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Weekends with Engadget: GS5 and Fire TV reviews, Sony’s Yoshida on VR, and more!

Welcome to Weekends with Engadget, a quick peek back at the top headlines from the past seven days — all handpicked by the editors here at the site. For even more action, subscribe to our Flipboard magazine!

Samsung Galaxy S5 review: a solid improvement, but don’t rush to upgrade

Samsung’s latest handset, the Galaxy S5, has a slightly larger screen and squared edges, but nontheless recognizable as part of the Galaxy family. Packing a heart rate monitor, fingerprint scanner and extensively revamped TouchWiz UI, it’s a solid upgrade from the GS4. But is it worth an early upgrade?

Getting to know Microsoft’s new Xbox lead, Phil Spencer

There’s a new sheriff in Xbox town, and his name is Phil Spencer. While most of us know him as the E3 guy who speaks about games during Microsoft’s keynote, Spencer is a longtime Redmond employee who worked his way up from the bottom.

The Micro is a $200 3D printer that can make a teacup in an hour

If you’ve been expectantly waiting for 3D printer that wouldn’t require you to wring out your wallet, now might be your chance to pick one up. This week, M3D’s Micro hit Kickstarter — for only $200.

Lightroom mobile arrives for iPad with touch-friendly interface, realtime sync

Lightroom mobile for the iPad is here! Adobe’s latest companion app brings photographers most of the most of the funtionality found in the desktop version, and any changes you make will be pushed to your Lightroom cloud.

Neil Young on digital audio: You’re doing it wrong

Neil Young has a plan to serve up high-resolution audio, and it’s called Pono. But why would anyone spend $400 on a somewhat chunky media player and re-buy all of their music library in FLAC format? We sat down with the rock icon to find out.

My First Time on the World Wide Web

Do you remember the first time you cracked open the treasures of the World Wide Web? Our editors sure do. Read on for a look into the lives of Engadget’s biggest nerds and their first experience with the “internet.”

Amazon Fire TV review: the set-top that tries to do everything

Is it a gaming console? Is it a media streamer? Well, Amazon’s Fire TV is a little of both. Sure, the $99 set-top box is lightning fast thanks to its “ASAP” technology. But in an ecosystem all to its own, will the Fire TV be able to attract enough development and content to stay afloat in an already saturated market?


Sony’s Shuhei Yoshida loves that Facebook bought Oculus, says it helps validate PlayStation’s efforts

Most of us were surprised (maybe even appalled) once we learned that Facebook bought Oculus VR for $2 billion. Shuhei Yoshida, head of Sony Computer Entertainment’s Worldwide Studios, however, was thoroughly excited.

Play Nintendo’s rarest game on your Wii U

Back in the 90s, Nintendo released 90 copies of a three-part, competitive play cartridge called Nintendo World Championships. In the spirit of nostalgia, the company’s adding said game into its next iteration of NES Remix for the Wii U.

Amazon phone reportedly coming in September with glasses-free 3D

According to the Wall Street Journal, Amazon’s planning to release its own smartphone this coming September. What’s more, the handset’s reported to have four cameras with retina-tracking tech, making it possible to project 3D images without needing glasses.

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IRL: A rant about Nintendo’s Virtual Console service

Welcome to IRL, an ongoing feature where we talk about the gadgets, apps and toys we’re using in real life and take a second look at products that already got the formal review treatment.

IRL: A rant about Nintendo's Virtual Console service

Before you send in your angry emails, comments and tweets that decry me as a hatchet-wielding antichrist, let’s begin by saying that I’m not a gamer. I do play games, but I have no specific allegiance to a console or manufacturer — I simply go where the fun is. My console history, for editorial balance, includes the VIC 20, Commodore 64, NES, Mega Drive (Genesis), PlayStation, PlayStation 2, Xbox 360 and the Wii. That means that I’m about as much of a dilettante as you can be, and there’s no bias or malice in the following. Just disappointment.

My wife, you see, isn’t a fan of technology. And yet, despite never joining in games, she holds a soft spot for the Super NES. She takes on (and beats) all-comers on Super Mario Kart, but her favorite game, and the one that she’s probably devoted the most time to, is Tetris Attack. For those not in the know, it’s a reskinned version of the Japanese puzzle game Panel De Pon, which was later reskinned as Pokémon Puzzle League and, later, Puzzle League for the DS. Anyway, my wife’s friend recently came over, and we dug out the SNES so the two of them could while away the time. Unfortunately, the console is now 22 years old, and both controllers are now nearly unusable. “Never mind,” said I, dusting off our unused Wii. After all, I’d heard plenty about the Virtual Console service that promised nearly every SNES game had been added to the digital store, and it wouldn’t take long before they could play the game with the Wiimotes doubling as controllers.

This is where things start to fall apart. Nintendo, for some capricious reason, has declined to release Tetris Attack for the Virtual Console. I say for some “capricious reason,” but it’s because Henk Rogers, CEO of the Tetris Company, is annoyed that the game carries his beloved branding. Heartbroken, we decided that as a sop (and to get the evening’s frivolities going), we’d buy Pokémon Puzzle League, despite how annoying Pokémon is for anyone who isn’t a Pokémon fan.

Before you can buy the game (or click on the entry in the store), the console requests you buy Nintendo Store credits. So, after another five minutes of trying to put credit card information onto the system (which isn’t the easiest in the world, I assure you), we’re finally in a position to purchase the game. Except it’s at this point, when you click through, that Nintendo decides to tell you that you can’t use this game without purchasing the Nintendo Classic controller. Which wasn’t going to be possible at 8 p.m. on a Saturday.

What’s the moral of the story? There are two, I guess. Firstly, don’t be the sort of self-absorbed ass who just presumes a company would make logical decisions instead of doing the research. That level of self-absorption could also manifest itself in the decision to write 700 words on the subject and attempt to pretend this isn’t merely the most first-world of first-world problems. I’m happy to accept the charge, and my hubris will linger forever in the £7 that sit on my Wii, unused for time immemorial.

The second, of course, is that for the sort of novice consumer looking to buy a product from Nintendo, the company doesn’t make things easy. After all, it could have shown me before I added my cash that I didn’t have the necessary accessory. It could have also simply rebranded the title as Yoshi’s Puzzle League, since a short trawl of the internet shows there’s more than one aggrieved, self-absorbed Brit wanting to see this game on the Virtual Console. I don’t expect a company to bend over backward to cater to my every need, but I do wonder why Nintendo couldn’t have made this process easier.

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NSA can keep quiet on internet flaws it discovers in ‘clear national security’ cases

When news of the Heartbleed internet security bug broke last week, Bloomberg reported that the NSA may have known about the OpenSSL flaw for years, using it to gain info instead of warning the public. The government agency was quick to deny that story, saying that it found when the rest of us did. But as it turns out, if they had kept the discovery secret in the interest of a national security threat, that would’ve been okay thanks to a January decision by President Obama. The New York Times reports that although details were never publicly reported by the White House, info about the choice began to surface after Friday’s advance knowledge of the Heartbleed situation. The President determined that unless there’s “a clear national security or law enforcement need,” it’s better for the government to publicly disclose those internet flaws that it uncovers — in the interest of getting them fixed. Of course, this wording is quite vague, leaving quite a bit of room for interpretation.

[Larry Downing/AFP/Getty Images]

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Source: New York Times


Inhabitat’s Week in Green: sun-powered plane, Baobed treehouse and modular furniture

Each week our friends at Inhabitat recap the week’s most interesting green developments and clean tech news for us — it’s the Week in Green.

Airplanes are major CO2 emitters, but it doesn’t need to be that way. For the past several years, two Swiss innovators, André Borschberg and Bertrand Piccard, have been flying around the world in a sun-powered plane, spreading the word about solar power. Last week, the duo announced the debut of the new and improved Solar Impulse 2 aircraft, which they’ll use to attempt a flight around the globe. While the Solar Impulse is charting new territory in the skies, Tesla is changing the game on the roads. Last month Tesla sold 1,493 Model S sedans in Norway, breaking a 28-year-old monthly sales record and outselling every other vehicle in the country. Thanks in part to Tesla’s success, electric cars are selling at a furious pace: A recent report shows that EV sales are currently growing by more than 100 percent per year. Smaller is better when it comes to urban cars — especially for parking — but there are drawbacks to owning a pint-size car. In San Francisco, vandals recently went on a Smart Car-tipping spree, flipping the tiny cars upside down in the middle of the night. A bicycle is still best way to get around the city, both for your health and the health of the planet. In Boston, doctors are now prescribing bike share memberships to obese patients, encouraging exercise instead of medication.

Enjoy waking up in exotic places? Then try this on for size: The Baobed treehouse is a tiny teardrop-shaped sleeping pod that can be suspended from tree branches or placed on a beach, a rooftop or anywhere you want to roam. The tiny treehouse was inspired by exotic fruit that dangles from the branches of baobab trees. Elsewhere in the design world, Beijing-based People’s Architecture Office (PAO) recently erected an eye-catching pop-up structure made entirely from repurposed reflective panels used in photography. IKEA took its wares to the tracks, transforming an entire Japanese monorail into a mobile showroom. A team of international scientists from England, Spain and Brazil developed a new type of cement made from ceramic waste like toilets, bathtubs and sinks that could be even stronger than conventional cement. In Tunisia, a piece of movie history could be lost forever. The igloo-shaped hut that served as Luke Skywalker’s childhood home is threatened with desertification, prompting Tunisia’s tourism ministry to launch a new international fundraising campaign to protect the historic sets.

Charging your smartphone can be a drag, especially when you’re on the go. The Israeli startup StoreDot may have come up with a solution, though. The company just unveiled a groundbreaking new battery that can charge up in 30 seconds flat. Luxury watchmaker TAG Heuer is also getting in on the smartphone action with the Meridiist Infinite phone, which uses a hidden solar panel to stay charged forever. In other green energy news, a new report finds that cheap solar PV panels drove a sharp increase in renewable energy production in 2013. And the Florida-based company Crowd Energy is looking to tap into the vast power of ocean currents with its new underwater turbine, which sits on the sea floor and harnesses the steady power of the currents to generate electricity.

Milan Design Week is one of the world’s biggest design events, and this year’s show didn’t disappoint. Designer Marjan van Aubel unveiled a stylish photovoltaic Current Table that charges gadgets with sunlight, while an amazing solar-powered machine grabbed Milan Design Week headlines from social media and compiled them into a printable publication. Inflatable designs were also on the rise — Nike’s Aerostatic Dome is the world’s first structure supported entirely by a helium-filled canopy, and Studio Toer launched a cloud-like “Cumulus” parasol that automatically inflates when the sun is shining.

If you want to get your kids interested in design at a young age, OLLA Kidsfurniture is an innovative modular furniture system that lets you treat your child’s room like a giant Lego set. On the topic of Lego, builder Jason Allemann recently used the toy bricks to create a fully functioning computer keyboard that’s made from 1,500 blocks. While 3D printing represents the future of fabrication, many of the central principles of 3D printing can be found in nature. The latest entry in our Biomimicry Manual looks at what paper wasps can teach us about 3D printing. And in a clever use of 3D scanning technology, Arden Reed recently launched a mobile tailoring service that uses 3D scanning to create custom suits. Finally, in a discovery that could change the way we produce fabric, scientists in Singapore have figured out a way to create adipic acid, a key component of nylon, from sugar.

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James Bond gets an Android upgrade

007 Logo

With all the games out there, you would have thought that one of the most iconic spies of all time, James Bond would have his own Android game, right? Surprisingly the answer is no, he does not. In order to fill that 007 void, Glu Mobile Inc., has teamed up with Eon Productions and MGM Interactive to bring the first free-to-play mobile game in the history of the Bond franchise.

The game will be inspired by the franchise’s rich history, themes, characters, and narratives providing the atmosphere that Bond fans have grown accustomed to over the past half century. Niccolo de Masi, Glu CEO states: “We look forward to delivering a never before seen gameplay experience on mobile for the passionate worldwide community of Bond fans.”

As far as why MGM and Eon Productions chose Glu Mobile, Gary Barber, MGM Chairman and Chief Executive Officer says that Glu has the experience and established track record to deliver a game of this magnitude. MGM believes that Glu can deliver an experience worthy of the Bond name.

James Bond started as a character in Ian Flemings’s series of novels and short-story collections. The franchise grabbed the world’s attention with its first movie released in 1962, “Dr. No”. Over the past 50 plus years, Eon Productions and MGM has build James Bond into the legendary character that he is today. The next installment in the franchise, the twenty-fourth film to be exact, is due out in November 2015.

Unfortunately to all Bond fans and gamers alike, you will have to wait another year as the game is slated for summer 2015.


Source: Glu Mobile, Inc. Press Release

The post James Bond gets an Android upgrade appeared first on AndroidGuys.


Cringe: Extreme Samsung Galaxy S5 drop test shows it’s one tough Smartphone

Samsung Galaxy S5 drop testNobody likes watching a drop test video. Okay, that’s a lie; I do occasionally enjoy watching a phone get obliterated on pavement as I’m sure some of you do too. However, drop tests are normally conducted from waist-high and sometimes even head-high drops if you’re feeling a bit ambitious. Not in this video, which shows a Samsung Galaxy S5 drop test off a 2 storey building. I’ll let the video do the talking:

As the video mentions, the Galaxy S5 was actually subjected to some underwater tests prior to the drop test and was still functional after that. Of course, the result of the video is absolutely astounding considering that the Galaxy S5 is still fully functional with all its hardware working after a face-first impact from what is probably at least 10 metres. Despite what you may think about the plastic construction of the Galaxy S5, you can’t deny that the results of this video show that it is one tough smartphone. Now excuse me while I try and forget the sound of the phone hitting the concrete face-first…

What do you think about this video and the drop test performance of the Samsung Galaxy S5? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

Source: YouTube via Phones Review

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Cherry trees blossom six years early after a trip to space

General Imagery Of Cherry Blossom In Bloom

In 2008 Japanese scientists decided to take a handful of cherry tree seeds (and by “handful” we mean over 250) to space. The embryonic plants spent eight months aboard the International Space Station as part of an educational project aimed at children. When the stones returned, 14 of them were selected and planted around Japan. The saplings were expected to bloom after 10 years of maturation. Instead, four of them sprouted flowers this year — a full six years ahead of schedule. The sudden and extremely early blossoming of the trees has scientists quite confused and desperately seeking answers. Kaori Tomita-Yokotani, from the University of Tsukuba, told AFP she was stumped. “There is the possibility that exposure to stronger cosmic rays accelerated the process of sprouting and overall growth,” she said, but also suggested that cross pollination could be the culprit. Since the project involving the seeds was not a true experiment, and more a stunt to pique the interest of children, there is no control group to compare against. In fact, there’s very little data at all for the scientists to work with. We’re betting on the cosmic rays, though. We all know what happens when humans are bombarded by them.

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Via: The Verge

Source: AFP


Samsung Galaxy S5 sales were between 30% and 100% higher than Galaxy S4 on launch Day

Samsung Galaxy S5 salesIf Samsung was worried about the popularity of its new flagship device, those concerns have been quelled emphatically. Reports from ZDNet have reported that Samsung Galaxy S5 sales on launch day were up on average by 30% over its predecessor, the Galaxy S4, and that in some countries, the sales increase was closer to 100%. In fact, the above photo was taken in France on launch day there, with scores of people lining up in anticipation of purchasing the phone. There’s definitely some irony in the appearance of lines; Samsung is well known for disparaging Apple for the appearance of lines when they launch new devices.

Many of you will remember that the Galaxy S4 sold 10 million handsets in its first month on the market; it looks like the Galaxy S5 is on track to smash that record and while Samsung probably isn’t worried about the demand for its new smartphone, they will likely be worried about the supply which took several significant hits in the weeks before the Galaxy S5′s release, including a contracted factory catching fire and the assembly of its ISOCELL camera not progressing as quickly as they hoped. Whatever happens in the ensuing weeks, the Galaxy S5′s launch day performance sure makes it seem like Samsung still has a stranglehold on the Android market for the foreseeable future.

Have you got a Samsung Galaxy S5? What are your thoughts on it so far? Let us know what you think in the comments.

Source: ZDNet via Phone Arena

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IRS tastes its own medicine, will pay Microsoft millions for Windows XP support

Usually, the Internal Revenue Service is the one getting paid this time of year, but Uncle Sam will be lining someone else’s pockets this tax season because of its attachment to Windows XP. In case you hadn’t heard, support for XP officially stopped on April 8th, meaning that Microsoft will no longer provide support or security updates for the venerable OS. However, governmental computers can’t be left vulnerable, so the IRS will be paying Microsoft millions of dollars for custom support to keep their machines secure and functional. Right now, over half the agency’s PCs still run XP, despite Microsoft telling the whole world that it would stop support for the OS in 2014 six years ago. The plan is to have all IRS machines running Windows 7 by the end of the year — at which point the clock starts ticking on the transition to Windows 8. No rush, though, Microsoft has pledged to support Windows 7 through 2020. Let the governmental procrastination begin!

[Image Credit: Alamy]

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CLIFFHANGER keeps you up to date with your favorite TV shows [App of the Day]


If you are looking for a TV show tracker that is as elegant as it is useful,  look no further than CLIFFHANGER. The CLIFFHANGER app is designed to make keeping up with your favorite TV shows a breeze.  CLIFFHANGER is beautiful to look at and a joy to use.  It is designed to give you all the content you need in one place.

When you open the app for the first time, you are greeted with a blank canvas so to speak.  There is a bar at the top of the screen that displays trending shows, giving you ideas of shows you may want to keep track of.  If you already have your list together, you can just press the “+” on the top right and start inputing your favorite shows. The app can also sync with if you are inclined to pay for the premium pack.

Once you get CLIFFHANGER filled with your shows of choice, you gain access to a wealth of information about each TV show.  Everything from season and episode lists, IMDB database information, ratings, and comments. You can tap the “upcoming” tab to see your shows in the order they will premiere on television. The “recent” tab lists shows that have already aired. You can also “check off shows that you have watched”, and be notified when new episodes are airing on television.



CLIFFHANGER is as beautiful as it is useful, and is optimized for phone and tablet.  The free app currently has a 4.4 rating in the Play Store, and recently got a UI overhaul to make it even more beautiful, without getting tin the way of its utility.  I personally use this app to keep up with my family’s favorite shows, and suggest that you give it a whirl to see what the buzz is about.



The post CLIFFHANGER keeps you up to date with your favorite TV shows [App of the Day] appeared first on AndroidGuys.


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