Why Is the New Oculus Rift a Smart and Practical VR Headset?

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Oculus Rift has become so synonymous with the virtual reality gaming industry that for a long time, the VR scene was viewed through the glasses of this one player. It set the benchmark in the industry which also had other major Japanese and Korean players. For $600, the new Oculus Rift is definitely better than most of its competitors and it is now an all-purpose entertainment device. It is perched prettily at the middle of the price range and makes for a smart choice.

However, the Oculus Rift is not able to provide room-scale motion tracking. So, even though you can rotate or tilt your head, with the sensors tracking your head movements, you could not move about the room to interact with your natural environment. According to an update made by TechRadar, Oculus Rift may soon introduce this feature as well, which would bring it at par with HTC Vive.

Specialties

Oculus is a great VR headset because of the content support it has. It has some of the best VR games in its kitty. The list of apps is also growing steadily and they provide an engrossing experience in a 360º surround setting.

The 2160×1200 resolution across two OLED displays is awesome. Of course, to enjoy the full range of features that Oculus Rift has to offer, you will need a high-end gamer’s console or PC. The headset has to be wired to the computer and to the HDMI port of a graphics card. The motion sensing cameras will then immerse you in a ‘reality’ from which it is hard to return because it becomes addictive!      

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Conclusion

The Oculus Rift has been into development for four years now and has improved by leaps and bounds. It doesn’t have the screen resolution that you would expect from a 4K video device but it has a refresh rate of 90 Hz. The stereoscopic 3D is also commendable and the device works at 233 million pixels per second. The only problem is that there is still no confirmation on the launch of touch controllers which would enhance the virtual experience many times more. There is also report that many more titles are ready to be added by next year. For all practical purposes, the Oculus Rift still remains a very user-friendly VR headset and it can only improve.

TomTom Bandit Provides Impressive Solutions to Some Vital User Pain Points

TomTom is a well known brand in the field of GPS devices mainly for sporting activities. When, they announced that they wanted to foray into the competitive market of action-camera, people were a little surprised. But after looking at Bandit: it’s latest offering in the field of action-camera, you will be extremely happy to know that they have done a magnificent job. The best part about this device is that it has identified certain pain points faced by photographers and videographers and has provided some very innovative solutions.

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Special feature

The camera has some awesome features like GPS technology, manual tagging and motion sensors, heart rate sensors too. But the coolest feature by far is the shake-to-edit feature that allows you to not only capture moving shots but also edit them on the go and allows you to upload the movie using a smartphone or a tablet without any notable hiccups. Its bullet-shaped design is so elegant and attractive. The white color with a red border makes it sui generis.  Because of its attractive properties and design, even though it is a relatively new player in the field, TomTom has already got a lot of attention and has also challenged the more established players in the action-camera market.

Other features

 TomTom Bandit passes every usability test. Apart from the clean design, it is a very easy to operate. An easy to read LCD screen towards the top of the camera shows you the menu settings as also the selected camera mode and other useful readings. A stop button and a four way control panel lie towards the top along with the LCD screen and a start and highlight button lie at the back of this pint-sized bullet-shaped camera.

The highlight button becomes useful if you decide to tag video clips as you are recording them. But, the motion sensors also allow the camera to tag some clips automatically when some powerful g-spikes are produced. The other specialty about this camera is that it can be fitted to a helmet which becomes a huge advantage when you are driving and need to keep your hands free.

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The camera as well as the lens is waterproof. It has an easy-to-release and hook clip system which can rotate along the body of the camera and the camera can be mounted either horizontally or vertically without any problem. Removing the camera from a mounted position is also very easy. It can shoot 4K videos at 15 fps, which is standard and 2.7K at 30 fps. TomTom Bandit is a capable device when it comes to capturing time-lapse sequences and can capture still images at 16 megapixels.

Conclusion

 TomTom Bandit may be a late addition to the market but it has some awesome features. It also has wi-fi. And even the battery can be charged using a Batt-Stick which resides in a slot at the back of the camera. It also has the micro SD card slot and a standard USB stick which can be inserted into a USB port for charging the battery. It is also reasonably priced and seems to be a very good alternative.

Tile Has Launched the Slimmest Bluetooth Tracker Making It More Usable

Bluetooth trackers are useful electronic devices that can help you track valuable items like keys, wallets, purses or even your luggage while traveling. All you need to do is sync the tracker with your smart device using an app and your item with a tracker attached to it can be “sniffed” out instantly if it is within the Bluetooth range. Otherwise, you would at least know where the item was seen for the last time.

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Tile is one of the pioneers and best known names in the Bluetooth tracker industry and it has now made improvements in the Tile Classic. The new Tile Slim tracker is not exactly a replacement, but an addition to the product portfolio of the company.

Size matters

The new Tile Slim Bluetooth tracker is flatter, wider and much thinner than the original. It is so thin that it can be inserted inside wallets, luggage and jewelry boxes. Or, you can fix it to your laptop, ID card, your bike and other essentials. It has an embossed pattern and there is a small cavity on the gray rear for a sound to escape when the alarm is ringing. There is a button at the center of the tracker which has to be pressed when you are syncing it with the app on your mobile phone.     

 Utility

You will first need to download the corresponding app on your phone, press the ‘+’ sign on the top left corner of the screen, select “Slim”. You will then have to press the center button on the tracker and wait till it gets paired. You can then rename the device and now it is ready for deployment.

Now, if you misplace an item that had the tracker attached, you can try to locate it with the help of the Tile app. As soon as it is tracked, the tracker starts emitting an 82 decibel alarm so that it can be located. If it is outside the 100 feet tracker range, you will be shown a “lost” message and you can also see the place where it was last seen on the app map.

But in case it is lost, you can use the community finding feature. If any other Tile user is in proximity to your tracker with the app on, you would receive a notification. With over 6 million users and a network spread across 200 countries, Tile claims that more than 500000 items are tracked everyday successfully. Moreover, if you misplace your phone, you can press the logo cum button on the tracker and the phone will emit a sound.

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The Tile Slim is a useful device if you are prone to misplacing important items. However, you will have to pay $30 per year as the batteries can’t be replaced, the tracker itself needs to be replaced. But a ‘ReTile program’ can get you a replacement tracker for a fraction of the cost of the original. However, it can easily offset the cost through its utility and tremendous service.     

Sony A6000 Is a Fascinating Addition to Sony’s Mirrorless Camera Lineup

Sony has decided to add the A6000 or Alpha 6000 interchangeable mirrorless camera to its flagship APS-C product line recently. Sony has also decided to drop the NEX moniker which was the prime offering in the APS-C line and has decided to call it A6000 instead to bring more coherence to the Alpha ecosystem. The previous iteration NEX6 had some very impressive features and the Sony A6000 will not only retain most of them but will also add a few more.

There was a time when photographer pros could not consider life without DSLRs. But, today A6000 is a case in point that sometimes the mirrorless cameras can not only be better but also more affordable. The Sony A6000 has many enviable attributes with a price point of only $600.

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Special Features of A6000

Sony has claimed that the A6000 has the fastest AF performance among its contemporaries and it has a new, more powerful Bionz X processor which allows the camera to shoot a subject at 11 fps, with subject tracking capabilities. The current generation Bionz X processor is at least three times more potent than the original. It also has a 24.3 million pixel APS-C CMOS image sensor which improves the light collecting efficiency of the camera and allows it to functional commendably even while shooting in areas without adequate natural or ambient light.   The area noise has also been significantly reduced across its entire ISO sensitivity range of 100 to 25600.

The most impressive feature, however, is its sharp and quickest focusing capabilities. The autofocus feature is so robust that shutter lag is almost imperceptible. Apart from these, there are some more impressive features like 3” tilting LCD rear display, OLED EVF, battery life for up to 420 images, diffraction correction, built in flash, detail reproduction capabilities and Wi-Fi with NFC technology.

Why is this camera’s AF system so special?

The phase-detect points in the new A6000 increased from 99 to 179 from NEX6. The contrast-detect points remain unchanged though. The additional phase points give a wider coverage area and thus help you to track your subject better. They cover almost 92% of the frame as compared to only 50% previously.

This is the first time that Sony has added active AF point visibility to the camera. The AF-A mode adjusts the focusing mode automatically and enables quick tracking of subjects which are not stationary. This also allows you to check the accuracy of the focus.
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What is the significance of a more power processor?

Sony has claimed that the new Bionz X processor will provide area-specific noise reduction which means that each area of an image will be checked for tonal inconsistencies along with subject edges and varying textures and finally an appropriate amount of noise reduction will be applied accordingly for bringing more clarity. There will also be an honest representation of finer detail by reducing the emphasis on subject edges.

Conclusion

The camera looks to be a winner. It will pose a great deal of challenge to the established players in the field of DSLR and has provided a more economical alternative to pros and amateurs alike. Another much needed addition has been that of onboard wi-fi. All you need to do is open the Sony PlayMemories app and connect the Wi-fi and transfer images. Sony offers a good deal with the A6000.

HTC Vive Gives You the Most Powerful VR Experience That You Have Ever Had

HTC Vive has changed the definition of virtual reality. It is light years ahead of its competitors when it comes to the quality of the effects and anyone who has played a game with the help of this VR headset would agree that the $799 price tag is worth it.

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The experience you get with the HTC Vive is very different from any that you have experienced so far. That is why until and unless you try it out first, describing in words is extremely difficult. It has broken down the proverbial fourth wall completely. The quality of games, especially the third party ones, is so good that you may have to pinch yourself to believe that you are still in your room and not in some Mycenaean temple!

HTC also has its partner Valve to thank for the amazing software. The StreamVR platform has been used in the Vive VR headset that allows you to turn your room into a virtual play field.

Vive hardware

For immersing you completely in the experience, HTC Vive uses 2 OLED displays, both of which can screen visuals at 1080 p by 1200 p. There has been a vast improvement in ergonomics from its last test-version Vive Pre and the strap holding the large VR headset to your head is smoother and more comfortable to wear for playing sessions.

A webcam is integrated into the headset and there are a number of sensors all round it to track your head movements. There are at least three cables that rest directly on your head when you are wearing a Vive and you will also have to wear earplug shaped headphones. This can prove to be intimidating and uncomfortable if you wear it for long but the “reality” in the VR is so strong that you may still want to persist.

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There is a link box that has to be plugged in to your play station computer and the headset cables will be plugged in to it. There are two base stations which have to be set up. The two motion controls are easy to grip and are quite light. There is a touch-pad which can be clicked when required and there are trigger buttons under your index finger and other buttons seating nicely under your grip.

Highlights 

The highlight feature of the HTC Vive VR headset is that the base stations allow you to interact with your natural environment by not only tilting and moving your head but also walking around your room. You can calibrate the floor and your active play area will be marked n screen. The perimeter will be indicated by a blue boundary in the virtual zone so that you don’t collide with any object in your room. You can even duck and dive and all your real movements are tracked carefully to even 1/10th of a degree. The refresh rate of 90 Hz ensures that you perpetually receive a high quality video feed.    

Conclusion

HTC Vive not only provides the best virtual reality experience, the content available is also very good. A number of games are being added every day. Also, Stream is software which is readily available and is well known to most gamers. So, it is pre-installed in most PCs. Overall, the user convenience has been given high priority and that will take Vive a long way.

How to Conserve your Smartphone Battery

Most Smartphone users across the globe are well acquainted with the frustration of struggling with a dying battery and trying to hold onto it like dear life. With advanced technology, most of the major mobile brands in the world have switched to heavy and power consuming operating systems and multimedia functionalities that seem to feed away into your battery charge sooner than anticipated. Nevertheless, most of the Smartphone users are perpetually looking for ways of conserving their Smartphone batteries. Here are a few simple tips and tricks that would significantly cut down on your power consumption and make that battery last longer.

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Keep the screen brightness dimmed

 That huge colorful LCD or AMOLED of your Smartphone, consumes a massive chunk of your battery at a devastating speed. Every time you need to make a call or check a notification, you make use of your Smartphone display screen. However, you can significantly cut down on your battery consumption by selecting the auto brightness feature of your phone or keeping the screen brightness to the minimum.

 Kill those unnecessary apps

 Most of us stay blissfully ignorant of the fact that there are plenty of apps, which we forget to close after usage, are still actively running in the background. The multitasking feature of your Smartphone not only allows you to keep several apps running at the same time, but also contributes towards a rapid draining of your battery charge. Just kill all the irrelevant apps that you are not currently working on and you can make your battery last longer.

 Turn off all vibrations

 Believe it or not, that vibration of your Smartphone, every time you receive a call or an alert, consumes more battery life than a simple ringer would. It is best if you can do away with all vibration alerts and keep your phone on a normal ringing mode. If you do not wish to be disturbed with annoying alerts and notifications during a meeting or nap time, you can set your Smartphone on the silent mode.

Disable your Smartphone GPS

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Several apps such as Google Maps and Facebook utilize your Smartphone’s GPS tracker for determining your exact location at the time. The GPS system works by sending and receiving signal from the satellites. If left running in the background, your GPS tracker will use up significant power from your battery and contribute to its short life. Turning off your GPS when not in use could be an effective savior for your dying battery.

So just follow these few simple life hacks to ensure that you never face the exasperating situation of encountering a dead Smartphone battery when you need it the most.

The DJI Phantom 4 Is One of the Smartest Drones Available In the Market

Drones are the latest fads for many people and are certainly in high demand for a number of reasons or complete lack there off. Drones can be used for transportation of some items, for reconnaissance missions and for taking aerial photographs during events. There are many more practical benefits.

But one of the most ubiquitous quad copter drones available in the consumer market under the $1400 price bracket. It has an aerodynamically designed and streamlined body which is smooth and trendy but also very useful. A 4K movie camera is attached to the copter and it can send in aesthetically captured imagery to your smartphone or tablet. It has a very smooth and linear learning curve which makes it ideal for rookies. With a DJI Phantom 4, you can get started in a matter of minutes even without any prior experience of flying drones.

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Its Obstacle Sensing System (OSS) has been hailed by experts and users alike. This feature allows the copter to change trajectory if it senses an obstruction ahead in its path. The DJI Phantom 4 has optical sensors at the front which allows it to navigate past or over obstacles that are 0.7 to 15 meters within its visual range according to CNET. In case it fails to clear the impediment altogether, it stops and starts hovering around the obstacle till you pilot it to a different direction. This can protect the sturdy drone from many accidental collisions. However, just be careful around trees because sometimes at certain angles, it may fail to recognize a thin branch if it doesn’t fall within its visual range and ram into it. The reason is that it can only sense obstacles in front and not those on the sides, above or below.

Features and usability

 The new iteration has much lower startup noise. It is more much more soothing. It has a couple of modes that allows you to experience two different kinds of flying. One is the active track mode which uses the OSS for identifying obstacles and mitigating collisions. The other is the Sport mode which allows the drone to fly at speeds of up to 45 mph and also ascend at 20 ft/sec but the OSS doesn’t work in this mode. DJI wanted to give you a fabulous drone racing feel. For this you can get hold of a FPV goggles and upgrade the remote control with HDMI output module. However, the quality of video is less smooth than in the active mode if you fly too fast.It has a 720p live viewing and 4K video capture with wide lens. Return-to-home is a newly incorporated feature.

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Subject tracking capabilities have been boosted and the auto track features works beautifully especially when a subject is stationary is awesome. All you need to do is focus on a subject and the drone will continue to lock the subject at the center of the frame.

Design

 The copter has a streamlined shape which is an improvement over the last model. It is done in glossy white. The drone has integrated camera and gimbal. The chassis is beautifully designed and there are integrates the USB and SD slots. The flight battery has been redesigned and needs to be charged every one hour. The flight time stands improved at 24 minutes.    

 It is one of the best drones available in the market right now and has taken the game up by several notches. It remains to be seen how competitors react.

Canon EOS 5D Mark IV Is Arguably the Most Complete DSLR

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The Canon EOS 5D Mark series is a universally recognized and highly popular series of DSLRs. Canon has raised the bar higher with the addition of the latest Mark IV to the series. The company has added the best attributes of different Canon cameras to this one excellent camera. The MarkIV is a camera that incorporates the best features from a number of cameras and has some phenomenal features of its own as well.

Look-wise, it is quite identical to its predecessor, the Mark III. However, there are some basic upgrades in the new model. A customizable button has been added to the back of the camera which can give you instant access to some of the functions that you frequently use. This is the first camera in the Canon 5D range to offer GPS and Wi-Fi facilities. The bump on the top of the camera has been expanded slightly to integrate these units. This camera has a better grip and is also 50 grams lighter than the Mark III.

Features

The latest addition to the 5D range uses a Digic 6+ processor. It has the ability to capture 4K quality video footage that can be recorded in either 24 or 30 pixels. It can shoot at 7 fps (frames per second) continuously. It has better weather-sealing now that should improve its longevity. A Dual-pixel RAW mode has been added. EOS 5D Mark IV also allows 4K frame grabs which means you can shoot stills at 30 fps using the Dual-pixel RAW mode. The Dual-pixel RAW mode is exceptional because it allows you to correct sharpness and focus using Digital Photo Professional editing software from Canon. The precision is to the level of a few micro dots.

Video quality

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The video quality is exceptional because the camera uses DCI 4K which means the resolution is 4096 by 2160. You can choose 4K between different speeds of 30, 25 and 24p. The 30.4 MP CMOS full-frame sensor with AF has a much faster focus when you are recording a live feed than before

Bebop 2 Is a Good Alternative to Pricier Drones and Comes With Improved Features

The consumer drone market is bubbling with new players and their latest creations. The new Parrot Bebop 2 offers a nice, affordable option for those who want a sturdy drone which is small, portable and feeds reasonably good quality live video feeds. It is reasonably stable in the air, both indoor and outdoor. It has an 8GB storage capacity for storing videos and photos and has improved its battery life and safety features from the earlier models significantly.

The copter is GPS controlled and you will just have to pay $400 if you decide to buy it without the IMU remote control camera. The automated flight capabilities and its operational efficiency are certainly quite good.

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In-app control

If you decide to use your smart phone or tablet as a remote for controlling this lithe and attractive little drone, it may make a sensible decision. The drone is good for amateurs who are not too ambitious with their flight plans. The mobile app is available for free and is relatively easy to use even without a physical joystick or remote control. There are quite a few modes to choose from but the most fun is the trick mode which allows you to make your copter do a front or back somersault or side flips. You can also make it fly backwards.

You may also like to make a $20.00 in-app purchase to unlock more advanced settings like setting your waypoints which the copter tracks, which is autonomous flying in away. It is a very safe drone and its body is made from a plastic polymer called ABS which is further reinforced with fiber glass. The flexible propellers stop the moment an obstacle hits them and the structure is such that they have a better chance of surviving a crash with minimal damage.

Features

The Bebop 2 has a flight time of over 20 minutes on a single charge which is commendable for such an affordable drone. The battery life has more than double from the original Bebop and it is also better integrated into the body than before. This quad copter, despite its small size, can hold its own against strong opposing winds. This drone doesn’t use an external camera fitted to a gimbal. It uses fisheye lens to capture video of quality 1080p and also has a 14 megapixel camera.  The software helps to leverage the wide field of view of the lens and click images and videos.

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The aerial video footage quality has been improved vastly from the times of Bebop 1. Since it has a limited 8GB fixed memory, you will often have to transfer clippings and images to your backup device.

However, it is easy to connect the Bebop 2 using any Wi-Fi frequency and it flies smoothly over a range of 150 meters or thereabout. But, after that it may get out of the range of the controlling device and it may stall, even if you press the home return button.

Conclusion

Parrot Bebop 2 offers a lot for this highly competitive price sticker. The only drawback may be its unreliable connectivity. If you decide to go for the 2-stick Skycontroller remote, the flight range increases to about 1.2 km and it doesn’t have to be synced with a mobile as the FreeFlight app is already installed. You can also get a taste of drone racing if you buy an FPV kit and the device has a full-size HDMI output mode. The drone has replaceable parts which can be easily sourced when required.

Even without the remote, the drone is quite remarkable for its price point and has the potential to become a hot seller during festive seasons!