This was a pretty good week for all but VHS enthusiasts. NASA tested a new lightweight rocket material. The Kepler space telescope found a couple of potentially habitable exoplanets. Researchers built a robot out of a sea slug. And scientists at TU Delft went ahead and solved that whole nanoscale data storage issue. Numbers, because it’s “rocket science”, not “rocket art”.
It’s all coming down to this. Well over a year after beginning its round-the-world trip, Solar Impulse 2 has embarked on the final leg of its journey. The solar-powered aircraft left Cairo early on the morning of July 24th and should reach its original starting point, Abu Dhabi, within 2 to 3 days. This certainly isn’t the most arduous part of the adventure (the Pacific crossing was far more challenging). However, it’ll likely be the one that everybody remembers — it’ll be the definitive proof that clean energy can be used to accomplish impressive feats.
And this isn’t strictly the end. Bertrand PIccard, the pilot on this last stint and the architect of Solar Impulse, stressed to Reuters that the project isn’t done once the aircraft touches down. To him, the flight has created an “international community” that will endure after the buzz is over. It’s far too soon to say what Solar Impulse’s legacy will be, but it’ll at least get a page in the history books.
BREAKING @bertrandpiccard has taken off from #Cairo for the last flight of the journey to #AbuDhabi #futureisclean pic.twitter.com/2ufDjAS5VK
— SOLAR IMPULSE (@solarimpulse) July 23, 2016
Source: Solar Impulse, Twitter
In March, a new bike company known as SpeedX launched a crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter. The company was looking to raise $50,000 to help launch the first-ever smart aero road bike. Within two hours, the campaign surpassed the initial financing goal, going on to raise over $2.3 million from over 1,200 backers. This made it the most funded bike in Kickstarter’s history.
SpeedX was offering a high-end road bike with better components than brands such as Trek, Cannondale and Cervelo for thousands less. The campaign and product were both intriguing. I was close to becoming a backer myself, but had second thoughts. There was no way this no-name company would be able to deliver the bike on time, let alone deliver a product that lives up to the hype.
I was wrong. The SpeedX Leopard Pro is as elegant as the campaign originally promised. Even more impressive, the company will begin shipping the bike to backers this August.
The SpeedX Leopard Pro is available for preorder now through the SpeedX website for $2,500 (about £1,900, AU$3,350). A more affordable model with a slightly different components, called the SpeedX Leopard, can be had for $1,400 (about £1,000, AU$1,875). Preorders are slated to ship in September.
What are the specs?
Despite the $2,500 price tag, the SpeedX Leopard Pro seems like an incredible value. The frame and fork are made from a mix of T1000 and T800 carbon fiber. The handlebars and seat post are also made from carbon. This makes the bike incredibly light, with a weight of just over 17 pounds.
As for the groupset, it’s Shimano Ultegra Di2, which features electronic shifting. My only complaint about the bike is that it lacks disc brakes, which I prefer for better stopping power, although a few commenters were quick to point out that most racing bikes don’t include them.
The more affordable Leopard model swaps out the Ultegra groupset for a Shimano 105 groupset. The handlebars are also aluminum rather than carbon fiber, although the bike still has the same carbon frame as the more expensive model, with a weight of about 19lbs.
I’m a big fan of the overall look of the bike. Both models feature full internal wiring to give them that clean look. There’s also an integrated rear LED light that will automatically turn on when it gets dark, which I thought was a great idea.
What makes this bike smart?
You may hear the word “smart bike” and assume there’s an electric motor, but that’s not the case. What makes the Leopard smart is the built-in GPS, altimeter and speed sensors, which essentially replaces the need for a separate Garmin or Polar bike computer.
These sensors are used to measure moving time, distance, speed, altitude, cadence, calorie burn and can provide navigation. There’s also Bluetooth and ANT+ built-in for connecting a power meter or heart-rate sensor. All of this data can be viewed in real time on the 2.4-inch color screen, which can also display incoming calls and notifications when your smartphone is connected.
Post-ride data can be viewed in the SpeedX mobile app. In addition to viewing a map of the ride and all of the recorded data, the app is similar to Strava and includes online challenges and leaderboards.
What about battery life?
Yes, the bike has to be charged, but it won’t be very often. The battery, which powers the built-in display, will last up to 40 hours of continuous usage. Charging is done through a small microUSB port on the back of the bike (our model didn’t have a protective flap covering it but the company says the final ones will).
This isn’t the kind of bike you would leave outside, at least not in New York City, and it only takes 30 minutes for a full charge, but it would have been cool if you could charge it simply by pedaling.
Is it too good to be true?
I didn’t get to ride the bike for an extended period, but I was impressed with the ride in the short time I did spend with it. The electronic shifting was smooth, and it felt as if I could really get some speed on the bike. The seat wasn’t the most comfortable, but that’s pretty standard. While my first impressions were positive, further testing will be needed to make a final conclusion.
My only concern is with the company itself. While SpeedX offers a lifetime warranty on the frame and a 30-day money back guarantee on the entire purchase, this is still a company we know little about. A lifetime warranty could mean only a few months if business were to go south.
The Leopard and Leopard Pro are an incredible value. SpeedX has said it can offer these low prices by cutting out the middleman to deliver high-quality bikes cheaper than the competition, but a part of me wonders if you are better off going with a true and tested bike from a reliable brand.
Only time will tell how SpeedX and the Leopard bikes continue to perform, but it is a company I plan to keep my eye on.
The Good The Jabra Halo Smart is a sturdily built neck-band style headphone that performs very well as a headset for making cell phone calls, offers good battery life, and decent sound for music if you get a tight seal. Neckband vibrates when a call comes in.
The Bad You may not get a secure, tight seal from any of the included ear tips, which leads to a poor fit and a reduction in sound quality.
The Bottom Line While it doesn’t do much to distinguish itself from other neckband-style headphones from a design standpoint, the Jabra Halo Smart seems sturdily built, performs very well as a headset for making calls and offers decent sound quality for music if you get a tight seal.
Welcome another neckband-style headphone to the world: the Jabra Halo Smart, which retails for $80 (sorry, UK and Australian readers, no word on international pricing yet).
What’s special about it? Well, since it’s from Jabra, you’d hope it would work really well as a headset for making calls. And it does, with multiple microphones and noise reduction technology that helps tamp down ambient noise like wind. It’s also water-resistant and has very good battery life, with up to 17 hours of talk time and 15 hours of music listening.
What you get in the box.
It also has a few notable extra features. The ear buds adhere magnetically to each other, which keeps them from flopping around when they’re not in your ears. You end up wearing them sort of like a pendant or you can affix the buds to a spot on the neckband to eliminate any dangling altogether (the manual shows you exactly where on the neckband the tips can be pinned magnetically).
When a call comes in, there’s a vibrate feature in the neckband, and you can answer the call by pulling the ear buds apart. You then stick one or both buds in your ears.
The free Jabra Assist app for iOS and Android works with the Halo Smart. It doesn’t do all that much, but you can enable a message readout feature that allows you to hear incoming notifications. These include calendar events and incoming emails (just the subject name and subject). There’s also a “Find my Jabra” feature that allows you to locate your headset should you lose it.
Three sizes of ear tips are included, but I was a little disappointed that I couldn’t get a tight seal and secure fit with any of them. I had to pull off a set of extra large tips from another in-ear headphone I was testing. Those bigger tips made a big difference.
The tip issue was really my only major gripe. Otherwise, the headphone performed well, and I encountered only a minimal amount of Bluetooth hiccups.
The Good At $650, the GTW485ASJWS is one of GE’s most entry-level washers. It also boasts 13 cleaning modes and a Deep Fill feature that lets you add as much water to a cycle as you want.
The Bad Its traditional agitator wasn’t gentle on clothes.
The Bottom Line The GE GTW485ASJWS is fine if you’re looking for an affordable top-load washer — just keep in mind that its agitator isn’t forgiving when it comes to wear and tear.
The $650 GE GTW485ASJWS might be one of the simplest washing machines you can buy today. It doesn’t have a ton of advanced settings, an LED-bedazzled digital display, or on-board Wi-Fi connectivity. You won’t find a second washer tucked inside a hidden compartment like the LG Twin Wash or a built-in sink like the Samsung WA52J8700.
But what the 485 lacks in pizazz, it makes up for with a traditional agitator — something folks nostalgic for the days of laundry-past will like. The downside, of course, is that agitators tend to be tougher on fabric than the impeller-style designs you’ll find on most pricier top-loaders. It did do a decent job removing stains, though. Yes, GE’s GTW485ASJWS will do fine overall, but you might want to spend a little more for an impeller washing machine if you’re concerned about wear and tear.
A budget washing machine for laundry traditionalists
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A simpler wash
While the 485 doesn’t exactly do anything innovative in terms of design, it’s a nice looking machine considering its price. Available in a glossy white finish, it features the same 13 cleaning cycles as more expensive GE washers. They include:
- Active Wear
- Bulky Items
In other washer news:
- How we test washing machines
- The tech behind our washing machine testing
- 16 washers to help you clean up your laundry routine
- This Samsung washer has everything, including the kitchen sink
- Cold Wash
- Dark Colors
- Drain + Spin
- Heavy Duty
- Speed Wash
- Towels & Sheets
It also has a Deep Fill setting, which lets you add more water to a cycle. This isn’t great in terms of efficiency, but it does let you customize the fill level if you think the washer isn’t adding enough water on its own. Press the Deep Fill button at the top of the display panel either before a cycle begins or after it has finished auto-filling. Press it again to stop it.
The straightforward display features one dial each for soil level, temperature, cleaning cycles, options (this includes things like Auto Soak and Extra Spin), and stain pre-treat.
Here’s a look at the 485’s basic specs compared to other top-load washers:
|White||White, metallic (for $1,000)||Metallic, white (for $1,100)||Stainless platinum|
|4.2 cubic feet||5.1 cubic feet||5.1 cubic feet||5.2 cubic feet|
|152 kWh/year||152 kWh/year||152 kWh/year||165 kWh/year|
|27 x 44 x 27 inches||28 x 44.5 x 29 inches||28 x 44.5 x 29 inches||27 x 46 x 29.3 inches|
|1 year, limited||1 year, limited||1 year, limited||1 year, limited|
|120V 60Hz||120V 60Hz||120V 60Hz||120V 60Hz|
|No||Yes, Android and iPhone||Yes, Android and iPhone||No|
The main difference here is bin capacity. Where models like the GE GTW810SSJWS, the GE GTW860SPJMC, and Samsung’s WA52J8700 all have capacities over 5 cubic feet, the 485 has just 4.2 cubic feet of space. This is mainly due to the built-in agitator, although its dimensions are also slightly smaller.
Tesla is known for producing some of the world’s best electric cars, but founder Elon Musk has even bigger plans for the company: world domination. Musk’s new masterplan will grow the company to produce trucks and buses while using battery technology and solar infrastructure to transition the world away from fossil fuels. Meanwhile, the world’s first “Tesla Town” is coming to Australia, and every home in it will feature solar panels and a powerwall. Driverless cars are almost here: This week Mercedes-Benz unveiled the fully autonomous bus of the future, while a GM exec confirmed plans to launch a self-driving Chevy Bolt EV with Lyft. And we spotted a crazy truck that’s able to lay its own road across treacherous terrain in just six minutes.
The heatwave surging across the US is putting a serious drain on the nation’s grid, but what if your air conditioner actually generated energy instead of just sucking it up? That’s the idea behind the BeCool, a new HVAC system that cools or heats the air while charging up a fuel cell at the same time. In other energy news, Facebook just launched its solar-powered internet drone for the first time and Obama set a target of 1 gigawatt of solar energy for low-income homes by the year 2020. A team of researchers developed a new osmosis technology that generates electricity from saltwater, and California shattered a solar power record by hitting 8,030 megawatts — enough energy to power 20 million households.
The best emergency shelters can be quickly deployed and constructed — like the uLite, a modular, inflatable dwelling that can be set up in 30 minutes flat. In other design developments, Conceptos Plásticos has developed a set of LEGO-like building blocks that allow anyone to build a home for just $5,200. WASP launched a 3D printer that uses dirt to build durable, affordable homes. Morocco debuted the longest cable-stayed bridge in Africa, which is lit up with LED lights. Mexico City unveiled a high-tech LEED platinum skyscraper that’s built to last for 2,500 years. And Denmark transformed a century-old lighthouse into a gigantic kaleidoscope that collects light instead of sending it out.
Latest leak points to a 3,500mAh battery for Samsung’s upcoming Note.
There’s been no shortage of Samsung Galaxy Note 7 leakage of late, and the latest details to sneak out of a Korean carrier gives some intriguing info on the phone’s battery capacity.
A prematurely published spec listing by mobile operator SKT lists the Note 7 with a 3,500mAh battery — an increase over the 3,000mAh cell of the Note 5, but a decrease of 100mAh compared to the Galaxy S7 edge. Other details in the listing include dimensions: 73.9 x 153.5 x 7.9mm — a small increase in thickness compared to both the S7 edge and Note 5 — and a weight of 169 grams — down 2 grams from last year’s Note.
However small it is, a drop in battery capacity relative to the S7 edge may disappoint enthusiasts hoping for a beefier battery in what’s likely to be a 5.7-inch handset. (One possible explanation is that space that would otherwise have been occupied by the battery is instead take up by the S Pen.)
In any case, if the specs listed here are accurate, the Note 7 should still pack a decent bump in battery life compared to the previous model. And there’s no telling how Samsung might be saving power elsewhere, for example with more efficient internals or display tech.
MORE: Samsung Galaxy Note 7 preview
Would a tiny difference in battery capacity sway your smartphone purchasing decision? Shout out in the comments!
Over the last few months we’ve suggested some cracking shows that you can catch-up with for free using Freeview Play and this week is now different.
Freeview Play devices give you the ability to scroll backwards through the electronic programme guide and instantly play retrospective TV programmes from the BBC, ITV and Channel 4 that you might have missed.
Just click on a show from the last seven days on the respective channels’ listings and it will automatically spark up the related app and play.
UKTV Play is also coming to the platform this summer, with shows from Dave and other channels added to the mix, plus Channel 5’s On Demand service is headed to Freeview Play too.
For now, check out our top picks from the week to give yourself some prime entertainment, even when there’s nothing else on.
- What is Freeview Play, when is it coming to my TV and how can I get it?
BBC Two (BBC iPlayer) – broadcast on Sunday 24 July
It’s back. After a long hiatus the 90s show returned to the BBC with new house robots and more fierce amateur competition than ever before.
The presenting cast has changed, with comedian Dara O’Briain stepping into the shoes of Craig Charles and original presenter Jeremy Clarkson. He’s also more than ably assisted by fellow Irish native, Angela Scanlon.
The Secret Agent
BBC One (BBC iPlayer) – broadcast on Sunday 24 July
The second episode of this intriguing period thriller aired this week, but if you missed the first it is still available on BBC iPlayer, accessible through your Freeview Play device’s app hub.
An adaptation of Joseph Conrad’s novel, it stars Toby Jones, Vicky McClure and Stephen Graham in a tale of espionage in the 1800s.
Panorama: Trump’s Angry America
BBC One (BBC iPlayer) – broadcast on Monday 18 July
Screened in the week Donald Trump was officially confirmed as the Republican Party candidate for the next US Presidential election, this self-contained documentary tries to get to grips with why he has engaged so much with voters.
It also speaks to those who fear his rhetoric and policies.
Dickinson’s Real Deal
ITV (ITV Hub) – broadcast on Thursday 20 July
Anyone who has been sick off work or at home between lectures when a student will be fully au fait with Dickinson’s Real Deal.
It’s great fun, like a low rent Antiques Roadshow, and even away from the pricing of tat, it’s worth a watch to see just how orange David Dickinson can become.
Wheels and Waves
The Motorbike Show
ITV 4 (ITV Hub) – broadcast on Wednesday 20 July
The Motorbike Show is sort of a Top Gear for bikers. We say “sort of” because it takes the subject matter a bit more serious, but is still as entertaining.
In this episode presenter Henry Cole puts his life on the line by riding “the Yellow Peril”, a 1960s drag bike with a fearsome reputation.
Channel 4 (All 4) – broadcast Wednesday 20 July
The third series of Greg Davies incredibly funny comedy continues with more madcap fun this week. Be warned though, it’s definitely not for children.
You might want to also check out previous series on All 4 if you’ve not seen them before, especially the first, which also starred the late Rik Mayall as Davies father.
4seven (All 4) – broadcast on Thursday 21 July
Brits get up to all sorts of weirdness in the bedroom, which has created quite a niche industry.
This documentary follows a few amateurs paid to act out peculiar sexual fantasies, including close ups of a lady’s mouth while she eats Gummy Bears. No, really.
Get catch-up and on demand TV for £0 per month with Freeview Play. Click here to find out more.
When Propel releases its official Star Wars drones this fall, fans could challenge fellow fans to a space battle in their own backyard. The RC toy company has launched small replica quadcopters of the Millennium Falcon, an X-Wing, a TIE fighter and a speeder bike. According to Wired, their propellers are clear and are attached to their underside to be as inconspicuous and true to the movies as possible.
We’ve got a feeling quite a few collectors would simply keep them in display cases. But if you want to get one to actually play with, you’ll find that they can reach speeds up to 40mph and can do 360-degree aerial stunts at the push of a button. They also have a battle feature, which you can use to play a game of mid-air laser tag with up to 24 friends. Wired says the Millennium Falcon is the fastest of the bunch, though, and can outfly them all with a max speed of 50mph.
The bad news? They won’t be available in the US and Canada when they launch this fall — you’ll have to wait for Propel to bring them over. The company is taking reservations for every model right now with no need for a downpayment. You simply have to register and save between $200 to $300 for each drone, so you can grab one as soon as they come out.
Apple became a target of anti-U.S. protest in China this week, following an international ruling against the country’s controversial territorial claims.
Reuters reports that a “handful” of unofficial Apple stores were picketed and social media users encouraged each other to destroy their Apple products, as the company became a symbol of perceived injustice in its biggest overseas market.
Earlier this month, The Hague declared that China has no legal basis for its claim to most of the South China Sea, prompting state media to call the international court a “puppet” of external forces, and accuse the U.S. of turning the Philippines (which filed the case) against China.
About a week later, on Tuesday, over 100 protestors picketed four unofficial Apple dealers in the eastern province of Jiangsu, urging customers not to buy the genuine Apple goods on sale.
“They chanted, ‘boycott American products and kick iPhones out of China,’” store owner Zhu Yawei told Reuters. “But nothing really happened: no fights, no smashing.”
Meanwhile, anti-Apple sentiment flooded Chinese social media as people took to microblogging site Weibo to upload pictures of what they described as their smashed iPhones.
Not all Apple users shared the same view, however, and state media called for restraint following the limited protests.
“It’s cheap nationalism and outright stupidity,” said Shan Mimi, a 23-year-old assistant at a Shanghai law firm. “But if you were to offer me an (upcoming) iPhone 7, then I would gladly smash my iPhone 6!”
“I didn’t smash my iPhone,” one Weibo user told Reuters. “All I did was find a photo (of a smashed handset) on the internet and let off some steam. Boycotting Apple would only make Chinese people lose their jobs – many work for Apple.”
Though the protests were small, some observers expressed concern about the impact they could have on Apple in the longer term, citing protests over the country’s territorial dispute with Japan in 2012 that turned violent. Japanese automakers suffered plummeting sales in China as a result of the unrest and cut manufacturing in the country by half.
“There’s not much Apple or any other foreign firm can do to prevent such patriotic protests,” Canalys research analyst Nicole Peng told Reuters. “These incidents happen every few years.”
Apple has faced a number of setbacks in China in recent months, including patent disputes, online rights infringement cases, product security reviews, and iTunes store closures. The company has also seen it lose market share due to increased competition from domestic rivals such as Huawei, Vivo and Oppo.
Despite the challenges, Apple continues to expand its retail presence in the country and strategically invest in the market to better understand its wider potential.
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