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I thought the PS5 DualSense controller was a gimmick — until I played this game – Tom's Guide

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It’s no secret that I don’t love the PS5 DualSense controller. Compared to the beautifully simple Xbox Series X controller, the DualSense has a lot of wasted space, some questionable button placements and a few odd connectivity restrictions. The biggest dealbreaker for me, though, was that I found the innovative haptics more distracting than immersive. Or I did, at least, until I reached the last level of Demon’s Souls.

For those who haven’t played it yet, Demon’s Souls is easily the best game on the PS5, and possibly the best game I’ve played all year. (Granted, it was also one of the best games of the year when it first came out in 2009, but I digress.) Like the PS5’s other exclusive launch titles, Demon’s Souls makes extensive use of the DualSense’s subtle haptic feedback.

But unlike in Spider-Man: Miles Morales, I didn’t find it grating here. While it took a while to grow on me, the DualSense wound up facilitating one of my very favorite parts of the Demon’s Souls Remake.

PS5 DualSense: How it’s different 

(Image credit: John Glasscock/YouTube)

In case you haven’t tried out the DualSense controller yet (I’m aware that the PS5 is not very easy to find right now), it’s quite different from the DualShock 4. The long grips make it resemble an Xbox controller, while the lightbar is now on the front of the controller, letting you see it during gameplay. The biggest difference, however, is that the DualSense has extremely sensitive haptic feedback.

Rather than just varying degrees of vibration, the DualSense lets you “feel” subtle effects, from different weights on each side of the controller, to resistant triggers when you fire a gun. It’s very difficult to describe until you get your hands on one, but the DualSense can mimic subtle sensations of movement and action; other controllers can mimic only varying degrees of impact.

While the DualSense has generally gotten a lot of praise (including in our own PS5 review), I’ve been a little more reticent about it than most. My gut feeling is that anything that puts distance between you and the action onscreen is more of a gimmick than a gameplay feature. This includes motion controls, touch controls and, yes, even vibrations themselves — although vibrating controllers have been around since the N64 days, so I’ve grown to grudgingly accept them.

In Miles Morales, I didn’t understand why my trigger locked halfway down every time I wanted to fire a web, or why I had to blow into my controller in Astro’s Playroom. The Nintendo DS tried a number of similar things back when it first launched, but generally speaking, the best DS games were the more traditional fare — not the ones that leaned on the console’s odd control scheme.

Granted, if you don’t like the DualSense haptics, you can always just turn them off, but I kept them on, just in case I found a truly justified use-case for them. Demon’s Souls didn’t disappoint.

Demon’s Souls

(Image credit: Sony)

The Blue Dragon 

The next section has minor spoilers for a late-game level in Demon’s Souls, so read on at your own risk.

For most of the game, I found the haptics in Demon’s Souls just as distracting as in Miles Morales. If you play without headphones, you hear a ton of sound effects through your controller, from whooshing arrows to crackling magic spells. Additionally, the controller vibrates differently whether you’re crossing swords with an enemy, traversing a crumbling bridge, winding up a crossbow and so forth. Demon’s Souls is a very tough game, and one that demands your full attention. It’s precisely the kind of situation I mentioned earlier, where haptics — however innovative — can distract you from what’s happening onscreen.

It wasn’t until very late in the game — right before the final boss, in fact — that I realized the DualSense really can accomplish some things that a simple vibrating controller can’t. Late in the game, you have the opportunity to rescue a hardy fighter named Biorr of the Twin Fangs. When the fearsome Blue Dragon blocks the entrance to the final boss chamber, Biorr selflessly runs into the dragon’s path and proclaims that you’ll fight the beast together. It’s a rousing moment in what is often a very bleak game.

Any Demon’s Soul veteran knows that the best way to fight the Blue Dragon is with a bow, so I let Biorr draw the dragon’s fire and ran right underneath the huge beast, where its fire couldn’t reach me. As I drew my bow and unleashed my arrow, I noticed three very subtle things happening simultaneously: Every time the dragon breathed fire, the DualSense’s bottom half would rumble slightly, simulating an earthshaking impact behind me. At the same time, every time I nocked an arrow, the right trigger would lock halfway down, and release when I fired. Finally, the controller’s speaker would play a “whoosh,” followed by a “thud” to let me know that the arrow had landed.

Taking down the Blue Dragon was a time-consuming process, but in the end, the DualSense helped me feel like I was really fighting off a mythical beast rather than simply performing a repetitive, effortless action. If I’m being totally fair, the Blue Dragon fight is not one of the better boss fights in Demon’s Souls, considering that all you do is stand in one place and hit the same button over and over until you win. But the DualSense elevated it into something at least a little exciting.

Demon’s Souls

(Image credit: Sony)

DualSense outlook 

My stance on the DualSense has softened — but only a little. Demon’s Souls is a 30-hour game, and I can cite only about five minutes where the PS5 controller made it considerably better than its PS3 predecessor. But even so, it makes me hopeful that developers can continue to refine the DualSense and find unobtrusive ways to integrate it into the gameplay.

I don’t know if one excellent encounter in one excellent game is enough to change my opinion of the PS5 controller entirely, but I can say that it’s at least a good start. If the DualSense can deliver more magical moments like the Blue Dragon encounter, it might just justify the peripheral’s odd design choices.

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Signal app goes down amid peak user traffic – Gulf News

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The Signal messaging app logo is seen on a smartphone.
Image Credit: REUTERS

New Delhi: The users of highly-encrypted Signal app faced trouble sending messages and the company said on Saturday that it was still working to bring additional capacity online to handle peak traffic levels.

The problem started late Friday and the company first acknowledged it may be due to technical difficulties.

Signal allows for secure and encrypted video, voice and text communication, but users were unable to send any messages.

“We have been adding new servers and extra capacity at a record pace every single day this week nonstop, but today exceeded even our most optimistic projections. Millions upon millions of new users are sending a message that privacy matters. We appreciate your patience,” it said in a series of tweets.

As WhatsApp started sending notifications to its users asking them to either accept its new policy or see their accounts removed from February 8, it came as a blessing in disguise for its rivals as Signal as it saw a massive flow of new users.

The rush led to extra burden on Signal servers.

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“We are making progress towards getting the service back online. Privacy is our top priority, but adding capacity is a close second right now,” it said.

“We are still working as quickly as possible to bring additional capacity online to handle peak traffic levels”.

The encrypted messaging service has climbed to the top spot in the free apps category of the App Store in multiple countries, including India.

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Today is the last day of free, original quality Google Photos backups for Pixel 2 devices – MobileSyrup

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If you’ve got a Pixel 2 or 2 XL, January 16th is the last day to upload original quality pictures to Google Photos.

Free original quality Google Photos backups were perhaps one of the best perks Google ever offered with the Pixel series. For those unfamiliar with it, the original Pixel, Pixel 2 and Pixel 3 allowed users to backup their images and videos to Google Photos at original quality for free. The feature had a time limit, however — the Pixel 2 series’ limit ends today.

Typically, original quality backups count towards your Google One storage. Given enough time, you’d likely use up all your cloud storage and have to pay for more. Google Photos also offers a ‘high quality’ backup feature that compresses images and videos. They still look pretty good, but not as good as original quality. High quality backups currently don’t count towards your Google One storage, but that’s set to change in June.

It’s worth noting that starting with the Pixel 3a, Google only offered free high quality backups on Pixel devices. It’s not as good of a perk, but with the upcoming changes to high quality backups counting towards your storage cap, free high quality backups are definitely a perk.

As for the Pixel 2 and 2 XL, those devices had a three-year time span for free original quality uploads. That three-year cap expires on January 16th, 2021, making today the last day to upload photos at original quality without it counting towards your Google One storage.

Starting January 17th, Pixel 2 series users will need to pick between original quality and high quality — the former will start counting against your Google One storage, while the latter will remain free (even when the new Google Photos storage policy goes into effect in June).

To access the backup quality settings, open Photos on your device and tap your profile icon in the top-right corner. Then, select ‘Account storage’ or tap ‘Photos settings’ > ‘Backup and sync’ to select your quality setting.

Source: Google Via: Android Police

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Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra review (hands on): A truly amazing Android phone – Tom's Guide

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The Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra stands out from the regular Galaxy S21 and S21 Plus in several ways to earn its name. This includes dual telephoto lenses for serious zooming; support for the S Pen (a first for Galaxy S phones); and a bigger, brighter and more dynamic 120Hz OLED display. The best part? The price isn’t as Ultra as last year’s model.

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra specs

Display: 6.8 inches AMOLED (3200 x 1400); 10 to 120Hz
CPU: Snapdragon 888
RAM: 12GB, 16GB
Storage: 128GB, 256GB, 512GB
Rear cameras: 108MP wide (f/1.8), 12MP ultra wide (f/2.2), 10MP telephoto (3x zoom, f/2.4), 10MP telephoto (10x zoom, f/4.9), laser AF sensor
Front camera: 40MP (f/2.2)
Video: 8K 30 fps/4K 60 fps
Battery: 5,000 mAh
Wireless: 5G, Wi-Fi 6E, UWB
Size: 6.5 x 2.97 x 0.35 inches
Weight: 8.08 ounces

The Galaxy S21 Ultra starts at $1,199, which is $200 less than the ambitious but flawed Galaxy S20 Ultra. The new Ultra comes in a sleeker design and offers faster performance from Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 888 chip. Still, the new S21 costs $100 more than the excellent iPhone 12 Pro Max, so Samsung has a lot to prove. 

Samsung does make some trade-offs here. You won’t find a charger in the box, and there’s no microSD card slot for expanding the storage. But overall the S21 Ultra looks like the most versatile Galaxy phone yet and a serious contender for a top spot on our best phone list. 

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra release date and price

(Image credit: Future)

The Galaxy S21 Ultra is available for pre-order starting January 14 at 11 a.m. ET. The release date for the Galaxy S21 Ultra is January 29. You’ll be able to buy carrier and unlocked versions of the phone. 

The Ultra starts at $1,199 and includes 12GB of RAM and 128GB of storage. You can also upgrade to 256GB of storage and to a model with 16GB of RAM and 512GB of storage.  The 256GB model costs $1,249 — basically an extra $50 — while you’ll pay $1,379 for a Galaxy S21 Ultra with 512GB of storage.

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra design and colors

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra back

(Image credit: Future)

The Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra has a camera bump, but it doesn’t jut out from the design as much as it did with the S20 Ultra. A new contour cut design better integrates the bump with the glass back and metal frame around the side. 

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra bottom SIM Card slot

(Image credit: Future)

The Galaxy S21 Ultra colors are limited if you’re buying through a carrier, with just Phantom Silver and Phantom Black as your options. But the matte look does come across as sophisticated and should resist fingerprints. Samsung.com will offer exclusive S21 Ultra colors, including Phantom Navy, Phantom Titanium and Phantom Brown. 

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra review

(Image credit: Future)

One welcome design upgrade is that the in-screen fingerprint sensor is now 1.7x larger, so it should be a bit easier to unlock this device. This is especially handy now that many of us are still wearing masks. 

Measuring 6.5 x 2.97 x 0.35 inches (165.1 x 75.6 x 8.9 mm) and weighing 8.08 ounces (229 grams), the S21 Ultra is larger and heavier than the S20 Ultra (6.6 x 2.7 x 0.34 inches, 7.7 ounces). The S21 Ultra is also noticeably thicker than the iPhone 12 Pro Max (6.33 x 3.07 x 0.29 inches, 8.03 ounces). This is definitely be a phone you’ll want to use with two hands.

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra display

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra review

(Image credit: Future)

The 6.8-inch Dynamic AMOLED display on the Galaxy S21 Ultra is simply on eof the best screens on a phone. It’s bright, vibrant and doesn’t make you choose between sharp QHD resolution and a 120Hz refresh rate like its predecessor. This phone lets you do both at the same time, so you can enjoy smooth scrolling and gameplay without having to drop down the pixels. 

The refresh rate scales all the way down to 10Hz (compared to 48Hz on the S21 and S21 Plus), which should help save on battery life. Plus, the S21 Ultra is designed to get super bright outdoors, going all the way up to 1,500 nits. The S20 Ultra maxed out at 1,200 nits. 

When watching Schitt’s Creek on Netflix, Moira Rose’s dark red lipstick and intense blue eyes popped, and I could make out fine fly-away blonde hairs as she complained about he movie premiere. 

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra review

(Image credit: Future)

Samsung says the S21 Ultra has a 3 million: 1 contrast ratio, which is 50% higher than the S20 Ultra. And there’s an Eye Comfort Shield feature that’s designed to reduce eye fatigue by limiting blue light. 

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra cameras

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra review

(Image credit: Future)

It’s the cameras where the Galaxy S21 Ultra stands out the most against the S21 and S21 Plus. There’s a main 108MP wide sensor and 12MP ultra-wide camera, which is complemented by a laser auto focus sensor.

The 108MP main camera can capture 12-bit HDR photos with 64 times richer color data and more than three times the dynamic range of the S20 Ultra. Plus, there’s a 12-bit RAW file option in Pro mode.

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra review

(Image credit: Future)

I tested the camera out at a nearby store to capture a shot of produce, and the green peppers in the foreground look incredibly vibrant. And you can make out a pretty amazing amount of detail when you zoom in. 

Samsung says it has also improved the Portrait mode on the S21 by leveraging AI to better separate the subject from the background. The phone did a good job with this portrait with a pleasing bokeh effect, and my blue sweatshirt and tan jacket have a fair amount of detail. 

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra review

(Image credit: Future)

But the headline camera feature is the Ultra’s two telephoto lenses — one with 3x zoom and one with 10x optical zoom. The S20 Ultra had just a 4x optical zoom.

It gets better. While the 100x Space Zoom has returned with the Galaxy S21 Ultra, it’s not as shaky as before. That’s because there’s a new Zoom lock feature that identifies your subject to keep it steadier in the frame. 

The Galaxy S21 Ultra should perform better than the S21 and S21 Plus in low light, thanks to a faster Bright Night sensor and 12MP nona-binning technology for reducing noise reduction. 

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra review

(Image credit: Future)

One shot I took outside looked brighter than in real life, but the Night Mode added a gold tint that’s unrealistic. The S21 Ultra actually prompted me to fix the lighting, but the end result looked overly bright.  

On the video front, the Galaxy S21 Ultra can record 8K video up to 30 fps and all of its cameras can capture 4K video at up to 60 fps. But the coolest video upgrade is Director’s View. There’s a new vlogger mode that lets you use the front and back cameras as the same time for recording video. And you can see live thumbnails of each camera while you’re recording video, so you can make a quick call if you want to switch. 

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra review

(Image credit: Future)

Another software upgrade is Single Take 2.0. Just like before, the Galaxy S21 Ultra is smart enough to capture several images and videos at once for easy sharing. But the AI can now analyze more frames per second for locating the best-looking shots while also creating a Dynamic Slow Mo clip. 

Samsung Galaxy S21 performance

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra review

(Image credit: Future)

The Galaxy S21 Ultra features the new Snapdragon 888 processor from Qualcomm, which promises 20% better CPU performance, 30% better graphics and up to twice the AI performance. 

We’ll be bringing you benchmark results with our final review, but overall the S21 Ultra seems very smooth and fast so far. It has no problem juggling multiple open apps, and I enjoyed console-like gameplay when slicing and jumping why way through Grimvalor. Even with multiple enemies on screen, the S21 Ultra didn’t stutter.

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra S Pen

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra S Pen

(Image credit: Future)

For the first time ever, a Galaxy S device supports the S Pen, the S21 Ultra makes that happen with a Wacom digitizer built into the display. The S Pen, which is optional, lets you draw, sketch and take notes, just as you can on the Galaxy Note 20 and Note 20 Ultra. It also comes in handy for quickly signing documents.

Just keep in mind that the S Pen is sold separately — it costs $40 — and you’ll need to spring for a compatible case if you want to store the stylus on the go when it’s not in use. There are two case options with S Pen support, and both cost $69.99.

In addition to the S Pen — which is actually a slightly larger version of the one that ships with the Galaxy Note to improve its grip — Samsung is developing a second stylus. The S Pen Pro ships later this year for an undisclosed price. It’s larger overall and offer Bluetooth connectivity.

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra: 5G, Wi-Fi 6E and UWB

The Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra supports all of the latest wireless standards, starting with 5G. The Qualcomm X60 modem inside this device is capable of carrier aggregation, which should result in higher peak speeds while delivering better power efficiency.

In addition, the Galaxy S21 Ultra is one of the first phones to support Wi-Fi 6E, a new standard that delivers faster speeds and more overall bandwidth when you have a compatible Wi-Fi 6E router. 

Lastly, the S21 Ultra has UWB (ultra-wideband), which makes it easier to share files with other UWB devices, like the Galaxy S21 Plus. And you’ll be able to use this phone as a digital key for select 2022 cars. 

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra dock

(Image credit: Future)

If you’re constantly losing stuff — like me — you’ll want to check out Samsung’s new Galaxy SmartTags. You can use this tag in combination with the SmartThings Find app to track down everything from your keys to your bag. You can also use the SmartThings Find app to locate other Samsung devices, including phones, smartwatches, tablets and earbuds. 

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra battery and charging

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra battery life

(Image credit: Future)

The Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra has the same size 5,000 mAh battery as the S20 Ultra, but this phone should last longer on a charge. The 5nm processor inside this handset is more efficient, and Samsung says that it’s leveraging AI to analyze usage patterns to reduce power consumption. We’ll see how well the S21 Ultra performs on our battery test and if it can crack our best phone battery life list. 

The Galaxy S21 Ultra supports a fast 25W charger

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra outlook

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra camera

(Image credit: Future)

The Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra has all the makings of becoming the best Android phone around, at least for those willing to pay a premium. And it’s good to see that Samsung has dropped the price by $200 vs the S20 Ultra. The biggest reasons to be excited about this phone are the dual zoom cameras and the fantastic 6.8-inch OLED display that gives you 120Hz and full quad HD resolution at the same time.

I see the S Pen support as nice to have, as I don’t envision a ton of people taking advantage of it because of the added costs for the pen and case.

I’s a bummer that Samsung doesn’t include a charger in the box, and that you can’t expand the storage. And while all the new camera tricks are cool, I’m more interested to see how well the S21 Ultra stands up to the iPhone 12 Pro Max and Google Pixel 5 in terms of image quality. Stay tuned for our final rated review. 

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