If you decide you can live without a zoom lens and an OLED display, then the iPhone 11 has everything you need for a fairly reasonable price.

PROS
Night mode; same A13 chip as the Pros; good battery for an iPhone; affordable-ish
CONS
Notch looks outdated; no screen update; the iPhone XR exists
PRICE
£729

Picking an iPhone now feels a lot like picking a laptop. It used to be that the iPhone you’d be interested in would be “the new one”. Apple put paid to that whole idea years ago but now it feels like a legitimate exercise to line up all your options and compare the numbers. Or at least the features that matter to you. Because not only are there three new ones, including this iPhone 11, there’s also last year’s bestselling iPhone XR still on sale and cheaper than ever. So that’s four already.

This is not going to be a grand iPhone review, waxing on about innovation out of Cupertino, but it’s worth saying now that the iPhone 11 is a futureproof phone – it has the fewest features of the 2019 cohort but even these might be overkill for a lot of people. So let’s do it, let’s situate the iPhone 11 in the line-up to help you pick the right model. It won’t be as tedious as choosing a laptop, honest.

Dual cameras come to the ‘cheap iPhone’

For at least three years, it’s been conventional wisdom that Android has raced ahead when it comes to phone cameras. That doesn’t take into account the fact that the iPhone has always produced very sharp, bright, balanced images in good light and has always been very capable for video. But it’s fair to say Huawei, Google and the rest have offered more technically superior, not to mention versatile, camera hardware and software to Apple recently. Now with the iPhone 11 series Apple has caught up… and then some.

Next to the £629 iPhone XR, which as we said should be on your shortlist, the iPhone 11 offers two big improvements that will cut through. It’s a dual camera setup, with a second 120 degree, 13mm equivalent ultra-wide lens and there’s a new auto night mode that works a treat. The thing that’s missing here is the third telephoto lens of the 11 Pro but there is decent 5x digital zoom.

The ultra-wide is fun if you like to experiment, it’s not too distorted and Apple makes the most out of it. Just tap the icon in the camera app to toggle between 1x (regular wide) and 0.5x (ultra wide) when shooting still photos or video.

There’s also the handy option to always capture shots with the ultra wide too, as a sort of backup if the main lens doesn’t get everything in the frame; the idea is they’re stored for 30 days in case you want to switch. Elsewhere, there’s a few minor photo extras, such as the very stylised High Key Low Mono effect in Portrait mode and the slow motion selfies.

A night mode that’s worth the upgrade

But the auto night mode is essentially the reason to upgrade to the iPhone 11. Take that away and it’s difficult to make the case – right now at least, remember that futureproofing – why you shouldn’t just buy an XR.

You can’t manually trigger night mode (classic Apple) but it’s very sensitive to the extent that the icon will pop up in the corner even when you’re in a semi badly lit room. You can turn it off and play around with the slider that changes the extended shutter time to, for example, two or three seconds for taking a variety of long and short exposures.

It’s all very quick and intuitive to use and the results are immediately obvious. The larger main sensor helps for low light video too, though stills are where the real nighttime action is. There’s also no night mode on the ultra-wide angle lens and the difference is, forgive us, night and day.

As long as you keep your hand still, and the optical image stabilisation on the main camera does help here, the night/poorly lit scene is illuminated in a way that doesn’t necessarily look very natural but does produce extremely usable images. So good that in side-by-side comparisons with rival flagships like the Samsung Galaxy S10, for instance, it now comes down to personal preference which look you prefer.

Spec and battery boosts that add up

Even putting the new features of iOS 13 to one side – dark mode, Find My and revamped privacy controls are a few that stick out – Apple has made tweaks here and there. None turn the iPhone 11 into an entirely different experience to the iPhone XR but nonetheless you might want to pay for them.

There’s an hour extra battery, which doesn’t hurt, and Apple’s claim that the 11 can go for 10 hours of video streaming is on par with what we’ve seen in our testing. There’s no 18W fast charger in the box (unlike with the Pros) and we haven’t been able to test out whether it can go from nought to 80 per cent in 30 minutes yet. But if you want to buy one, it costs £29.

Throw the iPhone 11 Pro and Pro Max into the mix and the 11 Pro only offers one more hour of regular use over the iPhone 11, a neat example of how narrow the gap between this £729 phone and the £1,000+ phone really is.

Apple also says this is now the “toughest glass in a smartphone”, down to it being strengthened via a dual ion-exchange. We dropped our iPhone 11 a couple of times and it survived unsmashed – only time will tell if iPhones can realistically go without cases long term.

It’s easy to forget that the audio performance of the iPhone, with good headphones, is excellent. Apple has put more effort into spatial audio this year, with Dolby Atmos support which now seems to be something of a standard across phones. Of course that relies on the quality of what you’re watching or listening to – we still think the stereo speakers lend themselves to music and podcasts more than movies and games, though.

Design and screen: must try harder

The new colours for the glossy back, including pastel green and purple, are fun but the sleek profile is long gone with a double bump on the back to accommodate the new camera setup. One ding is that the overall design does now look outdated next to the latest Android phones, due to the slightly large notch and fairly noticeable bezels, in a way that perhaps it didn’t last year.

It’s still well made and ergonomic but it’s tricky to see a way back to the clean lines with the focus so heavily on camera hardware. For the first time, part of an iPhone looks a bit ugly and that can’t be good for Apple’s street cred.

The 6.1-inch LCD display is still terrific. Side-by-side you’ll notice that the fancy OLEDs on the 11 Pro will go brighter or produce deeper blacks for those arthouse movies or photo editing you’re planning to do. But we don’t think it’s a problem that Apple has kept this screen tech one of the few points of difference between the real flagships and this very, very good go-to iPhone.

It seems a bit lax to have this display stuck on 326ppi, though. This has been the threshold for Apple’s Retina displays for aeons now and we’d certainly like to see a higher resolution next time around. The 11 Pro, by comparison, is a pin-sharp 458ppi on its smaller 5.8-inch screen. Perhaps after the success of the iPhone XR, Apple went all-in on this spec.

Verdict

In the US, this is a $700 (£560) smartphone. For an iPhone this good, that’s incredibly affordable. Over here in the UK, £729 is a good price but it’s not exactly troubling OnePlus until you consider the quite generous trade-in program that’s worth checking out.

The iPhone 11 runs on the same A13 Bionic chip as the Pro models and that means that when features like Apple’s Deep Fusion computational photography tech, i.e its machine learning-powered camera feature that stitches together multiple images for even better results, come out of developer beta, the humble iPhone 11 will get that too.

It also has Apple’s U1 chip inside, which right now allows you to point your iPhone 11 at another iPhone 11 for quick, fuss-free AirDrops but could very quickly become key to Apple’s plans for precise, location tech.

Which is to say that for most people, this will be more than enough iPhone. The 11 offers enough to make it well worth the extra £100 over the iPhone XR and to be honest, it’s really quite difficult to find things to criticise with this phone.

This not an amateur device, far from it. Aside from the slightly better battery life, especially on the Pro Max, the iPhone 11 Pro isn’t solving problems with the iPhone 11, it’s just layering specs on top of an already excellent product. If you decide you can live without a zoom lens and an OLED display, we’d be very surprised if you missed them.

 

Source: Wired

The latest overhaul of wireless networks is upon us, and it promises a future of more devices connected on faster networks. Here’s everything you need to know

The sound of “802.11ax” may not shake you with excitement or even ring a bell – but whether or not you are familiar with the technical name for the latest iteration of Wi-Fi, it is coming at us.

For most people, it will be known as Wi-Fi 6. That’s because the Wi-Fi Alliance, which certifies Wi-Fi devices, has decided to make wireless networks more comprehensible to us by renaming the various versions of the standard. Instead of talking of 802.11b, which was the first iteration of Wi-Fi released in 1999, we can now say “Wi-Fi 1”.

So Wi-Fi 6, if you’ve been following, is the sixth time the IEEE – the professional organisation that sets standards in the telecommunications industry – has improved on its wireless LAN (WLAN) technology and released a new standard for it. In short, it will make Wi-Fi even better; and while it is not yet ready to be widely adopted, it has already launched in some routers and devices.

Has Wi-Fi 6 piqued your curiosity already? If so here’s everything you need to know about the next generation of WLAN, and how it will make your streaming hours even better.

Why should I care?

Because Wi-Fi 6 will – in theory – reduce the time you spend plugging and unplugging your router to get your movie to download, or scheduling streaming times so that you don’t overlap with your flatmate’s movie night. “It will enable significantly faster throughput in high density environments where many devices must use the same wireless access point,” says Bill Menezes, principal analyst at Gartner.

According to industry analysts, it will be roughly 30 per cent faster than Wi-Fi 5, and a team at CNET even registered speedsup to 40 per cent faster, at 1,320 Mbps. This is a lot more than most devices need to function on their own, but it will significantly speed things up where there are multiple receivers tied to a single router.

This improvement will not only affect 5GHz networks, which the industry has largely shifted to, and which provide faster data on shorter distances; it will also make 2.4GHz networks faster, which are typically slower but better at penetrating solid objects like walls.

What’s the magic trick?

Wi-Fi 6 will be delivering data a lot more efficiently to reach those speeds, and it all comes down to two main reasons. If you picture Wi-Fi signals as transactions between an access point, like a router, and a device, like a phone, Wi-Fi 6 will pack more information into one transaction, while also delivering to more customers in one go.

The first way to do that will be to send more binary code, which then translates as information, with each signal. This can be measured in QAM, or Quadrature Amplitude Modulation. Wi-Fi 5 routers currently are 256-QAM, which means that they work on the basis of eight digits of binary code for each signal. With Wi-Fi 6, this will jump to 1024-QAM, or ten digits of binary code. More code means more information is sent, which means data gets to you faster. It’s a win-win.

To complement that, Wi-Fi 6 will be fitted with a technology called Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiple Access (OFDMA), that lets it divide its bandwidth between various sub-channels. “It helps divide the spectrum and allocate bandwidth to different user requirements, reducing contention and latency,” says Menezes. And by creating multiple access points, it will let your router communicate with various devices at the same time.

What is so revolutionary about it?

According to Leif-Olof Wallin, analyst at Gartner, Wi-Fi 6 is mainly “evolutionary” – however he maintains that it could be “a game changer” for some use cases. Namely, for situations where many users need to connect to wireless networks, like stadiums, shopping malls, convention centres or airports.

In those high-density environments, various wireless access points may be using the same channels for their transmissions, which causes interference. Wi-Fi 6 will deploy Basic Service Set (BSS) Colouring, a technology that marks – or colours – shared frequencies with a number, so that networks can intelligently decide whether the channel is too busy, and avoid congestion if so.

Another useful Wi-Fi 6 setting is Target Wake Time (TWT), which should increase your devices’ battery lives. TWT will manage your devices so that those which need to periodically connect to Wi-Fi, such as IoT devices, are scheduled to connect only when they need to. This will save the device extra battery life while also clearing your wireless channel of any unnecessary interference.

Who really needs it?

“Speeds of 10 Gbps sound great,” says Menezes, “but the reality is we don’t see a lot of current use cases demanding even close to that.” In reality, Wi-Fi 6’s better management of crowded environments is likely to meet bigger needs.

In a Gartner report, analyst Christian Canales identified that in increasingly connected workspaces, for example, where employees are equipped with up to four wireless devices – laptop, tablet, phone and wearable – and buildings are getting ever smarter, the new capabilities that come with Wi-Fi 6 will be beneficial.

Other fields that could improve as a result are augmented reality and virtual reality, which businesses could experiment with for training, product design or visualisation. On a similar note, Wallin says: “Serious gamers and use cases where location tracking is important will benefit the most.”

That’s not to say, of course, that you won’t see any difference. Especially in households that require strong IoT connectivity, a faster bandwidth is always an improvement. That’s something to excite anyone who has ever complained about how slow their connection is.

What’s the catch?

Wi-Fi 6 is definitely coming – in fact it is already here, in routers from brands like Netgear or Asus, and in phones like the Samsung Galaxy S10. But you may not reap the benefits of the new technology just yet, because Wi-Fi works as an ecosystem. That means that you would have to upgrade all your devices, as well as your router, to Wi-Fi 6-compatible ones in order to take advantage of its faster speeds.

In addition, you shouldn’t expect to see any improvements if you are stubbornly paying for the cheapest wireless plan out there. If the speed you are buying from your internet service provider is too slow, a Wi-Fi 6 router won’t do much to change that. There is no need to start comparing prices just yet, though, as most plans currently don’t go fast enough to unleash Wi-Fi 6’s full potential.

All this means that Wi-Fi 6 is still a while away from global adoption. Wallin underlines that it is still in its early days, and that it will take some time before endpoint devices catch up: “As usual, with any new standard, there is a high likelihood for minor incompatibilities between different vendors,” he says.

For his part, Menezes forecasts that only 22 per cent of notebook computers will have integrated Wi-Fi 6 technology by 2022. So that’s a few years to keep saving money on your internet plan.

Source: Wired

Benro have launched a fantastic mobile camera stabilisation kit. It’s called the Benro 3XS Lite and is a smartphone gimbal stabiliser. Vastly improving your photography and videography performance! Perfect for the vlogger! Why? because of the gimbal inside the 3XS Lite!

FEATURES

This nifty little device will deliver silky smooth content whether you’re on smooth terrain or along humps and bumps. Whether you’re a simple vlogger or an extreme sports lover.

It has been designed to work with a smartphone. Simply slide the smartphone in to the device, making sure it is balanced. Otherwise the gimbal won’t work properly. Ports are also still useable, such as charging port and audio ports. The single button on the device allows users to switch between portrait mode and landscape mode. All other functions such as camera shutter, record and zoom can be accessed via the gimbal’s handle. Furthermore you can also attach an external mic!

It is incredibly lightweight too and weighs just 430g, allowing for long usage and easy transportation. It can also be unfolded in a matter of seconds so no need to be fumbling about! The Gimbal features a 2000mAH battery which provides 24Hrs of filming. What’s better yet, is that it features a 1/4″ threaded hole for mouting a tripod, allowing it to be used hands free during time lapses or panoramic shots.

SMALL BUT MIGHTY

“The 3XS Lite is one of the smallest gimbals on the market, but despite the small size it is not small on features. It boasts all of the features of the competition and more, its folding design makes it easy to carry, it’s lightweight and even has the ability to run an external microphone – something you wouldn’t expect to see on a gimbal of this size.”Mark Hoskins, Brand Manager, Benro

The Benro 3XS Lite also has a companion app. This app can be used to create multi-shot panoramas, time lapses, object tracking or face tracking. It can also be used to precision-tune the gimbal, for calibration and updating of firmware.

Purchase a Benro 3XS Lite by clicking here!

 

Source: How To Kill An Hour

WIRED Recommends the best cameras of 2019, from enthusiast to professional level

Despite steadily declining camera sales, photography is more popular than ever. How’s that possible you cry? Smartphone cameras are largely responsible for the 3.2 billion images shared online daily but in that deluge of imagery, the genuine quality is typically captured using a dedicated camera.

Those shots are then edited and crushed down to web resolution so that the lives of people with impeccably curated timelines look that little bit shinier, more vibrant and more beautiful than the rest of ours. Even if you’re not swayed by picture envy, there comes a point when your old camera or phone just aren’t cutting it anymore.

In order to upgrade the look of the images you capture, it still pays to invest in something that offers more in terms of functionality and image quality. Try as they might, even the latest flagship smartphones can’t hold a flashgun to this year’s best cameras, which is why we’ve rounded them up for you to take your pick.

What are the best cameras of 2019?

The best camera all around is the LUMIX S1 from Panasonic, it offers a commanding array of professional photography and video capabilities, including up to 180fps slow mo in Full HD and 4K/60p. It’s also built to last and performs brilliantly in all lighting conditions.

View the Panasonic LUMIX DC-S1 for £2,620 on Amazon

If you want excellent image quality, but don’t want to break the bank, the Fujifilm X-T30 is our pick of the best advanced enthusiast camera. Compatible with Fujifilm’s extensive range of quality X-mount lenses, the X-T30 is styled like a vintage film camera but is packed with the latest tech including wireless file transfer.

The Nikon Z6 is one of the first ever mirrorless cameras from Nikon and it’s the best camera for creative work. But despite being late to the game, the Nikon Z6 offers superb stills and video performance. It’s also compatible with the extensive family of Nikon F-mount lenses via an adapter.

View the Nikon Z6 for £1,529 on Amazon

WIRED Recommends is your definitive guide to the best technology. Read our best gadgets guide to see what we recommend in every category. When you buy something using the retail links in our stories, we earn a small affiliate commission. This does not impact the products we recommend.

Panasonic Lumix DC-S1

WIRED Recommends: A solid all-rounder and true DSLR-killer

Sensor: 24.2MP full-frame CMOS | Focusing: DFD Contrast AF | ISO: 100-51200 | Continuous burst: Up to 30fps 6K (18MP) | Display: 3-way tilting touchscreen LCD | Viewfinder: 5.76-million dot | Video: 4K/60p | Stabilisation: 5-axis in-body | Size:148.9 x 110.0 x 96.7mm | Weight: 1,017g | Memory: 1 x SDHC/SDXC, 1 x XQD

When the full-frame Lumix S1 was announced – the first of its kind from Lumix – the expectation was high. Fortunately, the Lumix S1 (£2,999) delivers in spades.

Firstly, the camera’s all-new L-mount has been created via a 3-way collaboration between Panasonic, Sigma and Leica. This means that there’s an extensive lens collection being built around it, by some of the greatest minds in the imaging world. There’s also an L-EF mount adapter, produced by Sigma, that opens a world of Canon-full-frame fit lenses for this camera body. When paired with an EF-mount lens, the S1 can still deliver single autofocus, but continuous AF is out of the picture unfortunately. Still, having access to so much quality glass is a huge boost for people investing in this new system.

The Lumix S1’s 24.2-megapixel sensor can capture a broad dynamic range, making it ideal for shooting in high contrast and low-light scenarios. And thanks to its Venus image processing engine, the S1 can capture images in candle light with very little visible noise artefacts. It also features an intelligent depth-from-defocus AF system that can detect and track faces, bodies, eyes and animals.

Panasonic’s impressive 5-axis dual image stabilisation technology is featured in the S1 and makes shooting stills and video handheld significantly more viable. For landscape and product shooters, the S1’s High Resolution Mode will be a boon. When used with a tripod, the S1 uses the same tech for its stabilisation to pixel shift its sensor and create 96-megapixel stills. It’s an impressive bonus feature, even if it isn’t a main selling point. As for video, the Lumix S1 leads the pack and can record up to 4K/60p and up to 180fps Full HD.

Few cameras can compete on all fronts like the Lumix S1, which is why it holds the WIRED Recommends title for now.

Pros: Superior photography and video; great dynamic range
Cons: Heavy; limited native lens range; contrast AF system

Price: £2,999 with 24-105mm kit lens | Check price on Amazon

Olympus OM-D E-M10 III

The best interchangeable lens camera under £700

Sensor: 16.1-MP micro-four-thirds | Focusing: 121-focus point contrast detection | ISO: 200-25600 | Continuous burst: Up to 8.6fps | Display: 3in tilting touchscreen LCD | Viewfinder: 2.36-million dot | Video: 4K/30p | Stabilisation: 5-axis in-body | Size:121.5 x 83.6 x 49.5mm | Weight: 410g | Memory: Single SD card slot

Closely modelled on the OM film cameras of old, the Olympus OM-D E-M10 III (£629) offers cracking stills quality and performance in a compact form factor. Olympus OM-D is synonymous with classically refined style and this model carries on this strong legacy.

Once you get over how cute and retro the E-M10 III looks, there are some very respectable features to be discovered. Firstly, its design allows for all key functions to be accessed without having to dive into its convoluted menu system – a big plus. And it’s not littered with buttons and dials, making this camera approachable for beginners. On its rear, sits a 3in touchscreen display that can be tilted to face up or down. This is good for capturing shots at creative angles and getting above crowds if you choose to be that person at a concert.

The size of the E-M10 III makes it ideal for street and travel photography. It’s small enough to both avoid attracting unwanted attention and prevent people from being intimidated when staring down its barrel, which is ideal for portraits and capturing candid moments. Housing a 16.1-megapixel Live MOS sensor with Olympus’ tried and tested TruePic VIII imaging engine, you won’t be disappointed with the results. Unless of course you’re hoping for more resolution; if that’s the case, you may want to look elsewhere.

One of the best features of the E-M10 III is its 5-axis in-body image stabilisation. It’s excellent, and will allow you to drop your shutter speed in low-light situations and shoot scenes handheld that would typically result in a blurred mess.

Based around the popular micro-four-thirds lens mount, there are tonnes of affordable lenses for the E-M10 III, making it a great investment for people hoping to build their kit as they grow in experience.

Pros: Fantastic image quality; compact body, extensive lens range
Cons: Autofocus not suitable for action; dated menu system

Price: £629 with 14-42mm kit lens | Check price on Amazon

Fujifilm X-T30

Best for stylish retro design and replicating classic film looks

Sensor: 26.1-MP APS-C | Focusing: Intelligent Hybrid AF system approx. 100% sensor coverage | ISO: 160-12800 | Continuous burst: Up to 30fps | Display: 3in tilting touchscreen LCD | Viewfinder: 2.36-million dot | Video: 4K/30p | Stabilisation:Lens only | Size: 118.4 x 82.8 x 46.8mm | Weight: 383g | Memory:Single SD card slot

The smaller sibling of Fujifilm’s hugely popular X-T3, the X-T30 (£869) has a lot going for it. Vintage-look cameras will often grab the eye of photography fans. But unlike the cheap retro models you find in the accessory sections of fashion stores, the X-T30 offers both style and substance.

Coming in at under £1,000, the Fujifilm X-T30 produces similar outstanding picture quality to its higher-end stable mate, but sacrifices some premium features. The X-T30’s fourth gen 26.1-megapixel X-Trans CMOS sensor and X-Processor image engine are the same ones housed in the X-T3, which costs over £500 more with a lens. Fujfilm has built a reputation for producing cameras that deliver tone-rich and detailed JPEGs straight out-of-camera and the X-T30 continues the trend. The X-T30 performs well, even in challenging light, delivering relatively clean JPEGs at higher ISO sensitivity settings.

If capturing action is your thing, the X-T30 won’t let you down. Armed with phase detection focus sites covering almost 100% of the frame, this camera is swift AF. It also features advanced Eye Detect and (selectable) Face Detection. Capable of mechanical and electronic shutter, the X-T30 can shoot at up to 30fps silently in electronic shutter mode. When using its mechanical shutter, it tops out at 8fps, but that’s still decent. If you can’t get the shot with this camera, you’re not doing it right.

Moviemakers will appreciate that the X-T30 can record up to 4K/30p, although it’s capped at ten minutes recording time at this resolution. We also wish its touchscreen display featured a greater range of motion, rather than just tilting up and down. But for the money there aren’t many cameras that can match this camera’s features and performance. The diminutive size of the Fujifilm X-T30 belies the quality of the pictures it can produce.

Pros: Retro look; great for beginners and semi-pros
Cons: 4K video cap; no in-body stabilisation; small viewfinder

Price: £869 with XC15-45mm kit lens | Check price on Amazon

Nikon Z6

Quality stills and video in a compact frame

Sensor: 24.5-MP BSI full-frame CMOS | Focusing: 273-hybrid phase detection system | ISO: 100-51200 | Continuous burst: Up to 12fps | Display: 3.2in articulated touchscreen LCD | Viewfinder: 2.36-million dot | Video: 4K/30p | Stabilisation: 5-axis in-body | Size: 134 x 101 x 68mm | Weight: 675g | Memory:Single XQD card slot

Let’s get the bad news out of the way first. The Nikon Z6 (£1,529) only has a single card slot. And it’s no regular slot, it’s an XQD – a card type created by Sony and designed for robust use and high speed data transfer. The cards themselves are great, but at present, the XQD is by no means a standard format, meaning you won’t find them stocked commonly and they are about three to four times the price of comparative capacity SD cards. SD cards have been a standard format for digital camera memory for a long time, so only giving it a single XQD slot is a big misstep in our opinion.

However, if you can overlook that and have the budget for uber pricey memory, the Nikon Z6 has an impressive specs sheet. Using the newly developed Nikon Z-mount, the Z6 has opened up the potential for some exciting lenses on its horizon, such as the NIKKOR Z 58mm f/0.95 S Noct. But it is also compatible with all existing Nikkor F-mount lenses via an adapter, making this a great option for existing Nikon DSLR shooters who have been patiently waiting to join the mirrorless party.

Powered by Nikon’s EXPEED 6 image processor, the Z6 can shoot 24.5-megapixel stills at up to 12fps. That, coupled with a highly capable 273-point hybrid phase detection autofocusing system, the Nikon Z6 is at home capturing fast-moving action. And for videographer types, it can record 4K/30p video and Full HD video at 120fps – for smooth, cinematic slow motion. It’s even possible to take pictures while recording video, a very neat trick. Want to keep things quiet? The Z6 has an electronic shutter mode, for taking pictures in environments where silence is paramount; such as music recitals, golf tournaments or photographing wildlife.

Pros: Fast AF; great ergonomics; compatible with older glass
Cons: Only has one XQD memory slot

Price: £1,529 body only | Check price on Amazon | Park Cameras

Nikon D850

Best for image quality and reliable performance

Sensor: 45.7-MP BSI full-frame sensor | Focusing: 153-point AF | ISO: 64-25600 | Continuous burst: Up to 9fps (with grip) | Display: 3.2in tilting touchscreen LCD | Viewfinder: Optical | Video: 4K/30p | Stabilisation: None | Size: 146 x 124 x 78.5mm | Weight: 1,005g | Memory: 1 x SDHC/SDXC, 1 x XQD card slot

With DSLR sales steadily falling off a cliff edge, you might wonder why we’ve recommended one in the best cameras of 2019. However, greatness cannot be denied.

The result of a formula that’s been tried and tested over decades, the Nikon flagship DSLR is a chiseled and finely tuned masterpiece. Years from now, the Nikon D850 (£2,639) will be fondly looked back on as the glorious last samurai of the DSLR camera world. It packs a high-resolution 45.7-megapixel back-side illuminated full-frame sensor and is powered by Nikon’s EXPEED 5 image processor. The result is that it delivers consistently strong images in a broad range of scenarios. From photographing wildlife to capturing events, such as weddings or concerts, a photographer armed with the D850 can take it all on without fear.

To keep up with the action, the D850 uses the same 153-point AF system as the Nikon D5 – the camera of choice for many press and sports photographers. And when paired with the optional MB-D18 battery grip, it can shoot continuously for up to 9fps. In terms of additional features, DSLR cameras typically struggle to keep up with their mirrorless counterparts and it’s a mixed bag for the D850 in this regard. It features an impressive 8K time-lapse mode for creating stunning sequences that will raise the production level of any location video. However, it can only do 4K/30p, limited to 30 minutes recording time and uses sluggish contrast detect AF, which isn’t the best at tracking subjects during video.

But despite its shortcomings, and the fact that DSLR cameras are a dying breed, the Nikon D850 is one of the greatest models ever made in its class. This camera will not let you down.

Pros: Professional build and image quality; highly reliable
Cons: Video specs are lagging behind the competition

Price: £2,639 body only | Check price on Amazon | Park Cameras

Fujifilm GFX-100

The money-no-object pick for high-end photography

Sensor: 102-MP BSI medium-format | Focusing: 3.76m PDAF pixels, 100% sensor coverage | ISO: 100-12800 | Continuous burst: Up to 5fps | Display: 3.2in 3-way tilting touchscreen LCD | Viewfinder: 5.76-million dot EVF | Video: 4K/30p 10bit 4:2:0 | Stabilisation: 5-axis in-body | Size: 156.2 x 163.6 x 102.9mm | Weight: 1,400g (removable EVF) | Memory: Twin UHS-II SD card slots

If image quality is king and ultimate detail and resolution are required, look no further than the Fujifilm GFX 100 (£9,999). It houses a whopping 102-megapixel back-side illuminated medium-format sensor. And it also introduces a number of class-leading world firsts in the digital medium format camera segment, including 5-axis image stabilisation and recording 4K/30p 10bit 4:2:0 video internally.

The GFX 100 was designed primarily with high-end photography work in mind, capturing beautiful fashion, breathtaking landscapes and close-up details of technically impressive products, as well as wildlife. And having seen the quality of its 16-bit RAW files (another world first), we can confirm, there aren’t many cameras that can live at this camera’s altitude.

We also love the GFX 100’s distinct, signature retro styling, which effortlessly blends vintage aesthetics with cutting-edge technology and intuitive functionality. The GFX 100 has two information LCD displays, top and rear. And its body is comprised of a unique magnesium alloy construction, which sees the front and rear frame act as an outer shell for the lens mount and sensor housing. This minimises the impact of movement when taking pictures, further enhancing its detail reproduction capabilities.

The GFX 100 can do things that no rival medium format camera can do. With 5 frames-per-second burst-mode shooting and a nifty phase detection AF system (with face/eye detection), this camera will work wonders in the right hands.

Pros: Class-leading video and stabilisation; outstanding images
Cons: If you can afford it, there aren’t any

Price: £9,999 body only | Check price on Wex Photo Video

 

 

Source: Wired

Reports suggest the butterfly keyboard may be meeting its end, London is getting another new ride-hailing service, and we need to plant more trees to help limit the climate crisis.

Apple may finally abandon its controversial butterfly keyboard design

Since 2015, the keyboards of Apple’s MacBooks have used an underlying butterfly design to allow key presses. Now, after the departure of Jony Ive, it’s emerged the company may replace the mechanism, which has been fraught with issues since it was introduced. Users have consistently complained that keys stop working when dust finds its way into the system. Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has reported that from later this year a new design based on scissor switches will be introduced. The new system is said to include fibre glass to reinforce the keys.

 

Source: Wired

In a year where the Samsung Galaxy S9 has underwhelmed many, Huawei’s P20 and P20 Pro have an opportunity.

There’s a simple reason to like Huawei P20 and P20 Pro: they both have a button on the front. It’s a good place for a button, especially one that’s a back button, home button and fingerprint scanner all in one. But wait, it also launches Google Assistant, so that’s four convenient features for the price of a tiny sliver of screen real estate.

It’s a refreshing antidote to the “more screen at all costs” approach, and, on Android at least, it makes eminent sense. Any space saved by not having a button is replaced by Android’s default soft buttons anyway, so what’s the point in ditching it? And while an irksome camera bump makes an unwelcome appearance, there’s a software option to hide it. Problem solved.

There’s plenty more to like about the P20 and P20 Pro, too. After years of floundering around with questionable gimmicks and iffy software, Huawei’s phones are maturing. The hardware’s always been good, but the software is simpler and classier than ever, and in the P20 Pro and its three cameras (yes, three), it has something unique to shout about.

The Huawei P20 and P20 Pro compared

The triple camera is exclusive to the P20 Pro, but that’s not the end of the differences. Naturally the Pro’s a little larger – 6.1in compared to 5.8in for the standard P20 – but it also has an inky black OLED screen, 6GB of memory and, unlike the P20, it’s water resistant. Given how similar they are, it seems a tad arbitrary that the P20 lacks the latter feature, but clearly the triple camera is the real talking point.

Huawei’s approach is unusual in that both phones have an RGB (colour) sensor and a monochrome one. A dedicated monochrome sensor opens up some fun creative options, but it’s also employed to improve low-light photo quality and – like on most dual-camera phones – help create blurred background ‘portrait mode’ photos. Huawei’s had this setup since the P9 in 2016, where its ongoing camera partnership with Leica first began.

That’s why the Pro now has three cameras. On most rivals, the second camera is the telephoto camera, but Huawei already had two cameras on its phones, so the natural conclusion was to include a third to add the telephoto dimension. Some might deem it excessive, but there’s merit in the flexibility, and this means you can enjoy the detailed, moody shots of the monochrome camera when it’s useful.

Huawei makes much of P20 Pro’s superior zoom ability, too, with a ‘5x hybrid zoom’ (3x optical) which it claims produces sharper, more detailed photos than the competition thanks to some algorithm trickery. The results WIRED saw were impressive but – given the lack of opportunity for direct comparison at the preview event – inconclusive.

HUAWEI P20 VS P20 PRO SPECS

PROCESSOR
Huawei Kirin 970 Octa-core CPU (4 x Cortex A73 2.36GHz + 4 x Cortex A53 1.8GHz) + i7 co-processor
SCREEN
P20: 5.8-inch, 1,080 x 2,244 LCD
P20 Pro: 6.1-inch, 1,080 x 2,240 OLED
CAMERAS
P20: Front: 24MP, f/2.0, Rear camera: 12MP RGB (f/1.8) + 20MP monochrome (f/1.6)
P20 Pro: Front: 24MP, f/2.0, Rear camera: 40MP RGB (f/1.8) + 20MP monochrome (f/1.6) + 8MP telephoto (f/2.4)
MEMORY
P20: 4GB RAM and 128GB storage
P20 Pro: 6GB RAM and 128GB storage
DIMENSIONS
P20: 149.1 mm x 70.8 mm x 7.65 mm (H x W x D)
P20 Pro:155.0 mm x 73.9 mm x 7.8 mm (H x W x D)
WEIGHT
P20: 165g
P20 Pro: 180g
BATTERY
P20: 3400mAh
P20 Pro: 4000mAh
RELEASE DATE
Both phones are available to pre-order now and go on sale on April 5
PRICE
P20: £599 SIM-free
P20 Pro: £799 SIM-free

The camera tricks don’t end with the third camera. Both phones benefit from a 960fps slow-mo video mode, but it’s in the software where things get really interesting. Huawei’s talking up the AI elements of its camera software and, setting aside the abuse of the term ‘AI’ for a moment, the results are worth noting

All of which makes this mode impressive. Huawei was extremely cagey about how it works, but it seems logical it’s taking multiple exposures and stitching them together – a kind of low-light HDR mode, if you will. For a static demo, Huawei setup a pitch black room with a backlit silhouette of a city skyline on one wall. It was incredibly dark, but where a lesser phone would capture a vague dimness from the backlighting, the P20’s night mode captured real detail and depth with little appreciable noise.

It was impressive, and the phone can operate in this mode for up to eight seconds per shot, but the caveat is this wasn’t a real-world demo. In the wild, movement and conflicting light sources add complexity, so it’s hard to say on this evidence how often it will be effective when out and about.

Caveats applied, however, even if this mode doesn’t live up to its billing, it’s clear the P20 and P20 Pro have a great camera setup. Its partnership with camera specialists Leica continues to to pay dividends.

More battery is always good, but it comes at a cost

Not content with having more cameras than rivals, Huawei’s placed great importance on battery life. Both the P20 and P20 Pro have larger batteries than the Samsung Galaxy S9 and S9+. The P20’s 3,400mAh battery is 13 percent larger than Samsung’s and the P20 Pro’s 4,000mAh capacity cell is 14 percent larger than the S9+. These should hopefully be large enough to get you through any day with power to spare.

Sadly, the headphone jack has been sacrificed to help accommodate these larger batteries. This is either an evil sacrilege or a sign of progress depending on who you ask. Those wedded to a wired set will need an adaptor for the USB-C port. It’s another point of difference with Samsung, which retains the 3.5mm port on the S9 and S9+.

Removing the headphone jack helps keep the phones thin and light despite the large batteries, and these are good-looking phones, albeit in a generic kind of way. They’re thin and curvy in all the right places, though the special ‘light refracting’ finishes on the rear do not add much. It also would be nice if the third camera on the P20 Pro appeared less tacked on than it does, but in the design stakes Huawei can stand unashamed alongside Samsung and Apple.

First impressions

You can throw a blanket over most smartphones these days, they are so similar. And this is largely true of the Huawei P20 and P20 Pro, but the clever long-exposure mode and the Pro’s triple camera are noteworthy innovations. Moreover, if you’re choosing between the two, the Pro’s extra memory and OLED screen make a persuasive case.

As we’ve argued recently, Huawei’s success all hinges on whether the cameras live up to their billing. But in a year where Samsung’s rolled out a somewhat underwhelming update to its flagship phones, the P20 Pro manages to stand out. Samsung has a real rival on its hands again.

Source: Wired

The upcoming Android P developer preview shows Google adapting its software to service the current trend for edge-to-edge displays.

Eyeing a new high-end Android? It might look rather like an iPhone X. The latest Apple smartphone has a notch in the top of the display, so now every other phone has one too — whether they need one or not.

Support for the “notch” has even been added to Android P, which hit preview last week, though Google is calling it “display cutout support”. Between the Android P preview, the iPhone X mimicry, and what was announced at Mobile World Congress (MWC) last month, here’s what your next Android will look like — whether you want it to or not.

Android gets the notch

When the notch was first revealed, it was reviled. Initially mocked as “an odd design choice“, “botched” and “devil horns“, it’s now seen as a smart move to give the iPhone X an edge-to-edge display while maintaining room for the front-facing camera, dot projector and other gubbins that power the Face ID authentication, as well as the speaker and microphone.

Some phones are copying the iPhone X, including the notch for aesthetic purposes when there’s plenty of room on the bezel for components — we’re looking at you, Asus ZenPhone 5 and LG G7 and the leaked Huawei P20 lineup. Others are using the notch in the same way as Apple, making it a smart design decision that solves a problem rather than mere mimickary. That includes the upcoming OnePlus 6 and OPPO F7, while the Essential and Sharp Aquos S2 both featured a smaller notch before the arrival of the iPhone X.

Not all smartphone makers are opting for the “devil horns”, however. Instead, the Samsung Galaxy S9 and Google Pixel 2 have opted for “the stripe“, a single bexel-bar along one side that serves the same function; the former has a screen-to-body ratio of 84 per cent, topping even the iPhone X by two points, suggesting the notch isn’t the only compromise to maximise screen space. “Consumers aren’t asking for notches, they want edge-to-edge displays,” says Patrick Moorhead, an analyst at Moore Insights & Strategy. “There’s only two ways to do this kind of display — notch or small bezel. Apple does a notch and Samsung has small bezel… There’s only two ways to accomplish edge-to-edge displays and the notion others are copying seems a bit silly to me.”

That said, the inclusion of “notch” support in Android P suggests Google is convinced more manufacturers will want to ape Apple than Samsung, so get used to the cutout.

Edge-to-edge screens

The notch is the result of the iPhone X’s near-edge-to-edge display, though it’s not only Apple making inroads into shaving away the millimeters of plastic holding phones together. Released last year, the Samsung Galaxy S8 features the same near-bezel-less front, as does Xiaomi’s flagship Mi Mix.

WIRED

Why ditch the handy bezel? Do consumers want it, as Moorhead suggests? Or is it simply the next challenge to overcome in smartphone design, proof of the superiority of your R&D? As iPhone’s designer Jony Ive said last year: “For more than a decade, our intention has been to create an iPhone that’s all display… a physical object that disappears into the experience.”

And thanks to the miniaturisation of sensors and components, that’s increasingly possible, letting smartphone makers ditch the top and bottom bezels. Hence the Samsung Galaxy S9 and also Sony’s efforts to slim down the bezels on its XZ2 and XZ2 Compact.

Dual cameras

Apple first introduced a dual-lens camera on the iPhone 7 Plus back in 2016, with Samsung doing the same on the Galaxy Note 8, bringing the idea to smartphones with the Galaxy S9 Plus. It’s now become the norm, with dual cameras on the Asus Zenfone 4, Essential, Huawei P10, LG G6 and OnePlus 5. At Mobile World Congress, plenty of others continued that trend: the Alcatel 5, Nokia 7+, and the Asus Zenfone 5Z.

The Sony Xperia XZ2 didn’t double up the cameras, but Sony is known to be working on a super sensitive, dual-camera setup called Fusion that it says is “coming soon”, so expect that to land on their smartphones soon enough.

Faces to the front

Apple ditched its fingerprint scanner rather than make room for it on the front or relegate it to the rear, and plenty of other Android smartphones have led the way here. “Samsung had retina scan well before Apple’s Face ID,” notes Moorhead. And while the Galaxy S9 features both facial recognition and iris scanning, both rely on 2D images, a step behind Apple’s more complicated 3D scanning Face ID tech that’s crammed into that notch.

But it’s not all about unlocking your phone with your face: there’s emoji to animate using your own face, too. Apple’s Animoji has been knocked off by Samsung’s AR Emoji and more recently by Asus with ZeniMoji, though the latter two use a basic front-facing camera without 3D abilities. That means they can roll out on any old smartphone, so expect other manufacturers to follow suit, but without depth-sensing cameras on the front, there’s only so good they can get.

On the inside

You won’t see this on your phone, but inside: Android P supports the 802.11mc Wi-Fi protocol, which does a better job with indoor positioning thanks to round-trip-time. It uses wireless access points to triangulate your position inside buildings to an accuracy of one or two meters, Google says.

That means you’ll get better navigation inside buildings, handy if you’re the sort to get lost in airports and shopping malls, but Google also suggests it’ll be handy for “disambiguated voice control”, when your smartphone tells you to “turn left here” or offers extra information, such as for museum tours. This being Google, the it’s also possible to build location-based advertising or promotions.

Under-OLED sensors

A few of these hardware evolutions are direct responses to the drive for edge-to-edge displays. But what if the components that previously lived in bezels and now reside in notches could be hidden away beneath the display?

That’s reportedly what Apple was hoping to do with Touch ID on the iPhone X, but wasn’t able to make the system work before its launch. “Apple didn’t want a notch as the company couldn’t get under display fingerprInt to work as they wanted,” Moorhead says. The Vivo Apex, a concept phone, showed off a similar idea at MWC, hiding the fingerprint and proximity sensors beneath the glass.

However, plenty more than sensors live in bezels. The ambient light sensors is tucked away at the top of the phone, and rather than cram the camera under glass, it pops out at the top of the phone in less than a second when the selfie setting is tapped in the camera app. Such ideas show there are routes besides the notch to solving the problem of where to house components when a phone design thins the bezel to nigh on nothing, but it remains to be seen whether any will catch on — until Apple rolls them out, of course.

Source: Wired

Samsung was the only manufacturer to release a decent new phone at MWC 2018, but the camera is where all the real innovation is happening.

For the world’s largest mobile industry trade show, Mobile World Congress 2018 didn’t contain much in the way of new smartphone announcements. Huawei and HTC both held off on announcing any new phones, while LG opted to reveal the most minor of upgrades to its six-months-old V30 flagship.

By a long margin, the biggest launches of MWC 2018 were the Samsung Galaxy S9 and S9+, but even that didn’t contain much that we hadn’t already seen in the Galaxy S8. The S9 has the exact same 5.8-inch Quad HD Super AMOLED screen and 3,000mAh battery that we’d already seen in last year’s Galaxy S8. The processor, too, had only the tiniest of upgrades, while the design changes amounted to little more than shifting the fingerprint scanner half an inch to the left to sit beneath the camera.

Back in 2016, LG and Google’s experiments with modular phones hinted that the future lay in more than just shaving off precious millimeters of bezel, but poor sales figures for the LG G5 and shifts in Google’s hardware strategy soon put an end to that dream. Instead, the industry has coalesced around a familiar idea of the perfect smartphone design: big screens and small bezels. As Rick Osterloh, senior vice president of hardware at Google, said in October, “the playing field for hardware components is levelling off”. Manufacturers are racing to achieve parity with each other rather going out on a limb to introduce genuinely exciting features.

One of the few areas where innovation isn’t slowing down is in smartphone cameras. With the release of the Galaxy S9, Samsung may have finally cracked the formula for detailed low-light photography. Combining two different aperture settings in a single-lens camera means that the S9’s 12 megapixel dual pixel sensor can soak up more light when conditions are dim. The camera also takes 12 separate snaps with every press of the shutter button, automatically combining them in post-production to reduce background fuzz by 30 percent when compared to the S8.

And the code behind cameras is becoming just as important as the lenses and sensors that make up the devices themselves. In February 2018, Google opened up its Visual Core chipset in its Pixel 2 flagship smartphone so it worked with third party apps such as Snapchat, WhatsApp, Instagram and Facebook. Before then, photos taken through those apps looked worse because they couldn’t access the extra post-processing heft that Google’s dedicated eight-core visual chipset brings. Now it’s switched on, the chipset enables HDR+ and increases the zoom quality on photos taken in any app that’s connected via the Visual Core API.

But the benefits of better software go way beyond sharper photos. The Google Translate app allows people to live translate foreign-language text through the smartphone camera, a feature that Samsung has now incorporated in Bixby Vision – the South Korean company’s attempt at bringing more AI into its camera app. As well as live camera translation, Bixby Vision also uses image recognition to detect a plate of food and estimate how many calories are in it. While this type of software and hardware combination is still in its infancy, it’s an indication of the kinds of things that our cameras might be able to do once you put some seriously powerful software capabilities behind them.

Augmented reality is another area of camera-centric smartphone innovation that is still only in its early stages. Taking the lead from Apple using AR to allow anyone to become the poop emoji, the S9 now lets you use AR to turn yourself into a slightly terrifying emoji version of yourself. Samsung says this is all part of building software “for the way we communicate today”, but really this slightly strange feature is a way of demonstrating the company’s growing AR skills.

On Monday, Google went public with its first official launch of ARCore, allowing Android developers to publish AR apps to the Google Play Store for the first time and signalling to Apple that Google also thinks that AR is going to become a big part of how we interact with our phones in the future.

While the shape and feel of our devices hasn’t changed much over the last half-decade or so, the growing role of artificial intelligence and augmented reality in our phones will mean that manufacturers can’t afford to get lazy when it comes to new camera technology. If AR does become as big as the likes of Apple and Google expect, then no manufacture will want to lag behind when it comes to having the cameras, and the software, that are capable of exploiting that technology.

MWC 2018 might have been a dud for new smartphone launches, but the new camera wars are only just getting started.

Source: Wired

CES 2018 was conspicuously devoid of new flying machines from drone-making behemoth DJI. Just a few weeks later, however, the company announced one of its most interesting crafts to date. The Mavic Air is the middle child in the DJI lineup, but its water-bottle-sized body and a bevy of high-end features make it one of the company’s most compelling offerings.

With a $800 base price, it sits comfortably between the adorable, consumer-oriented, $500 Spark and the more-powerful, $1000 Mavic Pro, which was introduced back in 2016. Despite how close all these models are in price, they’re quite different, so you have some considering to do before you make your pick.

What is it?

By now, the form factor of a drone like this should be pretty familiar—four blades, a couple antennas, a whole pile of sensors, and a controller that links up with your phone to command the whole thing.

The Air uses a collapsible form factor like the 1.6-pound Mavic Pro, but weighs just 15-ounces and is about the size of three or four iPhone 8 Plus devices stacked on top of one another. It’s seriously portable, especially if you’re already planning on carrying a camera bag with you.

Unlike the Mavic Pro, however, the Air takes its commands via Wi-Fi instead of radio frequency. This may be something many consumers wouldn’t even notice without looking at the spec sheet, but it does have an effect on the flight. Syncing it up, for instance, can be a little finicky if you’re in the vicinity of other familiar Wi-Fi networks. I found that the connection was rock solid if I waited for the drone and app to ready themselves completely before syncing, but when I got impatient, I’d lose connection from time to time.

The drone creates its own Wi-Fi connection, which is broadcasts from two fold-out antennas that double as its landing gear. Because it uses WiFi instead of radio, it can’t touch the four-mile range of the Pro—the Air maxes out around 2.5 miles. While that may matter for some more advanced users, it’s entirely possible that more casual pilots won’t get that far away anyway, especially when you consider the fact that the drone has to stay in your line of sight when you’re flying it.

DJI Mavic Air Controller

DJI MAVIC AIR CONTROLLER

The included controller doesn’t have a screen, but it has a direct, wired connection to your smartphone, as well as clamps to hold it in place.

Stan Horaczek

Flying it

You can control the drone with your phone, but it comes with a dedicated controller, which provides a much better experience and enhanced features, like a faster top speed. The controller for the Air is very similar to the one that comes with the Mavic Pro, sporting a pair of sticks, a dial to change the angle of the camera, and buttons to trigger the camera.

It doesn’t have a built-in display, however, to give you details about the craft. It’s not a deal-breaker, but having all that info at a glance and not on the camera preview screen is nice. One thing I actually prefer about the Air controller is that the joysticks unscrew and store inside the controller when they’re not in use, so you don’t have to worry as much about snapping them during transit. They’re small, so losing them isn’t out of the question, but DJI provides an extra set as a backup.

Like the Mavic Pro, the Air can record a detailed log of its take-off point. If you leave this option on, the drone immediately goes up to 20 feet and takes images of the spot from which it took off. This helps it find its way to its exact home later on.

You have a couple options when you actually get the drone up into the sky. Beginner mode limits the speed and the range of the craft, but that’s really only useful if you’re a total beginner or you want to let someone else—like maybe a child—fly it without risking catastrophe.

Normal mode lets you push the drone out to its full range, while sport mode, which requires the controller, pushes the top speed all the way up to 42.5 miles per hour. Sport mode feels very fast, especially with such a little craft. Interestingly, you also get the opposite of sport mode called cinematic mode, which slows down the drone and tapers the speed with which it starts and stops. This is to make the video footage look smoother, even if your thumb work isn’t on par with a bigtime cinematographer.

Crashing it

One advantage the Air has over its bigger sibling is the fact that it has an increased number of sensors—as well as a tweaked object avoidance algorithm—to prevent it from crashing into things like trees, people (as you can see above), or the cubicles of your co-workers who are busy trying to make a magazine and really wish you would “take that stupid thing outside already.”

The Air has cameras on its backside to help keep it from backing up into objects, which is something the Mavic Pro lacks. The object avoidance system that guides the craft has also improved in the air. Now, instead of finding an obstacle and hovering in front of it, the drone references a 3D map created by its onboard sensors to find a path around whatever’s in its way.

This feature takes some getting used to, especially if you’re already really accustomed to the old stop-and-hover method of avoiding a crash. Ultimately, however, I found it to be very effective. The only time we really managed to crash it was in the very tight quarters of our office, where it didn’t have GPS and the tight tunnels created by walls and cubicles played havoc with the air displacement.

The battery life claims 21 minutes of flight time per charge without much wind (gusty conditions require the craft to work harder in order to stay airborn and stable), compared to 29 minutes in the Mavic Pro. In my real world experience, I got roughly 15-17 minutes before the Air started bugging me with the low-battery warning. One particularly windy flight gave me just 13 minutes before it wanted to head home. Still, I found that amount of flight time totally fine for a craft of this size, but I absolutely recommend getting some extra batteries if you buy one.

The camera

You can capture 4K footage at 24 or 30 fps using the Air’s built-in camera. It would have been nice to have 60 fps at 4K, but I definitely wouldn’t expect it at a craft with this price tag. The footage looks rather excellent in bright conditions, but starts to suffer some digital noise when things get a little darker. If you’re looking at the footage on a phone, it’s typically fine, but if you blow it up to a big screen, you can start to see it. Still, the quality is excellent for a tiny camera like this.

The camera is clearly doing some image processing on the back end to try to optimize the picture (pretty much all smartphone cameras do this), and it can get bit carried away. Sometimes it adds a little too much sharpening and saturation to make things look a little unrealistic and jagged around the edges.

The gimbal, which is the system that helps keep the camera steady even as the drone moves around, is one of the most impressive parts of the whole package. DJI has a track record for making excellent stabilizers and this is no exception. When you take off and hover, you might have to wiggle the controller sticks around a little to tell if you’re looking at a static image or an actual video feet. Impressive.

DJI Mavic Air Folded

DJI MAVIC AIR FOLDED

The Mavic Air is roughly the size of a high-end DSLR lens, which makes it easy to fit in a camera bag.

Stan Horaczek

Automation

While I’ve spent a lot of time comparing the Air to its bigger sibling, it also pulls some features from the consumer-oriented Spark. You can use hand gestures to control the air to perform simple operations like moving forward and backwards, or even taking a selfie. I liked this feature in the Spark and it’s very noticeably improved here. The drone follows your commands with a lot less lag and I didn’t feel like I needed to wave my arms around like a mad orchestra conductor to get it to go where I want.

I still don’t think flying a drone with gestures is very efficient or even really that useful, but it’s certainly a lot better than it was and it makes a really cool trick to impress people.

The automatic shooting modes from the Spark also made their way into the air, with a few new options added as well. The system is based on the Air’s ability to track an object. This used to require actually drawing a box around something on the screen, which worked sometimes, but wasn’t totally reliable. The new version, however, automatically detects subjects and locks on, letting you select something to track by simply tapping on it. It’s much more intuitive and fails less often.

The pre-baked maneuvers include a rocket-mode, which shoots it up into the sky, as well as a move that circles a subject while keeping the camera trained on it. You still need a serious amount of open space to make these work—consider a sporting field or some other kind of area with nothing to smash into—but they look impressive when they work.

Should you buy it?

Now comes the tricky part. There’s a lot to like about the DJI Mavic Air, but it fits a specific type of flyer. The basic functions of the non-folding Spark can probably satisfy most needs of a truly casual pilot for half the price of the Air.

On the other hand, more advanced pros will probably appreciate the extended flight time and longer range of the Mavic Pro.

That leaves the Mavic Air between the two. At the announcement event, DJI used photographer Chris Burkhard as an example of a the target demographic and that seems very apt. If your primary goal is drone footage, the Pro is better, but this is great as an extra tool to have in the bag. It folds down in such a way that it’s actually easier to tote around than the non-folding Spark and you can sneak it into a camera bag a lot easier than you can a Pro.

If you do decide to buy this drone, you should seriously consider getting the “Fly More” package, which costs $1,000, but comes with two extra batteries, a bag, extra blades, and a fold-out charger that can juice up to four batteries at a time.

Ultimately, this drone further solidifies DJI’s title as king of the consumer drones. With GoPro totally dropping out of the drone game earlier this year, and Yuneec skimping on any new products at this level, it’s clear that DJI isn’t giving up the quadcopter crow any time soon.

Source: Popular Science

You may get along just fine with only one computer screen, but adding a second can give you much more room to work. This upgrade isn’t just for creative professionals or seasoned programmers—it lets anyone spread out their apps, edit documents side by side, and multitask like a pro. That, in turn, will boost your productivity and efficiency.

On top of the benefits, it’s easy and cheap to hook up that second screen to your desktop or laptop computer. Here’s how to get started, from purchasing a good monitor to setting it up properly.

Cables and adapters

Most computers have the built-in ability to power a second screen. To get started, check out your laptop or desktop to find a HDMI or DisplayPort socket. If you own an older computer, you might be looking for a white DVI or a blue VGA socket instead. All four types of ports let you connect your computer to a television, projector, or other secondary screen.

If your computer has one of these ports, all you need is the proper cable. However, some of the thinner and lighter laptop models lack a compatible port. For those, you may have to add an adapter into the mix.

For example, slimmed-down laptops like the Apple MacBook and the Google Pixelbook rely on USB-C ports for data transfer, charging, and video output. A few monitors do accept USB-C, but not all do. In that case, you’ll need an adapter to covert USB-C to HDMI (like this $20 dongle) or to DisplayPort (such as this $15 adapter cable) before you plug the laptop into your monitor.

Other computers will require other dongles. Take Microsoft’s 2017 Surface Pro: It includes a Mini DisplayPort that accepts a Mini DisplayPort-to-DisplayPort cable (like this $10 cable), which in turn will plug into any monitor with a DisplayPort. Alternatively, if you prefer an HDMI monitor, you could connect the Surface to a Mini DisplayPort-to-HDMI dongle (such as this $17 adapter), then a standard HDMI cable.

When picking your cables or adapters, look for the maximum resolutions they can support, and make sure they match the monitor you buy. You should also check the refresh rate the cable supports, which is measured in hertz (Hz). A higher refresh rate means the screen can change more quickly, which improves the viewing quality for everything from gaming to watching movies.

The second screen

You don’t necessarily have to buy your second screen. If you’ve got an old monitor lying around the house, see if it can work with your laptop or desktop computer before getting rid of it. Even if it’s a bit dated by today’s standards, you should be able to find an adapter to help. This will help you avoid spending any money for your extra display.

However, you may have to buy new gear to complete your second-screen setup. Now that you’ve checked your computer’s ports, you’ll need a monitor that matches them—or that can be made to do so with a suitable adapter. Ideally, look for monitors with USB-C, HDMI, or DisplayPort inputs, as these are the most common modern standards.

Once you’ve decided on the correct input, you can check on other specs, such as screen size, resolution, and price. Bigger, higher-resolution screens give you more room for your movies, spreadsheets, and video games, but they inevitably cost more too. It’s up to you where you want to make the compromise, but in general, you want to go for the biggest, highest resolution screen your budget can accommodate.

However, if you’re on a laptop, be aware that powering more pixels will take more graphics processing power and therefore use up more battery life. In other words, the bigger the second display, the bigger the drain on your battery.

Other specifications to look out for include contrast ratios (the difference between the white and black pixels), response time (how quickly the screen responds to your inputs), and viewing angles (from how acute of an angle you can see the screen). But as usual, online reviews are the best way to measure the quality of a display. That said, Dell and LG have a particularly good reputation for their screens.

Setup

Setting up your new screen is extremely easy: As soon as you plug in a second monitor, your computer will recognize it without requiring any extra software or complicated setup process. However, you can take a few optional steps to configure it exactly as you like it. The exact process will depend on your computer’s operating system.

On Windows, tap Windows+P to switch between four display modes: PC screen only (only the original computer screen is active), Duplicate (the two screens show the same thing), Extend (the two screens act as one large display), or Second screen only (only the external monitor is active). Most of the time, you’ll want the Extend option, which allows you to open apps and windows independently on both screens. To further configure your second display, open the Start menu, click the Settings icon (the cog symbol on the left), and choose System followed by Display. From here, you can configure the brightness, resolution, and orientation of both screens. If you’re using two displays as one extended screen, you can also use this menu to set which monitor will be on the left and which on the right.

Over on macOS, open the Apple menu, choose System Preferences, and then click Displays. Under the Arrangement tab, you can change the relative positions of your displays—which one is on the left screen and which is on the right. Using the Mirror Displays checkbox, you can also switch between mirrored mode (the two screens act as duplicates) and extended mode (the two screens act as one display). In addition, you can set the screen resolution from this same menu.

If you’re on a Chrome OS computer, click the information panel in the lower right-hand corner (where the clock appears). Then select the cog icon, go to the Settings panel, and choose Displays. From this menu, you can configure whether the second display acts as an extension or a duplicate of the first one, set the resolution and the orientation of your displays, and position them in virtual space.

Finally, you can sit back and enjoy using your second screen. If you’re operating in extended mode, you can drag program windows between displays and maximize them on either screen. And whenever you disconnect or switch off the second monitor, your operating system will automatically revert back to its default configuration.

Source: PopSci