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Cooking for dummies: Whirlpool’s SmartCook puts a chef by your side

Appliances used to be pretty boring. Let’s face it, a white box that washes clothes and a black box that cooks food is not exactly ground breaking, even if it once was. Luckily though, the white goods world has picked up its pace of late.

Whirlpool revealed a concept behind closed doors at IFA 2015 called SmartCook, which has now come to the real world in the form of an induction hob range. SmartCook essentially provides any person with the ability to cook a perfect meal every time by offering step-by-step assistance along the way.

The induction hobs feature two touchscreens on either side of the temperature control bar. The right-hand touchscreen allows you to select Assisted Cooking from the menu, after which you can select what your cooking, how you want to cook it and provide other information such as the oil you plan to use or the thickness of your meat for example.

The SmartCook hobs use the company’s 6th Sense technology to monitor and control temperature according to the information you have provided it with, adjusting everything accordingly for optimum results. You can place any pan anywhere on the hob, which isn’t a new feature in the world of induction hobs as most are now zoneless, but it is still a useful feature. Up to eight different-sized pans can be used simultaneously, all running different programmes and different temperatures. Want to fry a fillet of salmon, boil some potatoes, simmer some broccoli and melt some chocolate all at the same time and get assistance in each? No problem.

There are up to 40 cooking programmes available on the SmartCook hobs and the food categories include meat, fish and vegetables, while the cooking methods include boiling, melting, grilling, frying, simmering and warming.

The touchscreen guides you through the process of cooking whatever you have selected so there is absolutely no excuse for burning a steak or anything else for that matter. The Whirlpool SmartCook range ultimately allows anyone to have a dinner party, even if cooking really isn’t your strong point.

Prices and availability has yet to be detailed but it is heading our way so if you’re looking to unleash your inner cook, watch out for more information.


This is the official new 2016 Tesla Model S: Upgraded grille, lights, filter and more

Tesla has taken the wraps of its updated Model S for 2016 with some, but not all, of the rumoured changes expected.

First off there’s no 100kW battery option as was rumoured. But there are changes that should make the newer car stand out from the previous Model S.

Most obviously Tesla has removed the plastic looking nose and replaced it with a more seamless front, similar to that found on the Model X. There is no real need for a grille, to cool a non-existent engine, so this feels less like an after thought now and more a design choice.

The new Model S now has fully adaptive LED headlights. These use 14 different LEDs that are capable of moving into three different positions. That should mean the light is thrown around corners before you turn into them, to make seeing ahead far easier.

Also included in the upgraded model is the HEPA air-filtration system found in the Model X which offers Bioweapon Defense Mode. This, Tesla says, “removes at least 99.97 per cent of particulate exhaust pollution and effectively all allergens, bacteria and other contaminants from cabin air.”

Anyone buying the 2016 Tesla Model S will be given unlimited access to the Supercharger network and an eight-year, unlimited mile battery.

The Tesla Model S starts at £62,700 for the P70D and tops out at £92,400 for the P90D.

READ: Mercedes-Benz S-Class Cabriolet 2016 first drive: Comfortably cool


Engadget giveaway: Win an iPad Pro 9.7 courtesy of TurboTax!

We always know the tax deadline’s looming (it’s April 18th, by the way), but many of us still procrastinate until the last moment, scrambling to the nearest tax professional. Luckily, Intuit’s TurboTax for desktop and mobile can help you file your own return in minutes or apply for an extension. It’s also free for basic returns. The mobile version lets you snap a photo of your W-2 so it can auto-fill the info for you and as you proceed through the step-by-step process, there are always helpful hints to clarify the mind-numbing legalese. If you run into any hitches along the way, the SmartLook feature lets you connect to an expert via one-way video for fast answers on the spot. You can even finish up on your desktop later if you didn’t make it all the way through on mobile. If you need a little encouragement, TurboTax has provided two 9.7-inch iPad Pro tablets for a pair of lucky readers this week to help get that tax business out of the way. All you need to do is head to the Rafflecopter widget below for up to three chances at winning.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Tesla’s Model S gets a fresh look and faster charging

While Tesla’s upcoming Model 3 has dominated headlines in recent weeks, the company isn’t neglecting the vehicle that has helped make an affordable option possible: the Model S. Addressing rumors that the luxury electric sedan would soon get a welcome revamp, Tesla confirmed today that the car now boasts a new front fascia and headlights, as well as a few other upgrades.

Looking at the photo supplied by Tesla, you’ll notice that the grill is all but gone, replaced with a front-end that made its debut on the Model X (a car recently recalled over safety issues). The company also says it has upgraded the internal HEPA air filtration system, which it claims is 100 times more effective than any other in-car filter, and ramped the standard charger up from 40 amps to 48 amps. Now, when a new Model S is plugged in, it’ll reach full battery a little bit faster than before.

Customers looking to put $70,000+ down on a new Model S will now have the option of two new interiors: figured ash wood and dark ash wood. Tesla has already updated its website to reflect the new options and says the changes have gone into production today at its factory in Fremont, California.


Vimeo brings its videos to movie theaters

When you head to an independent theater in the near future, the pre-movie entertainment that plays might be slightly different. Vimeo is partnering with Spotlight Cinema Networks to show select videos from its Staff Picks Channel as well as content from the Vimeo Brand Studio. That latter video project lets brands used original content as a means of promotion, like Samsung’s “Gary & Gabe.”

Spotlight works alongside independent theaters in the US to create the 20 minutes of ads and clips that play ahead of a movie. Three short films from Vimeo will be featured each month, starting with “The Bucket Board” on April 15th. Of course, the partnerships give aspiring film makers another reason to create as they might see their work on the big screen.

Source: Venture Beat


The best water filter pitcher

By John Holecek and Tim Heffernan

This post was done in partnership with The Sweethome, a buyer’s guide to the best things for your home. Read the full article here.

After more than 20 hours of in-house testing and two independent lab tests we’re confident the PUR Classic 11-Cup (aka PUR LED) is the best water filter pitcher for most people. The PUR removes more contaminants than any other filter we tested—far more than even the ubiquitous Brita. It’s also easy to use, pleasant to hold, and produces great-tasting water.

How we picked and tested

The arsenal of testing materials used to evaluate filtered water. Photo: John Holecek

We limited our search to the most affordable, lowest hassle, and (not coincidentally) most popular option: filter pitchers. We’ll likely also test another popular type—under-sink filters that connect directly to your plumbing—at some point as well. But for most people a filter pitcher is the first option because it’s inexpensive, it’s easy to clean and maintain, and it’s able to come with you when you move to a new home.

We also focused on filter pitchers that are certified by the National Safety Foundation or have met its certification requirements. “NSF Certified” means a filter has passed NSF tests. (Beware that filter makers whose products aren’t certified often use the misleading phrase “tested to NSF standards.”) It’s also important to note that no filter completely removes all contaminants, even those for which the filter is certified.

We evaluated each pitcher on two subjective measures—taste and ease of use—and several objective ones, including speed of filtration, filter capacity, and, of course, the quality of filtration itself. Because all our test pitchers had NSF 42 certification (for chlorine taste) and most had NSF 53 certification (for contaminant removal), we didn’t retest every single thing they can filter out. Instead, we limited our testing to a few factors we felt would matter most to readers. We focused on removal of chlorine, which has a big impact on water’s taste and smell, and we looked at the ability to remove “total dissolved solids”—basically, mineral salts and organic matter. For our top two picks, we added an independent test for lead removal.

Our pick

The PUR Classic removes the most contaminants among gravity-fed filters and has a comfortable handle, allowing for smooth, controlled pours. Photo: John Holecek

After more than 20 hours of in-house testing and two independent lab tests we’re confident the PUR Classic 11-Cup (aka PUR LED) is the best water filter pitcher for most people. At the heart of the matter is the filter itself: The PUR’s filter is certified by the National Safety Foundation to significantly reduce 10 contaminants, including several heavy metals and biocides. That’s more contaminants than any other pitcher of its type that we tested.

It also virtually eliminates chlorine (the chief contributor to bad-tasting tap water) and, according to PUR, also reduces levels of 12 pharmaceuticals—an emerging contaminant concern in the water supply—by at least 96 percent. Finally, in our independent lab test the PUR reduced the lead levels in an extremely lead-rich water sample by a remarkable 97 percent. Because the NSF hasn’t certified it for lead removal, we can’t officially state that it does so. But we like those unofficial results.

The PUR also simply produces great-tasting water. Add in its excellent ergonomics and ease of maintenance, wide availability, low upfront cost, and reasonable prices for replacement filters, and you have a winning pitcher.


The MAVEA Elemaris XL has a convenient pour-through lid with a filter-life indicator and a comfortable handle, but filters out slightly fewer contaminants than the PUR. Photo: John Holecek

We also really like the MAVEA Elemaris XL, a nine-cup pitcher. Its filter eliminates seven contaminants to NSF standards, and in our independent test it reduced lead levels in the same extremely lead-rich sample as the PUR by a decent 73 percent. It has the best ergonomics of all the pitchers we tested and comes in a range of bright colors—an option not offered by many filter makers. Plus, it makes great-tasting water. Finally, though nearly every filter cartridge out there is recyclable, MAVEA uniquely offers both drop boxes and free return-shipping labels, so you can ensure that your used filters don’t go to a landfill. Initial and replacement-filter costs are a bit higher than the PUR’s, but compared with the rest of our test models, it’s still a far better product.

Oh, and before you ask about Brita, the dominant player in the market, both of our recommendations comprehensively outrank it on filtration performance, ergonomics, and ease of maintenance.

When to change your filter

Individual filters removed from the pitchers we tested. Photo: John Holecek

Many filter pitchers, including our pick and runner-up, feature an indicator (usually a little LED or LCD display) that tells you when the filter needs to be changed. But while filters are rated by the volume of water they can clean, the indicators are almost always simple clocks—they measure the amount of time a filter has been in use and use that as a proxy for volume. That’s the case for our pick and runner-up, the PUR and the MAVEA, respectively.

Typically, two months of use is assumed to equate to 40 gallons of water filtered, the most common rating capacity. But, of course, that’s just an estimate or average. Your usage may vary by a lot, depending on how many people use the pitcher, how much of a hydrator you are, and so on. If you really want to be sure, the only way is to measure your actual water usage. Try keeping track for a week, and divide the rated capacity (40 gallons for the PUR and MAVEA) by the gallons of water you actually used. That’ll tell you how many weeks you should use each filter before replacing it.

However, you should also know that the NSF forces filters that use a clock-based change-filter indicator, like the PUR and the MAVEA do, to perform to Standards 42 and 53 for twice their actual gallon rating.

The upshot? You can be pretty darn forgetful or lazy about replacing your filters—and really, who of us isn’t?—and still be confident you’re drinking clean water.

This guide may have been updated by The Sweethome. To see the current recommendation, please go here.


Netflix reportedly rolls out support for HDR streaming (updated)

Earlier this year, Netflix said its near-future plans focused on HDR streaming and creating more original content. And now, according to multiple reports, Netflix has quietly rolled out support for high-dynamic range video. Although it hasn’t made an official announcement, an executive at the company confirmed the feature earlier today. “We are indeed live with HDR. It works with compatible TVs, both in HDR10 and Dolby Vision,” Yann Lafargue, Netflix’s manager of corporate communications said to FlatpanelsHD.

Meanwhile, a different spokesperson for the streaming service told Inside CI that HDR programming will be delivered to compatible televisions anywhere Netflix is available. Right now, Marco Polo is the only show streaming in HDR, but Netflix did tell Engadget recently that Daredevil would take advantage of the technology as well. Either way, we’re trying to confirm the news on our end and we’ll update this story as soon as we hear back from Netflix.

Update: A Netflix representative said this to Engadget:

As of mid-March, we have been providing both Dolby Vision and HDR10 streams to supported TVs, giving Netflix members an even more visually stunning experience. Marco Polo season 1 is available now, with more titles — including Marvel’s Daredevil — coming soon.

[Image credit: Inside CI]

Source: FlatpanelsHD, Inside CI


Watch the keynote for Facebook’s Developer Conference right here

Today is the first day of F8, Facebook’s Developer Conference, which is where Zuckerberg and Co often reveal their plans for developers in the coming year. As recent news indicate, get ready for more details about Facebook’s plans for live video and Messenger — specifically chatbots — and we won’t be surprised if we hear more news about the recently released Oculus Rift either. If all of that rocks your boat, you can go ahead and watch the livestream right here in the video below. Tune in at 10 a.m. PT / 1 p.m. ET to catch the whole thing.


LSD makes you think like a baby

Researchers at Imperial College London believe that they know what effect LSD has on the human brain. After pumping test subjects full of the stuff and shoving them in an MRI, the team learned that the drug makes our brains behave similarly to that of a baby. In order to understand this, imagine that your mind is the single floor of an office, with cubicles running as far as the eye can see. Each cubicle is responsible for different jobs, such as memory, balance and hearing, only talking to each other on the annual company retreat. LSD is like a disgruntled former employee, temporarily smashing down the plyboard dividers and forcing everyone to collaborate.

Breaking down the organizational structure of our mind is what’s responsible for the crazy hallucinations some users experience. Normally, seeing is governed by the visual cortex, but the drug essentially lets everyone in the office have a go at running the projector. It’s not just recreational, either, since the team believes that LSD could have the power to transform the lives of people with depression or addiction.

Both of those conditions are akin to setting up extra cubicles in your mental office — ones that either compel you to think sad thoughts or consume a specific chemical. Treatment with LSD may help those affected to kick down those particular offices and move forward with their lives. It’s also thought that users of LSD experience an improvement in their mental wellbeing when they’re finished. Maybe Timothy Leary was right all of these years, and not just about video game design.

Via: Reuters

Source: PNAS


Chatbots arrive on Facebook Messenger

As we suspected, Facebook is indeed adding chatbot support to Messenger. It’s not really a surprise at this point, given that the latest Messenger update shows a “Bots and Businesses” section and that there’ve been rumors floating about it for a week now. Still, Zuckerberg and Co finally made it official. Facebook’s CEO gave a demonstration on stage on how he ordered lowers from 1-800-Flowers just by sending a few messages to the company’s chatbot.


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