Tech round-up for April 10: Huawei P30 takes stunning photos, Echo Input brings Alexa to any speaker, Pwn2Own competition celebrates hacking, Borderlands 3 announced

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This week, Amazon makes dumb speakers smart, hackers get rewarded for their efforts, and Borderlands 3 is announced. But first, Huawei’s P30 series of smartphones take the best photos.

Huawei leaps ahead of the crowd with P30 handset photography

Last week I attended a briefing for press detailing Huawei’s new line of smartphones, the P30 series. Paul Dayco is the chief technical advisor for Huawei Canada, and explained that the “P” is for “photography”.

And there’s lots of buzz about the photographic potential of these handsets. The P30 has a 5x optical zoom (compared to 2x in most other handsets), a 10x hybrid zoom, and a 50x digital zoom (compared to 10x in most others).

This is made possible by the quad-lens camera system on the back of the device that makes use of Leica optics:

  • ultra wide angle, which can be used for panorama photos but also for super-macro (close up) photos
  • wide angle
  • telephoto
  • “time of flight”, which is used to enhance auto focus and depth effects

The “super zoom” technology Huawei has in this device uses a periscope-like design, which arranges the lenses differently in the handset so that more of them can be used.

And the larger sensor and larger aperture means more light is pulled into the camera system, reportedly allowing for the best low light pictures possible from a smartphone. This is all supported by a dual optical image stabilization system

There’s another camera on the front of the phone that provides 32 MP selfies with high dynamic range (HDR).

This is all in addition to high speed charging (up to 70% in only 30 minutes) and reverse charging (you can charge any Qi-compatible device from the back of the handset, including earbuds and even toothbrushes) in a sleek chassis.

The P30 has a 6.1-inch OLED display and is available for around $900 to $950 outright.

The P30 Pro has a 6.47-inch curved OLED display and is available in black or “breathing crystal” (a shimmery finish that takes on the colours and textures of the environment) for between $1,100 and $1,200.

I’ve got a P30 Pro to play with, and am going to report back in a couple of weeks on what my experience is taking photos and shooting video with it.

Add Alexa to any speaker you want with Echo Input

If you’ve already got amazing speakers and are getting tired of hearing everyone else talk about their “smart” speakers, you can stop being annoyed and simply upgrade.

The Echo Input is kind of like a dongle that you plug into speakers with a 3.5 mm audio cable or through Bluetooth, and it gives your speakers Alexa functionality. So you can use your speakers the way anyone else would use an Echo.

You can ask Alexa for the weather forecast, or to give you the news headlines. You can even stream music from Amazon Music or Spotify.

The Echo Input is priced at Cdn$45.

Pwn2Own competition sees hackers infiltrate Model 3 system

At the end of March, teams of computer programmers tackled some interesting challenges in Vancouver.

It was the Pwn2Own competition that was part of the annual CanSecWest conference. The event is a product of the Zero Day Initiative, which was created by computing company Trend Micro to reward hackers (Trend Micro calls them “researchers”) for discovering and privately reporting software vulnerabilities.

Pwn2Own is a hacking contest. Competitors are given specific tasks and constraints, and are rewarded with cash and “Master of Pwn” points for being the first to succeed in the task.

This year, a Tesla Model 3 was added as a target. The target was the web browser that is part of the Model 3 system, and which is used by Tesla to deliver updates to the car.

Fluoroacetate, a team made up of Amat Cama and Richard Zhu, were named Masters of Pwn, having earned $375,000 and 36 points, in addition to the laptops and Model 3 they were awarded for winning stages.

Borderlands 3 is the game you want to play right now

Announced by Gearbox Software at PAX East last week, Borderlands 3 doesn’t release until September 13, but I’ll be watching the reveal trailer – it’s below – daily until then.

The first-person shooter, role playing game hybrid franchise was an epiphany when the first game came out in 2009. The games are raucous, rambunctious, and ridiculous, with a unique art style, atypical narrative development, and plenty of humour.

One of the things that makes Borderlands games so appealing is the continual collecting of loot from caches in the environment and from the bodies of the bad guys you take out.

You’ll be able to play on PS4, Windows, or Xbox One, and you can pre-order now to get the “gold weapon skins pack”.

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