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Xbox Series S: $299 price with 512GB of storage, 1440p gaming, and more – The Verge

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Microsoft’s next-gen Xbox Series S console leaked earlier today, just before the company officially confirmed its $299 pricing. Now a new leak is providing more details on exactly what’s inside the smaller Xbox Series S. Twitter leaker WalkingCat has posted a promotional video for the Series S, confirming that the console is targeting 120fps gaming at up to 1440p resolution and offering 512GB of storage.

The Xbox Series S will also include support for ray tracing, variable rate shading, and variable refresh rate. Microsoft is also including support for 4K media streaming, and even 4K upscaling for games. The video also reveals the Xbox Series S is the smallest Xbox ever, and it will be 60 percent smaller than the bigger Xbox Series X.

The 512GB storage could be a challenge given modern games regularly exceed the 100GB mark, but it’s still possible the Xbox Series S will include the same removable storage port found on the larger Xbox Series X. Microsoft isn’t using a disc drive in the Xbox Series S, so storage expansion will be a necessity.

It’s clear Microsoft has a lot more information to share about the Xbox Series S soon, but so far we know it’s arriving for $299. Windows Central is also reporting that the Series S will arrive on November 10th alongside the Xbox Series X. The larger and more powerful console will reportedly be priced at $499.

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On lying AIs – TechCrunch

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A yellow-eyed cat tilts its eyes at the camera, gazing up from a grey bedspread. ‘London Trip’, is the AI’s title for this photo-montage ‘Memory’ plucked from the depths of my iPhone camera-roll. It’s selected a sad score of plinking piano and sweeping violin. The algorithm has calculated it must tug at the heart strings. 

Cut to a crop of a desk with a 2FA device resting on a laptop case. It’s not at all photogenic. On to a shot of a sofa in a living room. It’s empty. The camera inclines toward a radio on a sidetable. Should we be worried for the invisible occupant? The staging invites cryptic questions.

Cut to an outdoor scene: A massive tree spreading above a wrought iron park fence. Another overcast day in the city. Beside it an eccentric shock of orange. A piece of public art? A glass-blown installation? There’s no time to investigate or interrogate. The AI is moving on. There’s more data clogging its banks. 

Cut to a conference speaker. White, male, besuited, he’s gesticulating against a navy wall stamped with some kind of insignia. The photo is low quality, snapped in haste from the audience, details too fuzzy to pick out. Still, the camera lingers, panning across the tedious vista. A wider angle shows conference signage for something called ‘Health X’. This long distant press event rings a dim bell. Another unlovely crop: My voice recorder beside a brick wall next to an iced coffee. I guess I’m working from a coffee shop.

On we go. A snap through a window-frame of a well kept garden, a bird-bath sprouting from low bushes. Another shot of the shrubbery shows a ladder laid out along a brick wall. I think it looks like a church garden in Southwark but I honestly can’t tell. No matter. The AI has lost interest. Now it’s obsessing over a billboard of a Google Play ad: “All the tracks you own and millions more to discover — Try it now for free,” the text reads above a weathered JCDecaux brand stamp.

There’s no time to consider what any of this means because suddenly it’s nighttime. It must be; my bedside lamp is lit. Or is it? Now we’re back on the living room sofa with daylight and a book called ‘Nikolski’ (which is also, as it happens, about separation and connection and random artefacts — although its artful narrative succeeds in serendipity).

Cut to a handful of berries in a cup. Cut to an exotic-looking wallflower which I know grows in the neighbourhood. The score is really soaring now. A lilting female vocal lands on cue to accompany a solitary selfie.

I am looking unimpressed. I have so many questions. 

The AI isn’t quite finished. For the finale: A poorly framed crop of a garden fence and a patio of pot plants, washing weeping behind the foliage. The music is fading, the machine is almost done constructing its London trip. The last shot gets thrust into view: Someone’s hand clasping a half-drunk punch. 

Go home algorithm, you’re drunk.

Footnote: Apple says on-device machine learning powers iOS’ “intelligent photos experience” which “analyzes every 
photo in a user’s photo library using on-device machine learning [to] deliver 
a personalized experience for each user” — with the advanced processing slated to include scene classification, composition analysis, people and pets identification, quality analysis and identification of facial expressions

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First PS5 photos show just how big Sony’s next-gen console truly is – The Verge

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Sony’s upcoming PS5 hardware has appeared at the FCC, providing us with the first close up photos of the next-gen console. The FCC has published a variety of images, showing the standard PS5 laying horizontally, the included cables, and the removable base that holds the console in both vertical and horizontal positions.

The photos also show just how big the PS5 truly is. We learned earlier this week that the PS5 is the biggest game console in modern history, even topping the Xbox One VCR-like shape and Sony’s own PS3. Sony released official dimensions during its PS5 event this week, but they don’t include the “largest projection” or the optional base measurements.

PS5 laying horizontally.

It’s clear from these FCC photos that it’s going to be a challenge to fit a PS5 into entertainment centers, just as it will be with the Xbox Series X. Both consoles appear to be designed to primarily stand vertically, looking rather unwieldy on their sides.

Unfortunately, the FCC photos don’t offer a close look at exactly how you access the NVMe slot on the PS5. Sony is allowing PS5 owners to expand storage space, but we still don’t have full details on exactly how this will work. Sony has also teased that the PS5 hardware is customizable in ways that previous generations of PlayStation consoles weren’t, so it’s possible that at least one side panel of the PS5 is removable.

Sony is launching the PS5 in the US on November 12th, priced at $499.99. A second disc-less PS5 Digital Edition will also be available for $399.99. Sony also revealed earlier this week that PS5 games will cost up to $69.99.

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How to buy the right Android phone for you – TechRadar

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Choosing a new smartphone is more difficult now than it’s ever been. However, if you’re reading this then you’ve likely made the first decision – iPhone or Android – already. Congratulations.

Android smartphones are the best they’ve ever been, serving up incredible screens, powerful innards, class-leading cameras, swanky software tricks, and much more. There’s never been a better time to nab yourself a shiny new Google-powered handset, especially since mid-range offerings with superb specs and performance can be yours for less than ever before.

The downside, however, is the fact that there are literally hundreds of Android options out there, coming from a plethora of manufacturers, all vying for your attention.

That’s where we come in. We’ve already rounded up a list of the best Android phones you can buy today, which should make your final decision easier. But before you head on over with your wallet in hand, let’s slow down a little. How do you use your current phone? What are you looking for? What will you be doing over the next few years?

We pose these questions to you because we all have different needs. Some of us love taking and sharing photos, while others may prefer whiling away hours flossing in Fortnite. Not only that, but the world is a pretty crazy place right now, and we’re all spending more time at home. The huge battery that may have once topped your list of priorities may be less important today, especially when you throw ultra-fast charging into the mix. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves.

Here’s everything you need to think about before choosing the perfect Android phone for you:

1. What’s your budget? 

(Image credit: Pixabay)

The amount of money you’re prepared to drop on a smartphone is the number one thing you need to decide upon before going any further. 

As with most things in life, you get what you pay for. For example, splurging out just over a grand will net you a powerhouse such as the feature-packed Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra. It may win you over with its flagship specs, multi-cam setup, and the do-it-all S Pen for note-taking, productivity and doodling, but do you really need all that functionality?

If you’re a productivity fiend and/or an artist then, yes, it may be worth the cash. But if you’re unlikely to ever make use of that S Pen stylus, then it doesn’t make sense to spend more money than you need to.

On the flipside, if you’re after a simple, reliable handset that can capture decent pictures, will see you through a day and can handle pretty much any task then it’s absolutely worth considering a mid-range handset such as the OnePlus Nord, which comes close to offering  flagship performance at a very reasonable price. 

2. Are you a shutterbug? 

Let’s get interactive. Grab your current smartphone, open up the gallery, and begin scrolling. What do you see? Selfies? Cats? Food? Buildings? More cats? Not much at all?

There’s no right or wrong answer, but this is an excellent way to determine just how much you use your camera, and how important it is to you. If you see a bunch of selfies or even group selfies, then maybe front-facing cameras should command more attention when you’re choosing your next phone. Some even offer ultra-wide selfie cams so you can easily fit large groups into shots.

If you take a lot of shots at night time, then you’ll want to keep an eye out for cameras with dedicated night modes and/or larger sensors and solid low-light performance. In general, the best-performing low-light smartphones tend to be the most expensive, since the shooting conditions demand the best lenses, sensors and algorithms.

For those who mainly capture images in the daytime, your choice is wider; pretty much any mid-range to flagship device you pick from a major brand will likely take excellent shots in bright conditions.

3. How much power do you need? 

Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra

Samsung’s Galaxy Note 20 Ultra is one of the most powerful phones in the world (Image credit: Future)

There was a time when your phone would slow to a crawl a year or so after purchase, suffering frequent crashes, reboots – with you uttering many a swear word as a result. Thanks to advances in processor technology, coupled with a general raising of specs across the board, even most mid-range handsets today will provide more than enough power for most people.

In fact, we’d go as far as to say that unless you’re an enthusiast pining for the latest and greatest specs, or a hardcore mobile gamer who’s constantly running super-demanding games such as Call of Duty: Mobile, you won’t need powerful processors such as Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 865 5G.

Mid-range processors such as the Snapdragon 765 coupled with around 8GB of RAM will blitz through apps, media and multitasking without issue. Unless you’re specifically after a handset with which you can play heavy-duty games or process 8K video a la the Galaxy S20 range, raw specs is one area where mid-range Android phones really shine.

4. How much will you use it? 

At the time of writing, most of us aren’t travelling nor commuting to the degree we were pre-pandemic. Which brings us neatly to our next consideration: battery life.

Not too long ago, heavy phone users with long commutes would often get caught out with their devices issuing low battery warnings whilst having their after-work pint. Anxiety over whether a smartphone will last the day is a real issue, which is the reason battery life is one of the most important attributes for most people.

While you might not be out on the town as much now, you’re likely using your phone more than ever, scrolling through your Insta feed or numbing your mind with TikTok cats in a bid to keep those spreadsheets and PowerPoint documents at bay a little while longer.

Thankfully, modern smartphones are more efficient at sipping power, and battery capacity has also improved. Beyond the fact that you’re more likely to be at home with a charger to hand, one of the biggest developments to look out for is the speed at which a smartphone charges.

For example, the OnePlus 8 Pro can reach 50% capacity in just 30 minutes thanks to its Warp Charge 30T charger, which is an impressive feat given its 4,510mAh battery. With companies such as Samsung and Xiaomi also offering their own versions of fast charging, range anxiety will soon become a thing of the past. 

5. Screen time

Sony Xperia 1 II

The Sony Xperia 1 II has a 4K display (Image credit: TechRadar)

There are a few features worth mentioning that may hold different levels of importance to some people, and the first of these is the screen. Beyond choosing one that’s a comfortable size for your hands, also worth considering are the display type itself and the resolution.

AMOLED displays are widely regarded to offer the best experience, thanks to their true blacks, amazing contrast, and rich, punchy colors. The best screens around also offer higher refresh rates, with 120Hz currently being the spec to beat.

In our opinion, a 120Hz screen is a nice bonus. However, in reality you’re unlikely to be able to determine the difference between that and a 90Hz – or even perhaps 60Hz display – unless you’re wearing your scrutinizing hat. 

Take note of the resolution, too. If you’re an avid movie watcher/videographer then you could opt for a 4K-toting handset such as the Sony Xperia 1 II, but you’ll be paying extra for the privilege. QHD resolution is the de facto for all flagships – but if we’re being completely honest, 1080p, or Full HD, is totally fine for most people.

If you’re a money-no-object buyer, then you have the luxury of potentially selecting a handset with a folding screen. As an early adopter, you’ll be paying a huge premium, but the looks of amazement of people’s faces when you unfold phones such as the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2 or Motorola Razr, will (potentially) be well worth it. 

6. Hit the road jack 

A somewhat controversial feature (or lack, thereof) is the headphone jack. Most people are now used to the fact that almost every single new phone now comes minus this feature. But if you’re adventurous enough to traverse online to Android enthusiast forums, you’ll discover a lot of outraged posts about this brave new jack-less world.

Their argument is, in this writer’s opinion, a solid one. Headphone jacks offer the most flexibility for listening to music or watching videos, since you can use them with any of your existing headphones. Not only that, but you’re always prepared if you come across speakers with AUX inputs. 

While Bluetooth headphones have come on a long way, we still have occasional problems with audio lag and connection interference, not to mention they’re just another gadget you need to remember to charge. And while USB-C headphones exist, it means you can’t charge your phone at the same time.

We’d rather headphone jacks remained with us – but, sadly, it appears their time is nigh. At the time of writing, the best phones that still carry headphone jacks include the Google Pixel 4a, the LG V60 and the Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus. So, if you’re an audiophile who’s looking to continue using their trusty cans, it’s something to bear in mind.

7. The speed of 5G 

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5G

A large variety of top-end phones now offer 5G (Image credit: Samsung)

Ridiculous corona conspiracy theories aside, the 5G network coverage is growing, with every major carrier offering the service in selected locations.

The benefits are, of course, much faster speeds. However, you’ll only be able to take advantage if coverage exists in your area – which, at the moment, is pretty unlikely. Still, if you’re in a 5G area and willing to pay a little extra per month for the privilege, then we won’t discourage you – just bear in mind that you’ll be paying a premium for a 5G handset.

If you’re unlikely to be in a 5G area very often then we’d advise that you hold off; by the time you upgrade your phone, the technology and level of coverage will be more mature. Having said that, the majority of new flagships come with 5G as standard, so that’s some extra future-proofing to take into consideration.

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