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Engadget giveaway: Win a ‘Star Wars’ prize pack courtesy of ThinkGeek!

You may still be reeling from the recent sweep of date-related events (Pi day, Alien day, and 420) but the ride’s not over yet. Tomorrow is May the 4th, which is observed by many as a Star Wars “holiday” and may garner a lot of attention this year on the coattails of the recent blockbuster The Force Awakens. To help celebrate, online gadget purveyor ThinkGeek has delved into its large offering of Star Wars gear to help one lucky reader get into the spirit. To kick things off, we have a life-sized BB-8 floor lamp with adjustable LED settings and a stand “so it doesn’t go off adventuring.” To help set the mood throughout the house, we also have a BB-8 table lamp, a Death Star mood light and Bluetooth speaker. To help fly that fan flag when you’re out in public, we also have a Chewbacca messenger bag and three Star Wars beach towels. All you need to do is head to the Rafflecopter widget below for up to three chances at winning.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

  • Entries are handled through the Rafflecopter widget above. Comments are no longer accepted as valid methods of entry. You may enter without any obligation to social media accounts, though we may offer them as opportunities for extra entries. Your email address is required so we can get in touch with you if you win, but it will not be given to third parties.
  • Contest is open to all residents of the 50 States, the District of Columbia, and Canada (excluding Quebec), 18 or older! Sorry, we don’t make this rule (we hate excluding anyone), so direct your anger at our lawyers and contest laws if you have to be mad.
  • Winners will be chosen randomly. One (1) winner will receive one (1) Life-sized BB-8 floor lamp, one (1) BB-8 desktop lamp, one (1) Death Star Bluetooth speaker, one (1) Death Star mood light, one (1) Chewbacca messenger bag and three (3) Star Wars beach towels.
  • If you are chosen, you will be notified by email. Winners must respond within three days of being contacted. If you do not respond within that period, another winner will be chosen. Make sure that the account you use to enter the contest includes your real name and a contact email. We do not track any of this information for marketing or third-party purposes.
  • This unit is purely for promotional giveaway. Engadget and AOL are not held liable to honor warranties, exchanges or customer service.
  • The full list of rules, in all its legalese glory, can be found here.
  • Entries can be submitted until May 4th at 11:59PM ET. Good luck!

YouTube is testing a cleaner Material design

YouTube’s basic design hasn’t changed a lot over the years, but it could get a major cosmetic upgrade soon. Commenters on Reddit’s YouTube forum discovered a new Material look that would bring it in line with the latest version of Chrome OS and Android Marshmallow. It’s hidden in YouTube’s code, but it’s possible to unlock it from the Chrome browser’s developer tools, as shown at the top of the Reddit discussion. As noted, you’ll need to either sign out of your account or try it from Chrome’s incognito mode.

Compared to the current design, the new layout has less text and clutter. Instead, there’s a flatter design focused on icons and images, with more color and white space. For instance, our own Engadget channel has a much larger main logo, and it’s a bit easier to find channels, videos and other content. The player itself, however, remains unchanged. The new feature is obviously meant for internal testing, so there’s no way of telling when, or even if, Google will launch the new design as is. In the meantime, we’ve reached out for more info.

Via: The Verge

Source: Reddit


Famed techno DJ Richie Hawtin reveals his first mixer

The DJ mixer controls and contours all sounds. The slightest twist of a knob or the slide of a fader can change the structure of one sound to make room for another. The instrument, which is at the core of all electronic music performances, has seen a number of iterations in the last decade but has stayed limited in range and functionality. Richie Hawtin, one of the most recognizable DJs on the techno circuit, wants to change the status quo with PLAYdifferently.

Hawtin’s new technology project is the result of a partnership with British product designer Andy Rigby-Jones, who worked on Allen & Heath’s Xone mixer series for well over a decade. And it’s already seen a ton of buzz this year. The company has been teasing a new mixer that’s designed to give greater control and creative options to DJs. I recently caught up with Hawtin in a nightclub in Austin, where I got hands-on with the first model from PLAYdifferently.

First Look at PLAYdifferently's Mixer Model 1

Where most existing mixers are limited to four channel mixers, the new model has six stereo channels (plus two send and return channels) for more options. “Turntables, CDJs or computers, all those instruments get put together through a mixer,” says Hawtin. “It’s the heart of it all. We wanted a device where each DJ can choose what to add on.”

But the highlight of the mixer is its flexible EQ. Instead of the fixed frequencies (low, mid and high), PLAYdifferently’s device has low pass and high pass filters and a sweepable EQ for every channel. “You can contour sound but also be scientific and scope sound,” he says. “Why have only three bands of EQ? Let’s have the ability to dial into the frequency that the record needs. It’s a different mentality.”

The mixer, which will be available starting June 30th for about $3,650 (£2,500), requires a different approach to playing. But Hawtin hopes its creative flexibility will outweigh its newness. “You can’t force anything on any one but if an instrument offers a new parameter without compromising the quality of the sound, people will adopt it,” he says. “We’re hoping people will hear and feel the difference.”


The best refrigerator

By Liam McCabe

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.

We think the best refrigerator for you is most likely the Whirlpool WRF535SMBM—a reliable, affordable, French door fridge that fits a space 36 inches wide. In addition, our 65 hours of research has shown it to be the most common size and style of fridge bought in America today.

How we picked

The two most popular refrigerator styles these days are French door (left) and the classic top freezer (right).

Picking a fridge really boils down to personal taste because most fridges work well. Depending on your budget and the amount of space you have, you’ll have dozens of fridges with different features and styles to choose from. In this guide, we recommend a few refrigerators at the most popular sizes, styles, and price points. Maybe one of them is a good fit for your home.

On the other hand, you might need a narrower or shallower fridge than we recommend, or maybe you just prefer a different style. We know that we can’t account for all the make-or-break factors for every kitchen and every family. If our picks don’t suit you or you just want to double-check our criteria, check out the “How to buy a fridge” section in our full guide.

For the specific models that we recommend, we focused on a handful of the most popular size-style-price combinations, which we gleaned from sales data provided by industry groups and manufacturers, the bestseller lists on retailers’ websites, and anecdotes from salespeople and repair technicians. We only recommend models that are available from multiple national retailers, so you should be able to find any of these in your area most of the time.

Because we don’t have the means to test fridges on our own, we got some hands-on time by checking them out in showrooms in the Boston metro area, including Sears, Lowe’s, Home Depot, and Yale Appliance + Lighting. We also considered certain details from editorial reviews, like notes about noise levels. But we mainly relied on user reviews—thousands of them—for info about reliability and other qualitative aspects of the fridges. We find that user experience, taken comprehensively, often provides the best data.

Best for most: A 36-inch French door fridge

The Whirlpool WRF535SMBM is one of the most affordable French door fridges at the most popular width (36 inches).

The Whirlpool WRF535SMBM’s build is stripped-down but solid; it feels like it can turn in years of steady service without much fuss. (It’s a newish model, so long-term data is unavailable, but it gets superior short-term reliability reviews from owners.) With about 25 cubic feet of full-width, well-distributed capacity, it should hold enough food for a family of six with room left for drinks. Energy Star gives its efficiency a stamp of approval. Noise is not a common complaint among owners, either. No fancy features other than an ice maker in the freezer, but that means fewer parts or features that can break over time. And for what it’s worth, the stainless-look, French door design should keep your kitchen looking fresh and modern for years to come.

A four-door fridge from the future

We like the Samsung RF28HMEDBSR for its versatile center drawer, blue LEDs, and silver trim.

For a big kitchen with a big budget, we’d get the 36-inch-wide Samsung RF28HMEDBSR. That’s because we love the four-door look, which is a newly popular variant on the typical three-door French door design. We also love all its little design flourishes, like blue-tinted LEDs and shelves with silver trim. Sure, the center drawer’s “flex” temperature settings are a little gimmicky, but we’d turn it up to the warmest setting and keep our fancy beers in there. The ice maker is slow and somewhat prone to jamming, but we could live with that.

Do you need to pay this much for a good refrigerator? Hell no—we just like this one. If you’re going to use something every day for the next decade, you should get something you like. You should pick whatever suits your tastes, and you have plenty of great options. Our buying guide can point out the pros and cons with most of the currently popular refrigerator designs and features.

An affordable top freezer

Most top-freezer models are pretty similar, but the GE GTS18GTHWW is among the least likely to have reliability issues.

If you’re on a budget, we recommend the GE GTS18GTHWW. As a 30-inch-wide top freezer that costs less than $600, it is the most basic (in design and price), viable fridge that most people should consider. It has all the same features as similar models, and it’s less likely to have a factory defect or other reliability issues, based on what we’ve learned from user reviews. At 17.5 cubic feet, it holds enough food for a family of four. This is also a solid pick if you’re looking for a second fridge to keep in the basement or garage, or if you need to provide a refrigerator for tenants.

A French door model for 33-inch spaces

The Whirlpool WRF532SMBx is a slimmer 33-inch version of the Whirlpool we recommend above.

For 33-inch spaces, Whirlpool makes the WRF532SMBx (the last character is a “wild card” for different finishes), a model that’s nearly identical to the wider Whirlpool that’s our main pick. The same pros and cons that apply to the WRF535SMBM also apply to this model. One catch: 33-inch fridges aren’t as in demand as 36-inch models, so prices tend to be higher despite the refrigerators being smaller.

A sleek 30-inch (or slimmer) fridge

If your kitchen is small enough that you need a 30-inch fridge, the GE GTS18GTHWW we mentioned above as our affordable top-freezer pick is a good choice.

We looked for a 30-inch model with a more modern look and better features, but nothing at the right price jumped out at us. The French door fridges at this size all cost more than comparable 33- and 36-inch models, which makes the smaller models hard to justify buying. None of the bottom-freezer models felt like they were worth the $400 premium over our budget pick. And sure, you could “go in between” and get a top freezer with a stainless finish, but we’d rather you just save the money.

Of course, none of that should stop you from getting a refrigerator you like. If you’re working with a narrow space and want something more than a boring, cheap top freezer, our buying guide may help you find it.

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


Sony’s Google Cast speakers are ready to put music in any room

Back at CES, Sony announced new multi-room audio gear with a soundbar and two speakers to put music all over your house. Now, a few months after their debut, those devices are ready to handle tunes. As a refresher, the HT-NT5 soundbar features six speakers that are angled upward to better project sound and Sony’s so-called Super Tweeter tech to lend a hand with high-res audio. It’s also Google Cast-friendly, so streaming music, podcasts and more from the likes of Play Music, Spotify and more is a few taps away.

If speakers are what you’re after, the SRS-ZR7 and SRS-ZR5 can handle the multi-room audio duties. The larger SRS-ZR7 houses four speakers tuned to support high-res audio with S-Master HX technology that keeps noise to a minimum. It also offers an HDMI jack so you can connect directly to your TV. Need something a little more compact? The SRS-ZR5 also has an HDMI connection alongside Bluetooth and support for LDAC and NFC pairing. You can use Google Cast to beam audio to both the SRS-ZR7 and SRS-ZR5 and handle any multi-room controls and setup with Sony’s SongPal app. In fact, you can use the company’s mobile software across all three of these devices.

So, how much will these things cost? The soundbar and two speakers are on sale now online and are slated to hit shelves May 15th. As you might expect, the HT-NT5 soundbar is the priciest of the bunch, setting you back $800. The SRS-ZR7 and SRS-ZR5 speakers are priced at $300 and $200, respectively. Of course, you’ll need more than one of these for a proper multi-room setup, but you can group multiple SRS-ZR5s together in the same spot for more robust sound. If you’re looking for more info, take a look at our hands-on from CES for some initial impressions.

Sony also revealed a high-res audio turntable back at CES. Keeping its word on spring availability, the company is shipping that device this month as well. The PS-HX500 is priced at $600 and is up for sale online now. If you’ll recall, this turntable not only spins your vinyl collection, but it also digitizes those records in either DSD (up to 5.6 MHz) or WAV file formats (up to 192 KHz/24-bit). Of course, if you’re looking to take those files with you on the go, you’ll need a gadget that can play them. Sony has debuted new high-res media players over the last year, but you may have to empty your savings account to nab one.


Periscope gets an editor-in-chief to spot its best live streams

Periscope wants to not only help you share live streams, but find the best of them… and it’s willing to try unusual strategies to make that happen. Medium editor Evan Hansen has joined Periscope to become its first editor-in-chief. As he explains to CNN Money, the title isn’t as odd as it sounds at first blush. He’ll initially be “curating [the] best feeds,” making sure that you see the most interesting (and hopefully, relevant) real-time video. Hansen adds that there’s “lots of potential room” to grow, so his role may expand as he settles in.

The move might be crucial to keeping Periscope (and by extension, Twitter) ahead of the curve. Facebook is pushing more and more into the livestreaming realm, and discovery is a big part of that. An editor-in-chief gives Periscope a fighting chance at capturing your attention, and reduces the odds that you’ll drift over to Facebook simply because you’ve run out of exciting feeds to watch.

Via: The Verge

Source: Evan Hansen (Medium), CNN Money


Amazon snags ‘Downton Abbey’ creator’s next show for Prime Video

Amazon is hoping for another streaming hit with Julian Fellowes Presents Doctor Thorne, the next show from the creator of Downton Abbey. Amazon has snapped up US distribution of the series from the Weinstein Company, and all three episodes of the show will hit Prime Video on May 20. As you’d expect, it’s a period piece with an ensemble cast (including Tom Hollander, Ian Mcshane and Alison Brie) and a healthy dose of distinctly British drama. Reviews of the show from UK media have been surprisingly lukewarm, but that won’t stop American viewers from binging anyway.

Amazon says Downton Abbey (which it scored as a streaming exclusive in 2013) was one of its most popular streaming series, with viewership hours almost doubling every year. It makes sense for the company to do whatever it takes to own distribution of Fellowe’s next potential hit.

Source: Amazon


Apple Increases iPhone SE Orders Amid Growing Sales Pressures

In line with Apple CEO Tim Cook’s recent comments about “very strong” iPhone SE demand exceeding supply, the company has reportedly increased orders for the low-priced 4-inch smartphone in the second quarter of 2016.”>DigiTimes claims that the second-quarter outlook for iPhone SE-related chip orders has been revised to more than 5 million units, up from 3.5-4 million, and the upward trend is expected to continue through the third quarter.

In a related report, the Taiwanese website notes that Apple has conversely lowered orders for the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus due to declining sales of the flagship handsets. Last week, Apple announced its first-ever year-over-year decline in iPhone sales, which dropped to 51.2 million from 61.2 million in the year-ago quarter, and provided third quarter guidance that suggests the decline will continue.

While the lower-priced iPhone SE could help Apple combat its overall decline in smartphone sales, Apple analyst Neil Cybart of Above Avalon notes that the device has a lower average selling price (ASP) and smaller profit margins. Those pressures, alongside other warning signs, leads him to believe that Apple “has a significant iPhone growth problem on its hands” right now.

When looking at all of these iPhone warning signs, it is becoming clear that Apple has a significant iPhone growth problem on its hands. The combination of a slowing iPhone upgrade rate and declining number of growth catalysts for expanding the iPhone’s addressable market will make it very difficult for management to report unit sales growth going forward given its current strategy. In addition, the iPhone SE highlights how any strategy to fix some of these issues will likely end up jeopardizing iPhone ASP and margin trends.

One of Cybart’s warning signs is that “India is not the next China,” despite being positioned as one of the next big growth markets for iPhone. India has reportedly rejected Apple’s request to import and sell refurbished iPhones in the country, following a similar proposal rejected in 2015, and its regular-priced iPhones are too expensive to attract significant market share in the region.

Nevertheless, the analyst ensures that the iPhone business is “not imploding,” citing industry-leading customer satisfaction rates and loyalty trends. He believes that Apple can pull through this declining iPhone environment with a strategy that involves ditching the “S” model nomenclature, focusing on features that customers truly want, and recognizing the iPhone SE’s effect on its broader smartphone lineup.

Related Roundups: iPhone 6s, iPhone SE
Tags:, India
Buyer’s Guide: iPhone (Caution)
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Twitter Launches ‘Connect Tab’ on iOS and Android to Curate Recommended Accounts

Twitter today announced a new feature for its iOS and Android applications that will connect people to Twitter users around the world who share similar interests. Using the new “Connect tab,” users will be able to browse a list of people and accounts that the social network believes you will be interested in, all without having to manually search topics and hashtags yourself.

Finding new accounts to follow used to require jumping through a few hoops and a dash of luck. That’s why we’ve reimagined the experience with our new Connect tab. Starting today, you’ll see a detailed list of people and accounts we think you’ll enjoy following, all easily accessible in one place.

To curate the best selections in the Connect tab, the company said it uses the people you already follow, liked tweets, popular local Twitter accounts, and current world and entertainment events. It also assured users that it will “let you know exactly why we’re showing you each recommendation,” to avoid any confusion.

Beyond random accounts, the Connect tab will serve as an easier way to find friends and family members with the option to sync a smartphone’s address book to find pre-existing Twitter users, and give you a heads up if a contact in the address book joins Twitter. The company said the new Connect tab is rolling out to everyone using Twitter for iOS and Android beginning today, but didn’t mention the possible addition of the new feature to its desktop site.

Twitter for iOS can be downloaded from the App Store for free. [Direct Link]

Tag: Twitter
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Apple Seeds Fourth Beta of iOS 9.3.2 to Developers and Public Beta Testers

Apple today released the fourth beta of an upcoming iOS 9.3.2 update to developers and public beta testers for testing purposes, one week after the release of the third iOS 9.3.2 beta and more than a month after the launch of iOS 9.3, a significant update that introduced Night Shift mode and other feature improvements. iOS 9.3.2 has been in testing since April 6.

iOS 9.3.2 beta 4 can be downloaded over-the-air using the beta configuration profile or through the Apple Developer Center.

iOS 9.3.2, as an 9.x.x update, appears to be minor in scale, focusing on bug fixes and performance improvements. iOS 9.3.2 appears to fix a major Game Center bug that has plagued some iOS users for months and it introduces support for using Night Shift and Low Power Mode simultaneously.

The first three betas of iOS 9.3.2 have not included any significant outward-facing changes, but we will update this post with any new features found in the fourth beta.

Related Roundup: iOS 9
Tag: iOS 9.3.2
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