Mobile

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Best Nikon camera 2019: 3 brilliant cameras from Nikon's line-up


Camera heavyweight Nikon changed tack in recent years, choosing to focus more on its enthusiast and professional offerings and a little less on the novice side of the market. 

Because of this, its previous 1 system of mirrorless cameras has now been discontinued and its compact line has shrunk to a fraction of its former size. It still very much has a number of solutions for beginners and those with a little more shooting time under their belt, but it's the prospect of one day using one of its more advanced models that entices many.

1. Nikon Z6


Nikon's full-frame mirrorless camera is a triumph

Sensor size: Full-frame | Resolution: 24.5MP | Viewfinder: EVF | Monitor: 3.2-inch tilt-angle touchscreen, 2,100,000 dots | Maximum continuous shooting rate: 12fps | Movies: 4K | User level: Intermediate/expert

Nikon’s previous 1 system never really made much of a mark on the mirrorless landscape, but its newer full-frame Z system has got off to a sterling start with the Z6 and Z7 (see below). We reckon the Z6 is hard to beat for the price, offering a great blend of features and performance that should keep both pros and enthusiasts happy. The 24.5MP full-frame sensor is capable of delivering excellent results, while the 273-point AF system (while not quite as sophisticated as the 693-point AF in the Sony A7 III) and 12fps burst shooting should mean you'll never miss another shot. Handling is polished too, while the large and bright electronic viewfinder is a joy to use. Excellent.

2. Nikon Z7


Nikon's first full-frame Z camera is a smash

Sensor size: Full-frame | Resolution: 45.7MP | Viewfinder: EVF | Monitor: 3.2-inch tilt-angle touchscreen, 2,100,000 dots | Maximum continuous shooting rate: 9fps | Movies: 4K | User level: Expert

Much like the company’s D850 DSLR (below), the Z7's ace card is that it manages to blend a high-resolution sensor with fast burst shooting and a fleshed-out 4K video recording option, making it versatile enough to be used for all kinds of applications

Key advantages over its D850 cousin include 493 phase-detect AF points that stretch right across 90% of the vertical and horizontal axes, together with 5-axis Vibration Reduction that can be used with all kinds of lenses. As we found in our review, handling is great and the 3.69-million dot viewfinder is a joy to use, while video quality is also very strong. 

3. Nikon D850


Still the choice of many pros

Sensor: Full-frame CMOS | Resolution: 45.4MP | Autofocus: 153-point AF, 99 cross-type | Screen type: 3.2-inch tilt-angle touchscreen, 2,359,000 dots | Maximum continuous shooting speed: 7fps | Movies: 4K | User level: Expert

Still arguably Nikon’s most desirable DSLR, the D850 is a robust, full-frame powerhouse that has proved to be smash among wedding, landscape, portrait and wildlife photographers among others. Its key highlights of a 45.7MP back-illuminated full-frame sensor, 7fps burst shooting, a 153-point AF system and 4K video recording are supported by a solid secondary set of specs, from the 1,840-shot battery life and dual cards slots (one being the speedy XQD type) right down to illuminated controls for the benefit of those working in darker conditions. 

Microsoft Surface Studio 2 review


The world has waited quite some time for this one: the Surface Studio 2 is here at last, and it’s improved in almost every way. Now, those improvements may not be on par with a lot of today’s professional all-in-one computers, but they do wonders for the Surface Studio 2’s core use case.

If you already own the original Surface Studio, you may want to seriously consider the sequel. The parts in the original are only going to grow longer in the tooth by the day, and we see what’s inside this model lasting a much longer time. If you’re new to the Surface family, just be certain of whether this computer will fulfill your use case (digital media artists only need apply), before committing so much cash.

Price and availability

The Surface Studio 2 calls for a kingly sum of $3,499 or AU$5,499 (about £2,680) – and that’s just to start. (Sadly, Surface Studio 2 isn’t yet available in the UK.)This will get you a 7th-generation – nope, not a typo – Intel Core i7 processor designed for laptops and powered by Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060(6GB GDDR5) graphics, 16GB of DDR4 memory and a 1TB NVMe SSD. Yes, the hybrid drives are gone.

Design and display


This may come as music to your ears or a total disappointment, but absolutely nothing has changed about the Surface Studio in its physical design over the previous model. Even the included wireless keyboard and mouse are identical to the original model.That said, Microsoft took the opportunity to upgrade the Surface Studio display with this revision. The screen has been given quite a boost in the brightness and contrast departments by 38% (515 nits) and 22% (1,200:1), respectively.

We have to admit that the increased brightness and contrast ratio don’t do a ton for us personally, but we imagine it should make content that much more visible and workable for creators. The increased brightness can bring out enhanced detail, meanwhile, the boosted contrast will drive deeper blacks and lighter whites, and in turn produce more color depth.

Performance

The parts inside the Surface Studio 2, on paper, look like peanuts compared to the latest processors and graphics cards available in similarly-priced desktop computers. However, none of those computers double as a high-resolution drafting table.

Microsoft’s unique positioning for Surface Studio 2 put this computer into almost a whole category unto itself, however what’s inside will be capable of basically all modern computing tasks regardless. Just don’t expect to be able to quickly encode 4K video, or drive the latest games at native resolution, with this machine.

Now, Microsoft may have included its Xbox Wireless connectivity protocol for its Xbox One controllers, and this PC may have the capability to play many of the latest games at decent settings, but this is not a gaming PC. We wouldn’t even remotely consider gaming to be a concern in purchasing this machine.

Final verdict

The Surface Studio 2 absolutely does what it ultimately sets out to do: improve upon the previous model in every way necessary. This version is faster, brighter and with more vibrant color than before, changing nothing that didn’t need to be changed.

That said, this computer will absolutely look like an overpriced heap when stacked up against rivals, like the Apple iMac Pro, on paper. These spec-for-spec comparisons simply cannot capture the complete value found within Surface Studio 2 … because of its unique use case as one of the world’s best digital drafting tables.

For the digital artist out there looking to upgrade from the original model, this one is a no-brainer. For newcomers, this model seems far more prepared to weather the endless silicon improvements and upgrades, with even stronger support for 4K content creation and the latest accessories via USB-C.

New Year's resolutions smartphone manufacturers should make


Some of you may be working on your 2019 resolutions. Want to try being vegan for a month, start doing to the gym again or stop stealing from the stationery cupboard at work because it's all getting a bit out of hand? Good for you.But, as we all know - hand on heart - giant companies are citizens too. According to the 14th amendment, corporations are afforded some of the protections of personhood. So why shouldn't they have to make some New Year's resolutions too?Here are the 2019 resolutions the smartphone giants should adopt. For their phones. For us. And for the world. Amen.

Stop assuming we can spend half our income on phones

One of the scariest developments in phones over 2018 was the flirting with the $1000/£1000 price boundary. Heck, Apple even sailed right across it with the iPhone XS Max.How about we get real, and realize that most of us can't, don't want to, or really shouldn't, spend this much on a phone? Sadly, this one is likely to happen as your pledge to go to the gym four times a week, every week.The latest news suggests we'll see even more expensive phones next year, with 5G models reportedly commanding a $300 premium over this year's priciest phones. For those willing to spend that much we ask: how fast do you need to stream YouTube videos, exactly?

Bring back the headphone jack (what did it ever do to you?)


Changes in mobile phone tech usually get us a bit excited. But the whole "ditch the headphone jack" thing? There's not much to excite there.And why is it happening? You can make water resistant phones with headphone jacks, last time we checked those sockets don't cost $100 in parts, and claims phones can no longer fit them in seem deeply suspicious when the things didn't suddenly get smaller when jack sockets were wrenched out.

Some lobbyists from big headphone must have some dirt on the big phone-makers or something. Saying that, most phone-makers now make wireless earphones or headphones too. You won, we all bought wireless sets. Can we just have the jack back now?

Get over the notch obsession


We're over 18 months into the era of the notch. And phones like the Pixel 3 XL prove maybe it is time for something new. Or old, like no notch at all.Remember when phones didn't have miniature trunks hanging down from the top of their screens? A half-desperate way to convince us our last phone was out-of-date and in need of a cab to eBay, or the dusty drawer in the spare room? 

Notches make it seem like your screen is bigger without actually making it more useful, as movies, games and articles don't flow around those lines.But what will we actually get in 2019? The notch will still be around, but top phones will also use punch holes, which are like notches just large enough to fit around the front camera.

Discover camera enlightenment beyond 12MP



Remember a few years ago, roughly 45 years in smartphone terms, during good old days of Nokia Lumia phones? Bright and colorful they were. So cheery they'd put a smile on your face just to look at the cute little palm sized things. What happened to fun, affordable phones? Today just about the only phone that brings some of that bold color to the party is the iPhone XR. And if you think that's affordable, you're wrong.

Phone-makers are now pros at making sub-$200 phones seem like ones that would have cost $600 or more a few years ago. But it's time to bring the fun back with some bold shades that don't try to look like the equivalent a TV host's shiny suit. 

New Facebook Messenger ‘dark mode’ currently being tested in select countries


Glancing at Messenger first thing in the morning can feel a little like being woken up with a flashbang, particularly if your smartphone has an especially bright screen. However, that problem could soon be a thing of the past, with noted app-teardown expert Jane Manchun Wong revealing on Twitter that the Android version of Facebook's popular messaging application is currently testing its upcoming 'dark mode', as reported by Android Police.

The catch? The test is currently only available to select users in certain countries – neither Facebook nor Wong have indicated which regions have access, though based on TechRadar testing it didn't include the US or Australia at time of writing.


According to Wong, users with access to Messenger's new dark mode can find a toggle for the setting within the app's 'Me' section. Of course, as the new mode is only in its testing phase, it's far from complete – an in-app 'work in progress' message from Facebook reportedly states that "While we put the finishing touches on dark mode, it won't appear everywhere in Messenger."

The dark mode test comes shortly after a recent minimalistic UI makeover, which saw Messenger reduce its number of tabs and refine some of its clunkier design aspects. It's unclear when Messenger's dark mode will roll out to more territories, but we'll keep you posted when it does.


Tuesday, January 1, 2019

The PC games you need to look out for in 2019


It’s safe to say 2018 was a pretty good year for PC games, so it falls to 2019 to step up to the plate and serve up an even better lineup of must-play titles for your gaming laptop or desktop.And there’s just so much to look forward to. Rage 2, Gears 5 and Metro Exodus will be giving shooters their due in the months to come, while The Division 2, Anthem and Skull & Bones will aim to raise the bar for the world of online play.

Even the tactical realm of strategy and simulation - staples of the PC scene - are getting new iterations in the form of Imperator Rome, Anno 1800 and Phoenix Point. And those are just some of the ones we know about

Rage 2


Of all the IP Bethesda could have been revealed in 2018, no one was expecting a sequel to the mostly disappointing 2010 open-world shooter, RageBut with id Software now co-developing with Just Cause and Mad Max developer Avalanche Software, it did just that. And you can really tell developmental duties are now in the hands of the Swedish outfit, with a new focus on over-the-top destruction and creative shooter/vehicle shenanigans.

Rage 2 is a single-player focused experience, with big guns, even bigger buggies and the kind of physics-driven destruction you’d expect from the makers of Just Cause. With a splash of vibrant color it does look very Borderlands, but who’s to say that’s a bad thing?

Anno 1800


After two previous forays into the technology-driven future, Blue Byte’s grand city-building simulation series dials back the clock for Anno 1800. After two previous forays into the technology-driven future, Blue Byte’s grand city-building simulation series dials back the clock for Anno 1800. The result is one of the deepest instalments yet, with a return to the pure city-building blueprint that made the early Annos so enjoyable.

AI opponents will now build and launch offensives on the same map, seasons will change (which will affect your citizens and battles), while an improved trade system and the incredibly helpful ‘Blueprinting’ setup will enable you to plan out your city designs more effectively.

Anthem


With the commercial and critical failure of Mass Effect Andromeda now firmly behind it – and the next mainline Dragon Age entry in development but likely far from release – Canadian developer Bioware is pouring all its efforts in the co-operative open-world RPG that is Anthem.It’s a third-person shooter where you control a Freelancer, a jet-pack-wielding explorer sent out to search for resources in a dangerous new world.

You play with up to three other players, and you can customise and enhance your exosuit – known as a Javelin – as you progress. With a jetpack for flight and improved movement, and dynamic weather patterns that drastically affect the world around you, Anthem promises to be an engaging – if not entirely original – new IP.

Now there's a report of an iPhone XS Max catching fire


A man from Columbus, Ohio has reported that his three-week-old iPhone XS Max caught fire in his pocket while inside a case – causing smoke, the burning of his skin, and a dead iPhone that Apple has since offered to replace.

Apparently when the melted handset was taken into an Apple Store, they were at a loss to explain exactly what had gone on, iDrop News reports. The man involved says he's less than happy with Apple's response to the incident, quite aside from selling him an iPhone that seemed to catch fire without any kind of trigger.

For now this is only an isolated incident – and one that hasn't been verified by Apple – so it's far too early to start putting your own iPhone XS Max in the fridge for safe keeping. You can see one of the photos of the burned phone below.



There is precedent for this of course: Samsung had to recall the Galaxy Note 7 in 2016 after it was found to have a defective battery problem that could cause it to ignite, while one iPhone X did catch on fire late last year.
Even with all the safety precautions and testing routines that modern-day smartphones go through, it seems that occasional incidents like this can't be eliminated completely. If Apple responds officially to the news or there are any further updates in the case of the melting iPhone XS Max from Ohio, we'll post them here.
With only one report in the wild though, we wouldn't expect this to develop into a major safety issue – so you're fine to keep on using your 2018 iPhone as normal. As for what Apple is working on for next year, we've got some ideas on that too.

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

DJI and Skypixel launch the world's biggest aerial photo and video contest


DJI and SkyPixel, the online aerial photography community, are inviting entries for the annual SkyPixel Aerial Photo & Video Contest. The contest is designed to showcase the world captured from above, and is open to photographers and videographers, both professionals and enthusiasts.

There are some decent prizes up for grabs, with a approximately $120,000 worth of products to be won. These include a Hasselblad X1D-50c camera (worth £5,999 / $6,495), DJI Mavic 2 Pro drone and the new Osmo Pocket three-axis stabilized gimbal.

SkyPixel will also be running a series of exhibitions at DJI Flagship Stores throughout 2019 to showcase the winning entries.

Categories

The SkyPixel contest has been run for the past three years, receiving over 100,000 submissions. Entries don't have to be captured on DJI equipment, with no restriction on the type or brand of aerial equipment, and participants can submit as many still images or videos as they wish.

The video contest consists of five categories: Nature, City, Sport and Travel, plus a Creative category, with entrants encouraged to "curate a visual story to showcase your creative skills and extraordinary visual effects". The photo contest consists of four categories: Nature, Architecture, Fun and Sport.

The winners will be announced on March 20, 2019. To find out more about the competition, and to enter, head to the 2018 Skypixel Aerial Photo & Video Contest website. Good luck!

We've recommended the following top drones after countless hours of rigorous testing high above our heads. Drones by DJI and Parrot continue to rule the skies, whether you're a first-time flier or a drone pilot expert looking for the ultimate hovering camera.  

The best part of picking from the best drones in 2018 is that affordable or even cheap drones now shoot 4K resolution video with steady image stabilization. It's true; you don't need a Hollywood blockbuster budget to capture amazing aerial footage. 
Finding a quality drone at a reasonable price isn't hard anymore. Being able to fly your drone legally is sometimes more tricky, especially in cities. The good news is that the best drones available give you fair warning – usually through accompanying apps – that map out where it's legal to fly without incurring the wrath of local authorities.