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ZTE Axon 30 Ultra 5G first look review: Affordable flagship with advanced triple camera shooting modes

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Flagship Android phones powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 processor typically start in the $1,000 range, but ZTE will soon be launching a very competitive phone that matches other flagships at a starting price of $749 in the US. The ZTE Axon 30 Ultra is a 5G phone coming to the US, Canada, and many other countries around the world with pre-orders starting on May 27 and sales launching on June 4.

I’ve spent more than a week with an early retail unit, but the software won’t be finalized until sometime later in May as the launch date approaches so we’ll hold off on any scoring or final judgments until then. It’s actually great that I have a couple of more weeks to test the phone before final software since there are a lot of camera modes that make this one of the most creator-focused smartphones I’ve tested. The Axon 30 Ultra also has three 64MP rear cameras that work with the advanced camera software so the potential is here for this to be a stunning camera phone at one of the lower prices we have seen for a flagship.

Also: Best Android phone in 2021

Over the past week I have been using email and messaging, calling, reading documents, interacting on social media, watching movies, playing games, and working from the ZTE Axon 30 Ultra. I took a brief look at the Axon 20 5G in December with the under display front camera, but am much more impressed by the total package provided here in the Axon 30 Ultra 5G.

Axon 30 Ultra 5G specifications

  • Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 888
  • Display: 6.67-inch, 2400 x 1080 pixels resolution, AMOLED 144Hz refresh rate
  • Operating system: Android 11 with My OS 11
  • RAM: 8GB/12GB LPDDR5
  • Storage: 128GB/256GB internal storage, UFS 3.1
  • Cameras: 64MP f/1.6 OIS main camera, 64MP ultra-wide camera with 120 degree field-of-view, a 64MP f/1.9 camera, and 8MP 5x optical telephoto camera. 16MP front-facing camera.
  • Connectivity: 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac/ax Wi-Fi 6E, Bluetooth 5.2, GPS/GLONASS/Galileo/BeiDou, NFC
  • Sensors: Accelerometer, Ultrasonic Fingerprint Sensor, Gyroscope, Electronic Compass, Proximity Sensor, Ambient Light Sensor
  • Battery: 4600 mAh non-removable with included 65W quick charger and USB-C cable
  • LTE bands: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 12, 17, 18, 19, 20, 26, 28
  • strong>5G bands: Sub-6GHz 5G supported on bands n41/78
  • Dimensions: 161.53 x 72.96 x 8mm and 188 grams
  • Colors: Black

I tested the 8GB RAM/128GB internal storage model in frosted black. Note that the RAM and internal storage speeds are the fastest available on smartphones today.

Hardware

The ZTE Axon 30 Ultra 5G is a lovely phone with specifications that match, or exceed, flagships from Samsung and OnePlus with a lower starting price. I had the phone for about a week before I received the press release with the launch price of $749 and had estimated it would start closer to $949. ZTE offers a lot of phone for the $740 price.

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The lovely AMOLED display has no side bezels as the glass curved down the right and left side into the side of the phone. The top and bottom bezels are minimal with the front-facing 16MP camera appearing as a tiny 2.6mm hole punch in the center of the top. There are dual speakers, they sound great, with one in a slice just above the display and the other facing downward on the bottom edge.

The AMOLED display supports refresh rates from 60Hz to 144Hz with options to manually set this rate at 60, 90, 120, or 144 so you can control the screen experience and accept the impact on battery life. You can also choose Auto mode so that the devices selects the best refresh rate for the application you are using. A 300Hz touch sampling rate is also provided with this display.

The top and bottom are fairly flat with a mic opening on the top while the SIM card tray, USB-C port, and speaker are along the bottom. There is nothing on the left side with the power and volume buttons on the right. The fingerprint sensor is positioned under the display.

On the back of the phone there are three 64MP cameras, an 8MP camera, a mic, LED flash, and laser focus sensor. Starting at the top left spot, we have the 64MP portrait lens with f/1.9 aperture. Working down to the middle camera on the left side we find the 64MP main wide-angle camera, a Sony IMX686, with f/1.6 and OIS. The bottom camera on the left is easily distinguishable with a square design as the 8MP periscope design telephoto camera with 5x optical, 10x hybrid, and 50x digital zoom capability. The camera on the right, adjacent to the middle camera, is the 64MP ultra-wide camera with 120 degree field-of-view.

The camera array stands out from the back, but is not too thick. There are some cool design elements like the Neovision Photography tab on the right upper area and the 3×64 font adjacent to the telephoto camera lens.

The back is composed of anti-glare Gorilla Glass 5 material. It has a lovely matte finish with an Ag etching process to help prevent scratches and fingerprints. All glass phones should have matte finish on the back, IMHO.

The ZTE Axon 30 Ultra also includes a triple cooling system design to help keep your device cool while gaming or performing intensive operations with the phone.

The retail box includes the fast charging wall adapter, USB-C cable, USB-C to 3.5mm audio jack dongle, SIM card ejection tool, and a simple shell case to protect the corners and back of the phone.

Software

The ZTE Axon Ultra 5G launches with Android 11 and MyOS 11. The May 1, 2021, Android security update is present on the review unit. As stated earlier, this is not the final software on the phone that will launch to consumers so we will update this article when the final software is installed.

ZTE’s MyOS is a fairly stock Android experience with no ads, bloatware, or duplicate applications like we see on other Android smartphones. Most of the MyOS features are found in the notification shade format, settings area, and camera software.

The camera software is one area that I was told is still under development by ZTE, but even in its current state it is clear this is a phone for creators. Available modes include multi-camera, video, photo, night, portrait, mono, magic shutter, long exposure, macro, moon, and more.

Multi-camera mode lets you choose to capture two or three images from six different views. In video mode there are subsets for vlog, HDR, movie mode, slow motion, standard, and timelapse. The vlog and movie modes are really slick and let you choose from unique film perspectives such as pull focus, dolly zoom, and more. With Super Moon you can setup a tripod and capture amazing shots of the moon. 3D Lut filters are supported for custom filters, as well as the cool color swapping capability in mono mode. You can spent many hours with the camera and I intend to over the next couple of weeks.

Special MyOS features in the settings include the Z-POP menu that can be brought in from the side, various gesture and motion options, screen-edge mistouch sensitivity, 5G connection management, and AI system engine status.

Also: ZTE Axon 20 5G first take: World’s first under display camera may offer a glimpse of the future

Initial experiences

While the ZTE Axon 30 Ultra is launching in the US and does have 5G support, that is limited to band n41. This is the mid-band spectrum picked up by T-Mobile through the purchase of Sprint. T-Mobile’s broad low-band coverage is on band n71 (600 MHz), but support for n71 is not provided on this phone. I measured very good LTE coverage on T-Mobile with a download speed of 81.6 Mbps. I also measured 97.7 Mbps download on the mid-band 5G network too. Not as fast and as broad of 5G coverage as phones with more band support, but this may be acceptable to you.

The phone iss very responsive, the display looks great, movies play well and sound good with the dual stereo speakers, and the camera is loads of fun. I plan to spend a lot more time with the camera as I explore all of the various modes.

The ZTE Axon 30 Ultra feels great in the hand and is a great form factor for a large display device that is manageable in the front pocket too. The matte finish glass and design is lovely. It’s too early for me to say much about battery life, but I have been able to get through a full day without concern.

Coinsmart. Beste Bitcoin-Börse in Europa
Source: https://www.zdnet.com/product/zte-axon-30-ultra-5g/#ftag=RSSbaffb68

ZDNET

Using the Galaxy Book Pro 360 for a month: A great Swiss knife that could be sharper

Published

on

20210614-060515.jpg
Image: Cho Mu-Hyun/ZDNet

There is a certain art to making great notebooks. They have generally been outshone by smartphones in recent years, but they still have a longer history of craftsmanship, often have longer life cycles, and have separate, dedicated fan bases all their own. And after years of slow demand, notebooks are starting to see a revival thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Amid this climate, Samsung, known more for its smartphones than laptops, has launched a refresh of its notebook series, the Galaxy Book Pro and the 2-in-1 Galaxy Book Pro 360.

Having used the 15.6-inch Galaxy Book Pro 360 for a month, I feel it is by far Samsung’s best notebook. With the Pro 360, the South Korean tech giant has succeeded in imprinting its own look for laptops when it comes to design, taking cues from its latest smartphones and tablets. 

The laptop is also incredibly light and compact. The integration of its own apps, along with the AMOLED screen and S Pen support, are done well to give the notebook Samsung’s own flavour. All of this is offered at a starting price of $1,300.

That being said, the Galaxy Book Pro 360 is far from perfect. It has shortcomings, with some feeling minor while others definitely needing improvement for any future editions of the notebook series.

PORTABILITY AND DESIGN

Portability is hands down the best thing about the Pro 360. The 15.6-inch model weighs 1.4 kilograms, but it always felt lighter when it came to actual day-to-day use. The overall design of the notebook really accentuated this feeling and made the device feel more compact than it actually is. The Pro 360 always felt light, sturdy, slid in my bags smoothly, and was never once a burden to carry around. The laptop sat comfortably on almost any surface I placed it on, whether it was on a restaurant stand or a table at home crowded with other devices.

The overall aesthetic of Pro 360 is great too. A lot of its looks are carried over from the latest Galaxy S smartphones, especially for its edges. The haze finish of the Pro 360 also matches that of its latest phones and makes the notebook look premium without being gaudy. The hinge is also relatively sturdy when taking into account the device’s thinness and weight.

As a long time user of the LG Gram 16 series and having dabbled in using Lenovo and HP laptops in the past with similar or even smaller screens, in terms of portability alone, I feel Samsung has matched them or done even better.

On the flip side, I do think Samsung put portability as its utmost priority when designing the Pro 360 and, in doing so, some of the notebook’s features elsewhere have been affected.

KEYBOARD AND TOUCHPAD

The keyboard and touchpad are great and some of the best from Samsung. The touchpad under the keyboard is larger than usual and so are the adjacent spaces where your palm sits. I didn’t like this at first but, over a month, I felt less joint pains in my wrist and fingers. By comparison, I do think it is a better option than other notebooks that offer little space under the keyboard, which forces you to type with your hands held in the air for a long time.

The keyboard also comes with a fingerprint button on the far top right which also acts as an on and off button. The enter and shift keys are narrow, but the overall experience is great and the keys are large and register well. However, the keyboard does lack the typing satisfaction of an analog or a gaming keyboard due to how thin the keys are. This is likely a compromise to make the device thinner and lighter but it wouldn’t hurt to improve on this for later iterations.

HARDWARE AND BATTERY

In terms of CPU and RAM, my review unit for the Pro 360 was the most decked out version, packing an Intel Core i7-1165G7 and 16GB. Practically, there wasn’t a time when I felt the notebook was slow. The Pro 360 also turned on and off extremely fast and the booting time was one of the best I’ve seen.

Battery on the Pro 360 is also solid. A session per charge on average lasted between eight to 10 hours, even when some of the settings were put on maximum. 

For ports, Pro 360 offers one Thunderbolt 4 port, two USB-C connectors, a headphone socket, and microSD slot.

Due to the portability of the laptop, this did result in the laptop overheating at times. When this occurred, it was very noticeable as the Pro 360 would heave loudly. Fan and cooling systems on PCs usually work best when they have space to breathe, so I think the noticeable overheating wasn’t caused by the fan design but by how thin the device is.

Surprisingly, audio is the best I’ve experienced out of a Samsung device. The sound is clear, well-tuned, and has great bass, which seems like a jump from those in the company’s past smartphones.

AMOLED SCREEN

The AMOLED touch screen is gorgeous to look at and generally great to use. The colours are crisp, and the contrast ratio combined with a 16:9 screen ratio really shined when I watched movies.

That being said, the screen is generally dim, even when the brightness setting is set to maximum. This became a problem in outdoor and bright environments where there was sunlight. Even within indoor environments, I wish the screen was generally brighter, which would have been a huge plus to show off the screen’s other strengths.

The FHD resolution (1920 x 1080) resolution of the screen isn’t bad, but coupled with the 16:9 ratio and the very thick black empty space at the bottom of the screen, it did give an uneven screen experience depending on what I was doing. Occasionally, for data and graphic-intensive tasks, the screen looked almost pixelated, while normal web browsing sometimes felt a little cramped while using the Pro 360 in notebook mode due to the 16:9 ratio, though I did get used to it quickly. Even a slight change to 16:10 ratio, I feel, would have provided a greater sense of openness.

The screen can handle casual games, but the latest Triple A games, such as Resident Evil Village or Doom Eternal, are really a no-go, though I do think Samsung never intended for the Pro 360 to handle them. For future iterations of the Pro series, Samsung should definitely offer spec options for a 2K or QHD resolution screen, or even offer a Pro Ultra model for those who are willing to pay extra for the best hardware. After all, while the Pro 360 isn’t a gaming notebook per se, it is a “Pro” model, which invites expectations of providing the best of the best.

Using the AMOLED screen as a vertically held tablet offered the best experience. The problems I mentioned before, such as visibility, were not there anymore as the device was held closer to my eyes. There was also just a general satisfaction offered by the large, gorgeous screen when using it like a traditional canvas or paper.

Overall, while the AMOLED screen is great, it doesn’t match Samsung’s own high standards set by its counterparts in the smartphone and tablet space, especially in brightness. The low brightness could have been for cost reasons or battery concerns, but I think it has more to do with fear of image retention, also known as burn-in, which larger OLED screens are more susceptible to due to having more icons on screen.

S PEN EXPERIENCE

The S Pen, which is included with the laptop, really brought out the best in this 2-in-1 notebook. In terms of size and weight, it really resembles a real pen and is very convenient to use. The screen’s response time to the pen does seem just a tad slower than that of the Galaxy S21 Ultra or the more recent Note series phones however, but the overall precision of the S Pen did feel close to scribbling on real paper. The larger screen on the notebook, which can be folded all the way back, also invites more use of the S Pen when it is used as a tablet or in calendar mode.

The S Pen can also be attached to the magnet underneath the front covering over the screen. This kind of magnet is placed in every laptop so that they can be folded shut properly, so I am unsure whether it was Samsung’s intention to have the stylus be attached this way or it was just a happy accident. 

The S Pen can be attached to where the magnet is while you are using the Pro 360 for something else, which can be convenient at times. But the magnetism isn’t strong enough for you to just thoughtlessly stick the pen on the cover and carry around the notebook willy-nilly, so you will need to put the pen in a separate compartment in bags or your jacket pocket when on the move. When using the device, I did wish there was a dedicated port for the pen in the vein of the Galaxy Note smartphones so that this wouldn’t be a worry.

spen-laptop.png
Image: Cho Mu-Hyun/ZDNet

SAMSUNG APPS

It’s great that tried-and-true Samsung apps are now included in Samsung’s notebook line, especially if you already have a bunch of the company’s devices and need a Windows notebook. As a long time user of the Galaxy Note series, it was great to have apps like Samsung Notes offered on a bigger screen.

But the important question here is: Does the Pro 360, with its inclusion of Samsung apps and what the company calls the expansion of its ecosystem, succeed in offering something more than your usual PC experience to draw in others besides Samsung fans?

Samsung obviously wants its ecosystem to come together with Microsoft’s, and apps like Links to Windows and Your Phone are there for that. The Pro 360 succeeds in bringing them together, yes, but I didn’t feel that their convergence brought more to the table than what each company already offers on their own. In other words, the whole didn’t seem greater than the sum of its parts.

CONCLUSION

Overall, I’ve loved using the Pro 360. It is a great multi-tasker and, if anything, it shows that Samsung is excellent at designing great hardware for mobile devices. Notebooks have not been Samsung’s strong suit, but, with the Pro 360, the company has really stepped up its game and succeeds in integrating its expertise from smartphones to the laptop space.

The best time I had with the Pro 360 was for Zoom calls, which included a three-hour Bat Mitzvah for a friend’s daughter. The Pro 360’s strengths, like its portability, AMOLED screen, hardware, and audio really came together for video calls. If you are looking for a general-purpose notebook above the cut for entertainment, work, and for some light creative work, that is offered at a compelling price, the Pro 360 is a great option for you. But if you are looking for the ultimate experience in a notebook, the Pro 360 doesn’t really fit the bill. 

20210614-064009.jpg
Image: Cho Mu-Hyun/ZDNet  

Related Coverage

Coinsmart. Beste Bitcoin-Börse in Europa
Source: https://www.zdnet.com/article/using-the-galaxy-book-pro-360-for-a-month-a-great-swiss-knife-that-could-be-sharper/#ftag=RSSbaffb68

Continue Reading

ZDNET

Using the Galaxy Book Pro 360 for a month: A great Swiss knife that could be sharper

Published

on

20210614-060515.jpg
Image: Cho Mu-Hyun/ZDNet

There is a certain art to making great notebooks. They have generally been outshone by smartphones in recent years, but they still have a longer history of craftsmanship, often have longer life cycles, and have separate, dedicated fan bases all their own. And after years of slow demand, notebooks are starting to see a revival thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Amid this climate, Samsung, known more for its smartphones than laptops, has launched a refresh of its notebook series, the Galaxy Book Pro and the 2-in-1 Galaxy Book Pro 360.

Having used the 15.6-inch Galaxy Book Pro 360 for a month, I feel it is by far Samsung’s best notebook. With the Pro 360, the South Korean tech giant has succeeded in imprinting its own look for laptops when it comes to design, taking cues from its latest smartphones and tablets. 

The laptop is also incredibly light and compact. The integration of its own apps, along with the AMOLED screen and S Pen support, are done well to give the notebook Samsung’s own flavour. All of this is offered at a starting price of $1,300.

That being said, the Galaxy Book Pro 360 is far from perfect. It has shortcomings, with some feeling minor while others definitely needing improvement for any future editions of the notebook series.

PORTABILITY AND DESIGN

Portability is hands down the best thing about the Pro 360. The 15.6-inch model weighs 1.4 kilograms, but it always felt lighter when it came to actual day-to-day use. The overall design of the notebook really accentuated this feeling and made the device feel more compact than it actually is. The Pro 360 always felt light, sturdy, slid in my bags smoothly, and was never once a burden to carry around. The laptop sat comfortably on almost any surface I placed it on, whether it was on a restaurant stand or a table at home crowded with other devices.

The overall aesthetic of Pro 360 is great too. A lot of its looks are carried over from the latest Galaxy S smartphones, especially for its edges. The haze finish of the Pro 360 also matches that of its latest phones and makes the notebook look premium without being gaudy. The hinge is also relatively sturdy when taking into account the device’s thinness and weight.

As a long time user of the LG Gram 16 series and having dabbled in using Lenovo and HP laptops in the past with similar or even smaller screens, in terms of portability alone, I feel Samsung has matched them or done even better.

On the flip side, I do think Samsung put portability as its utmost priority when designing the Pro 360 and, in doing so, some of the notebook’s features elsewhere have been affected.

KEYBOARD AND TOUCHPAD

The keyboard and touchpad are great and some of the best from Samsung. The touchpad under the keyboard is larger than usual and so are the adjacent spaces where your palm sits. I didn’t like this at first but, over a month, I felt less joint pains in my wrist and fingers. By comparison, I do think it is a better option than other notebooks that offer little space under the keyboard, which forces you to type with your hands held in the air for a long time.

The keyboard also comes with a fingerprint button on the far top right which also acts as an on and off button. The enter and shift keys are narrow, but the overall experience is great and the keys are large and register well. However, the keyboard does lack the typing satisfaction of an analog or a gaming keyboard due to how thin the keys are. This is likely a compromise to make the device thinner and lighter but it wouldn’t hurt to improve on this for later iterations.

HARDWARE AND BATTERY

In terms of CPU and RAM, my review unit for the Pro 360 was the most decked out version, packing an Intel Core i7-1165G7 and 16GB. Practically, there wasn’t a time when I felt the notebook was slow. The Pro 360 also turned on and off extremely fast and the booting time was one of the best I’ve seen.

Battery on the Pro 360 is also solid. A session per charge on average lasted between eight to 10 hours, even when some of the settings were put on maximum. 

For ports, Pro 360 offers one Thunderbolt 4 port, two USB-C connectors, a headphone socket, and microSD slot.

Due to the portability of the laptop, this did result in the laptop overheating at times. When this occurred, it was very noticeable as the Pro 360 would heave loudly. Fan and cooling systems on PCs usually work best when they have space to breathe, so I think the noticeable overheating wasn’t caused by the fan design but by how thin the device is.

Surprisingly, audio is the best I’ve experienced out of a Samsung device. The sound is clear, well-tuned, and has great bass, which seems like a jump from those in the company’s past smartphones.

AMOLED SCREEN

The AMOLED touch screen is gorgeous to look at and generally great to use. The colours are crisp, and the contrast ratio combined with a 16:9 screen ratio really shined when I watched movies.

That being said, the screen is generally dim, even when the brightness setting is set to maximum. This became a problem in outdoor and bright environments where there was sunlight. Even within indoor environments, I wish the screen was generally brighter, which would have been a huge plus to show off the screen’s other strengths.

The FHD resolution (1920 x 1080) resolution of the screen isn’t bad, but coupled with the 16:9 ratio and the very thick black empty space at the bottom of the screen, it did give an uneven screen experience depending on what I was doing. Occasionally, for data and graphic-intensive tasks, the screen looked almost pixelated, while normal web browsing sometimes felt a little cramped while using the Pro 360 in notebook mode due to the 16:9 ratio, though I did get used to it quickly. Even a slight change to 16:10 ratio, I feel, would have provided a greater sense of openness.

The screen can handle casual games, but the latest Triple A games, such as Resident Evil Village or Doom Eternal, are really a no-go, though I do think Samsung never intended for the Pro 360 to handle them. For future iterations of the Pro series, Samsung should definitely offer spec options for a 2K or QHD resolution screen, or even offer a Pro Ultra model for those who are willing to pay extra for the best hardware. After all, while the Pro 360 isn’t a gaming notebook per se, it is a “Pro” model, which invites expectations of providing the best of the best.

Using the AMOLED screen as a vertically held tablet offered the best experience. The problems I mentioned before, such as visibility, were not there anymore as the device was held closer to my eyes. There was also just a general satisfaction offered by the large, gorgeous screen when using it like a traditional canvas or paper.

Overall, while the AMOLED screen is great, it doesn’t match Samsung’s own high standards set by its counterparts in the smartphone and tablet space, especially in brightness. The low brightness could have been for cost reasons or battery concerns, but I think it has more to do with fear of image retention, also known as burn-in, which larger OLED screens are more susceptible to due to having more icons on screen.

S PEN EXPERIENCE

The S Pen, which is included with the laptop, really brought out the best in this 2-in-1 notebook. In terms of size and weight, it really resembles a real pen and is very convenient to use. The screen’s response time to the pen does seem just a tad slower than that of the Galaxy S21 Ultra or the more recent Note series phones however, but the overall precision of the S Pen did feel close to scribbling on real paper. The larger screen on the notebook, which can be folded all the way back, also invites more use of the S Pen when it is used as a tablet or in calendar mode.

The S Pen can also be attached to the magnet underneath the front covering over the screen. This kind of magnet is placed in every laptop so that they can be folded shut properly, so I am unsure whether it was Samsung’s intention to have the stylus be attached this way or it was just a happy accident. 

The S Pen can be attached to where the magnet is while you are using the Pro 360 for something else, which can be convenient at times. But the magnetism isn’t strong enough for you to just thoughtlessly stick the pen on the cover and carry around the notebook willy-nilly, so you will need to put the pen in a separate compartment in bags or your jacket pocket when on the move. When using the device, I did wish there was a dedicated port for the pen in the vein of the Galaxy Note smartphones so that this wouldn’t be a worry.

spen-laptop.png
Image: Cho Mu-Hyun/ZDNet

SAMSUNG APPS

It’s great that tried-and-true Samsung apps are now included in Samsung’s notebook line, especially if you already have a bunch of the company’s devices and need a Windows notebook. As a long time user of the Galaxy Note series, it was great to have apps like Samsung Notes offered on a bigger screen.

But the important question here is: Does the Pro 360, with its inclusion of Samsung apps and what the company calls the expansion of its ecosystem, succeed in offering something more than your usual PC experience to draw in others besides Samsung fans?

Samsung obviously wants its ecosystem to come together with Microsoft’s, and apps like Links to Windows and Your Phone are there for that. The Pro 360 succeeds in bringing them together, yes, but I didn’t feel that their convergence brought more to the table than what each company already offers on their own. In other words, the whole didn’t seem greater than the sum of its parts.

CONCLUSION

Overall, I’ve loved using the Pro 360. It is a great multi-tasker and, if anything, it shows that Samsung is excellent at designing great hardware for mobile devices. Notebooks have not been Samsung’s strong suit, but, with the Pro 360, the company has really stepped up its game and succeeds in integrating its expertise from smartphones to the laptop space.

The best time I had with the Pro 360 was for Zoom calls, which included a three-hour Bat Mitzvah for a friend’s daughter. The Pro 360’s strengths, like its portability, AMOLED screen, hardware, and audio really came together for video calls. If you are looking for a general-purpose notebook above the cut for entertainment, work, and for some light creative work, that is offered at a compelling price, the Pro 360 is a great option for you. But if you are looking for the ultimate experience in a notebook, the Pro 360 doesn’t really fit the bill. 

20210614-064009.jpg
Image: Cho Mu-Hyun/ZDNet  

Related Coverage

Coinsmart. Beste Bitcoin-Börse in Europa
Source: https://www.zdnet.com/article/using-the-galaxy-book-pro-360-for-a-month-a-great-swiss-knife-that-could-be-sharper/#ftag=RSSbaffb68

Continue Reading

ZDNET

Using the Galaxy Book Pro 360 for a month: A great Swiss knife that could be sharper

Published

on

20210614-060515.jpg
Image: Cho Mu-Hyun/ZDNet

There is a certain art to making great notebooks. They have generally been outshone by smartphones in recent years, but they still have a longer history of craftsmanship, often have longer life cycles, and have separate, dedicated fan bases all their own. And after years of slow demand, notebooks are starting to see a revival thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Amid this climate, Samsung, known more for its smartphones than laptops, has launched a refresh of its notebook series, the Galaxy Book Pro and the 2-in-1 Galaxy Book Pro 360.

Having used the 15.6-inch Galaxy Book Pro 360 for a month, I feel it is by far Samsung’s best notebook. With the Pro 360, the South Korean tech giant has succeeded in imprinting its own look for laptops when it comes to design, taking cues from its latest smartphones and tablets. 

The laptop is also incredibly light and compact. The integration of its own apps, along with the AMOLED screen and S Pen support, are done well to give the notebook Samsung’s own flavour. All of this is offered at a starting price of $1,300.

That being said, the Galaxy Book Pro 360 is far from perfect. It has shortcomings, with some feeling minor while others definitely needing improvement for any future editions of the notebook series.

PORTABILITY AND DESIGN

Portability is hands down the best thing about the Pro 360. The 15.6-inch model weighs 1.4 kilograms, but it always felt lighter when it came to actual day-to-day use. The overall design of the notebook really accentuated this feeling and made the device feel more compact than it actually is. The Pro 360 always felt light, sturdy, slid in my bags smoothly, and was never once a burden to carry around. The laptop sat comfortably on almost any surface I placed it on, whether it was on a restaurant stand or a table at home crowded with other devices.

The overall aesthetic of Pro 360 is great too. A lot of its looks are carried over from the latest Galaxy S smartphones, especially for its edges. The haze finish of the Pro 360 also matches that of its latest phones and makes the notebook look premium without being gaudy. The hinge is also relatively sturdy when taking into account the device’s thinness and weight.

As a long time user of the LG Gram 16 series and having dabbled in using Lenovo and HP laptops in the past with similar or even smaller screens, in terms of portability alone, I feel Samsung has matched them or done even better.

On the flip side, I do think Samsung put portability as its utmost priority when designing the Pro 360 and, in doing so, some of the notebook’s features elsewhere have been affected.

KEYBOARD AND TOUCHPAD

The keyboard and touchpad are great and some of the best from Samsung. The touchpad under the keyboard is larger than usual and so are the adjacent spaces where your palm sits. I didn’t like this at first but, over a month, I felt less joint pains in my wrist and fingers. By comparison, I do think it is a better option than other notebooks that offer little space under the keyboard, which forces you to type with your hands held in the air for a long time.

The keyboard also comes with a fingerprint button on the far top right which also acts as an on and off button. The enter and shift keys are narrow, but the overall experience is great and the keys are large and register well. However, the keyboard does lack the typing satisfaction of an analog or a gaming keyboard due to how thin the keys are. This is likely a compromise to make the device thinner and lighter but it wouldn’t hurt to improve on this for later iterations.

HARDWARE AND BATTERY

In terms of CPU and RAM, my review unit for the Pro 360 was the most decked out version, packing an Intel Core i7-1165G7 and 16GB. Practically, there wasn’t a time when I felt the notebook was slow. The Pro 360 also turned on and off extremely fast and the booting time was one of the best I’ve seen.

Battery on the Pro 360 is also solid. A session per charge on average lasted between eight to 10 hours, even when some of the settings were put on maximum. 

For ports, Pro 360 offers one Thunderbolt 4 port, two USB-C connectors, a headphone socket, and microSD slot.

Due to the portability of the laptop, this did result in the laptop overheating at times. When this occurred, it was very noticeable as the Pro 360 would heave loudly. Fan and cooling systems on PCs usually work best when they have space to breathe, so I think the noticeable overheating wasn’t caused by the fan design but by how thin the device is.

Surprisingly, audio is the best I’ve experienced out of a Samsung device. The sound is clear, well-tuned, and has great bass, which seems like a jump from those in the company’s past smartphones.

AMOLED SCREEN

The AMOLED touch screen is gorgeous to look at and generally great to use. The colours are crisp, and the contrast ratio combined with a 16:9 screen ratio really shined when I watched movies.

That being said, the screen is generally dim, even when the brightness setting is set to maximum. This became a problem in outdoor and bright environments where there was sunlight. Even within indoor environments, I wish the screen was generally brighter, which would have been a huge plus to show off the screen’s other strengths.

The FHD resolution (1920 x 1080) resolution of the screen isn’t bad, but coupled with the 16:9 ratio and the very thick black empty space at the bottom of the screen, it did give an uneven screen experience depending on what I was doing. Occasionally, for data and graphic-intensive tasks, the screen looked almost pixelated, while normal web browsing sometimes felt a little cramped while using the Pro 360 in notebook mode due to the 16:9 ratio, though I did get used to it quickly. Even a slight change to 16:10 ratio, I feel, would have provided a greater sense of openness.

The screen can handle casual games, but the latest Triple A games, such as Resident Evil Village or Doom Eternal, are really a no-go, though I do think Samsung never intended for the Pro 360 to handle them. For future iterations of the Pro series, Samsung should definitely offer spec options for a 2K or QHD resolution screen, or even offer a Pro Ultra model for those who are willing to pay extra for the best hardware. After all, while the Pro 360 isn’t a gaming notebook per se, it is a “Pro” model, which invites expectations of providing the best of the best.

Using the AMOLED screen as a vertically held tablet offered the best experience. The problems I mentioned before, such as visibility, were not there anymore as the device was held closer to my eyes. There was also just a general satisfaction offered by the large, gorgeous screen when using it like a traditional canvas or paper.

Overall, while the AMOLED screen is great, it doesn’t match Samsung’s own high standards set by its counterparts in the smartphone and tablet space, especially in brightness. The low brightness could have been for cost reasons or battery concerns, but I think it has more to do with fear of image retention, also known as burn-in, which larger OLED screens are more susceptible to due to having more icons on screen.

S PEN EXPERIENCE

The S Pen, which is included with the laptop, really brought out the best in this 2-in-1 notebook. In terms of size and weight, it really resembles a real pen and is very convenient to use. The screen’s response time to the pen does seem just a tad slower than that of the Galaxy S21 Ultra or the more recent Note series phones however, but the overall precision of the S Pen did feel close to scribbling on real paper. The larger screen on the notebook, which can be folded all the way back, also invites more use of the S Pen when it is used as a tablet or in calendar mode.

The S Pen can also be attached to the magnet underneath the front covering over the screen. This kind of magnet is placed in every laptop so that they can be folded shut properly, so I am unsure whether it was Samsung’s intention to have the stylus be attached this way or it was just a happy accident. 

The S Pen can be attached to where the magnet is while you are using the Pro 360 for something else, which can be convenient at times. But the magnetism isn’t strong enough for you to just thoughtlessly stick the pen on the cover and carry around the notebook willy-nilly, so you will need to put the pen in a separate compartment in bags or your jacket pocket when on the move. When using the device, I did wish there was a dedicated port for the pen in the vein of the Galaxy Note smartphones so that this wouldn’t be a worry.

spen-laptop.png
Image: Cho Mu-Hyun/ZDNet

SAMSUNG APPS

It’s great that tried-and-true Samsung apps are now included in Samsung’s notebook line, especially if you already have a bunch of the company’s devices and need a Windows notebook. As a long time user of the Galaxy Note series, it was great to have apps like Samsung Notes offered on a bigger screen.

But the important question here is: Does the Pro 360, with its inclusion of Samsung apps and what the company calls the expansion of its ecosystem, succeed in offering something more than your usual PC experience to draw in others besides Samsung fans?

Samsung obviously wants its ecosystem to come together with Microsoft’s, and apps like Links to Windows and Your Phone are there for that. The Pro 360 succeeds in bringing them together, yes, but I didn’t feel that their convergence brought more to the table than what each company already offers on their own. In other words, the whole didn’t seem greater than the sum of its parts.

CONCLUSION

Overall, I’ve loved using the Pro 360. It is a great multi-tasker and, if anything, it shows that Samsung is excellent at designing great hardware for mobile devices. Notebooks have not been Samsung’s strong suit, but, with the Pro 360, the company has really stepped up its game and succeeds in integrating its expertise from smartphones to the laptop space.

The best time I had with the Pro 360 was for Zoom calls, which included a three-hour Bat Mitzvah for a friend’s daughter. The Pro 360’s strengths, like its portability, AMOLED screen, hardware, and audio really came together for video calls. If you are looking for a general-purpose notebook above the cut for entertainment, work, and for some light creative work, that is offered at a compelling price, the Pro 360 is a great option for you. But if you are looking for the ultimate experience in a notebook, the Pro 360 doesn’t really fit the bill. 

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Image: Cho Mu-Hyun/ZDNet  

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Nationally-known Australian company lawyered up to resist ASD help

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The Secretary of the Department of Home Affairs, Mike Pezzullo, has spoken out against hacked organisations that refuse assistance from the Australian Signals Directorate (ASD), likening it to refusing to cooperate with an air crash investigation.

One such example was discussed in evidence to the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security (PJCIS) on Friday.

“It was a nationally-known case involving a nationally-known company that [ASD director-general Rachel Noble] and I are declining to name at this point,” he said.

According to Noble, the ASD first learned of the attack from media reports.

“We try to reach out to the company to clarify if the media reports are true, and they don’t want to talk to us. So then we keep pushing,” Noble said.

“Sometimes we have to use our own very senior level contacts, sometimes through people in this building [Parliament] who might know members of boards or chairs of boards, to try and establish trust and build a willingness to cooperate.”

When a hacked company cooperates, ASD can typically map their networks and identify the criminality involved on the first day.

When the Victorian health system suffered a ransomware attack in 2019, for example, the malware was quickly identified, and the network was back up and running in four days.

“What we left them with was also tools, training, and capability to identify, to protect themselves from a similar attack attack, but more quickly identify it happening again,” Noble said.

However the unnamed company lawyered up, and it took a week for the ASD to get even basic network information.

“Five days later we’re still getting a very sort of sluggish engagement of trying to get them to help provide data to us and deploy some of our tools so we can work out what’s happening on their networks. That goes for 13 days,” Noble said.

“This incident had a national impact on our country. On day 14, we’re able to only provide them with generic protection advice, and their network is still down. Three months later, they get reinfected, and we start again.”

Noble says this is why the ASD needs the powers which would be granted by legislation currently being reviewed, the Intelligence and Security: Review of the Security Legislation Amendment (Critical Infrastructure) Bill 2020.

“This legislation actually just gives us the authority, through Home Affairs, more leverage to expect these critical infrastructure providers to actually have better cybersecurity standards in the first place,” she said.

“The best part of this legislation, from my point of view, is if they look after themselves, it doesn’t become work for my people. And if their defences are much higher, they’re keeping the low level crims out, and then we might be able to focus on the much more sophisticated highly organised criminal syndicates or state actors.”

Unregulated libertarian cyberplanes endanger the commons

Pezzullo says Parliament has a duty to “think about the regulation of cyberspace in the way that you would think about the regulation of other commons”.

“Every time one of our planes go down, of course we collaborate with the investigators, and we work out where all the bodies were, and the wreckage of the parts, and we help with the safety investigation,” he said.

Not only do we learn lessons from crashes, he said, but we also regulate the movement of aircraft through our skies.

“The development of the internet’s been organic. It’s been driven by a somewhat unusual combination of libertarian impulses on the one hand, and profit-driven motivations on the other hand,” Pezzullo said.

“Every time you connect, you are flying unsafely through airspace. We would not tolerate our airspace being ungoverned and unregulated by the state.”

See also: How the FBI and AFP accessed encrypted messages in TrojanShield investigation

Noble spruiked the advantages of cooperating with the ASD.

“Our people in ASD are in hand-to-hand combat with criminals and state-based sectors every single day. We have the benefit of top secret intelligence provided to us from around the world, not just our own intelligence that we can gather, [and] 75 years of investment in technical capability to analyse and unpack it with an incredible posture and ability to understand, through our cyber defence capabilities, what’s happening on Australia’s internet.”

Why would businesses refuse assistance? Apart from potential philosophical objections, Noble offered a range of theories.

First, there’s what she called “ICT professional hubris”. Organisations want to believe they’ve got the technical skills and don’t need help.

“We understand that people feel that way. That’s usually before they’ve actually fully appreciated what they’re dealing with,” Noble said.

Second, the scenario Noble believes brings the lawyers into the room is when the organisation doesn’t have an incident response plan. They don’t know how they’ll manage public communication, relations with their suppliers and customers, potential brand damage, and other commercial interests.

Third, there are questions of liability, ranging from matters of directors’ duties and whether they’ve been negligent, to acting on ASD advice which then has an adverse effect on the company.

As PJCIS chair Senator James Paterson noted, some submitters to the inquiry have said the protection from liability offered in the Bill may not be sufficient.

Pezzullo said this review of critical infrastructure law shouldn’t be seen as a standalone action. There’s work being done as part of the 2020 Cyber Security Strategy “that goes precisely to the question of corporations law, directors duties, [and] better practice regulation in this field”.

“In fairness to the executive management teams that are grappling with this, things like insurance products, the actuarial costing and pricing of the risk, the depth of the reinsurance pool, the case law, is not particularly well formed,” Pezzullo said.

“We really are in the early days of flight. It’s just that the adversaries learned how to fly and they got better planes at the moment than most firms.”

Disrupting the Cyber Pirates of the Caribbean

On the broader question of dealing with malicious actors online, Pezzullo said governments needed to go on the offensive.

Police and intelligence agencies, sometimes with the assistance of military cyber forces, are striking at these actors in the “havens”, but some are beyond reach.

“Regrettably states — some states — either turn a blind eye to their activities, or actively enable and sponsor them. Regrettably, state protection emboldens these malicious actors,” he said.

One model to tackle this challenge might be the global counterterrorism model that was put in place after 9/11 to deal with al Qaida, but Pezzullo proposed something quite different.

“Another model that I would suggest to this committee that is worth reflecting on, as you consider this bill and consider your report, is the campaign that was mounted in the 17th, 18th, and then in the beginning of the 19th century, to clear the world’s oceans of pirates, including the pirates of the Caribbean, who were defeated by Her Majesty’s warships of the Royal Navy, in concert with bringing law to a lawless ocean,” he said.

“This is a problem with which we can deal, just as Britain overcame piracy. But we need the tools to do so, including the requisite legal authorities.”

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