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23
May

A speed benefit in solid-state disk design opens them up for attack


Why it matters to you

Your SSDs might be fast, but they’re also designed in a way that opens you up to yet another kind of attack.

Solid-state disks (SSDs) offer some serious benefits over their older hard-disk drive (HDD) siblings. SSDs are faster by orders of magnitude than HDDs, and they’re fundamentally more reliable — particularly for mobile devices where moving parts can be affected by movement and drops.

As SSD pricing has dropped from being significantly more expensive than HDDs to only a little more expensive, the price-to-performance ratio has improved to where SSDs have become by far the preferred storage device. However, some new information suggests that SSDs aren’t perfect and bring a unique vulnerability to particular kinds of attacks, as ExtremeTech reports.

The details are complex and require digging into the details of how SSDs are designed and how they work. Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University were the first to uncover the flaw, and their findings are covered in copious technical detail in a recently published paper.

In simpler terms, the vulnerability affects particular kinds of SSDs that are based on multilevel cell (MLC) technology, which make up the majority of those currently being sold and developed. The vulnerability in question does not affect older single-level cell (SLC) devices. The most advanced 3D NAND flash used in some SSDs are not affected yet but could be affected in future designs.

The vulnerability leverages a design quality of MLC-based SSDs that actually confers some benefits, including lower latency and better performance. The problem stems from the fact that data is written into a buffer directly from the individual flash cell that’s going to be written and not from the SSD’s flash controller.

Again, it’s all very technical, but basically, data can be corrupted by an attacker introducing interference and introducing errors during the programming process. That can result in corrupted data and actual damage to an SSD.

The solution would be to buffer data into the SSD flash controller and allow the controller to correct errors. The problem with this response is that it would also increase latency by around 5 percent and thus reduce performance — something that manufacturers might not be quick to do in the consumer market in particular given the important of raw speed to selling SSDs.

In any event, there’s something else to worry about to go along with the waves of malware and ransomware attacks we’ve seen lately. Our SSDs aren’t as safe as we thought they were, and that’s all we needed.




23
May

What’s on TV: ‘War Machine,’ ‘Get Out,’ and ‘Beat Shazam’


This week Netflix premieres its Brad Pitt movie War Machine, as well as the third season of Bloodline. Meanwhile, Archer wraps up its Dreamland season on FXX, while Jordan Peele’s Get Out comes home on Blu-ray. The NBA and NHL are closing out their conference final rounds this week, and gamers can check out a new Switch edition of Ultra Street Fighter II. Finally, Fox is premiering its Beat Shazam show, where players will have their ability to identify songs tested against the app. Look after the break to check out each day’s highlights, including trailers and let us know what you think (or what we missed).

Blu-ray & Games & Streaming

  • Get Out
  • Logan (4K)
  • The Great Wall (4K)
  • Vixen: The Movie
  • Dheepan (Criterion)
  • The Void
  • D2: The Mighty Ducks
  • D3: The Mighty Ducks
  • Shadow Warrior 2 (PS4, Xbox One)
  • Endless Space 2 (PC)
  • Chroma Squad (PS4)
  • Portal Knights (Xbox One, PS4)
  • StarCrawlers (PC)
  • Puzzle Showdown 4K (PS4, PC)
  • Star Ocean: Till the End of Time (PS4)
  • MXGP3 (PS4, Xbox One)
  • Deliriant (PS4)
  • Darksiders: Warmastered Edition (Wii U)
  • Vanquish (PC)
  • Ultra Street Fighter II (Switch)
  • Embers of Mirrim (Xbox One, PS4)
  • Everspace 1.0 (PC, Xbox One)
  • Spellspire (Xbox One)
  • Rime (PS4, PC, Xbox One)
  • Guilty Gear Xrd REV 2 (PS4, PS3)

Monday

  • Lucifer, Fox, 9PM
  • NBA WCF: Spurs/Warriors, ESPN, 9PM
  • Jane the Virgin (season finale), CW, 9PM
  • The Twins, Freeform, 9PM
  • Mommy Dead and Dearest, HBO, 10PM
  • The Wall, NBC, 10PM
  • Better Call Saul, AMC, 10PM
  • The Late Late Show Carpool Karaoke Primetime Special, CBS, 10PM
  • American Dad, TBS, 10PM
  • The Therapist, Viceland, 11PM
  • Angie Tribeca, TBS, 10:30PM
  • Desus & Mero, Viceland, 11PM

Tuesday

  • Hasan Minhaj: Homecoming King, Netflix, 3AM
  • Casual (season premiere), Hulu, 3AM
  • Victorian Slum, PBS, 8PM
  • Great News (season finale), NBC, 8PM
  • Downward Dog, ABC, 8PM
  • Pretty Little Liars, Freeform, 8PM
  • The Flash (season finale), CW, 8PM
  • The Manns, TV One, 8PM
  • WWE Smackdown, USA, 8PM
  • The Challenge: Reunion, MTV, 8PM
  • Dancing with the Stars (season finale), ABC, 8:30PM
  • NBA ECF Game 4: Celtics/Cavaliers, TNT, 8:30PM
  • The Voice (season finale), NBC, 9PM
  • The Challenge: Champs vs. Pros, MTV, 9PM
  • Famous in Love, Freeform, 9PM
  • Deadliest Catch, Discovery, 9PM
  • iZombie, CW, 9PM
  • Prison Break, Fox, 9PM
  • Bull (season finale), CBS, 9PM
  • Switched at Birth, Freeform, 9PM
  • Face Off, Syfy, 9PM
  • Outsiders, WGN, 9PM
  • Imaginary Mary, ABC, 9:30PM
  • Fargo, FX, 10PM
  • Cooper’s Treasure, Discovery, 10PM
  • Team Ninja Warrior, USA, 10PM
  • The Americans, FX, 10PM
  • Rebel, BET, 10PM
  • Imposters, Bravo, 10PM
  • Truth & Iliza, Freeform, 10PM
  • Desus & Mero, Viceland, 11PM
  • Problematic with Moshe Kasher (season finale), Comedy Central, 12AM
  • The Dunk King (season finale), TNT, 12AM

Wednesday

  • The Handmaid’s Tale, Hulu, 3AM
  • Dirty Dancing, ABC, 8PM
  • Shots Fired (season finale), Fox, 8PM
  • Catfish, MTV, 8PM
  • Arrow (season finale), CW, 8PM
  • Survivor (season finale), CBS, 8PM
  • Are You the One: All Star Challenge, MTV, 9PM
  • Empire (season finale), Fox, 9PM
  • Law & Order: SVU (season finale), NBC, 9PM
  • The 100 (season finale), CW, 9PM
  • The Magicians, Syfy, 9PM
  • Major Crimes, TNT, 9PM
  • Archer (season finale), FXX, 10PM
  • I Am Heath Ledger, Spike TV, 10PM
  • The Expanse, Syfy, 10PM
  • Nobodies, TV Land, 10PM
  • The Quad, BET, 10PM
  • Desus & Mero, Viceland, 11PM

Thursday

  • Beat Shazam (series premiere), Fox, 8PM
  • American Ninja Warrior: Celebrity Ninja Warrior, NBC, 8PM
  • Love Connection (series premiere), Fox, 9PM
  • Running Wild with Bear Grylls, NBC, 9PM
  • The Amazing Race, CBS, 10PM
  • Beerland, Viceland, 10PM
  • Inside the FBI, USA, 10PM
  • Dark Net (season finale), Showtime, 10PM
  • Desus & Mero, Viceland, 11PM
  • Impractical Jokers, TruTV, 11PM

Friday

  • Bloodline (S3), Netflix, 3AM
  • War Machine, Netflix, 3AM
  • Long Strange Trip (S1), Amazon Prime, 3AM
  • Dino Dana (S1), Amazon Prime, 3AM
  • The Originals, CW, 8PM
  • First Dates (season finale), NBC, 8PM
  • Vice, HBO, 11PM
  • Motherboard, Viceland, 11:30PM

Saturday

  • Neon Joe: Werewolf Hunter (season finale), Cartoon Network, 12AM
  • Doctor Who, BBC America, 9PM
  • Class, BBC America, 10PM

Sunday

  • Sunday Night Baseball, ESPN, 7:30PM
  • NCIS: Los Angeles, CBS, 8PM
  • White Princess, Starz, 8PM
  • American Gods, Starz, 9PM
  • The Leftovers, HBO, 9PM
  • Twin Peaks, Showtime, 9PM
  • Silicon Valley, HBO, 10PM
  • United Shades of America, CNN, 10PM
  • Veep, HBO, 10:30PM
23
May

‘LawBreakers’ makes the leap to PlayStation 4


LawBreakers isn’t confined to the PC any longer: The game is also heading to PlayStation 4, developer Boss Key Productions announced today. LawBreakers comes from Gears of War creator Cliff Bleszinski, and it’s a rapid-fire, five-on-five, first-person shooter set in a low-gravity, sci-fi world.

If LawBreakers is going to succeed, it has capture a part of the online multiplayer market that’s currently dominated by Overwatch. Making the game available on PS4 is a solid step toward that goal. Bleszinski told Engadget at E3 2016 that he wasn’t worried about diving into a saturated market because there was plenty of room for multiple games in the team-based shooter genre.

“I’m not the only asshole who had this idea a few years ago,” he said.

LawBreakers has an edge, too: It will cost $30, half the price of Overwatch on consoles. LawBreakers is set to hit PC and PS4 later this year.

And Xbox owners, have hope. Bleszinski made it clear in a Reddit AMA and on Twitter that LawBreakers might still head to Xbox One or Project Scorpio, Microsoft’s coming 4K console.

“Scorpio is promising,” he said. “[Microsoft] bet on Kinect too hard last round. Don’t rule out an Xbox version, btw.”

Source: PlayStation Blog

23
May

Samsung’s extra-stretchable display can survive dents


Flexible displays are nothing new. However, most of them don’t live up to the dreams of flexible tech — they may only bend in a limited way. Samsung thinks it can do better. It just unveiled a 9.1-inch prototype OLED display that’s stretchable in seemingly every way imaginable: you can bend, roll and even dent it (up to half an inch deep) knowing that it’ll revert to its original form. The technology is still very young, but Samsung believes the stretchy screen will be useful for everything from wearables to in-car displays. Imagine a very thin smartwatch that can take some knocks without smashing into pieces.

Samsung 9.1-inch 'stretchable' OLED with pushing comparison

That’s not the only trick Samsung has up its sleeve, either. It’s showing off a 1.96-inch 4K LCD whose ridiculously high 2,250 pixels per inch density would be ideal for virtual reality. You might not notice the distracting “screen door” effect (where you can see the gaps between pixels) common to VR headsets. There’s again no roadmap, but it’s just as well when even PC-based VR still requires a fairly speedy computer. It could be a while before enough people have PCs that can handle this extra-high resolution at the frame rates you need for smooth VR.

To top it all off, Samsung is also exhibiting a 5.09-inch OLED with “glassless” stereoscopic 3D — yes, it’s still kicking around the concept despite the decline of 3D technology. The use of OLED should offer more natural-looking results than an LCD, Samsung says. There is the risk of a panel being used for gimmickry (Samsung talks about games and pop-up books), but it could also add depth to VR experiences.

Via: Korea Herald, TechSpot

Source: Samsung Display (translated)

23
May

Smart lock maker Safetech agrees to better protect its users’ passwords


Why it matters to you

Are your passwords safe? This settlement shows government officials are starting to take passwords and online security more seriously.

These days, we have a login and password for just about everything, ranging from our online bank accounts to Amazon to our smartphone apps. The average person has 27 discrete online logins, according to a 2016 poll by Intel Security, and we protect them with passwords. But are these passwords safe? For the first time in history, an attorney general’s office took legal action against a wireless security company for failing to protect its customer’s security.

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s office recently settled with Safetech Products LLC, maker of Bluetooth-enabled door locks and pad locks marketed under the name Quicklock. The locks are designed to turn doors and closets into secure areas, protecting you and your belongings. Schneiderman began investigating Safetech when a group of independent security researchers found that the Bluetooth-enabled locks transmitted unencrypted passwords between the lock and the user’s smartphone in plain text, allowing a potential hacker or thief to intercept the password and open up the lock. The researchers also found that the default passwords on the locks were very weak, and could easily be discovered through a brute force attack.

Although Safetech’s locks limit the Bluetooth range to around 50 feet and have a built in safeguard where they shut down for two minutes after two failed login attempts, the settlement agreement between the Schneiderman’s office and Safetech calls for increased security to protect consumers.

The settlement agreement says Safetech must encrypt all passwords, security keys, or other security credentials in their locks. Safetech will also have to prompt users to change the default password during setup. In addition to securing user passwords, Safetech agreed to put a comprehensive written security program in place to address any potential future security risks.

“Today’s settlement with Safetech marks the first time an attorneys general’s office has taken legal action against a wireless security company for failing to protect their customer’s personal and private information,” Schneiderman said in a statement. “Companies employing new technologies must implement and promote good security practices and ensure that their products are secure, including through the use of encryption. Together, with the help of companies like Safetech, we can safeguard against breaches and illegal intrusions on our private data.”




23
May

What do you get when you combine AI, a laser pointer? The best cat toy ever


Why it matters to you

Bored pets can be destructive or wind up overeating. This smart laser toy promises to help.

If you’ve got a pet dog or cat at home, you almost certainly had the experience of having to leave it alone at some point when you go out to work.

That is what the folks behind a new Kickstarter campaign called Felik want to help with. They developed a smart device they describe as being a bit like a “Kinect for pets.” It combines a camera, computer vision algorithms, motion tracking, and artificial intelligence to keep your beloved cat or dog entertained (and therefore mentally active) with a laser pointer in your absence.

“All existing laser pet toys move in unnatural random or pre-programmed patterns and do not react to pets’ movements,” inventor Yuri Brigance told Digital Trends. “Others, like PetCube, allow a human to control the laser via an app, but it requires real-time human interaction and there’s a lag between using the app and seeing the laser move. Felik doesn’t require any human interaction and produces laser movements that are almost identical to a human moving a laser by hand. It is designed to mimic natural prey like a bug or a mouse.”

Brigance said he started developing Felik to look after his two cats, Mike and Molly, which he had adopted from a local pet shelter. After a change in his living situation, Brigance found himself without someone at home to look after the cats during the day when he was out working. “I couldn’t leave them with just the food bowl and nothing to play with so I started working on Felik to bridge that gap,” he said.

Felik doesn’t just help take care of your pets while you’re out, either. It also comprises a mobile app, which reminds human owners to play with their resident feline or canine when they are at home — if the constant meowing or barking isn’t enough of a reminder! It will even log how many hours you spend with your pet.

The device is currently available for pre-order, with prices starting at $104. Shipping will take place this November.




23
May

Scientists successfully grow human blood stem cells in a lab for the first time


Why it matters to you

Growing human blood stem cells in a lab could help treat patients with a variety of blood disorders.

In a breakthrough of potentially enormous importance, researchers have grown the stem cells that produce blood inside a lab for the first time. The advance could help pave the way for both the creation of blood for transfusions, as well as for treating patients with blood disorders using their own cells, instead of having to rely on donor marrow transplants.

“Bone marrow transplants offer a cure to leukemia, sickle cell disease, and a variety of other blood disorders,” Dr. Raphael Lis, from Weill Cornell Medical College in New York, told Digital Trends. “The problem is that many patients don’t have a well-matched donor to provide the marrow needed to reconstitute their blood with healthy cells. To address this challenge, we and others have been trying to develop reliable, lab-based methods to generate the essential blood-producing component of bone marrow: Hematopoietic stem cells.”

To make their blood stem cells, the Weill Cornell researchers took cells from the walls of animal lungs, and then used a set of four proteins they had identified that encouraged them to form blood stem cells. In an experiment, the reprogrammed blood stem cells were shown to regenerate the entire blood system of mice for the duration of their lifespan, as well as providing a boost to their immune systems.

The results demonstrate a proof-of-concept for efficiently converting the cells that line blood vessels into fully-functioning stem cells, which can be transplanted to provide a lifetime supply of new and healthy blood cells.

“We are now testing our method in large animals,” Lis continued. “We devised a new nonintegrative approach we are currently testing in monkeys in collaboration with the Fred Hutchinson Institute.” Providing that these monkeys show positive results and no sign of hematologic malignancies, Lis said that this “would allow us to push this method one step close to translation to clinic.”

Lis’ team isn’t the only one to experience a breakthrough in this area. Another newly published study coming out of Harvard Medical School started with human pluripotent stem cells, referring to stem cells capable of turning into any other type of cell in the human body. They then applied proteins which they discovered triggered the pluripotent cells to transform into blood stem cells. In tests also involving mice, these produced new red and white blood cells, in addition to platelets.

Taken together, the two projects represent a significant advance. You can read more about the Weill Cornell Medical College study here, and the Harvard Medical School study here.




23
May

Logitech K480 review


logitech-bluetooth-multi-device-keyboard

Research Center:
Logitech K480

Many of the keyboards we’ve looked at lately have been multi-device models, in that you can pair two or more computing devices—smartphones, tablets, PCs, Macs—to them simultaneously, and then switch back and forth with the touch of a button. Aside from Microsoft’s Universal Foldable Keyboard ($70), though, none have been small enough to consider carrying around with you – except Logitech’s Bluetooth Multi-Device Keyboard K480.

The K480 is compact and light compared to many multi-device keyboards, including those in Logitech’s line-up. It’s also inexpensive. Logitech lists it for $50, but we found it at several online outlets for around $30. At that price, the only real issues left are — does it, as its more expensive siblings and competitors do, perform well, and is it really portable?

Not your everyday keyboard

Chances are, you haven’t seen anything quite like the K480 before, as the keyboard’s blocky design looks like the bottom half of a tablet. It measures about three quarters of an inch thick, by 11.8 inches across, by 7.7 inches from top to bottom, and weighs 1.8 pounds. Unlike most Logitech keyboards, it’s flagrantly plastic, to the extent that it feels cheaply made. It even creaks and complains with the slightest finger pressure on the deck and chassis.

logitech k  reviewWilliam Harrel/Digital Trends

logitech k  reviewWilliam Harrel/Digital Trends

logitech k  reviewWilliam Harrel/Digital Trends

logitech k  reviewWilliam Harrel/Digital Trends

Like the K780, the K480 has a groove that runs across the top (Logitech calls it a “smart device stand”) for holding your tablet or smartphone upright as you type. Since the K780 is significantly wider (15 inches vs. 11.8 inches) than the K480, it can hold larger devices, or two relatively large devices, at once, whereas the K480 is capable of holding most tablets, say, up to 10.1 inches in landscape orientation, or a smaller tablet (perhaps the iPad Mini or Google Nexus 9) and a smartphone in portrait orientation.

The underside is encased in an off-white plastic. Embedded in the plastic are small rubber pads that act as feet, and they provide a slight incline for comfortable typing, though there’s no way to adjust it. Also on the bottom is an on/off toggle and a compartment that holds two (included) AAA batteries, that Logitech says will last up to two years, or for 2 million keystrokes. Unfortunately, it’s not rechargeable, but if the keyboard truly gets two years’ life out of a set of batteries, that’s really a moot point.

Pairing and using multiple devices

As mentioned, the K480, like the K780, can pair with up to three Bluetooth devices at the same time. There’s a slight difference, though, in the procedure. Where the K780 utilizes three buttons, or keys, to initiate pairing and then switch from device to device, the K480 has a selection wheel with three options (1, 2, and 3) just above the ESC key. To pair with a device, then, you set the wheel to the desired position, and then press and hold the appropriate platform button located on the right side, opposite the selection wheel. (There’s two buttons; the one on the left is for everything Windows and Android, and the right one is for everything Apple, such as iPhones, iPads, and Macs.)

It switches between devices swiftly and seamlessly.

Then follow the pairing procedure for the computing device, which in most cases entails typing a code that displays on the screen. Once you have paired two or more devices, you switch between them by setting the selection wheel to the appropriate number. It all works quite well, swiftly and seamlessly, but we should point out that for some reason the K480 will not work with Windows Phone.

As with all of Logitech’s multi-device keyboards, the K480’s keys remap themselves according to the operating system of the device with which it’s paired. The Windows Start key, for instance, becomes the Option key when you’re paired with a Mac. The Windows function keys remap to Home, Back, Search, Multitask, and so on, when the keyboard is paired with an Android tablet or smartphone. And each key’s dual function is clearly labeled, making it easy to find the appropriate keys as you work.

Comfort and all that

Despite its size and weight, the K480’s isn’t really much bigger than that of the Surface Cover, or most other keyboards designed to work with a tablet. The keys are oval, with a slight concave, and most are big enough. The keys are a little tightly spaced, and some, such as Scroll Lock, Page Up/Down, and Print Screen, are missing altogether.

Logitech K480
William Harrel/Digital Trends

The Alt, Fn, Ctrl, Spacebar, and several other keys, including the row of function keys across the top, are slightly convex. Between the tight spacing of the keys, the varied shapes and sizes, and somewhat unorthodox layout, typing on the K480 is different enough from typing on a standard desktop keyboard that it took us a while to get used to. In fact, we found switching back and forth from a standard keyboard to the K480 a little disorienting.

Logitech K480 Compared To

logitech k  review mk product

Logitech MK850

logitech k  review aukey km g product

Aukey KM-G3

logitech k  review g pro keyboard product

Logitech G Pro Mechanical Gaming…

logitech k  review microsoft universal foldable keyboard product

Microsoft Universal Foldable…

logitech k  review g prodigy product

Logitech G213 Prodigy

logitech k  review steelseries apex m mechanical gaming keyboard product image

Steelseries Apex M500

logitech k  review razer turret product image alt

Razer Turret

logitech k  review razer blackwidow x chroma

Razer Blackwidow X Chroma

logitech k  review cougar attack x gaming keyboard

Cougar Attack X3 gaming keyboard

logitech k  review razer deathstalker chroma

Razer Deathstalker Chroma

logitech k  review microsoft wireless desktop

Microsoft Wireless Desktop 5000

logitech k  review cooler master storm quickfire rapid keyboard press image

Cooler Master Storm QuickFire

logitech k  review ipad bluetooth keyboard

Logitech iPad 2 Keyboard Case by…

logitech k  review cherry jk

Cherry JK-0300

logitech k  review

Logitech K750 Wireless Solar…

If you use it long enough, though, you will get used to it. Typing this article on it, for instance, didn’t take a whole lot longer than it would have on a full-size desktop keyboard. As for plunge and travel, the keystrokes are soft enough to provide adequate comfort. However, each keystroke produces a loud plastic “click, click, click.” You wouldn’t want to try using the K480 in a library or some other ultra-quiet setting.

Warranty information

Logitech guarantees the K480 against failure under normal use for 1 year, which is about average for a product like this. The company says it was designed and tested to last for at least 2 million keystrokes.

Our Take

While the Logitech Bluetooth Multi-Device Keyboard K480 feels a bit cheap, it’s a decent value given its low price. It’s not the most comfortable for prolonged typing, but then neither are most other keyboards designed to work with mobile devices.

Is there a better alternative?

If you’re looking for something classier and easier to type on, Logitech’s K780 multi-device keyboard, which costs more than twice as much, is a higher-end, more-comfortable-to-use alternative. If portability is important, there’s the Microsoft Universal Foldable Keyboard we mentioned earlier. But Microsoft model, lacks a stand for holding your mobile devices upright.

The DT Accessory Pack

Logitech M720 Triathalon Multi-Device Wireless Mouse

$34.99

Hermitshell Hard Travel Storage Carrying Case Bag

$19.99

Dust-Off Premium Keyboard Cleaning Kit

$15.79

How long will it last?

It’s hard to say. As mentioned, the keyboard creaks and moans when you pick it up, and it doesn’t feel like it would survive falling on to a hard floor. It should serve for a few years, but it’ll need proper care.

Should you buy it?

If you’re looking for an inexpensive way to jump back and forth between your computing devices on the same keyboard, sure, why not, especially if you plan to leave it on your desktop. If you’re looking for a multi-device solution to carry around with you, Microsoft’s Universal Foldable Keyboard is pretty slick. Given all that it does for 30 bucks, though, the K480 isn’t such a bad deal.

23
May

Logitech K480 review


logitech-bluetooth-multi-device-keyboard

Research Center:
Logitech K480

Many of the keyboards we’ve looked at lately have been multi-device models, in that you can pair two or more computing devices—smartphones, tablets, PCs, Macs—to them simultaneously, and then switch back and forth with the touch of a button. Aside from Microsoft’s Universal Foldable Keyboard ($70), though, none have been small enough to consider carrying around with you – except Logitech’s Bluetooth Multi-Device Keyboard K480.

The K480 is compact and light compared to many multi-device keyboards, including those in Logitech’s line-up. It’s also inexpensive. Logitech lists it for $50, but we found it at several online outlets for around $30. At that price, the only real issues left are — does it, as its more expensive siblings and competitors do, perform well, and is it really portable?

Not your everyday keyboard

Chances are, you haven’t seen anything quite like the K480 before, as the keyboard’s blocky design looks like the bottom half of a tablet. It measures about three quarters of an inch thick, by 11.8 inches across, by 7.7 inches from top to bottom, and weighs 1.8 pounds. Unlike most Logitech keyboards, it’s flagrantly plastic, to the extent that it feels cheaply made. It even creaks and complains with the slightest finger pressure on the deck and chassis.

logitech k  reviewWilliam Harrel/Digital Trends

logitech k  reviewWilliam Harrel/Digital Trends

logitech k  reviewWilliam Harrel/Digital Trends

logitech k  reviewWilliam Harrel/Digital Trends

Like the K780, the K480 has a groove that runs across the top (Logitech calls it a “smart device stand”) for holding your tablet or smartphone upright as you type. Since the K780 is significantly wider (15 inches vs. 11.8 inches) than the K480, it can hold larger devices, or two relatively large devices, at once, whereas the K480 is capable of holding most tablets, say, up to 10.1 inches in landscape orientation, or a smaller tablet (perhaps the iPad Mini or Google Nexus 9) and a smartphone in portrait orientation.

The underside is encased in an off-white plastic. Embedded in the plastic are small rubber pads that act as feet, and they provide a slight incline for comfortable typing, though there’s no way to adjust it. Also on the bottom is an on/off toggle and a compartment that holds two (included) AAA batteries, that Logitech says will last up to two years, or for 2 million keystrokes. Unfortunately, it’s not rechargeable, but if the keyboard truly gets two years’ life out of a set of batteries, that’s really a moot point.

Pairing and using multiple devices

As mentioned, the K480, like the K780, can pair with up to three Bluetooth devices at the same time. There’s a slight difference, though, in the procedure. Where the K780 utilizes three buttons, or keys, to initiate pairing and then switch from device to device, the K480 has a selection wheel with three options (1, 2, and 3) just above the ESC key. To pair with a device, then, you set the wheel to the desired position, and then press and hold the appropriate platform button located on the right side, opposite the selection wheel. (There’s two buttons; the one on the left is for everything Windows and Android, and the right one is for everything Apple, such as iPhones, iPads, and Macs.)

It switches between devices swiftly and seamlessly.

Then follow the pairing procedure for the computing device, which in most cases entails typing a code that displays on the screen. Once you have paired two or more devices, you switch between them by setting the selection wheel to the appropriate number. It all works quite well, swiftly and seamlessly, but we should point out that for some reason the K480 will not work with Windows Phone.

As with all of Logitech’s multi-device keyboards, the K480’s keys remap themselves according to the operating system of the device with which it’s paired. The Windows Start key, for instance, becomes the Option key when you’re paired with a Mac. The Windows function keys remap to Home, Back, Search, Multitask, and so on, when the keyboard is paired with an Android tablet or smartphone. And each key’s dual function is clearly labeled, making it easy to find the appropriate keys as you work.

Comfort and all that

Despite its size and weight, the K480’s isn’t really much bigger than that of the Surface Cover, or most other keyboards designed to work with a tablet. The keys are oval, with a slight concave, and most are big enough. The keys are a little tightly spaced, and some, such as Scroll Lock, Page Up/Down, and Print Screen, are missing altogether.

Logitech K480
William Harrel/Digital Trends

The Alt, Fn, Ctrl, Spacebar, and several other keys, including the row of function keys across the top, are slightly convex. Between the tight spacing of the keys, the varied shapes and sizes, and somewhat unorthodox layout, typing on the K480 is different enough from typing on a standard desktop keyboard that it took us a while to get used to. In fact, we found switching back and forth from a standard keyboard to the K480 a little disorienting.

Logitech K480 Compared To

logitech k  review mk product

Logitech MK850

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Aukey KM-G3

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Microsoft Universal Foldable…

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Steelseries Apex M500

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Razer Turret

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Razer Blackwidow X Chroma

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Razer Deathstalker Chroma

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Microsoft Wireless Desktop 5000

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Cooler Master Storm QuickFire

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Cherry JK-0300

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If you use it long enough, though, you will get used to it. Typing this article on it, for instance, didn’t take a whole lot longer than it would have on a full-size desktop keyboard. As for plunge and travel, the keystrokes are soft enough to provide adequate comfort. However, each keystroke produces a loud plastic “click, click, click.” You wouldn’t want to try using the K480 in a library or some other ultra-quiet setting.

Warranty information

Logitech guarantees the K480 against failure under normal use for 1 year, which is about average for a product like this. The company says it was designed and tested to last for at least 2 million keystrokes.

Our Take

While the Logitech Bluetooth Multi-Device Keyboard K480 feels a bit cheap, it’s a decent value given its low price. It’s not the most comfortable for prolonged typing, but then neither are most other keyboards designed to work with mobile devices.

Is there a better alternative?

If you’re looking for something classier and easier to type on, Logitech’s K780 multi-device keyboard, which costs more than twice as much, is a higher-end, more-comfortable-to-use alternative. If portability is important, there’s the Microsoft Universal Foldable Keyboard we mentioned earlier. But Microsoft model, lacks a stand for holding your mobile devices upright.

The DT Accessory Pack

Logitech M720 Triathalon Multi-Device Wireless Mouse

$34.99

Hermitshell Hard Travel Storage Carrying Case Bag

$19.99

Dust-Off Premium Keyboard Cleaning Kit

$15.79

How long will it last?

It’s hard to say. As mentioned, the keyboard creaks and moans when you pick it up, and it doesn’t feel like it would survive falling on to a hard floor. It should serve for a few years, but it’ll need proper care.

Should you buy it?

If you’re looking for an inexpensive way to jump back and forth between your computing devices on the same keyboard, sure, why not, especially if you plan to leave it on your desktop. If you’re looking for a multi-device solution to carry around with you, Microsoft’s Universal Foldable Keyboard is pretty slick. Given all that it does for 30 bucks, though, the K480 isn’t such a bad deal.

23
May

DJI’s teaser drops some not-so-subtle hints about the upcoming Spark drone


Why it matters to you

DJI makes some of the best drones on the planet and its new one might just be the most affordable yet.

Rumors about DJI’s upcoming Spark drone have been circulating for months now and, if the company’s latest promotional video is any indication, it seems that just about all of them are true.

The video, which was strategically released ahead of the company’s unveiling event on Wednesday, is filled with not-so-subtle hints about the drone’s size and purpose. It starts off with a flurry of first-person shots in which the drone emerges from inside a series of purses and backpacks. This basically confirms that the Spark will be the smallest and most portable addition to DJI’s product lineup, as it’s small enough to fit in a bag. The drone’s size was first revealed when leaked photographs of Spark prototypes surfaced in April and now we finally have some supporting evidence that suggests those photos are legitimate.

You’ll also notice a handful of other nods to the drone’s diminutive size peppered throughout the video. At multiple points in the footage, the drone zips through small openings that would likely be a death sentence for a larger aircraft. On top of that, DJI’s tagline for the event is “S(e)ize The Moment” — which implies that the drone is both small and also designed for taking pictures/video — most likely selfies.

Thing is, that is all we really know right now. The Spark’s full specs and features won’t be available until Wednesday and the only other details we have are based on speculation and unofficial images. It might have obstacle avoidance, it might have DJI’s intelligent flying modes, and it will probably have a two-axis gimbal to hold the camera — but that’s all just educated guessing. Despite all the leaks, we still have far more questions about the Spark than answers.

Will it come with a controller, or be piloted via a smartphone app? How long will the battery last? What will it cost? We still don’t know, but all will be revealed on Wednesday at 11:30 a.m. (ET) — so be sure to circle back!




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