Tech Bytes: January 2021

Welcome to Tech Bytes! In this series, we bring the biggest news hitting the Tech and Gaming fields, getting them into a simple brief for you to quickly catch up on, so you’re up to speed over that dinner and drinks.

2020 may not have been a good year in general, but it still served up many big moments from the tech world. With the start of the new year, it also means the beginning of another tech cycle and January presents not only a look at things to come, but it also has new products that are ready and available. Let’s take a look!

LG offers a view into their latest TV technology

Tech Bytes: LG OLED 2021

LG are right at the top-end of the spectrum when it comes to TVs, offering the best of the best when it comes to picture quality and features, where they have multiple SKUs to cater to a wide range of budgets.

At CES 2021, where companies all over come together to preview their latest technology advancements, LG was there to showcase what they have in store in 2021 for their OLED TV series.

LG’s OLED line-up consist of their highest-end ‘Z’ series and ascends down to the ‘G’, ‘C’ and ‘B’ series respectively. For 2021, they have revealed new versions for their top three tiers — the Z1, G1 and C1. It is a weird naming scheme to follow after their X series (referred as 10 in name), though presumably LG wants it to follow along the year it is released; 2021 in this case.

They build upon the success of their predecessors. The new G1 series, in particular, has OLED evo, which delivers better luminosity at higher brightness. And there is also a new option to use the Gallery Stand as an alternative to wall mounting to showcase the TV.

All three are powered by their new processor, the α (Alpha) 9 Gen 4 AI, their OLED line-up brings about new features like AI Picture Pro which further optimises picture quality with A.I. to provide better images, and AI Sound Pro, which automatically levels volume so that it is consistent when switching between channels or streaming apps. 

On the OS side of things, LG has also partnered with Google to have their Stadia service be the first manufacturer to natively support it. It will come as a downloadable app on the LG Content Store and users will be able to take full advantage of the service’s features — including playing in 4K HDR and 60 FPS. This will be coming in the second half of 2021.

AMD reinforces their commitment to laptops

Tech Bytes: AMD CES

Also at CES were AMD, and though they didn’t have as many things to announce compared to their October 2020 showcases, it was still big news for the tech community.

And that news was the announcement of the AMD Ryzen 5000 Series Mobile Processors for laptops, which are based on their “Zen 3” core. These new processors will be available in systems come February where top laptop manufacturers such as Asus, HP and Lenovo will be supporting it.

Their Ryzen 5000 U-Series will power thin and lightweight laptops. The new AMD Ryzen 7 5800U processor has an up to 16% single-threaded performance improvement and is up to 14% faster in multithreaded performance than the last generation. 

On the other hand, their H-Series will deliver on the gaming front, featuring up to 8 cores and 16 threads in their processors. An even higher-end processor line was also unveiled, the HX-Series, where the new Ryzen 9 5900HX and Ryzen 9 5980HX processors aim to bring laptops to desktop-level performances.

Slicing through games like butter on the new Razer Blade laptops

Razer Blade Pro [2021]

Intel and NVIDIA were also at CES to confirm that RTX 30-series GPUs will finally be seen in laptops, with Razer on hand to showcase what that combination would look like.

Their new Razer Blade 15 and Razer Blade Pro 17 gaming laptops that are coming this year will feature the high-end GPUs in their systems. They will take advantage of their power by offering new display options such as higher refresh rates and higher resolutions. 

The Razer Blade 15 Advanced Model has choices for 1090p at 360Hz, 1440p at 240Hz with NVIDIA G-SYNC, or 4K OLED at 60Hz. Meanwhile, the Blade Pro 17 can be equipped with either a resolution of 1080p at 360Hz, 1440p at 165Hz, or 4K at a blazing 120Hz.

These new laptops will be available to pre-order exclusively at their website on January 12, with the Razer Blade 15 starting S$2899 while the Razer Blade Pro 17 starts at S$3849.

Samsung begins the phone race with the new Galaxy S21 smartphones

Samsung Galaxy S21 Series

Samsung has traditionally always been early in announcing their flagship smartphone line-up compared to other companies, and this year is no exception.

And as expected, the company unveiled the Galaxy S series’s latest devices — the Samsung Galaxy S21 line. The line-up consists of three devices, the Galaxy S21, Galaxy S21+ and finally the Galaxy S21 Ultra. All three feature a new design in its rear camera housing that helps blend the cameras into the frame, resulting in a sleeker, refined look.

The Galaxy S21 and Galaxy S21+ are largely similar to one another. They are both equipped with a 1080p AMOLED display capable of 120Hz refresh rate, and a triple camera setup with a 64MP telephoto camera, 12MP wide-angle camera and 12MP ultra-wide camera alongside its 10MP front camera. The only difference between the two are their display sizes and battery capacities, which are 6.2-inches/4000mAh and 6.7-inches/4800mAh, respectively.

Meanwhile, the Galaxy S21 Ultra represents the absolute top-end. It is the largest in the line-up, having a 6.8-inch AMOLED at 1440p resolution, displaying a 120Hz refresh rate. Its rear camera system is a quad setup, using two 10MP telephoto cameras, a 108MP wide-angle camera and a 12MP ultra-wide camera.

Perhaps most intriguing for the Galaxy S21 Ultra is that the S pen that has been synonymous with Samsung’s Note line can now be used on the device for the first time.

Unfortunately, all usage is passive, meaning that you can’t use the gesture system if you want to use a spare one from a Note device, but you can still use it for handwriting notes, drawing or signing documents. If you want the Air Gestures, there will be an S Pen Pro model released later in the year.

New S Pens are sold separately, and there is an optional bundle that combines the S Pen and a case that has a holder for the pen so that it doesn’t get easily lost.

The Samsung Galaxy S21 line is coming out soon and with pre-orders already commencing at major telcos such as M1, Starhub and Singtel, and consumer electronic stores like Harvey Norman, Courts and Best Denki in addition to Samsung’s official stores.  

The Galaxy S21, Galaxy S21+ and Galaxy S21 Ultra are available starting at S$1,248, S$1,498 and S$1,798 respectively and customers who pre-order can get the device from 22 January 2021, while it will be widely available in Singapore from 29 January 2021 onwards.

Going pro with the Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro

Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro

But smartphones aren’t the only thing that Samsung had to show; they also showcased their new Galaxy Buds Pro.

The Galaxy Buds Pro are a return to the in-ear implementation from their regular Galaxy Buds, and features ANC (though the company dubs it Active Noise Control). 

Not only is it able to reduce background noise by up to 99%, with its Ambient Sound feature, you can also amplify nearby sounds by more than 20 decibels. It’s Voice Detect can also sense whenever you are speaking and switch between noise cancellation and ambient noise to communicate better without taking out the earbuds.

Great sound performance is to be expected with the 11-millimeter woofer and 6.5-millimeter tweeter allows for deeper bass and clearer treble, but also included is the new 360 Audio that is akin to Apple’s spatial audio that motion tracks direction of sound according to where your head is facing.

Other features include a wind chamber within the earbuds that significantly reduces wind noise for calls and intelligently auto-switches the audio to the device you’re currently using if linked to multiple devices.

Samsung says that users should expect a total of 18 hours of performance with ANC turned on, with each earbud lasting 5 hours. Having the ANC turned off nets another 10 hours altogether, with the earbuds lasting 8 hours each. 

Likewise, the Galaxy Buds Pro are available for pre-order now at the establishments mentioned above with colours such as Phantom Black, Phantom Silver and Phantom Violet to choose from, and will cost at a recommended retail price of S$308. It will also be released on 29 January 2021.

This marks 2021 January’s edition of Tech Bytes, and we hope this roundout gives you a little insight on tech to be excited about. Check with us again in February 2021, as we bring you more byte-sized news every month!

Photos by Darren Chiong of the DANAMIC team. Additional visuals courtesy of LG, AMD and Razer Singapore.

Russell Matthew Loh

Watcher of films and player of games. Dabble with writing in between.

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