Trending December 2023 # Why Amazon Is The Most Innovative Tablet Maker # Suggested January 2024 # Top 17 Popular

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It’s time to stop thinking of Amazon’s Kindle Fire tablets as glorified eBook readers. These tablets are sharks in the water, and they’re looking to gobble up Apple and Google market share.

Amazon announced three new tablets today, and updated one old one.

The new tablets have impressive specs and should perform very well. They’re dubbed the Kindle Fire HDX and Kindle Fire HDX 8.9 — the 8.9 is a reference to the diagonal display size; the unspecified one is 7″.

HDX refers to a high pixel-density screen (at least 323 ppi), which is covered by durable Gorilla Glass. (Note that Apple’s Retina iPad has a 264 ppi density screen, making the new Kindle Fire HDX tablets among the highest-pixel-density tablets on the market.) The larger Kindle Fire HDX has a resolution of 2560 x 1600 and is powered by an Adreno 330 graphics engine. Both have the fast Snapdragon 800 processor running at 2.2 GHz, which Amazon claims runs three times faster than the old Kindle Fire.

The new tablets are light, too. The largest HDX version weighs only 13.2 ounces.

The Kindle Fire HDXs start at $229 and $379 and ship in November and December, respectively.

Amazon also upgraded the Kindle Fire HD and lowered its price to $139, while also introducing larger version — the Kindle Fire HD 8.9″.

Amazon announced something they call the Mayday Button, which offers 24 hour-per-day tech support directly (and exclusively) from Kindle devices. By pressing the button (under Quick Settings), a video chat opens with the tech support engineer who can take control of the device and demonstrate fixes and features. They can even draw on your tablet screen to highlight different options. (Note that the user can see the tech support person, but not vise versa.)

Amazon also announced a range of other benefits for Kindle owners.

For example, Amazon is now offering Kindle Fire HDX users the ability to watch movies offline (they can keep them on the device for up to 30 days — once they start watching they’ve got 48 hours to finish).

And a feature called Fling TV enables movies to appear on a regular TV (like Google Chromecast), while the tablet becomes a remote controller for the TV.

People assume that Kindles are glorified eBook readers that can also download movies and music. But Amazon is pushing the concept that the new Kindles are “enterprise ready.” And they’re serious about it, too: The new Kindles support component-level encryption, Kerberos authentication, secure Wi-Fi, corporate VPN compatibility and wireless printing.

While the Kindle Fire was unusual in that it didn’t have a camera, the three new Kindles all have rear-facing cameras for taking pictures. The Kindle Fire HDX 8.9″ has a front-facing camera for video chat and selfies.

The most interesting fact about Amazon’s tablets is that they use Google code to directly compete against Google. The Fire OS is based on Android. And Amazon’s web browser, called Silk, is based on Google’s open source Chromium project.

This is an unprecedented model in the history of technology. Essentially, Google’s model with Android is to offer a pretty open platform that’s free for any hardware maker to use.

Amazon’s model is to take Google’s free operating system and strip out all the stuff that benefits Google and replace it with stuff that competes directly against Google.

Amazon exploits Google’s massive investment to take business away from Google. This in itself is a brilliant, shameless, even Machiavellian innovation.

All four of Amazon’s Android tablets actually run a modified version Amazon calls the Fire OS 3.0, which was code-named “Mojito.”

Amazon is moving Fire OS further away from vanilla Android with each new update. Version 3.0 one comes with “hundreds of enhancements,” according to Amazon. For example, it has a new task switcher, and other user interface changes. Most improvements, however, are under the hood and improve integration and performance.

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Best Of Ces 2023: The Most Intriguing And Innovative Pc Hardware

No time to sift through all our CES coverage? No problem! Read on for our Best of CES picks—the most intriguing and innovative products we saw. (If you’re looking for higher-level impressions from the show, be sure to check out our roundups of 5 laptops trends and 5 monitor trends that PC enthusiasts can’t ignore.)

CyberPowerPC Kinetic case


We’ve seen a lot of PC cases in our time, but none that has the wild take on practicality of CyberPowerPC’s new Kinetic series. This futuristic case features a set of small, angular panels on its front that automatically open and close to manage airflow. Between the geometric design, sleek white and copper aesthetic, and mechanical wizardry, it looks like something straight out of a sci-fi movie. The company demurely refers to its design as “intelligent airflow,” but it’s a hell of a way to stand out among the field of mid-tower ATX cases. —Alaina Yee

Dell XPS 13 Plus

Dell’s XPS 13 is arguably one of the most high-profile laptops around thanks to its history of setting the stage for what all laptops strive for. For example: Before the first XPS 13 with InfinityEdge bezels appeared, all laptops rolled with bezels about as ridiculous-looking as bell bottom corduroy pants.

Dell also isn’t shy to take the Internet’s slings and arrows with the integration of, well, not a touch bar, but a bar you can touch for the function keys striped across the top. Sure, the tech press that previously lauded Apple’s Touch Bar as “futuristic” and “smart” are now out in force saying the XPS 13 Plus’ capacitive touch function key is a bad idea—but that’s the fickle press for you.

What we can tell you is to win big, you have to take risks, and the XPS 13 Plus swings for the fences like Dell did years ago, when it basically forced all other laptop makers to catch up. — Gordon Mah Ung

Alienware 34 QD-LED


We’ve seen a few OLED screens aimed at PC gamers before, but they’ve generally been repurposed TV panels with a few extra bells and whistles (and of course, that lucrative “gamer” branding). Alienware seems to be the first out of the gate with a screen built from the ground up with PC gaming in mind. This massive 34-inch monitor is still tiny by comparison to previous designs, fitting into the popular 34-inch ultrawide category.

But it’s not wanting for bells nor whistles. In addition to the usual RGB lighting, G-Sync support, and plethora of inputs expected from a premium PC gaming monitor, the Alienware QD-OLED 34 combines quantum dot technology with the perfect blacks and vivid colors of OLED for a brighter overall panel, overcoming some of the technology’s inherent weaknesses. It’s a common theme among the new TVs at CES, so it’s great to see that (finally) going right into a PC monitor. On top of that you get a speedy 175Hz native refresh rate (impressive for this size), a USB hub, and a host of gamer goodies as well.

In short, while there are bigger and more impressive OLED “monitors” on the show floor, this is the one I’m going to be extremely tempted to spend (lots and lots) of money on in 2023. —Michael Crider

12th-gen Intel ‘Alder Lake’ laptop CPUs


We wouldn’t be lying if we said CES 2023’s bushel of laptop CPUs was an embarrassment of riches, with AMD first announcing Ryzen 6000 mobile CPUs using its impressive Zen 3+ cores, and then Intel firing back with its 12th-gen Alder Lake mobile CPUs. What’s better? Well, we don’t honestly know yet to be honest. Both lines offer pretty spectacular feature sets, such as the new RDNA 2-based GPU cores in AMD’s Ryzen 6000 processors, which offer twice the performance of the older chips. Intel’s CPUs, meanwhile, bring core counts to unheard-of levels with three pound laptops wielding 14 cores on tap.

So you can see our predicament in trying to pick the best laptop CPU announcement at CES—everyone’s a winner! “Best of” awards never get shared, however, so that means we have to pick a winner and with phaser to our head, we declare Intel’s 12th-gen Alder Lake laptop lineup as the best laptop CPU of the show.

Offering a hybrid architecture with up to six performance cores sitting aside another 8 efficiency cores, a combination expected to offer more than 40 percent increased performance over Intel’s already pretty awesome 11th-gen Tiger Lake CPUs, Intel’s 12th-gen chips will be very difficult CPUs for even AMD’s new Ryzen 6000 series to unseat in terms of raw performance. —Gordon Mah Ung

Samsung Freestyle portable projector


Projectors may seem out of fashion these days, given the ubiquity of fancy monitors and televisions. But given world circumstances right now, the idea of setting up a big-screen viewing experience almost anywhere hits just right. Whether you want to have outdoor movie nights or make the most of ultra-tight living quarters, the Samsung Freestyle can adapt to the situation. It takes the same amount of room as a thermos, can run off of a USB PD power bank, and even screws into standard E26 light bulb sockets. No one needs this projector, but I definitely want one. (You can get the full lowdown on the Samsung Freestyle over at TechHive, our sister site.) —Alaina Yee

Lenovo ThinkBook Plus Gen 3


You know what’s better than one display? Two displays. The Lenovo ThinkBook Plus Gen 3 certainly raised some eyebrows at CES this year due to this rather unusual feature. That said, it’s a cool bit of hardware that makes multitasking a whole lot easier. The secondary display, which lives on the right side of the keyboard, is 8-inches with a resolution of 800-by-1280. The screen is made of glass and touch-enabled, and it allows you to quickly access apps like Microsoft Outlook or Edge. It’s a great productivity machine for business professionals looking to get some serious work done, that’s for sure. —Ashley Biancuzzo

AMD Radeon RX 6500 XT


Over three long years after Nvidia’s GeForce RTX 20-series kicked off the real-time ray tracing revolution, the first sub-$200 graphics card capable of handling those beautifully strenuous lighting effects is finally here—and it came from AMD, not Nvidia. The Radeon RX 6500 XT is a humble $199 desktop GPU pitched more as a budget successor to the popular Radeon RX 570 than a true ray tracing powerhouse, but flipping on AMD’s new Radeon Super Resolution feature (which will speed up performance in all your games) should help pick up the slack.

The sheer fact that a $199 graphics card exists in the midst of a severe GPU drought is worth cheering, and since AMD outfitted the 6500 XT with 4GB of RAM, it can’t be used to mine Ethereum—the primary cryptocurrency helping to drive up graphics card costs. Time will tell if you’ll actually be able to get your hands on one of these for around its sticker price, but I’d wager you’ll probably have a lot better odds finding a Radeon RX 6500 XT in stores than Nvidia’s newly announced $249 RTX 3050, whose juicy 8GB memory buffer puts it squarely in the sights of miners. The Radeon RX 6500 XT could be just what desperate PC gamers need in 2023. Fingers crossed. —Brad Chacos

Nvidia GeForce RTX 3090 Ti


In a world where gamers are grateful to buy four-year-old used GPUs at their original list price, Nvidia’s mic drop reveal of the GeForce RTX 3090 Ti (it’s pronounced “tie”) felt like a slap to everyone’s face. It’s also, frankly, the most gangster move ever, akin to casually drinking from a diamond-encrusted Evian bottle while surrounded by masses of people dying of thirst. 

If you were offended by it though, you’re missing the whole point of the GeForce RTX 3090 Ti’s existence in the first place. 

Coming as the replacement for a card so luxurious that most reviewers said to skip it (ourselves included), the GeForce RTX 3090 Ti does two things: It gives those trying to scrimp by on $200 million NBA Super Max contracts something to buy to replace their old GeForce RTX 3090 with, and it flexes muscles in AMD’s and—more importantly to Nvidia—Intel’s face in a year we’re likely to see a GPU cat fight the likes of which we’ve never seen before. So while the 3090 Ti may not be the best GPU at CES (that honor goes to the Radeon 6500 XT), it’s definitely the best BFGPU at CES. —Gordon Mah Ung

L’oreal Colorsonic


Back when CES used to be something we visited in person, I got pitched my fair share of beauty-tech products. But unlike the “magic mirrors” products of yore, which showcased cool tech but didn’t actually solve a widespread problem, the L’oreal Colorsonic piqued my curiosity in the same way as innovations in PC cases and smart home products—it’s tech that aims to eliminate common hassles.

L’oreal says this hair-dyeing wand simplifies the process of at-home coloring by making it far less messy and ensuring even application of dye (the two biggest issues for DIYers). You simply choose one of 40 shades, load in the cartridge from the haircolor kit, and then brush the device through your hair for dye application. We’ll see how effective this product will be for dark hair (which typically needs to be bleached first), but color me intrigued. —Alaina Yee

Alienware x14

We never owned Alienware’s original netbook-sized gaming laptop, the M14x, and to this day we still pine about the “one that got away.” But maybe—just maybe—we’ll have our chance again to own an ultra-portable gaming notebook, as the new Alienware x14 claims the title of being the “thinnest gaming laptop in the world.” 

Despite its stature, the x14 packs in plenty of hardware with up to a 14-core 12th-gen Core i7 cooled with Alienware’s Element 31 thermal interface, and a GeForce RTX 3060 6GB GPU along with a 144Hz FHD panel and G-Sync plus Optimus Advanced.

While other thin gaming laptops have tended to tone down the gamer aesthetic to go “legit” the x14 embraces its heritage. Sure, to get there you have to use soldered down LPDDR5/5200 RAM, but that also helps with battery life on a laptop that you likely won’t mind actually carrying in your really thin bag. —Gordon Mah Ung

AMD Ryzen 7 5800X3D

The Ryzen 7 5800X is faster than AMD’s own Ryzen 9 5900X flagship, too.


Like laptop CPUs, the desktop CPU news at CES was beefy AF, with Intel filling out its entire desktop line up of 12th-gen CPUs, from $42 budget chips to the non-K CPUs most people buy. Intel closed off with news and a demo of a special edition “KS” chip that can run all of its performance cores at 5GHz while gaming. AMD, likewise, talked up its next-gen Ryzen 7000 processors due in the second half of the year—which can also run games with all cores at 5GHz. The CPU that might have the most impact for gamers, however, was AMD’s Ryzen 7 5800X3D, which packs 64MB of high-performance L3 cache on top of an 8-core Ryzen 7 5800 die (hence the “3D” in the name).

That cache, AMD says, is just what games love, and will boost the Ryzen 7 5800X3D to gaming performance at and above that of Intel’s top-end Core i9-12900K chip. It’s so fast that AMD laid claim to it being the “fastest gaming CPU.” Sure, Ryzen 7000 is sexy and Alder Lake’s full roster is exciting, but the value of a “fastest gaming CPU” sticker on the box is going to make most consumers gooey inside and easily qualifies as the best desktop CPU announcement at CES. —Gordon Mah Ung

BMW iX Flow 

This color changing @BMWUSA #iX is wild! It’s apparently very temperature sensitive so they have a backup in a trailer in case this one gets too hot / cold chúng tôi Out of Spec Studios (@Out_of_Spec) January 4, 2023

BMW’s iX Flow is a concept, but one that should be familiar to PC users. What would happen if you took an ordinary BMW SUV and instead replaced the “paint” with a bunch of E-Ink panels? The result is the BMW iX Flow, which can change colors on the fly. Since they’re E-Ink, you can only switch between black, white, and limitless combinations of gray, black, or various patterns/combinations, but it’s simply way cool, as you can see in the tweet above. —Mark Hachman

Dell UltraSharp 32 4K

This seems so obvious I’m surprised it hasn’t been done before: The Dell UltraSharp 32 4K is a desktop monitor that doubles as a Thunderbolt I/O dock. Maybe it just strikes me as particularly genius now that I’m working from home more often than not and finding myself regularly moving between my personal desktop and my work laptop, while having just one large monitor and one desk between them.

With the UltraSharp 32 4K, I could connect both machines to my 3240×2160 IPS display, as well as my mouse and keyboard, and use the KVM switching feature to seamlessly move between the two PCs as needed, using all the same peripherals, without adding any extra clutter—in the form of a standalone dock or switcher—to my already-cluttered desk. Shoot, you could possibly even daisy-chain a second monitor. At the same time, the UltraSharp’s dock would be keeping my laptop charged without the need for its own power cable. How great is that? Ports include DisplayPort 1.4, USB-A ports, 10Gbps USB-C connections, an RJ45 port for Ethernet, and audio. It even has a built-in webcam. —Katherine Stevenson

Acer Predator Triton 500 SE


Acer’s Predator Triton 500 SE strikes a balance between work and play, something that will hopefully become a trend in the future. Why have a gaming laptop and a productivity laptop, when one notebook can do both? Sure, there’s a powerful 12th-gen Core and an Nvidia RTX 3080 Ti GPU inside, but the real story is just the workmanlike exterior and lack (yes, lack) of RGB bling. Long battery life, a high-res display, and gaming chops is a trend we like to see. —Mark Hachman

TP-Link AXE11000 Tri-Band Archer AXE200 Omni


Routers packing Wi-Fi 6E—the cutting-edge networking standard worth investing in—showed up in force at CES 2023 after sticking mostly to rare, high-end models in 2023. We saw Wi-Fi 6E routers rolled out by Netgear, TP-Link, Asus ROG, and even Comcast at the show, every one featuring blazing-fast speeds and killer next-gen features. My favorite though? The TP-Link AXE11000 Tri-Band Archer AXE200 Omni, and for a very, very dumb reason. It features mechanically self-adjusting arms that have a practical purpose—maximizing throughput from this ultra-fast router—but just as importantly, look absolutely badass.

LG C2 42-inch OLED TV


Prior to LG’s announcement this week, using an OLED television as a monitor meant going big—displays started at 48 inches and only went up from there. Having one sitting just a couple of feet from your face was borderline unwieldy. The upcoming 42-inch version of the LG C2 doesn’t sound all that much smaller, but the six-inch difference should make desk usage feel far more comfortable. And at that close distance, you’ll be able to properly enjoy OLED’s deep black levels in all of your favorite dark, moody games and movies. The only bummer about LG’s announcement is that the 42-inch and 48-inch version of the C2 lack the brighter EVO panels of their larger siblings. (For more info on the LG C2 lineup and other OLED TV announcements from CES, head over to our sister site TechHive.) —Alaina Yee

Lenovo Legion 5i Pro

Editor’s note: Originally published on January 7, updated on January 11 to add the Dell XPS 13 Plus and Alienware x14.

Qualcomm’S Adreno 320 Is The Fastest Tablet Gpu Available

Qualcomm has been flashing its APQ8064 development tablet ever since the UpLink conference that took place in June this year, as we reported here, but only during the past few days did professionals manage to properly benchmark and compare the new platform with what’s currently on the market. Hardware experts from Anandtech have reportedly managed to get some surprising results and, at least in the popular GL Benchmark 2.5, Qualcomm’s new platform yields some impressive performance figures. To put it simple, the Adreno 320 is just as impressive as the company’s Krait ARM Coretx A15 processor and shows roughly double the performance of any other mobile GPU inside today’s popular tablet platforms. Apple’s A5X manages to somewhat keep a little bit closer to the Adreno 320 in theoretical tests, but in plain FPS, the Qualcomm architecture clearly shows its vast superiority. Readers should keep in mind that the Adreno architecture has been initially developed by AMD and that Qualcomm bought it from the Texan company. The Adreno chips we see today are still close relatives with AMD’s designs as these are still highly improved DirectX 9 devices.

Qualcomm has been flashing its APQ8064 development tablet ever since the UpLink conference that took place in June this year, as we reported here, but only during the past few days did professionals manage to properly benchmark and compare the new platform with what’s currently on the market. Hardware experts from Anandtech have reportedly managed to get some surprising results and, at least in the popular GL Benchmark 2.5, Qualcomm’s new platform yields some impressive performance figures. To put it simple, the Adreno 320 is just as impressive as the company’s Krait ARM Coretx A15 processor and shows roughly double the performance of any other mobile GPU inside today’s popular tablet platforms. Apple’s A5X manages to somewhat keep a little bit closer to the Adreno 320 in theoretical tests, but in plain FPS, the Qualcomm architecture clearly shows its vast superiority. Readers should keep in mind that the Adreno architecture has been initially developed by AMD and that Qualcomm bought it from the Texan company. The Adreno chips we see today are still close relatives with AMD’s designs as these are still highly improved DirectX 9 devices.

Why Magento Is The Best Platform For Enterprises ?

Now businesses have converged to the digital platform. Physical stores have transformed into online stores and people prefer to shop online by secure payment method and 24*7 services. 

If you are also thinking of bringing your brand online and looking for a platform that has a blend of integrated features such as secure, flexible and SEO optimized. So, opt for the Magento development services for your E-commerce website.

According to Statista, “Magento ranked third, with a share of 7.91 percent .”

Magento offers several features that attract users towards it and several enterprises have opted to leverage its benefits. In this article, let’s know why the Magento E-Commerce Platform is the best choice for enterprises.

Must-Know: Reasons to opt for the Magento E-Commerce Platform 1. Open Source

Magento e-commerce platform is based on open source feature which turns it free. Along with this, the Magento E-commerce platform used to upgrade constantly with the latest functionalities from worldwide developers. This platform has huge technical support from the active community.

2. Third-Party Integration 

3. Highly Secured 

Users can prevent their Magento e-commerce platform with several steps such as: 

Install the latest version 

Use Secure FTP

Introduce a custom route for the admin panel

Integrate an encrypted connection (SSL/HTTPS)

Be in touch with the Magento community. 

Keep Secure password 

Disable Directory Indexing

4. Multiple Store with a Single Backend 

Most retailers get attracted to Magento as this platform reduces the cost and efforts to maintain multiple stores. With the Magento eCommerce platform, businesses can handle multiple stores with a single backend. This platform allows users to launch several platforms with a different theme, unique design, and essential required features as per the business requirements.

Also read: 30+ Loan Apps Like MoneyLion and Dave: Boost Your Financial Emergency (#3 Is Popular 🔥 )

5. SEO Friendly

Magento is based on the SEO Friendly feature. Only launching a store is not sufficient, to earn revenue it is essential to reach a huge audience. This platform helps to optimized your product pages and generate SEO Friendly links with optimized meta tags and titles. This feature helps to rank on the search engines.

6. Mobile Responsive

As now users are addicted to their mobile phones and they utilize mobiles more than laptops and desktop. It is essential that your online store should be  Mobile friendly. Magento-based online stores are Mobile Responsive and compatible with all browsers and screen sizes. Along with this, all the features can be seamlessly integrated in the mobile applications also.

7. Customizable

Also read: Top 3 Lessons I Learned from Growing a $100K+ Business

8. Inbuilt Advanced Search

Magento provides in-built search features which helps users to search the products easily as and filter the results. It allows smart search to the users, as with this they can easily identify their products as per the alphabetical process.  Advanced search helps to save time.

9. Multi-lingual

Conclusion Marie Weaver

Tech Consultant at well established IT company specializing in enterprise web application development, mobile apps, IoT, Cloud and Big Data services.

5 Of The Best Alternatives For Windows Movie Maker

Many of us have fond memories of Windows Movie Maker and even more now after Microsoft discontinued it permanently. This may not have been a good idea because Movie Maker was one of the easiest video editing tools to work with.

However, we all have to move on. If you are of the opinion that creating a professional video should not consume much time or money, this is a handy list of alternatives to Windows Movie Maker.

1. Microsoft Photos

This is what Microsoft replaced Windows Movie Maker with so is worth checking out. While this standard app is generally used to create photo galleries, a hidden video-editing feature is its strong suit. You can easily locate the app on a Windows 10 system and create automatic or custom videos.

While Photos resembles Movie Maker in motions and 3D effects, it is mostly a new software. There is no “split” feature but a “trim” function which has to be dragged manually. Unlike Movie Maker, Photos is very merciful on your system. Even if you work with heavy video files, you will not feel any impact on the system. Photos is certainly a good software, but it might be too early to think of it as a replacement for Movie Maker.

2. Videoproc

Videoproc is another simple video-processing software which does the job perfectly. You get a 30-day trial as well as a lifetime license, which is worth it because you can edit your videos without a fuss. There are few menu items to remember, and the absence of full features can be a blessing because of the reduced learning curve.

3. Avidemux

Avidemux is a superb video-editing tool which remains absolutely free. It has been popular for many years, and similar to Movie Maker, it remains very easy to use. The timeline will remind you of Movie Maker’s timeline, which is a huge bonus. You can also manually select the timeline numbers for an editing action.

The best thing about Avidemux is that you can control the video output based on MPEG, DVD, AVI or MP4. All basic editing functions – including cutting, filtering and encoding – are supported. The number of operations you need to remember is three. You can zoom and resize videos at your convenience.

4. Kdenlive

5. Lightworks

If more features and a full professional suite is what you’re after, Lightworks does not disappoint. Although it’s not a simple tool, it’s easier to work with compared to Adobe family products that have the unfortunate reputation of doubling as malware agents. With Lightworks, you will be in good company because this software has been used by many well-known Hollywood productions, including “The Wolf of Wall Street,” “Notting Hill,” “Braveheart” and “The Departed.”

Although a bit on the pricey side, with a lifetime license costing $437, the product offers tremendous value because of its range of features and capabilities.

In Summary

With the right tool, video editing does not have to be a difficult job. The sunset of Movie Maker has not gone down well with its community. However, by picking one or two of these above tools, you will evolve your skills beyond Movie Maker and never look back. Here’s the thing: do you know of anyone who still misses Internet Explorer?

Which tools do you plan to use for simple video editing needs?

Sayak Boral

Sayak Boral is a technology writer with over eleven years of experience working in different industries including semiconductors, IoT, enterprise IT, telecommunications OSS/BSS, and network security. He has been writing for MakeTechEasier on a wide range of technical topics including Windows, Android, Internet, Hardware Guides, Browsers, Software Tools, and Product Reviews.

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‘Hdr’ Is The Most Confusing Term In Consumer Tech Right Now

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How much is that HDR label worth when upgrading to a new TV? Sony

By now, you’re rightfully wary of buzzwords when buying something new. It only takes one bad experience with pricy car undercoating to sour a person. Right now, the biggest buzzword in consumer tech is HDR (short for high-dynamic range), and while it’s certainly not snake oil, it can be confusing, as it can be applied differently to devices like TVs, computer monitors, cameras, and even smartphones. Here’s what you need to know next time you hear those three letters together.

What is dynamic range anyway?

Dynamic range can be applied to both audio and video products, but we’re going to be talking about the visual aspect here as it applies to cameras and televisions. In that regard, it’s a way to compare the brightest whites to the darkest blacks in a camera or a display. Higher is typically better, but it’s not always as simple as it seems. It’s the difference between the two ends of the spectrum that’s important.

This simulation of HDR vs. non-HDR playback comes from Dolby. The difference isn’t always as pronounced. Dolby


HDR capability is a key selling point for TVs right now, but it’s not easily quantifiable in terms of a number or stat on a spec sheet. You won’t necessarily buy one TV because it has “more HDR” than another and just because a TV is equipped with it, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s going to look hands-down better than one without it. TV brightness is measured in a unit called nits. An HDR set may have a top brightness of 1,000 nits, with a dark black measurement somewhere around .5 nits. Non-HDR displays would have a smaller disparity between the numbers.

On its face, HDR says that a TV—or any other display—can display content compliant with one or more of the current HDR platforms. The two most common HDR protocols right now are HDR10, which is an open platform, and Dolby Vision, which is proprietary. Look for these if you want an HDR set. Samsung has also rolled out the HDR10+ platform, which builds upon the standard HDR10 model.

Right now, the iTunes store is one of the best sources of HDR content, but you’ll need a $180 Apple TV 4K to play it on your screen. Apple

What difference does HDR make in TVs?

HDR-capable sets promise more picture detail by retaining image information in areas that would be blown out or lost to shadows on a typical display. You’ll probably notice whiter whites, and deeper blacks, but it varies quite a bit. For instance, an OLED TV will likely have much deeper blacks than a typical LED backlit TV by its sheer nature, even if both TVs can play back HDR content.

What’s the deal with HDR content?

HDR content has the extra image data necessary to differentiate itself from typical HD, or even normal 4K content. Netflix currently offers a rapidly-expanding collection of HDR titles, and the iTunes store is currently the best place to get new releases, assuming, of course, you’re willing to pony up the $180 for an Apple TV 4K you need to play them. Other compatible players include the $70 Amazon Fire TV, the $99 Roku Ultra, and the upcoming Xbox One X.

Is HDR worth paying extra for?

Right now, HDR makes a bigger difference in most cases than simply upgrading to a 4K display. If you’re buying a new TV right now, it’s worth it to consider an HDR set because the amount of compatible content is only going to rise, at least for the foreseeable future. It’s even more worth it if you’re moving up to a high-end TV like the Sony or Samsung OLED models.

Cameras like the Sony A7r Mark III boast about their dynamic range compared to their competition. Sony

What about cameras?

In the camera world, HDR has a very different meaning than it does in the TV space. Every digital camera sensor has an effective dynamic range that dictates what it can capture. The camera can only handle so much disparity between light and dark, which is why the windows get blown out when you take a picture in a dark room, or a person’s face looks dark when you try to take their photo in front of a bright blue sky. This has been true since the days of film photography.

High-dynamic range in the photo world typically refers to a technique in which a camera takes several pictures with different exposures, then combines that image data into one photo with the shadows and highlights compressed to fit. This is now standard operating procedure for most major smartphone cameras. Sometimes it makes photos look more like you see them with your eyes, which have a huge dynamic range, and sometimes it makes the scene look like a cartoon or a video game.

Typical cameras that take one picture at a time will often brag about their dynamic range using a unit of measure called stops, which are often used to talk about exposure in photography. The new Sony A7r Mark III, for instance, brags about its 15-stop dynamic range, compared to a typical DSLR which hovers around the 13-stop range.

Does it matter?

While a camera’s dynamic range is important to consider, it’s worth noting that most modern, standalone cameras are well over 12-stops, which should cover most of what the average user requires. Many cameras like the Sony models also have built-in HDR function if you want to combine more than one photo.

If you’re curious about the dynamic range of your own camera, you can check out the independent measurements done by DXO.

The Sony Xperia XZ phone has both an HDR screen and camera, both of which have different meanings. Sony

What about smartphones?

Mobile devices are the perfect storm of HDR marketing speak. Right now, the mobile display market is a mess in terms of HDR, with different manufacturers opting for varying standards, and content providers like YouTube just starting to offer mobile HDR content. The upcoming iPhone X will have an HDR capable screen, which will be the most high-profile test on mobile yet. One of the first tests came in the form of the Samsung Galaxy Note 7, but then too many of those threatened to explode so they were all recalled.

When it comes to smartphone cameras, the actual dynamic range of their sensors doesn’t change much from model to model, but each company has its own technique for creating HDR photos. Google takes up to 10 pictures every time you push the shutter button on the Pixel 2, while Apple takes fewer pictures with greater differentiation to maintain image data. If someone tries to sell you on a phone because of its “HDR camera,” know that you get that from just about all the big players at this point.

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