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Live from MWC 2018: Hands-on with the Galaxy S9, Matebook X Pro, Xperia XZ2 & more

Just some of the cool things we saw in Barcelona

We're on the ground in Barcelona for Mobile World Congress 2018, and couldn't resist getting hands on with a number of the top products unveiled at the show. In this video we'll be going through our first impressions of the Samsung Galaxy S9, the Huawei Matebook X Pro, the Sony Xperia XZ2 and the LG V30S ThinkQ, plus a few other goodies.

Stay tuned for part two later in the week.


Opinion: Audio is the surprising highlight of MWC 2018

It’s certainly not what I expected. After all, when it comes to a show that’s traditionally focused on the telecom industry, audio typically just refers to voice. But at this year’s Mobile World Congress trade show in beautiful Barcelona, several of the biggest product announcements actually share a similar characteristic—a focus on sound and audio. In this case, it’s the surround sound technology from Dolby called Atmos.

Both Samsung’s new flagship S9/S9+ phones and the Huawei Matebook X Pro notebook feature it, as well as the new Lenovo Yoga 730 notebook, which was also announced here at MWC. The convertible 2-in-1 Yoga 730 also extends its audio features through the integration of both the Alexa and Cortana digital assistants, as well as array microphones to allow you to use the device from a distance, similar to standalone smart speakers.

To be clear, all of these devices offer a variety of other important new technologies that go well beyond audio, but these sound-focused capabilities are interesting for several reasons. First, Dolby’s Atmos is a really cool, impressive technology that people will notice as being a unique feature of these products. But in addition, the inclusion of Atmos is the kind of more subtle type of improvements that are becoming the primary differentiator for new generations of products in mature product categories such as smartphones and PCs.

Incorporating Atmos is the kind of more subtle type of improvements that are becoming the primary differentiator for new generations of products in mature product categories such as smartphones and PCs.

Walking through the halls of the convention center you could easily find collections of very nice-looking client devices amidst the telecom network equipment, IoT solutions, autonomous car technologies, and other elements that are a big part of MWC. What was impossible not to notice, however, is that they pretty much all looked the same, particularly smartphones. They’ve morphed their physical designs into little more than flat slabs of glass. Even many of today’s superslim notebook PC designs also have fairly similar designs. In both cases, the form factors of the devices are quite good, so this isn’t necessarily a bad development, but they are getting harder and harder to quickly tell apart from a visual perspective.

As a result, companies are having to incorporate interesting new technologies within their devices to offer some level of differentiation from their competition. That’s why the Dolby Atmos integration is an interesting reflection on the state of modern product development.

At its heart, Atmos is the next evolution of Dolby’s 30+ year history of creating surround sound formats and experiences. Originally developed for move theaters and now more commonly found on home audio products like soundbars and AV receivers from big consumer electronics vendors like Sony, Atmos offers two important additions and enhancements to previous versions of Dolby’s surround sound technologies.

First, from an audio perspective, Atmos highlights the ability to position sounds vertically and horizontally, delivering an impressive 360˚ field of sound that really makes you feel like you’re in the center of whatever video (or gaming) content you happen to be watching. Previous iterations of Dolby (and rival DTS) technology have had some of these capabilities, but Atmos takes it to a new level in terms of performance and impact. The technology primarily achieves this through the concept of head-related transfer functions (HRTFs), which emulate how sounds enter our ears at slightly different times and are influenced by the environment around us.

The second big change for Atmos involves the audio file format. Unlike previous surround sound technologies, where the position of sounds was fixed, in Atmos sounds are described as objects and will sound slightly different depending on what types of speakers and audio system they’re being played through. Essentially, it optimizes the surround sound experience for specific devices and the components they have.

The effectiveness of this approach is very clear on Huawei’s Matebook X Pro, where the Dolby Atmos implementation leverages the four different speakers put into the notebook. One critique of surround sound technologies is that they’re effectiveness can be dramatically impacted by where you are sitting. Basically, you really need to be in the sound “sweet spot” to get the full impact of the effect. What’s interesting about the implementation of Atmos in a notebook is that it’s almost impossible to not be in the sweet spot if you’re viewing content directly on the screen in front of you. As a result, the audio experience with Dolby Atmos-enabled content on the Matebook X is extremely impressive—it’s actually a second-generation implementation for Huawei and Dolby and it’s quite effective.

For mobile devices like the new Samsung S9/S9+, Dolby Atmos can be delivered both through stereo speakers (a feature that many smartphones still don’t have) or, even more effectively, through a headphone jack. In fact, the implementation of Atmos on the S9 is probably the most effective argument in favor of having/needing a headphone jack on a smartphone that I’ve seen. With headphones, you get a truly immersive surround sound experience with Atmos-enabled content on the S9/S9+, and through the speakers on either end of the S9/S9+ you also get an audio experience that’s much better than with most other smartphones.

In the case of the Lenovo Yoga 730, the Atmos implementation is only via the headphone jack, but once connected to a standard set of headphones, it gives you the same kind of virtual surround experience of the other devices.

Admittedly, not everyone cares about high-quality audio as much as I do but given how much video content we consume on our devices, either through streaming services like Netflix, or just as part of our social media or news feeds, I believe it can be an important differentiator for vendors who deploy it. Plus, it’s important to set our expectations for the kinds of advancements that the next few generations of our devices are likely going to have. They may not be as dramatic as folding screens, but technologies like Dolby Atmos can certainly improve the overall experience of using our devices.

Bob O’Donnell is the founder and chief analyst of TECHnalysis Research, LLC a technology consulting and market research firm. You can follow him on Twitter . This article was originally published on Tech.pinions.


Bitcoin 'inventor' Craig Wright faces $10 billion lawsuit for allegedly stealing business partner's coins

He's accused of swindling 1.1 million bitcoins from David Kleiman

For those who’ve never heard of the name Craig Wright, he’s the man that once claimed to be bitcoin inventor Satoshi Nakamoto. Now, the Australian is making headlines once again after being sued for stealing billions of dollars’ worth of bitcoin from a former business partner.

The lawsuit filed in the Florida district court says Wright was involved with bitcoin from its inception alongside forensic computer analyst and author David Kleiman, though it doesn’t claim that either of them actually invented it. The pair managed to mine between 550,000 and 1,100,000 bitcoins, which was held in a company called W&K Info Defense Research LLC.

Kleiman passed away in 2013 due to complications from an illness. His family has launched the suit against Wright, claiming he “perpetrated a scheme” to “seize Dave’s bitcoins.” It alleges that Wright forged and back-dated documents to show Kleiman had transferred ownership of W&K’s assets to his business partner, which would entitle Wright to all 1.1 million bitcoins—worth over 10 billion dollars.

Kleiman’s brother, Ira, has offered emails as evidence that shows Wright admitting he was holding 300,000 bitcoins belonging to Kleiman.

“[Dave] mentioned that you had 1 million Bitcoins in the trust and since you said he has 300,000 as his part. I was figuring the other 700,000 is yours,” Ira Kleiman wrote in 2013. “Is that correct?”

“Around that,” Wright replied. “Minus what was needed for the company’s use.”

Some bitcoin specialists believe Ira’s claims have little basis in reality, and that Wright never held so much of the digital currency.

A summons for Craig Wright was issued by the court on February 15th. He currently serves as chief scientist at nChain, so it’ll be interesting to see if the blockchain development firm is affected should he be found guilty.


Metacritic crowns Bethesda its top publisher of 2017

Nintendo was a close second

Everyone has a favorite video game publisher, but if you want to know who comes out on top based on their Metacritic scores, the aggregate site has you covered. In its 8th annual game publisher rankings, Metacritic places Bethesda in the number one spot.

The publishers are split into two categories: ‘major publishers’ who release 12 or more games during a year; and ‘mid-size’ for all the rest. Thanks to its 12 “distinct titles” in 2017, Bethesda has moved from heading the mid-size publishers table to leading the major group.

"The publisher increased its Metascore average by more than six points compared to its 2016 slate thanks to a well-received new entry in the Wolfenstein franchise, a reboot of Prey, a strong Evil Within sequel, and various releases in the Elder Scrolls series," Metacritic wrote. "In all, 91 percent of the company's 2017 products were positively reviewed—the best rate for any publisher."

As you can see in the table below, the rankings aren’t based solely on average Metascores. Metacritic uses a points system that takes into account the number of ‘great,’ ‘good,’ and ‘bad’ games from a company, giving a better average result.

While Bethesda narrowly missed out releasing any 'great' games with scores of over 90 percent—Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus was closest with 88 percent—91 percent of its total games scored 75 percent or more, putting them in the 'good' category. It had no 'bad' games with scores of 49 percent or lower. Runner-up Nintendo had three 'great' games but only 72 percent were 'good.'

In the mid-size list, Binding of Isaac and Cave Story+ publisher Nicalis comes out on top. And because it only released 11 distinct titles last year, EA is classified as mid-sized. The company sits in the number 5 position, with Metacritic users handing out bad reviews to almost all of its 2017 games.

  • Nicalis – 79.8
  • Paradox Interactive – 80.6
  • Devolver Digital – 76.5
  • Warner Bros. Interactive – 73.7
  • Electronic Arts – 73.2
  • Daedalic Entertainment – 73.0
  • Plug In Digital – 75.3
  • Hamster – 73.6
  • Take-Two Interactive – 72.8
  • Adult Swim – 71.0
  • XSEED Games – 73.0
  • Microsoft Game Studios – 72.0
  • Headup Games – 68.2
  • Aksys Games – 71.0
  • THQ Nordic – 68.2


Sprint will begin laying the groundwork for a 5G network in six major US cities in 2018

Sprint is accelerating their 5G plans

It seems AT&T isn't the only company planning to roll out a 5G network in the near future. Sprint has its own roadmap to launch a next-generation mobile network sometime in 2019, affirming their plans to lay the groundwork necessary to make that goal a reality.

Whereas AT&T's 5G plans involve an initial 2018 network launch in three select cities -- Dallas, Waco and Seattle -- Sprint will be doing their initial launch in six cities. These "5G-ready" locations include Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles and Washington DC.

The cell provider plans to accomplish this task by setting up multiple Massive MIMO (Multiple Input Multiple Output) antennas during 2018. This new antenna technology will reportedly be capable of using 128 antennas to deliver "up to 10 times the capacity of current LTE systems." In theory, this tech should translate to faster, fatter and more efficient data pipes for Sprint's customers.

To be clear, the Massive MIMO rollout will not immediately lead to 5G network connectivity for customers. Rather, it will merely act as a stepping stone leading to Sprint's larger 5G plans in 2019. This is a sensible move given the fact that no major phone makers have launched 5G-ready devices just yet.

"With Massive MIMO at the foundation of Sprint's Gigabit LTE and 5G service, Sprint can keep meeting its customers' demand for unlimited data and high-bandwidth applications," Sprint said in a press release. "Customers will have a great experience using 6K and 8K TV, and applications such as HD Virtual Reality."


Nvidia's GTX 2070 and 2080 cards could be unveiled next month, launch late April

Ampere, Volta, or Turing?

We’ve been waiting for what seems like an age to see Nvidia’s next generation of GeForce graphics cards, but according to the rumor mill, they’ll finally be unveiled next month. Speaking to TweakTown, a “well-placed source” in the industry said the first public showing would take place at Nvidia’s GPU Technology Conference (GTC), which begins on March 26.

The new cards will follow the current Pascal-based 10-series with either an 11-series or 20-series naming system, which means we could see the GTX 1180 or the GTX 2080. Whatever they’re called, these new gaming GPUs are said to be based on the 12-nanometer Ampere architecture.

It was thought that the new GeForce cards would use the same Volta architecture found in the Titan V and Tesla V100, but it now looks as if Volta will be reserved for Nvidia’s top-end cards built for AI, high-performance computing (HPC), and deep learning. Some suspect that Ampere could actually be a version of Volta for gamers.

Making the situation even more confusing is Turing, which Reuters calls “The new gaming chip” that is expected to be unveiled next month. This is a completely new GPU architecture and may be used in the GeForce GTX 11-Series/20-series cards instead of Ampere. It could, however, be for something else entirely.

Rumors have been floating around for a while that Turing is actually a code name for a new version of Nvidia’s GPUs designed specifically for mining cryptocurrency. If this is true, it should help ease demand for gaming cards from miners and push down the exorbitant price of GPUs.

The new cards are expected to be released between late April and early May. Get ready to hear plenty more rumors in the run-up to GTC.


Fitbit shares tank on weaker-than-expected earnings report

Fitbit sold seven million fewer devices last year compared to 2016

Fitbit on Monday posted fourth quarter and full-year financial results that sent share values south in after-hours trading.

For the quarter ending December 31, 2017, Fitbit generated revenues of $571 million albeit with a net loss of $5 million, or $0.02 per share (non-GAAP). Analysts polled by Reuters were expecting a break-even quarter with revenues closer to $589 million.

Perhaps even more alarming are the sales figures. Fitbit said it sold 15.3 million wearable devices in 2017 and 5.4 million during the holiday quarter. Although the average selling price increased eight percent to $101 per device, that’s far fewer than the 22.3 million devices the company sold in 2016.

Fitbit co-founder and CEO James Park said the company made important progress in 2017 under rapidly changing market conditions. During that time, Fitbit drove down operating expenses, created strategic collaborations with leading healthcare players and launched the Fitbit operating system and SDK, among other achievements.

In 2018, Park said Fitbit plans to focus on managing down expenses while continuing to focus on expanding in the smartwatch category.

Share values dipped as much as 15 percent in after-hours trading on the news. As of writing, Fitbit’s stock is down more than 11 percent.

Fitbit’s rocky road is likely to continue, at least for a while. As part of the company’s first quarter 2018 guidance, Fitbit expects revenues to decline by as much as 20 percent year-over-year and be in the range of $240 million to $255 million.


English News techspot.com
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Reference source of information technology, today, summarized from several sources of information media
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