Canon EOS 200D review: A solid budget DSLR

The Canon EOS 200D is a low-cost DSLR designed for people making the transition from a smartphone or compact camera. It’s remarkably small and light for an SLR, coming in at around 8mm less in all three dimensions than the Canon EOS 800D. It isn’t as compact as its predecessor, the Canon EOS 100D, but the addition of a fully articulated touchscreen and a more substantial handgrip make that easy to forgive.
Its diminutive proportions make it a viable option for people who might otherwise be tempted by a compact system camera (CSC). CSCs tend to be smaller than SLRs as they dispense with the optical viewfinder and internal mirror system. Even then, though, it isn’t a game changer since SLR lenses tend to be bigger than CSC lenses.
READ NEXT: The best cameras of 2017/18 – our pick of the best snappers
Canon EOS 200D review: Controls
There are a couple of downsides to the 200D’s miniaturisation, though. The card slot is next to the battery compartment so it can’t be accessed when the camera is mounted on a tripod. It has a smallish 3in LCD, too, but this has the advantage of boosting battery life. The 200D is rated at 650 shots compared with the 800D’s 600 shots. Surprisingly, the view through the optical viewfinder is slightly larger than the 800D’s, at 0.87x compared to the 800D’s 0.82x. 0.87x equates to 0.54x on a full-frame camera. The electronic viewfinders on rival CSCs are significantly larger as well.

^ The 200D (left) has fewer buttons than the 800D, with more functions accessed via the Q button and main menu
There are two fewer buttons than on the 800D and the four-way pad on the back doesn’t have the 800D’s labelled functions for direct access to drive mode, white balance, autofocus mode and Picture Style preset.
Instead, these are accessed via the Q menu, but only in live view mode. When using the viewfinder, pressing the Q button accesses a simpler Q menu with a reduced set of functions, so the only way to change the white balance or image quality settings is via the main menu, which is slower to navigate. The 800D has the same simplified Q menu but there’s an option to revert to the older, more comprehensive version. That option isn’t available on the 200D.
Canon EOS 200D review: Connectivity
As for connectivity, there’s a full complement here. You get Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and NFC for wireless communication with iOS and Android devices, computers and printers. NFC should make pairing for the first time a cinch but establishing a connection first time a is rather tortuous process.

At least it worked first time, which is an improvement on previous generations of Canon Wi-Fi cameras. And, once the connection is established, there’s a good range of features to play with. The remote shooting function includes touchscreen-controlled autofocus plus access to exposure, white balance and drive mode settings. It can also be used as a remote video monitor while recording. Browsing and transferring photos and videos are supported and there’s a handy option to apply star ratings in the app.
Canon EOS 200D review: Autofocus, video
The Canon EOS 200D’s ability to compete with CSCs is greatly enhanced by the introduction of a Canon’s Dual Pixel sensor technology. This dramatically speeds up autofocus performance when shooting in live view mode and it also delivers smooth, responsive autofocus when recording videos. One of the perks of a CSC is fast performance when using the rear screen, so it’s great to have this from an SLR, too.
In fact, the 200D’s live view mode is now arguably more sophisticated than its viewfinder mode. The touchscreen makes it easy to place the autofocus point anywhere in the frame or to invoke a tracking mode that follows subjects around the frame.

Video of Canon EOS 200D video quality sample

^ Dual Pixel technology means video autofocus is responsive and accurate, with none of the clunky hunting of previous models
There’s also an option to focus and shoot with a single tap of the screen. Switch to the viewfinder, though, and you’re limited to nine autofocus points in fixed positions in the frame. This makes it difficult to focus precisely on your subject’s eyes, for example. It also rules out subject tracking, as there simply aren’t enough autofocus points to cover the frame sufficiently.
Video quality is generally excellent with the same flattering colours as from the Canon EOS 200D’s JPEGs and no sign of noise at modest ISO speeds. Detail levels are respectable but Sony and Panasonic CSCs capture finer details in their 1080p footage. They also support 4K video recording, which the Canon lacks. The 200D’s videos are good enough for most purposes, though, and the rock solid autofocus performance is arguably more useful than 4K anyway.
Canon EOS 200D review: Performance, image quality
The 200D uses the same sensor and DIGIC 7 processor as the Canon EOS 800D so it’s no surprise that their image quality and performance are hard to separate. The 200D captured a shot every 0.3 seconds when using the viewfinder, and between 0.3 and 0.9 seconds in live view mode.
This is a vast improvement over the Canon EOS 100D, which took almost two seconds from shot to shot in live view mode. Burst shooting was at 4.9fps in my tests, which is faster than the 100D but slower than the 800D’s 6fps. Burst with continuous autofocus came in at 3.1fps.

With plenty of detail and nicely controlled noise from its 24-megapixel sensor, image quality was good, too. In fact, it’s on par with cropped-sensor SLRs costing much more. Nikon has a slight advantage for low noise at fast ISO speeds, though.
JPEGs exhibited flattering colours, particularly for skin tones, but some shots were a little too oversaturated for my tastes. Automatic exposure settings were mostly well judged but, unlike most rival cameras, the 200D doesn’t increase its shutter speed when it’s pointed at a moving subject. That means shots taken indoors or in overcast conditions are susceptible to motion blur. It’s easily avoided using shutter priority mode if you’re happy to take control.

^ There’s no shortage of fine detail in the centre of this wide-angle shot, and only a slight fall-off of focus towards the edges (1/160s, f/9, ISO 100, 29mm equivalent)

^ Details are pixel-sharp at the long end of the zoom, although noise reduction processing has glossed over some of the grass texture (1/250s, f/10, ISO 100, 88mm equivalent)

^ Another sharp, vibrant exposure, but the 1/50s shutter speed is too slow to freeze the motion in the water (1/50s, f/5.6, ISO 100, 32mm equivalent)

^ The JPEG engine has captured the rich colours in this scene exceptionally well (1/60s, f/5.6, ISO 100, 35mm equivalent)

^ This one looks a little overcooked, though. Some of the colour information is missing from the heavily saturated flowers (1/125s, f/7.1, ISO 100, 56mm equivalent)

^ Skin tones in brightly lit conditions look lifelike and natural (1/160s, f/8, ISO 100, 64mm equivalent)

^ They’re not too shoddy in this dimly lit scene, either. There’s a fair amount of noise but it’s a solid result considering the ISO 16000 setting (1/60s, f/5, ISO 16000, 62mm equivalent)
Canon EOS 200D review: Verdict
The Canon EOS 200D is a big step up from the 100D. It has a Dual Pixel sensor, a better handgrip and articulated touchscreen, and keeps the overall dimensions impressively low. The 800D’s superior autofocus when using the viewfinder, its faster burst shooting and better button layout justify the additional expense, but there’s not much in it.
The Nikon D3400 remains our pick of the budget DSLRs thanks to its lower price and lower noise at fast ISO speeds, although its screen isn’t articulated or touch-sensitive and its video autofocus isn’t as reliable as the Canon EOS 200D’s. That keeps the 200D firmly in the running and it only narrowly misses out on an award.

Hardware

Sensor resolution
24 megapixels

Sensor size
22.3×14.9mm

Focal length multiplier
1.6x

Optical stabilisation
In kit lens

Viewfinder
Optical TTL

Viewfinder magnification (35mm-equivalent), coverage
0.54x, 95%

LCD screen
3in (1,040,000 pixels)

Articulated
Yes

Touchscreen
Yes

Orientation sensor
Yes

Photo file formats
JPEG, RAW (CR2)

Maximum photo resolution
6,000×4,000

Photo aspect ratios
3:2

Video compression format
MP4 (AVC) at up to 60Mbit/s

Video resolutions
1080p at 24/25/30/50/60fps, 720p at 25/30/50/60fps, VGA at 25/30fps

Slow motion video modes
N/A

Maximum video clip length (at highest quality)
29m 59s

Controls

Exposure modes
Program, shutter priority, aperture priority, manual

Shutter speed range
30 to 1/4,000 seconds

ISO speed range
100 to 51200

Exposure compensation
EV +/-5

White balance
Auto, 6 presets with fine tuning, manual, Kelvin

Auto-focus modes
9-point (1 cross-type)

Metering modes
Multi, partial, centre-weighted, centre, face detect

Flash modes
Auto, forced, suppressed, slow synchro, rear curtain, red-eye reduction

Drive modes
Single, continuous, self-timer, WB bracket, HDR

Kit lens

Kit lens model name
Canon EF-S 18-55mm IS STM

Optical stabilisation
Yes

Optical zoom (35mm-equivalent focal lengths)
3x (29-88mm)

Maximum aperture (wide-tele)
f/4-5.6

35mm-equivalent aperture
f/6.4-9

Manual focus
Yes

Closest macro focus (wide)
25cm

Closest macro focus (tele)
25cm

Physical

Lens mount
Canon EF-S

Card slot
SDXC

Memory supplied
None

Battery type
Li-ion

Connectivity
USB, Mini HDMI, 3.5mm microphone, wired remote

Wireless
Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.1, NFC

GPS
Via smartphone app

Hotshoe
Canon E-TTL

Body material
Plastic

Accessories
USB cable, neck strap

Weight
453g (body only)

Dimensions (HxWxD)
93x122x70mm (body only)

Buying information

Warranty
One year RTB

Price including VAT
£539

Supplier
www.wexphotographic.com

Details
www.canon.co.uk

Part code
2250C013AA

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Pokemon GO Adds New Raid Bosses With Update

It looks like Niantic has yet again switched up the Pokemon that will be found in Pokemon GO raid battles. With the return of legendary Pokemon Lugia to raids, players can expect to see some other returning Pokemon, as well as the raid debut of third generation electric-type Manectric.

Pokemon GO raid battles are categorized into five tiers of difficulty. Some of the Pokemon listed below have been in raid battles for awhile now, whereas others are making their return. At any rate, many of the Pokemon listed below should actually be handy for anyone hoping to defeat Lugia and add the elusive legendary Pokemon to their collection.
Here are all the Pokemon currently appearing in raids in Pokemon GO:
Tier 1 – Magikarp, Swablu, Snorunt, and Wailmer

Tier 2 – Electabuzz, Exeggutor, Manectric, Mawile, Sableye

Tier 3 – Gengar, Jolteon, Jynx, Machamp, and Piloswine
Tier 4 – Absol, Aggron, Golem, and Tyranitar

Tier 5 – Lugia

Anyone that has yet to add any of these Pokemon to their collection may want to consider getting a group together to tackle some of these raids. After all, winning raid battles and catching the Pokemon in them could save someone a lot of trouble. For example, unless one catches a Tyranitar in a raid battle, they will have to collect a total of 150 Larvitar candy just to get their hands on one.

In the meantime, it’s unclear how long this particular batch of raid Pokemon will stay in the game, but it’s possible more changes could come on April 2, as that’s when Lugia will be rotated out. It’s also unclear which legendary Pokemon will replace Lugia, but it’s possible it will be Rayquaza or maybe even Deoxys, which a datamine has revealed is already being prepped for the game.

Of course, it’s possible that when Lugia is replaced on April 2 that the other Pokemon in raids will stay the same. We have no way of knowing until the day itself comes, so Pokemon GO players should prepare accordingly.
Pokemon GO is available now for iOS and Android mobile devices.

Source: Comicbook

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Best tablet 2018: Buying guide & the best tablets of 2018

There has been a steady decline in tablets entering the market, with companies such as Microsoft now labelling their tablets or 2-in-1 devices as laptops. Still, tablets are incredibly versatile devices that are great to have around the home, on the go or for the kids to play around with. Surf the internet, tap out a quick email, watch TV via iPlayer or Netflix, play games – tablets are the go-to devices for when you want to sit back and enjoy everything the internet has to offer. However, with hundreds of different models all in different shapes and sizes, not to mention different operating systems and prices, it can be hard to know where to start.
In this article, we’ve rounded up all our favourite tablets, no matter the budget. Whether you’re after Android, Apple or Windows, there’s a tablet here for you. We’ve also included a handy buyer’s guide to help you choose – see the page three.
READ NEXT: The best laptops you can buy
The best tablets you can buy in 2018
1. Microsoft Surface Pro 4
Price when reviewed: £1,189 – Buy now from LaptopsDirect

The Surface Pro 4 is a fantastic laptop replacement – it’s in a true class of its own. It has one of the best styluses out there and has a lot of processing power for intensive tasks. When used with its keyboard, the Surface Pro 4 becomes a powerhouse multitasking machine, where its integration with Windows 10 really shines through. If you’re looking for the ultimate Windows 10 portable experience, the Surface Pro 4 is an excellent choice.
Read our full Microsoft Surface Pro 4 review for details
Key specs – Processor: Dual-core 2.4GHz Intel Core i5-6300U; Screen size: 12.3in; Screen resolution: 2,736 x 1,824; Storage: 256GB; Size: 201 x 8 x 292mm, Weight: 1.37kg (inc keyboard & power brick); Operating system: Windows 10
2. Apple iPad Pro 10.5in
Price when reviewed: £619 – Buy now from John Lewis

The iPad Pro 10.5in replaces the 9.7in (below), as one of the best tablets Apple has ever made. The tablet is so powerful, that when used alongside its keyboard should be considered as a full-blown computer. This powerhouse runs Apple’s latest A10X Fusion chip which will power through anything you throw at it. With an improved resolution, the latest iOS version and increased storage, the 10.5 variant is better in every single way over the 9.7in version. If you have the budget, you won’t regret the investment.
Read our full Apple iPad Pro 10.5in review for details
Buy now from John Lewis
Key specs – Processor: Apple A10X Fusion; Screen size: 10.5in; Screen resolution: 2,224 x 1,668; Storage: 64/256/512GB; Size: 174.1 x 6.1 x 250.6mm; Weight: 469g; Operating system: iOS 10
3. Apple iPad Pro 9.7in
Price when reviewed: £499 – Buy now from Currys

The iPad Pro 9.7in was once one of the best tablets Apple had ever made, it has now been surpassed by its predecessors, and has officially been discontinued by Apple. You can still find it through various retailers, but its price might be inflated. Yet, its powerful processor, high-quality screen, speakers and even camera, there’s very little competition for the iPad Pro 9.7in. It’s smaller than the 12.9in variant, making it much less awkward. It doesn’t quite replace a laptop, but its capabilities are vast, making it one of the best tablets on the market today.
Read our full Apple iPad Pro 9.7in review for details
Key specs – Processor: Dual-core 2.16GHz Apple A9X; Screen size: 9.7in; Screen resolution: 2,048 x 1,536; Storage: 32/128/256GB; Size: 170 x 6.1 x 240mm; Weight: 437g; Operating system: iOS 10
4. Samsung Galaxy Book
Price when reviewed: £650 – Buy now from John Lewis

The Samsung Galaxy Book is powerful enough to be considered a laptop. There are two models in the product line, the 10.6in that features an Intel Core m3, and the more expensive 12in variant with an Intel Core i5 inside. Depending on your needs and your ideal size, the two tablets provide exceptional value for money. Both come bundled with a fantastic keyboard and stylus, which is a huge plus over Microsoft and Apple’s equivalent.
Its beauty doesn’t stop there, its display is absolutely flawless. A wide colour gamut results in a vibrant, colour accurate display, which means movies, games and browsing will be an extremely pleasant experience. There’s not much to dislike from the Samsung Galaxy Book – if you’re looking for the complete package, both the 10.6in and 12in tablets provide a fantastic alternative to the Surface Pro and iPad tablets.
Read our full Samsung Galaxy Book review for details
Buy now from John Lewis
Key specs – Processor: Dual-core Intel Core m3; Screen size: 10.6in; Screen resolution: 1,920 x 1,280; Storage: 64GB; Size: 179.1 x 8.9 x 261.2mm, Weight: 0.65kg; Operating system: Windows 10
5. Apple iPad Pro 12.9in (2017)
Price when reviewed: £769 – Buy now from John Lewis

The iPad Pro 12.9in is an extremely large tablet with a very high-resolution screen, amazing speakers and an excellent battery life. The 2017 version comes with a new 120Hz ProMotion panel, which is excellent for navigating and sketching on the tablet. If you’re an artist or seeking a big tablet, the iPad Pro 12.9in is a fantastic pick.
Read our full Apple iPad Pro 12.9in review for details
Key specs – Processor: Apple A10X Fusion; Screen size: 12.9in; Screen resolution: 2,732 x 2,048; Storage: 64/256/512GB; Size (WDH): 220.6 x 6.9 x 305.7mm; Weight: 677g; Operating system: iOS 10
6. New Microsoft Surface Pro 5
Price when reviewed: £2,149 – Buy now from Microsoft

The new Surface Pro (also known as the Surface Pro 5) is a top-class laptop/tablet hybrid that offers everything you’d ever need. Despite being the best tablet we’ve ever come across, the price alone will put many off. Unlike some of its rivals, the new Surface Pro doesn’t even include a Type Cover, which will need to be purchased separately for £125.
The new Surface Pro offers a luxurious experience, with a fantastic build and design that oozes quality. Its display is stunning and the blisteringly fast 7th generation Intel Core processor provides plenty of power. We reviewed the model with an i7-7660U inside, but you can save yourself a substantial amount if you were to downgrade to the i5 or m3 models.
If you’re looking for the best tablet around that can convert into a fully functional Windows laptop, and have the budget, nothing truly beats the new Microsoft Surface Pro.
Read our full Microsoft Surface Pro 5 review for details
Buy now from Microsoft
Key specs – Processor: Dual-core Intel Core i7-7660U; Screen size: 12.3in; Screen resolution: 2,736 x 1,824; Storage: 256/512GB, 1TB; Size: 201.42 x 8.5 x 201.42mm, Weight: 0.784kg; Operating system: Windows 10 Pro
7. Apple iPad Air 2
Price when reviewed: £400 – Buy now from Amazon

The iPad Air 2 is a thin and yet powerful tablet for its price. The Air 2 comes with Touch ID and has a relatively fast processor, useful for multitasking and browsing, while its integration with iOS works flawlessly and provides a smooth experience. A worthy tablet, and still a fantastic iPad to purchase. It should be noted that it has since been discontinued, but can still be found through third-party sellers.
Read our full Apple iPad Air 2 review for details
Key specs – Processor: Tri-core 1.5GHz Apple A8X; Screen size: 9.7in, Screen resolution: 2,048 x 1,536; Storage: 16/32/64/128GB; Size (WDH): 169.5 x 6.1 x 240mm; Weight: 437g; Operating system: iOS 10
8. Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 9.7
Price when reviewed: £400 – Buy now from Laptopsdirect

The Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 9.7 binned its 16:9 display for a 4:3 ratio, making it compete directly with the Apple iPad Air 2. Its resolution and colour accuracy are impressive for a tablet of its size. It runs on Android fluidly and has a premium build quality, making it a great iOS alternative.
Read our full Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 9.7 review for details
Key specs – Processor: Octa-core 1.9GHz + 1.3GHz Samsung Exynos Octa 5433; Screen size: 9.7in; Screen resolution: 2,048 x 1,536; Storage: 32GB; Size (WDH): 169 x 5.6 x 237mm, Weight: 389g, Operating system: Android 6.0.1
9. Apple iPad mini 4
Price when reviewed: £319 – Buy now from Amazon

The iPad mini 4 is one of the best compact tablets Apple has ever produced. It has a fantastic display, a decent processor and is ultra-portable at only 299g. This makes it a great tablet to take on the go. In comparison to other Apple products, the mini 4 is aimed at those who value portability over speed.
Read our full Apple iPad mini 4 review for details
Key specs – Processor: Dual-core 1.5GHz Apple A8; Screen size: 7.9in; Screen resolution: 2,048 x 1,536; Storage: 16/64/128GB; Size: 134 x 6.1 x 203mm; Weight: 299g; Operating system: iOS 10
10. Asus ZenPad 3S 10
Price when reviewed: £300 – Buy now from Currys

The Asus ZenPad 3S 10 has a gorgeous design and an impressive IPS display. It’s a good iPad alternative, and if found for less than £300, it’s a better buy than the Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 9.7in, which is also highly regarded for its performance.
Read our full Asus ZenPad 3S 10 review for details
Key specs – Processor: Hexa-core 2.1GHz MediaTek MT8176; Screen size: 9.7in; Screen resolution: 2,048 x 1,536; Storage: 32GB; Size (WDH): 163.7 x 7.15 x 240.5mm; Weight: 430g; Operating system: Android 6 ZenUI
11. Samsung Galaxy Tab S3
Price when reviewed: £599 – Buy now from Amazon

The Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 takes on from the Tab S2. With a Snapdragon 820 processor, the tablet flies through intensive tasks and with its 4GB of RAM multitasking is a breeze. Samsung also includes an S-Pen stylus in the box, which makes it ideal for browsing and sketching.
You might be wondering, though, why does it end up lower down the list over the Tab S2. It’s simple, the price. At around £600, it’s not a cheap tablet – but if you can afford it and you’re in the market for the best Android tablet on the market, get the Tab S3.
Read our full Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 review for details
Key specs – Processor: Quad-core Snapdragon 820; Screen size: 9.7in; Screen resolution: 2,048 x 1,536; Storage: 32GB; Size (WDH): 169 x 6 x 237.3mm, Weight: 429g, Operating system: Android 7.0
12. Huawei MediaPad M5 Pro
Price when reviewed: £500 – Buy now from Huawei

The Huawei MediaPad M5 Pro is a powerful tablet that has built-in 4G connectivity, four impressive speakers, a blisteringly fast fingerprint sensor and a speedy processor. It also comes bundled with a pressure-sensitive stylus. The non-Pro variant is around £50 cheaper and doesn’t feature or support the stylus. 
If you’re looking for something a little cheaper, there’s the smaller M5 8.4in, which features the same specs as its bigger 10.8in sibling but doesn’t support the M-Pen stylus. The MediaPad M5 products are an excellent alternative to the Samsung Tab S and Galaxy Book line.
Read our full Huawei MediaPad M5 Pro (10.8in) review for details
Key specs – Processor: Octa-core HiSilicon Kirin 960; Screen size: 10.8in; Screen resolution: 2,560 x 1,600; Storage: 64GB; Size (WDH): 171.8 x 7.3 x 258.7mm, Weight: 498g, Operating system: Android 8

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These 5 apps will help control your social media use

Studies show that 71% of mobile phone users sleep with their device less than three feet from them. But this isn’t just a habit they keep in the wee hours. On average, we consult our phones about 150 times a day. And believe it not, smartphones accompany one in three users when they enter the bathroom (hopefully to take selfies). That’s why it seems like social networks control us and that we don’t control them. If this is true about you, don’t worry, here are the best apps to control your social media use. Are you ready to quit?

Instant
Instant is absolutely one of the best apps for controlling the amount of time you spend on a given activity. And not just on social networks, but also sleeping, visiting places, travelling or exercising. It collects real-time data that makes it very easy to set short-term goals or objectives for sleeping, your time on social networks, or daily exercise routines.

Instant – Quantified Self, Track screen time usage

IFTTT
Its confusing name is short for ‘if this, then that’. This app contains hundreds of options you can configure to save time you spend checking your phone or reducing the time you spend on social networks. For example, you can set up notifications for certain apps that will automatically be turned off when you enter your office. You can also have the device send a message to a certain contact when you leave your house. The more creative you get, the fewer times you’ll have to take your smartphone out of your pocket.

IFTTT

Forest
Using the famous Pomodoro technique, which sets out to create invisible work intervals of 25 minutes and five minutes of leisure, Forest makes you more responsible with your phone use, so you can really focus on the important things in your life. Utilizing a creative idea, this Android app makes you plant a tree that will only grow if you’re able to keep concentrated instead of checking your phone. In the end, you’ll have a more effective work routine and a forest full of trees.

Forest: Stay focused

Quality Time
With more than a million downloads, Quality Time is one of the best apps in this field. Among its best features is its ability to count how many times you’ve logged on to an app in a certain time range (day, week, month), as well as notify you when you’ve reached a previously set time limit on each social network app.

QualityTime – My Digital Diet

Checky
In a really simple way, Checky counts how many times you’ve unlocked your phone and looked at it during the day. The counter is reset at midnight every day, and the information collected in 24 hours is transferred to the statistics section, where you can review and monitor your behavior more independently.

Checky – Phone Habit Tracker

And what about you? Do you know of any other good apps for controlling your social media addiction? Let us know in the comments!

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The content sourced from: https://www.androidpit.com/apps-to-control-social-media-use

Qualcomm’s war may be over, but the casualties are just starting to be calculated – TechCrunch

The epic battle between Qualcomm and Broadcom seems to have reached its armistice, with President Trump using the power of CFIUS to block the transaction this past week, ending what would have been the largest tech M&A transaction of all time.
It may be all quiet on the semiconductor front, but Qualcomm and Broadcom will now need to find a path forward to win the peace and secure access to the coming 5G wireless market. Qualcomm faces a daunting number of challenges, including a potential takeover battle waged by the spurned son of its founder. Broadcom will have to find a new path to use acquisitions to continue its growth.
As with any war though, the damage from this conflict isn’t exclusive to the two enemy combatants. The future of corporate governance and shareholder autonomy is now being reevaluated in light of the actions used by Qualcomm in its defense against Broadcom’s hostile takeover. In addition, America’s openness to foreign investment is increasingly under scrutiny.
Qualcomm picks up the pieces
Hostile takeovers are always going to be damaging affairs, no matter the outcome. The most important mandate for any board of directors — and particularly for the boards of technology companies — is to identify long-term threats and opportunities facing a company, and guide the executive team toward the best possible outcome for shareholders. Hostile takeovers are firefighting affairs — the discussions of the board are jolted from roadmaps, strategy, and vision to the minute-by-minute tactics of defending the company from marauding invaders.
Qualcomm should be directing its attention to strategy, but it faces additional wars on nearly every front. It’s fighting shareholders for its future, fighting Apple and Huawei over its revenues, fighting China over its acquisition of NXP, and now potentially fighting its founder’s son from a private takeover attempt.
Many of Qualcomm’s shareholders see the company’s performance as disappointing. While its stock has fluctuated over the past six years, today’s share price is essentially flat from where it stood in January of 2012. Compare that to Broadcom, which in the same timeframe has seen an increase of about 740%, and the PHLX Semiconductor Sector index, a basket index of the industry, which has seen its value increase by about 280%.
Unsurprisingly, shareholders were enticed by the opportunity to suddenly realize a 35% premium on their shares with Broadcom’s $82-a-share offer. Unlike Qualcomm’s board, shareholders were very interested in accepting Broadcom’s offer. In fact, we now know that Qualcomm’s board knew that it has lost the battle against Broadcom with its own shareholders during the acquisition process. As Bloomberg reported this week:

The votes started to come in on Friday, March 2. By Sunday it was clear that Qualcomm’s defense had failed.
Four of the six directors Broadcom had nominated were polling so far ahead of their Qualcomm peers that the race was effectively over, according to data viewed by Bloomberg. The remaining two were winning by less substantial margins. Making it worse, Mollenkopf and Jacobs, the architects of Qualcomm’s standalone plan, had received some of the fewest votes.
Inside the Qualcomm camp, the mood was bleak; assuming the trend continued, the board would lose control of the company at the shareholder meeting.
Broadcom’s message was one of quiet confidence. The company knew it had won, one person close to the discussions said. At that point, the person said, it was just a question of by how many votes, and who was going to leave the board.

Broadcom was winning the battle with shareholders, so Qualcomm’s board shifted to a terrain far more favorable to it: Washington bureaucrats. From the same Bloomberg report, “Federal lobbying disclosures for 2017 showing that Qualcomm spent $8.3 million, or roughly 100 times the $85,000 Broadcom spent…” These weren’t regulators; these were friends.
In late January, Qualcomm’s board submitted a preliminary, voluntary, and confidential notice to CFIUS asking for a review of Broadcom’s potential board coup. When Broadcom attempted to redomicile to the United States to avoid CFIUS purview (as it would no longer be a foreign company but a domestic one after it redomiciled), the government’s anger was palpable and sealed the company’s fate. The board’s original outreach to CFIUS precipitated the sequence of events that led to Trump’s block this past week.
Qualcomm’s board won the war, but it is still facing a rebellion from its own bosses. The board will be up for election unopposed this week at the company’s delayed shareholders meeting. Perhaps taking a page from tomorrow’s Russian presidential election, some shareholders are withholding their votes from the board slate to show their displeasure with the entire saga. From the Wall Street journal, “Institutional Shareholder Services Inc., an influential proxy-advisory firm, … in a note to investors late Wednesday, stood by its original recommendation that shareholders vote for four Broadcom nominees for Qualcomm’s 11-person board, even though the votes won’t count.”
That shareholder meeting will no doubt be eventful. While the board and the company’s execs will argue that they have a strategy moving forward, they confront two other ongoing firefighting challenges and one new one that could be another round of bruising internecine warfare.
Qualcomm is still in the midst of its $44 billion NXP acquisition, which continues to wait on Chinese regulatory approval. The timeline for that approval is still unclear, but even when Qualcomm does receive it, the company will still have to close the deal and actually implement the transaction. That will take significant time and energy.
Even more complicated is the continuing fight with Apple and Huawei over Qualcomm’s IP licensing revenue. Licensing revenue is crucial for Qualcomm, and the litigation around the fight will force the board to continue monitoring the day-to-day legal tactics of the company rather than focus on a longer-term vision of how to work with the largest smartphone producer in the world to generate profits.
On top of those two challenges, another takeover attempt could potentially exhaust the board further. Yesterday, Qualcomm’s board voted to remove board member Paul Jacobs, who is the son of Qualcomm’s founder and the company’s former chief executive from 2005 to 2014. He had been demoted from executive chairman to director just last week. As the New York Times noted, “The split, which means no member of the Jacobs family will be involved at the top echelons of Qualcomm for the first time in 33 years, was not friendly.”
According to reports, Jacobs is attempting to raise more than $100 billion to buy the company, potentially leveraging SoftBank’s Vision Fund in the process. SoftBank, of course, is a Japanese company, and the Vision Fund has significant capital from foreign countries including Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Even more ironically, Qualcomm is an investor in the Vision Fund.
Jacobs is following in the footsteps of Michael Dell who bought the eponymous tech company back in 2013 in a take-private transaction worth $24 billion. Can Jacobs even raise the required amount of capital, four times more than Dell? Will Qualcomm be forced to run back to the Trump administration in order to avoid a “foreign” takeover of the firm yet again, this time by the son of the company’s founder?
My guess — fairly weakly held — is that the answers are yes and no. Jacobs will find the money, and the board won’t fight a distinguished former executive — even if Jacobs was running seriously behind in shareholder approval in the Broadcom fight. We will learn more in the coming weeks, but expect more strategic actions here (maybe from Intel) as well.
Broadcom regroups
Despite its very public failure, Broadcom is in a much stronger position coming out of this battle. It beat analyst estimates this week for its Q1 earnings, and has seen impressive growth in its wireless communications segment, which were up 88% year-over-year. It also managed to lower expenses, which helped drive an increase in gross margin to 64.8% (aren’t fabless and patents awesome?)
Broadcom continues to deliver strong results, but the big question post-Qualcomm is really what’s next? Qualcomm was the single most important chip company that might have been available for purchase (Intel is out of Broadcom’s league). While it plans to continue to redomicile to the U.S., which should allow it to get back into the acquisition game in America, Broadcom may struggle in the coming years to find the kinds of accretive acquisitions that can keep its growth on the trajectory it has been on over the past few years.
Shareholder power wanes?
The biggest questions coming out of the Qualcomm / Broadcom spat is not related to the companies themselves, but the entire intellectual edifice of shareholder rights and the framework used by American companies to conduct corporate governance.
Qualcomm’s board of directors took extraordinary steps to block the Broadcom acquisition. They unilaterally went to Washington to get an injunction not on a deal — which had never been consummated between the two companies — but to block Broadcom from replacing its board of directors in a standard shareholder vote. This is a very important distinction: Qualcomm’s board saw the direction shareholders wanted to go, and essentially decided to just ignore the election process entirely.
From Dealpolitik columnist Ronald Barusch:

This change threatens over three decades of a carefully balanced governance system. Since the Delaware Supreme Court approved the use of the poison-pill takeover defense in 1985, the courts have basically blessed the following tradeoff: On the one hand, corporate directors can fight tooth and nail to stop a deal and the courts will give only limited scrutiny to defensive tactics.
However, the board is strictly limited in any moves to interfere with shareholders’ ability to replace directors and force a company to change course that way. In the vernacular of a leading Delaware case, a “just say no” defense doesn’t mean “just say never.” A bidder with enough patience who can convince a target’s shareholders to change directors has a path at least toward cooperation on resolving regulatory impediments to a deal.

This is a unique case as Barusch notes, but at what point can boards use every method at their disposal to prevent their own shareholders — the people they have a fiduciary duty to represent — from taking charge of the company? This past week presents one of the most complex examples to date, and it wouldn’t surprise me if a shareholder decides to attempt a legal attack on Qualcomm.
The other side of the potential waning of power for shareholders is CFIUS itself. The Trump administration ended a potential deal for a company that shareholders were widely in favor of. Where do the rights of shareholders to realize a return on their equity end and the right of America as a nation to control national security technology start?
We are on new terrain, and there are no clear answers here. In many ways, it depends on what happens over the next few years of the Trump administration. If there are more blocks like what we saw this week, we could see a radical change in the corporate calculus that would have a long-term negative effect on the value of some American companies.
Hostile takeovers may be incredible drama for writers like yours truly, but they have enormous consequences for companies and the employees who work at them. Qualcomm is going to have to shore up its support with a whole host of stakeholders in the coming months (while dealing with a potential take-private fight), while Broadcom needs to find its next strategy for further growth. All of us are going to have to deal with new uncertainty around the power of shareholders to shape the destiny of their companies. The war is over, but the aftermath and its consequences have just begun.

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The content sourced from: https://techcrunch.com/2018/03/17/qualcomms-casualties/

How to watch Auto Club 400 online

The NASCAR west coast swing concludes on Sunday afternoon with the 2018 Auto Club 400 from Fontana, Calif. (3:30 p.m. ET, Fox), and will start just like the previous two races out west have ended.
Kevin Harvick is on a rampage through the west with wins in Las Vegas and Phoenix. That followed his win in Atlanta, giving him three straight wins coming into Fontana.
“Three wins in a row happens so seldomly in this sport that whether you’re a fan of Kevin Harvick and Rodney Childers or not, you have to celebrate what they have accomplished,” said Mike Joy, who will call the race for Fox.
Harvick will start in the pole position on Sunday thanks to a top qualifying speed of 186.567 mph.
Starting just behind Harvick on Sunday is Kyle Busch in second position, just like he ended the last two weeks behind Harvick. Busch won in Fontana in 2013 and 2014, the last driver to win this race in back-to-back years.
Kyle Larson will try to join Busch in that regard, having won the 2017 race in California. Larson starts in third position on Sunday.
Joy is on play-by-play for Fox on Sunday beginning at 3:30 p.m. ET, joined by analysts Jeff Gordon, Darrell Waltrip and Larry McReynolds. Online streaming is available through Fox Sports Go.

Auto Club 400 info
Location: Auto Club Speedway, Fontana, Calif.
Race coverage: 3:30 p.m. ET
Green flag: 3:46 p.m.
TV: Fox
Radio: SiriusXM channel 90, and Motor Racing Network
Online streaming: Fox Sports Go
NASCAR news & notes
After news that longtime sponsor Lowes won’t return after this season, seven-time NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson said he has no plans to retire anytime soon:

“Retirement hasn’t been on my mind,” Johnson said Friday at Auto Club Speedway, site of Sunday’s Auto Club 400. “I want to win. I want to win an eighth championship.
“It’s really my desire to compete and to compete at a high level. I’m not done yet.”

Harvick and his three straight wins this season have been helped with the addition of driver Aric Almirola to the Stewart-Haas Racing team:

“That progression as a race team, when everybody ups the ante on the car, you learn something from each car and each person,” Harvick said. “The confidence in the company goes up. The evolution of things starts to happen more rapidly. Now that (Almirola’s) 10 car is in that evolution, it is good for our company.”

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Leicester City v Chelsea: FA Cup quarter-final – live! | Football

11.58am EDT11:58

“Where on earth is Barkley?” wonders Michael Williams. “Is he still injured or does Conte just really not fancy him?” He’s not still injured – he came back from his lengthy hamstring injury in January – but he is injured, having quickly picked up another one.

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11.49am EDT11:49

Leicester weren’t sure whether their fans would prefer plastic flags or paper clappers, so they got both:

Butler Blue III ate a cake with Purdue tears frosting

Good dog.
Cake is not a great breakfast choice — but when you’re Butler Blue III on game day it’s the only choice.

Starting my day in with the breakfast of champions. Today’s Special: Boilermaker.
— Butler Blue III (@ButlerBlue3)

This video really opened my eyes to the difficulties bulldogs have at eating round objects. I never thought about it until today. Their jaws are perfect for scarfing down almost anything, but frost a cake and for a while it looked it it would be his undoing — until he cracked the frosting and got into the thing.
What is in a dog cake? We had to find out.

It’s a vanilla cake base, with a Boilermaker tear frosting.
— Butler Blue III (@ButlerBlue3)

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Huawei P Smart Specs & Price: Great Value For Money!

13/03/2018 – 4:32pm

If you’re after a cheap, heavy-hitting Android phone that looks great in the hand, you need to check out the Huawei P Smart

The Huawei P Smart does two things very well: it looks great and it costs hardly anything at all compared to handsets like the Galaxy S9 and iPhone X.
The Huawei P Smart is ALL about value for money. But do not be fooled by this handset’s meagre price tag (£225), because it packs a serious punch when it comes to specs and overall performance.
Sitting at the heart of the device is Huawei’s very own Kirin CPU, a potent piece of kit that delivers plenty of power. Alongside this, you’ll find 3GB of RAM and a very impressive 13MP camera.

Most phones with this level of spec retail for over £500 – here it’s almost 50% less than that. This, among other things, is likely why Huawei is now one of the biggest phone makers on the planet.
Make no mistake: this price point is where all the action is going to be taking place. No one wants to pay £1000 for a phone, not when you can get one that’s just as good for £225 – why would you? It makes no sense.
Who’s The Huawei P Smart Aimed At?
Anyone, really. If you’re after a powerful Android phone that you can pick up SIM-free, then you’d be hard-pressed to find a better phone that than one at this price point.
It feels like a £500 phone. It really does. And when you use it, you too will not understand how something like the Huawei P Smart can retail for so cheap! It’s a mega bargain whichever way you slice it and, for my money, the best budget phone you can buy right now.
If you’re in the UK and are after some of the best Huawei P Smart deals, have a gander at Fone House – they’ve got some beltin’ deals for this handset on offer right now.

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Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus review: A great phone with minor flaws

Update: The Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus, and it’s smaller sibling the Galaxy S9, are now on sale. Our Galaxy S9 Plus review is below (and you can read the Galaxy S9 review separately), plus we’ve rounded-up the best Samsung Galaxy S9 deals, and S9 cases.
In a bid to sway some phone customers away from Samsung, Sony is giving away a free PS4 and 12-month PS Plus membership, or a PSVR Starter Kit, when you order the Sony Xperia XZ2 and Xperia XZ2 Compact from Three or Carphone Warehouse. 
Original review continues below
The Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus is, as you’d expect it to be, a bigger version of the Galaxy S9. It has a larger screen and a bigger battery than its smaller sibling, and (inevitably) a significantly higher price. It’s a familiar formula you can see repeated across the mobile industry. Bigger phone, more feature = higher price.
Buy the Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus
The trouble is that, last year, that’s where the differences ended between the two Galaxy S8 phones and I was reluctant to recommend the Plus. This year, the gap has widened and there’s more to differentiate the two.
That’s because Samsung has finally added dual-camera capability to one of its maert_main_wide_image/public/2018/03/s9_plus_vs_pixel_2.jpg?itok=KEsVnotq” alt=””/>

Smartphone cameras are different. Because they have tiny sensors and lenses, there isn’t that much difference between f/1.5 and f/2.4 on a smartphone camera when it it comes to depth of field. So, on the Samsung Galaxy S9+ it’s all about controlling light – in this case, preventing too much light – falling on the sensor.
Actually, there’s a third factor that comes into play, too: the aperture on a DSLR also dictates how sharp the image is out to the edges of the frame, with that sharpness usually dropping away slightly the larger the aperture becomes. Is this visible with the S9+’s camera? Interestingly, yes it is, but only if you zoom right in.
So does it it add up to better pictures? Well, yes and no. In Pro mode, if you take the time to adjust the settings yourself, absolutely. More light equals lower ISO, less noise and cleaner photographs in low light while in better light, f/2.4 gives you sharper details
But if you stick with Auto mode, the benefit is less obvious. After capturing a series of photographs at f/1.5 in Auto then forcing the camera to f/2.4 in Pro mode, my conclusion is that the Samsung Galaxy S9+’s auto exposure algorithm is somewhat  confused.
Let me explain why. The whole idea here in putting an f/1.5 aperture in a smartphone camera is to capture low-light images at a higher level of quality. The way it SHOULD do that is by reducing ISO and, therefore, noise. Except that what the Samsung Galaxy S9+ does is to brighten the image slightly ert_main_wide_image/public/2018/03/chart.png?itok=HrWERJdI” alt=””/>

Alas, as far as battery life is concerned, it’s back to disappointment. I’ve been using the Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus for a week now, and its GSAM Battery Monitor rating was  at 22hrs 39mins per complete charge versus 18hrs 44mins on the regular S9. Neither of those scores are particularly impressive. To give you some context, the OnePlus 5T after a week or so was up well above a day while the Huawei Mate 10 Pro was closer to two days than one.
In our battery rundown test, the Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus’ performance was equally middling. It lasted 14hrs 36mins, or around 13 minutes longer than the Galaxy S9. In this test, neither phone comes close to the best in the flagship category; in fact, both the OnePlus 5T (much cheaper) and the S8+ (much cheaper) did considerably better, reaching out and beyond 20 hours.
Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus review: Display
Still, one thing that you can at least rely on Samsung for is tip-top display quality and it’s fabulous here. As usual, you get an AMOLED panel and this one is the same resolution as on last year’s: 1,440 x 2,960 arranged across a screen with an aspect ratio of 18.5:9. This fills most of the front of the phone, leaving narrow strips across the top and bottom.
And just as it did last year, Samsung is shipping the phone with the display rendering in FHD+ (1,080 x 2,220). Because, you know, you don’t really need a higher resolution than this.
As far as quality goes, that’s great but not as great as previous Galaxy phones. You’re getting a display here that delivers 98% sRGB coverage in Basic mode and an average colour accuracy Delta E score of 1.94. These are very good numbers and the bottom line is that anything displayed on this screen will look good, HDR content included.
Peak brightness is great, too, pretty much matching previous Galaxy handsets. In our tests, the phone reached peaks of 992cd/m2 in our tests with a 10% white patch displayed against a black background, and 465cd/m2 with the screen filled with white with auto brightness enabled. As is typical with Samsung smartphones, you’ll only see the screen hit its brightest level in auto-brightness mode – in manual brightness, mode this display reaches a lowly peak of 302cd/m2.
Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus review: Price and verdict
All of which brings this review of the Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus to a rather spongy, limp end. Don’t get me wrong, I do like the S9 Plus. It’s a great phone with two great cameras that shoot fabulous photos and video. It’s quick, too – the fastest quickest Android phone we’ve ever seen – and it’s pretty darned gorgeous, particularly in Lilac purple.
In fact, it’s probably, all things considered, the best phone money can buy. But I do have problems with it. First, it’s expensive. The Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus is £869 SIM free. Wow. That’s a huge amount to drop on a smartphone, notwithstanding the fact that the iPhone X is even pricier.
And there are other things about it that irritate. Low light photography is amazing, but it isn’t as good as it could and should be. The battery life is fine, but it isn’t quite as good as the best its rivals can muster.
In short, the Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus is a great phone and, if you do want the best it’s the phone you want to buy. It’s just that it isn’t much better than its predecessor; if push came to shove, I’d advise you save a few bob and buy an S8 Plus instead.

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The content sourced from: http://www.alphr.com/samsung/1008601/samsung-galaxy-s9-review