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Comment Re:Not lossless (Score 1) 385

There is a lossless variant of aptX, unsurprisingly called aptX Lossless. But I don't believe that any phones implement it.

There is also aptX HD, a version that uses lossy compression but supports high resolution audio. Some new LG phones support it, but no devices from Samsung do so far.

Although the standard aptX is not lossless, it does sound better than the standard Bluetooth audio compression.

As for Opus, it's not just for speech compression. It covers a wide range of bit rates, all the way from 8Kbps for mono speech use to 320Kbps for stereo music and even higher rates for multichannel audio. At any given bit rate, it generally sounds as good as or better than competing codecs. The main downside of Opus is the lack of hardware support, meaning that compression and decompression has to be done in software instead. That consumes more power and more battery life.

Comment Finally, an AMD CPU that's Good Enough (Score 1) 188

Zen probably won't be able to beat the very best chips that Intel has to offer. And it's going to lag a bit more in single threaded benchmarks; part of Zen's strength is in multithread performance. But it's going to be far more competitive then the company has been for years. Combine that with appropriate pricing and they will have a winner. They won't be able to charge $1000 or more for any of the Zen products but they can still enjoy healthier margins than they've been able to get for the FX line or for the current A-series APUs.

As for choosing Blender, they probably deliberately chose something that makes full use of all the cores and that uses the FPU heavily; those are AMD strengths. And also an application that isn't built with an Intel compiler. Intel's compilers are known for producing code that works badly on AMD processors.

Comment Re:What about so-called "data hogs"? (Score 1) 195

The bandwidth of most streaming audio is already fairly modest. Spotify, for example, uses either 80, 160, or 320Kbps depending on the quality mode; free Spotify users only get the lowest quality mode. I use the 160Kbps mode on mobile because I can't tell the difference between it and 320Kbps in situations where I'll be using the mobile network. If I'm at home and listening in a quiet place I'll use 320Kbps but that's over WiFi.

The lone exception in the US is Tidal. (Other high quality streaming services are available in some other countries.) If you have the HiFi option your stream may be 1Mbps or more. They use lossless FLAC compression, which compresses anywhere from 25 to 60% from the 1.4Mbps CD data rate depending on musical content.

Video is another matter, which is why T-Mobile's BingeOn service limits you to SD video. HD streaming can use a lot of bandwidth. And there are now phones with 4K screens; streaming that would REALLY take a lot of bandwidth. (Streaming services are using 15Mbps or more for 4K.)

Comment Re:What about so-called "data hogs"? (Score 1) 195

The higher tiers of T-Mobile's current Simple Choice plans included a limited amount of tethered data at high speed. Their new T-Mobile One plans, coming in September, do not, but they do include unlimited low speed tethered data. The low speed tethered data may be sufficient if you just want to use the computer for email, which is certainly handier than using a mobile device because email works way better if you have a real keyboard.

Comment Re:Sprint (Score 1) 195

Not really unlimited; you're limited to 1GB of high speed data at that price. After that you get throttled to 2G speeds even if you are on a faster network. But at least you'll never get hit with overuse fees.

You can step up to 3GB data for $40, 5GB data for $50, or "unlimited" high speed data for $60. Unlimited is in quotes because they will still throttle you after 26GB, just as they do on T-Mobile branded service. The "unlimited" services offered by AT&T and Sprint have similar caps somewhere above 20GB.

The other catch with high speed service from secondary brands is that it has lower priority on the network. So that "unlimited" service on MetroPCS won't be as fast as "unlimited" service on T-Mobile if the network is crowded, but you do pay a bit less for it. The same is true for Cricket (AT&T), and for Boost and Virgin (Sprint). The service from those brands also typically includes less roaming coverage and omits perks like international roaming. But secondary brands can be good deals if you can live with those limitations.

Verizon is the only US carrier that sells contracts that include larger amounts of high speed data. But be prepared to pay a LOT of money for them. 100GB of high speed data, the biggest plan they offer, costs $450/month. They also just started offering what they call Safety Mode; if you opt for that they slow down your data if you exhaust your plan (like the other carriers do) rather than charging overuse fees. The "unlimited" service that legacy customers have has now effectively been converted to XXL (24GB) service with Safety Mode enabled.

Comment Re: Sprint (Score 1) 195

But from the iPhone 6 on there is no separate GSM-only model for North America; all the ones sold here work on both GSM and CDMA networks. There are still two models; one with the LTE bands for North America and one with LTE bands for the rest of the world. There is some overlap of band coverage, so you will be able to get LTE coverage in some places with your North American phone. But there will also be places where you can't get LTE and you'll be limited to 3G HSDPA/HSPA.

Comment Re:Sprint (Score 1) 195

I think you meant to say GSM. GTE is a former telecom company that is now part of Verizon.

LTE isn't actually based on either GSM or CDMA, it's a new thing, though it does borrow ideas from both. The nice thing about LTE is that telecom carriers worldwide are converging on it, which means that we will someday get true world phones.

The bad news is that North America uses a different set of radio bands for LTE than most of the rest of the world does, and nobody has yet made a phone that is capable of covering ALL the LTE bands worldwide. A further complication is that the set of bands keeps growing; the current FCC reverse auction for part of the 600 MHz television band may lead to yet more LTE frequencies a few years down the road.

Comment Re:Sprint (Score 1) 195

Depends on the phone. If you have one of the higher-end phones like an iPhone or one of the flagship Galaxy models, your phone works on both CDMA and GSM networks. You mostly won't be able to get LTE outside the Americas because your North American version of the phone doesn't have the necessary band coverage (that's true for ALL current LTE phones, not just those for CDMA networks), but it will work on 2G and 3G GSM networks worldwide. That will give you the ability to make phone calls, send texts, and get respectable data speeds.

Lower-end Verizon (and Sprint) phones don't work on GSM networks. You won't be able to use one of those in nearly such a wide range of countries.

Comment Not the same class of device as the Pi (Score 1) 124

This is on a different playing field than the Pi Zero.

On the one hand, the Pi Zero can run a full desktop Linux distribution. On the other hand,the $5 price is just a starting point. At the very least you have to add a MicroSD card to be able to use it, bringing the bill closer to $10. And if you need any kind of networking that's also extra.

The Omega2 includes WiFi and flash onboard. But the tiny amounts of RAM and flash mean that you're limited to distros that are intended solely for embedded applicatoins. (The one provided with it is based on OpenWRT, a distro that is mostly used to replace the firmware in wireless routers.) But if your application can fit within those constraints, $5 is really all you have to spend on it. It's strictly an embedded systems play, unlike the Pi Zero which can be used in a wider variety of applications.

Comment Re: I beg to differ (Score 1) 138

Part of the problem is the race to the bottom. If some providers in a market are using inexpensive labor, others who want to compete with them also have to use inexpensive labor; otherwise they will lose business to the providers with the cheap labor. There are some cases where the company can use the fact that they are using high priced labor in their marketing, and survive despite having higher prices than their competition. But that will only work on a fraction of the market; McDonald's and Walmart can't adopt that strategy because low prices have always been a key part of their selling proposition.

If all providers were on an equal playing field, the higher labor costs would not be a problem in most cases. Prices would increase a bit, and people would adjust and move on. There may be a few goods and services that would be impossible to offer, because there is no intersection between the price that the higher labor costs would require and the willingness of customers to buy the good at that price. But it's hard to feel much sympathy for a business where the entire business model depends on exploiting labor.

Comment Re:I beg to differ (Score 1) 138

Univision, like the other major Spanish language media sources in the US, has biases. All of the big Spanish language players share the positions you name, because they are also the opinions of the majority of Latinos in the US. I have seen contrary opinions expressed in smaller newspapers and magazines.

Despite its imperfections, I do find Univision to be a useful counterpoint to what the English language media are saying. They report stories that the English language media are ignoring, and take different positions on the issues.

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