Thursday, 23 February 2017





Goodhour, Synapse Circuit Readers!

#Samsung #GalaxyS8 #GalaxyS8+ #Bixby #DEX


Yeah, yeah… More “leaked” Samsung Galaxy S8 & S8+ are surfacing. I suspect that these leaks are done on purpose to give us not only a taste of things to come thus keeping our interest but also to bring our expectations down to Earth!


Am I excited about the new look? Well, no, to be honest. Samsung makes some serious premium handsets. The Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge especially are the pinnacle of smartphone design. The Galaxy Note 7, which is making a comeback in developing markets, was the best-looking handset of 2016 and it beats anything else on the market. Don’t get me wrong, I do appreciate designs from other manufacturers such as Huawei, Lenovo-Motorola, LG, ZTE and a few others but Samsung is out there for imbuing the designs with great functionality. Some real thought has gone into the design.

That said above, I leave some space in the back of my mind for the element of surprise. The Galaxy S3 had a wow factor when it was first launched and it took until the Galaxy S6 Edge for me to be wowed again! Mind you, the Galaxy Note Edge was quite an awe inspiring handset. You don’t see many of those anymore!


If anything, I am more excited about the innards… The meaty combination of CPU, GPU, and RAM. At the moment it seems that Samsung has a standard formation of the fastest processor available, a decent GPU for the games and 4GB RAM. Many tech pundits push the “6GB RAM” because that is what they hope and want to see on a flagship Samsung Galaxy S handset and I am sure that these pundits will do the same for the forthcoming Galaxy Note 8.

Anyhoo, due to the recent “leaks”, it does appear that Samsung will be sticking with the above hardware formula. The proof, as always, is in the pudding. There are many claims regarding the Snapdragon 835 and those claims remain to be seen. I don’t take those claims too seriously as the Snapdragon CPUs performs reasonably well and fall short of the hype in comparison to the iPhone CPU. Maybe this time the Snapdragon and RAM will delight hardware freaks, like me, with a blistering performance.

The next piece of hardware is the camera, it looks like it is going to be another 12MP main camera with an 8MP front facing shooter. Let’s see what the lens and software are all about. Galaxy S and Note cameras have always been very good, definitely above the average Android camera. The camera on Google’s Pixel appears to be a top camera on any smartphone. But most of the premium Androids are very competitive camera-wise; there’s little between them. I am curious as to what Samsung has in store where the camera is concerned.

Well, it remains to be seen if users will be able to use the Galaxy S8 & S8+ like a computer by hooking it up to a dock. There was a similar dock for the Galaxy Note 2 and I don’t know why this idea, which looks to be called “DEX”, hasn’t been a feature from the Galaxy Note 3 onwards. I think being able to hook a full 2K monitor to the Galaxy S and Note ranges of handsets is a great innovation. DEX makes a lot of sense for many consumers who just want to access the Internet and Social Mediums. No, this will not be yet another nail in the coffin for desktop PCs as that particular format has become a device for hardcore gamers and multimedia producers. And the tablet has kind of fizzled for the moment… I think that there is a market for tablets still, but it looks as though manufacturers aren’t ready to push them just yet. The Android tablet game is a long one… I think the iPad has peaked. Microsoft Surface tablets are more desirable due to being able to install full software as opposed to apps. Android seems to be in a bit of a stasis where tablets are concerned. But you can bet that Samsung will be showing off a new Galaxy Tab at the Mobile World Congress in a few days time.

Yes, I would use DEX if it were a reality!

Again, no surprises there… 64GB storage is a standard with Samsung and that is definitely enough for storing apps, pictures, and video. I personally have the tendency to use the internal storage for apps and external for my photos and videos.

Maybe there will be a 128GB version but I seriously doubt it as there will be a microSD slot.

I am not expecting anything beyond a 3200 mAh battery. I would also imagine that there will be a battery extension case from Samsung.

The usual tech pundits still have it in mind that there will be a fingerprint reader built into the screen. I doubt it. By the looks of the sensors on these “leaked” photos of the Galaxy S8 & S8+, the iris scanner will be the way to unlock the handset. Why would you then need an additional fingerprint reader? Either my eyes will do it or a password in the event of a condition will prevent the iris scanner from working.

It could be that one of the accessories is a specially made S Pen for the Galaxy S8 & S8+ which would make sense for those who were hanging on for the Galaxy Note 7.

I don’t see much by the way of accessories other than the usual windowed and non-windowed cases, battery extension cases, and wireless charging pads.

Yeah, well… I can’t say too much on that… Personal assistants are novel and they are still in development. Siri is trailing behind Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa. Microsoft Cortana is getting there… I predict that Bixby will be an overhaul of the S Voice which wasn’t bad but it wasn’t that good either. I had to switch of the S Voice on my Galaxy S6 Edge as it would become active sporadically and sometimes wake me up in the middle of the night!

It looks as though the S Voice has gotten a new AI engine through the acquisition of VIV, the technology behind Siri.

I think the Galaxy S8 & S8+ are going to be an incremental improvement over the Galaxy S7 Edge. We are not going to see anything that’s way, way ahead of its time. I think the overreaction to the Galaxy S4 has had Samsung pull back on those innovations that other handset manufacturers have come to utilize in a piecemeal fashion.

What we are going to see is another beautifully designed handset that will continue to set the bar for great functionality!

Will it beat the iPhone? That’s another article…

Thanks for reading,

Synapse Circuit/Blue Gene

Wednesday, 22 February 2017







Goodhour, Synapse Circuit Readers!

#MAGIX #MovieEditPro #Video #VideoEditing #VideoProduction 



WOW! It has been a while since I have reviewed Movie Edit Pro… In my most humble opinion, MAGIX has always delivered on professional quality for more than a reasonable asking price. I have had the pleasure of seeing the first MAGIX video editing program emerge from the brilliant Music Maker digital audio workstation way back! See? MAGIX had a video production suite, albeit a little basic, in an easy to use music making software.

Here we are today with Movie Edit Pro Premium… Here’s my review…

In one word, “malleable” pretty much sums up Movie Edit Pro Premium. It is aimed at just about anyone with an imagination and a desire to work with video, producing something worthwhile.
Events Videographer - Weddings, Christenings, Presentations, Live Music, etc. If you are starting a video production business aimed at social events then you’ve saved a good amount of money on the video editing software alone! Thus leaving you with a bit more to spend on hardware. If you are thinking, ‘After Effects’ well, stay tuned…
YouTube/Vlogger - You may have ambitions to become the next YouTube sensation or upload videos to your own website. Movie Edit Pro Premium will do it for you!

Pre-Production - You could be developing an idea for a film/movie and/or TV show/theater play, Movie Edit Pro Premium is self-contained to deliver.

Documentary Producer - With today’s smartphones and concealable video recorders it is so very easy to be the producer of riveting documentaries. Bear in mind the legalities of filming people without their knowledge. You don’t need fanciful fades and wipes to distract from the core message of the documentary.

Music Video Director/Producer - If you want to make simple but professional looking music videos on a shoestring budget then look no further!

The point I am making is that we fancy ourselves as some - if not all - of the above. At £89.99, Movie Edit Pro Premium is within reach of anyone who wants to have a go at professional video production without robbing the bank!

There are movie templates for certain types of genres such as action, drama, documentary, etc. It shows the kind of shots you should be videoing, what should be in the frame, etc. And the edits are in synch with the music soundtrack. This is brilliant!

Then there are some intro and outro animations of the kind that you would expect from After Effects. You can edit the intros and outros titles by the way of choosing a different font and stylings such as a drop shadow and outline, as well as the colour of the font. What’s there is pretty limited but you can download more animations from the Catooh website cost effectively. You can, as you may know, get many stock videos for free from various websites but they often lack the polish to look convincingly professional. You get what you don’t pay for. And then there stock video sites that have great looking material but it’ll cost you a pretty penny! Still, what’s there is very good for someone starting out on YouTube; this person will be very appreciative of the intros, outros, and movie genre templates.

In addition, there are some Dynamic title effects. If you have ever used Movie Edit Pro before, you will know that it comes packed with third party software for titling, image stabilization, colour correcting/matching and an animated globe to present travel routes and a whole lot more besides. These attributes are aimed at the happy amateur, if you are a professional video producer you will recognize that Movie Edit Pro Premium 2017 has what you need to produce videos that will be taken seriously.
Movie Edit Pro Premium proved to be incredibly stable and did not crash throughout my tests. The videos played without stuttering and dragging videos to the timeline was a fluid experience - even though I had programs running in the background!
I find the interface lends itself to mostly painless video production.  

There are a few issues that stood out… You have to be sure to deselect video clips after previewing them because the interface doesn’t recognize when you’ve hit play on the timeline to play/preview the main edit. It was a source of irritation.

The intros and outros are configured in a way that you can’t drag and drop them onto the timeline as you go along. If you want to add an intro, you have to first ensure the edit has a duration beyond 3 seconds. And to add an outro, you have to render the video edit with the intro first, and then bring in that render in, perhaps another project, to add the outro. This can be a pain if you have changed the title typeface and other attributes such as outline, typeface colour and so on.

And some of the effects aren’t as clear cut as I would have liked them to be. It would have been an advantage if there was a way of previewing some effects with example videos.

Oh, you have to purchase an MP4 license extra! It’s a small cost, but after you have downloaded all the extra materials you just want to feel secure in the knowledge that you have everything and that you are good to go off the bat!

MAGIX Movie Edit Pro Premium is an undoubted must have for the budget conscious ambitious video producer.

The extras that come with it is simply amazing when cost is taken into consideration; they, the extra plugins - if you will - appeals to all manner of users. If you have been on holiday and want to make a video out of the experience, the animated globe extra, Vasco da Gama 9 Essential, will be of great use - animations can be rendered in 4K too! There are titling effects by NewBlue to add a bit of polish to your final video.

The audio features are nothing short of excellent! You can easily optimize audio through a virtual mixing desk and master the overall sound as you would for a piece of music.

MAGIX have done it again!

Movie Edit Pro Premium scores a Synapse Circuit Platinum! Thanks for reading!

Synapse Circuit/Blue Gene

Tuesday, 21 February 2017





Goodhour, Synapse Circuit Readers!

#MAGIX #MovieStudio #Video #VideoEditing #VideoProduction 


London, UK, February 21, 2017, Synapse Circuit waxes MAGIX!

VEGAS Creative Software Announces New Version of the VEGAS Movie Studio Family of Products!
Built upon the powerful core technology of VEGAS Pro 14, the new update to VEGAS Movie Studio provides the right VEGAS software for every user.
Madison, Wisconsin; 2/21/17 – VEGAS Creative Software announces the availability of the latest update to the VEGAS Movie Studio family of products, which includes VEGAS Movie Studio 14, VEGAS Movie Studio 14 Platinum, and VEGAS Movie Studio 14 Suite.
For the first time in three years, a new version of VEGAS Movie Studio delivers a family of products that gives both new and existing users the editing tools they need. Built on the same powerful technology as the award-winning VEGAS Pro, VEGAS Movie Studio continues to be an innovation leader in the world of video editing. With passion and energy focused on creating the most stable and powerful version of VEGAS Movie Studio ever, the VEGAS Creative Software team presents version 14.

The VEGAS Movie Studio family helps everyone from beginners to advanced video editors fulfill their movie-making ambitions. Several new features and improvements, based on direct customer feedback, will excite current customers and foster the creativity of everyone new to movie making.
VEGAS Movie Studio 14 – What’s New?
  • New, modern user interface:
    • A cleaner, clearer design offers a clutter-free interface that makes the software quick to learn and easy to use.
  • Multicam Editing
    • Combine up to four separate cameras into one timeline event to makeMultiCamm editing a breeze. Play your project, and anytime you want a different camera angle, switch from one camera to another in real time with a click of the mouse.
  • Support for Hi-DPI Monitors
    • Take advantage of all the clarity and precision offered in today’s Hi-DPI monitors. As you upgrade your technology, VEGAS Movie Studio automatically adapts to the new environment.
  • Hover Scrub
    • The new hover scrub feature in the Trimmer window speeds the editing process. Scrub to find the perfect section of a clip, then drag and drop it to the perfect place in the timeline.
  • Vignette video effect
    • Add a timeless, classic look to your video. Create a border with a soft fade into the background that adds a touch of romance and mystery. The perfect effect for a special occasion like a wedding, anniversary, or holiday moment.
  • Special partners bring even more editing power
    • The Platinum and Suite editions come bundled with specially selected plug-ins from industry-leading partners NewBlueFX, HitFilm, MAGIX and SmartSound.
      • NewBlueFX: a powerful set of video effects and transitions
      • MAGIX: Music Maker software from MAGIX provides sophisticated, yet easy-to-use tools to create custom music tracks for your videos
      • HitFilm Tool Pack: Stunning Hollywood-style special effects
      • SmartSound SonicFire Pro: the fastest way to automatically create a customized music track that fits perfectly with your video
“VEGAS Movie Studio has been a leader in the video editing industry for a very long time, and version 14 proudly builds upon that legacy. The same powerful core technology that drives our industry-leading VEGAS Pro also powers the Movie Studio line. So, it doesn't matter whether you're just getting started or are taking on more sophisticated projects. Whether you just want simple, basic editing software or you want to start moving into more pro-level tools, there is a VEGAS Movie Studio product that's perfect for you.” – Gary Rebholz, Product Owner for the VEGAS software line.

The following VEGAS Movie Studio products are now available online and in stores worldwide.
  • VEGAS Movie Studio 14 - £39.99
  • VEGAS Movie Studio 14 Platinum - £69.99
  • VEGAS Movie Studio 14 Suite - £119.99

About VEGAS Creative Software

In May, 2016, MAGIX acquired the multiple-award-winning VEGAS Pro and VEGAS Movie Studio product lines, along with other video and audio products. VEGAS Creative Software stands poised to take video editing to a new level. Our development teams in the US and Germany are working on innovative solutions to old problems, and building tools that push the boundaries of what's currently possible. Our goal: to provide users at all levels–from video editing amateurs to creative professionals–tools that are perfectly suited to their needs and demands.
Thank you for reading! Synapse Circuit/Blue Gene

Thursday, 16 February 2017


Above (top): The Alcatel Pixi 4 "6 & (below) Screenshot of the Nova Launcher Prime.



PRICE £85 - £120

Goodhour, Synapse Circuit Readers!
#Alcatel #Pixi #Pixi4 #6 #BudgetAndroid #SmartPhone


London, UK, February 16, 2017, Synapse Circuit has uncovered a possible gem in the Alcatel Pixi 4, "6!


LAUNCH: Announced January 2016. Available. Released 2016, June
BODY: Dimensions 165 x 83.8 x 8.3 mm (6.50 x 3.30 x 0.33 in)
SIM: Micro-SIM
DISPLAY: Type IPS LCD capacitive touchscreen, 16M colors
Size: 6.0 inches (~71.8% screen-to-body ratio)
Resolution: 720 x 1280 pixels (~245 ppi pixel density)
Multitouch: Yes, up to 5 fingers
OS: Android OS, v5.1 (Lollipop) - Upgraded to Android 6.01 (Marshmallow)
Chipset: Qualcomm MSM8909 Snapdragon 210
CPU: Quad-core 1.1 GHz Cortex-A7
GPU: Adreno 304
MEMORY: Card slot microSD, up to 32 GB (dedicated slot)
Internal: 16GB, 1.5GB RAM
CAMERA: Primary 8 MP, autofocus, LED flash
Features: Geo-tagging, touch focus, HDR, panorama
Video 1080p@30fps
Secondary: 5 MP, LED flash
SOUND: Alert types Vibration; MP3, WAV ringtones
Loudspeaker: Yes
3.5mm jack: Yes
COMMS: WLAN Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, Wi-Fi Direct, hotspot
Bluetooth: v4.1, A2DP
GPS: Yes, with A-GPS
Radio: FM radio
USB: microUSB v2.0
FEATURES: Sensors Accelerometer, proximity, compass (optional)
Messaging: SMS(threaded view), MMS, Email, IM
Browser: HTML
Java: No
Media: MP3/AAC+/WAV player
MP4/H.264 player
Document viewer
Photo/video editor
BATTERY: Non-removable Li-Ion 2580 mAh battery
Stand-by: Up to 650 h (2G) / Up to 650 h (3G)
Talk time: Up to 26 h (2G) / Up to 15 h (3G)
Colour: Black

This Alcatel budget handset has got to be one of the most underrated handsets of 2016! I can’t say that I have seen a review of this very, very good Android smartphone; I am happy to be in a position to write about it.

The above spec is just about right for today’s market of low-end budget Android handsets, and what sets the Pixi 4, “6 apart is the 1.1GHz quad-core CPU, 1.5GB of RAM and a fairly decent 6” IPS screen. One of the biggest problems with low-end budget Android handsets since inception is the fact that they have been extremely underpowered. Sure, out of the box, such low-end Androids would perform surprisingly well for the money, that is until apps such as Facebook, YouTube, G+, and WhatsApp receive an update… Then the whole experience and concept of the “budget Android” slides downhill so fast that there is no flesh left on the body; such is the force of friction when going downhill and super-breakneck speed! Sorry, I do not play any games and I couldn’t tell you if you would enjoy playing CPU and RAM intensive games. I suspect that you’d be able to play some games that don’t require a huge demand on the hardware!

The Alcatel Pixi 4, 6” is a very good performer when it comes to the base apps: Facebook, YouTube, WhatsApp, Twitter, Instagram, Chrome, PicsArt, Google Docs, to name a few. Well, at least those are my key apps that I use on an everyday basis. The aforementioned apps have been updated several times and they still function reasonably well and the response time is also reasonable. I am inclined to think that it is the 1.5GB of RAM that makes all the difference. I have had budget handsets in the past with 1GB RAM and the performance was horrendous - the handset was too thick to use as a doorstop! Oh, the dual core CPUs on those things were equally as useless! Alcatel got it spot on with the combination of a quad-core 1.1GHz CPU and 1.5GB of RAM. By today’s standards, I suspect that 2GB of RAM should be the base of the budget Android but I guess there will be some manufacturers that would try to get away with less - much less! Such handsets, as I have stated before, aren’t worth the money - no matter how much of a bargain they seem! Do not do it!

Well, I guess you could say that the Alcatel Pixi 4, “6 looks like a standard Android budget uniform design. There is nothing really special that stands out in its design. But it does look good, though! The bezels are quite slim at the sides and the top and bottom bezels aren’t too thick! The bottom bezel could have done with some backlighting to accentuate the capacitive menu buttons, still, you do get used to where the buttons are.

The 6” screen is a delight! It’s got an overall good colour balance and it makes for a good experience when editing photos in PicsArt, for example. The one thing that makes the screen less than wonderful is the presence of bright sunshine; I struggle to see anything on the screen in direct sunlight. Well, this is where you will notice the budget aspect of this handset.

I would say that the camera is not too bad. The 8MP main camera does a fair job; I have been better 8MP cameras on other budgets handsets such as the Moto G, but the results are just about good enough for Social Media Feeds! I was quite impressed with the front facing 5MP camera for the purpose of taking selfies! The front facing camera has a flash too! Great! The video quality is pretty grainy via the main 8MP & front 5MP cameras, as with all cameras, the better the lighting conditions the better the recording will appear. I can’t say that I was impressed by the video quality. These days, it would appear that 13MP is the minimum for a good camera oriented budget handset in the price range.
Above: The Alcatel Pixi 4, "6 camera results! Not bad, huh? The interface has some great settings - including HDR! The results can be gorgeous! A very good effort for the asking price!

The Alcatel Pixi 4, “6 comes with a remarkable 16GB of storage and 32GB external storage via the trusty microSD card slot! I have always advocated that manufacturers of budget handsets should quit the 8GB option in favour of 16GB as a standard. I just do not see the point in anything less than 16GB! Thankfully, Android Marshmallow (6.01) allows the user to store and run apps from the microSD card! This move by Google to bring back storing apps to the microSD card is one of the best things they could have done for the Android platform! Kudos! This means a great deal to manufacturers wishing to create better budget handsets. 8GB storage on today’s smartphone and tablets is a joke!

Alcatel has done themselves proud here!

I wasn’t expecting much from this handset but it turned out to be very impressive. As a daily driver, it is almost perfect! Yes, really! Like most budget Android handsets there can be the occasional stutter and lag but it doesn’t detract from the overall experience. Of course, the Pixi 4, “6 is not meant to compete with Samsung, LG, Huawei, Lenovo-Motorola, HTC, premium handsets, still, it performs like a handset that costs more than its £120 price! You can get it cheaper on Tesco PAYG for £85 but it is locked into the Tesco network. You should be able to pick it up unlocked for around £120 or less.

If you aren’t into intensive 3D gaming on your smartphone and you are in need of a handset powerful enough to get you through a day of Social Media Networking, YouTube, Email, writing the odd report, etc on Google Docs and taking photos and videos then the Alcatel 4, “6 smartphone could be right for you! The price is most reasonable and it could very well be a secondary handset to the main driver!

The battery life is pretty good - a little above average. Again, manufacturers make great claims about the battery but in usage, it’s different story! With the Alcatel Pixi 4, “6, I could get away with a good day worth of taking photographs, video, Social Media Networking, browsing Google Chrome, sending/receiving messages on WhatsApp & Line and so on. When the battery goes down to about 15% it can hold its charge until I get home.

Yes, I do rate the Alcatel Pixi 4, “6 very highly despite the 6” screen being marred occasionally by direct sunlight; I just had to angle the screen away from the Sun as you would! So, the screen is not a deal breaker. It would have been so much better if the screen was full HD! Come on, screen technology has gotten to the stage whereby 1080p should be the standard. Some handsets have gone full 4K already! I am curious if Alcatel will make a version of the Pixi 4, “6 for 2017; I think it would be another great handset! Just bump up the RAM to 2GB, go hexacore for the CPU, 13MP main camera and front facing speakers and I will be a customer!

As it stands, the Pixi 4, “6 is a great budget all-round handset in that it does everything just a tad well. Again, there is nothing exceptional about it; it just gets the job done a little more than adequately. Budget handsets can be capable of more but, for the most part, manufacturers have a tendency to play it safe. Alcatel has stuck its neck out a little on this outing to make the Pixi 4, 6” worth having! Well done, Alcatel!

Oh, I think it is important to let you know that I used Nova Launcher Prime by TeslaCoil Software to replace the interface. I tried the default OneTouch Launcher but, at least for my personal tastes, the Nova Launcher gives me a very satisfying experience. I almost forgot… The backfiring speaker is very, very exceptional! It is nice and loud, it delivers very clean audio at high volume! It is great for watching video content! Awesome! The Alcatel Pixi 4, "6 has got to be one of the best budget Android handsets of 2016 and is definitely worth picking up if you, today, are looking for a smartphone that will give you a good amount of power to get things done in an enjoyable and fluid way! Thank you for reading! Best wishes, Synapse Circuit/Blue Gene