powered form factor and are capable of processing depth in real time, thanks to the chipmaker's new RealSense vision processor D4. The models work indoors and outdoors in any lighting environment, so they can be used for almost any machine that needs a depth camera. Those include drones meant to soar the skies and robots with AR/VR features.

Intel says the cameras' target audiences aren't just developers and manufacturers, but also makers and educators, since they're easy to use and will work as soon as you plug them in. Also, it comes with Intel's RealSense SDK 2.0, which is now a cross-platform, open source SDK.

Intel RealSense VP Sagi Ben Moshe said in a statement:

"Many of today's machines and devices use 2D image recognition-based computer vision, but with Intel RealSense's best-in-class depth technology, we are redefining future technologies to 'see' like a human, so devices and machines can truly enrich people's lives. With its compact, ready-to-use form, the Intel RealSense D400 Depth Camera series not only makes it easy for developers to build 3D depth sensing into any design, but they are also ready to be embedded into high-volume products."

The D415 and the D435 are now available for pre-order for $149 and $145, respectively. D415 has a narrow field of view and a rolling shutter that scans its environment from one side to the other to take an image. It works best when dealing with small objects and anything that needs precise measurements. D435, on the other hand, has a wider field of view and has a global shutter that takes images all at once. That makes it ideal for capturing depth perception of objects in motion and for covering big areas, since it minimizes blind spots.

Source: Intel

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Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Olympusâ TG-5 rugged camera has 4K video in a compact body

Source: https://www.engadget.com/2017/05/17/olympus-tough-tg-5/

With summer season just around the corner, now is the perfect time for new rugged cameras to start popping up. And what do you know, Olympus has introduced the Tough TG-5, a point-and-shoot with a 12-megapixel CMOS sensor, 25-100mm f/2.0 wide-angle lens (35mm equivalent), 4x optical zoom, 12,800 max ISO and the latest TruePic VIII image processor. If you're looking to record your adventures, you can do so in 4K at 25 and 30fps, or 1080p at 25, 30, 50, 60 and 120fps (slow-motion videos, anyone?). Naturally, since this is a rugged camera after all, the TG-5 is waterproof, crushproof, dustproof and freezeproof.

You'll also get built-in GPS, RAW+JPEG shooting, a 3-inch LCD and WiFi, which makes it easy for you to transfer your images to a smartphone. The Tough TG-5 is hitting stores in June for $450, while the waterproof case will be sold separately for $300.

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Wednesday, April 19, 2017

HTC realizes most people don't have a VR-ready PC

Source: https://www.engadget.com/2017/04/18/htc-vive-bundles/

HTC is making it easier for you to buy a Vive. The company just rolled out three new bundles for the virtual reality headset that include PCs and graphics cards for the first time. If you already have a decent rig but need a new graphics card, you can now get the Vive and the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 Founders Edition for $999.99. That's $200 cheaper than the suggested retail price, HTC says. You can also finance the bundle for as low as $49 per month for 24 months (estimated shipping plus tax), but these are temporary offers that run through April 24th.

The second bundle is a Vive and a MSI VR Ready laptop for $125 per month. The laptop includes an Intel i7 Quad-Core processor, a GTX 1060 6GB GDDR5 graphics card, 16GB DDR4 RAM and a 256GB solid state hard drive.

And, lastly, HTC is offering a desktop bundle, pairing the Vive with the Cyberpower GXi970 for "less than" $99 per month, but the exact cost isn't listed just yet. Its specs include an Intel i5 Quad-Core processor, an Intel B250 Chipset, 8GB DDR4 RAM, a 2TB hard drive and a GTX 1070 8GB video card.

HTC's Vive Financing Program currently has three options: zero percent financing for six months and 12 months, or 7.99 percent financing for 24 months. It's likely offering the same options for the new bundles, but the details aren't all available on HTC's site yet. Obviously, the less time you take to pay something off the better. The 24-month option won't really save you any money in the long run. These bundles probably aren't the most cost-effective options out there -- an ambitious person could likely build their own rig for less. But, they could be a convenient option for less hardware savvy people looking for an easy way into the world of VR.

Source: HTC

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Panasonic's latest super-zoom camera also shoots selfies

Source: https://www.engadget.com/2017/04/18/panasonics-latest-super-zoom-camera-is-also-built-for-selfies/

Point-and-shoot cameras have had a bad rep lately, since they're neither as convenient as a smartphone nor as powerful as a mirrorless cam or DSLR. However, there are a few areas where they still excel: they can include ridiculously long-zoom lenses in small bodies, and take selfies that would be difficult or impossible to manage on your phone. And Panasonic, at least, is determined to make the most of those advantages. The company has just introduced the Lumix ZS70, a successor to the ZS60 that crams more into its compact frame. It now has a 20.3-megapixel sensor (up from 18MP), an even longer-ranged 24-720mm equivalent lens, and -- most importantly -- a flip-out 3-inch touchscreen. If you've ever wanted to take a high-quality selfie (including a new 4K mode) without sacrificing your ability to shoot far-off subjects, you might want to consider this model.

Otherwise, you're looking at some fairly familiar hardware... not that this is entirely a bad thing. It can still shoot 4K video at 30 frames per second, and take 8MP photos at a similar speed. You'll also find RAW capture, a very fast autofocus that promises a lock-on in about 0.1 seconds, and a slew of modern camera tricks such as after-shot focus selection, a beauty mode and creative filters. WiFi helps you share photos to your phone for those all-important Instagram posts.

As is often the case with super-zoom cameras, you'll be paying a fair amount. Panasonic will ask $450 when the ZS70 arrives at the end of May. That's competitive for the class, but consider this: Canon's upcoming PowerShot SX730 HS will offer a similarly sharp sensor, 40x zoom and a swiveling LCD for $50 less. And if you're more interested in image quality than distance, you could spring for either the PowerShot G9 X Mark II or an older camera like Sony's original RX100. You might be happy with the ZS70 -- just know that it's not the only game in town.

Source: Panasonic

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Monday, April 10, 2017

'Minecraft' adds a shop for mobile add-ons

Source: https://www.engadget.com/2017/04/10/minecraft-marketplace-on-mobile/

For many, the biggest limitation of Minecraft's Pocket and Windows 10 Editions has been the lack of community material. What good is playing on your phone if you can't try out that sweet new texture pack you saw on your PC? You're about to get that option. Microsoft and Mojang are launching a Marketplace that lets both Pocket and Windows 10 gamers download content from community creators, including skins, textures and whole worlds. You don't buy any paid content directly -- instead, you buy "Minecraft Coins" that let you snap up the add-ons you want. It's ostensibly to help producers set "flexible prices," although it also helps mask the value of what you're buying. You might not want to let kids have unfettered access, in other words.

The Marketplace only permits creators with registered businesses, so it's not going to take your just-for-fun project. However, those that do get in receive a 70 percent cut of the revenue, much like typical mobile app stores. A successful merchant stands to make a healthy amount of money, even if it's not as much as they might make by selling directly.

Access to the Marketplace will be limited at first. A public Android beta is launching in mid-April, and there won't even be any creator content -- that has to wait until a formal launch later in the spring. Still, this should do something to bridge the gap between your Minecraft experiences on computers and mobile devices.

Source: Minecraft

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Wednesday, March 01, 2017

Want an action camera that's also a watch?

Source: https://www.engadget.com/2017/03/01/want-an-action-camera-that-s-also-a-watch/

Back in the days of Google Glass, people balked at the idea that people could, or should, walk around with a camera on their face. Spacemap wants to see if there's similar hostility to those folks who are effectively carrying an action camera on their wrist. Beoncam is a removable five-megapixel hemispheric camera that you can wear like a watch, pulling it out for those moments when a smartphone snap would be too slow.

In order to justify its placement on the edge of your forearm, the Beoncam also tells the time thanks to a digital display located below the camera lens. Otherwise, the chunky disc houses a microphone and lens inside a casing with three buttons. In addition to the wrist strap, the device is designed to be quickly hitched onto other things, like bike handlebars, a camera tripod or your backpack.

According to the company, the camera's 400mAh battery will sit on standby for up to four days before you need to recharge. Once in use, however, it'll tire out within three hours before you need to recharge it with a microUSB cable. You can also set the device up as a wireless hotspot, enabling you to preview your footage via a companion app for iOS and Android devices.

Like so many outlandish products with dubious use cases, Beoncam is launching today on Indiegogo in a hunt for your cash. Early birds can snag one of the units for $119, while everyone else will have to spend $149. Delivery is currently scheduled for July 2017, although it's worth remembering that deadlines can, and often do, slide well into the future.

Source: Indiegogo

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Monday, February 27, 2017

Lenovo's latest Yoga 2-in-1 packs uncommonly fast graphics

Source: https://www.engadget.com/2017/02/27/lenovo-yoga-720-and-flex-5/

With most 2-in-1 laptops, you're giving up any hope of running games or other graphics-intensive apps -- if there are dedicated graphics at all, they're usually too slow for more than the basics. Lenovo thinks it can do better. It's unveiling the Yoga 720, and its 15-inch variant is supposedly the most powerful convertible in its class. Max it out and you can get a 4K display, a 7th-generation Core i7 processor and (most importantly) GeForce GTX 1050 graphics. It's still not a powerhouse, but it's uncommonly gaming-friendly for a PC that can double as a tablet.

The system also touts Thunderbolt 3, up to 16GB of RAM, a 1TB hard drive (or 512GB SSD), a 9-hour peak battery life (8 hours with 4K) and the option of an active stylus. And if that's overkill, there's a smaller 13-inch version with integrated graphics, SSD-only storage and an 8-hour battery. Both models are due in April, starting at $860 for the 13-inch system (with a 1080p screen) and $1,100 for the brawnier 15-inch rig.

Lenovo is also introducing a middle child of sorts. The Flex 5 (Yoga 520 outside the US) splits the size difference at 14 inches, and can ship with GeForce 940MX graphics if you need a little more visual prowess than Intel's built-in solution. You're stuck with a 1080p screen, but this is the longevity champ of the three with a 10-hour battery pack. It's the more affordable of the bunch, too, starting at $800 when it ships in May.

Click here to catch up on the latest news from MWC 2017.

Source: Lenovo

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Thursday, February 23, 2017

Razer's Power Bank keeps your laptop running

Source: https://www.engadget.com/2017/02/23/razer-power-bank/

External battery packs are a dime a dozen, but you might want to pay attention to this one. Razer has unveiled the Power Bank, a 12,800mAh external battery designed primarily for laptops. It's clearly intended as a companion for Razer's own portables, and can extend the life of a Blade Stealth to as long as 15 hours. That's more than a little helpful if you're stuck traveling all day. However, its reliance on USB-C makes it compatible with any laptop that can charge using the newer connector. Yes, you could keep a MacBook running on this brick if you don't mind the style mismatch.

Like some of these batteries, the Power Bank doubles as a phone charger thanks to two USB-A ports. It even supports Quick Charge 3.0 for those phones that can handle it. This definitely won't be an inexpensive peripheral when it ships in March, at $150 (£170) -- we've seen higher-capacity batteries that sell for less, like Mophie's Powerstation XXL. Not all of those are designed to charge your phone and laptop at the same time, though, and the logo-emblazoned aluminum body might be worth it if you're a dyed-in-the-wool Razer fan determined to coordinate the look of your gear.

Source: Razer

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Samsung's next smartphone chip is ready for gigabit LTE

Source: https://www.engadget.com/2017/02/23/samsung-s-next-smartphone-chip-is-ready-for-gigabit-lte/

Mobile World Congress is nearly upon us, giving Samsung ample reason to show off the latest product from its chip foundries. The company has announced the Exynos 9 Series 8895, a flagship CPU that's made with a 10-nanometer manufacturing process. The smaller circuits, it's hoped, will offer 27 percent better performance while drawing 40 percent less battery.

The 8895 ships with eight cores, four of which are Cortex A53s, paired with a quartet of Samsung's custom-designed variants. The company claims that it'll play back 4K video at 120fps as well as offering VR content at the same resolution. Security fans will also note that the 8895 comes with an additional processing unit designed to keep your fingerprint, iris and payment data securely locked away from prying eyes.

Additionally, the chip is Samsung's first to boast a gigabit LTE modem and support for five carrier aggregation. The hardware is expected to throughput data at 1Gbps and upload those Instagram selfies at a top speed of 150Mbps. That should keep your lust for high-capacity data networks at bay while those 5G networks are built out.

If history is any indication, it's more than likely that the Exynos 9 Series 9985 will sit at the heart of the forthcoming Galaxy S8. At least, it's the chip that'll be found inside the international version of the device -- since the US edition of the last few flagships used Qualcomm CPUs instead. We're likely to find out for sure in the run-up to the device's expected launch at the tail-end of March.

Source: Samsung

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Thursday, February 09, 2017

Samsung's QLED 4K TVs will start at $2,500

Source: https://www.engadget.com/2017/02/09/samsung-qled-tvs-price/

If you've been waiting to buy one of Samsung's QLED 4K TVs, which were unveiled at CES 2017, today is your lucky day. The company is now taking pre-orders for its Q7 and Q8 sets, starting at $2,500 for a 55-inch, non-curved model. In case that's not big enough, you could shell out $6,000 for a 75-inch Q7 or $4,500 for the curved Q8. What's missing from this list is the flagship Q9 panels, which Samsung still hasn't revealed pricing for.

As a refresher, the QLED lineup is intended to rival high-end TVs from LG and Sony, with the promise of Quantom Dots delivering a picture quality on par with OLED technology. Samsung says the Q7 and Q8 are expected to ship "late" February.

Via: The Verge

Source: Samsung

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Tuesday, February 07, 2017

Sony's latest sensor shoots ridiculous slow-mo video

Source: https://www.engadget.com/2017/02/07/sonys-latest-sensor-shoots-ridiculous-slow-mo-video/

Sony has unveiled a sensor that could bring some impressive camera tricks to your next smartphone. The 3-layer CMOS sensor does super slow motion at up to 1,000 fps in full HD (1,920 x 1,080), around eight times faster than any other chip. That's possible thanks to a 2-layer sensor married with high speed DRAM that can buffer images extremely rapidly. Specifically, it can capture 19.3-megapixel images in just 1/120th of a second, "four times faster than conventional products," Sony says.

That kind of readout speed reduces "focal plane distortion," also known as rolling shutter. On CMOS-equipped cameras, including smartphones and DSLRs, the top of the an image is read before than the bottom, causing vertical lines to tilt on fast moving objects. As Sony shows in a test image (below) a faster 1/120th second readout speed significantly reduces that effect. The result will be better photos of moving objects and reduced wobbly "jello" video.

That's all good, but the sensor's standout feature is super slow-mo. As shown below, 1,000 fps is pushing into Phantom Flex camera territory, letting you see the impact of a ball on a bat or a dog vault in precise detail. What's more, Sony says that smartphones could detect sudden movement and automatically launch the high-speed mode, so you only use it when needed. Thanks to the DRAM buffer layer, it would work on any smartphone with a regular image processor.

By contrast, the Google Pixel, one of the better slow-mo models out there, can only do 120 fps at full HD, less than an eighth of the Sony sensor's capability. Sony says it has also figured out how to eliminate the noise inherent in putting DRAM next to an image chip by sandwiching it between the CMOS layer and circuits. There's no word on when the chip will appear in any new smartphone models, but as Sony has just launched it, it could take a year or two.

Source: Sony

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Wednesday, February 01, 2017

If Desk Space Is a Priority, This DiscountedĂ‚ Lenovo Thinkcentre Can Help

Source: http://deals.kinja.com/if-desk-space-is-a-priority-this-discounted-lenovo-thi-1791862704

What the Lenovo Thinkcentre may lack in bulk, it makes up for it in ability. Despite its impressively small size (that’s not a comically large pencil), this little guy gets you a 128GB SSD, 4GB of RAM, and a 2.2GHz Core i5 processor with integrated Intel HD 530 graphics. If you like tiny things that are the best price…

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Monday, January 30, 2017

Explosions may be the answer to mass-producing graphene

Source: https://www.engadget.com/2017/01/30/explosions-may-be-the-answer-to-mass-producing-graphene/

Graphene is difficult and expensive to mass produce, but while trying to make something else altogether, Kansas State University (KSU) scientists may have lucked into a promising technique. The team was attempting to make carbon soot aerosol gels by detonating acetylene gas and oxygen with a spark plug. That yielded soot resembling "black angel food cake," according to lead researcher Chris Sorensen. It proved to be graphene, a discovery that could pave the way for cheaper manufacturing of lightweight but incredibly strong materials, superconductors, and more.

Graphene consists of bonded carbon that's just one atom thick, making it one of the lightest, strongest materials out there. It also has interesting electrical properties and has shown tons of experimental promise for rapid-charging "supercapacitor" batteries, solar cells and superconductors. However, more widespread use is limited by its cost -- methods like chemical "cooking" and high temperature heating have proven to be low-yield, expensive and even dangerous.

The KSU team's technique simply requires an oxidizing agent like oxygen or air, acetylene or other hydrocarbons and a spark, according to a patent it filed. The resulting detonation creates a 3,000 degree K temperature inside the vessel, enough to create pure graphene stacked in single, double or triple sheets. "What might be the best property of all is that the energy required to make a gram of graphene through our process is much less than other processes because all it takes is a single spark," Sorenson said.

The researchers are now working to improve the quality of the graphene and scale it up to industrial levels. The aim is to get the material out of the chamber several seconds after the detonation, so it doesn't form into an aerogel. However, the technique seems far along along already compared to other types of promising research, which often never leaves the lab. "The real charm of our experiment is that we can produce graphene in the quantity of grams rather than milligrams," says post-doc researcher Arjun Nepal.

Source: Kansas State University

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