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Galaxy Z Fold 2: A drool-worthy foldable that fixes the original’s disastrous design – CNET

LikeRefined look and feelSits open at multiple anglesFixes nearly every flaw from the original Don’t LikeInner screen still fragileFingerprint unlock errors too numerousTyping can feel cumbersome The Galaxy Z Fold 2 is not just a foldable phone. It’s a movement waiting to begin. Samsung’s winning redesign of its first foldable phone improves on the original…

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Galaxy Z Fold 2: A drool-worthy foldable that fixes the original’s disastrous design     – CNET

LikeRefined look and feelSits open at multiple anglesFixes nearly every flaw from the original

Don’t LikeInner screen still fragileFingerprint unlock errors too numerousTyping can feel cumbersome

The Galaxy Z Fold 2 is not just a foldable phone. It’s a movement waiting to begin. Samsung’s winning redesign of its first foldable phone improves on the original Galaxy Fold in nearly every way — from the new 6.2-inch outer screen to the 7.6-inch inner display — delivering a device that for the first time draws a full-size foldable phone from the realm of fantasy and grounds it in reality.  Samsung’s original Galaxy Fold was a bold concept with terrible execution. Besieged by problems and pitfalls at nearly every turn, Samsung had to redesign the device after review models broke in multiple ways, causing the brand to lose distribution partners, drop color options and deliver the foldable device four months late. 

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The Z Fold 2 may keep the same shape as the original, but it exudes confidence and competence that the first design lacked — with one exception. CNET Section Editor Juan Garzon’s review unit has a bubbled interior screen, which would clearly fall under Samsung’s warranty if a purchased product arrived damaged. The review unit I’ve been using hasn’t experienced any issues. CNET has reached out to Samsung to report the problem.

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Galaxy Z Fold 2: The new foldable phone king

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When I look at the Galaxy Z Fold 2’s large outer display (6.2 inches), sturdy hinge and upleveled multitasking skills, I see a foldable phone striving to define the intersection of smartphone luxury and technical innovation, but with a utility that banishes the suggestion of gimmick. For example, the Z Fold 2 replaced my laptop for 28 hours and did nearly everything I needed, though writing and editing admittedly took longer tapping out on a screen than typing on keyboard squares. The Z Fold 2 isn’t a phone for everyone — its $2,000 (£1,799, AU$2,999) price puts it out of range for many — but it’s a device that deserves and demands your attention. Read on for the best and worst Z Fold 2 features, and everything you need to know about camera, battery life and Samsung’s VIP treatment. You’ll find the full specs comparison with the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra, Galaxy Fold and Microsoft Surface Duo at the end.
Galaxy Z Fold 2: Samsung’s most luxe foldable phone yet
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8 best improvements to the Galaxy Z Fold 2 Premium look and feelHinge mechanism is sturdy and smooth as you open and close the deviceNo gaps between the screen and body (I tried with my fingernail. All sealed.)6.2-inch external screen takes up most of the exterior footprintUltrathin glass on the inner screen instead of plastic adhesive aloneSupport for 120Hz refresh rate (inner screen)No notch on 7.2-inch interior displayApps seamlessly switch between inner and outer displays How the Z Fold 2 could be even better Inner screen isn’t waterproof, requires special care instructionsReflection on the screen crease is noticeable when hinge stays open Heavy, with sharp edges. Grows wearisome to hold during long-term useBetter cameras, including a 5x optical zoomA more accurate fingerprint reader (more below)Apps can raise the bar on conforming to the screen (more below)Support for Work Profile apps in the multitasking view (more below)Taken with the Galaxy Z Fold 2’s 2x optical camera.
Jessica Dolcourt/CNET
Z Fold 2 cameras are good, but Note 20 Ultra’s are better Photography on the Z Fold 2 leaves little to complain about, unless you’ve just used the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra as your primary phone, like I have.  That device, which costs $1,300 retail, has 5x optical zoom that the Z Fold 2’s 2x optical zoom wishes it could be, and a few other fancy features that I could usually take or leave. Zooming into architectural features on a day trip to San Francisco, or seeing animals in nature, was a lot less satisfying on the Z Fold 2 compared to the Ultra. A beautiful view of San Francisco’s iconic Ferry Building on a beautiful day, but the Z Fold 2’s 2x optical zoom is no match for 5x if we wanted to get a little more close and personal.
Jessica Dolcourt/CNET
Photos are still good — very good, even — but this isn’t the most superior camera phone that Samsung makes. There are pro photo and pro video modes, which bring it up to date, and I do like being able to unfold the device to take a higher-quality selfie with the rear cameras.  The Z Fold 2’s outer screen serves as a viewfinder if you tap the right onscreen control, but it’s awkward to hold the phone this way while taking a photo, and everything looks slightly off-kilter if you’re looking at yourself onscreen and not the camera sensor. I also noticed that a lot of my standard photos seemed ever so slightly askew. Reviewing pictures on the 7.6-inch screen, though, is a dream. San Francisco street, using night mode.
Jessica Dolcourt/CNET
Flex Mode: Highs and lows of the self-supporting hinge  I genuinely thought Flex Mode would be the Z Fold 2’s killer feature, but it didn’t quite work out as expected. Flex Mode is Samsung’s way to describe the state of the Z Fold 2 when you bend the two screens in between totally closed and fully open, and the two “sides” stay where they are. The benefits are plenty real. The phone can prop itself open from a range of at least 75 to 115 degrees, which means it can become its own stand vertically or horizontally, and some apps can shift to take advantage of the new dimensions. That essentially splits the interface so that, for example, you can see a video on “top” and other navigation options on the “bottom.”  The Z Fold 2’s hinge can keep its shape from 75 to 115 degrees without snapping shut or flopping open.
Angela Lang/CNET
But there aren’t enough apps yet that recognize the long, narrow dimensions and know how to use them well. And the natural screen ratios when you bend the phone in half work more cohesively on the smaller Galaxy Z Flip than they do on the Z Fold 2.  For example, when the Z Flip bends in half, it forms two squares. The bottom creates a stand and the top has a centered video camera that’s intuitive to use for video calls, reading, watching videos and framing photos from front and rear cameras.  Meanwhile, the angles on the Z Fold 2 never felt quite right for most of those. Samsung says there are more apps coming to take advantage of the split-screen design — I certainly hope that’s the case. Battery life better than I feared I worried about the Z Fold 2’s ability to deliver all-day battery life with its 4,500-mAh battery capacity. Note that these are two separate battery cells that together create the same total capacity as the Note 20 Ultra, a phone I thought had middling battery performance because of its resource-hungry 120Hz screen. Now, add into the equation two battery cells that are generally thought of as less efficient than one big battery (because of battery chemistry) and a really big 7.6-inch screen that refreshes at twice the rate of a typical screen (using more battery) and you can understand the skepticism. The power-hungry 7.6-inch inner screen supports a 120Hz refresh rate, which should drain the battery faster the more you use it. However, the Z Fold 2 should still last a day on a full charge.
Juan Garzon/CNET
However, the day I exchanged my laptop for a Z Fold 2, I used resource-hungry live maps navigation for 2 hours in a 28-hour period, browsed and messaged nonstop, watched hours of Netflix, took dozens of photos and so on. Even on this heavy day, I still managed to get from morning to evening on a single charge.  Part of that is because the 7.6-inch internal screen only uses 120Hz screen refresh rate on an “adaptive” cycle, which means it automatically flicks on when you’re doing something intensive enough to warrant the ultrasmooth scrolling, gaming and more. The rest of the time it reverts to 60Hz (like the outer screen, which I used at least 60% of the time), and which held reserves in check.  Battery life isn’t amazing, but it’s more than doable, and for a device like this, I consider that a positive. You can also manually switch the inner screen’s refresh rate to 60Hz and if you enter battery-saving mode, 120Hz will fall away. You can use the outer screen as a viewfinder for taking selfies from the main camera — neat trick.
Jessica Dolcourt/CNET
Multitasking, typing, app continuity: A mixed bag Multitasking: I love Samsung’s new multi-window app feature — mostly — because it makes it so much easier to split the 7.6-inch screen into two or three zones to use apps at the same time. Dividing the screen this way felt natural and helpful for periods of time.  In this iteration, when you have one app open, you’re able to swipe out from the side menu, select an app and drag it into one of three locations: to the right or left pane, horizontally, bottom (a vertical position below the main window), or a pop up in the middle of what you’re looking at. This is great flexibility here. Unfortunately, not every app you have installed works with this layout, including apps sandboxed in the “Work Profile” section of Samsung’s Knox security that works with corporate apps. It’s a shame, since the productivity apps are among the ones I want to multitask with the most. Any app you start on the outer screen seamlessly picks up where you left off when you open the Z Fold 2.
Jessica Dolcourt/CNET
App hand-off: I loved the liquidity with which apps from the inner and outer screen slid over to the other when I opened or closed the Z Fold 2. Any app you open the 6.2-inch outer screen, any app you have loaded will jump to the inner screen as you unfold the device — seamlessly. It’s a bit of work to dig into the settings to select which apps you want to go the other way when closing the larger inner screen, like a video (it will automatically work for calls). I will say, it’s completely worth the effort to set this up. Typing: Once again, I have to commend Samsung for making a split screen keyboard for the interior Fold screen. The goal is to make typing more comfortable on a wider-than-usual device that’s most beneficial when it’s fully unfolded into tablet form.  However… my hands are on the smaller side, which means that even on the split-screen keyboard my paws feel stretched. There really aren’t third party apps to replace the default keyboard, which means I wind up collapsing the unfolded phone — bending it slightly toward the center — to get the two sides together and gain some typing relief. If your hands are larger, you may not mind as much, but it’s not a design for everyone. Apps that work for the screen: Samsung is slowly but surely working on apps to take advantage of the Z Fold 2’s bendable design in any formation. For example, there’s drag and drop between Gmail, Chrome, Microsoft Outlook and Samsung native apps. Other apps, like YouTube video, will play nice with the configuration. But until this catches on for all, expect some bootstrapping to get it all how you like. The fingerprint reader (at the bottom right of this photo) is hard to accurately hit when the phone is closed.
Angela Lang/CNET
Fingerprint reader not a deal breaker, but needs a fix In the closed position, both new and original Galaxy Fold devices look like two phones stacked on top of the other in a delicious mobile sandwich. The downside — and weirdness — is that the fingerprint reader on the Z Fold 2’s power/lock button (on the right spine) is both completely sensible and also irrational. Here’s what happens. You enroll up to four fingerprints when the phone is completely flat, unfurled (not folded in half), but if you try to unlock the device when it’s closed, your thumb has to find the precise angle and divot in the bottom portion of the stacked screen sandwich to unlock it without error or delay.  Despite this very convenient placement and setup, I had to punch in my backup credentials more times than not. Should you get the Galaxy Z Fold 2? A $2,000 phone isn’t a paltry affair, especially when 50% of the screens are fragile and finicky at best. But I have a completely different viewpoint than I did of the first Galaxy Fold — to the benefit of the successor. The Galaxy Fold was a mesmerizing beta phone, a blueprint, meant for the most dedicated of tech advocates living on the edge while Samsung and the rest of the industry worked out the details. The Galaxy Z Fold 2 isn’t for everyone, but it does a lot to bring the future of foldable phones within reach.
Angela Lang/CNET
I still don’t think this $2,000 Z Fold 2 with its fragile screen is worth it for most, but it’s a lot closer to the kind of device everyday people might have and want than last year’s inchoate edition. As an ultrafancy phone, the Galaxy Z Fold 2 offers prestige and superior marksmanship for a do-everything phone of this type. As a tech-lover’s dream, it presents a grounded possibility that didn’t exist before.  Samsung’s VIP foldable Z Premiere treatment Samsung has expanded its VIP club for foldable phones. Anyone who buys a Z Fold 2, Fold or Z Flip (including the new Z Flip 5G) gets access to the program. Galaxy Z Concierge program for on-demand customer service and consultationFirst-time screen replacement of $149Six months of LinkedIn PremiumFoundersCard benefits: 12-month membership when you preorder. After launch, you get six months freeA prepared meal from a Michelin starred restaurant through TockFairway Pass Elite through ClubCorp, which gives you access to golf clubsSix months of Obe Fitness online workouts$50 off Glamsquad in-home hair serviceGalaxy Z Fold 2 vs. Microsoft Surface Duo vs. Galaxy Fold vs. Galaxy Z Flip

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2

Microsoft Surface Duo

Samsung Galaxy Fold

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip

Display size, resolution

External 6.2-inch Dynamic AMOLED; Internal: 7.6-inch Dynamic AMOLED. External: 2,260×816 pixels. Internal: 2,208×1,768 pixels

Dual 5.6-inch AMOLED; 1,800×1,350 pixels. Combined: 8.1-inch AMOLED; 2,700×1,800 pixels

Internal: 7.3-inch Dynamic AMOLED; 2,152×1,536 pixels (plastic). External: 4.6-inch Dynamic AMOLED; 1,680×720 pixels (Gorilla Glass 6)

Internal: 6.7-inch FHD+ Dynamic AMOLED; 2,636×1,080 pixels. External: 1.1-inch Super AMOLED; 300×112 pixels

Pixel density

386 + 373 ppi

401 ppi

362 ppi (internal screen)

425 ppi (internal), 303 ppi (external)

Dimensions (Inches)

Folded: 2.67 x 6.26 x 0.6 in (hinge) ~ 0.54 in (sagging). Unfolded: 5.04 x 6.26 x 0.27 in (frame) ~ 0.23 in (screen)

Folded: 5.72 x 3.67 x 0.399 in. Unfolded: 5.72 x 7.36 x 0.19 in

Folded: 6.3 x 2.5 x 0.6 in. Unfolded: 6.3 x 4.6 x 0.3 in

Folded: 2.99 x 3.44 x 0.62 ~ 0.68 in. Unfolded: 2.99 x 6.59 x 0.27 ~0.28 in

Dimensions (Millimeters)

Folded: 68 x 159.2 x 16.8mm (hinge) ~ 13.8mm (sagging). Unfolded: 128.2 x 159.2 x 6.9mm (frame) ~ 6mm (screen)

Folded: 145.2 x 93.3 x 9.9 mm. Unfolded: 1,145.2 x 186.9 x 4.8 mm

Folded: 62.8 x 161 x 15.7mm ~ 17.1mm. Unfolded: 117.9 x 161 x 6.9mm ~ 7.6mm

Folded: 73.6 x 87.4 x 15.4 ~17.3 mm. Unfolded: 73.6 x 167.3 x 6.9 ~ 7.2 mm

Weight (Ounces, Grams)

9.95 oz; 282 grams

8.8 oz; 250g

9.7 oz; 276g

6.46 oz; 183g

Mobile software

Android 10

Android 10

Android 9.0 with Samsung One UI

Android 10

Camera

12-megapixel (main) + 12-megapixel (wide angle) + 12 megapixel (telephoto)

11-megapixel

12-megapixel (wide-angle), 16-megapixel (ultrawide-angle), 12-megapixel (telephoto)

12-megapixel (wide-angle), 12-megapixel (ultrawide-angle)

Front-facing camera

10-megapixel, 10-megapixel

Uses main camera

Two 10-megapixel, 8-megapixel 3D depth

10-megapixel

Video capture

4K

4K

4K (HDR 10+)

4K (HDR 10+)

Processor

Snapdragon 865 Plus

Qualcomm Snapdragon 855

Qualcomm Snapdragon 855

Qualcomm Snapdragon 855+ (64-bit octa-core)

Storage

256GB

128GB, 256GB

512GB

256GB

RAM

12GB

6GB

12GB

8GB

Expandable storage

None

None

None

None

Battery

4,500 mAh

3,577 mAh

4,380 mAh

3,300 mAh

Fingerprint sensor

Side

Right side

Power button

Power button

Connector

USB-C

USB-C

USB-C

USB-C

Headphone jack

No

No

No

No

Special features

Foldable display, 120Hz refresh rate, wireless charging support,

Dual-screen display; dual-SIM capabilities (nano-SIM and e-SIM)

Foldable display, wireless charging, fast charging

Foldable display; wireless PowerShare; wireless charging; fast charging

Price off-contract (USD)

$2,000

$1,400

$1,980

$1,380

Price (GBP)

£1,799

Converts to £1,080

£2,000

£1,300

Price (AUD)

AU$2,999

Converts to AU$1,915

AU$2,950

AU$2,999

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Amazon Echo review: The best Alexa smart speaker in years – CNET

The new Amazon Echo boasts a striking spheroidal design. Chris Monroe/CNET Amazon’s fourth-gen Echo smart speaker is a ball to use — literally. Alexa’s new countertop speaker is spheroidal, a striking departure from the soft-cylindrical speakers of past generations. And honestly, six years after the first Echo launched 10,000 (or at least a few dozen)…

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Amazon Echo review: The best Alexa smart speaker in years     – CNET

The new Amazon Echo boasts a striking spheroidal design.
Chris Monroe/CNET
Amazon’s fourth-gen Echo smart speaker is a ball to use — literally. Alexa’s new countertop speaker is spheroidal, a striking departure from the soft-cylindrical speakers of past generations. And honestly, six years after the first Echo launched 10,000 (or at least a few dozen) smart speakers, a reimagined design was overdue.The big question of the new Echo is, well, how reimagined is it? Voice assistants are growing and changing all the time, but for the most part, they do what they’ve been doing for years already: answer questions, set timers, control your smart home gadgets, play music and so on. So why buy a new Echo?Amazon has faltered recently with its core smart speaker, as the more budget-friendly Dot has become a better entry point to the market and 2019’s Echo Studio offers higher-end sound for audiophiles. That’s left the $100 Echo as a sort of undefined middle child in the growing family of Alexa-powered speakers. But 2020’s Echo is genuinely different, and it’s not just because of the new spheroidal profile. This Echo has turned up the sound quality and added higher-end smarts than the competition, all for the same $100 price tag, leaving it one of the most forward-looking smart speakers released in years.

LikeImproved sound quality and powerful bassBetter smart home connectivityEasy and quality stereo pairing

Don’t LikeA bulky designNo revolutionary upgrades

Getting the ball rollingAmazon’s 2020 Echo boasts two important upgrades that should inform your decision to buy it or not: improved sound quality and smart home hardware.When it comes to sound, the Echo represents a significant improvement over the third-gen speaker from 2019, likely in part to the fact that the third-gen Echo essentially copped its design almost wholesale from an older device. In addition, the Echo has adaptive sound, so it can adjust to the acoustics of the room in which you use it. I personally didn’t notice dramatic differences in output from room to room, but the speaker sounded good in the various rooms and on the various surfaces I used for testing.The Echo sounds better than the last generation, but how does it sound compared to the direct competition? Google’s $100 Nest Audio, which dropped only a couple of weeks before the Echo, is a solid device. But the Echo simply boasts more power: the Echo’s volume at 85% is about equivalent to the Nest’s max.What’s more, between the Echo’s 3-inch woofer and dual 0.8-inch tweeters, bass and lower-range mids are richer and stronger. Listening to bass-heavy music, like Lil Wayne’s A Milli or Travis Barker’s recent Run the Jewels collaboration, Forever, the Echo keeps the low end thunderous even at high volumes, whereas the Nest Audio ends up feeling treble-heavy as the bass begins to drop out.

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That said, if you prefer more acoustic music, the Nest Audio provides marginally better performance of complex, midrange-heavy songs. Both speakers, though, really capture the texture of vocal-heavy music. The Echo, with its slightly better low range, sounds slightly better to my ear when playing Johnny Cash’s gravelly baritone in Hurt, whereas the Nest Audio sounds slightly crisper in its treatment of Lianne La Havas’s subtle vibrato in No Room for Doubt.As with Google’s new speaker, a pair of Echoes can be set up to work in stereo format. The effect is great, particularly with songs that take full advantage of stereo panning or asymmetric sound, such as The White Stripes’ Seven Nation Army or Pink Floyd’s Money. Unlike the Nest Audio, the Echo has a 3mm line in/out port for connecting to other speakers.Both Amazon’s and Google’s smart speakers offer great sound quality for the $100 price tag, but after side-by-side testing with dozens of songs, the Echo takes the prize by a small but significant margin. It’s more powerful, and if you like hip-hop or trap music, the Echo will treat you well. Otherwise, they’re fairly comparable, with the Nest boasting a slight edge when it comes to some acoustic and classical music.A-round the houseThe Echo’s sound quality is admirable, but Amazon has distinguished its midrange smart speaker even more from Google’s Nest Audio and Apple’s HomePod Mini with its built-in hub, which features a Zigbee receiver and Amazon Sidewalk Bridge. If those things don’t mean anything to you, don’t worry. Essentially, Amazon has built in two new ways for smart home devices to connect to its smart speaker.The Zigbee receiver lets the Echo connect with countless smart home devices, from lightbulbs to flood sensors, without the need for an additional hub — the middleman device that translates various types of radio signals so your low-power sensors can communicate with your WiFi network. This small design decision has seriously broadened the range of gadgets Echo users can install in their house without the extra hassle and expense of a smart home hub.I tried installing a couple of Zigbee devices and found the process to be totally painless. This isn’t revolutionary — in fact, Amazon included Zigbee receivers in their $150 Echo Plus and their $230 second-gen Echo Show — but it is bringing better home connectivity to a broader audience, and that’s a clear win for Amazon customers.Plenty of window, flood and motion sensors rely on low-power communication protocols like Zigbee to extend their battery life.
Chris Monroe/CNET
What’s less clear is how Amazon Sidewalk, which Amazon says will launch later this year, will affect Echo users. According to a recent Amazon blog post explaining it, Sidewalk will allow users to “contribute a small portion of their internet bandwidth, which is pooled together to create a shared network that benefits all Sidewalk-enabled devices in a community.”Practically, that could mean a larger functional network for devices toward the edges of your property — say, outdoor lights or Tile tracking devices — or even beyond. It’s a cool idea, though how much you benefit from it will largely depend on where you live, and how big of a change it will represent for most customers remains to be seen.Home theater in the roundThe other home feature I was excited to try with the new Echo was setting up a home theater group. Connecting a voice assistant to your entertainment system feels like a real improvement, if you haven’t done it before. And the new Echo, using Alexa, works pretty well here.I used a 4K Fire TV Stick to create the group, and it felt great to be able to simply say, “Watch The Boys,” to Alexa, only to have your TV turn on and begin streaming the Prime show. The speakers worked fairly well, though I had one drop out of the group while I was testing it. If you have fast Wi-Fi, then it seems this setup would work well. In a house with multiple people streaming or using bandwidth in other ways, although relying on your Echoes for stereo sound might lead to more frustration than it’s worth.Amazon’s Fire TV Stick can join two Echoes in a home theater group in the app in under a minute.
Sarah Tew/CNET
The other big problem I ran into was streaming music. I expected to be able to stream music as usual from the Echo speakers while the TV was off, then flip it on to stream video when I wanted. Alas, streaming music on the connected Echoes automatically turned on the TV, which scrolled lyrics to the songs. And when I manually turned off the TV, the music also stopped.Using Alexa to control your TV and dual Echoes for stereo sound as you stream is cool — it’s much better than you could do a few years ago. But the kinks still aren’t worked out to the extent I want them to be, so I still wouldn’t recommend picking up new Echoes for your entertainment center unless you have fantastic Wi-Fi and don’t plan to use the speakers for music, too.

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Ball is lifeThe best changes to the fourth-gen Echo might be sound quality and home smarts, but the most obvious change is its spherical design. Of course, this design isn’t some aesthetic revelation: Most smart speakers look basically interchangeable at this point, with a layer of fabric mesh over soft geometric shapes. Google’s recent Nest Audio is vaguely rectangular, and Apple’s soon-to-launch HomePod Mini is similarly spheroidal.The new Echo has a larger footprint, which isn’t ideal for kitchen countertop usage.
Chris Monroe/CNET
The ball-like profile, according to Amazon, enables the improved sound output, but it also comes with a few practical drawbacks — chiefly a larger footprint. If you’re planning to replace the third-gen Echo or an Echo Dot with this speaker, you’ll probably have to slightly reorganize your shelf. It’s a small complaint, but the kitchen countertop is some of the hottest real estate in many homes, and dedicating more of it to a smart speaker might not feel ideal for those of us with limited space.The Echo comes in three colors: the standard charcoal (black) and glacier white, plus a muted twilight blue. That’s a bit more conservative than Google’s array of pastels, but again, many of these aesthetic distinctions feel like minor quibbles.Those criticisms aside, the 2020 Echo feels like a much more worthwhile gadget than last year’s third-gen Echo. The powerful sound and smarts distinguish it from the competition, and with an ever-improving Alexa, buying a smart speaker hasn’t felt this good in years.

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Acer’s new smart speaker is a colorful contribution to the market – CNET

Acer’s new smart speaker will be available in early 2021. Acer If you’re interested in smart speakers, but not impressed by what you’ve seen from Amazon, Google or Apple, there are third-party speakers out there. Acer on Wednesday announced the Acer Halo, a $109 smart speaker with DTS sound, LED display and more.The Acer Halo sits…

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Acer’s new smart speaker is a colorful contribution to the market     – CNET

Acer’s new smart speaker will be available in early 2021.
Acer
If you’re interested in smart speakers, but not impressed by what you’ve seen from Amazon, Google or Apple, there are third-party speakers out there. Acer on Wednesday announced the Acer Halo, a $109 smart speaker with DTS sound, LED display and more.The Acer Halo sits on a base lit up by RGB lighting you can customize. The glowing lights can sync with streaming music, too. That music streams from a speaker with DTS sound designed to project in 360 degrees to fill the room.

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On the front of the speaker’s gray fabric cover, an LED light display provides visual information like weather or time. Acer is working on an app that will let you personalize the message or image displayed via LED.An LED display on the front of the speaker displays information.
Acer
The smarts behind this speaker come from Google Assistant. You’ll use the usual “Hey, Google” voice command to request music, podcasts, news and answers to questions. The Acer Halo is equipped with two far-field omnidirectional microphones to detect ambient noise and voice commands. A physical switch is available to mute the microphones.Acer isn’t the first third-party manufacturer to try its hand at a smart speaker. We’ve seen successful models from Bose and Sonos, among others. The Acer Halo Smart Speaker will be available in North America in early 2021 starting at $109. Its European price of 119 euros converts to about £110 or AU$200. 

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Google smart displays are getting a makeover, dark mode included – CNET

Google smart display interfaces are getting a new look.  Google Smart displays are just a few years old, but updates and redesigns are already in the works. Google just announced a brand new look for the user interface of its Google Assistant-enabled smart displays such as the Nest Hub and Nest Hub Max. Keeping tabs on…

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Google smart displays are getting a makeover, dark mode included     – CNET

Google smart display interfaces are getting a new look. 
Google
Smart displays are just a few years old, but updates and redesigns are already in the works. Google just announced a brand new look for the user interface of its Google Assistant-enabled smart displays such as the Nest Hub and Nest Hub Max. Keeping tabs on your homeThe overhaul starts with several new screens. The home screen now displays a quick glance at your day. In the morning that section is called “Your Morning” and it progresses throughout the day, displaying information like news, events on your calendar and the weather.

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Other new tabs across the top of the home screen will direct you to specific categories. Those tabs include Home Control, Media, Communicate, and Discover. Each tab holds tappable cards and widgets. On the Media page you’ll find music, videos, shows and recommendations. You’ll also be able to see and control what media is playing on other connected devices in your home. Media widgets will be customized to show content from your preferred streaming service. The Home Control tab displays a dashboard of all the connected devices in your home and tappable cards to adjust any device settings, like dimming lights or viewing the doorbell camera.The Communicate tab houses cards for video and chat settings, and the Discover tab displays ideas for things to do with your smart display like playing a game, hear a joke or find a new recipe. Dark mode and ambience settingsIn addition to organized tabs, Google-enabled smart displays are also several new ways to wind down in the evening and wake up each morning.Relaxing ambient sounds are coming to Google Assistant-enabled smart displays. 
Google
With dark mode on, your smart display’s color scheme changes, reducing light emission. You can set dark and light modes to activate automatically depending on ambient light of the sunrise and sunset. A selection of ambient sounds is also coming to smart displays for added relaxation options. A Sunrise Alarm feature is also making its way to smart displays, gradually increasing the brightness of your screen for 30 minutes before your alarm time. You can manage alarms on your display, set different alarms for weekdays and weekends, as well as choose alarm tones. Meetings and calendarsIn recent months, the team at Google improved Google Meet and Duo on smart displays and announced plans for Zoom to come to the device. Now smart displays will be able to link multiple Google accounts, so you can see personal and professional meetings all in one place. You can also cancel or reschedule meetings on your smart display. If you use Google Meet on the camera-enabled Nest Hub Max display, you’ll be able to move around the room while staying in frame. Google smart displays will support multiple accounts for calendars and meetings. 
Google
These new features and the new interface design will be rolling out in the coming weeks to all Google Assistant-enabled smart displays in Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Spain, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Norway, Mexico, Singapore, South Korea, Sweden, Switzerland, UK, and US.  

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