Saturday, 9 December 2017


Classic Studio-Level Character Animation,
Editing & Visuals for Indie or Pro studios.

#Reallusion #iClone7 #iClone #7 #2D #3DAnimation #3D #Animation #3DGraphics #Depth #DOF

6th December 2017, San Jose, CA - Reallusion launches fundamental animation update with iClone 7.1 with new features for studio-level motion design for any creator to achieve professional animation results. The largest annual update to iClone 7.1 delivers redesigned Depth of Field (DOF) achieving significant improvement in camera realism. A total overhaul of the Timeline system that now offers multi-track and key select with time warp, sampling keys from clips, and enhanced mirror copy. The advanced Timeline is integrated with the new Curve Editor Plug-in for synchronous operation to build professional motions the classical way and suitable for any budget. iClone 7.1 Update Highlight Video: iClone Curve Editor Demo Video:
The Curve Editor allows you to adapt all the skills of classic animation principles to your iClone animations. Select a motion clip or a section of keys from the timeline and start applying curves to achieve the best animation performance. Exercise full control over time and space adjustments in your animations, create smooth and cinematic cameras, perform arc rotation for cartoon animation, and achieve the perfect ease-in and out behavior! Curve Editor - Build Professional Motion the Classical Way ● Outliner Tools: display the object-related nodes with RTS (rotation, translation, and scale) curves in Tree Mode or List Mode, with Keyword Filtering options. ● Tangent Tools: quick access to the frequent-use tangent types such as Auto, Smooth, Spline, Linear, Step, Accelerate or Decelerate. ● Handle Tools: allow for the adjustment of the tangents for the transition style to exaggerate or understate the animation. ● Key Editing Tools: regular editing features for keys such as selecting, adding, deleting keys, and setting values and times. ● Navigation Tools: pan and zoom the graph view for better observation of the displayed curves Life-like Presets for Curve Animation
● Life-like curve behaviors with the Transition Curve Preset Types provide an abundant way to re-interpret the motions. ● Once a Curve Preset is picked, the result will be immediately visible in the viewport, making it fast and easy for the user to determine the most suitable transition type. ● 16 Presets represent for commonly used animations such as acceleration, deceleration, smooth, damping, and different bouncing types. ● Curve Presets can be further customized using Curve Editor after Sampling and Optimization. Realistic Camera Behaviour
● Simulate natural camera movement using smooth transition curve and ease-in and out. 
● Generate cinematic camera moves by using a different tangent type or curve presets 

Sampling and Optimizing Keys ● Sample Keys out from a Motion Clip for further editing. You can either sample keys for all motion layers, or for specific chosen layer tracks. ● Merge layer keys back to motion clip for additional pass of layer editing ● For simplifying the hyper-dense sampled keys, you can optimize the keys with custom threshold for better modification Mocap Data Cleaning ● Take out jitters, glitches or redundant keys within motion data by sampling clip and smoothing out selected keys ● Remove foot sliding using Reach Effector editing to ensure firm foot contact to the floor. ● Easy re-edit mocap data by turning them into manageable keys for curve editing. DOF Camera Realism - Realtime and Rendered Visual Optimization

iClone 7.1 camera DOF is dramatically improved. Pick a mesh target for the DOF, customize the parameters, and also select from multiple bokeh effects. iClone DOF

Updated DOF Features ● Focus Distance now gives a precise focal distance based on a specific mesh surface picking point. ● Focus Range can be used to grow out from the point of the Focus Distance to cover the area of clarity. ● Near and Far Transition Region for smooth blending between focused and defocused area. ● Near and Far Blur Strength: ● New Bokeh effects, include: Hex, Circle, Star and Heart. ● Blur Edge Samples Scale can be used to soften the jaggedness in the junction between the regions of blurriness and sharpness of an object. More ● New DOF Regions can be used to display and diagnose the DOF ranges. More The New Timeline - Multi-track Animation Editing and Timewarp The all new Timeline increases the motion editing and animation control inside iClone 7.1 with features to grab, edit and timewarp multiple keys over multiple tracks. Precision control over the entire scene animation with the new Curve Editor for character animation and motion capture editing. Quickly build, edit and refine 3D scenes for virtual production, previz and animation projects. Non Uniform Cell Size for Timewarp Updated Timeline Features ● Sample and Flatten Motion Clips ● Merge Clips. ○ Merge Clips can be used to join disparate clips of the same track. ○ Usage: pick two adjoining clips and perform Merge Clips via the context menu ● Auto Extend feature has been added to the timeline toolbar. ○ When Auto Extend is enabled, a new animation key will join a clip to its left. ○ When Auto Extend is disabled, a new animation key becomes an independent motion clip. ● Hollow and Solid Keys: ○ Hollow keys represent partially keyed frames ○ On the other hand, Solid keys represent keys where all axes have been keyed. ● Create Transition Clip: ○ Accessible via the right mouse button context menu, the Create Transition Clip function can be used to convert clip transition region into a new clip segment. Reach Effector Editing - Effector Animation for Dynamic Motion
● Reach Target has a new Reach Effector. ○ The Reach Effector can be applied on any bone in order to create a lite IK effector. ● Use Reach Effector to ensure foot to ground contact ● Reach Key can now be baked into the current pose. iClone 7.1 is available now as a free update to iClone 7 users iClone 7.1 is available online at For More Info on iClone 7.1 new features please check our forum:

About Reallusion: ​Reallusion Inc. is a 2D and 3D animation software and content developer. Headquartered in Silicon Valley, with R&D centers in Taiwan, and offices and training centers in Germany and Japan. Reallusion specializes in the development of real­time 2D and 3D cinematic animation tools for consumers, students and professionals. The company provides users with easy to use avatar animation, facial morphing and voice lip­sync solutions for real-­time 3D filmmaking, and previsualization for professional post ­production. Reallusion's core technologies are widely used by trainers, educators, gamers and filmmakers providing them with stand­alone movie studio packages.

Thank you for reading! Review coming soon... Synapse Circuit / Blue Gene


#MAGIX #Looperoid #Polaroids #PhotoStories #Pictures #Editing #Animated #GIFs

The most beautiful way to share photos: MAGIX releases free mobile app, Looparoid

Looparoid is the first app that lets you combine multiple pictures to create unique photo stories that resemble Polaroids to share with your friends and family.

Madison, WI (USA), December 04, 2017 – With Looparoid, MAGIX delivers a free Android app to create breathtaking photo stories that can be downloaded straight from the Google Play Store. Entertaining animated GIFs from photos are created in seconds.

Whether it's your last vacation, home improvement project or dinner with friends: Looparoid can bring up to 8 images together to create one story. It's super simple to use: The user selects their favorite photos, picks a fitting frame in a Polaroid style and then adds a title – and it's done! In no time at all, the completed Looparoid can be shared instantly via messenger.

"A million photos are created every day and there's a story behind each one. With Looparoid, we want to inspire people to tell these stories", says Max Herberger, Looparoid product owner. "Using the app's selection of frames and effects, any user can create a Looparoid that fits their own unique photo story. In addition, we've paid a lot of attention to simple, intuitive operation, so that creating Looparoids is just as fun as looking at them."

Looparoid is the result of years of experience in the development of user-friendly desktop and mobile apps for photo and video editing from the MAGIX team. Continued development and innovative functions for Looparoid have already been planned for the immediate future.
Looparoid is now available for free in the Google Play Store and is compatible with Android 5.0 version and higher.

MAGIX is an internationally operating provider of software, online services and digital content for using multimedia products and services. Founded in 1993, MAGIX offers private and professional users a technologically sophisticated and user-friendly range of products for designing, editing, presenting and archiving digital photos, videos, music, documents and websites. MAGIX is the market leader in the field of multimedia software in Germany and in the most important European markets. It is also regarded as one of the most successful market participants in the USA.

MAGIX see.hear.feel.create

Thank you for reading! Review coming soon... Synapse Circuit / Blue Gene

Wednesday, 4 October 2017



#Google #GooglePixel2 #Pixel2XL #PixelBook #PixelBuds #GoogleHome #GoogleHomeMini #GoogleHomeMAX #Android #AndroidOEMS #Samsung #GalaxyS8 #GalaxyS8Plus #Apple #iPhone8 #iPhone8Plus #iPhoneX #GalaxyNote8 


Yes, I watched the whole Google event live! I've got to say that I'm happily eating my words! The products from Google looked superb in both the look and design of the hardware and, very importantly, the software! 

Needless to say that I am very impressed! I just love the idea of the PixelBook, the Google Home devices, and, of course, the handsets! As you should know, I love my big screens and my handset is the Pixel XL 2! I love it! Yes, despite the “leaks” I was suitably surprised throughout the reveal!

I love the translation in real-time! This is the future right now!

I want everything I saw and I'm going to get 'em all too! Well, barring the smaller Pixel 2 handset. This is a remarkable feat from Google. I passed on last year's Pixel handsets and now… I want the lot! 

Above: Pixel Buds. Look at that wonderful design! So much better looking than Apple's Air Buds that look pretty stupid; whoever designed the Air Buds must have watched an episode of the Jetson's for inspiration! Anyhoo... The Pixel Buds come with AI that is Google Assistant. I just love that one can do live translation wearing the Pixel Buds and/or other compatible gear such as the Pixel 2 handsets. The Google Buds will set you back £159!

Look, from where I'm sitting, Apple seems hell-bent on its current self-destructive path. I mean, didn't Apple take on an additional “designer”??? And this iPhone X notch issue??? I don't get it! Anyhow…

Although Google were merciful in taking potshots it is very clear that Apple have run out of steam. Google have a vision and they are realizing it to great effect!

Apple, they've gone to the nursery and have created talking doody emojis, which was a great source of amusement for Apple. Then, on the other hand…

Google demonstrates - in real-time - an audible translation between Swedish and English! WOW! Time to renew my passport and get traveling again!

Kudos to Google! Well freaking done!

Above: Just look at the elegant design of the Pixel 2 XL... No ugly notch in sight! No headphone jack! But there is an adapter in the box! Cool!

No. No. Nooooooo! There's no point in making comparisons with Apple's offerings as they are different platforms! But, that said, the 2017 Pixel handsets appear to so much more satisfying! The designs are fantastic! No freaking notch in sight!

Can I compare them to the Galaxy S8, S8 Plus, and Note 8? Can I make comparisons with the LG V30? How about the Huawei Mate 10?

The beauty of Google Android and it being open to a vast array of manufacturers is that each manufacturer can create a unique experience and some of us have a tendency to own at least 3 handsets from different OEMS! I've lost count of all the phones I have from different OEMS. That said, Samsung and Google are my two top manufacturers! I might get the LG V30 and the Huawei Mate 10!

Above: The Google PixelBook! It is gorgeous and very desirable. Look at the spec for the biggest and baddest one: Intel® Core™ i7, 16GB RAM, 512GB NVMe SSD! Great, huh? Finally, a PixelBook - Chromebook that looks capable of video editing! Put me down for this one! I will have to find the most part of £2k to get the top of the line and a PixelBook Pen!

Yeah, yeah… Like me, you've noticed that there's no tablet offering… Well, in a few ways it's not surprising as the tablet market is having an identity crises at the moment. I wish Android tablets would just step up to the plate. Yes, I think there are great efforts from Samsung, Huawei and, maybe Asus… Of course, Google tablets are great too. The trouble is that most Android folk just want a tablet that's powerful, cost effective, and has a shelf life of a couple of years at least.

Apple have experienced a drop off in tablet sales and that's primarily because of the weird ideas the execs have… iPad mini, cuts into the iPad, iPhone Plus does the same to both the mini and 10” and the MacBook eats into the iPad Pro! While it's debatable as to the superiority of the Apple tablet over Android ones, it's clear that the iPads don't serve its parishioners; the flock have been led up the garden path instead of the promised land! The iPads are too expensive to the point where you may as well get a MacBook.

Look over your shoulder and the Windows platform has more scope what with the laptops that convert into a tablet (by folding away the keyboard) and then there are the Surface devices. These are real computers, and have more value as a consequence!

Whereas the Android tablet is a fusion of purposes: entertainment and productivity at a reasonable price - sometimes!

Saying the above, now that the PixelBook utilizes powerful Intel i5 and i7 processors I think it's another sharp nail in the iPad coffin and it opens up the possibilities for the Android tablet to come back strong in 2018! The Android tablet market just needs a manufacturer brave enough to do the following: -

  1. Put a decent Octo-Core SoC in it.
  2. Put a 4G radio in it at no extra cost.
  3. Price it from £200 to about £350 max and the Android tablet will be commonplace on the streets like the smartphones are.

There you go! It is pretty easy! Well, it appears that way! It just takes one manufacturer to make the first move... Which one will it be? Samsung? Hmmmm... I think Samsung is looking to usurp the iPad out of principal once and for all! Huawei have come the closest to delivering on a decent cost effective and well designed tablet. Here in the UK, the 8" MediaPad is not sold with the 4G radio. You can't go to an outlet like PC World and pick one up! Asus? They keep falling short! At one time Asus had some great ideas with Android tablets that was based around a phone that is slotted inside a tablet housing, they had some other decent ideas too... Lately, Asus have been trying but the power isn't quite there... Again, Archos looked as though it was about to unleash what could have been the perfect Android tablet and it never materialized. Oh, well... I think that Huawei is going to come through on the Android tablet front; they are almost there...I think the 8" MediaPad 4 ought to do it! I think Google should have offered a tablet - at least an 8" one! The Pixel 8" - cool name!

A new smartwatch was absent; I think there's scope for Android Wear - well, kind of… I think the smartwatch needs a bigger wrap-around screen and use the full Android operating system. Both Google and Samsung had a great headstart but they didn't ignite like they should have. I think Samsung’s Gear efforts are better than the Apple Watch; it's just that the media exaggerates what Apple does to the point of absurdity. It's a shame. I think the Apple biased tech media stagnates the growth of true innovation. I think Google gets despondent when Apple gets all the accolades for crap! I also wish Apple would do something that deserves the press attention for a change. A talking poop emoji??? For crying out loud!

Oh well… Yes, I wanted to see a version of Google Home with a screen to enable video calling… I envision a range of screen sizes for the purpose… It makes sense with all this wallpaper screen technology. Now that would be really futuristic!
Above: Google Home Max. It costs a pretty penny at $399, but it may be useful for a lot more than Google Assistant... I could possibly use it for music composition... The speaker quality is supposed to be excellent! Hmmmm... We'll see... At least I will definitely get a great Hi-Fi out of it! You can stand 'em up in portrait or landscape as shown in the pic! I may have a couple of those when it is ready!

Below: Google Home Mini, it will retail at $49! Pretty good going!

It's clear that Google possesses a far reaching understanding of how technology can enhance our lives.

Above: Google Clips. It looks like a very useful camera to capture aspects of one's life and create long lasting memories. It captures soundless video clips, which is a bit of a shame as it would make for a great spy camera. That's going to cost about $249.

Across the board, Google, Android and its OEMS are doing more exciting things with Technology than Apple. I keep telling people... No, I don't hate Apple but what it does is hijack the ideas of others and make it look like it has innovated when they haven't. I find that annoying! Yes, I did consider a Mac computer because of the video editing possibilities but I would NEVER think about an Apple computer now! I would rather buy a powerful Chrome desktop with a AMD Ryzen chip in it - if it were possible! I would take the chance. People underestimate the Chrome Apps! However, a dual Chrome and Windows desktop would be something... Come to think of it, we have this right now! I only have to access the Chrome App marketplace on my PC when using the Chrome browser. Well, with Windows there are so many decent software applications such as Serif Affinity Photo and Designer - if you are looking for a cost effective to Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator. Not to mention that you can still pick Serif PagePlus for a DTP program that is perfect for publications that require professional printing. Forget PagePlus for digital publication for the moment... Are you with me so far? You want to edit videos? Just check out what MAGIX is doing by the way of video editing software. I don't know how fast the MAGIX video software is compared to Apple's Fastcut, but you have to remember that the cost of the Windows based PC will get you more for your money compared to any Mac! At the very least you get USB ports and a soundcard that you can plug a headphone into! If you want to make professional music on the PC you have so much more scope than you have on the Mac! I digressed a little...

So, from DeX to Google Home to Clips, etc you feel like the future you were promised by Sci-Fi and Technology TV shows is finally coming to life!

Awesome stuff! I will catch on the next one!
Thank you for reading! I am very, very impressed with Google's 2017 line-up! They are very desirable indeed! Synapse Circuit / Blue Gene

Tuesday, 3 October 2017



#Samsung #Google #Android #AndroidOEMS #Apple #GalaxyS8 #GalaxyS8Plus #GooglePixel2 #Pixel2XL #iPhone8 #iPhone8Plus #iPhoneX #GalaxyNote8 


I don't know about you but I'm finding myself being a little bored of the smartphone industry. 

People keep asking me why I've been reviewing Samsung premium handsets more than any other manufacturer. The answer has always been that it's because the Galaxy S and Note ranges happen to deliver an all round performance for the money. All round performance has been a constant with Samsung. LG, Motorola and Huawei have come close with their flagship products but not close enough, 2017 could change all that...

As predicted, Samsung have delivered a stunning design married with great features and functionality. Yes, there are many beautifully designed Android handsets out there however, attributes such as the camera, screen and functionality are the casualties of these wonderful looking options.

The camera on the Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus are solid. While the HTC made Google Pixel XL and standard features highly rated cameras the discrepancies aren't strong enough to sway me - a Samsung fan - away from the Galaxy S8 Plus! Not to mention that the Google Pixel is not aesthetically pleasing to my - or anyone else's eyes for that matter. Who designed it, Jay Leno?

iPhone? Well, when you place the Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus next to the current iPhone 7 and Plus there is simply no contest over the design - Apple has this renowned designer too! As per usual, the iPhone 7 performs a little better than the Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus; this tells me that it is not totally down to Samsung where performance - raw processing power is concerned.

It appears to me that Google needs to develop a custom system on a chip for Android. Google needs a custom SoC that's specific to Android as the best of the best can't quite match the ultra slick iPhone performance - but we're talking in a macro of a second or two. Even budget handsets give a most satisfying performance these days. As great as the iPhone is, speed is not an issue. Yes, iOS apps look a little better than the Android counterparts but, again, there's not such a great difference for me to look over upon iPhone screens. I'm very productive on Android!

I have yet to come across any performance issues with the Galaxy S8 Plus. I don't know of anyone who uses their phones as we've seen in those hardware tests. I certainly don't. Still, those tests clearly gives credence to the Android custom SoC. C'mon, Google; sort it out!

The eyes have it…
… Certainty, the placement of the fingerprint scanner is awkward. Fortunately, there are other ways to unlock the Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus - notably the iris scanner! After a while of using the iris scanner, I can say that it works remarkably well and in the dark too! Direct light (in the face) can prevent the iris scanner from working, it's not a big deal as I would then enter a 4 digit PIN code, or use the fingerprint scanner. With the flip case, the fingerprint scanner is easier to access; I have learned to pick it up in a certain way - back first. It's a reflex.

Let's face it, when a thief makes off with your phone it's game over. One hard reset and the phone has a new owner! It's that simple. So, if we drop/misplace our handsets we are at the mercy of the person who finds it.

A plea for decency: Be a good Samaritan and hand in that found phone. Think of the treasured memories encoded in pictures and videos of the owner. Good deed done.

Absolute power…
I've got to say that the battery life on the Galaxy S8 Plus is okay; it gets me through the day with about 20% left after moderate use. I've said it once, I've said it a thousand times and I'm sure I'll continue to say it: constant social media updates, media consumption - including gameplay - and camera usage will rapidly deplete the battery. If you're a heavy smartphone user you'll need to do the following: -

  1. Carry your fast charger with you at all times. The Galaxy S8 Plus charges up to 50% in 30 minutes from 10%.

  1. Invest in a charging power-pack. It's like having a spare battery.

  1. Get one of those power cases; as always I advise getting a Samsung branded power case. As of yet, I've not seen such a power case from Samsung - it's unusual. I'm sure it's on the way.

That's the way of the flagship battery these days, which brings me to…

… Skin up!
One of the complaints against Samsung's flagships is its TouchWiz skinning of Android. Somehow, I don't think it's TouchWiz - it's now called “Experience” and it's version 8.1. No… I think it's more to do with the amount of functionality that Samsung packs into its flagships. I can't think of any other handset that has so much within. Can you think of a single flagship that contains so many features as the Galaxy S and Note ranges?

It's those features within the Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus that can sometimes cause the interface to lag. So far, there's no lag that I can see. I don't play games and in general usage it's just fine; the Experience is very responsive and pleasing.

I'll probably succumb to using Nova Launcher or similar launcher to create the user experience that I've become accustomed to in due course. For now, I'm okay with the Samsung Experience. It may be worth noting that I've not used a third-party launcher on my Galaxy Note 4.

Picture perfect...
The camera is a 13MP main shooter and it doesn't disappoint.

This year it seems that most of the flagships - and even some budget to mid-range - have within a very good to great cameras, so much so, that there's not much between them. When have the Samsung flagships ever failed on the camera?

As a consumer, I know that I'm going to get a darned good camera with the Galaxy S and Note ranges. The camera is one of the main reasons why I go for the Samsung flagships; I have yet to be let down. I have one small issue with the Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus camera; I can only record video at 10 minutes at a time. I should be able to record video until there's no space left on my micro SD card! Not that I ever have recorded video over 10 minutes long! It just would've been ideal to record video for longer if one day I had the inclination to do so.

At the moment, I cannot see a better all-round handset than the Galaxy S8 Plus. I'm quite sure that it'll be bettered by the Galaxy Note 8. You could say that the Galaxy S8/S8 Plus and the Note (8) can be viewed as Beauty and The Beast. It's hard, but not impossible, for other manufacturers to get a look in.

Anyone for Bixby?
Have you seen the recent Apple ad for Siri featuring The Rock, Dwayne Johnson? Do you know what that ad is about? Now, the penny drops… You've guessed it… This latest Siri ad is about the threat of Samsung's AI assistant, Bixby.

As per usual, the Tech Writer community have mostly misunderstood the purpose of Bixby. Samsung isn't competing with Google's AI assistant or any other such as Amazon's Alexa, etc. No! Bixby offers a means by which you can interface with the Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus (presumably the imminent Galaxy Note 8 too). This update hasn't yet reached the UK; from what I've seen thus far, Bixby has great potential. I see Bixby working alongside Google's assistant.

The fixed Bixby button…
I've yet to hit the Bixby button accidentally. Would I want to be able to assign another aspect of the Galaxy S8 Plus to the Bixby button? Goodness, no! That's all I need, another bloody button to push! That said, considering you'll be able to launch Bixby with a voice command, “Hi Bixby,” maybe that's a minor - a very minor - design flaw to have a hard immovable button. Do I need to see Bixby cards, in a Google Now manner, to inform me of the weather? Not really. Still, it's handy. I can't complain.

Launching Bixby with a voice command and use it to interface with the Galaxy S8/S8 Plus and Note 8 is a boon!

The Desktop EXperience…
There are quite a few Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus centric accessories, the usual flip cases, keyboard cases, 360 camera, etc. Outstanding is the DeX unit that enables you to convert the Galaxy S8 /S8 Plus and Note 8 into a desktop computer! WOW!

You might be under the assumption that DeX is aimed at business users. If that's the case, can DeX be termed as an "accessory"? Hmmm… I don't think so…

As an owner of the Galaxy S8 Plus, Note 8 and several PCs, I would say that DeX would be an accessory that I don't particularly need but certainly want.

It should be clear as day that I love Tech and that I have to have DeX. I think most Tech Geeks who are into the Galaxy S8/S8 Plus and Note 8 would want DeX just because.

Yes, I can see how DeX will be of use to business users… I can envisage DeX stations around the workplace as a means to engage in spontaneous or planned productivity. DeX works well with Microsoft apps; we'll get apps in a bit…

It would be very shortsighted to view DeX as just a business computer peripheral…

Non Technical People…
As someone who's a Tech enthusiast, it's hard to fathom that there are non technical people in this day and age. I've got to say that such non technical people happen to be women. More specially, friends of mine.

One such friend has a Windows XP PC that's struggling to open Google Chrome! It's driving her crazy! I've been trying to get her to upgrade her PC for ages, and most frustratingly to no avail! Well, she is due a phone upgrade soon. I'm encouraging her to upgrade to the Galaxy S8 and to get DeX while deciding on a PC.

My non technical friend will be able to do all the things she would do on her PC on a day to day basis: word processing, social media networking, media consumption, etc. DeX is perfect for her!  

In general…
DeX can certainly be a device that can negate the need for a PC/laptop - depending on your use. You can possibly declutter a personal space such as a bedroom with this small device.

If you're not a PC power user I would recommend that your next upgrade should be a Galaxy S8 or S8 Plus or Note 8 and to invest in a DeX station.

The downside of DeX…
At £140, DeX doesn't come cheap. On top of the initial expense of the handset, you may have to fork out for a monitor, keyboard and mouse. I'd go for a Bluetooth enabled keyboard and mouse. I can't stand wires all over the place.

You'll need Bluetooth speakers as the sound from the Galaxy S8/S8 Plus and Note 8 is compromised once placed in the DeX station via USB C.

Because of the angle of the Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus front-facing camera when seated in the DeX station, you might find that it's awkward to use Skype for video calling. But you could position DeX to make Skype video calling possible.

Then there's the question of how many apps are compatible in desktop mode. Some apps won't scale to fullscreen, and/or cease to function as intended. Oddly, Samsung's own proprietary video editing app cannot, at the time of writing, go fullscreen! It's little annoying.

DeX, the conclusion...
I'm sure that there'll be more DeX compatible apps in the not too distant future. There are enough productivity apps that work very well in desktop mode. For me, the Microsoft productivity office apps are perfect for my needs. Even though the Samsung video editor doesn't scale up, I can still use it to create basic but good videos.

I think that DeX needs to come down to at least £65… Okay, £80 at the most! DeX deserves to be a computing staple for years to come. I think app developers will get behind DeX in a major way! This is a good opportunity for Android to step up its app game; if you've ever used an Android tablet you'll know how frustrating how some apps aren't able to take advantage of the bigger screen. Considering Android screens have reached 2k and 4k, apps should be malleable by now. Apple does not have the equivalent to DeX!

Yes, it’s out! The Samsung Galaxy Note8 is out there as you are well aware! The Unpacked launch contained little or no surprises that I can’t remember it all in detail like I could past events. I am quite sure that these “leaks” are done deliberately to manage expectations.

I have gotten my Note 8 to complete my Samsung double whammy! I am the proud owner of the S8 Plus too!

What can I say about the Galaxy Note 8 that hasn’t been said before? Let me use my own voice…

The design of the Galaxy Note8 is so beautiful that it hurts - more so if I wasn’t able to get hold of one! How Samsung has made it possible for such a slim version of the Galaxy Note to retain the S Pen is truly a feat of design and engineering - bear in mind that it is dust and water resistant. I have the Midnight Black version… I would have gone for a Grey or Blue, but Gold??? NO! I can’t stand Gold; I think it looks gaudy for my tastes. I was kinda forced into a Galaxy S6 Edge Gold and I can’t say that I like it very much. Anyway…

It is early days and I may post up a review - if I think I can write something that you’ve not read or listened to via YouTube and/or podcasts.

One of my concerns is the battery; the Galaxy Note8 is sporting a huge 6.3” Super-AMOLED screen. As I keep saying, it only when you start using the devices is when you see how the battery fares.

To be honest with you, Dear Synapse Circuit Reader, I feel jaded with handset reviews. This is not me bashing Samsung or any other manufacturer, no! I think the smartphone industry is as great as it ever was, it’s just that I can get a good idea of how a phone functions just by looking at the spec. I bet you can too! I am never disappointed with Samsung premium handsets - again, Samsung handsets have an all-roundness to them. I love Samsung’s premium design aesthetics, cameras, and functionality. I find that on the competing manufacturers there are sacrifices made on the above features. I would have liked to have been able to check out an LG V30 but it is not out yet at the time of writing.

The Huawei Mate 10 has yet to come out too! Yes, all eyes are going to be upon Google for the next Pixel handsets. I honestly believe that we’re going to be reading, listening to and watching reviews of a similar nature to last year. I do not see anything outstanding apart from Samsung devices purely on the design to functionality ratio. I love the Sci-Fi look of the Xiaomi Mi MIX 2 (and its predecessor) but, from the spec, I can’t see it having an all-round factor that the Galaxy Note 8, S8 and S8 Plus has. I tell you something... I do believe that Google with its Pixel 2 & 2 XL, and LG V30 and Huawei Mate 10 will put a massive dent in the sales of the iPhone 8, 8 Plus and X. Some people don't like Samsung for the heavy skin and the lag associated with it - I can't say that I have noticed any major issues thus far - and as a result, people go for the pure Android experience as found on the Google devices; LG and the G6 and V30 are very similar to the Galaxy S8 and Note8; Huawei has made waves with the P and Mate ranges, it looks like the Mate 10 is going to present an alternative to the Note8 and certainly the iPhone X. More about the iPhone X in a bit!

Once in awhile we can get a few surprises from the budget to mid-range side of the smartphone equation. I think Motorola has blanded out somewhat, and some other manufacturers promise to deliver cost effective powerful handsets that aren’t good performers in actual useage. Trust me, I have tried the cost effective route and, while I don’t play games, I take a hit on the camera and social media front whereby the phone in question becomes too sluggish to enjoy to the max. When I upload photos taken on such low budget devices one can see the reduction in quality straightaway! The Alcatel Pixi 4 6” handset remains as one of the most outstanding low budget handsets of 2016 - 17. I think Alcatel have managed to surprise the smartphone world with its budget to mid-high ranges.

Let downs…
While we’re on the subject of budget Android devices…

Do you remember French manufacturer Archos? Well, the company made some big promises that they have failed to deliver on… I was all set to purchase a Diamond Tab 4G; if I remember correctly, this would be Android tablet would have smashed it! It had an 8” 2K screen (or something like that), an Octa Core SoC, 4GB RAM and 4G! Needless to say that the tablet did not see the light of day! I could have done with such a powerfully decked out tablet for my operations! Then there were a couple of premium handsets at mid-range price that could have put the cat amongst the pigeons… I have forgotten what they were called now, but I was all set to get them both! Today, what’s on the Archos site looks pedestrian to the rest of the market vendors, and about 80% of the smartphones on the site are currently “unavailable” just like the other Archos products that failed to manifest! I don’t know what Archos is playing at but it looks like they won’t around fairly soon at the rate it is going.

And finally…

As you know, I am not an Apple fan by any stretch of the imagination. This is purely because of Apple’s weird stance where innovation, practicality and design are concerned. Again, it’s been my contention that Apple hasn't done anything that I can truly call innovative. I do not look at Apple products and say, “WOW! I want it!” The Windows PC will always be my weapon of choice. The Android phone and tablet are the better options for me than the iPhone and iPad.

What Apple announced a couple of weeks ago continued its tradition of weirdness… The iPhone 8 and 8 Plus look like last year's models and the spec is pretty much the same with the exception of the A11 Bionic chip. The A11 Bionic chip will no doubt be a very powerful one in keeping with Apple’s tradition of iPhone and iPad chips, however, it makes me chuckle that Siri is still far behind Google Assistant and that Samsung has managed to beat Apple to the punch where the virtual assistant is concerned in terms of being able to interface with the handset with voice commands! The A11 Bionic chip pertains to being able to read the face for its Face Unlock feature and other biometrics. Yes, “weird” because the Samsung Galaxy’s features Face Unlock, Iris Scanning and Fingerprint. Hmmmm… The camera looks good as always but the iPhone 8 - as with all previous incarnations - just don’t have the X factor for me. Speaking of the “X Factor”...

iPhone X
Don’t call it “X”! Call the iPhone X the iPhone 10! I guess there’s no 9 then… Okay, not to worry…

Just what were Apple thinking with that awful notch at the top of the iPhone X???? It is horrific! It’s as though Apple haven’t been paying attention to Android designs. C’mon, I prefer what Samsung and other manufacturers have done with the Bezeless Design concept. Oh my goodness! Why didn’t Apple make the iPhone X slightly more elongated and the bezel a tad thicker to house the camera and sensors??? Why??? WHY??? Look at what LG did with the G6!

Again, with the weirdness, the iPhone 8 sales have taken a great hit because of the anticipated iPhone X that may or may not be released later this year. I think that Apple may have problems with the manufacture of this one… The iPhone X appears to be problematic otherwise it would have been available at the same time as the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus. I can only envisage two camps of iPhone fanatics: -

01. The practical user that will go for the iPhone 8/8 Plus wishing to save money and giving that notched X a miss!

02. The spec for specs sake fanatic who will wait for the iPhone X because it looks more powerful than the 8 and 8 Plus. The X version will appear to be the best and some people won't settle for less. So, why bother with the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus????

Gone are the days, at least in the UK, where people feel that they have to line up for weeks, days, hours to get the latest iPhone. There were no such queues for the iPhone 8! As stated above, the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus have not broken any sales records because I think the iPhone market has become deeply fractured! Fractured not just because of the imminently sketchy X release but because the premium Android handsets are better designed and there is not much of a difference in the camera stakes these days. Many manufacturers still have the headphone jack! And if Android OEMS have done away with the headphone jack they supply a USB C to headphone jack dongle in the package for free! Unlike Apple whereby the iPhone user has to purchase those awful looking earbuds and/or a dongle for iPhone headphone accessories.

In comparison, the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 devices get sold out regularly! Retail outlets are at the mercy of fresh deliveries of the Galaxy Note 8! It looks like Samsung are on the path for record breaking sales of the Galaxy S8, S8 Plus and Note 8! It is not surprising simply because of the design factor alone! The Galaxy premium offerings look like a slab of onyx; they are marvelous and look like something out of a Sci-Fi movie!

But the notch on the iPhone X??? I know that the Apple bought media are pretending that the hideous notch isn’t an issue when it is! Now you might be forgiven to think that I am laughing at iPhone fanatics but you are wrong! Technology is what it is: either you are onboard with the concepts presented or you are not. With the iPhone X, I can see that many who are devoted to Apple are deeply disappointed as it looks just wrong compared to some of the best Android designs. The iPhone 8 designs are pedestrian and safe to say the very least! It’s almost as if Apple is trying destroy its own market… It’s ironic that the latest announcements took place in a theater named after Steve Jobs.

I wonder what Jobs would have made of the iPhones and iPads - especially the Plus and mini variants since his passing… I don't think he'd be happy. There again, Jobs would have destroyed Apple in going "thermonuclear" in trying to sue Google for the Android operating system, etc. Mind you, with so much money at steak, Jobs would have almost certainly been thrown out of his own company for his personal vendetta against what is arguably the better operating system!

Catch you in the next one!
Thank you for reading! I may publish in-depth reviews of the Galaxy S8 Plus and Galaxy Note8 if I feel that I can add something that you haven't read before or in this very article. Watch this space... Oh, it's the Google Pixel 2 launch later on... I am looking forward! Stay tuned for my coverage on the Pixel 2 and XL launch! Synapse Circuit / Blue Gene