Thursday, 25 June 2020

Camera Phones Buyer's Guide



The best camera phones these days are getting to the point that you can often get more consistent results with what's in your pocket than what's in your camera bag! With features like 108MP sensors and as many as five lenses around the back, how do you know which phone is the one for you? We are here to share our list of the top photography friendly smartphones you can get today!


10. Google Pixel 4 XL

At first glance, you may ask why a phone with only two cameras even made it to this list. And while the cameras themselves are top-notch, it is the Pixel 4’s Astro mode that’s its biggest selling point here. This model holds the shutter open for over four minutes to capture unparalleled detail from night skies. In your everyday automatic mode, the Pixel 4 XL delivers punchy images with plenty of detail and rich colour. Compared to other phones on this list, the Pixel tents to create more realistic looking images due to its darker scene exposure.



9. Xiaomi Mi 9

For its more accessible price point, the Xiaomi Mi 9 is excellent. It takes great shots in good light with noteworthy dynamic range and colour reproduction. With its triple main camera setup, the Mi 9 features a wide, ultra-wide and telephoto camera, covering a lot of prime lens bases. Thanks to its smart software, the phone’s camera also defocuses backgrounds nicely in portrait mode, making those Insta shots even better. The Mi 9 also shoots video at up to 4K 60fps, which puts it right up there with the current flagship models.



8. Samsung Galaxy S10 5G

Galaxy S-series phones have always been amongst the best for camera quality, and the S10 5G is no exception. Its quad-camera setup features the desirable wide/ultrawide/telephoto/time of flight combo, and all four cameras perform flawlessly. The main camera is not the flashiest (no pun intended), but if you’re not a pro photographer the S10 nails the basics with terrific image quality and impeccable Auto mode performance. The new Digital Video Stabilization also makes for ultra-high contrast 4K video that looks great on a compatible TV.



7. Oppo Reno 10x Zoom

The Oppo Reno 10X Zoom features a periscope camera, which enables a 5x optical zoom. That means it gets you even closer to the action without major quality sacrifices. Going beyond the zoom, it's an excellent stills camera phone across the board, also featuring a primary 48MP wide-angle camera, as well as an ultrawide lens. In addition, the 6.4” immersive all-screen display makes it a dream to edit your photos on the go. 



6. Huawei P30 Pro

The P30 Pro really has it all. Fantastic low-light photography, unbelievable zoom capabilities (5x optical) and powerful hardware to back everything up. The 4 lenses on the back make for fantastic depth sensing and the phone deals well with any lighting condition. Huawei has doubled down on image processing with this phone, and it shows. The P30 Pro works overtime to produce super sharp and high contrast images, as well as 4K video.



5. Sony Xperia 1

The Sony Xperia 1 is the only choice for video pros and cinema buffs who want to get manual with their smartphone videography. If you want to shoot a movie on your phone, this is the one for you. It’s able to shoot footage at up to 21:9 for cinema-style capture and produces high-quality raw footage ready for any editing software. Luckily, pretty much everything else about this phone is excellent too. The 21:9 4K HDR screen is unbeatable for both content creation and consumption.



4. Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus

The Note 10 boasts an impressive quad main camera setup including their Time of Flight camera for that awesome 3D depth effect. Both the main and selfie cameras shot up to 4K for the perfect vlogging experience. The standout feature here is just the sheer number of modes it has to offer. Anything from “Super Slow Motion” to “Food”. Pair all of this with a crystal clear 6.8” and the S Pen, and you have yourself the perfect setup for photo and video editing on the go.



3. Xiaomi Mi Note 10

The Mi Note 10’s main selling point is its ridiculous 108MP sensor. This packs more pixels than most digital cameras, let alone other smartphones. The phone also comes loaded up with a ton of shooting modes to help you get the most out of that beast of a camera. The remaining lenses cover the industry-standard 2x zoom, 5x zoom and an ultra-wide angle, as well as a dedicated macro camera, which all perform well in varied light conditions.



2. OnePlus 7T Pro

The 7t Pro is a triple camera threat. As well as the industry-standard triple-lens setup, a standout new feature of the 7T Pro camera is the new Super macro option. This can get you as close as 2.5cm from your subject and still keep things looking sharp. OnePlus also bring back Nightscape, the low light shooting mode now available across both the primary and ultra-wide angle cameras. To top it all off, its new Super stabilization feature takes the smoothest videos out of every phone on this list, showing us just why OnePlus is dubbed the flagship killer.



1. Apple iPhone 11 Pro

The iPhone 11 Pro's is arguably the most beautiful phone on this list. Pair that with an amazing triple-camera array and you have a work of art. But it’s Apple’s true-to-life image processing that really sets this phone apart. The new ultrawide camera is excellent for travel photography and the 11 Pro is our top pick for video capture as it’s capable of recording up to 4k at 60 frames per second with its three cameras… all at the same time. It also has the smoothest video stabilisation systems you can find on any iPhone to date.



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Monday, 22 June 2020

Apple WWDC 2020 - Event Summary




Yesterday marked the first day of Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference. With the company’s big annual keynote delivered virtually online, the stream brought some very exciting updates and news for Apple lovers, although we did not get any physical releases this time. Read on for a breakdown of some of the awesome highlights!

iOS 14


Apple’s iconic operating system is always one of the key things to look out for during the keynote, and this year was no different. Contrary to the rumours there was no new iPhone Exclusive OS introduced. Then new features of iOS 14 include a home screen page called App Library that will automatically categorize and sort apps, highlighting those most frequently used. The iPhone will finally support picture-in-picture video playback, which the iPad has supported since iOS 9 and FINALLY… Widgets! This is the part where every Android user reading this will have a little giggle, having benefited from the use of widgets since 2009.

Maps will soon feature cycling directions along with directions for electric vehicle owners (factoring in battery range and charging locations), while CarPlay will get an exciting update with some car models supporting the feature of using your phone as a key.

macOS Big Sur


The new build of macOS will follow on from its predecessors and be aptly called Big Sur, named after the beautiful mountainous section of California. A new dropdown control centre in the upper right area of the screen will provide one-click access to brightness, volume, WIFI settings and more, while the refined notification centre will make it easier to keep track of what’s important to you.
Safari will be able to monitor your passwords to automatically look for any exposed in breaches, while a Privacy Report button will break down what is known about what data is being tracked by the site you’re currently surfing. Safari’s extensions system is also getting a long-awaited refresh with new privacy and permissions features.

iPad OS / Apple Pencil


The new sidebar and search function will make it much easier to navigate apps and should make the device easier to use without touching the screen if you're using it as a laptop replacement. A new feature called Scribble will allow users to write in any text field with the Apple Pencil, which will be automatically converted to text. This intelligent feature will work across multiple languages and even be able to detect the context of the information - for example, phone numbers or addresses can be automatically logged into contact books.

Mac Processors


As has been rumoured for a long time, Apple is switching from Intel processors to custom ARM-based CPU, which is specifically designing in-house, as it has done for many years across its iPhone, Pad and Watch slates. This big change promises a “whole new level of performance” while consuming less power, promising a new era of Macs that will revolutionise the product.

Apple Watch


Face Sharing will allow you to share your current watch face set up with a friend, while newly improved sleep tracking can automatically detect when you nod off and record the data to track your sleep schedule.

And perhaps most crucially for the world we live in, the watch will now feature handwashing detection that will use the accelerometer to look for the relevant motions – when it detects you’re doing so, it will automatically start a countdown timer to ensure you’ve done the full twenty seconds. Pretty cool, huh?

AirPods


Automatic device switching means that your trusty AirPods will soon be able to switch between multiple devices. Watching a film on your iPad and your iPhone rings? Don’t worry, the sound from that call will switch over to the AirPods without you having to lift a finger.

Audiophiles will also enjoy the new Spatial Audio capability, compatible with AirPods Pro only. This will take your head position and environment into account to give you the optimum sound experience.

Homekit


The news that Apple will finally be joining the wider smart home device makers alliance was a pretty big deal. The ability to control all smart devices from your Homekit is certainly something to look forward to and will, in time, grow the number of items Apple user can control.

Facial recognition on Homekit enabled doorbell cameras can now recognise known faces, and let you know who’s at the door via notifications. Adaptive lighting will automatically adjust the brightness and temperature of your connected smart bulbs throughout the day, while your security cameras can have designated activity zones which will limit alerts to specific areas of the video capture.

Privacy Changes

The ability to grant an app access to an approximate location rather than the precise spot means that you can continue to get relevant information without feeling like Big Brother is watching you, while a Mic/Camera indicator will now show on-screen whenever an app is accessing your microphone or camera.

Finally, app developers will now have to provide simplified privacy policies of what data they share or track, with this information showing up prior to download.

Watch The Full Event



All in all, what a time to be alive for Apple users! This rich and diverse range of new features, software and hardware continue to show why Apple rules the roost in modern technology. What are you most excited for from Apple’s 2020 WWDC?
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Thursday, 18 June 2020

Review to Win Winner



Congratulations to user asier_usa

On their winning review of Witcher 3 (PS4) on our Irish site.



To read the winning review, head HERE


We will be contacting the winner shortly to process their prize on the email address provided.

Well done to everyone who submitted a review and best of luck for next time!

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Review to Win Winner!



Congratulations to user asier_usa

On their winning review of Witcher 3 (PS4) on our Irish site.



We will be contacting the winner shortly to process their prize on the email address provided.

Well done to everyone who submitted a review and best of luck for next time!

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Review to Win Winner!



Congratulations to user asier_usa

On their winning review of Witcher 3 (PS4) on our Irish site.


We will be contacting the winner shortly to process their prize on the email address provided.

Well done to everyone who submitted a review and best of luck for next time!

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Review to Win Winner!



Congratulations to user asier_usa

On their winning review of Witcher 3 (PS4) on our Irish site.

We will be contacting the winner shortly to process their prize on the email address provided.

Well done to everyone who submitted a review and best of luck for next time!

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Friday, 12 June 2020

PlayStation 5 Event Summary


Last night, another chapter was added to the history books of modern gaming. At Sony’s pre-recorded Future of Gaming presentation event, we were finally treated to a glimpse of the long-anticipated PS5 console as well as seeing trailers for many of its first games. Read on for a breakdown of what you need to know about this powerful upcoming console!


THE CONSOLE AT A GLANCE



While perhaps the all-important price tag has not yet been revealed, last night allowed us to get up close and personal with the beautiful new console. The PS5 will be available in two models at launch. One with a backwards-compatible Blu-ray drive which Sony exec Mark Cerny states will play “the overwhelming” majority of PlayStation 4 titles. The other console will ditch disc drive, making it entirely digital. Savvy gamers will opt for the complete package with the optical drive, allowing them to save a small fortune over the lifetime of the console by buying and selling games at CeX.

The smooth black and white design, dominated by two distinctive “wings”, is a thing of beauty. Sleek and modern, the upright console is going to look stunning sat beside your TV.


THE CONTROLLER



Earlier this year, Sony revealed their new DualSense PS5 pad, which includes a whole mess of features like haptic feedback, adaptive triggers and an inbuilt microphone. Visually, this space-age design and blindingly white colour scheme makes it a perfect companion for the gorgeous looking console itself.


THE GAMES


This is where last night’s event truly blew me away. Expecting just a couple of must-own titles, Sony didn’t let up as they unveiled a great number that included highly anticipated sequels, nostalgic remakes and exciting original titles. Here are our picks for the top five titles to look forward to.

Spider-Man: Miles Morales


This follow-up to 2018’s critically-acclaimed Spider-Man game from Insomniac puts players into the shoes of beloved character Miles Morales. Travelling across a dense New York will be a breeze thanks to the console’s powerful SSD, and if combat is anything like the first game, this one is going to be a super treat.

Gran Turismo 7


It wouldn’t be PlayStation without Gran Turismo, and this visually-stunning entry into the popular driving franchise should please fans new and old. With the trailer offering in-game gameplay unlike the majority of the cinematic-based teases of the night, this one gave us a truly glimpse of the console’s power and boy, it looks pretty incredible.

Hitman III


In a series renowned for its large, dynamic settings full of life, Hitman III is going to be a blood-soaked delight. With the potential for smarter AI, more options for the perfect hit and densely populated levels, Hitman III could just be the series’ finest hour to date when it launches in early 2021.

Horizon II: Forbidden West 


This sequel to Sony’s acclaimed PS4 title will certainly be a must-own on the PS5. After the stunning first game pushed the PS4 to its limit, I am excited to see just how beautifully immersive this sequel is going to be. I expect it’ll be the finest looking game on the console. Welcome back, Aloy. We’ve missed you!

Resident Evil VIII: Village 


From new werewolf-like monsters to the return of series hero Chris Redfield, the next first-person entry in the RE franchise looks like a truly harrowing journey into darkness. The PS5’s 3D audio will surely make this one of the most terrifying entries into the saga so far – just don’t expect to sleep ever again…


THE SPECS


  • CPU: AMD Zen 2-based CPU with 8 cores at 3.5GHz (variable frequency)
  • GPU: 10.28 TFLOPs, 36 CUs at 2.23GHz (variable frequency)
  • GPU architecture: Custom RDNA 2
  • Memory interface: 16GB GDDR6 / 256-bit
  • Memory bandwidth: 448GB/s
  • Internal storage: Custom 825GB SSD
  • IO throughput: 5.5GB/s (raw), typical 8-9GB/s (compressed)
  • Expandable storage: NVMe SSD slot
  • External storage: USB HDD support (PS4 games only)
  • Optical drive: 4K UHD Blu-ray drive

So, what does it all mean? Well, put briefly, these specs are going to make an absolute beast of a console. The console’s 825GB SSD is going to be key to making the PS5 standout, offering unprecedented gameplay thanks to the increased bandwidth and power of the SSD unit. Expect the console to load faster than its competitors and offer bigger and more beautiful worlds to explore, with data-processing speeds approximately 100 times faster than those on the PS4.

Last night’s stream also unveiled 3D audio support thanks to the new Tempest Engine. An incredibly powerful system, the example given to display the power was that of in-game rainfall. Up to now, rainfall has been delivered on the soundscape as a single audio track, but the PS5 would theoretically be able to layer individual raindrops onto into the soundtrack. That is how detailed the soundscape of the PS5 will be. 

Another win for the PS5 is a 4K UDH Blu-ray drive, something that is new to Sony’s consoles after the Xbox One S did it back in ’16. With home entertainment becoming increasingly aimed at 4K, it is only right that the leading consoles should all support it.


THE RELEASE



While an exact date has not yet been unveiled, Sony has alluded to the fact that the console will be with us towards the end of 2020 – and, at the time of the presentation, has not suffered any delays due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Pricing remains a mystery, too, but for the ability to play games like Hitman III and Horizon II: Forbidden West, I’ll pay anything…

What excited you most about the PS5 reveal? 


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Thursday, 4 June 2020

Top 10 PS4 Longest Games


10. Assassin’s Creed Odyssey


If you’re looking for a traditional stealthy Assassin’s Creed experience, then be warned that pure stealth is no longer a viable option - but Odyssey’s improvements on the action RPG elements introduced in Origins have created a breathtaking reimagining of Ancient Greece that was clearly produced with endless research and passion. The game is huge in scope - with an enormous open-world map, over 40 hours of engrossing story and that again in downloadable content.


9. Red Dead Redemption 2


You’ll struggle to find games with a more beautiful and authentically populated open-world than Red Dead Redemption 2. The main story alone takes around 50 hours to complete and is a fantastic tale told well through a rich cast of characters. That’s to say nothing of all the temping side missions and world-building. Spilling with content, you’ll spend hours of your time just running errands, bonding with your horse and fishing with your in-game pals.


8. Grand Theft Auto V


Home to one of the largest and most densely populated open worlds out there, GTA 5 is still one of the best games on the PS4. It’s a near-perfect third-person shooter with a focus on gun combat and fast driving, mechanics which it absolutely nails. Switching between three separate characters throughout the 50-hour story keeps things fresh, and thanks to side missions and online multiplayer, many easily rack up hundreds of hours of playtime.


7. Wasteland 3


The series that inspired Fallout is back with a brand new offering. It offers a deep, old school roleplaying experience coupled with turn-based tactical combat, and enough modern updates to keep it feeling fresh and vital. There’s so much choice and variation that it warrants plenty of replays. There’s so much of this game to discover; in fact, the developers claim that certain choices will mean you miss thousands of lines of dialogue!


6. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt


Set in a huge and beautiful game world spilling with rich characters, The Witcher 3 will be talked about for years to come. An extensive and gripping story means that its 50-hour story feels gone in a flash - but luckily the game doubles in size thanks to the expansion packs. It’s a masterpiece of game design. But be warned - combat is a lot more tactical than it seems. If you’re used to rushing in, you’ll find this game very difficult.


5. Bloodborne


Bloodborne is a game that pushes you to the very limit. The great difficulty of the gameplay means that you’ll be dying hundreds of times in any one playthrough - and this densely-packed game means a playthrough might take over 50 hours. Yet the payoffs of victory are ecstasy by comparison - when you’ve conquered Bloodborne, you won’t remember the pain. You’ll remember all of the well-earned successes and how good they felt when you achieved them.


4. Kingdoms of Amalur: Re-Reckoning


There’s a strong argument to be made that 2012’s Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning is one of the most underrated games of the modern era. Fortunately, it’s been given a second lease on life with Kingdoms of Amalur: Re-Reckoning. Offering a vibrant, massive open world, charming inhabitants and a nice variety of quests, you can easily sink more than 100 hours into it. It’s a wonder why it didn’t spawn a multi-game franchise like it was intended to do. Perhaps the second time’s the charm.


3. Dragon Age: Inquisition


Dragon Age: Inquisition is one of the most engrossing RPG experiences on the Playstation and blends together a strong story with timeless character-building mechanics. Thanks to an epic main story and densely packed downloadable content, you can spend nearly a hundred hours in this world and still have plenty to do. Come for the traditional medieval fantasy aesthetic, stay for the engrossing gameplay and settlement management.


2. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim - Special Edition


Yet another open-ended Bethesda title for the list! This masterpiece of action roleplaying is so well known that it’s meme-worthy, which also comes with the unfortunate side-effect of watering down how truly well made this game is. With so much rich choice and variety available, you may not spend all your playtime on one character - but you can easily spend over a hundred hours on just the base game, to say nothing of the additional expansions.


1. Persona 5


As if the gameplay wasn’t enough, what sets Persona 5 apart from the crowd is the innovative design - everything from the menu screens to the gameplay visuals ooze style. The loveable turn-based combat is designed to really draw you into the grand story - a  standard playthrough is averaged at around 100 hours and a completionist might spend nearly 200. This game is truly unique, in ways that you’ll love the second you pick it up.



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