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Jorge Velez - Roman Birds Music Album Reviews

Inspired by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius, this five-track ambient wonder finds the New York producer letting pulses and motifs overlap until the tracks resemble the inside of a lava lamp.
Jorge Velez has long been prolific, but that’s been especially true in the past few years. Like many underground electronic musicians, the New York producer has taken advantage of the internet’s self-publishing opportunities—in particular, the direct-to-fans platform Bandcamp—to sidestep label gatekeepers, streaming services, and crowded retailers. (Velez’s Bandcamp page currently numbers 26 releases.) Velez first gained recognition a dozen years ago with blippy disco derivatives for labels like Italians Do It Better, but his output has gradually become more esoteric and inward-looking. He’s still capable of ebullient club tracks, as last year’s excellent Forza attests, but many of his long, undulating machine jams sound like late-night missives to himself.

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Sony Xperia XZ2 Compact Review: Hands-on

Sony Xperia XZ2 Compact Review: Hands-on
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Sony has broken its usual smartphone release cycle to bring its next flagship, the Xperia XZ2, to Mobile World Congress 2018, a few months earlier than expected, and alongside it comes a smaller sibling: the Xperia XZ2 Compact.

The Compact packs a smaller screen (no surprise there), but the rest of its specs are impressively close to the bigger version. We’ve tested the phone out ourselves, and here’s what you’ll get when the XZ2 Compact arrives later this year.


PRICE AND AVAILABILITY

First up, Sony hasn’t announced an official price or release date for the phone yet, but it’s expected to release in the US and UK some time around the first week of April, presumably alongside the main XZ2.

The XZ1 Compact retailed at £499/$599, and we’d expect the XZ2 Compact to hit a similar price point - potentially with a small hike of £50/$50. Either way, we’d expect it to be around £100/$100 cheaper than the larger XZ2.

We’ll update this review with more concrete information as we have it.



DESIGN AND BUILD

Alongside the XZ2, the XZ2 Compact represents the debut of Sony’s new ‘Ambient Flow’ design philosophy, which is basically just a fancy way of saying that they’re rounded off some of the straight edges for a more curved design.
Sony boasts that this is the world’s most compact phone with a 5in screen, retaining similar proportions to last year’s model despite a big jump up from that phone’s 4.6in display. Despite a compact frame you still get some bezels at the top of the bottom, and the curved back makes the phone comfortable to hold but does leave it feeling decidedly chunky too.


It’s housed in an aluminium frame with hard-coated polycarbonate finish on the rear - a change from the 3D glass back found on the XZ2. There’s a slight sheen to the hardware, but it’s a far cry from the glossy finish on the larger model.



Still, the rest is pretty similar. The display itself is 18:9 - the thinner aspect ratio that’s recently become popular - and you get IP65/68 waterproofing, USB-C charging, and a fingerprint sensor and camera centred on the rear. The 3.5mm headphone jack is gone though.

The XZ2 Compact will be available in four colours: Black, White Silver, Moss Green, and Coral Pink (pictured) with the pre-installed UI theme colour-coded to match.

SPECS AND FEATURES

The Compact features (mostly) the same specs as the main XZ2, which means you’re getting flagship power in a relatively small size.

The processor is the new Snapdragon 845, Qualcomm’s fastest yet. It’s backed up by 4GB of RAM and 64GB built-in storage, expandable via MicroSD, so we’d expect very smooth performance from the phone.

The 5in 18:9 screen offers full HD resolution and HDR, which means it’s capable of showing off the full potential of HDR photos and video. Even better, it’s also able to upscale standard content into HDR, whether it’s local or streamed, so you can get deeper blacks, brighter colours, and more detail from just about any visual content.


There’s also the same 19MP single-lens camera as in the bigger phone, which for the first time in any smartphone is capable of recording video in 4K and HDR. Last year’s super slow motion has also been upgraded, offering the ability to record at 960fps at a higher 1080p resolution - at least for a few seconds.

As for the front camera, that’s 5MP but now comes with Sony’s 3D face scanning built-in so that you can take 3D models of your own head, in case you ever feel the need.

Finally, there’s support for high-res audio, some impressive front-facing speakers, NFC, Bluetooth 5.0, and USB-C charging. The battery is 2870mAh, which should hopefully be enough to give a day’s battery life pretty comfortably.

It’s worth noting that there are a couple of features you won’t find here that are in the XZ2 proper. For one, since this doesn’t have a glass back, there’s no wireless charging. The Compact is also missing the new Dynamic Vibration System, which gives haptic feedback in time with video and audio content in the larger phone.


SOFTWARE

The XZ2 Compact will ship with Android 8.0 Oreo as standard, using Sony’s typically minimal additions and tweaks.

The biggest is the new Xperia Assist software, designed to help users make the most of their phones. It’s intended to pop up the first time you use any app that could benefit from advanced features - like HDR upscaling - and uses a chatbot UI to explain how it all works.

A chatbot pop-up telling you how to use your phone either sounds like a great intro to new features or an awful intrusion on your phone usage - we’ll leave it to you to decide how annoying you think you’ll find it.

SPECS
  • Android 8.0 Oreo
  • 5.0in Full HD HDR 18:9 touchscreen
  • Qualcom Snapdragon 845 processor
  • 4GB RAM
  • 64GB storage
  • microSD card slot (up to 400GB)
  • Rear camera: 19MP, video up to 4K HDR
  • Front camera: 5MP
  • Fingerprint sensor
  • 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi
  • Bluetooth 5.0
  • NFC
  • 4G LTE
  • Single nano-SIM
  • USB-C (USB 3.1)
  • 2870mAh non-removable battery
  • 65x135x12.1mm
  • 168g

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