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Two of 2016's new phones bring competition


Photo by : Justin Chan

 

Google (left) vs. Apple (right)

 

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With 2016 drawing to a close, two major tech companies, Apple and Google release their flagship phones.  Apple has released the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus while Google has  released the Google Pixel and Google Pixel XL. Both companies are competing to sell the better smartphone by using the latest technologies in their phones. After a weekend of usage of these devices, we took note of their performance and give you an informed report about our first impressions.

 

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Pixel XL

 

Straight away after holding the phone, I noticed the overall weight. It wasn’t light, but it wasn’t too heavy either. The quality of the box seemed to match the price of $870.00 with it’s thick paper casing and glossy colors. After tearing off the plastic seal and opening the box, I was greeted with the dark 5.5 inch display of the Pixel XL, which I decided upon the Quite Black version. Under the phone, there were two USB Type C cords, one charge block, and one Type C to USB adapter for file transfers. Also included is the power adapter which features quick charge; this really helps if I forget to charge my phone overnight because I can get a day’s use of power in a hour. Excited to turn on my device, I reached for the SIM card removal tool and installed the SIM card.

 

When it comes to battery life, the Pixel XL does not disappoint with its 3450mAh battery. I can get through almost three whole days with minimal use before needing to charge. It has a Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 for the processor, which features two high performance cores and two low performance ones, which is why the battery life is so great. The high performance cores work when doing high performance tasks, like playing games while the low performance cores are more than enough for mobile web browsing.

 

Video quality is amazing on the Pixel XL because of the 1440x2560 screen resolution. This will be a great phone for people who like to watch movies or play games because the screen is so vivid. It gets the vividness from the AMOLED screen (active-matrix organic light-emitting diode);  the same type of screen that Samsung phones have. However, the brightness of the screen is not the best. Under direct sunlight, the screen gives off a glare at a certain angel, making looking at the display an eye strain. On the other hand, because of the 1440x2560 resolution, this will be a great phone for VR ( virtual reality) when paired with Google Cardboard.

 

The speakers on the Pixel XL are a win-lose situation. While the sound is loud at the low volume settings, the sound seems to appear a bit distorted at the two highest settings. This would not be a problem because if I could not hear the audio still at that loud of a setting, I could use headphones with the phone’s 3.5mm audio jack; something the iPhone 7 Plus does not have.

 

Download speeds on the Pixel XL are more than I could ever wish for. Since the it takes advantage of dual-band WiFi, (either 2.4GHz or 5GHz), I took advantage of the 5GHz channel to download applications. Even though it downloaded applications faster, the iPhone 7 Plus has a faster installation speed. The time difference was only at a small difference and we can call it a tie between the both of them.

 

For the performance test of the Pixel XL,  I decided to download “Real Racing 3” and “Angry Birds”, because both of them have different power demand levels. Load times were amazingly fast and I was able to get into both games in under 10 seconds. This is probably thanks to the 4GB of RAM and the Adreno 530 graphics processor. However in “Real Racing 3”, the menu stutters every now and then, but this should not be a problem for most people. Besides the menu stutter, both games run smoothly and with amazing visuals.

 

When using the camera I was shocked with the superb quality after taking the first shot. Even though the Pixel XL only has a single lens while the iPhone 7 Plus has a dual camera setup, the Pixel XL blows the iPhone 7 Plus out of the water from the laser autofocus. Every shot was able to focus under a second when using touch-focus. The pictures taken are amazing at color reproduction when taken in the morning, especially when taking photos of nature. On the downside, low-light shots is where the Pixel XL meets its maker; the photos taken at low-light had a lot of noise. Video recording on the Pixel XL is not that bad, but when watching the playback of the video, the Pixel XL suffers from image stabilization when changing angles too quickly. The iPhone 7 Plus won this part of the test, because of the overall performance and the fact that it takes much better pictures in low light than the Pixel XL.  

 

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iPhone 7 Plus

 

Opening the box of the iPhone 7 Plus, I was greeted by the ‘plop’ of the bottom portion of the case falling onto the table. Looking into the box, I saw a smaller white cardboard package that contained the manuals for the iPhone 7 Plus. Underneath the white box was the prized product, the iPhone 7 Plus.

 

I opted for the newer Glossy Black color, which made the phone glimmer like a piece of sugar coated candy. Though it did attract many fingerprints, I thought that it very looked clean.

Additional items inside the box included the charger cable and dock, as well as the new lightning jack wired earpods. After booting up the device and making sure I had sufficient charge, I started to test it.

 

First, I looked for what most mobile gamers don’t usually look for in buying their smart phones/tablets--battery life. From the technical specs, the iPhone 7 Plus has a whopping 2-day battery life with moderate usage,  being powered by a 2900 mAh battery. Though it may not seem like a lot, the efficiency comes from its innards, the A10 Fusion chip. The A10 fusion chip is what allows the iPhone 7 to do what it does; watching videos, playing games, surfing the web and more.

 

Throughout the entire process of benchmarking and testing the phone for an hour, I am glad to say that the phone only dropped a mere 9% of it’s battery life.

 

To begin the tests, I started by downloading the Youtube app and watching the trailer for the movie, Deadpool. The iPhone 7 Plus has a large display with it’s 1920x1080 resolution, not to mention a new piece of smartphone technology that Apple created known as 3D Touch. While watching the trailer, I was happy to see that the screen quality was terrific. The colors were vivid and the video was smooth. Details were easy to see and made for an enjoyable video watching experience.

Moving onto the speaker portion of the test, I played various tunes that made full use of its stereo speakers. The bass was deep and the songs were clear--not as good as headphones, but still good enough to beat some lesser known earbud brands.

 

While testing the download speeds of the phone, we decided to take a different approach and had a “race.” Starting from the home screen, we hurriedly attempted to download various apps needed to conduct the performance part of the test. I immediately noticed how much harder if was for me to download apps due to me the fact that I needed to constantly enter my Apple ID and password. Though I managed to finish my downloads quicker, I still lost.

 

After the hassle of downloading apps and games, I decided to start the performance test. By playing light, simple games such as "Angry Birds" and demanding games such as "Real Racing 3," I was able to get a good feeling for the phone. While playing both games, I experienced the best of both worlds: great, smooth graphics, as well as an extremely fast frame rates that had little to no lag time for the duration of my session.

 

Finally, I went on to test the feature that blew not having a headphone jack out of the water: the dual lens camera. According to the specifications, the front facing camera has the ability to take 4K video as well as an optical zoom feature. We decided to test the performance by filming a 30 second video on the highest settings and having the camera auto-focus on two objects, both close and far.

 

After completing the tests, we compared the two phones which left me both happy and sad. When recognizing objects and auto-focusing, I saw that the iPhone 7 Plus had a small delay, but that was redeemed by its relatively smoother video.

 

 

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Overall, the phones are just a matter of choice. Whether you like Android or iOS is completely up to you. From these tests, we are hinting more towards buying the Pixel XL over the iPhone 7 Plus due to its gaming capabilities. For standard users that like Snapchat and Facebook, we advise you get the iPhone 7 Plus because of its easy to learn and use operating system.

 


Chart by : Darren Li

 

A chart of both Pixel XL and iPhone 7.

Bring in the New Year with new traditions

By Cameron Takashima


Photo taken by : Cameron Takashima

 

This is Ms. Falls' Christmas tree

 

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The holidays are here and people are decorating their houses or planning family events. We all have our traditions that meant a lot to us and bring us joy, but here are some from other countries and even a few forgotten holiday traditions.

 

The first tradition is one we all know about but rarely see; caroling. Caroling is a tradition where people get together and go door to door singing well known christmas songs, spreading holiday joy. There is, however, a problem as San Francisco is a very hilly and hard to traverse area. Despite that, you may still see some people performing this awesome holiday tradition.

 

This next tradition is a very old one and has probably been forgotten for good reason; cake tossing. This tradition is exactly what it sounds like: the act of tossing a perfectly good cake at someone's front door. There are obviously some legal issues with this tradition today, but back in the 1890’s it was believed to bring good luck and a year without hunger or starvation.

 

This next one you've probably never heard of, and the name tells you nothing about what it is: wassailing. This is the tradition of going door to door and offering a cider-like drink to people. The problem with this is that trust is a valuable thing and going around offering strangers a random drink is nothing less than shady, so if you do intend to go on this holiday tradition I suggest doing it with only friends, family and neighbors.

 

This next tradition is from a different country entirely: Japan. In Japan, turkey is not the most popular food and they don't typically have traditional Christmas ham. Instead, they go to one of America's most well known chain restaurants: KFC. That’s right; Christmas and Thanksgiving in Japan is celebrated with fried chicken. Granted, some do make whole roast chicken but it's still KFC. The reason for this varies from house to house but typically it's either a dislike of turkey or the fact that they've been doing it for so long they don't know what else to get.

 

This next tradition is something we all do and often not even for holidays: the family get-together. The family get-together is a tradition that is as old as the concept of a family and is also the perfect way to celebrate the holidays, surrounded by people that you know and love. Now, this tradition has a range of variations but one thing is always the same; the copious amounts of food. Whether you go to a restaurant or have a potluck of homemade food, this is always the case. Despite being one of the most popular forms of celebration, it is still one of the best. We at the Lincoln Log wish you happy holidays and a happy new year.

Netflix Original Series “Luke Cage” is a great stress reliever

By Arianna Hansen


Photo courtesy of : Marvel and Netflix

 

Main protagonist Luke Cage is standing in a boxing stadium.

 

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Everyone is cramming. College applications, finals, SAT/ACT testing, and homework in general puts a lot of stress on students’ shoulders. The weekend and after school hours is when we lay back and watch some Netflix.

 

Skimming through categories and surfing through shows, you might find some binge-worthy series. My personal favorites are Netflix Originals, particularly the Marvel ones. Recently, a new Marvel and Netflix Original series aired called “Luke Cage.”

 

The show contains action, mystery, occasional comedy and romance, this is perfect for stressful nights. If you are not a fan of those genres, the show is still very much worthy of checking out because it was so well directed and produced.

 

The story is based on Luke Cage, a black man who was falsely accused of a crime and left to die in prison, upon which he acquired superhero-like powers.The story touches on many racial issues, especially ones pertaining to black and Hispanic people.

 

The series features Luke Cage as the main character, who was a supporting character in the previous Netflix/Marvel series “Jessica Jones.” The first season aired September 30, 2016, exclusively on Netflix.

 

Why should you watch the series? I could go on and tell you about how amazing the action is, how intense the plot is (and how much it twists), or how realistic some of the scenarios are even when superhuman abilities are in the mixture. But the real reason I highly recommended this series is because of its originality. We have all seen superhero movies, and we have all seen the obvious protagonist and antagonist. The way “Luke Cage” tells the story from everybody’s angle, makes people think: Is the good guy really good? Is the bad guy really bad? It even makes you wonder who the bad guy is and who is to blame. It is hard to pick one person’s side in the series; you switch between people. This keeps the audience on edge, at times confused but clarity is found.

 

The story empowers black people, addresses police brutality and tells the story from an innocent man being hunted and shot at by corrupt police. Behind the story of a bullet-proof man is a certain truth of police corruption, the role of police in gang violence and how hysteria can cloud the judgement of authorities.

 

I can understand why some might want to look the other way from the series. It is brutally honest and doesn’t shy away from showing graphic violence. At times the violence might leave you jaw-dropped and flabbergasted. Even though I am jaded from watching shows like “The Walking Dead”, horror movies and violent video games, some of the scenes in the series left me in shock. For people that have a fear of blood, guns and the cringing sound of broken bones, be warned. Otherwise, when you have the chance, check out “Luke Cage” and the other Marvel/ Netflix Originals on Netflix.

We’re going back to the battlefield

By Cameron Takashima


Photo courtesy of EA and DICE

 

A soldier takes on a war-torn, chaotic battlefield.

 

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When one thinks of war, the first thing that comes to mind is typically not a videogame. But there, are in fact, videogames out there with wars as the main theme. One such game is “Battlefield 1,” a first person shooter game set in World War 1. It was during this war that trench warfare and weaponry advancements changed the definition of war forever. It was in this war that large numbers and vehicular warfare became the prominent force in battle, and this game does a good job in utilizing them to their fullest potential in gameplay. From the large maps upon which you fight to the single soldier you control, this game does a great job of portraying the chaotic and terrifying battle that was World War 1.

 

The game has two different game modes; single player and multiplayer. Singleplayer takes place in a number of settings and different sides of the war. In these short stories, you take control of a different soldier character, giving the player a fresh new experience with each story you play. From the ground trenches to the open skies, the game presents you with a plethora of different situations which you will need to take on. For example, in one story you take the role of an Australian sniper hired by the British as well as an American tank driver later on. The list is long with many different tactics and weaponry that suits any play style.

 

Next is the multiplayer, which is very similar to single player in terms of gameplay. The biggest difference is the customization factor. You will be able to outfit your soldier with everything from a small pistol to historically inaccurate submachine guns; even the tanks and planes are customizable to a degree. The other main difference is the inclusion of real world people as your allies and enemies. To many, this is a deterrent to games like battlefield 1 as some aren’t comfortable with people in an online environment. With that said, those who take on multiplayer will likely be daunted as well as mildly annoyed by people that are be better at playing the game. To that, I’d say that he best way to get better is to find a play style that fits your personality as well as just playing the game. From fast paced machine gunners to up close and personal shotguns, there is a wide range of styles to choose from. There is also a very wide range of vehicles in which your soldier can control like the light and heavy tank, hulking cages of metal outfitted with machine guns and cannons or airplanes, the light and fast riders of the skies. You can even ride horses and motorcycles which are just a few of the wide range of vehicles.

 

This type of game is definitely not for everyone but those who enjoy this style of gameplay will find a lot of enjoyment and satisfaction in this shooter. So have fun, fight on, and I'll see you on the battlefield.