Skip to content

Archive for

10
May

Engadget giveaway: Win a pair of Muo speakers courtesy of Kef!


As the reality of spring takes hold, we get to enjoy longer, warmer days and a burst of colorful foliage. To celebrate this positive seasonal swing, we’ve got a duo of rose-colored Muo speakers for one lucky reader this week. These Bluetooth portables from high-end UK audio maker Kef feature 12-hour battery life, a compact version of the company’s Uni-Q driver array and styling by industrial designer Ross Lovegrove. The design echoes the curves of Kef’s flagship $225,000 Muon loudspeakers. You’ll be able to send CD-quality audio over Bluetooth aptX to the Muo (with a compatible device) or connect directly to its 3.5mm jack. They can be used as standalone speakers or paired for wider coverage and stereo sound when it’s time to party. All you need to do is head to the Rafflecopter widget below for up to three chances at winning this colorful speaker set from Kef.
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 two (2) Kef Muo Bluetooth speakers (Brilliant Rose).
  • 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 11th at 11:59PM ET. Good luck!
Advertisements
10
May

Western Digital officially owns SanDisk


The world’s largest storage manufacturer officially gets even bigger this week. Western Digital announced today that the company has cleared all the necessary regulatory hurdles in their planned purchase of SanDisk.

For a cool $19 billion, Western Digital now gets to call SanDisk (and their sizeable share of the SSD market) their wholly owned subsidiary. Although SanDisk might be best known for flash memory cards and USB sticks, the company has been expanding into enterprise notebook hard drives and also builds OEM memory components for Apple and Nvidia. Bonus trivia: Back in 2014, SanDisk founder Dr. Eli Harari was honored by President Obama for “revolutionizing the flash storage industry.”

Both Western Digital and SanDisk are headquartered in California, but today’s final regulatory announcement comes from China’s Ministry of Commerce. In a statement, SanDisk CEO Sanjay Mehrotra said his company, “look[s] forward to contributing to the success of Western Digital as it transforms into the leading storage solutions company.” The deal will officially buttoned up for good on Thursday, May 12th.

10
May

Fujitsu’s AI can help catch criminals on the run


When it’s not being an austere provider of corporate IT services, Fujitsu likes to try its hand at a little bit of mad science. The latest project to come out of the firm’s labs is an artificial intelligence that’ll assign police units to specific locations during large-scale manhunts. Given that cities are large and there are never enough police around, the idea is to co-ordinate their efforts using big data and game theory. The only downside to all of this is that we might have seen the end of the bellowing police chief screaming orders at maverick cops with nothing to lose.

When you boil it down, catching a criminal as they race around a city is nothing more than a very complex game theory problem. But rather than being able to run down 10 streets to evade detection, they can drive, get a bus, catch the subway or sprint down 100,000 streets. A computer can crunch those numbers, but not fast enough or efficiently enough for it to be any good. With Fujitsu’s system, you can tell it how many officers you’ve got and it’ll tell you where to put roadblocks and concentrate your manpower.

One of the reasons that the system is now a lot faster is thanks to a partnership with Japan’s University of Electro-Communications. Researchers there were able to get the number-crunching down to a speed that’s actually useful for practical use. For instance, the company claims that, to suggest a policing plan for the 23-ward Tokyo, its new system will take less than five minutes. It’s just a shame that a supercomputer can’t yet bang the table and tell someone that they’re off the case with any sort of panache.

Source: Fujitsu

10
May

Portal router aims to deliver us from congested WiFi


What happens when former Qualcomm engineers decide to build a router of their own? You get something like Portal, an innocuous looking device that aims to speed up WiFI networks using technology never before seen in consumer routers. It supports 802.11AC WiFi, but it works on all six channels of the 5GHz spectrum, whereas today’s routers only work on two channels. That’s a big deal — it means Portal is well-suited to delivering fast WiFi in places like dense apartment buildings.

It used to be that simply hopping onto a 5Ghz network was enough to avoid the overcrowding in the 2.4GHz spectrum. But with more people upgrading their routers, even speedy 5GHz spectrum is getting filled up today.

“The fundamental problem is that as WiFi becomes more popular and applications becomes more demanding, your problem is not going to be ‘how fast does my router go?’,” said Terry Ngo, CEO and co-founder of Ignition Design Labs, the company behind Portal. Instead, the real issue will become, “How does it survive in an increasingly connected environment?”

Portal uses a combination of features to deal with that dilemma. For one, it packs in nine antennas inside of its sleek, curved case, as well as 10 “advanced” radios. Ngo points out that there’s no need for giant bug-like antennas we’re seeing on consumer routers today, like Netgear’s massive Nitehawk line. (Most of those long antennas are usually just empty plastic.) The Portal is also smart enough to hop between different 5Ghz channels (check out a diagram of channels above) if it detects things are getting crowded. Most routers today pick a channel when they boot up and never move off of it.

In a brief demonstration, Ngo and his crew showed off just how capable the Portal is. While standing around 50 feet away from the router, with a few walls between us, the Portal clocked in 25 Mbps download speeds and 5 Mbps uploads, with a latency of around 3ms. In comparison, a Netgear Nitehawk router saw download speeds of 2Mbps and upload speeds of 5Mbps from the same location, with 30ms of latency.

You’d still be able to stream 4K video streams from the Portal in that spot, whereas the Netgear might even give you trouble with an HD stream, depending on how congested the reception is. Portal was also able to stream three separate 4K videos at once, and, surprisingly, they didn’t even skip when the router changed wireless channels.

One of Portal’s features is particularly surprising: radar detection. That’s necessary to let it use a part of the 5GHz spectrum typically reserved for weather systems in the US. Most devices just avoid that spectrum entirely to avoid the ire of the FCC. By implementing continuous radar detection, Portal is able to turn off access to that spectrum for the few people who live near weather radars (usually, it’s only near airports and certain coastal areas). But even if you’re locked out from that bit of spectrum, Portal still gives you three more 5Ghz channels than other consumer routers.

Just like Google’s OnHub router, which is also trying to solve our WiFi woes, Portal also relies on the cloud to optimize your network. For example, Portal will be able to know in advance if certain locations won’t have access to the 5Ghz spectrum reserved for radar. It’ll also be able to keep track of how crowded WiFi channels get in your neighborhood, and it could optimize which channels are being used at different times of the day. There’s a bit of a privacy concern there, for sure, but using the cloud also lets Ignition Design Labs bring new wireless features to Portal without the need for expensive hardware.

Portal also includes five gigabit Ethernet ports, as well as two USB ports for streaming your content. That’s a notable difference from OnHub, which limited Ethernet ports in favor of a simpler design. Ignition Design Labs has also developed a mobile app for setting up and managing Portal, but you can also log onto its setup page just like a typical router.

While new routers like the Eero and Luma are great WiFi solutions for large homes, where reception range is a bigger issue, the Portal makes more sense for people living in apartments and other dense areas. But Portal also has an extended range solution, if you need it: You can just connect two units together in a mesh network (the company claims it also does this more efficiently than Eero and Luma).

Portal is launching on Kickstarter today, with the hopes of raising $160,000 over the next 60 days. You can snag one for yourself starting at $139, but, as usual, expect the final retail price to be higher. While I’m not very confident about gadget Kickstarters these days, the fact that the Ignition Design Labs folks have many years of experience dealing with wireless hardware gives me hope for the Portal. We’ll be getting a unit to test out soon, so stay tuned for updates.

10
May

Dropbox is making it cheaper for schools to live in the cloud


For the last few years, Dropbox’s main revenue focus has been on its business-focused offering, not its consumer one. More than 150,000 companies have signed up with Dropbox Business, and a push for huge enterprise businesses is underway. But today, the company is making colleges and universities its target with Dropbox for Education. The product is essentially the same as the Dropbox business offering, which combines gives businesses unlimited cloud storage combined with a variety of security controls, extensive version history and the administration controls needed to keep data safe in large organizations.

Dropbox Education features nearly all of that, but at a cheaper cost — it’s $49 per user per year, with “significant” reductions in cost for higher-volume deployments. That compares to $150 to $300 per user for Dropbox’s enterprise-focused offering. Of course, with the cheaper price comes one big different: storage isn’t unlimited. Instead, you get 15GB for everyone on your team (for example: a 300-person edu team would have 4500GB in total shared storage).

Other than that one notable change, though, it’ll basically be the same experience with the same security as the Dropbox for Business product. For starters, Dropbox is focusing on higher education — specifically faculty, though the company says it’ll be investigating ways to potentially roll it out to students in the future. There’s also talk of extending the offerings for K-12 institutions as well, but that’ll come at a later date. Dropbox Education will be available starting this June.

10
May

Impossible Project launches its first instant film camera


The Impossible Project is continuing its mission to sustain and grow the instant film market with the I-1, its first original camera. The new hardware is launching today for $299, both online and in a limited number of stores. It’s a huge milestone for the company, which was born after the team acquired some of Polaroid’s old factory equipment in 2008. While Polaroid struggled to find its place in the photography industry (many would argue it’s still looking) Impossible saw an opportunity to create a new, modern business. It began developing and selling its own instant film, hinting occasionally at a camera of its own. Now, years later, it’s finally delivered.

The I-1 works with Impossible’s new I-type film — available in both color and black and white packs — and 600 type film. The camera has an unusual, triangular shape, dominated by a ring flash on the front and a flat, boxy compartment for the film. On its own, it’s a perfectly functional piece of kit, however if you have an iPhone you can also unlock additional, creative features. These include a manual mode, complete with aperture and shutter speed settings, as well as the ability to do light painting and double exposures. There’s no word on an Android app, however.

To coincide with the I-1’s launch, Impossible has revamped all of its color film. They now develop “in half the time” and use a simple color scheme on the box — red, blue, green or yellow — to tell you whether it’s compatible with your camera. Analog photography, especially instant film, is still an expensive pursuit, but the Impossible Project is working hard to make it more attractive. The format may never reach its former popularity, but the company wants to prove it still has a place in modern photography.

Source: Impossible Project

10
May

The best circular saw


By Doug Mahoney

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 thoroughly vetting over 35 circular saws and testing four, we feel the best one for most people is the SKILSAW SPT67WM-22. It excels at every task a good circular saw should and has great features we didn’t see on the rest of the saws we tried.

How we picked and tested

The tested saws. Photo: Doug Mahoney

After reading everything we could on the topic of circular saws and tapping into our own construction experience, we feel that the best saw for most people is one that has a direct drive motor and a blade-right orientation. Most saws manufactured today follow this pattern, and we didn’t feel it necessary to deviate from these norms. For specific features within this framework, we looked for saws with either an aluminum or magnesium baseplate, a bevel that goes beyond 45 degrees, an easy-to-use depth-of-cut adjustment, and a relatively light weight (below 10 pounds).

We found that the sweet spot for pricing is between $85 and $130. In this range are saws from respected manufacturers that meet our criteria. Circular saws priced lower than our range all have steel baseplates, which bend easily when dropped. The ones priced above our range really get into contractor pricing.

For testing, we outfitted each tool with a Freud Diablo 24-tooth framing blade and started cuttin’. Over the course of three days, we cut everything from dense pressure-treated wood to 2-by-10s to delicate birch veneer plywood. While using the saws, we looked at ease of adjustments, sight lines, and the accuracy of the cut-line indicators. We examined how easy each saw was to adjust and the sturdiness of the connection between the saw and the baseplate. We knew that handling and ergonomics would be a big piece of the puzzle, so we kept a close eye on handle design, balance, and overall feel.

Our pick

With more power and better features than its competitors, the SKILSAW is an easy-to-use circular saw that we’d recommend to most buyers. Photo: Doug Mahoney

The circular saw we’d get is the SKILSAW SPT67WM-22. In our tests, it had the power to cut through dense, wet pressure-treated wood and thick slabs of engineered lumber, but it also had enough precision to take on more delicate finish work. For added safety and control, the handle of the saw is set lower than on other models, putting the pushing force behind the saw rather than above it. One standout feature you see on top-quality saws like this one is a magnesium footplate and motor housing, which make it durable and lightweight—it’s 9½ pounds, compared with the 10-plus pounds some other circular saws weigh. The depth-of-cut gauge is marked according to common lumber thicknesses rather than a straight imperial scale like on the other saws, making accurate depth adjustments on this tool faster and simpler. Its easy-to-read bevel gauge can angle the blade to an extra-steep 56 degrees (others stop at 45), and accurate cut-line indicators are at the front and back of the baseplate. It also has convenient onboard wrench storage for changing the blade.

Runner-up: Decent saw, great price

The RIDGID isn’t as full-featured as our pick, but its lighter weight and great ergonomics make it a pleasant, easy saw to use—and it’s often sold at a lower price than our pick, too. Photo: Doug Mahoney

If the SKILSAW isn’t available or you’re looking to make less of an investment, we also like the RIDGID Fuego 6½-Inch Compact Framing Circular Saw. This was by far the lightest saw we tested and that, combined with the great handle design, made it an easy tool to hold and maneuver. It doesn’t have the overwhelming power or the innovative features of our main pick, but it cut everything we threw at it.

What about cordless circular saws and worm drives?

Worm drives, like the DeWalt DWS535 (left) are extremely powerful, but they’re much larger, weigh a lot more, and are simply too much saw for the non-pro. Photo: Doug Mahoney

Cordless circular saws are convenient, but, for most, they’re not worth the added cost. If you already have a collection of cordless tools (and their batteries), getting a cordless saw may make sense, although even buying one without a battery comes at a cost premium. Unless you really need the mobility and quick setup of a cordless, a quality corded tool will be a better fit because you won’t have to worry about battery life or the tool not being powerful enough for the task.

The other style of saw, aside from direct drives, are the worm drives, or hypoid saws. These larger saws are geared down to exchange blade speed for torque. Because of their unstoppable power, they’re popular among tradesmen, specifically framers who need the ability to make quick, repeated cuts through thick pieces of dense engineered lumber. For the casual user and even the heavy DIYer, a worm drive is simply too much saw.

Still, if a cordless circular saw or worm drive is what you’re after, we have some recommendations in our full guide.

Blades

Blades make a big difference with a saw. Even the best saw in the world won’t perform well with a dull blade. For around-the-house weekend work, a good blade, if taken care of, can last years.

Eventually, the blade will dull or a tooth will break. Often, blades suffer from a buildup of gunk around the teeth, which can be cleaned. Cleaning is often a time-consuming task, however, and at $10 for a decent Freud blade, preserving a blade may not be worth your time. Many local hardware stores also offer sharpening services for a few bucks a blade.

As for the specifics of buying blades, a part-time user can get by with a 24-tooth framing blade for rough work and a 60-tooth blade for fine finish work. The more teeth the blade has, the less likely there will be blow-out at the cut, which is important for veneered surfaces like birch plywood.

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

10
May

‘Pokémon Sun’ and ‘Moon’ arrive on the 3DS November 18th


Earlier this year, Nintendo vaguely revealed that Pokémon Sun and Moon would hit its 3DS during the holiday season. But thankfully for die-hard fans of the franchise, we now have an exact release date. The new Pokémon titles are set to arrive November 18th in North America, while those of you in the UK will catch them a few days later, on November 23rd. As part of today’s announcement, Pokémon also introduced Rowlet, Litten and Popplio, the three adorable characters that’ll help you get started on your adventure. Seriously, they’re so cute.

me right now pic.twitter.com/lkrZynj9hX

— Nick Summers (@nisummers) May 10, 2016

Source: Pokémon

10
May

Pebble watches are now better fitness trackers


After years of relying on third-party activity trackers, Pebble finally introduced its own homegrown version last December. Simply called Pebble Health, the native fitness app tracks your steps and sleep patterns and has a built-in coach to keep you motivated. Today, however, it’s getting a massive update to give you an even more holistic view of your overall health and achievements.

It still tracks those steps and sleep patterns of course, but there’s now a revamped Health section that lets you compare your activity and sleep levels for the past day, week and month. Plus, it also offers daily sleep and step summaries to get a better idea if your fitness plan is working. The new update is also great if you’re a runner, as it’ll now automatically figure out if you’re walking or running based on your movements. It’ll then offer you activity insights after you’re done. If you like, you can also get coaching based on your results. The Pebble Health app also now has Smart Alarms, which will wake you up in your lightest sleep phase — as long as it’s within 30 minutes prior to your set wake time — to make sure you wake up refreshed.

Other Pebble app updates include extended text reply options for iOS. This feature already existed for Android users, but now iPhone users will be able to take advantage of this too. Basically, you’ll now be able to use the Send Text app to send text replies (a canned response or a voice note) to your contacts, as long as you have a Time-series watch. Text replies to incoming calls are also supported, though you’ll have to be subscribed to either AT&T or Verizon to have that feature (This is in part due to the current limitations of iOS).

Still, the Health app is certainly the big update here. It remains to be seen if this push will draw more people to the Pebble fold, as it faces stiff competition from the likes of the Apple Watch and Android Wear as well as all the other activity trackers on the market. If you are a proud Pebble owner however, you can go on and download the latest update starting today.

10
May

Texas Instruments has a gold-hued graphing calculator


Want to prove that you’re a cosine champion at your next math exam? Texas Instruments thinks it has the answer. It’s trotting out a limited edition version of the TI-84 Plus CE graphing calculator that comes in a gold-hued (as TI puts it, “Golden Ratio”) metallic shell — yes, you can show some swagger while you’re visualizing functions. There’s also a special “Bright White” model (below) if you’re not quite so ostentatious. Both calculators should arrive this summer without a price premium (existing models sell for $108 on Amazon), so you won’t have to pay extra to bring some flash to your calculus class.

TI-84 Plus CE in Bright White

Source: Texas Instruments

%d bloggers like this: