The vehicle, folded up, resembles one of those Costco folding tables but with little aluminum wheels poking out the bottom. To transform it into a scooter, you extend the handlebars, seats and back wheel, and ride away on something vaguely approximating a bike. (To give you some perspective on the design, this thing is just over three feet long.)
Honda says its aluminum frame and wheels keep it “lightweight” but at 41 pounds it’s firmly in the same weight class as regular e-bikes, and with a range of “up to 12 miles,” it’s not getting you very far either. After its 12-mile range is used up, it can be re-juiced in 3.5 hours, which is a considerable amount of time, but at least it comes with an on-board charger ready for you to plug into a 110V outlet.
The scooter is designed to be easy to take into vehicles or on public transportation — which could be a huge selling point for city dwellers that want the convenience of an e-bike or scooter but not the trouble of securely locking it up all day. It’s part of Honda’s big EV push, which aims to replace its entire lineup with battery-electric and fuel-cell-electric vehicles by 2040.
The Honda Motocompacto will be available starting in November priced “under $995” exclusively on Motocompacto.com and at Honda and Acura dealers.This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/hondas-adorable-80s-microscooter-is-back-and-electrified-for-the-21st-century-130010531.html?src=rss]]>engadget_479
The function has even proved so popular that several all-in-one kitchen appliances, and even conventional ovens, now include an air fryer setting. This versatility will be useful for smaller kitchens with less space. Some air fryers offer two different cooking areas meaning you can synchronize cooking two different items without letting anything cool.
First of all, let’s clear one thing up: it’s not frying. Not really. Air fryers are more like smaller convection ovens, ones that are often pod-shaped. Most work by combining a heating element and fan, which means the hot air can usually better crisp the outside of food than other methods. They often reach higher top temperatures than toaster ovens – which is part of the appeal.
For most recipes, a thin layer of oil (usually sprayed) helps to replicate that fried look and feel better. However, it will rarely taste precisely like the deep-fried version. Don’t let that put you off, though, because the air fryer, in its many forms, combines some of the best parts of other cooking processes and brings them together into an energy-efficient way of cooking dinner. Or breakfast. Or lunch.
What to look for in an air fryer
You can separate most air fryers into two types and each has different pros and cons. Convection ovens are usually ovens with air fryer functions and features. They might have higher temperature settings to ensure that food crisps and cooks more like actually fried food. Most convection ovens are larger than dedicated air fryers, defeating some of the purpose of those looking to shrink cooking appliance surface area. Still, they are often more versatile with multiple cooking functions, and most have finer controls for temperatures, timings and even fan speed.
You may never need a built-in oven if you have a decent convection oven. They often have the volume to handle roasts, entire chickens or tray bakes, and simply cook more, capacity-wise, making them more versatile than the pod-shaped competition.
The flip side of that is that you’ll need counter space in the kitchen to house them. It also means you can use traditional oven accessories, like baking trays or cake tins, that you might already own.
Pod-shaped air fryers
Pod-shaped air fryers are what you imagine when you think “air fryer.” They look like a cool, space-age kitchen gadget, bigger than a kettle but smaller than a toaster oven. Many use a drawer to hold ingredients while cooking, usually a mesh sheet or a more solid, non-stick tray with holes to allow the hot air to circulate. With a few exceptions, most require you to open the drawer while things cook and flip or shake half-cooked items to ensure the even distribution of heat and airflow to everything.
That’s one of a few caveats. Most pod-shaped air fryers – there are a few exceptions – don’t have a window to see how things are cooking, so you’ll need to closely scrutinize things as they cook, opening the device to check progress. Basket-style air fryers also generally use less energy – there’s less space to heat – and many have parts that can be put directly into a dishwasher.
Some of the larger pod-shaped air fryers offer two separate compartments, which is especially useful for anyone planning to cook an entire meal with the appliance. You could cook a couple of tasty chicken wings or tenders while simultaneously rustling up enough frozen fries or veggies for everyone. Naturally, those options take up more space, and they’re usually heavy enough to stop you from storing them in cupboards or shelves elsewhere.
As mentioned earlier, you might have to buy extra things to make these pod fryers work the way you want them to. Some of the bigger manufacturers, like Philips and Ninja, offer convenient additions, but you’ll have to pay for them.
Air fryer pros and cons
Beyond the strengths and weaknesses of individual models, air fryers are pretty easy to use from the outset. Most models come with a convenient cooking time booklet covering most of the major foods you’ll be air frying, so even beginners can master these machines.
One of the early selling points is the ability to cook fries, wings, frozen foods and other delights with less fat than other methods like deep frying, which gets foods the crispiest. As air fryers work by circulating heated air, the trays and cooking plates have holes that can also let oil and fat drain out of meats, meaning less fat and crisper food when you finally plate things up. For most cooking situations, you will likely need to lightly spray food with vegetable oil. If you don’t, there’s the chance that things will burn or char. The oil will keep things moist on the surface, and we advise refreshing things with a dash of oil spray when you turn items during cooking.
Most air fryers are easy to clean – especially in comparison to a shallow or deep fryer. We’ll get into cleaning guidance a little later.
With a smaller space to heat, air fryers are generally more energy-efficient for cooking food than larger appliances like ovens. And if you don’t have an oven, air fryers are much more affordable – especially the pod options.
There are, however, some drawbacks. While air fryers are easy enough to use, they take time to master. You will adjust cooking times for even the simplest types of food – like chicken nuggets, frozen French fries or brussels sprouts. If you’re the kind of person that loves to find inspiration from the internet, in our experience, you can pretty much throw their timings out of the window. There are a lot of air fryer options, and factors like how fast they heat and how well distributed that heat is can – and will – affect cooking.
There’s also a space limitation to air fryers. This is not a TARDIS – there’s simply less space than most traditional ovens and many deep fat fryers. If you have a bigger family, you’ll probably want to go for a large capacity air fryer – possibly one that has multiple cooking areas.
You may also struggle to cook many items through as the heat settings will cook the surface of dishes long before it’s cooked right through. If you’re planning to cook a whole chicken or a roast, please get a meat thermometer!
Best air fryer accessories
Beyond official accessories from the manufacturer, try to pick up silicone-tipped tools. Tongs are ideal, as is a silicon spatula to gently loosen food that might get stuck on the sides of the air fryer. These silicone mats will also help stop things from sticking to the wire racks on some air fryers. They have holes to ensure the heated air is still able to circulate around the food.
Silicone trivets are also useful for resting any cooked food on while you sort out the rest of the meal. And if you find yourself needing oil spray, but don’t feel like repeatedly buying tiny bottles, you can decant your favorite vegetable oil into a permanent mister like this.
How to clean an air fryer
We’re keeping clean up simple here. Yes, you could use power cleaners from the grocery store, they could damage the surface of your air fryer. Likewise, metal scourers or brushes could strip away the non-stick coating. Remember to unplug the device and let it cool completely.
Remove the trays, baskets and everything else from inside. If the manufacturer says the parts are dishwasher safe – and you have a dishwasher – the job is pretty much done.
Otherwise, hand wash each part in a mixture of warm water, with a splash of Dawn or another strong dish soap. Use a soft-bristled brush to pull away any crumbs, greasy deposits or bits of food stuck to any surfaces. Remember to rinse everything. Otherwise, your next batch of wings could have a mild Dawn aftertaste. Trust us.
Take a microfiber cloth and tackle the outer parts and handles that might also get a little messy after repeated uses. This is especially useful for oven-style air fryers – use the cloth to wipe down the inner sides.
If Dawn isn’t shifting oily stains, try mixing a small amount of baking soda with enough water to make a paste, and apply that so that it doesn’t seep into any electrical parts or the heating element. Leave it to work for a few seconds before using a damp cloth to pull any greasy spots away. Rinse out the cloth and wipe everything down again, and you should be ready for the next time you need to air fry.
How to find air fryer recipes
Beyond fries, nuggets and – a revelation – frozen gyoza, there are a few ways to find recipes for your new air fryer. First, we found that the air fryer instruction manuals often have cooking guides and recipe suggestions for you to test out in your new kitchen gadget. The good thing with these is that they were made for your air fryer model, meaning success should be all but guaranteed. They are often a little unimaginative, however.
Many of the top recipe sites and portals have no shortage of air fryer recipes, and there’s no harm in googling your favorite cuisine and adding the words “air fryer” on the end of the search string. We’ve picked up some reliable options from Delish, which also has a handy air fryer time converter for changing oven and traditional fryer recipes.
And if you have a killer recipe or unique use for your air fryer, let us know in the comments. What’s the air fryer equivalent of the Instant Pot cheesecake? We’re ready to try it.
Best overall: Instant Vortex Plus
You probably know the “Instant” brand from the line of very popular Instant Pot pressure cookers, but did you know that the company makes great air fryers too? We’re especially impressed by the Instant Vortex Plus with ClearCook and OdorErase, which features a clear viewing window so you can see the air fry basket while your food is cooking, plus an odor-removing filter. In our testing, we found that it didn’t completely eliminate smells, but it seemed significantly less smoky when compared to our Breville Smart Oven Air. We love its ease of use intuitive controls, the easy-to-clean nonstick drawer basket, plus the roomy interior – it’s big enough to fit four chicken thighs. Plus, this top pick heats up very quickly with virtually no preheating time.
A slightly more affordable option is its predecessor, the Instant Vortex Plus 6-Quart. It lacks the viewing window and the odor-removing filters, but it still has the same intuitive control panel and roomy nonstick interior. If you want an even bigger option, Instant also offers Instant Vortex Plus in a 10-quart model that has a viewing window and a rotisserie feature.
Best dual-zone: Ninja Foodi Dual Zone Air Fryer
Most machines can make one thing at a time, but Ninja’s Dual Zone digital air fryer can handle two totally different foods simultaneously. Available in 8- and 10-quart capacities, this dual-basket air fryer isn’t compact, so it won’t be a good option for those with small kitchens. However, if you have the counter space, it could be the best air fryer to invest in especially if you cook for a large family. You can prep two totally different foods, like chicken tenders and brownies, at the same time with totally different cooking modes, or use Match Cook to prepare foods in the dual baskets the same way. The heating zones are independent, so if you only want to fill up one side with french fries and leave the other empty, you can do that as well.
We appreciate how quickly the Ninja air fryer heats up (there’s little to no preheating time at all) and how it runs relatively quietly. It also has a feature called Smart Finish that will automatically adjust cooking times so that your fried chicken thighs in the first chamber and asparagus in the second will finish at the same time, so you don’t have to wait for one part of your meal to be ready while the other gets cold. In general, dual-zone air frying capabilities aren’t necessary for most people, but those who cook often will get a lot of use out of machines like the Ninja Foodi.
Best budget: Instant Vortex Mini
Not only is the Instant Vortex Mini budget-friendly with a $60 price tag (and you can often find it on sale for less), but it’s also the best small air fryer on this list. Most air fryers will take up a lot of precious countertop space, but this two-quart model is great for those who don’t have a lot to spare. The Vortex Mini can air fry, bake, roast and reheat, and you can control the temperature and cook time using the dial sitting in the middle of its touchscreen. Unlike some of the other, more expensive air fryers we tested, which have a variety of modes and settings, the Vortex Mini is dead simple to use. Just plug it in, press the preset cooking method of your choice, customize the temperature and cook time and press Start. The machine will beep about halfway through the cycle to let you know when to flip your food, and it’ll chime again once it’s finished.
Arguably the biggest caveat to the Vortex Mini is also its biggest strength. It’s so compact that cooking more than one thing, or a lot of one thing, won’t be easy. But I was able to cook a whole block of tofu cut into cubes (with a bit of overlap) and reheat (and re-crisp) leftovers in it for myself and my fiancé with no problems. Overall, this compact air fryer will be hard to beat for those with tight budgets and tiny kitchens.
Best multi-purpose air fryer: Breville Smart Oven Air Fryer Pro
Listen, most people don’t need the Breville Smart Oven Air Fryer Pro. But if you love to cook, have a large family or throw a bunch of parties, you’ll likely get a ton of use out of this machine. This stainless steel countertop oven is a beast, measuring one cubic foot, so be prepared to carve out some space in your kitchen for it. But its size allows it to cook an entire 14-pound turkey and fit things like a five-quart dutch oven and a 9 x 13 pan inside of it. This large air fryer basically acts like a second oven, or even a primary one if your main oven is out of commission.
As the best air fryer toaster oven on this list, it’s quite capable and its size helps since you can spread your food out to ensure things are as crispy as possible. It also helps that you can cook a lot of servings at once, which will make it easier if you’re preparing snacks like bagels for brunch, appetizers for a party or a side dish for a family dinner. In addition to air frying, it has a number of other cooking modes including toast, broil, bake, pizza, dehydrate, slow cook and proof. Despite the “smart” moniker, this model doesn’t have app connectivity – but you can get that feature if you upgrade to the Joule. That’ll allow you to get push notifications when your food’s ready, and the companion app also has guided recipes which you can follow along with. Unsurprisingly, like most Breville gadgets, both the Joule and the standard Smart Oven Air Fryer Pro are quite expensive, coming in at $500 and $400, respectively. But if you’re looking to add the versatility of a multi-use machine to your kitchen, Breville has you covered.This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/best-air-fryers-133047180.html?src=rss]]>
If your tablet’s battery gets busted, you can now purchase an authentic replacement for $67, while a rear facing camera to replace one that’s having issues will set you back $25. One replacement speaker will also cost you $25, as will a replacement for the device’s USB-C port. But if it’s the tablet’s screen that needs replacing, you’ll have to pay $200 or more. You can either get the part only — consisting of a front glass digitizer screen, a 10.95-inch 2560 x 1600 pixel LCD and an 8-megapixel front-facing camera — for that price or get a pack with tools you’ll need to open up the tablet for $6 more.
iFixit, of course, doesn’t just sell the parts: Its Pixel tablet portal also contains guides on how you can repair the model for each component it’s selling. You can follow them if you want to be sure you’re doing the right thing, even if you’re pretty good at tinkering with electronics. Aside from Google, iFixit also has partnerships with other brands, including Samsung, which teamed up with the how-to website last year to launch a fix-it-yourself program for its Galaxy devices.This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/google-expands-its-ifixit-partnership-by-offering-parts-for-pixel-tablet-repairs-122600528.html?src=rss]]>
The most striking thing about the Spectre Fold is its design. HP has managed to slim down its bezels and remove nearly all of the chunkiness we saw on the foldable ZenBook. With its 17-inch 2560 x 1920 OLED display opened all the way, the whole thing looks just like any other premium tablet (except for it being really big), which is a pleasant surprise. At 8.5mm thick, it’s deliciously thin and by opting for a lightweight magnesium body, the Spectre Fold tips the scales at just 2.86 pounds (1.3 kg) – a full pound less than ASUS’ creation from 2022.
The Spectre Fold’s display looks great too. The panel is made by LG and basically crease-free (unless you look real hard from an angle), while boasting a listed brightness of up to 500 nits, along with VESA True Black HDR 500 certification. And for all your videoconference needs, HP crammed in a sharp 5-MP IR webcam that supports some clever security features like privacy alerts and automatic walkaway detection.
There’s also a slick kickstand that sits flush against the bottom of the system when not in use. In fact, it looks more like a simple design accent than something functional. Pretty much everywhere you look, the Spectre Fold feels just as sleek and polished as any high-end laptop. Now, that might not sound like a major accomplishment, but given the awkwardness that we’ve seen on previous competitors, that’s no mean feat. I also appreciate how HP included handy features like a switch for a physical webcam shutter and two Thunderbolt 4 ports. And then there are all of the Spectre Fold’s bundled accessories, which include a magnetic Bluetooth keyboard, a stylus (with a spare nib) and even a USB-C docking hub.
This brings me to the next best thing about the Spectre Fold, which is how well it works with all of its accessories right out of the box – I didn’t need to mess around with Bluetooth settings or anything. I just fired up the laptop, flipped the toggle on the side of the keyboard and they instantly connected. That is a big improvement compared to what I experienced on the Zenbook 17 Fold and its flaky Bluetooth that forced me to manually repair its keyboard on a semi-regular basis. HP also designed the system to have a 5mm fold radius, which allows the keyboard to nest neatly inside the laptop during travel.
But the perhaps coolest thing about the Spectre Fold (aside from its display, of course) is what you don’t see: a series of charging coils that are hidden inside one edge of the system. This allows both the keyboard and the stylus (which also attaches magnetically) to trickle charge from the laptop’s battery while not in use, so you never have to worry about topping them up yourself. Though, if the keyboard does for some reason run out of juice, HP does include a special USB power dongle that you can whip out in a pinch.
Of course though, the display is the coolest part. The bendability makes the Spectre Fold what HP says is its first 3-in-1 as it can transform into a tablet, a portable all-in-one desktop and a few different laptop setups. Tablet mode is pretty straightforward, while AIO mode allows you to prop up the display so you can get the most out of that big 17-inch display (I would have loved to have this while traveling recently).
As a laptop, you can choose a somewhat traditional clamshell configuration where you put the keyboard on the bottom half of the display while the top half provides what is essentially a 12.5-inch screen–which is great for tight spaces. Alternatively, you can slide the keyboard towards you to create what HP calls expanded mode, which might be my favorite laptop position. In this setup, the touchpad section of the keyboard drops down and provides a more ergonomic wrist rest. Doing that also reveals more of the folded display (around 14 inches in total) or what HP calls “1.5 screens.” This gives you just enough room to keep things like email or chat apps down below while you have a more important project open up top.
Finally, there’s extended mode in which you simply place the keyboard on a table in front of the Spectre Fold, giving you full access to that 17-inch screen, but in a bent portrait orientation. Regardless of which setup you prefer, the laptop tries to give you the largest display possible based on your current environment. And thanks to even more magnets inside the system, the keyboard naturally snaps to these various positions resulting in a surprisingly seamless experience.
Granted, even this early I’ve noticed a couple tiny issues, like how the display looks dimmer when viewed from more acute angles, which is what you’ll see in some of its laptop modes. But that’s sort of par for the course even among today’s best flexible screens. Also, while its Intel Core i7-1250U, 16GB of RAM and 1TB SSD delivered relatively snappy performance thus far, I’m not expecting a ton of oomph for stuff like editing videos or even light gaming.
However, the Spectre Fold’s biggest hurdle is its price: $5,000. That’s even more than the $3,500 ASUS Zenbook 17 Fold, which was already an extremely expensive machine. This is enough to put it out of reach of pretty much everyone, which is definitely a bummer. But at the same time, HP says it created this thing in large part just to show what the company can do with today’s cutting-edge tech. And when viewed more as a forward-thinking demo unit than something people are actually going to buy, I’m a bit less upset about its cost (if only just a bit). I should also point out that despite showing it off more than a year ago, Lenovo’s second flexible-screen laptop–the 17-inch ThinkPad X1 Fold–still doesn’t have a concrete release date. This just shows how difficult systems like this are to make even for companies of this size (Lenovo and HP are the two biggest PC vendors in the world).
That said, if you’re willing to throw a couple of rent payments (or more) at this thing, pre-orders for the Spectre Fold go live today from Best Buy, with official sales on HP.com and Best Buy expected to happen sometime in October.This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/hps-5000-spectre-fold-might-be-the-best-flexible-screen-laptop-yet-120039948.html?src=rss]]>
In this year’s update, Samsung focused its efforts on expanding its wellness-centric features. These include enhanced personalized sleep coaching and insights, the ability to personalize heart rate zone training during running sessions, improved GPS tracking tailored for track runners, further customization in the workout app and the inclusion of irregular heart rate rhythm notifications, just to name a few. The caveat, of course, is that the Watch 6’s predecessors will have access to all these updates, dating back to the Watch 4. So, if you have one of the previous two models, it might not be necessary to upgrade.
Still, the Galaxy Watch 6’s modest improvements allow it to keep up with frontrunners in the field. For example, it can now stand shoulder-to-shoulder with Fitbit’s advanced sleep analysis features. The new heart health tools also give the watch the EKG monitoring prowess of Apple and Pixel smartwatches. Meanwhile, the improved run coaching brings it closer to watches offered by Garmin.
Design and battery life
The mechanical bezel-free edition of the Watch 6 is priced at $299 for the 40mm model, which comes in graphite and gold; the 43mm version, which also comes in silver, commands a slightly higher price of $329. It may lack the rotating bezel of the Classic, but it does have a digital bezel which allows you to scroll through your most-used widgets like Sleep, Workouts, and Weather without needing to poke around a menu.
With the Watch 6, Samsung also introduced a new design feature called One-Click, which makes it easier to swap bands with the literal click of a button for your ever-changing style needs. I personally am a huge fan of the graphite sports band and the flush circular face which gives the watch a sleeker feel.
The Watch 6 also boasts a more vibrant, higher-resolution display with peak brightness reaching 2,000 nits, up from the last model’s max of 1,000 nits. The screen is also 20 percent larger, making it easier to read text. The always on display (AOD) drained battery life of the Watch 5 pretty quickly when our Deputy Reviews Editor Cherlynn Low reviewed it, but I didn’t have similar issues wearing the Watch 6 all day.
The Galaxy Watch 6 comes equipped with a larger battery to support this year’s bigger and brighter display. Samsung claims the watch should run for up to 30 hours with the AOD on and up to 40 hours with it off. This is ideal for busy people who want the guarantee that the watch will work after an eight-hour workday before heading to the gym and again later, for sleep tracking. After using the watch for a day or two (mainly for workout tracking), I have been able to charge the watch to about 80 percent, or almost full, in under 30 minutes using the quick charge feature, adding at least another eight hours of battery life each time. However, battery life for any wearable tends to fluctuate depending on the extent of usage.
Health monitoring and tracking
The Watch 6 features an Irregular Heart Rhythm Notification (IHRN) feature, which is new for Samsung but has been around for years on competing devices. The FDA-backed IHRN tool detects EKG activity that is suggestive of atrial fibrillation (AFib), a condition that usually preempts stroke or heart failure. The feature, approved by the FDA, monitors a user’s heart activity continuously in the background. Because I don’t have AFib, there was no way to test this feature to see if it could accurately detect irregular heart activity. This, coupled with the traditional blood pressure monitoring, blood oxygen monitoring, body composition measuring tool, and EKG readings, add to Samsung’s overall pool of individualized health data tracking that can easily be accessed in reports on a paired Android phone and shared with a healthcare provider or family member.
I do wish that after running a standard EKG reading, the language around heart health was less jargony. The “sinus rhythm detected” pop-up could easily be misunderstood, but in reality just means your heart activity is normal. That aside, Samsung did cover its own back. With each EKG cycle you run, a pop up disclosure repeats: “this wearable does not detect heart attacks.” The addition of the IHRN feature on the Watch 6 is in line with the company’s attempt to offer more useful cardiovascular insights to users.
Expanding its range of tracking features, Samsung built upon its existing menstrual cycle predictions tool introduced in the Watch 5. This includes the skin temperature reading and sensor technology from the last-gen model, which records measurements during sleep. This addition aids in monitoring your monthly period, ovulation cycle and fertility windows. For it to be useful, though, the tool needs consistent data input by a user so that its predictions get smarter.
Powered by Natural Cycles, a period tracking app, the new dedicated watch face makes it easy to input daily symptoms, which are not all necessarily tethered to a menstrual cycle. It can track everything from mood changes to physical conditions like cramping and bloating to logging sexual activity. All that data, in aggregate, can help Samsung’s app predict when a period will start and end, fertility windows, and when ovulation is expected to kick in. This is all great in theory, but if you’re not great at logging daily, you might end up like me, with outdated predictions that your period was supposed to start but never did.
The new watch also comes with a fall detection feature that has a built-in SOS tool that shares a user’s location with an emergency service line or emergency contact of your choosing when a hard fall is detected. You have to manually set up this feature and select when the watch should detect falls – it can be on all the time, during workouts, or quote, “during any activity, or movements not registered as exercise.” Once a fall is detected, Samsung says the device can take up to 30 seconds to recognize a fall, but the waiting period can be customized to as little as 10 seconds.
Medical information and conditions unique to a user’s health history can be plugged into the interface on the paired device. This might be especially useful for elderly populations or people who are medically at a fall risk (think post-surgical or highly medicated patients). However, during testing, after falling on different surfaces, and staying stationary for at least 30 seconds each time, I was never able to trigger the alert system. Samsung claims that after a fall, a watch should alert a user for 30 seconds with a popup, sound, and vibration. This delay is supposed to give a user time to get up or cancel the action of alerting emergency services. To be fair, this was also difficult to trigger on the competing Apple Watch Series 8.
Customizable fitness regimens
Making a unique workout plan with key metrics and goals in mind is nothing new for an avid fitness junkie. Since the launch of the Galaxy Watch 4, Samsung has made it a point to expand its workout trackers, with over 95 unique exercises and sports to track on the watch face, users can also create their own custom workouts. I regularly start my lift sessions with 45-pound dumbbells. I was able to name this workout in the watch as my deadlift warmup and keep track of the amount of calories burned per session. This focus on customization is not new, though, with competitors like Fitbit and Apple offering similar interfaces in their fitness tracking tools. The ability to create a program to burn a set amount of calories or reach a certain number of steps can be helpful for people like me who like to prefer to count down rather than up.
Continuing with the theme of customization, Samsung’s new personalized HR zones are meant to help runners better determine how fast to go. The tool is meant to allow users to keep tabs on heart rate zone data and gain insights into personal exertion levels. By staying within specific zones, I can tailor my workout to match my fitness goals, whether it’s fat-burning, endurance improvement, or cardiovascular conditioning. Also, tracking heart rate can help a runner avoid overexertion, which can lead to burnout, or injury. Staying within an appropriate heart rate range ensures a runner is working out safely and sustainably. That all said, again, like most health and fitness features, the benefit of monitoring will come down to discipline.
I put the feature to the test by setting up my personalized HR zone to a custom bracket that mimics a high-intensity performance, between 165 to 175. When I went on a run, it kept urging me to speed up and buzzed my wrist with the notification that I was below target. And these notifications are no joke. I struggled to reach my target and even when I did, it was mostly luck.
Running with that much effort, I barely had time to process how to adjust my run according to the alert. So I took a stab at the easiest HR zone target for low-intensity workouts instead at 95 to 105 bpm and found myself struggling with a similar issue-not being able to consistently stay in my target zone. This time, the HR zone alerts were constantly showering me with reminders that I was overexerting and above my HR zone.
This is all to say that although it is a nice feature to have if you’re a seasoned athlete and can comprehend and adjust your exertion accordingly. But it’s almost not nearly as beneficial to just get a snapshot overview of where my HR zone naturally is with a given run tracker instead of feeling the constant distracting buzz alerting me to something I’m not sure quite sure what to do with
Overall, the notification feature is overstimulating. Even when I paused a workout and tried to have a conversation with Cherlynn, the watch kept pinging me to speed up my run, as it continued to monitor my heart rate zone activity and suggest changes even at rest. Despite this one-off, the watch’s sensitivity in terms of auto detection for movement is pretty accurate. It was noticeably faster at recognizing pauses and restarting based on my movement than my Apple Watch, which was often at least a few seconds behind.
Sleep tracking and analysis
Samsung has said it wants to enhance the sleep experience for users by expanding its comprehensive but individualized sleep pattern analysis tools since the last generation. Samsung’s previously announced Sleep Mode features, which automatically disables notifications, dims the watch’s screen, and switches to an invisible infrared LED to minimize distractions. I had no trouble setting up sleep goals and (to my surprise) sleeping with the watch on. It doesn’t suffocate my wrist at night and if anything, is easy to forget it’s on after a while. You can also set up the Smart Things feature, which will detect when a user is sleeping and create the “ideal sleep environment” by turning off or adjusting home electronics like TVs and lights if you’re connected to Samsung home devices. However, I was not able to see how the Watch 6 would interact with smart home gadgets because I don’t personally own any Samsung home devices.
What I liked about the sleep analysis feature is that after each night of sleep with it on, I got a pretty comprehensive breakdown of how I slept, REM graphic and all, on the Watch 6’s dedicated sleep watch face. I was able to get an even more detailed view of my sleep quality on the phone, which showed me how my nights compared on a day to day, telling me which parts of my REM graphic meant what and why it matters. For example, it broke down how much deep sleep I got and it told me how much more I needed. After sleeping with it for seven nights, you’re supposed to trigger the sleep coach program that also pairs you with your “sleep animal,” a little 2D avatar that is representative of your nighttime habits. And while it was more comfortable than an Apple Watch, I just don’t like the feeling of having something on my wrist at night.
The Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 has emerged as a top choice among Android users, especially at this price point. However, the Apple Watch Series 8, which starts at $399, is the obvious alternative for iPhone users. The features are similar, with both models providing GPS tracking, heart-rate sensing, fall detection, sleep tracking and automatic workout recognition.
In terms of fitness-centric offerings, the Garmin Forerunner 745, which is on sale for $299, might be better suited for athletes seeking comprehensive insights into performance metrics and running-focused training regimens. While it may not be as all-encompassing in terms of health guidance tools, it still includes fundamental features like heart rate monitoring, sleep tracking, stress monitoring, and fall detection.
But if you want pretty similar offerings in terms of fitness tracking and sleep coaching, the Fitbit Versa 4, which starts at $199, is a pretty cheap alternative. However, with the Versa 4, you get a less integrated smartwatch that feels pretty barebones. For instance, you can’t make or take phone calls or control music through the watch.
Samsung has a vision for the Galaxy Watch 6 to be perceived as a health buddy, with all of its dedicated wellness-centric updates in heart health, women’s health, fitness and sleep domains. But the actual benefits come down to the user. Without discipline, there are no insights to be gained, no tracking worthwhile, or coaching that will be accurate.
But this doesn’t take away from the device’s well-deserved shine in some areas, namely design, comfort and fitness. It’s nothing we have not seen before, and if you already own a wearable of recent vintage, or are an iOS user it’s probably not meant for you. If you have the last-gen Galaxy Watch, then hold on to your money because the updates are already in your pocket.This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/samsungs-galaxy-watch-6-review-evolution-not-revolution-120006375.html?src=rss]]>
There are valid reasons to weigh yourself, but your self-worth shouldn’t be defined by the number that shows up between your feet. If you’re looking to alter your body shape, that figure could go up as your waistline goes down, since muscle weighs more than fat. Dr. Anne Swift, Director of public health teaching at the University of Cambridge, said that “weighing yourself too often can result in [you] becoming fixated on small fluctuations day-to-day, rather than the overall trend over time.” Swift added that “it’s sometimes better to focus on how clothes fit, or how you feel, rather than your weight.”
(A meta-analysis from 2016 found there may be some negative psychological impact from self weighing. A 2018 study, however, said that there may be a positive correlation between regular weigh-ins and accelerated weight loss. It can be a minefield, and I’d urge you to take real care of yourself and remember that success won’t happen overnight.)
What to look for in a smart scale
A weighing scale that weighs you is probably the top requirement, right? One thing to bear in mind is that, with all these measurements, weight readings won’t be as accurate as a calibrated, clinical scale. Consequently, it’s better to focus on the overall full body weight trend up or down over time, rather than the figures in isolation.
Most scales will either connect to your phone over Bluetooth, or to your home’s Wi-Fi network, and you should work out your regular weighing routine ahead of time. A lot of lower-end, Bluetooth-only scales will only record your weight when your phone is present and don’t keep local records. That means if you routinely leave your phone outside the bathroom at home, you could lose that day’s stats. Wi-Fi connectivity, on the other hand, allows a scale to post your stats to a server, letting you access them from any compatible device. But you need to be mindful that there’s a small risk to your privacy should that information from your Wi-Fi scale be compromised.
The stronger your bones, the less you’re at risk from breaks and osteoporosis, which you should keep in mind as you get older. Clinical bone density tests use low-power x-rays but higher-end scales can offer an approximation from your own bathroom. These bone mass tests pass a small electrical current through your feet, measuring the resistance as it completes its journey. The resistance offered by bones, fat and muscle are all different, and your scale can identify the difference.
Body fat percentage and muscle mass
Fat and muscle are necessary parts of our makeup, but an excessive amount of either can be problematic. Much like bone density, a smart scale measures both your body fat and muscle mass percentages using Bioelectrical Impedance Analysis (BIA). This measurement tests how well your body resists the electrical signal passing through your body. (It’s a rough rule of thumb that you should have a 30/70 percent split between fat and muscle, but please consult a medical professional for figures specific to your own body and medical needs.)
A lot of scales offer a BMI calculation, and it’s easy to do since you just plot height and weight on a set graph line. Body Mass Index is, however, a problematic measurement that its critics say is both overly simplistic and often greatly misleading. Unfortunately, it’s also one of the most common clinical body metrics and medical professionals will use it to make judgements about your care.
Pulse Wave Velocity
French health-tech company Withings has offered Pulse Wave Velocity (PWV) on its flagship scale for some time, although regulatory concerns meant it was withdrawn for a period of time. It’s a measurement of arterial stiffness, which acts as a marker both of cardiovascular risk and also other health conditions. I’ve had anecdotal reports that PWV scales have sent people to the doctor, where they’ve found they were close to a cardiac event. It’s worth saying, as with all of these technologies, that there is limited, albeit positive, research into how accurate these systems are.
Less a specification and more a note that smart scales have displays ranging from pre-printed LCDs or digital dot matrix layouts through to color screens. On the high end, your scale display can show you trending charts for your weight and other vital statistics, and can even tell you the day’s weather. If you are short-sighted, and plan on weighing yourself first thing in the morning, before you’ve found your glasses / contacts, opt for a big, clear, high-contrast display.
App and subscriptions
You’ll spend most of your time looking at your health data through its companion app, and it’s vital you get a good one. This includes a clear, clean layout with powerful tools to visualize your progress and analyze your data to look for places you can improve. Given that you often don’t need to buy anything before trying the app, it’s worth testing one or two to see if you vibe with it.
Several companies also offer premium subscriptions, unlocking other features – including insights and coaching – to go along with your hardware. Fitbit and Withings both offer these services, which you may feel is worth the extra investment each month.
Using the same scale or app platform for years at a time means you’ll build up a massive trove of personal data. And it is, or should be, your right to take that data to another provider when you choose to move platforms in the future. Data portability is, however, a minefield, with different platforms offering wildly different options, making it easy (or hard) to go elsewhere.
All of the devices in this round-up will allow you to export your data to a .CSV file, which you can then do with as you wish. Importing this information is trickier, with Withings and Garmin allowing it, and Omron, Xiaomi, Eufy and Fitbit not making it that easy. (Apps that engage with Apple Health, meanwhile, can output all of your health data in a .XML file.)
It’s not a huge issue but one worth bearing in mind that each scale will either run disposable batteries (most commonly 4xAAA) or with its own, built-in battery pack. Sadly, all of our crop of smart scales use batteries, adding an environmental and financial cost to your scale life. That’s just about forgivable for scales that cost under $100, but this stretches even to the highest-end models. When you’re spending more than that on a device, the lack of a rechargeable cell feels very, very cheap indeed.
The smart scales we tested
For this guide, I tested six scales from major manufacturers:
Mi (Xiaomi) Body Composition Scale 2 ($29.99)
Our cheapest model, Xiaomi / Mi’s Body Composition Scale 2 is as bare-bones as you can get, and it shows. It often takes a long while to lock on to get your body weight, and when it does you’ll have to delve into the Zepp Life-branded app in order to look at your extra data. But you can’t fault it for the basics, offering limited weight and body composition for less than the price of a McDonald’s for four.
Fitbit Aira Air ($49.95)
Fitbit, now part of Google, is the household name for fitness trackers and smartwatches in the US, right? If not, then it must be at least halfway synonymous with it. The Aria Air is the company’s stripped-to-the-bare bones scale, offering your weight and a few other health metrics, but you can trust that Fitbit got the basics right. Not to mention that most of the reason for buying a Fitbit product is to leverage its fitness app anyway.
Anker Eufy Smart Scale P2 Pro ($79.99)
Eufy’s Smart Scale P2 Pro has plenty of things to commend it – the price, the overall look and feel (it’s a snazzy piece of kit) and what it offers. It offers a whole host of in-depth measurements, including Body Fat, Muscle Mass, Water Weight, Body Fat Mass and Bone Mass, as well as calculating things like your Heart Rate and Basal Metabolic Rate (the amount of calories you need to eat a day to not change weight at all) all from inside its app. In fact, buried beneath the friendly graphic, the scale offers a big pile of stats and data that should, I think, give you more than a little coaching on how to improve your lifestyle.
Shortly before publication, Anker – Eufy’s parent company – was identified as having misled users, and the media, about the security of its products. Its Eufy-branded security cameras, which the company says does not broadcast video outside of your local network, was found to be allowing third parties to access streams online. Consequently, while we have praised the Eufy Smart Scale for its own features, we cannot recommend it without a big caveat.
Given its role in making actual medical devices, you know what you’re getting with an Omron product. A solid, reliable, sturdy, strong (checks the dictionary for more synonyms) dependable piece of kit. There’s no romance or excitement on show, but you can trust that however joyless it may be, it’ll do the job in question and will be user-friendly. The hardware is limited, the app is limited, but it certainly (checks synonyms again) is steady.
Joking aside, Omron’s Connect app is as bare-bones as you can get, since it acts as an interface for so many of its products. Scroll over to the Weight page, and you’ll get your weight and BMI reading, and if you’ve set a fitness goal, you can see how far you’ve got to go to reach it. You can also switch to seeing a trend graph which, again, offers the most basic visualization on offer.
Garmin Index S2 ($149.99)
Garmin’s got a pretty massive fitness ecosystem of its own, so if you’re already part of that world, its smart bathroom scale is a no-brainer. On one hand, the scale is one of the easiest to use, and most luxurious of the bunch, with its color screen and sleek design. I’m also a big fan of the wealth of data and different metrics the scale throws at you – you can see a full color graph charting your weight progress, and the various metrics it tracks in good detail. If there’s a downside, it’s that Garmin’s setup won’t hold your hand, since it’s for serious fitness people, not newbies.
Withings Body Comp ($209.95)
At the highest end, Withings’ flagship Body Comp is luxurious, and luxuriously priced, a figure I’d consider to be “too much” to spend on a bathroom scale. For your money, however, you’ll get a fairly comprehensive rundown of body composition metrics including your weight, body fat percentage, vascular age, pulse wave velocity and electrodermal activity. Its monochrome dot matrix display may not be as swish as the Garmin’s, but it refreshes pretty quickly and feels very in-keeping with the hardware’s overall sleek look. If there’s a downside, it’s that they ditched the rechargeable battery found in the Withings Body Cardio (its former flagship, and an excellent scale I’d recommend if it were within the parameters of this guide) in favor of AAA batteries. Which, when you’re spending this much on a scale, makes me feel very nickel-and-dimed.
The best cheap smart scale: Fitbit Aria Air, Mi Body Composition Scale 2
It’s very competitive at the low end for the best budget smart scale, and Xiaomi and Fitbit offer dramatically contrasting products for a very low price. Fitbit’s scale has far fewer features, but has better build quality, is faster and more reliable than its cheaper rival. Crucially, it also leverages the Fitbit app, which is refined and easy-to-use, offering clean, easy-to understand visualizations.
Xiaomi, meanwhile, offers weight and some basic body composition measurements, although this extra data is only visualized inside the app. From a data perspective, the Xiaomi has the edge, but its companion app – formerly Mi Fit, now branded as Zepp Life – is terrible. The lag time for each weigh-in, too, leaves a lot to be desired with the Xiaomi, although I had no qualms about its accuracy.
When I was a kid, and complained about something, my nan would say “look, you can either have a first class walk or a third class ride.” And Fitbit’s scale here is the very definition of a first class ride – polished, snappy and with a world-class app by its side. The Xiaomi, meanwhile, offers more for your money, and charges less, but both hardware and software lack any sort of polish. It’s therefore up to you if you’d rather the first class walk or the third class ride.
The best scale for people who want features (and aren’t fussed about security): Eufy’s P2 Pro
Well, this is awkward. Not long before this guide was published, it was revealed that Eufy is in the midst of a massive security issue. Researchers found that its security cameras, which were promised to be secure, allowed internet users to access the stream using VLC player. Consequently the high praise for Eufy’s P2 Pro I have as a scale will need to be moderated by the fact that we don’t yet know how deep the company’s promises around privacy and security really run.
It’s unfortunate, as the scale does leap head-and-shoulders above the competition at this level, and it surpassed my expectations by quite a bit. The ease of use was one thing, but the depth of metric data made available in the app, and the way it presents that information, is fantastic. While I don’t think the Eufy Life app is better than, say, Withings’ class-leading Health Mate, it offers exactly what a would-be weight-watcher would need.
The fact you can get plenty of your vital statistics graphed by hitting two buttons helps you visualize your progress, but the stat dashboard laying out everything, including your BMR, is so useful. If you’re going all Quantified Self, you could theoretically calculate your daily calorie intake to the finest of fine margins looking at this thing every morning.
The best scale for athletes: Garmin Index S2
I’m very partial to Garmin’s Index S2, but I also think it’s the sort of scale that needs to be used by people who know what they’re doing. Almost everything about the hardware is spot-on, and the only fly in its ointment is the low refresh rate on its color screen. I can’t say how upsetting it was to see the display refresh in such a laggy, unpolished manner, especially when you’re spending this much money. But that’s my only complaint, and the rest of the hardware (and software) is otherwise pitch-perfect. If you’re looking to set goals to alter your body shape, this probably isn’t the scale for you – it’s the scale you buy once you already calculate your BMR on a daily basis.
The best scale for the worried well: Withings Body Comp
Naturally, if you’re looking for a machine that’ll cater to your every whim and hypochondriac urge, then Withings’ Body Comp is the way forward. It’s a luxury scale in every sense of the word, and you should appreciate the level of polish and technology on show here. Apart from the batteries, which I’ve already said is a cheap and nasty way to save money given that you’re dropping this much money on a product.
The group of people who think it’s reasonable to spend $200 on a scale is, especially with food and energy prices spiking, a fairly small one. But if you’re the sort who already spends hand over fist to keep your body in check, this is probably justifiable as an “investment.” Knowing all of the extras about your nerve health and arteries is a bonus, but let’s be clear and say this isn’t the top pick for everybody. Hell, you might have second thoughts even if you do have a subscription to Good Yachting Magazine.This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/best-smart-scale-160033523.html?src=rss]]>
“The project aims at deploying 6,458 recharging points (250 kW) for LDV in 613 locations in 16 countries (AT, BE, BG, DE, ES, FI, FR, IE, IT, LV, LT, LU, NL, RO, SK, SE) along the Core and Comprehensive Network. The project foresees both the deployment of new recharging stations and the replacement of existing outdated recharging points not satisfying the requirement of the call in terms of recharging capacity and open-accessibility,” the Tesla Italy project description reads. It states the same for Poland’s Tesla division, while adding an additional six nations (CZ, EL, HR, HU, PL, SI).
Proposals for the project had an April 13, 2023 deadline, and the EU just announced the successful bids. It appears to cover a large chunk of Europe, but there are no details on a breakdown of new stations or upgrades yet. Much of the funding could go toward updates to Tesla’s Supercharger V4, which offers a power output of 350 kW — up from the last model’s 250 kW.
Tesla recently celebrated its 10,000th individual Supercharger connector in the EU, and counts 875 stations in total. The following is a breakdown for the top countries: Germany (143), France (123), the UK (100), Norway (95), Sweden (65), Italy (59), Spain (50), the Netherlands (39), Austria (27) and Switzerland (27).
It’s a large percentage of funding for one company, but the EU’s decision seems logical. Other car companies including Ford, GM, Volvo and Mercedes have said they’ll switch to Tesla’s North American Charging Standard (NACS) port, and struck deals with the company to use its Superchargers — meaning a lot of drivers will be able to access Tesla’s network. Early in 2021, Tesla opened up its network to all EV users at select Superchargers in the Netherlands, France and Norway.
The EU greenlit 26 projects in total, with most dedicated to EV charging points but several relating to hydrogen refueling stations for heavy duty and other types of vehicles. “Our investment of €352 million will translate into approximately 12,000 charging points, 18 hydrogen refueling stations, and the electrification of ports and airports, including the port of Rotterdam and 37 Spanish airports,” said European Commissioner for Transport Adina Vălean.This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/tesla-gets-160-million-in-eu-funding-to-expand-its-supercharger-network-in-22-countries-114545141.html?src=rss]]>
“All ALPHV ransomware group did to compromise MGM Resorts was hop on LinkedIn, find an employee, then call the Help Desk,” the organization wrote in a post on X. Those details came from ALPHV but have not been independently confirmed by security researchers.
MGM Resorts didn’t respond to a request for comment but said on Tuesday that “Our resorts, including dining, entertainment and gaming, are currently operational.”
— Mat Smith
The biggest stories you might have missed
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The only people who asked for this are the PR execs.
Coca-Cola launched a new flavor co-created by artificial intelligence. The company’s calling it the soda “from the future,” and it’s available for a limited time in both regular and zero sugar. It’s called Y3000, with a flavor described as resembling a raspberry slushy. Coke also tasked AI to help design the artwork on the slim can, which looks like a Now That’s What I Call Music CD case from the early ’00s. Inspired.
Your application has to be manually approved, though.
Talking of blasts from the past, want to rent a DVD? Netflix is winding up that part of its business later this month, but if you’re one of its subscribers sad to see the service go, there’s now another rent-by-mail option. Scarecrow, the largest independent video store in the US, has launched its own rent-by-mail service, which will send DVDs and Blu-ray discs straight to your door. Scarecrow has 140,000 titles — comparably, Netflix has around 5,000 titles in its US catalog, according to CordCutting — most of which you can rent by mail. There are exceptions, however, including rare and out-of-print videos, which require a security deposit, newly released movies and adult titles.
It’s a solid, if not especially exciting, blend of first- and third-party games.
Xbox Live Gold will be no more after today. Replacing it is a new tier of Game Pass called Xbox Game Pass Core. It’s a different offering to Games with Gold in that there will be a rotating library of a few dozen games. There are some solid, if cheap / old games, including Vampire Survivors, Celeste, Doom Eternal and Dishonored 2, but it’s not the most exciting selection assembled for this base version of Game Pass.
These sponsored recommendations will appear under various headlines — succinct information about them designed to get your attention, really — provided by Spotify, depending on what the artist’s team chooses. They can promote their stuff as “new music,” for instance, or use the headline “on tour,” if they’re on the road and want to drum up more interest. In the image above, the single that’s being promoted entitled White Winter Hymnal uses the headline “seasonal vibes.” In addition, artists can choose the people they want to target and can go for both active listeners and previous ones.
According to Spotify, Showcase ads will be shown in 30 markets. The streaming giant also claims that people who do see them are six times more likely to stream whatever it is being promoted. If you stream music you’ve seen through a particular Showcase ad, you won’t see it again for 28 days. Musicians are charged per click, after all, with prices starting at 40 cents. Initially, though, Spotify will only offer Showcase to artists with at least 1,000 streams over the past 28 days and whose billing country is set to the US. It will roll out the tool within the Campaigns tab for eligible artists in the US over the coming weeks, but it says it will expand access to it worldwide over time.
Members of the hacking group are reportedly located in the US and UK and are as young as 19 years old. They began targeting Caesars as early as August 27th, and obtained access to an outside vendor before entering the company’s network, according to the report. Caesars is expected to disclose the attack “imminently” in a regulatory filing.
Scattered Spider has reportedly been activate since May of 2022, and has largely attacked telecom and business outsourcing organizations, according to Trellix. The group is known to impersonate IT personnel and uses social engineering to persuade company officials to rum remote monitoring and other tools. From there, they exploit vulnerabilities and use tools like “Stonestop” to evade security software. Security Week describes them as a “financially-motivated threat actor.”
The group has been implicated in the MGM Resorts cyber outage as well, though another ransomware group called ALPHV/BlackCat also took credit. ALPHV also claims to have used social engineering to get inside, saying it took just a ten minute conversation to gain access. MGM has reportedly declined to pay the demanded ransom.This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/caesars-reportedly-paid-millions-to-stop-hackers-releasing-its-data-081052820.html?src=rss]]>
Thank you from the fiery infernal engine we keep in place of our heart. ❤️🔥 We couldn’t have asked for a better response to Baldur’s Gate 3.
Patch 3 is coming September 21 with full support for BG3 on Mac.September 13, 2023
Baldur’s Gate III was initially released for Windows PCs on August 3 before it came out for the PlayStation 5 earlier this month. For consoles, it remains a PlayStation 5 exclusive, but not because the developer struck a deal with Sony Entertainment. What happened was Larian Studios couldn’t cross a technical hurdle, preventing it from launching the game on Xbox at the same it came out for the PS5.
Microsoft has rules requiring developers to ensure that games released for the Series S and Series X have the same features. In Larian Studios’ case, it couldn’t make the game’s split-screen coop feature work on the less powerful Series S. After meeting with Microsoft Gaming CEO Phil Spencer, though, the developer was given permission to release the title for the Series S without the split-screen function but with cross-save progression between Steam and the two Xbox consoles. The Xbox version of Baldur’s Gate III doesn’t have an exact release date yet, but it’s expected to come out before the year ends.This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/baldurs-gate-iii-will-be-fully-available-for-mac-users-on-september-21-054650964.html?src=rss]]>
If you can’t bear to wait until Thursday evening, however, you may be able to get some clues from the Nintendo Direct stream happening earlier that same day. While the Switch-focused stream won’t give you any clues about PlayStation’s flagship updates, there’s a good chance some of the third party announcements featured on the Nintendo Direct will be at Sony’s showcase, too. If nothing else, the State of Play should give us a good idea of what fans might be playing on the upcoming PlayStation Portal streaming device when it launches this fall.This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/playstation-is-hosting-a-surprise-state-of-play-on-september-14-000143525.html?src=rss]]>
Today’s update to version 1.7.29 is limited to stability fixes. Bethesda says it specifically targets Xbox Series X/S glitches and adds various performance improvements to reduce crashes and improve frame rates. In addition, it fixed several issues that could prevent players from finishing three quests (“All That Money Can Buy,” “Into the Unknown” and “Shadows in Neon”). “Our priority initially is making sure any top blocker bugs or stability issues are addressed and adding quality-of-life features that many are asking for,” the developer wrote in the update’s notes.
But the future Starfield additions Bethesda teased today are more likely to catch players’ attention. DLSS support on PCs will be a welcome addition, as the technology could boost resolution and improve stability for people with NVIDIA cards. (AMD’s gaming boss Frank Azor had already suggested last month that nothing is contractually stopping the developer from adding NVIDIA’s rival upscaling tool.) Various community mods can already implement unofficial DLSS support, but gamers will be pleased to know official support is coming.
Bethesda says other features in development include brightness and contrast controls, an HDR calibration menu, a FOV slider and 32:9 ultra-wide monitor support for more immersive exploration. It even says it’s working on an eat button for in-game meals, and it may add better maps. Finally, Bethesda says it’s working on adding built-in cross-platform mod support for early 2024.
The developer stresses that it’s “working closely with” NVIDIA, AMD, and Intel on driver support and that future Starfield updates will all include stability improvements for individual hardware. That statement could be viewed as a response to a recent technical report from Digital Foundry saying the game had “disproportionately poor NVIDIA and Intel performance.”This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/starfield-will-add-dlss-and-other-pc-features-missing-at-launch-191530723.html?src=rss]]>
It’s called Y3000, which is certainly a futuristic-sounding name, though it calls to mind Skynet and its army of evil Terminators more than a refreshing beverage. Coke hasn’t released any information as to how it actually tastes, but testers describe it as resembling a raspberry slushy.
The company did release info on the creation process. It all started with researchers collecting flavor preferences from consumers, looking for trends to understand what the “future tastes like.” Next, this data was fed into a proprietary artificial intelligence system to help create the flavor profile. Before you know it, a new baby soda was born. What a mitzvah.
Doing its Coke also tasked AI to help design the artwork on the slim can. The cans have a beachy, neon-purple vibe that absolutely calls to mind an image generation platform like Dall-E or Midjourney. There are also traditionally-sized bottles filled with the futuristic fluid.
Y3000 is described as a limited edition flavor, but Coke hasn’t said when the soda would head to the scrapheap to join other futuristic foods, like Dippin’ Dots freeze-dried ice cream and the transparent (and awful) Crystal Pepsi. It should stick around through the fall, though, as Coca-Cola also announced a partnership with luxury streetwear brand Ambush to release a Y3000-themed clothing collection later in the season.This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/coca-colas-ai-generated-soda-tastes-like-marketing-184556330.html?src=rss]]>
Beyond enhancing productivity, Google is also attempting to expand its audio and visual entertainment offerings with its rollout of Prime Video on the Google Play app. This feature, which will appear on the display for “parked entertainment,” will only be available for select vehicles — namely Renault, Polestar and Volvo Cars. Eventually, Google says this will appear in other brands. In addition to streaming, Chrome-based internet browsing will be available starting today. Internet browsing is already available in some cars on Google Play through the standalone app, Vivaldi.
While keeping drivers productive and entertained, Google is also expanding the functionality of the display by making the available for hourly forecasts, and a follow-me alert safety feature that allows third parties to track your vehicle. A “Trip View” radar will also display live maps — mainly for severe weather events.
Lastly, Google’s — which allows drivers to use their phones to lock and unlock their vehicles — will finally be available in select Hyundai, Genesis, and Kia models in the US and Canada for those with compatible Pixel and Samsung devices. The tech will also allow drivers to share digital keys with family and friends wirelessly. Digital keys will have already been available in several European countries.This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/android-autos-latest-updates-let-you-take-zoom-and-webex-calls-on-the-road-180048081.html?src=rss]]>
Amazon says its Generative Listing Content tool only requires sellers to provide a brief product description in a few words or sentences. From there, it will “generate high-quality content for their review” — including a title, product description and bullet points — which sellers can peruse before refining or submitting as is. The company says many sellers have already tested the tool during the last few months, and their feedback indicates most of them use the generated content directly without revisions.
“These new capabilities will help sellers create high-quality listings with less effort and present customers with more complete, consistent, and engaging product information that will enhance their shopping experiences,” Amazon VP Mary Beth Westmoreland wrote today in an announcement blog post.
“With our new generative AI models, we can infer, improve, and enrich product knowledge at an unprecedented scale and with dramatic improvement in quality, performance, and efficiency,” Robert Tekiela, Amazon VP of selection and catalog systems, wrote today. “Our models learn to infer product information through the diverse sources of information, latent knowledge, and logical reasoning that they learn. For example, they can infer a table is round if specifications list a diameter or infer the collar style of a shirt from its image.”
The new tool joins Amazon’s AI-generated review summaries, launched earlier this summer. That feature uses generative AI to train on a product’s reviews and spit out one-paragraph recaps, including clickable keywords. The company teases that it’s still getting started with incorporating generative AI into its storefront: “This is just the tip of the iceberg on how we plan to use AI to help improve the seller experience and help more sellers succeed.” CEO Andy Jassy said last month that, from now on, generative AI “is going to be at the heart of what we do.”This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/amazon-is-encouraging-sellers-to-use-ai-generated-product-listings-174755381.html?src=rss]]>
Like most in-car displays, this is a customizable user interface that you can access in a number of different ways. Cadillac has partnered up with Google, so many of the company’s apps are built-in to the display, like Google Assistant and Google Maps. This allows for live traffic updates, podcasts, music streaming, hands-free communication and more. The inclusion of Google Play lets you shop around for all kinds of apps to help pass the time during that annoying commute.
Cadillac has been teasing this display for a while, after it first as part of the Lyriq EV concept car. However, the 2025 CT5 is far from a concept vehicle, as it likely releases next year. It seems as though automobile manufacturers are in a race to push out the widest and more versatile screen, with BMW recently that are also set to launch with 2025 models.
Of course, the Cadillac CT5 is also a car, and not just a big metal house for a touchscreen display. The CT5 refresh boasts a 2.0L turbo engine, upgradeable to 3.0L, with 237 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque, along with dual exhaust tips. The company promises a “quiet, smooth and effortless” ride, thanks to all-wheel drive, Super Cruise drive assistance technology, and something called the Drive Mode Selector that uses a full range of sensors to automatically adjust responses depending on the surface and weather conditions.
Cadillac says the 2025 CT5 will be manufactured at GM’s assembly facility in Michigan, with production beginning in the spring. We’ll have to wait for pricing and availability details, however, as the company says more news will be announced in the future. In the meantime, we can all live in terror at the prospect of a child accidentally breaking that touchscreen during a particularly grueling and anxiety-inducing road trip.This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/cadillac-put-a-33-inch-9k-touchscreen-in-its-new-ct5-luxury-sedan-173057311.html?src=rss]]>
also released a teaser for the 10-episode season, which jumps forward eight years from the events of season three to 2003. Much of the action will take place on Mars, where astronauts stay busy by mining for resources. The teaser is in the form of a recruitment ad narrated by Ed Baldwin (Joel Kinnaman) that encourages people to sign up to work on the Red Planet.
LG’s 49-inch Curved UltraGear is a prime example of how much things have changed. Starting at $1,300, it offers 49-inches of glorious screen space with a sharp 5,120 by 1,440 resolution; an ultra-fast 240Hz refresh rate and 1ms response time; and AMD FreeSync Premium support. It’s LG’s largest and most immersive gaming monitor yet. And after spending several weeks with the UltraGear 49, it has finally made me a convert of for the 49-inch ultrawide life.
Of course, one does not simply decide to buy the 49-inch UltraGear. You need to have the space to fit its bulky frame, which measures 46-inches across. You need to make sure all of your accessories can still fit on your desk (it’s particularly annoying if you regularly use cameras and large microphones). And, last but not least, you also need to ensure the games you play the most can take full advantage of the UltraGear’s wide 32:9 aspect ratio.
That any game can run at 5,120 by 1,440 pixels is a testament to just how far the ultrawide monitor movement has grown over the last decade. A typical widescreen TV has a 16:9 aspect ratio with a 1,920 by 1080 (1080p), 2,560 by 1,440 (1,440p) or 4K resolution. Ultrawide displays stretch those proportions a bit with a 21:9 aspect ratio, typically running at either 2,560 by 1080, or 3,440 by 1,440 pixels. These days, it’s rare to find a new PC title that doesn’t support those ultrawide resolutions. And when they don’t, as in the case of Elden Ring, developers often argue it’s done to avoid giving ultrawide players any advantage. (Of course, as is often the case with PC gaming, modders will find a way.)
Official support for extreme ultrawides like the 49-inch UltraGear is more rare, but it’s not unheard of. I was able to play several hours of Halo Infinite, Cyberpunk 2077, No Man’s Sky, Armored Core VI and the recently released FPS Sprawl at the LG’s full 5,120 by 1,440 resolution. You’ll still need the GPU horsepower to actually get decent framerates, of course, but the UltraGear’s native resolution is still less demanding than 4K. (For the record, I tested the UltraGear 49 on my personal PC equipped with a Ryzen 7800 and an NVIDIA RTX 4090.)
Starfield (below) was the first new game to spoil my extreme ultrawide fun. It supports 3,440 by 1,440 , but it can’t stretch out to 32:9 resolutions. That meant I spent my first 10 hours of the game with black bars on the sides of the screen. It was still playable, but I think anyone who buys a monitor this size will be disappointed with the restrictions. You could easily hack Starfield to support wider resolutions, but there’s no guarantee those solutions will work forever.
In many ways, the 49-inch Ultragear is emblematic of PC gaming itself: Owning one puts you right on the bleeding edge, but the experience isn’t always perfect. Incompatibility risks and other issues are simply a fact of life if you want a screen that can completely consume your peripheral vision. And to its credit, the Ultragear still looks and feels like a typical gaming display. Setting it up was just a matter of assembling the sturdy stand and slapping the screen on the rear mount. The stand also supports vertical, swiveling and tilting adjustments, letting you dial in just the right viewing angle.
Compared to Samsung’s monstrous 55-inch Odyssey Ark, the 49-inch UltraGear is far easier to use for both gaming and regular productivity tasks. Sure, it can’t rotate to be completely vertical, but that feature always felt like a gimmick on Samsung’s screen. Instead, I appreciated the simple things, like being able to have two browser windows opened up alongside Slack while I was doing research. While recording podcasts, I could simultaneously keep an eye on my audio timeline, as well as have windows dedicated to a video chat with my cohosts, a Google Doc with shownotes and a browser for research.
For the multitasker who demands as much usable screen space as possible, the 49-inch UltraGear is heaven. Just be prepared to stretch your neck more than usual to see the extreme edges. You could always push the monitor back a bit to avoid that, but that also hurts immersion, which is the whole point of buying this thing.
Based on several hours of gameplay, as well as watching clips from 4K HDR films and plenty of other video content, the 49-inch UltraGear was just as bright and bold as I’d expect from a modern monitor. It can reach up to 1,000 nits of peak HDR brightness, and it covers 95 percent of the DCI-P3 color gamut. While the images didn’t exactly leap off the screen as they did with Alienware’s phenomenal QD-OLED display, a more expensive 34-inch screen, the sheer size of the 49-inch UltraGear made me feel like I was actually driving around Night City in Cyberpunk 2077, or exploring alien planets in No Man’s Sky.
While the screen doesn’t really give you an advantage in FPS titles like Halo Infinite, since your view is basically cropped from what 16:9 players see, I still enjoyed having an extra wide view of every match. You may have to tweak field-of-view settings in some titles though, as the monitor’s large 1000R curve can lead to distortions along the edges of the frame. (This could also be a problem when it comes to photo editing, or any task requires exact measurements.)
While I reveled in having such a vast amount of screen space available, using the 49-inchUltraGear led to some awkward adjustments outside of the screen. To record podcasts, I had to push it down to its lowest position and maneuver my rear desk-mounted microphone over the display. With my own 34-inch ultrawide monitor, there was enough room for the microphone to fit along the right side of the screen. I also had to push my large desktop speakers even further away to fit the 49-inch UltraGear on my desk. If you’re actually considering this screen, it’s worth thinking seriously about how it will fit in your space and alongside your other accessories. (You could also attach it to a wall or a monitor arm that fits a 100 x 100 mm VESA mount.)
The 49-inch UltraGear is clearly a gaming focused monitor: it includes features like a built-in crosshair, FPS counter and requisite RGB LED lighting. There aren’t any speakers attached (because really, who uses those?) but you can plug in headphones for DTS HP:X virtual surround sound. (That sounded fine in my testing, but I stuck with Windows’ Dolby Atmos upmixing while playing with the Arctis Nova Pro headset.) There are also 2 USB 3.0 ports along the rear for accessories, but for a monitor in this price range I expected even more connectivity.
Given that 27-inch 5K screens like Apple’s Studio Display sell for $1,599, the 49-inch UltraGear’s $1,300 retail pricedoesn’t seem so bad. But with great 16:9 gaming monitors going for around $300, it’s still a hefty price to stomach. And if you’re ready to pay more than $1,000 for a monitor, it may be worth holding out for an OLED screen that can deliver better contrast. (The Alienware 34-inch QD-OLED is now available for $900 with AMD’s FreeSync Pro, while LG’s UltraGear 45 ultrawide OLED goes for a whopping $1,700.)
Few people actually need a 49-inch monitor. But LG has built one that’s laser-targeted at the people who demand that much screen. It does everything you want a gaming monitor to do: It’s bright, colorful and can play titles at incredibly high frame rates. And it does it all while consuming your entire field of view. When it comes to sheer immersion, the UltraGear 49 is the next best thing to putting on a VR headset.This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/lg-49-ultragear-gaming-monitor-review-ultrawide-nirvana-171512885.html?src=rss]]>
Even the best 2-in-1 laptops still have their limits, of course. Since they’re smaller than proper laptops, they tend to have less-powerful processors. Keyboards are often less sturdy, with condensed layouts and shallower travel. Plus, they’re almost always tablets first, leaving you to buy a keyboard case separately. (And those ain’t cheap!) So, you can’t always assume the advertised price is what you’ll actually spend on the 2-in-1 you want.
Sometimes, getting a third-party keyboard might be just as good, and they’re often cheaper than first-party offerings. If you’re looking to save some money, Logitech’s Slim Folio is an affordable option, and if you don’t need your keyboard to attach to your tablet, Logitech’s K780 Multi-Device wireless keyboard is also a good pick.
While we’ve typically made sure to include a budget 2-in-1 laptop in previous years, this time there isn’t a great choice to include in our top picks. We would usually highlight a device like the Surface Go, but the latest model is still too expensive. Other alternatives, like cheaper Android tablets, are underpowered and don’t offer a great multitasking interface. If you want something around $500 that’s thin, lightweight and long-lasting, you’re better off this year looking at a conventional PC (like those on our best budget laptops list).
When you’re shopping for a 2-in-1, there are some basic criteria to keep in mind. First, look at the spec sheet to see how heavy the tablet is (alone, and with the keyboard). Most modern hybrids weigh less than 2 pounds, with the 1.94-pound Surface Pro 9 being one of the heaviest around. The iPad Pro 12.9 (2022) and Samsung’s Galaxy Tab S9 series are both slightly lighter. If the overall weight of the tablet and its keyboard come close to 3 pounds, you’ll be better off just getting an ultraportable laptop.
You’ll also want to opt for an 11-inch or 12-inch screen instead of a smaller 10-inch model. The bigger displays will make multitasking easier, plus their companion keyboards will be much better spaced. Also, try to get 6GB of RAM if you can for better performance.
Finally, while some convertible laptops offer built-in LTE or 5G connectivity, not everyone will want to pay the premium for it. An integrated cellular radio makes checking emails or replying to messages on the go far more convenient. But it also often costs more, and that’s not counting what you’ll pay for data. And, as for 5G — you can hold off on it unless you live within range of a mmWave beacon. Coverage is still spotty and existing nationwide networks use the slower sub-6 technology that’s barely faster than LTE.
Best overall: Surface Pro 9 (Intel)
There’s no beating the great performance of the Surface series when it comes to 2-in-1s. They’re powerful, sleek tablets running an OS that’s actually designed for productivity. The Surface Pro 9 is Microsoft’s latest and great tablet, and it builds upon the already excellent Pro 8. It features speedy 12th-gen Intel CPUs and all of the major upgrades from last year, including a 120Hz display and a more modern design. It’s the best implementation of Microsoft’s tablet PC vision yet.
Don’t confuse this with the similarly named Surface Pro 9 with 5G, though, which has a slower ARM processor and inferior software compatibility. Built-in cellular is nice and all, but the Intel Pro 9 is a far better PC.
Like most of the other convertible laptops on this list, the Pro 9 doesn’t come with a keyboard cover — you’ll have to pay extra for that. That’s a shame, considering it starts at $1,000. Microsoft offers a variety of Type Covers for its Surface Pros ranging from $100 to $180, depending on whether you want a slot for a stylus. But at least they’re comfortable and well-spaced. You can also get the Surface Slim Pen 2 ($130) for sketching out your diagrams or artwork, which features haptic feedback for a more responsive experience.
Best for Apple users: 12.9-inch iPad Pro
If you’re already in the Apple ecosystem, the best option for you is obviously an iPad. The 12-inch Pro is our pick. Like older models, this iPad Pro has a stunning 12.9-inch screen with a speedy 120Hz refresh rate, as well as mini-LED backlighting. This year, it includes Apple’s incredibly fast M2 chip for excellent performance and more battery life than ever before.
Apple’s Magic Keyboard provides a satisfying typing experience, and its touchpad means you won’t have to reach for the screen to launch apps. But it’ll also cost you an extra $300, making it the most expensive case on this list by a lot. The iPad also lacks a headphone jack and its webcam is awkwardly positioned along the left bezel when you prop it up horizontally, so be aware that it’s still far from a perfect laptop replacement. Still, with its sleek design and respectable battery life, the iPad Pro 12.9 makes it a good 2-in-1 choice for Apple users.
Best for Android users: Samsung Galaxy Tab S9
Samsung has consistently made the best Android tablets for years now, and the company also offers an ecosystem of accessories that make its Galaxy Tab series the best choice if you want an Android 2-in-1 device. This year’s Galaxy Tab S9 series comes in three sizes, but we think the S9+ or S9 Ultra are the best for productivity. The S9+ has a 12.4-inch display, while the Ultra steps it up to a 14.6-inch screen – both of which are among the best we’ve seen on mobile devices like this. Otherwise, the two devices are identical, with Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 processors and 12GB of RAM, both upgrades over last year’s model. And as in years past, Samsung includes its S Pen stylus for drawing and note-taking.
Android’s default multitasking experience is not as good as what you’ll find on Windows or on an iPad, but Samsung’s Dex software converts the tablet experience into something very similar to Windows. Every app is completely resizable, and you can have up to five different apps running simultaneously, with others just a click away in the taskbar.
We only reviewed the S9 Ultra, but that tablet had solid battery life when running multiple apps in Dex mode, up to about seven hours. Given that the S9+ and S9 Ultra have identical specs, we’re comfortable recommending both, though. Just pick your preferred screen size and one of the keyboard covers Samsung sells and you’ve got a solid productive device that’s thin, light and powerful.
Honorable mention: Lenovo Yoga 9i
Adaptability is the biggest strength of a 2-in-1, with devices like the Yoga 9i capable of transforming into a number of different modes at a moment’s notice. Even though it’s got a relatively portable 14-inch OLED display, Lenovo still found room on the Yoga 9i for three USB-C ports, a fingerprint scanner and a clever rotating soundbar to ensure audio sounds good in any position. Lenovo also includes a free stylus in the box but, unlike previous models, there isn’t a dedicated storage slot for it on the machine anymore. It’s also worth noting that, while its general design hasn’t changed much for 2023, Lenovo has improved the Yoga 9i’s performance with updated 13th-gen Intel processors.
The sale extends from budget-friendly releases like the , now $100 instead of $150, to flagship products like the which costs $700 instead of $900. The deals even apply to off-the-beaten-path products like the which is basically a really fancy walkie-talkie.
Other watches involved in the sale include the Forerunner 945 and the Vivoactive 4S, among others, so you can take your pick from the company’s many offerings. Garmin has long been known as a manufacturer of well-regarded smartwatches that specialize in fitness tracking and data metrics. We praised the Forerunner 745, for instance, as having accurate distance tracking, advanced training feedback, integration with Garmin’s payment module, a long battery life and internal storage that can fit up to 500 songs.
There’s no telling when Garmin and Amazon will turn off the discount spigot, so you may want to act fast, as many of these discounts nearly match record low prices for the company’s line of smartwatches.
“Today, VFX workers at Marvel Studios spoke with a unanimous, collective voice, demanding fair pay for the hours they work, healthcare, a safe and sustainable working environment, and respect for the work they do,” Mark Patch, a VFX organizer for IATSE . “There could be no stronger statement highlighting the overwhelming need for us to continue our work and bring union protections and standards to all VFX workers across the industry.”
have suggested that Marvel demands a lot from its visual effects workers, especially after expanding its slate from a few movies a year to include . One person who was offered a short-term contract at the company in January that Marvel expected 3,000 feature-quality VFX shots to be completed for a 10-hour TV series on a much shorter timeline than would be typical for one of its superhero movies (which tend to have around 1,600 VFX shots). The worker was reportedly told that he’d have to work 18 hours a day, seven days a week for three months solid and declined the offer.
Marvel, which also outsources much of its VFX work, will now have to sit down and negotiate a contract with the union’s bargaining committee in good faith. IATSE notes that no negotiation dates have been scheduled as yet.
Another unit of VFX workers under the Disney umbrella could soon join the Marvel employees in having IATSE representation. Walt Disney Pictures VFX workers are currently voting in their own NLRB election. The results are expected on October 2.This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/marvel-studios-vfx-workers-have-unanimously-voted-to-unionize-155557679.html?src=rss]]>
What to look for in a wireless charger
It’s tempting to buy a wireless charging pad optimized for the size and features of the phone you have right now. Resist that urge — this is an accessory you’ll probably use with multiple devices, and you don’t want to replace it every time you buy a new handset. Instead, think about the phones you’re likely to use down the road. If you’re sure you’ll use iPhones for a long time, an Apple MagSafe charger will be faster and more convenient. If you use Android phones or think you might switch sides, however, you’ll want a more universal design.
You’ll also want something that accepts a variety of device sizes. Certain wireless charging stations don’t work well with the iPhone 13 mini or other particularly small phones, for instance. If you think you may change phone sizes at some point, a pad charger is a wiser choice. With that said, you’ll still want to pay attention to any potentially limiting design features, such as prominent cradles and lips.
Also, consider wireless chargers with modular components. While you’ll have to invest exclusively in one company’s ecosystem, this gives you room to grow as your gadget needs change. You can add a charger for a second phone or smartwatch, and some systems even offer modular batteries to supply power on the go. Just be sure to look at a multi-device charger if there’s a very good chance you’ll expand your setup in the future.
Where and how will you use your charger?
Odds are that you have a specific use case in mind for your charger. You may want it by your bedside for a quick charge in the morning, or on your desk for at-a-glance notifications. You might even keep it in your bag for convenient travel charging. If you intend to place your charger on a nightstand, you’ll usually want a pad. With a stand, even a dim always-on display can prove distracting when you’re trying to sleep. You may also want a wireless charging pad if your phone will sit on a low table, as it might be easier to grab in a rush. Look at compact models if space is tight.
On your desk, you may prefer a stand to quickly glance at alerts or make video calls. Want something more travel-friendly? A puck or similarly minimalist design is typically best. You may also want a charger with a battery (either modular or built-in) for camping or whenever an outlet isn’t nearby.
Performance matters, to a point
Although wireless charging is usually slower than its wired equivalent, speed and wattage are still important considerations. A fast charger can supply enough power for a long night out in the time it takes to change outfits.
In general, a 15W charger is more than quick enough for most situations, and you’ll need a MagSafe charger to extract that level of performance from an iPhone. With that said, even the slower 7.5W and 10W chargers are fast enough for an overnight power-up. If anything, you’ll want to worry more about support for cases. While many models can deliver power through a reasonably thick case (typically 3mm to 5mm), you’ll occasionally run into examples that only work with naked phones.
There are some proprietary chargers that smash the 15W barrier if you have the right phone. Google’s second-generation Pixel Stand, for example, delivers up to 23W for a Pixel 6 Pro or Pixel 7 Pro. Optimized designs like this can make sense if you’re loyal to one brand. Be sure to get a charger that still works well with other manufacturers’ phones, though, as you don’t want to replace your accessory (or endure sluggish speeds) if you switch brands.
Quality, box contents and the little details
Once you’ve chosen the form factor and performance levels that meet your needs, you’ll want to consider the fit and finish. You’re likely going to use your wireless charger every day, so even small differences in quality could make the difference between joy and frustration.
If your charger doesn’t use MagSafe, textured surfaces like fabric or rubberized plastic are more likely to keep your phone in place. The base should be grippy or weighty enough that the charger won’t slide around. If you’re buying a stand, check that it won’t tip over or wobble.
Pay attention to what’s included in the box. Some models don’t include power adapters, and may even ask you to reuse your phone’s USB charging cable. What may seem to be a bargain may prove expensive if you have to buy extras just to use it. Also, some cables and chargers are better than others. A USB-C charger is more future-proof, while braided cables may be less likely to break or tangle.
You’ll also want to think about the minor conveniences. Status lights are useful for indicating correct phone placement, but an overly bright light can be distracting. Ideally, the light dims or shuts off after a certain period of time. And while we caution against lips and trays that limit compatibility, you may still want some barriers to prevent your device falling off its perch on the charging station.
By now, you should know what to look for. While it would be impossible for us to test every charger, we’ve tried numerous models and have some favorites.
Best overall wireless charging pad: Otterbox OtterSpot Wireless Charging System
There’s no shortage of portable wireless chargers, but it’s rare that you can find one which is as well-suited to your desk as it is your bag. The Otterbox OtterSpot system is our top pick precisely because it’s so versatile. The base unit is stable, includes a power adapter and accommodates a wide range of phone sizes. But it really shines when you want to leave home. You can buy as many as three 5,000mAh portable batteries that optionally stack on top of the base to recharge, and serve as completely wireless chargers on the go. Those batteries can power wired devices through USB-C ports, too.
This isn’t the fastest charger given its 10W output, and the base alone is normally expensive at $55 (though it’s down to $38 as we write this). If you want a station you really can use everywhere, though, the OtterSpot is a top pick that can grow along with your needs.
Runner up wireless charging pad: Belkin BoostCharge Pro Portable Wireless Charger Pad
It’s easy to find wireless charging pucks that are fast or portable, but rarely both — and certainly not as well-considered as Belkin’s BoostCharge Pro Portable Wireless Charger Pad. Its extremely compact design not only offers 15W MagSafe charging (plus Qi charging when flat), but includes a kickstand that lets you watch videos while you power up. Add a long 6.6ft braided cable and this is an ideal charger whether you’re traveling or catching up on TV shows.
The emphasis on MagSafe may make the Belkin BoostCharge less appealing for Android devices. It’s a definite step up from Apple’s more affordable but simpler MagSafe Charger, however. And importantly, you have the choice of buying Belkin’s accessory with ($80) or without ($60) a power adapter.
Best budget wireless charging pad: Anker 315 Wireless Charger
If you just need the basics, Anker’s 315 Wireless Charger offers significant value from a well-known name. It tops out at 10W (7.5W for iPhones), doesn’t include a power adapter and relies on a microUSB cable, but it also costs only $15. Even if you have to buy an adapter, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better deal.
Best overall wireless charging stand: Belkin BoostCharge 15W Wireless Charging Stand
There’s fierce competition in the wireless charging stand space, and it’s easy to get a good 15W charger if you’re willing to pay. Belkin, however, is one of the few that promises truly solid value. Its $45 BoostCharge 15W Wireless Charging Stand costs less than some alternatives while including a power adapter in the box. The lip at the bottom will keep your phone stable, and dual charging coils let you use the device while watching a video in landscape mode.
There’s no MagSafe or other device-specific charging optimizations on this one. And like many wireless charging stands, this doesn’t officially support the iPhone 13 mini and similarly small handsets. But there’s otherwise little to complain about here — this is a no-nonsense power solution at a good price.
Runner-up wireless charging stand: Spigen ArcField PF2102
There aren’t many great options for wireless chargers that use Samsung’s fast power delivery technology, particularly if you want a stand. Thankfully, Spigen’s ArcField PF2102 is up to the job. It delivers 15W to all Samsung Galaxy phones that support Super Fast Wireless Charging, and it’s a well-made (if unspectacular) perch that prevents your device from sliding around. The universal form factor works with other phone brands, too.
You’ll want to shop carefully. Some versions don’t include a power adapter, and some stores sell for less than the official $80. If you can score a good deal, though, this is an ideal way to charge your Galaxy device while providing a clear view of the always-on display.
Best budget wireless charging stand: Anker 313 Wireless Charger
Anker’s strong value in pad chargers also applies to stands. The 313 Wireless Charger tops out at 10W (5W for iPhones), doesn’t include a power brick and uses a microUSB cable, but it’s also $20. You can buy an adapter and still undercut the price of some equally competent alternatives. It can charge while your phone is in landscape orientation, too. You might want to look at competing products if they cost under $40 with an adapter included, but the 313 is otherwise difficult to top.This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/best-wireless-charger-140036359.html?src=rss]]>
The 36 titles you’ll be able to play through Game Pass Core on Xbox One and Xbox Series X/S at the jump are:
Doom Eternal Standard Edition
Forza Horizon 4 Standard Edition
Gears 5 Game of the Year Edition
Golf with your Friends
Halo 5: Guardians
Halo Wars 2
Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice
Human Fall Flat
Ori & the Will of the Wisps
Payday 2: Crimewave Edition
Slay the Spire
Spiritfarer: Farewell Edition
State of Decay 2: Juggernaut Edition
The Elder Scrolls Online
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge
There are more than a few great games on that list, from and to and . Game Pass Core might be worth $60 per year for those who haven’t played many of those before. But it’s hard to make the case that this is the most exciting selection Microsoft could have come up with for this base version of Game Pass. The company says it plans to update the list two or three times per year, so there may be a three- to six month wait until Microsoft refreshes the library.
There are other features of Game Pass Core that could prompt people to subscribe or remain a member, most notably the fact the service is many multiplayer games on Xbox. For instance, you won’t be able to play with friends on your Xbox without at least a Game Pass Core membership.This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/microsoft-reveals-the-first-36-titles-in-the-xbox-game-pass-core-library-150519932.html?src=rss]]>
Adobe Premiere Pro should get rid of your “ums” and “hmms” with an update called filler word detection — an AI-based tool that does exactly what it says before deleting them from both the audio and any transcription. It can also identify and cut any long pauses you want out of the final version. Filler word detection works through Adobe’s Text-Based Editing tool, which launched earlier in the year.
Background noise is processed through an AI-powered tool called Enhance Speech that Adobe touts as turning any audio into the quality of being “recorded in a professional studio.” Adobe claims it will automatically remove background noise while providing you with a mix slider if you want to keep any of it.
These new features are launching in conjunction with the commercial release of Adobe’s Firefly for Enterprise generative AI across Photoshop, Adobe Express and Illustrator —it beta launched this past March. Using the AI tool requires a “generative credits” subscription plan that should “enable customers to turn a text-based prompt into image and vector creations.” It’s also available as a web application with Creative Cloud paid plans.This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/adobe-premiere-pro-is-getting-an-ai-tool-to-cut-your-hems-and-haws-145019681.html?src=rss]]>