The Nokia logo on an event banner.

Nokia had enjoyed 14 years as the number one global cell phone maker. The Finnish company’s phones were ubiquitous throughout the late 90s and 2000s, but the rise of the smartphone era would see it stumble.

By the end of the first quarter of 2012, Samsung had charged ahead of its rival in global smartphone shipments, and Nokia would continue to nosedive thereafter.

Editor’s Pick

Nokia had made a few significant missteps towards the end of its reign: the company had been focusing on its own Symbian platform believing it would become a viable competitor to iOS and Android, before signing a deal with Microsoft to create products for another doomed mobile platform — Windows Phone.

But it wasn’t just Nokia’s decisions that meant it couldn’t sustain the top global vendor slot. Nokia’s major rivals, Apple and Samsung, happened to be making some of their best products ever.

At that time, Samsung was already on the verge of releasing the Galaxy S3 in Q2 2012, having produced arguably its first truly exceptional smartphone, the Galaxy S2. Apple, meanwhile, wasn’t doing too bad either, having already dethroned Nokia once in 2011 following the release of the iPhone 4.

Nokia 9 PureView back

The recently launched Nokia 9 PureView.

Apple and Samsung have shown little signs of slowing down in the mobile landscape since then — even in the face of misfires like an overheating flagship and a bending iPhone 6. They’ve enjoyed placements in the top two mobile vendor spots through to present day, though Huawei is now nipping at their heels and recently shunted Apple down to third place.

Microsoft bought Nokia’s mobile division in 2013 and failed to spin it into a success, but it was far from the end for the brand. Since HMD Global formed and picked up the Nokia mantle in 2016, it has shipped more than 70 million Nokia-branded phones, and put other Android OEMs to shame with regards to device updates. It also reached the number nine slot in global smartphone shipments last year.

Nokia’s best days look like they may be behind it, but few would have predicted such a comeback for the brand. If the past two years of progress is anything to go by, who knows what the future holds.

For more on what we expect from Nokia in 2019, hit the link.

Up next: The best Nokia phones you can buy

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Film and Cinematography Mastery Bundle

Anyone with a creative vision, a modest budget, and minimal equipment can create professional-looking films. The trick is having the right set of skills.

If you need some help developing those skills, look no further than the Film and Cinematography Mastery Bundle. Through three expert-led courses, you’ll learn how to write, shoot, and even distribute your first feature film.

Write, shoot, and even distribute your first feature film.

You’ll start with a video production bootcamp that covers equipment, shooting techniques, editing, marketing, and distribution. Then you’ll dive into more nuanced aspects of filmmaking, like scheduling, casting, screenwriting, and raising funds.

Finally, you’ll learn expert-level tips about choosing the right camera equipment, picking frame rates and shutter speeds, lighting, staging, and more in a comprehensive cinematography course.

The Film and Cinematography Bundle:

Right now, you can lock down lifetime access to the Film and Cinematography Mastery Bundle for 95 percent off at just $29.

The AAPicks team writes about things we think you’ll like, and we may see a share of revenue from any purchases made through affiliate links. To see all our hottest deals, head over to the AAPICKS HUB.

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Phones are getting better at automatically backing up data, but unfortunately there’s always the possibility that you’ll lose your phone or drop it in water and lose everything. Thankfully, there are plenty of ways to backup that data, ensuring that even if something does happen to your phone, you won’t lose all those embarrassing photos of your kids you were going to show at their 21st birthday.

Whether it be through Google, a third-party app, or your computer, here’s how to properly backup phones to make sure you never find yourself in a situation where you end up with lost data.

With Google

Backing up most of your data is actually pretty easy with Google, and it has gotten far easier over the past few years. Unfortunately there isn’t yet a one-stop backup method for Android phones through Google, but there are ways to backup different types of data. Keep in mind, however, that these options don’t cover things like SMS, though we do have an entire article to help you out with thatHere’s how to backup your data with Google.

Photos and videos

Google Photos logo AA

If you’re not already using Google Photos, you should be. The service automatically backs up every photo and video you take to the cloud, so you’ll never have to manually backup your media ever again. If the Photos app isn’t already on your phone, you can download it here. Once it’s installed, you’ll need to make sure Photos is set to automatically backup your files. Here’s how to do that:

  • Open the Google Photos app
  • In the menu, head to Settings
  • Tap ‘Backup & sync’
  • Make sure the switch is turned on

The best part about Google Photos? You can upload as many files as you’d like for free. Photos and videos will have a maximum upload quality of 1080p for the free unlimited storage option, which should be good enough for most people. If you’d like to keep the original resolution quality of your photos and videos, you can, but it will count against your Google Drive storage limits. Here’s how to check your Google Photos upload quality:

  • Open the Google Photos app
  • In the menu, head to Settings
  • Tap ‘Backup & sync’
  • Tap ‘Upload size’
  • Choose the option you’d like (High quality with free unlimited storage, or Original with Google Drive storage limits)

Of course, you probably have more than just photos and videos on your phone. Here are a few ways you can backup the other files:

Other files

backup android phone

Google Drive lets you store your other files in the cloud, which means they’ll be accessible from any connected device. To manually upload folders and files, follow these instructions:

  • Download the Google Drive app, if you don’t have it already
  • In the app, press on the ‘+’ button
  • Press ‘Upload’
  • Select the file(s) you’d like to backup
  • That’s it!

Settings and apps

To backup your phone’s settings and apps, you’ll want to use Android Backup Service. This service essentially backs up the apps you use and the settings that you have selected in most Google apps, making it easy to restore those settings on a new phone. For a complete list of what gets backed up with Android Backup Service, head here. Otherwise, follow the instructions below to activate it:

  • Open your smartphone’s Settings app
  • Scroll down to “Accounts and Backup” and tap on it
  • Tap on ‘Backup and restore”
  • Toggle on the “Back up my data” switch and add your account, if it’s not there already

And that’s it! Your device should be pretty much all backed up now. Unless, of course, you want to use a third party service instead of Google’s own.

Using other backup options

Backup apps google play store

Google’s services are great, but if you’re looking for a more comprehensive solution — one that backs up everything at once, that is — you might need to use a third-party app.

Unrooted phone

There are a ton of great apps out there for backing up your data, and one of the best is Super Backup & Restore.  It allows you to back up individual items on your phone, such as apps, contacts, SMS, calendars, voice calls and more. Users can define where the backups go for easy locating later and you can also schedule automatic backups along with backing up to cloud storage.

  • Download Super Backup & Restore
  • You will see a list of item categories that you can backup (Pictures, Apps, etc)
  • Select which category you want to backup
  • Select the individual items you’d like to include in your backup
  • Tap on “Backup”

And that’s all there is to it. Easy, right?

Rooted phones

best root apps for android

While most people won’t need to root their phones to backup what they need to, rooting your phone can help you backup a few more things. By rooting your phone, just about everything on your phone can be restored, including things like app settings, system data, and even Wi-Fi passwords. One of the most used apps for backing up a rooted phone is Titanium Backup. While Titanium Backup certainly looks a little outdated, it’s a very powerful app indeed. Here’s how to backup your files using Titanium Backup:

  • Download and open the app
  • Tap the menu button in the top-right corner and select ‘batch actions’
  • Select everything you want to backup
    • If this is the first time you’re backing up your device, you’ll at least want to select ‘backup all user apps’ and ‘backup all system data’
  • You can also choost to backup the files to Dropbox or Google Drive, which you may want to do in case you lose your phone
  • You can also opt to create a recovery compatible .zip backup file
    • This ensures that even if your phone’s system files become corrupt or something else happens that prevents you from being able to boot up your phone, you’ll be able to restore your phone from the backup

For a full explanation of Titanium Backup and how it works, head here.

Backing up to your computer

Instead of backing up your device to the cloud or to the phone itself, you might want to backup all your files to your computer for easy access later on. Luckily, this is pretty easy to do, and the process is pretty much the same whether you’re a Mac or PC user. Mac users will need to download and install the Android File Transfer app, though. Here’s how to backup your Android device to a computer:

  • Plug your phone into your computer with your USB cable
  • On Windows, go to ‘My Computer’ and open the phone’s storage
    • On Mac, open Android File Transfer
  • Drag the files you want to backup to a folder on your computer

And that’s it!


Whether you need to create a full backup of your device or you just want to make sure you don’t lose your photos, backing up your phone shouldn’t be hard to do. Thankfully, it’s not! If you can think of any better ways to back2up your phone, let us know in the comments section.

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Complete C# Coding Bootcamp

As far as programming languages go, C# is among the most popular. It’s similar to C, but easier to learn, which is why Microsoft developed it.

C# (pronounced ‘C sharp’) is a high-level, general-purpose language used to produce desktop applications, games, web apps, and more. Its possibilities are wide-ranging, making it a highly in-demand coding language. 

According to Glassdoor.com, the average base salary for C# developers is over $90k.

If you want to grow as a programmer, now’s your chance to start learning C# on the cheap. The Complete C# Coding Bootcamp, which gives you lifetime access to 11 courses, is currently on sale for just $31.

In over 89 hours of training, this bootcamp will guide you through C# basics, like arrays and lists. Then you’ll make your way through advanced topics like generics and lambda expressions. There are even specialized courses designed to help you write cleaner code and increase your coding speed.

The C# Coding Bootcamp at a glance:

While this looks a little overwhelming, C# is specifically designed to be easy to learn. Plus, according to Glassdoor.com, the average base salary for C# developers is over $90k per year.

While the Complete C# Coding Bootcamp has a total retail value of over $750, for a limited time, the price has been slashed to just $31 for all 11 courses. Hit the button below to find out more.

The AAPicks team writes about things we think you’ll like, and we may see a share of revenue from any purchases made through affiliate links. To see all our hottest deals, head over to the AAPICKS HUB.

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One of the coolest gaming features packed into Windows 10 is the Xbox app. It lets you remotely access your Xbox One console and stream games to a Windows 10 PC. This comes in handy when everyone is watching a boring movie on the living room TV where your Xbox One is connected, but you’d rather play Metro Exodus or Tom Clancy’s The Division 2.

So how does it work? In this guide we show you how to stream the Xbox One to Windows 10.

With Microsoft’s method, you absolutely cannot “officially” stream your Xbox One console over the internet like the PlayStation 4. As we’ve seen with Sony’s console, playing across the internet can produce quality and latency issues, sometimes to the point where streaming just isn’t worth the effort. This is why Steam and Microsoft chose to lock game streaming to your local network.

However, there is a method to stream the Xbox One to a Windows 10 PC across the internet, but it requires knowing how to access your router’s control panel and how to edit the settings. We provide those instructions at the end.

Use Ethernet or Wireless AC

For the best results, stream the Xbox One across your local network using a wired Ethernet connection. Of course, not everyone wants Ethernet cables strung across the house, as it’s visually ugly, even when draped along the walls and corners. The plus side with all these cables is that you won’t see the performance dips associated with wireless connectivity.

If Ethernet isn’t an option, fall back on a Wireless AC 5GHz access point. A mesh network is good due to the way it creates a blanket of connectivity versus the standard router that broadcasts from one point like a radio tower. A Wireless N 5GHz connection works as well, but you’ll see limited performance using a 2.4GHz connection on either network.

Microsoft also suggests using Powerline adapters as an alternative to wired connections. You need at least two units that plug directly into your wall’s power outlets to create a network connection through the electrical system. One unit can then plug into your modem or router via an Ethernet cable while the other unit plugs into the Ethernet port on the Xbox One. Unfortunately, Powerline technology heavily depends on your home’s wiring and breaker box, thus you may see better results using wireless connectivity instead.

Finally, you can plug an Xbox One controller into your Windows 10 PC to play games remotely. You can also plug a headset into your Windows 10 PC and communicate as usual with your Xbox One friends.

Let’s begin our guide on how to stream the Xbox One to Windows 10!

Xbox One

How to stream the Xbox One to Windows 10

1. Press the Xbox button on your controller.
2. Scroll right to highlight the “gear” icon and access the System panel.
3. Choose Settings as shown above.

How to stream the Xbox One to Windows 10
4. Select Preferences in the next window.
5. Select Xbox app connectivity listed on the right panel.

How to stream the Xbox One to Windows 10
6. In the next window, enable the Allow game streaming to other devices setting located under This Xbox.
7. Enable the Allow connections from any device or Only from profiles signed in on this Xbox setting found under Other devices.

You’re done on the console side. Now let’s move on to Windows 10.

Windows 10

How to stream the Xbox One to Windows 10

1. If you don’t have the Xbox app already installed on your PC, head here.
2. After installation, sign in to your Xbox Live account.
3. Select the console icon on the left menu labeled Connection as shown above.

How to stream Xbox One to Windows 10
4. The Xbox app will now scan the local network for your Xbox One console.
5. Select the console as shown above.
6. Rename the connection if you have more than one Xbox One console on the network.
7. Choose Connect.

How to stream the Xbox One to Windows 10

Now that you’re linked, the Xbox app Connection panel should show a Now Playing screen. You’ll also see options for initiating the stream, testing the stream, and turn on the Xbox One. The More link opens a menu to disconnect the console, connect automatically, turn off the console, and forget the console.

How to stream Xbox One to Windows 10

You can easily change the quality of the Xbox One stream if the resolution is too low, or if the resolution is too high and causing network issues. Within the Xbox app, perform the following:

1. Click on the “gear” icon located on the left-hand menu. This opens the Settings panel.
2. Click on the Xbox One category.
3. Next to Video encoding level, select Very high, High, Medium, or Low.

With your Xbox One console streaming to your Windows 10 PC on the local network, you can alter a few settings to access the console remotely from across the internet. This will require knowing how to edit settings in your modem or router.

Play from anywhere across the internet

How to stream the Xbox One to Windows 10

1. If you haven’t already, follow the previous setup instructions for the Xbox One and Windows 10. Make sure this connection works correctly before moving forward.
2. Go into your router and assign a “static” IP address to your Xbox One console. This method varies by manufacturer.
3. Locate the port forwarding panel in your router and reserve the three ports listed below. Make sure the forward-to address is the same static IP address you assigned to the Xbox One. Use your console’s name as the rule description if needed. Here are the ports:

  • 4838 (TCP and UDP)
  • 5050 (TCP and UDP)
  • 4900 – 6500 (TCP and UDP)

4. Locate your home’s external IP address. You can typically find this in the router, but you can also type What is my IP in Google’s search field to discover your public IP address.
5. Pull your Windows 10 PC off the network currently used by your Xbox One.
6. Open the Xbox app.
7. Click on the Connection icon on the left-hand menu.
8. Click Add a device.
9. Enter your home’s IP address in the field as shown above.
10. Click on the Connect button.

For additional guides on how to use Windows 10, check out these how-to articles:

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Huawei P30 back glare vs Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus (5 of 60)

Huawei officially announced the P30 Pro this week, introducing the Galaxy S10 Plus’ first real competition of 2019. Both handsets feature top-of-the-line specs, impressive camera performance, and a premium price tag.

With this in mind, we decided to ask you if you’d rather pick up Samsung’s latest and greatest or Huawei’s. Here is what you had to say.

Huawei P30 Pro or Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus?

Results

It was a pretty cut and dry poll across the site, Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube. With over 50,000 votes, 60 percent of the voters would rather own and use the Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus over the Huawei P30 Pro.

According to the comment section, most people valued Samsung’s overall performance. While a lot of voters agreed that Huawei’s camera setup would likely outperform Samsung’s, the Galaxy line has a reputation of being a lot more reliable than the P series.

Editor’s Pick

Additionally, it appears as though most who shared their opinion are liking Samsung’s new One UI. Compared to Huawei’s EMUI, One UI is fresh, fast, doesn’t limit an app’s background performance, and is made for larger phones.

Noteworthy comments

Here are some of the best comments from last week’s poll explaining why they voted the way that they did:

  • S10 Plus. All of the features that most people would want are right there and they made the Samsung experience even better.
  • how about ‘NOTCH interested’?! (in case you didn’t get it, neither of those)
  • Neither. Phones are getting so monotonous. It’s the same thing in every phone these days
  • Everything aside, EMUI sux
  • Only thing good is the camera. Everything else, S10+ is much much better.
  • Samsung all the way. Not touching Huawei, don’t trust them.
  • The S10+ is a much better phone overall. (Build quality, components quality, the display, headphone jack, features, etc.) The camera alone isn’t enough to make that Huawei phone as good as the Galaxy.
  • Huawei does have the best cameras, but Samsung has better UI, UX, better screen, Dex and it’s own VR superpowers.

That’s it for this week, everyone. As always, thanks for voting, thanks for the comments, and don’t forget to let us know what you thought of the results below.

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This is Firefox Lockbox close up for the Android Apps Weekly
Welcome to the 286th edition of Android Apps Weekly! Here are the big headlines from the last week:

  • Ad scammers messed with a lot of users. A report this last week showed that some apps stack ads behind other ads. This shows the ads as seen and the developers walk away with piles of money. This sort of ad stacking bilks advertisers out of millions of dollars. It also drains the batteries on user smartphones to a surprising degree. There isn’t a lot that end users can do about it. However, if you notice your battery life draining much, much faster than normal with any app, we recommend uninstalling it and sending a report to the developer.
  • YouTube had a big week this week. YouTube TV finally reached the entire U.S. market after a lengthy and tedious rollout. Anyone who wants to try it (in the U.S.) now can. That’s big news because it finally brings YouTube TV in parity with other live TV streaming. Meanwhile, YouTube is working on its YouTube Premium subscription, including its original series. Hit the links for more details!
  • Our own Adam Sinicki visited Facebook’s headquarters in London, England. We learned some interesting things about Facebook’s app development practices. For instance, the company prioritizes the most important work and breaks that work into modular pieces for the whole team to work on. In addition, it uses a heavily modified version of Mercurial for its development process. Hit the link if you ever wanted a look at how Facebook does things. Oh, and Facebook also had another security problem this week.
  • The Elder Scrolls: Blades launched on Google Play this week, sort of. The game is downloadable. However, there is still a closed beta process in place. Thus, you need to get an email from the developer to get access to the full game. Those invites are rolling out right now. The full game should launch later this year. Any in-app purchases or progress made during the beta should carry over as well.
  • BBC pulled all of its podcasts from Google Podcasts, Google Assistant, and Google Search this week. This is rather surprising. However, there is a somewhat reasonable explanation for it. BBC cites poor user statistics with the Google Podcast platform. The two companies met about it and couldn’t come to an agreement. You can still listen to BBC stuff on other platforms. You can also use the iPlayer Radio app on Google Home to continue using that ecosystem for BBC podcasts.

Atmosphere Weather

Price: Free / $3.99 per year
DOWNLOAD ON GOOGLE PLAY
Atmosphere Weather is a slightly different weather app. It features a unique UI with a lot of potentially useful info, including a weather radar. You get a quick, simple 24-hour view of the forecast. The developer says that helps facilitate easier decision making about plans and a larger focus on presentation rather than raw information. It takes a minute to get the hang of it. However, it’s quite an eloquent system. You can get more information from other weather apps if you need to see all of that data for various reasons. Atmosphere Weather is a decent, simple weather app. It runs free with ads or ad-free with a $3.99 per year subscription. We have no problems with either option. We would like to see a weather widget or two in a future update, though.
DOWNLOAD ON GOOGLE PLAY

Monsters with Attitude

Price: Freemium
DOWNLOAD ON GOOGLE PLAY
Monsters With Attitude is an online brawler game with heavy PvP elements. It features PvP combat with up to eight players simultaneously. Players smash things, each other, and cause general mayhem as they fight. It also uses a size mechanic. The larger your character grows, the more damage it does to smaller players and the environment around you. It honestly plays a lot like IO games (Agar.io, etc), but with better graphics and a more fun premise. The game has some optimization issues as well as some bugs to fix. However, it has a lot of promise as an online arcade brawler.
DOWNLOAD ON GOOGLE PLAY

Energy Ring

Price: Free / Up to $23.99
DOWNLOAD ON GOOGLE PLAY
Energy Ring is a customization app for Galaxy S10 owners. It turns the front facing camera cutout into a battery monitor. Last week, we talked about Hidey Hole. It has a bunch of wallpapers for the camera cutouts. Energy Ring has a little more functionality, though. You can lightly customize it if you want to. It doesn’t use a ton of battery and you can get some neat animations if you’re plugged in and charging. It currently only works with the S10 and S10e with S10 Plus support coming later. We’re quite happy with how the customization community has embraced the punch hole camera. It’s actually kind of fun.
DOWNLOAD ON GOOGLE PLAY

This War of Mine: Stories – Father’s Promise

Price: $1.99
DOWNLOAD ON GOOGLE PLAY
This War of Mine was our pick for the best Android game of 2017. The developer still has more content for the game and this is a standalone DLC for This War of Mine. You play as a father. You try to get your daughter out of the horrors of war by escaping a besieged city. It features harrowing story line rife with difficult decisions that should leave you feeling emotionally drained. There is also a crafting, cooking, and morale system to make sure everyone makes it out healthy. Spoiler, that’s not going to happen. It’s a great experience for only $1.99.
DOWNLOAD ON GOOGLE PLAY

Firefox Lockbox

Price: Free
DOWNLOAD ON GOOGLE PLAY
Firefox Lockbox is a new, free password manager from Mozilla. It works like you would expect. You put passwords and usernames in the app. It remembers these and fills in forms for you on your smartphone or tablet. It syncs with Firefox’s password manager so those who use Firefox should get your stuff available immediately. However, this is very much a work-in-progress. The app has quite a few bugs, including syncing issues and auto-fill issues. It will no doubt get better over time. However, we don’t recommend you hop off of LastPass just yet, though.
DOWNLOAD ON GOOGLE PLAY
Firefox Lockbox

If we missed any great Android apps or games news, updates, or releases, tell us about them in the comments! You can also click here for our latest Android Authority podcast episodes!

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Samsung makes some of the best smartwatches around, but they tend to be big, bulky and aggressively styled. The Galaxy Watch Active is just as well equipped as other Samsung wearables but trades the rugged aesthetic for a more demure style. It also comes at a noticeably smaller price. The Galaxy Watch Active delivers almost everything you’d get in a bigger, more expensive watch at a price most of us can actually justify.

There are, however, a couple of things you need to know before you decide to buy one – like the fact its activity tracking is trash right now. Let’s dive right into our Samsung Galaxy Watch Active review.

About this Samsung Galaxy Watch Active review: I’ve been using the Galaxy Watch Active for two weeks. It’s running One UI version 1.0 on Tizen OS version 4.0.0.3 and software version R500XXU1BSB7, paired to a Pixel 3 over Bluetooth.

Show More

The big picture

The Galaxy Watch Active is not Samsung’s first foray into the fitness smartwatch category: the original Gear Sport arrived almost a year and a half ago. While the Galaxy Watch Active could easily be considered a Gear Sport 2, Samsung is instead positioning it as the sporty version of its recent Galaxy Watch range.

Given its $199 price point, the Galaxy Watch Active is positioned alongside a number of excellent fitness trackers. Samsung’s goal is clearly to snag part of that target market with a comparably-priced smartwatch that does a bit more than your average fitness tracker. It’s also a competitively priced option for regular smartwatch buyers that don’t like the usual bulky designs or that have slimmer wrists. Unfortunately for Samsung, while its watch might do more than your average fitness tracker, it certainly doesn’t track activity better.

Design and display

Samsung Galaxy Watch Active default watch face

  • 40mm watch case (one size only)
  • 1.1-inch AMOLED display (360 x 360 pixels)
  • 20mm silicone watch strap (two sizes included)
  • Black, silver, rose gold, green

Even though the Galaxy Watch Active’s 40mm housing is only marginally smaller than the 42mm version of the Galaxy Watch, the difference in bulk is noticeable. Besides the difference in style, the Watch Active is also far lighter at just 25 grams compared to the smaller Galaxy Watch’s 49 grams. If you’ve ever tried exercising with a normal-sized smartwatch you’ll know this is a big plus.

The lightness and smallness of the Galaxy Watch Active mean it’s far less likely to get in the way of your workout. Its near-flush buttons also mean they won’t get caught on things while you work out or dig into the back of your wrist when doing shoulder presses or loaded squats.

Samsung Galaxy Watch Active thickness on wrist and button detail

Despite its diminutive size, the Galaxy Watch Active is plenty rugged enough to survive an active lifestyle. The small circular display is coated with a layer of Gorilla Glass 3 (but no Corning DX+). It’s water-resistant up to 5ATM and certified MIL-STD-810G compliant. I dropped it on day one and couldn’t see where it hit the ground, nor did it pick up any scratches during a couple weeks of use. Activities during this time included swimming, cycling, running, gym workouts and yoga on top of daily wear and tear and several keyboard commando skirmishes.

The screen is great: vibrant and crisp, a necessity on a display this size. I found the auto-brightness to be quite responsive outdoors but unless you’re looking directly at the Watch Active, the glare tends to obfuscate the display. Keep this in mind if you tend to glance at notifications or activity tracking while cycling, for example. It’s fine for running, when you can lift your arm right up to your face, but this is not always possible during activities you may want to track.

Samsung Galaxy Watch Active size comparison with Gear S3 Frontier and Huawei Watch GT

If you’re coming from a larger-screened wearable, be aware that its 1.1-inch display might feel a little pokey. For reference, the Galaxy Watch Active’s 28mm screen is a half-centimeter smaller in diameter than the the larger Galaxy Watch and offers just 72 percent of the display area. The lack of a rotating bezel here is noticeable, because it means you’ll have to swipe and tap your way around the tiny UI elements.

There is a microphone on the Watch Active, but no speaker, so while you can answer or initiate calls with it, you’ll need a paired phone to actually hear your interlocutor. Likewise, you can initiate Bixby queries via the watch but only get text responses on it unless you have a pair of wireless headphones paired (I’d suggest maxing out the volume on the watch and just controlling it on your headphones). Bixby is perfectly fine for general voice searches like the weather but is only going to be really useful if you also have a Samsung Galaxy smartphone (as that’s where Bixby’s strengths lie).

The silicon watch strap the Galaxy Watch Active comes with is perfectly serviceable and closes with a traditional watch buckle. The excess strap tucks underneath the strap to keep it out of the way. I like this clasping mechanism and tidy approach to the leftover strap. There’s a whole host of optional bands you can swap out thanks to the standard 20mm strap sizing. There’s also a longer strap (the bit with the holes in it) in the box if you have larger wrists.

Smartwatch features

Samsung Galaxy Watch Active quick settings

  • Music playback
  • Samsung Pay via NFC
  • Smartphone notifications

In typical Samsung fashion, the Watch Active has plenty to offer in terms of feature set and customization. It comes with a decent selection of watch faces to choose from, and more can be downloaded from the Galaxy Store (note: it runs Tizen 4.0, not Wear OS, which is just fine by me). All watch faces can be customized to your liking, so you can change colors, backgrounds and UI elements as you see fit.

The two buttons on the side of the Watch Active are straightforward: the top one takes you back a step and the bottom summons the app carousel. By default, a double press of the bottom button fires up Bixby, but as with most other things on this watch, it can be customized. I set it to display the world clock but you can change it to a shortcut for pretty much anything on the Galaxy Watch Active.

Samsung Galaxy Watch Active app picker

Swiping right on the UI accesses your notifications, which can be expanded beyond the summary view by tapping them. Doing so also allows you to respond, either using emoji, a tiny T-9 keyboard, voice dictation, or short canned answers like “on my way” and “talk to you later.” I found notifications on the Watch Active to be super reliable and prompt and responding to them even from such a small wearable was as good an experience as can be expected.

Swiping to the left cycles through fairly standard customizable screens including an activity dashboard, recent apps, heart rate monitor, calendar, contacts, weather, and music controls. There’s also a bunch of Samsung Health screens you can add here, including shortcuts to your favorite activity tracking, fitness challenges, leaderboards, sleep data, weight management, and monitoring of your caffeine and water intake.

Swiping down from anywhere in the UI reveals the quick settings, which include:

  • Goodnight mode
  • Bluetooth shortcut
  • Silent/vibrate toggle
  • Do not disturb mode
  • Always-on display
  • Screen brightness
  • Theater mode
  • Settings
  • Power saving mode
  • Airplane mode
  • Water lock mode
  • Wi-Fi
  • GPS
  • Battery shortcut
  • Find my phone

I won’t go into all these options as you can tell what they all do by their names. Suffice it to say the Galaxy Watch Active certainly doesn’t feel like it lacks in features, other than perhaps an LTE variant or a larger version. Everything on the watch feels fully baked too, with none of the glitchy or half-assed experiences you might be used to on Wear OS. Navigating long lists certainly isn’t as easy as it is with a rotating bezel, but the basic software and smartwatch features on the Watch Active are pretty solid.

The Watch Active has NFC so you can use Samsung Pay at newer contactless terminals, but Samsung removed the MST chip you’ll find in something bulkier like the Gear S3 Frontier, so you can’t use the Galaxy Watch Active at older magnetic stripe terminals. This may not matter too much depending on where you live, but be advised that Samsung Pay on the Watch Active doesn’t have the same widespread support as it does on your Samsung phone.

Fitness and health tracking

Samsung Galaxy Watch Active watchface 1

  • Blood pressure monitoring
  • Auto-detect fitness tracking (seven activities)
  • User-initiated fitness tracking (39 activities)
  • Sleep tracking
  • Heart rate monitoring
  • Stress monitoring
  • Built-in GPS

The one area in which the Galaxy Watch Active doesn’t score top marks is, ironically enough, health and fitness tracking. The arrival of blood pressure monitoring to a mainstream and affordable smartwatch was big news, especially given that the only other option right now is the $499 Omron HeartGuide. The problem is the Samsung Galaxy Watch Active doesn’t really deliver on the promise (at least, yet). It’s important to note it’s not FDA-approved like the Omron HeartGuide either.

Blood pressure monitoring on the Samsung Galaxy Watch Active works via a companion app you’ll have to install separately called My BP Lab, developed in conjunction with the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF).

The app is not great. It’s unstable, frequently crashes and, if the reviews on the Play Store are to be believed, doesn’t even take accurate blood pressure readings (I unfortunately didn’t have access to a sphygmomanometer to compare). The My BP Lab app only works with the Samsung Galaxy S9/S9 Plus, S10 and S10 Plus, and the Note 9, and is currently available in beta form once you sign up in the U.S., Canada, Australia, Germany and Singapore. It’s also worth noting there’s a good chance the app will never be pre-installed on all Watch Active models going forward.

Reconsider buying the Galaxy Watch Active if blood pressure monitoring is what you’re after.

If blood pressure monitoring is the reason you want the Galaxy Watch Active, I’d advise you reconsider. I’ve reached out to Samsung to ask if it has plans for a Samsung Health-based solution rather than My BP Lab, but am yet to receive a response. In time, blood pressure monitoring may become an integral part of the Galaxy Watch’s otherwise impressive fitness arsenal, but for now it’s a hard pass.

The rest of the health tracking on the Galaxy Watch Active is… up for debate. I found its step count usually matched other wearables I have fairly closely, but it didn’t always agree with what Samsung Health said (even after freshly syncing) or what my phone’s step counter was reporting via Google Fit. Admittedly, when all your gadgets are reporting different results it’s not easy to pin the blame on any of them, so I can’t say this is definitely Samsung doing something wrong — at least regarding step count.

Samsung Galaxy Watch Active sensors

Heart-rate monitoring was another issue, with the Watch Active occasionally producing significantly different results to other wearables I own. Comparing it to the Huawei Watch GT, it was frequently off by a wide margin. While typing this with both watches on either wrist, I get a 60bpm reading on the Watch Active and 77bpm on the Huawei Watch GT – that’s a huge discrepancy of more than 25 percent.

Also read

While it’s possible the Watch GT is over-reporting, its reading stays relatively stable and fluctuates in a manner you’d expect. The Galaxy Watch Active, on the other hand, fluctuates constantly, with a resting rate that can rapidly change by 15-20bpm all while doing the same thing. These erratic changes make me confident that it’s the culprit here. Under- or over-reporting heart rate is a real cause for concern, especially on a fitness tracker where accurate heart-rate monitoring is essential for activity target zones.

Floor tracking on the Watch Active is atrocious. I live in a two-story home and as I write this I know I’ve been up and down the stairs at least a dozen times and yet the Galaxy Watch Active says I’ve only done one floor all day. The activity auto-tracking does kick in pretty reliably when walking or running, but the results it records aren’t there yet. The Watch Active can auto-detect seven exercises with a further 39 able to tracked by manually initiating them.

Samsung Galaxy Watch Active stress monitoring

Sleep tracking is equally problematic. The Watch Active doesn’t always seem to know the difference between chilling on the couch and actually being asleep. So you’ll occasionally get sleep tracking that reports a two-hour sleep followed by a couple hours awake and then a longer sleep, when really you were just watching a movie before getting up and doing other stuff before bed. Once your sleep has been logged to Samsung Health you can’t edit it either.

Don’t miss: Fitbit Versa vs Apple Watch Series 4: Which is right for you?

I could go on with multiple other health tracking quibbles but I’m sure the point is clear. As it stands right now, the Samsung Galaxy Watch Active is an excellent piece of hardware let down by bad tracking calibration. The good news about this is that this can likely be fixed with a software update, but I’d recommend you wait for that to arrive before investing in this watch. We’ll update this review if and when these issues are addressed.

Samsung Health app

Samsung Galaxy Watch Active pairing screen

The Samsung Health app is a huge, sprawling app with more nooks and crannies for the data-obsessed than you can poke a stick at. I won’t go into it in too much detail here as it is simply too massive to do justice, but rest assured you can while away many hours delving into all the data it stores. As mentioned above though, a lot of that data is of dubious accuracy so don’t invest too much in what it’s telling you.

If you’re already familiar with Samsung Health you’ll be well versed in where to go, how to get the most out of it, and the best way to set the various options up. If you’re new to Samsung’s fitness app, however, expect a bit of a learning curve as you find your way around its many menus, options, and settings.

You’ll need to install a dizzying array of apps at startup: the Galaxy Wearable app, the Galaxy Watch Active Plugin, Samsung Accessory Service, and then Samsung Health and Samsung Pay if you don’t already have them.

The Wearable app lets you control everything on the watch with your phone and also lets you transfer content like music and images to it. The app can also be used to set up an SOS transmission to share your location with selected contacts in an emergency by quickly pressing the bottom button three times.

Samsung Galaxy Watch Active: Specs

  Samsung Galaxy Watch Active
Display 1.1-inch full-color always-on display
360 x 360 resolution
Corning Gorilla Glass 3
Memory 768MB RAM
4GB storage
Connectivity Bluetooth 4.2
Wi-Fi b/g/n
NFC
A-GPS/Glonass
Sensors Accelerometer
Gyroscope
Barometer
Heart rate
Ambient light
Processor Dual-core Samsung Exynos 9110
1.15GHz
Battery 230mAh
WPC-based wireless charging
Durability 5ATM + IP68
MIL-STD-810G
Compatibility Samsung Galaxy, Android 5.0 or above with more than 1.5GB RAM

iPhone: iPhone 5 and above, iOS 9.0 or above

Software Tizen-based Wearable OS 4.0
Dimensions and weight Case: 40mm
39.5 x 39.5 x 10.5mm
25g

Strap: 20mm

Colors silver, black, rose gold, sea green

Samsung Galaxy Watch Active: Performance and battery life

Samsung Galaxy Watch Active glare

  • Samsung Exynos 9100
  • 4GB internal storage
  • 0.75GB of RAM
  • 230mAh battery

The Watch Active performs well and I had no noticeable issues with lag, stuttering or crashes, barring the Plugin crashing when I tried to sync music (that was likely due to the Android Q developer preview, not the watch). Speaking of music, if you want to load your own tunes onto the Watch Active’s internal storage, just be aware about half of it will already be used out of the box.

The Galaxy Watch’s battery is admittedly small, but is only a little smaller than the small Galaxy Watch. Samsung promises 45 hours of battery life which is probably true if you disable pretty much everything. If you’re regularly tracking activities (as I would assume you would), you’ll be able to get through a day. If you’re streaming music that’ll drop to less than a day, use GPS and it’s half a day – you get the idea.

I found a day’s usage was pretty standard with an average mix of notifications, music, activity tracking, and interactions with notifications. This is neither better nor worse than most other smartwatches, but for a watch designed specifically for an active lifestyle, better battery life would have been appreciated.

What’s perhaps worse is the extremely slow charging via the included wireless puck. Instead of using pogo pins, Samsung opted for wireless charging here. It’s painfully slow. The 230mAh battery takes almost two hours to charge, which is a horrendously long time for a watch you might just want to juice up quickly before you duck out for a run. You can wirelessly charge it on the go with the new S10 family, but it’ll take even longer to charge that way.

Samsung Galaxy Watch Active: Pricing and final thoughts

Samsung Galaxy Watch Active outdoor visibility 2

At $199, the Galaxy Watch Active is priced very competitively. As far as hardware performance goes it’s up there, barring the battery and charging issues just mentioned. Where the Galaxy Watch Active falls down though, putting it squarely in do-not-buy territory — is fitness tracking. Fortunately, this is something Samsung can absolutely fix, and will hopefully do so soon. I’ve had a great experience with other Samsung wearables in the past, so I know Samsung can make amends.

Despite the ‘Active’ name, you shouldn’t buy the Galaxy Watch Active if you need accurate fitness or health tracking.

If the actual data recorded by the Watch Active is not the reason you’re buying it, then go ahead — it’s likely a sound investment (especially seeing there are so many open box discounts already due to the number of returns retailers are seeing).

If you want a wearable for notifications, music, something to prompt you to move or relax, and tell you the time, then yeah, the Galaxy Watch Active is great. But add blood pressure monitoring, sleep tracking, heart-rate monitoring, step or floor count to that list of needs and the Watch Active is simply not a good buy right now.

Looking for an alternative? The Fitbit Ionic has a similar feature set, price point, and isn’t bad at fitness tracking. The Garmin Vivoactive 3 Music is also a great GPS running smartwatch.

Affiliate disclosure: We may receive compensation in connection with your purchase of products via links on this page. The compensation received will never influence the content, topics or posts made in this blog. See our disclosure policy for more details.

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25 Ways to Jumpstart Your Business with Barry Moltz

Being an entrepreneur is no easy feat. That’s why author and small business expert Barry Moltz created 25 Ways to Jumpstart Your Business, a 15-hour online course to help you launch and sustain your business successfully.

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Unlock your full potential as an entrepreneur.

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You’ll also learn how to build a team and culture that lasts, how to manage virtual employees, and how to grow your online presence to fit customers’ needs. 

Get 25 Ways to Jumpstart Your Business with Barry Moltz for just $19.99 now — 59 percent off the original price of $49.

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Google showing Stadia on Pixelbook, Pixel phone, desktop PC, TV, and tablet at GDC 2019

Opinion post by
Oliver Cragg

When Google finally took the wraps off Stadia — the search giant’s massive leap into the games industry — it showcased its next-gen streaming technology on a number of devices.

Former Sony Computer Entertainment president and now Google vice president for Stadia, Phil Harrison, showed the Game Developers Conference 2019 audience and thousands watching on livestream to how easy it would be to switch between playing on a Chromebook, Android smartphone, desktop PC, and a tablet.

Editor’s Pick

This impressive demo was the first moment where Google’s vision for the future of gaming, where almost any hardware can run AAA console games via cloud technology, went beyond just words and vague teasers.

There was just one problem. Of those four devices — a Pixelbook, a Pixel 3 XL, a desktop PC with Stadia running inside Chrome browser, and a Pixel Slate — three represented product categories that continue to thrive. The fourth represents a product family that has been in freefall for years: the tablet.

The tablet market is on life support, with the most recent figures showing continued year-on-year declines. Tablets need a purpose to remain relevant, and Stadia is the opportunity of a lifetime.

A fresh slate

The Google Pixel Slate

Unlike in the smartphone arena where Android reigns supreme, Apple’s iPad series leads the ailing tablet sector with no genuine competition. This was no more evident than just a few weeks ago when the Cupertino firm rolled out new iPads with no fanfare at all, knowing it’ll still be guaranteed the top spot despite its own falling sales.

Samsung and Huawei have snatched second and third, respectively. While the two tech behemoths do make premium tablets on occasion, the pair are more known for affordable mid-range tablets and even cheaper tablets designed for kids. However, their combined tablet market share is still less than Apple, which holds an iron grip on over a third of the entire sector.

The disparity between the success of Android on phones and its abject failure as a tablet platform is bewildering. Those who’ve already bought an Android tablet are seemingly unwilling to consider buying another, while those who’ve never bought an Android tablet are less interested than ever in taking the plunge — a worryingly dire picture painted by Android Authority readers in a comprehensive poll last year.

Read more: Best Android tablets

Foldable phones like the Galaxy Fold and Mate X could be the final nudge that sees Android tablets falling to their final, inevitable death. Of course we’ve still got a long way to go before the technology becomes mainstream.

Android tablets have failed, but there’s still hope for a new iPad rival from the nascent Chrome OS tablet line.

Chrome OS tablets got off to an inauspicious start early in 2018 with the reveal of the Chromebook Tab 10 — a stylus-toting from Acer designed for the education market. Things improved dramatically with HP’s Chromebook x2 detachable laptop, but it was largely ignored by consumers.

That all changed with the big reveal of the Google Pixel Slate, but for all the wrong reasons.

The Pixel Slate was and still is an overpriced, underwhelming addition to Google’s otherwise stellar Made by Google entourage.

To make matters worse, the Celeron version, which may have been quietly retired, suffered from unacceptable performance issues and further tainted the Pixel Slate as yet another poor attempt at an iPad competitor (in this case the iPad Pro).

Reports have since surfaced that Google is putting the brakes on its tablet and laptop divisions, but there’s still hope for Chrome OS tablets even if Google backs out on making hardware. Silicon giants Qualcomm and MediaTek are allegedly both preparing for an upcoming wave of Chrome OS tablets and laptops.

Yet, if future Chrome OS tablets are to make any headway they’ll need something special to convince people to buy in over the ubiquitous iPad. Enter Stadia.

Standing out from the crowd

Google Stadia demo on a Pixel Slate tablet

While there are plenty of burning questions still to be answered, Stadia is a phenomenal concept that could be the game streaming service many players have been hoping for.

Google says Stadia will be capable of delivering a gaming experience more powerful than any current console, anytime, anywhere. Internet restrictions will apply of course, but the idea is that you’ll be able to stream in up to 4K at 60fps across multiple platforms with all the necessary processing grunt provided by super-powered remote PCs.

Editor’s Pick

Based on Google’s GDC briefing, Stadia could come to any device that supports Chrome browser, but it’s been coy on compatibility so far. Whatever the case, Google’s demo at GDC suggests that Stadia will find a home on Chrome OS tablets like the Pixel Slate.

With the need for high-end hardware effectively removed through cloud technology, Chrome OS tablets from all price brackets could feasibly run top-end console games via Stadia. In theory, a $99 tablet bought for your kids could run Assassin’s Creed Odyssey just as well as a PS4.

This would make gaming a key selling point for Chrome OS tablets across all price brackets, giving them an edge over Apple’s premium-or-nothing iPad range. Likewise, while Apple Arcade may have come as something of a curveball, nothing we saw of Apple’s game subscription service suggested the exclusive games on offer would be on par with AAA console games. Plus, if you want to play mobile games on a Chrome OS tablet you can thanks to the Google Play Store and Android app support.

Related: The best Android apps for Chromebooks you can install right now

Looking beyond Apple, Chrome OS tablets with Stadia could well take on the current king of portable gaming — the Nintendo Switch.

Nintendo’s home-handheld-hybrid console has sold gangbusters and has a stellar game library. Yet in terms of performance and visual fidelity the Switch lags well behind other consoles, not to mention high-end PCs.

Even with rumors heating up that an upgraded Switch model may be on the way, the raw processing power is very unlikely to match what Stadia can offer on a tablet even half its price. That’s without even touching on the Switch’s 720p display and mediocre battery.

Unlike Switch-aping gaming phones that rely on the Google Play Store game library, Stadia also looks set to bring a bunch of AAA publishers on board. We’ve already seen Ubisoft and Bethesda commit to the service, with the latter showing off Doom: Eternal at GDC. The sequel to the 2016 Doom reboot is also on its way to Switch, albeit with expected downgrades like its predecessor. That won’t be the case on Stadia which can apparently run the same game in 4K with HDR at 60fps on any device.

Game on

google stadia controller white at gdc 2019

The huge caveat is Stadia’s internet connection requirement, which greatly limits its scope as the go-to portable platform. This will become less of an issue when 5G finally begins rolling out, but even then the price of a 5G data plan on top of Stadia’s currently unknown costs could price some potential buyers out of the market.

Chrome OS tablets with Stadia do have an ace in the hole over gaming devices, though, and that’s Chrome OS itself — an agile, cloud-based, desktop ecosystem for work, play, and pretty much anything in between. Why carry a Switch and a laptop when you could just pack a tablet and do everything on a single device?

Google needs to up its own game.

This all relies on better tablet hardware and Chrome OS is far more suited to the form factor than Android in its current state. The market may become even more muddied when foldable phones inevitably drop in price, but Google’s awful track record when attempting to turn Android into a workable tablet platform doesn’t fill me with much confidence.

If Android does become a viable phone-tablet-hybrid OS — and there are at least some positive signs starting to show with desktop mode in early Android Q builds — it could still be several years before foldable phones become mainstream. In addition, foldable phones will always be restricted when it comes to display size with the need to be both a reasonably-sized phone and a large enough tablet. Meanwhile the Pixel Slate, despite all its flaws, has a gorgeous 12.3-inch Molecular Display that’s prime for playing top-end games.

What Chrome OS tablets need is a hook and Stadia is the perfect bait. But, if Google wants tablets to be the fourth pillar for its gaming aspirations, it’ll first need to up its own game and help make the dream of a legitimate iPad rival a reality.

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Laptop Graphic Design

Graphic design seems like an ideal profession. It’s creative, there are opportunities for advancement, and the most skilled pros earn high salaries for their expertise. If there is a downside to becoming a graphic designer, however, it’s the cost of the training.

For a professional education, students can expect to pay thousands. And, once finished, they still aren’t guaranteed a job. However, that’s precisely what makes the Pay What You Want: Complete Learn to Design Bundle such an interesting prospect.

The Complete Learn to Design Bundle gives students the opportunity to learn pro-level graphic design skills but at a price that’s easy to afford, which means there’s virtually no risk. You spend very little and train on your own schedule so you can give a career your best shot.

You’ll learn popular software packages including Photoshop and InDesign.

This package includes lifetime access to ten courses that’ll show you the same graphic design techniques that the professionals use. You’ll learn popular software packages including Photoshop and InDesign, how to develop a logo, and much more.

Simply check out the current average price for the bundle, which is just over $5 at the time of writing. If you enter a higher amount, then you’ll get the entire bundle for that value. Or, if the average price is a little too high, just enter a lower figure and you’ll still get the first course, of $99 value, for that number.

This is your chance to score over $1,450 worth of pro graphic design training for just pennies on the dollar. But don’t wait too long to purchase — the average price is likely to trend upwards as time goes on.

The AAPicks team writes about things we think you’ll like, and we may see a share of revenue from any purchases made through affiliate links. To see all our hottest deals, head over to the AAPICKS HUB.

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The Jetson Nano is Nvidia’s latest machine learning development platform. Previous iterations of the Jetson platform were aimed squarely at professional developers looking to make large scale commercial products. They are powerful, yet expensive. With the Jetson Nano, Nvidia has lowered the price of entry and opened the way for a Raspberry-Pi like revolution, this time for machine learning.

The Jetson Nano is a $99 single board computer (SBC) that borrows from the design language of the Raspberry Pi with its small form factor, block of USB ports, microSD card slot, HDMI output, GPIO pins, camera connector (which is compatible with the Raspberry Pi camera), and Ethernet port. However, it isn’t a Raspberry Pi clone. The board is a different size, there is support for Embedded Displayport, and there is a huge heat sink!

Related

Under the heatsink is the production-ready Jetson Nano System on Module (SOM). The development kit is basically a board (with all the ports) for holding the module. In a commercial application the designers would build their products to accept the SOM, not the board.

While Nvidia wants to sell lots of Jetson modules, it is also aiming to sell the board (with module) to enthusiasts and hobbyists who may never use the module version but are happy to create projects based around the development kit, much like they do with the Raspberry Pi.

GPU

When you think of Nvidia you probably think about graphics cards and GPUs, and rightly so. While Graphic Processing Units are great for 3D gaming, it also turns out that they are good at running machine learning algorithms.

The Jetson Nano has a 128 CUDA core GPU based on the Maxwell architecture. Each generation of GPU from Nvidia is based on a new microarchitecture design. This central design is then used to create different GPUs (with different core counts, and so on) for that generation. The Maxwell architecture was used first in the GeForce GTX 750 and the GeForce GTX 750 Ti. A second generation Maxwell GPU was introduced with the GeForce GTX 970.

The original Jetson TX1 used a 1024-GFLOP Maxwell GPU with 256 CUDA cores. The Jetson Nano uses a cut-down version of the same processor. According to the boot logs, the Jetson Nano has the same second-generation GM20B variant of the Maxwell GPU, but with half the CUDA cores.

The Jetson Nano comes with a large collection of CUDA demos from smoke particle simulations to Mandelbrot rendering with a healthy dose of Gaussian blurs, jpeg encoding and fog simulations along the way.

The potential for fast and smooth 3D games, like those based on the various 3D engines released under open source from ID software, is good. I couldn’t actually find any that work yet, but I am sure that will change.

AI

Having a good GPU for CUDA based computations and for gaming is nice, but the real power of the Jetson Nano is when you start using it for machine learning (or AI as the marketing people like to call it).

Nvidia has an open source project called “Jetson Inference” which runs on all its Jetson platforms, including the Nano. It demonstrates various clever machine learning techniques, including object recognition and object detection. For developers, it is an excellent starting point for building real-world machine learning projects. For reviewers, it is a cool way to see what the hardware can do!

Also read: How to build your own digital assistant with Raspberry Pi

The object recognition neural network has about 1000 objects in its repertoire. It can work either from still images or live from the camera feed. Similarly, the object detection demo knows about dogs, faces, walking people, airplanes, bottles, and chairs.

When running live from a camera, the objection recognition demo can process (and label) at about 17fps. The object detection demo, searching for faces, runs at about 10fps.

Visionworks is Nvidia’s SDK for computer vision. It implements and extends the Khronos OpenVX standard, and it is optimized for CUDA-capable GPUs and SOCs, including the Jetson Nano.

There are several different VisionWorks demos available for the Jetson Nano including feature tracking, motion estimation, and video stabilization. These are common tasks needed by Robotics and Drones, Autonomous Driving and Intelligent Video Analytics.

Using a 720p HD video feed the feature tracking works at over 100fps, while the motion estimation demo can calculate the motion of around six or seven people (and animals) from a 480p feed at 40fps.

For videographers, the Jetson Nano can stabilize handheld (shaky) video at over 50fps from a 480p input. What these three demos show is real-time computer vision tasks running at high framerates. A sure foundation for creating apps in a wide range of areas that include video input.

The killer demo that Nvidia provided with my review unit is “DeepStream.” Nvidia’s DeepStream SDK is a yet-to-be-released framework for high-performance streaming analytics applications that can be deployed on site in retail outlets, smart cities, industrial inspection areas, and more.

The DeepStream demo shows real-time video analytics on eight 1080p inputs. Each input is H.264 encoded and represents a typical streams coming on a IP camera. It is an impressive demo, showing real-time object tracking of people and cars at 30fps across eight video inputs. Remember this is running on a $99 Jetson Nano!

Raspberry Pi Killer?

As well as a powerful GPU and some sophisticated AI tools, the Jetson Nano is also a fully working desktop computer running a variant of Ubuntu Linux. As a desktop environment it has several distinct advantages over the Raspberry Pi. First, it has 4GB of RAM. Second, it has a quad-core Cortex-A57 based CPU, third is has USB 3.0 (for faster external storage).

While running a full desktop on the Pi can be arduous, the desktop experience provided by the Jetson Nano is much more pleasant. I was able to easily run Chromium with 5 open tabs; LibreOffice Writer; the IDLE python development environment; and a couple of terminal windows. This is mainly because the 4GB of RAM, but startup time, and application performance are also superior to the Raspberry Pi due to the use of Cortex-A57 cores rather than Cortex-A53 cores.

For those interested in some actual performance numbers. Using my threadtesttool (here on GitHub) with eight threads each calculating the first 12,500,000 primes, the Jetson Nano was able to complete the workload in 46 seconds. This compares to four minutes on a Raspberry Pi Model 3 and 21 seconds on my Ryzen 5 1600 desktop.

Using the OpenSSL “speed” test, which tests the performance of cryptographic algorithms. The Jetson Nano is at least 2.5 times faster than the Raspberry Pi 3, peaking at 10 times faster, depending on the exact test.

Development environment

Related: Learn how to develop Android apps at the DGiT Academy!

As an Arm development environment, the Jetson Nano is excellent. You get access to all the standard programming languages like C, C++, Python, Java, Javascript, Go, and Rust, plus you can even run some IDEs. I tried Eclipse from the Ubuntu repository, but it failed to launch. Ironically however, I was able to run a Community build of Visual Studio Code without any problems!

GPIO

One of the key features of the Raspberry Pi is its set of General Purpose Input and Output (GPIO) pins. They allow you to connect the Pi to external hardware like LEDs, sensors, motors, displays, and more.

The Jetson Nano also has a set of GPIO pins and the good news is that they are Raspberry Pi compatible. Initial support is limited to the Adafruit Blinka library and to userland control of the pins. However, all of the plumbing is there to allow broad support for many of the Raspberry Pi HATs available.

To test it all out I took a Pimoroni Rainbow HAT and connected it to the Jetson. The library (https://ift.tt/2vHiVYV) for the Rainbow HAT is expecting a Raspberry Pi along with some underlying libraries, so I didn’t try to install it, however I did modify one of the example scripts that comes with the Jetson Nano so I could get one of the board’s LEDs to blink on and off via Python.

Power supply

Because of the high-performance CPU and the desktop like GPU, the Jetson Nano has a large heatsink and you can also buy an optional fan. The board has different power modes which are controlled via a program called nvpmodel. The two main power modes are the 10W configuration, which uses all four CPU cores and allows the GPU to run at maximum speed. The other is the 5W mode, which disables two of the cores and throttles the GPU.

If you are running apps which push the performance of the board you will need to ensure that you use a good power supply. For general usage, you can use USB for power, as long as the supply is rated for at least 2.5A. For high-performance tasks, you should use a 5V/4A power supply, which has a separate socket and is enabled via a jumper on the board.

Closing thoughts

If you look at the Jetson Nano as an affordable way onto the Jetson platform, it is brilliant. Rather than having to spend $600 or more to get a development kit which is compatible with Nvidia’s machine learning offerings and works with frameworks like VisionWorks, you just pay $99. What you get is still highly capable and able to perform lots of interesting machine learning tasks. Plus, it leaves the door open to upgrading to the bigger versions of Jetson if needed.

As a direct alternative to the Raspberry Pi, the value proposition is less appealing, as the Pi only costs $35 (less if you go with one of the Zero models). Price is key: Do I want a Jetson Nano or three Raspberry Pi boards?

If you want something like the Raspberry Pi, but with more processing power, more GPU grunt and quadruple the RAM, then the Jetson Nano is the answer. Sure, it costs more, but you get more.

Bottom line is this: if the Raspberry Pi is good enough for you, stick with it. If you want better performance, if you want hardware accelerated machine learning, if you want a way into the Jetson ecosystem, then get a Jetson Nano today!

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