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Nikon’s new $2,500 Z6 III has the world’s first partially stacked CMOS sensor

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Nikon’s new $2,500 Z6 III has the world’s first partially stacked CMOS sensor

At the beginning of a recent photo walk with a Nikon representative, I was told it was only a matter of time before I became a “birder”. Because eventually every photographer runs out of things to take photos of and is left with only one subject to master: birds. Which, because of advancements in sensor technology, have become a much easier target. 

The Nikon Z6 III has an articulating back screen that is typical of hybrid photo / video cameras.

It was on this same photo walk that I got a few hours with the new $2,500 Nikon Z6 III. And the big news in this camera is its 24.5-megapixel partially stacked CMOS sensor. This is the first camera, ever, to employ this technology. Instead of the circuit parts and pixel area both stretching the full corner-to-corner dimensions of the image sensor and sitting on top of each other, as in the more expensive Nikon Z9 or Nikon Z8, or not being stacked at all, as in the previous Nikon Z6 II, the Z6 III’s circuit parts are stacked as bars on the top and bottom of the pixel area. 

It results in higher continuous shooting rates, faster autofocus, higher video frame rates, and less rolling shutter effect than the previous Z6 II, with its BSI CMOS sensor in e-shutter mode. But it also means that the Z6 III is not as speedy as the more premium Z8 or Z9 with their fully stacked sensors. In simple terms, partially stacking the sensor allows Nikon to keep this camera’s price below that of the Z8 and Z9 while also much improving the performance of it over the previous generation.

The other important updates are the Z6 III’s incredibly bright electronic view finder that can reach a peak brightness of 4,000 nits and the cameras ability to film 6K RAW video at up to 60fps and 4K RAW up to 120fps. Nikon is also promising Z8 level build quality, which means the camera is dust and moisture sealed and rated for operation down to 14°F/−10°C. Simply put, Nikon builds very resilient cameras that don’t skimp on specs. And also cameras that can turn any photographer into a birder.

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The handgrip on the Nikon Z6 III is deep enough for long-term comfort.

I chose the Staten Island Ferry for my photo walk with the Z6 III because of its endless opportunities for people watching and incredible views of lower Manhattan and the Statue of Liberty. Match that with the boat’s iconic orange color and you are guaranteed at least a few great shots. What I had never paid much attention to before were all of the birds using the boat’s slipstream to move across the harbor. 

While the Z6 III does not have a dedicated bird focus mode, Nikon claims that its autofocus is 20% faster than the Z6 II and has an extended range down to -10EV, meaning it is more sensitive even in lowlight conditions. And while on the back of the ferry, it had absolutely no trouble locking onto birds. Within minutes of taking off from Lower Manhattan I was whipping the Z6 III from left to right attempting to capture seagulls. Eventually I smartened up and framed One World Trade Center and waited for a bird to cross my frame. And as soon as a bird would enter the camera locked right the moving object that was a seagull. Within minutes I had shot well over 100 photos.

Photos taken with the Nikon Z6 III + Nikon NIKKOR Z 28-400mm f/4-8 VR Lens

There of course then came the moment I thought “what the hell am I going to do with all these photos of birds”. Which is why I would like to thank you all for clicking through the above slideshow and giving my new found passion for bird photography a reason to exist.

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Much like the Z8 and Z9, Nikon increasingly makes cameras that are so responsive and intuitive that you no longer have to spend as much time thinking about problems such as focus, hand shake, or shutter speed. You can quickly point the camera in any direction and it will capture something in focus.

That being said, there is only so much I could test in my few hours with this camera. I didn’t have a low light environment to test the ISO ranges or low light autofocus, I didn’t have multiple subjects to test skin tone representation on, and I didn’t have ND filters in order to get a proper video exposure for testing 6K RAW. So while I had a lot of fun, and am now a certified “birder” there is certainly a lot more testing that needs to be done on this new partially stacked sensor technology. But in my short time with it, I can confidently say that in no way did it feel like a step back. The Z6 III will be available starting today for $2,500.

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Meta’s redesigned Quest app puts a big focus on Horizon Worlds

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Meta’s redesigned Quest app puts a big focus on Horizon Worlds

Meta is rolling out a revamped version of its Quest mobile app that links it more closely with its 3D social platform Horizon Worlds. The app, now called Meta Horizon, comes with a new tab that lets you complete quests from your phone and customize your avatar.

You can also use the app to explore and join new worlds, as well as connect with friends in Horizon Worlds, which launched on mobile and the web last September. Meta says the update won’t take away any features in the existing app, and you can still use it to set up your Quest headsets and browse the library of apps in the Meta Horizon Store.

Another small update coming to the Meta Horizon app is the addition of light mode, allowing you to easily swap between light and dark whenever you want. Meta also rolled out a new feed featuring content from creators in the mobile app earlier this month.

The update comes as Meta looks to expand Horizon Worlds and its handle on the VR industry. In April, Meta announced plans to license its headset operating system, called Horizon OS, to companies like Lenovo and Asus. It will also start featuring experimental App Lab titles more prominently in the Meta Horizon Store and is trying to make it easier for developers to bring their mobile games to Horizon OS.

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Google is purging ‘low-quality’ Android apps next month

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Google is purging ‘low-quality’ Android apps next month

Google is raising its minimum quality requirements for Android apps, and will soon remove those that don’t meet expectations from the Play Store. According to the company’s latest spam policy update, apps that demonstrate “limited functionality and content” — such as text only apps, single wallpaper apps, or those that are literally designed to do nothing at all — will no longer be permitted on the Play Store effective August 31st.

These join existing restrictions that barred broken apps that are not responsive, don’t install, crash, or otherwise function abnormally. Google says it’s added the additional requirements to “ensure apps can meet the uplifted standards for the Play catalog and engage users through quality functionality.”

Google has made previous efforts to better police the apps hosted on its Play Store. As noted by Android Authority, as many as 2.28 million apps were blocked from the service in 2023 for violating policies and putting user security at risk. Google also said it had banned 333,000 “bad” Google Play accounts that same year for repeated severe policy violations, and concerns surrounding fraud and malware.

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Retail prices can jump in seconds with high-tech store price tags

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Retail prices can jump in seconds with high-tech store price tags

Have you noticed how technology is rapidly transforming our shopping experiences? From online marketplaces to self-checkout kiosks, the retail landscape is evolving at breakneck speed. Today, let’s explore one of the latest innovations set to shake up the way we shop for everyday items: digital price tags.

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Digital price tag (Walmart) (Kurt “CyberGuy” Knutsson)

The rise of smart pricing

Imagine walking into a store where prices change in real time, just like they do on your favorite shopping websites. Well, that future is closer than you might think. Retailers across the globe are experimenting with dynamic pricing systems, bringing the flexibility of online shopping to brick-and-mortar stores.

Retail prices can jump in seconds with high-tech store price tags

Digital price tags (Walmart) (Kurt “CyberGuy” Knutsson)

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What’s driving this change?

Several factors are propelling this shift towards digital pricing. Stores can update thousands of prices instantly, saving time and labor. This improves accuracy, eliminating discrepancies between shelf prices and checkout totals. The system also allows retailers to quickly respond to market changes or competitor pricing. Additionally, there’s a sustainability angle, as digital tags reduce paper waste from traditional price tags.

Retail prices can jump in seconds with high-tech store price tags

Digital price tag (Walmart) (Kurt “CyberGuy” Knutsson)

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The technology behind the change

Electronic shelf labels (ESLs) or digital shelf labels (DSLs) are at the heart of this retail revolution. These small, battery-powered e-paper displays are wirelessly connected to a central system, allowing for quick and easy price updates. But they’re more than just digital price tags; they’re a gateway to a more interactive shopping experience.

Retail prices can jump in seconds with high-tech store price tags

Digital price tags (Walmart) (Kurt “CyberGuy” Knutsson)

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What can these smart labels do?

These smart labels are multifunctional devices. They can display prices and product information, show QR codes for additional details, guide store employees for restocking and assist with order fulfillment for online purchases. It’s like giving each product its own mini-computer.

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Retail prices can jump in seconds with high-tech store price tags

Showing how smart labels are multifunctional devices (Walmart) (Kurt “CyberGuy” Knutsson)

The potential impact on shoppers

This new technology could bring both benefits and challenges for consumers. On the plus side, we can expect more accurate pricing and the potential for better deals on soon-to-expire items. Shoppers will have access to more product information right at their fingertips.

There’s also a possibility of lower prices due to increased store efficiency. However, it’s not all rosy. We might see the introduction of dynamic pricing, similar to surge pricing in ride-sharing apps. This could lead to rapid price fluctuations. There are also privacy concerns with the increased data collection that comes with these systems.

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Retail prices can jump in seconds with high-tech store price tags

Digital price tags (Walmart) (Kurt “CyberGuy” Knutsson)

Real-world examples: Who’s leading the charge?

Now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s look at some specific examples of how this technology is being implemented. America’s largest retailer, Walmart, recently announced plans to introduce digital shelf labels in 2,300 stores by 2026. Given Walmart’s massive market share in the U.S. grocery sector, this move could expose millions of shoppers to the technology.

According to Daniela Boscan, a Walmart food and consumable team lead, “A price change that used to take an associate two days to update now takes only minutes with the new DSL system. This efficiency means we can spend more time assisting customers and less time on repetitive tasks.”

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While Walmart’s announcement made headlines, they’re not the first to experiment with this technology. Other major players include Kroger, Whole Foods (owned by Amazon), Ahold Delhaize, and Schnucks, a Midwestern chain. A recent market study estimates that about 26% of grocers and general merchandisers were capable of using ESL technology in 2023, indicating a growing trend in the industry.

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Retail prices can jump in seconds with high-tech store price tags

Employee scanning digital price tag (Walmart) (Kurt “CyberGuy” Knutsson)

The great price-tag switcheroo

When a store decides to make the leap from traditional paper tags to digital ones, it’s not just a simple overnight change. It’s a massive undertaking that requires careful planning and execution. Picture this: a small army of workers descending upon the store, armed with digital price tags and determination.

These “price tag transformers” swarm the aisles, systematically replacing each paper tag with its high-tech counterpart. Shelf by shelf, aisle by aisle, the store undergoes a visible transformation. The familiar sight of paper tags gradually gives way to the sleek, uniform appearance of digital displays.

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Retail prices can jump in seconds with high-tech store price tags

Changing out paper tags for digital ones (Pricer) (Kurt “CyberGuy” Knutsson)

The bigger picture: Dynamic pricing everywhere

The adoption of digital price tags in grocery stores is part of a larger trend toward dynamic pricing in various industries. We’ve already seen this in ride-sharing apps like Uber and Lyft, airline tickets, live music, event sales and fast food, as evidenced by the recent Wendy’s controversy. This shift raises questions about how consumers will adapt to more fluid pricing structures in their day-to-day purchases.

Retail prices can jump in seconds with high-tech store price tags

Digital price tags (Walmart) (Kurt “CyberGuy” Knutsson)

Kurt’s key takeaways

As we stand on the brink of this digital revolution in retail, it’s important to consider both the opportunities and the challenges it presents. On one hand, the increased efficiency and flexibility could lead to better shopping experiences and potentially lower prices. On the other hand, the introduction of dynamic pricing to everyday purchases might require a shift in how we approach our shopping habits.

As this technology rolls out, it’s crucial for you to stay informed and adapt your shopping strategies accordingly. Monitor price trends, take advantage of additional product information and provide feedback to retailers about your experiences.

What’s your take on this digital retail revolution? Are you excited about the potential benefits or concerned about the challenges? Let us know by writing us at Cyberguy.com/Contact.

For more of my tech tips and security alerts, subscribe to my free CyberGuy Report Newsletter by heading to Cyberguy.com/Newsletter.

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