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Jon Lamont's top five favourite things from 2019 – MobileSyrup

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2019 was an absolutely incredible year in tech, entertainment, video games and so much more. At MobileSyrup, we have the opportunity to step back, reflect and write about some of our favourite things from the past year. With such a full and incredible year, it’s hard to pick just a few things as favourites.

That said, I’ll certainly try my hardest to do so. Below you’ll find my favourite things from 2019.

Return of the Razr

I had the opportunity to go to Los Angeles this year for the unveiling of Motorola’s new Razr foldable smartphone. It was a memorable trip for several reasons, but namely, it was for the phone itself.

Folding smartphones have been a dominant topic in tech for some time now. From leaked patents to rumours, it felt like I wrote about some kind of foldable news almost every day. 2019 was the year of the foldable with the launch of the Samsung Galaxy Fold, unveiling of the Huawei Mate X and other devices. While those ones were certainly impressive, Motorola’s play at foldables felt like something consumers could actually use.

The Razr, while not yet available in Canada, is on its way (with Telus letting customers sign up for pre-order notifications now). It’s positioned to cost significantly less than the Galaxy Fold when it arrives, although official pricing hasn’t been announced.

Unfortunately, Motorola has delayed the Razr, so it likely won’t be available anywhere until next year. However, the company claims the delay is due to high demand — if true, it’s a testament to the Razr’s appeal.

In my brief time with the Razr in LA, it felt more practical than the Fold. The clamshell design evoked nostalgia for the old Razr flip phones while also maintaining the form factor of current smartphones when unfolded. When folded up, the Razr offers a small display to see incoming notifications or take selfies.

Getting to go hands-on with the Razr and try out the device before it comes to Canada was definitely one of my highlights of 2019.

Samsung Galaxy S10e

Samsung releases a lot of phones every year, but 2019’s S10e was one of my favourites. I talked about it on a recent SyrupCast about our favourite phones of the year, but I really have to say it’s a great phone.

Ultimately, I like what Samsung, Apple and other manufacturers are doing with the different flagship phone tiers. Devices like the S10e and the iPhone 11 offer the same high-end experience expected from a flagship but without some of the fancy bells and whistles that make flagships so pricey. With the increasing cost of phones, having an option that offers a similar experience without the high cost is a major plus.

The S10e does this exceptionally well, sporting almost identical internals and comparable camera experience to the Galaxy S10 and S10+. Where it really lacks is in ‘bonus’ features like a curved display — I’m not a fan of these anyway, so I’m happy the S10e doesn’t have one — and an in-display fingerprint scanner.

None of these are deal-breaker omissions, which makes the S10e an easy choice for someone who wants the best on offer but doesn’t want to break the bank.

Those interested can read a full review of the S10e here.

Lenovo ThinkBook 13s

I also get the opportunity to review several laptops throughout the year, and this year, Lenovo surprised me with one of the best Windows laptops of 2019.

When I first received a ThinkBook 13s review unit from Lenovo, I didn’t think much of the unassuming business-facing laptop. However, it boasted better performance than most other Windows machines I’ve used this year in a lightweight, compact body with a stylish, MacBook-esque design.

The ThinkBook 13s continuously surprised, with its solid battery life and impressive thermal handling — in my time with it, it hardly heated up. It even had one of the fastest fingerprint scanners I’ve seen on a computer.

All that said, the laptop wasn’t perfect. It lacked some convenient features, like Windows Hello facial recognition. It also sported a less-than-stellar trackpad, as most Windows laptops do. But it was still a surprisingly well-built machine and I can’t wait to see how Lenovo improves on it going into 2020.

You can read my full review of the ThinkBook 13s here.

Destiny 2 regained its stride

Gaming has been a hobby of mine ever since I was a kid and while I never really got into Halo, I liked what Bungie did with the series. When Destiny 2 launched on PC in 2017, I hesitantly picked the game up. I’d heard about some of what happened with the console-exclusive first game, but several friends were planning to play Destiny 2 on PC and assured me Bungie had turned things around and the next game would be great.

After a tumultuous launch and a disastrous first DLC drop, we all knew that wasn’t the case. As much as I enjoyed playing Destiny 2 — Bungie really nailed the feel of the game — I was among many who abandoned the title entirely.

Fast forward to 2019 — Bungie broke up with Activision, the game publisher behind gaming industry titans like the Call of Duty franchise. It marked a turning point for the developer, which was no longer bound by a strict contract. The company made several pro-consumer changes to the game, moved Destiny 2 to Steam and transitioned it to a free-to-play model.

The changes were enough to get me, and several other people, reinvested in Destiny 2. In many ways, Bungie fixed the biggest flaws with the game and made it something enjoyable to play again. It isn’t perfect, but I think Destiny 2 is in a much better place than what it was. It also became one of my most-played games of the year and new content drops have breathed fresh life into a nearly-dead game.

Ultimately, it was nice to see Bungie get out from under Activision and set things right for Destiny 2 players, and I’m excited to see where the company goes next with the franchise and other new games.

Image credit: Bungie

Apex Legends, the ‘just-right’ battle royale

Battle royale games that pit players against each other in large, open maps have become increasingly popular, but one really stole the show in 2019. Apex Legends, a free-to-play battle royale set in the Titanfall universe and developed by Respawn Entertainment, came out of nowhere in February and quickly became a favourite.

It offered a nice balance between the silly but massively popular Fortnite and the realistic PlayerUnkown’s BattleGrounds, or PUBG. And when I say it came out of nowhere, it really did. Respawn surprised everyone with Apex, launching with virtually no announcement after working on it in secret.

While I haven’t played Apex much since Bungie fixed up Destiny 2, I did play it religiously after its launch. Apex launched in an incredibly polished state and I found it much more enjoyable than either PUBG or Fortnite.

If you haven’t tried out Apex Legends yet, now’s a good time to do it. It’s free, which makes the barrier to entry quite low, and the game is in the midst of its holiday bash with special game modes and other festivities ongoing.

All in all, 2019 was a solid year. These are just a few of my favourite things, and I can’t wait to see what 2020 brings.

Image credit: Respawn

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The Witcher’s Netflix Success Proves CD Projekt Red Made a Big Mistake – CCN Markets

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  • The Witcher developer CD Projekt Red may have made a huge mistake by not capitalizing on the Netflix series.
  • Sales of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt soared after the TV show debuted.
  • CD Projekt Red should have timed The Witcher 4 or new Wild Hunt DLC to coincide with the launch of the series.

Netflix isn’t the only one reaping the rewards from the success of its new fantasy series, The Witcher. Game developer CD Projekt Red has been cashing in too.

The Witcher 4 Was a Pipe-Dream – But What About DLC?

A recent NPD report revealed that The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt sales exploded by 554% in December 2019 – the month the Netflix show debuted –  compared to the previous December.

But the company may have missed out on an even bigger windfall by failing to capitalize on the Netflix-fueled Witcher hype.

The Witcher 4 tweet CD Projekt RED
Source: Twitter

Maybe timing The Witcher 4 for a December 2019 or early 2020 release would have been way too ambitious. But they could have at least unveiled some new Wild Hunt DLC.

And it may already be too late for CD Projekt Red to correct its blunder.

Why CD Projekt Red Has Already Missed Its Chance to Leverage the Netflix Hype

Season two of the Netflix series is expected to air in 2021, so it’s virtually impossible that The Witcher 4 would be ready by then.

Before CD Projekt Red begins developing the sequel to Wild Hunt, it has to complete development on Cyberpunk 2077 – which has just been delayed to September 17. Then it will develop Cyberpunk 2077’s multiplayer gameplay, which it plans to launch after 2021.

cd projekt red, the witcher 4cd projekt red, the witcher 4
It took more than three years to develop Wild Hunt. | Source: CD Projekt Red

It took three and a half years to develop The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt – and that game was delayed several times. That means we may not see The Witcher 4 until at least 2024.

By 2024, the series may have ended. Netflix is notorious for canceling shows after a few seasons. Or maybe the quality drops off dramatically, and viewers lose interest.

The Witcher, which has a lengthy production cycle and pays lead actor Henry Cavill $400,000 an episode, isn’t cheap. Netflix can’t afford it to be a niche product.

No matter what happens, it looks like CD Projekt Red has already missed its best chance to leverage the series into a fat payday.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of CCN.com.

This article was edited by Josiah Wilmoth.

Last modified: February 20, 2020 9:00 PM UTC

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Animal Crossing: New Horizons Save Recovery Limit Might Get Changed – GameSpot

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During its Animal Crossing-focused Direct, Nintendo once again confirmed that the upcoming New Horizons will not make use of Nintendo Switch Online’s cloud save backup function, but NSO subscribers will have a way to recover their save data should something unfortunate happen to their system. However, this feature comes with one notable caveat.

[Update] The caveat that previously stated that players would only be able to recover data once in the event a Switch console was damaged or lost resulted in some criticism from the community and became a key subject of discussion around the game. In the time since, Nintendo has re-uploaded the Animal Crossing: New Horizons Direct video–sacrificing a considerable number of views in the process–and changed the language used in the data recovery section to indicate it may be reconsidering the limitation.

Where it previously stated, “Nintendo Switch Online members can only have save data recovered one time due to loss or damage of system” it now says, “More details on save data recovery functionality will be shared at a future date.” Of course, there is no guarantee that the limitation will be removed; Nintendo may simply want to justify the restriction better at a later date.

[Original story continues] In fine print during the presentation, Nintendo specifies that you will only be able to recover your Animal Crossing: New Horizons save data one time should your Switch get lost or damaged. As previously mentioned, this service will only be offered to Nintendo Switch Online subscribers, and it won’t be available until sometime after the game launches.

This isn’t the only unusual save data restriction New Horizons imposes on players. Nintendo recently confirmed that only one island can exist per Nintendo Switch console–so if another player who shares your system would like to start their own island, they’ll need their own Switch and game. Additionally, you will not be able to transfer your New Horizons save data from one Switch system to another, at least from launch. Nintendo UK’s website says that a function to move your save to another console is “planned for later this year.”

We learned a lot of other details about New Horizons during the Animal Crossing Direct. Nintendo showcased a variety of quality-of-life improvements, as well as some new and returning characters you’ll meet in the game. New Horizons also lets you change your island’s terrain for the first time in the series, and it’ll make use of both the Nintendo Switch Online smartphone app and the Animal Crossing Amiibo figures and cards.

Animal Crossing: New Horizons releases worldwide on March 20. You can see what pre-order bonuses are available for the title in our Animal Crossing: New Horizons pre-order guide. For more on the game, be sure to check out our roundup of everything we know about New Horizons.

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Samsung temporarily shuts down a factory in South Korea due to Coronavirus – The Next Web

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Coronavirus has caused plenty of manufacturing units in China to stop production. Now, the deadly virus is affecting manufacturing in other countries too. Samsung has temporarily shut down its factory in Gumi, South Korea.

According to a report by Reuters, the company found a confirmed case of Coronavirus in the factory last week. Due to the fast-spreading nature of the virus, the Korean giant decided to close the factory till February 24; the floor where the affected person worked, will be closed till February 25.

[Read: I hate Apple for making me shake my MacBook like a chump]

Samsung said it’s testing people who came in contact with the infected employee for possible infection:

The company has placed colleagues who came in contact with the infected employee in self-quarantine and taken steps to have them tested for possible infection.

The company produces high-end phones, such as the Galaxy Z Flip, in this factory for the domestic market. With the current shut down being temporary, it’s unlikely that production will take a major hit.

However, with the rising number of Covid-19 cases in South Korea, the firm might need to prepare for more possible shutdowns.

Over the past couple of years, Samsung has shifted the bulk of its device production to India and Vietnam. Last year, it inaugurated the world’s largest smartphone factory in Noida, India. There are no reports of these units being affected till now.

For more gear, gadget, and hardware news and reviews, follow Plugged on
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Published February 24, 2020 — 03:45 UTC

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