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MWC: Electroneum M1 – The phone that pays you to use it

At MWC19 in Barcelona this week, Electroneum launched the M1; an affordable $80 Android smartphone designed for people in developing regions. But with one difference: unlike any other smartphone on the market, the M1 is the phone that pays you back for using it…

Click through to read more about the cryotocurrency smartphone…

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The Electroneum M1 features built-in Cloud Mining, which earns it’s owner up to $3 USD worth of ETN (the mobile cryptocurrency) every month, which users can spend on anything they like, including mobile data top-ups. 

Despite the low price of just $80, the M1 isn’t a featureless phone. Unlike reconditioned phones typically purchased at this price point, the M1 comes with 4G connectivity, Dual Sims, 8GB storage, and front and rear-facing cameras.

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Motorola One Zoom gets high camera score

The Motorola One Zoom, with a quad camera array, has scored a high 87 in the DxOMark rear camera test.

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The latest device from Motorola, the One Zoom, is a competitively-priced mid-ranger with the quad-camera photography specifications of a flagship. Alongside the standard-wide, ultra-wide, and depth-sensing cameras found on its sister model the G8 Plus, the One Zoom is the first Motorola smartphone to feature a tele-lens. It captures video at up to 4K resolution and there’s a large 6.39-inch Super AMOLED display for reviewing images and videos. Built on the Snapdragon 675 chip set, it isn’t quite as powerful as a top-end flagship, but even so, it offers some impressive specs at an attractive price.

Key camera specifications:

• Quad-camera
• Primary: 48MP 1/2-inch sensor with f/1.7-aperture lens, OIS
• Tele: 8MP sensor with f/2.4-aperture, 3x optical tele-lens, OIS
• Ultra-wide: 16MP sensor with 13mm-equivalent f/2.2-aperture lens
• 5MP depth sensor
• Dual-tone LED flash, panorama, and HDR
• 2160p/30fps video

For scoring and analysis in our smartphone camera reviews, DxOMark engineers capture and evaluate over 1600 test images and more than 2 hours of video both in controlled lab environments and in natural indoor and outdoor scenes, using the camera’s default settings. This article is designed to highlight the most important results of its testing.

DxOMark provided the following review:

With an overall DXOMARK Camera score of 87, the One Zoom ranks as the best Motorola device we’ve tested to date, surpassing the Moto Z2 Force and G7 Plus at 82 and 80, respectively. All three remain some ways off the pace compared to the best performers at the top of our database, however, and overall the One Zoom offers comparable image quality to such older devices such as iPhone 7 Plus at 88 and the Samsung A50 at 86.

Securing a Photo sub-score of 92 points, the One Zoom is a nice improvement in still image quality compared to the Moto G7 Plus. The addition of the tele-lens certainly helps in the zoom category, and slightly better results for exposure, bokeh, wide-angle shots, and artifacts make the One Zoom an attractive upgrade for Motorola enthusiasts. Exposures are accurate in well-balanced lighting conditions, with good contrast ensuring pleasant results in many images. Detail is generally acceptable in outdoor and indoor images, too, but oversharpening creates an aggressive pattern effect and there’s more visible noise compared to top-performing devices.

The Motorola One Zoom records accurate exposures in well-balanced light outdoors, but the level of noise is high for this type of scene.

Exposure isn’t quite as good in challenging lighting, with limited dynamic range resulting in highlight and shadow clipping, and backlit scenes tend to be underexposed. Color is also an opportunity for improvement. While white balance is generally stable, a slight yellow cast is usually visible; and although color shading is well controlled, color rendering is often inaccurate, which can make skin tones look unnatural. Autofocus performance is also a little mixed, as good accuracy ensures shots are always in sharp focus, but a 500ms delay between requesting focus and capturing a shot is slower than much of the competition. Wide-angle shots are just about acceptable, but they tend to be underexposed, with low detail and visible artifacts such as color quantization. Exposure is good using flash mixed with additional light sources, but the lack of dynamic range with the flash turned off is a problem for night shots due to significant highlight clipping.

Motorola One Zoom: ultra-wide shots are slightly underexposed. 
Motorola One Zoom, low dynamic range in night shots 

Detail holds up pretty well in zoom shots in bright light when shots are in focus, but we did observe some autofocus instabilities using zoom in the lab. Oversharpening and quite a lot of noise indoors and in low light are visible in zoom shots, too. In Portrait mode, the simulated background blur effect is strong but pleasant, and although some masking errors are visible in complex areas, depth estimation is generally accurate. Artifacts are mainly well controlled, too, with the main issues being ringing and a loss of sharpness towards the corners, which is visible in most images.

Motorola One Zoom, long-range zoom 

For video, better scores for exposure, autofocus and stabilization have improved the One Zoom’s performance over the G7 Plus. Its main strengths are effective stabilization when shooting handheld and keeping the camera fairly static, but it’s not quite as good with walking and panning scenes, when frame shifts commonly occur. Noise is well controlled in indoor and low-light videos, but detail is fairly low, with heavy oversharpening again visible. Autofocus is repeatable in all lighting conditions, but tracking could be improved, as there are noticeable steps or jumps visible as you try to keep a moving subject in the frame. Color is again a key opportunity for improvement with video on the One Zoom, with inaccurate rendering in most videos, as well as a blue/green color cast when shooting outdoors.

Conclusion

The One Zoom’s quad-camera setup with its ultra-wide, telephoto, and depth-sensing sensors makes Motorola’s latest device an attractive proposition for budget-conscious smartphone photography enthusiasts. Accurate autofocus, nice exposures in well-balanced lighting, and a pleasant blur effect in bokeh shots ensure that it’s capable of some nice results, too. However, improvements to the performance of the zoom and ultra-wide cameras, as well as better color rendering and dynamic range, are needed before Motorola will start to challenge devices in the top half of our database.

The original article can be found here.

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Asus ZenBook Pro Duo reimagines dual screens

Asus’s ZenBook Pro Duo implements the dual-screen concept very differently: instead of side-by-side, the extra screen sits beneath the main screen. BRYAN TURNER tried out the laptop.

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Asus’s strong ZenBook line, aimed at creatives, has added a powerful laptop to the game: the dual-screen ZenBook Pro Duo. This machine shows some of the most thoughtful design on the market, including a new type of dual-screen layout that makes a lot of sense. 

When closed it looks like any other laptop and has a concentric circle design etched into aluminium. The laptop feels sturdy on the base as well as the screen, and looks like it could withstand a drop. It’s 24mm thick and weighs around 2.5kg, so it seems pretty thick until one looks at the internals of this machine. 

We had the Intel Core i7-9750H processor configuration but can come with an Intel Core i9-9980HK configuration. Both configurations come with Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060, with 6GB of GDDR6 VRAM. This makes this laptop more of a high-performance desktop with laptop features rather than a high-performance laptop. 

When opening up this computer, we were greeted with a large 15.6” 4K (3840×2160) OLED panel and another 14” (3840 x 1100) 4K UHD display below that, called the ScreenPad Plus. Both screens are touchscreens, 100% DCI-P3, and are brighter than most laptops. As a result, the keyboard and trackpad have been shifted below the second screen. The lowered keyboard takes some getting used to, but is totally worth it for the second display.

The ScreenPad Plus comes with a set of its own apps, including Spotify, handwriting mode, and a few other quick settings. It comes with a stylus called the Asus Pen, which allows for 1024 pressure levels and rejects one’s palm, making it very useful for apps like Adobe Illustrator. The top screen supports that pen too, but writing feels far more natural on the ScreenPad Plus.

An ErgoLift hinge raises the computer up at an angle, to make the lowered keyboard more comfortable to type on, as well as aid the cooling system. It’s at a small 4.5 degrees tilt with this hinge that makes a huge difference in typing comfort.

On the left side, a USB-A port, a regular size HDMI 2.0 port and a proprietary charging jack. On the right side, it features a USB-A 3.1 port, Thunderbolt 3, and a 3.5mm audio jack. Both sides feature air outlet ports. 

We tested Rise of the Tomb Raider at 1080p, with the RTX 2060, and set the game to its highest preset graphics settings. The game’s frame counter was used. It hovered between 70 and 75 frames per second (fps) with 10 minutes of gameplay, which is really good compared to most desktop computers. 

The processor is a 6-Core 9th Generation Intel Core i7 CPU (i7-9750H), which provides snappy performance. We noted a start-up time from shutdown to desktop around 7 seconds. This was made possible by a combination of the fast processor and solid-state drive in the computer. This also makes opening programmes lightning fast.

Now for the trackpad. The off-centre trackpad placement feels a bit weird, even though we know why it’s placed that way. We found ourselves using an external mouse and using it in a very handy NumPad mode. The trackpad is extremely precise otherwise. 

The laptop’s battery is 71 Wh, which may seem large, but it needs to power two big screens and heavy processors. As a result, it’s difficult to get more than 6 hours of productivity out of the machine. We played Rise of the Tomb Raider with both screens on for about 1 hour before we needed to charge it. 

It will be available for about R48,000 (depending on when one buys it) in the Intel Core i7, 512GB SSD, and 16GB RAM configuration, putting it up there with the high-performance laptops in terms of price.

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