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The Essential Phone

By Liyo Kikon

There is a wide variety of phones in the market today and almost all of them claim to have a better feature than their competitor, while it can sometime feel like the features are all that matter in a smartphone and most companies tend to get lost in the ever evolving world of features and unnecessary gimmicks, the essential phone has taken a slightly different approach.
The creator of Android – Andy Rubin is the brainchild behind the Essential Phone and it has been grabbing the tech headlines mainly because of him as people were wondering what the father of Android was going to bring to the table and sure enough, it did not disappoint. The Essential Phone is literally what the name implies, it has the bare necessities of a mobile device in a beautiful minimalistic ceramic and titanium shell and boasting a 5.7 inch bezel-less display with an aspect ratio of 19:10 and a resolution of 2560×1312 pixels, the phone looks absolutely gorgeous and obviously, the first thing which people notice about the display is the front camera which looks unusual since it is placed atop the display in a cutout, but when you really think about it, that area is always reserved for the notification bar and the camera section does not affect the usage at all. The display is bigger than the iPhone 7 Plus and the Google Pixel XL, but the size of the phone is smaller than both the devices and that makes it easy for anyone to grip. Although there has been some concern regarding the fact that it uses LCD instead of OLED, it won’t be a deal breaker for most people unless you want to use VR headsets but lets face facts, VR headsets still have some ways to go before they become truly useful. And because of the use of LCD, there is a bit of a “chin” at the bottom of the device unlike the Galaxy S8 or the LG G6, which has a display covering the entire screen. The display on the Essential Phone has great viewing angles but it can be a bit difficult to view it in direct sunlight.
The phone also sports a dual camera setup on the back with one lens taking color and the other one being monochrome and the idea behind this is that the phone will combine these two images to give you a single clear image and this method is said to perform very well in low light conditions. The camera on the back has a 13 megapixel sensor with an aperture of f/1.85 along with a Phase detect and IR Laser Assist Focus while the front selfie camera has 8 megapixel, which is more than enough for most users. The phone comes in a single 128GB variant without any expandable memory and a 3040 mAh battery which can easily last more than a full day use and the device is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 which will run anything you throw at it. The operating system on this device has been optimized to run extremely smoothly and it does not contain any bloatware as Andy Rubin was insistent on keeping the entire device as minimalistic as possible and it is rumored that this device, along with all the Essential’s new ecosystem of smart home devices and services will be connected by Ambient OS. Although very little is known about this new operating system, everyone in the tech world is optimistic that it will be something amazing but bringing the new Ambient OS to life may take a few years.
One of the best bit about this device would be the fact that it has a flat back without any camera bump and there are no branding of any kind, not even a company logo and for those people who love minimal designs, this phone tops everything available today. The fingerprint sensor is also placed in the back of the device and can be easily reached with one hand and it is extremely fast and responsive. And just next to the camera on the back, there are two small magnetic pins which is used to hold modular parts for the phone. These modular parts will be specially designed by Essential for this phone and right now, there is just one modular device available, which is the 360 camera. This 360 camera is said to be the smallest in the world and since it clips easily on the back of the phone, you can easily carry it anywhere you go and it supports both photo and video along with live streaming. This camera, along with all the other modular parts will connect to the phone via WiFi and the magnetic pins will only provide power to the modules.
The Essential Phone got everything right, and there is little to nothing that anyone can complain about this phone. Although there have been software glitches which users have reported, the regular updates which keep rolling out seem to fix every single one of them and that’s a good thing and the regular software patches are expected since the phone cost a hefty $700 (approx Rs.45,000). The only downside about this phone is that it does not have a headphone jack. The phone does come with a USB to 3.5mm jack converter, but that’s not something everyone will want to carry around and although the entire industry is slowly moving away from the headphone jack, the Essential Phone seems to lack one basic essential feature.


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Hellblade Senua’s Sacrifice

By Liyo Kikon

There are games which fills you up with adrenaline, and then there are games which pumps your heart with pure joy, but there are a few rare gems in the gaming world which are able to give you an absolute “wow” factor within the first few minutes of playing them and Hellblade Seuna’s Sacrifice is one of those gems. Set in the Viking age, our hero, Senua is a broken Celtic warrior who embarks on a haunting vision quest into Viking Hell to fight for the soul of her dead lover. Throughout the game, we can see that she is constantly traumatized by the memories and hallucinations along with the voices in her head. The voices play a big role as they are constantly whispering in the background, carrying the narrative of this story and I have to say that you will easily get lost in these sounds as you play the game, it will almost feel as if we are the ones whispering into Senua’s ears as we watch her over her shoulder in third person view. I know that sounds kinda hard to explain but trust me, once you start playing this game, you will get the same feeling as well. These voices, along with the bleak atmosphere all blend well together to give us the eerie feeling throughout the entire game. Bundle that with the hallucinations and you will be on your toes all the time. (more…)


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RED Hydrogen One

By Liyo Kikon

The RED Hydrogen One could potentially be a game changer in the mobile industry and there has been a lot of buzz in the tech world about this phone but so far, everything was top secret up to this point until Marques Brownlee on his YouTube channel MKBHD got to be the first one in the world to reveal the device hands on. So, what is the RED Hydrogen One? It’s a phone which you can use to make calls and texts obviously, and it has a screen but this screen is no ordinary screen like all the other phones in the market, the display on this phone is said to have a “holographic display” which will display its contents in 3D without the help of any glasses or external devices. No one, aside from the folks working at RED and Marques know what the holographic display actually looks like but reports have shown that it is something entirely new and I’m guessing that it will not be like the 3D display on the Nintendo DS, but it will most likely be more like the display seen on BMW’s upcoming car which they are calling “BMW HoloActive Touch”. But whatever the case may be, the holographic display on the Hydrogen One will definitely be something straight out of a science fiction movie. And for users who don’t want to use the holographic display, you will easily be able to switch to normal 2D vision like a regular mobile phone since it already has a super high resolution 5.5 inch display. (more…)


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TAP STRAP

By Liyo Kikon

When you think about cool gadgets, it’s usually the most unexpected ones which catch our eyes and TAP strap has got to be one of the most unusual gadgets out there. TAP will replace your keyboard in the weirdest way imaginable and when you’re using it, everyone will be wondering what in the world you’re doing! But it sure as hell looks cool. TAP Strap is just a simple strap made of comfortable fabric which you wear like a glove and once it’s on, you can type on any surface thanks to its sensors which calculates the movement of your fingers to determine what you intend to type. Over the years, we’ve seen a ton of keyboard gadgets all the way from weirdly shaped ergonomic keyboards to laser projected keyboards, but none of them actually work well enough for anyone to be able to call it an innovation, but TAP Strap is really different from the crowd mainly because of the fact that it actually works and once you get the hang of it, your typing experience will be fast and accurate. There’s a bit of a learning curve when first using the TAP, but thankfully there’s a simple word game called TapGenius which you can download and you simply need to spend around an hour playing this game and before you know it, you will be typing like a pro on any surface. (more…)


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Fortnite

By Liyo Kikon

In a world overrun by zombies, humanity is on the brink of extinction and the last human survivors are trying to band together to rebuild society and get rid of all the zombies. Fortnight is set in a post-apocalyptic world where everyone has to work together to kill zombies, protect civilians and build the best base you can in the most creative way. Sure, this game is best played online with a group of up to four players, but you can play solo as well if you’re a lone wolf and complete missions which will consist of various objectives such as collecting certain stuff and obviously Fortify and Defend your base. The great thing about this game is that you can build any kind of base and you will only be limited by your imagination. This game is a lot like Minecraft, but you will not be working with pixelated blocks, instead you will have to collect different resources such as wood, metal and minerals to build awesome structures and along with these structures, you can set traps and other defenses based on schematics which you can collect as you progress further into the game. (more…)


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Digi Buzz: Changhong H2

By Liyo Kikon

I know, it’s a terrible name for a smartphone and you wouldn’t want to brag about the name of it since it sounds more like something that came out of a dumpster in China, but bear with me because this phone has a unique feature which no other phone in the world has got and that unique feature is a molecular scanner! Yup, it has something called SCiO molecular identification technology on the back of the device which can scan the molecular structure of an object.

This scanner can be used for many different purposes, such as finding out if a fruit is sweet before you even take a bite, or find out if a medicine is real or fake and you can easily find out just how many calories that ice cream cone has got, it can even scan your body to find out how much fat you have beneath your skin, the possibilities are endless. (more…)


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Casual Games for your Phone

By Liyo Kikon

The Google Play Store and the Apple App Store are littered with all kinds of games from really cool ones to seriously crappy titles and everyone obviously have their own favorite genre but anyone can enjoy a little casual games once in a while, especially when you’re bored and casual games are the best remedy to cure boredom. These are my top picks for free Casual Games, all these games are available for both Android and iOS.

Not Not
No, it’s not a brain teaser game, it’s more like a brain busting game. This game is simple and easy to play, but there’s a 100% guarantee that you will mess it up. The game boots up with a guy standing on a cube and there are instructions written on the cube and all you have to do is follow those instructions. For instance, if it says “Swipe Left”, then you swipe left and if it says “Swipe Right” and there’s an arrow pointed in a different direction, then you swipe right. You simply need to do what is written. Sounds simple enough right? Wrong! This game will get you frustrated again and again as you try and keep telling yourself that you will only do what is written and ignore the rest of it but our brain works in such a way that we process graphics faster than we can read and that will result in you making the wrong turn every time in this game. But one thing’s for sure, this game is frustratingly fun to play and you can always pick it up and play anywhere.

Kubik
Brought to you by ‘Ketchapp’, one of the best companies in creating casual games for mobile devices, Kubik is another game which is a great way to pass time. It’s basically a 3D Tetris, but unlike most 3D Tetris games, this one works a lot better. The controls are easy, and it works simply by swiping left and right to place the blocks where you want them. What sets this game apart from other Tetris type of games is that the blocks are not generated randomly, and all the blocks which come up will always fit some place or another so that you can always make sure that there are no ‘holes’ within the blocks. The objective is simple – you just need to fill up the entire platform to make that platform disappear and so on and so forth but as you progress further, the blocks will start falling faster and I noticed that it’s a lot harder to keep up when it starts getting faster. Just like most Tetris type of games, this one also works well when you just wanna play at your leisure time.

Age of 2048
I absolutely love 2048 games and if you’ve never played any of them, I would suggest you to try the classic 2048 game before you play the Age of 2048. Using the same principle as the classic 2048, where the objective is to swipe in the direction you want the pieces to move and when you swipe, any two numbers with the same value will combine together to form a greater number and this will continue until you can form the highest number, the Age of 2048 uses buildings instead of numbers and two buildings or building materials will combine together to form the next structure, until you form the greatest building of that era and once you create that building, you will unlock a new age where a new set of buildings can be built. You also get a limited set of tools such as “Undo”, where you can use it to simply undo the previous move which is helpful if you made a mistake and then there’s the “Cleaner” which will instantly get rid of all the small building materials to give you more space to work with and then there’s the “Magic Wand” which will instantly upgrade any building you tap on. More of these tools can be purchased within the game via in-app purchase.

Doofus Drop
A game could not get more casual than Doofus Drop, it’s a silly game, but fun in a weird way. The game starts off with Doofus on a bike and you just tap away to make him go faster until you reach the end which he will hit and start tumbling down the hill. The further you fall down, the more points you get. As you fall down, you can get powerups and even another bike which you can paddle downhill and try to get even further. This game will mostly require you to watch him fall down and hit objects along the way, and once in a while, you can swipe to make him jump in a specific direction and fall further.


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Futuristic Shoes!

It is time to cover your entire body with gadgets and in a decade or two, I can just imagine that everything we own will have some kind of chip embedded in them but since its 2017, lets start with our feet and work our way up in the coming years. There are several shoes with some kind of smart feature already available in the market but most of them consist of step counters or other form of fitness trackers and if you’re a fitness junkie, they’ll definitely make a great addition to your gadget arsenal but for most folks who are not into the whole fitness trend, maybe these shoes will make you drool (more…)


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Ridiculously Awesome Gadgets

By liyo Kikon

While everyone around you may have the same old boring gadgets, you can easily get any of these ‘toys’ to make things more fun. Sure, some of the gadgets I’ve listed may not fall under the category of useful gadgets, but who says that all gadgets have to be useful? Its always great to have some gizmos which don’t necessarily make sense but they sure can be fun. (more…)


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E3 2017

The Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) 2017 is the biggest show where all the major companies come together to showcase their latest entertainment products both in hardware and software. This year, we saw a whole lot of games which were expected and a lot of surprise announcements as well and on the hardware side, the biggest buzz was the announcement of the insanely powerful Xbox One X which was formally known as Project Scorpio, which is now 4K ready. Since the major focus for E3 is on games, lets jump right into it! These are some of the most anticipated games of E3 and although there are a lot of games which have been announced, here are my personal picks off the list.

Anthem

Set in a futuristic world, Anthem is a third person action role playing game where you can explore the vast open shared world with your friends as you take the role of Freelancers – the heroes who dare to venture outside the safety of the walls and explore the vast landscape to protect humanity from the dangers which lurk outside. As a Freelancer, you get to wear one of the cool exosuits called Javelins, these exosuits are fully customizable and they have different classes to choose from, so far the ones we have seen are “Rangers” – which are the balanced type for players who like to be sort of a jack of all trades and “Colossus” – which is a bigger, heavily armoured Javelin exosuit and is more like a walking tank with immense firepower. All these exosuits are equipped with jetpacks which you can use to fly around the world and explore new places and it’s not just the land and skies which you can explore, you can even go underwater and discover new places, which is a really nice touch. The weapons you get in this game are pretty awesome too, we saw a demo of a Colossus firing a really powerful mortar and then the ranger pinged some targets and fired a bunch of missiles to take them down all at once. The developers have mentioned that this game can be played solo or with friends as you try to complete missions together. The graphics look great and I hope that they won’t change much once the game is released because so far, Anthem is looking like its going to blow everyone’s mind away.

Assassin’s Creed Origins

For all the fans of Assassin’s Creed, I can imagine that we’re all getting giddy about the new Assassin’s Creed and since the latest instalment is going to take place in ancient Egypt during 49 BC, it will be a welcome change to the environment. We get to take the role of  Ba Yek, the main protagonist and the founder of the brotherhood. ‘Origins’ is going to take us back to where it all started, how the brotherhood formed and where all the terminology came to being, like the word “eagle vision” which literally means looking through the eyes of an actual eagle! Who knew? And Ba Yek happens to be the first one to use Eagle Vision and put on the hood to bring justice to the world. The gameplay feels like it did not stray much from  the original style and the whole stealth approach which we love about Assassin’s creed still stand true but this time, we get to use weapons from Ancient Egypt and ride on horses along the beautiful plains of the desert. This game will be released on October 27th.

Skull & Bones

So you wanna be a pirate and rule the high seas? It will be dangerous work and there is a high chance that you may not survive the trip but you can be assured that you will thoroughly enjoy the rewards. If you want to live in the world of pirates and show your dominance by conquering the seas, then Skull & Bones is the game for you. It is a multiplayer tactical action-adventure game played from a third-person view as you sail across the Indian Ocean. You can collect additional ships throughout the game with your friends  and arm your ships with weapons such as mortars, canons and even rockets! You can use your ships to charge with brute force and slam into other enemy ships and board them to capture or destroy them and collect loot all the way like a pirate should. You can also use spyglasses to look at other ships and plan your attack accordingly, I mean this game has all the ingredients to make the player feel like they are in the shoes of a real pirate in dangerous waters but the sad thing is that it will only be released in late 2018 so I guess you’ll have to set your pirate hat aside for a while as you wait for it.