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17
Sep

Six technologies that produce clean, safe drinking water


By Cat DiStasio

One in 10 people worldwide lack regular access to safe drinking water. In an effort to tackle this most basic humanitarian problem, engineers around the globe have developed a wide array of devices, large and small, that generate clean water. Each year, a slew of innovations aim to make the process easier, cheaper and more portable, as well as produce a yield high enough to make a real impact for some of the 663 million people who suffer from water shortages. Solutions range from using condensation methods to pull water from thin air, turning salty seawater into fresh water, or distributing UV light purification chips affordable enough for people to use at home. Only a few of these technologies are working outside the lab, but the ones that do have so far generated billions of gallons of clean water.

The Warka Water Tower

It took several years for the design of the Warka Water Tower to become a reality, but its first pilot program in a rural Ethiopian village was finally built earlier this year and began pulling clean water from thin air. The award-winning design is based on fog harvesting concepts, and it takes the form of an enormous cylinder constructed from bamboo and wrapped in recycled mesh. The tower is skirted by a canopy that provides shade for local residents to rest under while they funnel off condensed water from the tower’s base. The Tower’s makers plan to put it into mass production by 2019.

Tiny UV water purifier

Not all of the people lacking clean water live in drought-affected areas. Oftentimes, there is “water, water everywhere, but not a drop to drink” due to contamination from pollution or other environmental issues. Water purification systems are often expensive and time-consuming, but researchers at Stanford University and SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory recently developed a UV water purifier housed in a tiny black rectangle that cuts the lengthy process down from 48 hours to around 20 minutes. Although the device is a long way from mass production, lab tests on the prototype suggest that it could be the first step toward a new generation of water purification methods that help make dirty water drinkable.

The Pipe is floating solar-powered desalination plant

A new desalination project planned for California, dubbed The Pipe, made a splash this summer with its promise of providing 1.5 billion gallons of clean drinking water for the drought-stricken state. The solar-powered plant relies on electromagnetic desalination methods to turn seawater into clean water, filters the salty byproduct through thermal baths, and then flushes it back into the Pacific Ocean. The Pipe is also getting attention for its eye appeal, as it was designed to look more like a giant glittering sculpture than a piece of industrial equipment.

The World’s largest fog harvester

The world’s largest fog harvester uses giant mesh fences to trap dense fog in the Moroccan desert and turn it into clean, fresh water. With a surface area over 600 square meters, the contraption takes advantage of the fog blanketing the drought-stricken Aït Baâmrane region for six months out of the year. The fog harvester reportedly produces as much as 17 gallons of clean, safe drinking water per square yard of net. Solar-powered pumps, along with a system of pipes, deliver the clean water to 400 local residents, who ordinarily struggle to gain access to safe water in the arid region.

Nano Water Chip

The cost of clean water is a major obstacle for many thirsty people on Earth, so researchers look for affordable solutions for small scale, personal water purification. In 2014, a join research team from the University of Texas at Austin and the University of Marburg in Germany developed a low-drain “water chip” which generates a small electrical field to desalinate seawater. Early in its development, the water chip promised to offer a portable clean water solution capable of running on a regular battery. The startup Okeanos Technology was founded to further the product’s research and development, which is still underway.

Carnegie Perth Wave Energy Project

The Carnegie Perth Wave Energy Project does double duty, generating renewable energy from the motion of the ocean while simultaneously desalinating seawater. The buoy-like floating device operates off the coast of Perth in Western Australia, where environmentally friendly electricity production methods are a priority. The submerged 240-kilowatt buoys work together in a trio, tethered to the seabed with hydraulic pumps that push water through power turbines as the system bobs with the waves. A built-in desalination system uses some of the electricity produced to create clean drinking water, and the rest of the electricity is fed back to shore and added to the grid. The utility-scale project is part of Perth’s larger plan to lean on desalination as a long-term source of clean drinking water for the local community.

17
Sep

‘Snowden’ is a simplistic, but important, reminder of NSA spying


When Oliver Stone’s Snowden was first announced, it seemed far too soon to be retelling the story of the infamous whistleblower. After all, it was only three years ago that the files Snowden leaked led to the world-shaking revelations of the NSA’s massive global surveillance network. That’s not nearly enough time for us to make any sort of substantive historical analysis.

And yet, the film’s proximity to Snowden’s story is a major reason why it works. Outside of techies and privacy advocates, many people don’t seem to be too concerned about the notion of being needlessly spied upon by their government. Snowden, despite being a bit simplistic and old-fashioned, is a solid reminder for normal folks of why privacy issues matter. And it comes just in time, as the ACLU and Amnesty International just launched a petition to have President Obama pardon Snowden this week.

Laura Poitras’s excellent Oscar-winning documentary Citizenfour covers the drama around the build-up and immediate aftermath of the surveillance leaks, but Stone’s film goes further back to give us a sense of who he actually is. It starts with Snowden’s (played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt) failed attempt at joining the Army Reserve, but quickly jumps to him joining the CIA as a security specialist. He’s presented as a guy who simply wants to serve his country the only way he knows how: through crazy good computer skills.

This being a big Hollywood film, a love story also plays a central role. But unlike most biopics, it’s actually somewhat fitting. The real Snowden has been in a relationship for several years with Lindsay Mills, who also ended up joining him in Russia after he settled there. In the film, Mills’ character (played by Shailene Woodley) is just a few indie songs shy of being a Manic Pixie Dream Girl. But we also get a sense of how her free spirit might have influenced a patriotic and politically conservative CIA employee to leak classified government secrets.

After leaving his CIA training, we also get to see Snowden in action as a security specialist in Geneva, Switzerland. The film reenacts an event Snowden revealed to the German paper Handelszeitung, wherein a CIA agent gets a Swiss banker drunk on purpose, encourages them to drive home and uses their eventual arrest as a way to make them an informant. It’s a telling story, since it shows his direct experience with the more nefarious side of US intelligence.

That story is also something that Citizenfour didn’t tell, perhaps because it would have been difficult to work into the documentary format. Stone’s film also does a better job of breaking down the extensive nature and reach of the NSA’s PRISM program. An elaborate visualization shows how access to second- and third-degree surveillance targets inevitably leads to needless spying on millions of innocent people. That’s something that was discussed in Citizenfour, but with less of a dramatic (and stylistic) punch. When it comes to simply making the public more aware of Snowden’s persona, and the potential impact of his work, Stone’s film is important.

Still, there are issues. While the film reference previous government workers who tried to change surveillance overreach through official means via a composite character (a characteristically baffling turn from Nicolas Cage), it surprisingly has little to say about other whistleblowers. Chelsea Manning, who is currently serving a 35-year jail sentence for leaking classified documents from America’s wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, isn’t mentioned at all. For a former “bad boy” of cinema, I expected Stone to deliver an even bigger vote of support for whistleblowers in the film.

In a post-screening Q&A session at the Brooklyn Public Library, Stone made the case for granting more protections for whistleblowers. And he also agreed with director Alex Gibney, who recently made a documentary about the Stuxnet worm, when it comes to the threat of cyberwar. Specifically, he believes large countries around the world need to be having discussions about the use of cyberweapons, much like discussions around nuclear weapons.

As a straightforward biopic, there’s a lot to like about Snowden. But I think it’ll be much more useful when it comes to reminding typical moviegoers, who haven’t seen Citizenfour or followed the thinkpieces and legislative responses, to the NSA’s surveillance apparatus.

17
Sep

The Pokémon Go Plus bracelet is great for grinding


My Pokémon Go survival kit keeps growing. It started simply enough, with just my iPhone 6 Plus happily running Pokémon Go, but it quickly became apparent that I would need backup battery power in order to comfortably catch digital monsters for extended periods of time. After all, this is a game that takes players away from their outlets and into the great wilds of the real world, so I shoved a portable power pack and cable into my purse. I happen to live in Arizona, so I soon added an icy water bottle to the mix. Now, with the launch of Pokémon Go Plus, my kit also includes a lanyard bracelet, a plastic vibrating teardrop painted like a Poké Ball and a tiny screwdriver.

I’m starting to suspect Ash Ketchum was hiding more than hair under his iconic hat.

Pokémon Go Plus is a $35 accessory that connects to iOS or Android versions of Pokémon Go via Bluetooth. The main gadget is a teardrop-shaped hunk of plastic with an opaque button in the center that glows different colors depending on the feedback it receives from the actual game. The whole device vibrates and lights up when Pokémon or PokéStops are nearby.

The teardrop comes with a clip on the back so you can wear it on a belt, collar or backpack strap, or you can pop it into the included lanyard bracelet. It’s more complicated than just shoving it into the plastic holder, though (as anyone who watched my live unboxing video can attest). You have to unscrew the back of the teardrop with a teensy screwdriver, removing the clip and exposing the battery, and then re-screw it into the bracelet case. The bracelet screw is found under a length of lanyard running under the back of the plastic holder, so you have to move the bracelet itself out of the way before tightening the teardrop into position. It’s not necessarily difficult, but it is delicate work.

With the tools and screws involved in moving the Plus from bracelet to clip, I imagine folks will pick one way of wearing the device and stick with it. Both options are viable, though I personally prefer the bracelet option. However, I’m not wearing a watch today; if I decide to put one on, it’s possible the clip option will be more attractive. Apple did just unveil Pokémon Go support for the Apple Watch, after all. In daily life, it may simply depend on whether I can find my tiny screwdriver.

The bracelet option is my favorite because it’s the most convenient. The teardrop vibrates powerfully enough to feel even if the lanyard isn’t digging into your skin and it’s natural to flick up your wrist to check the notification colors. The button pulses green when you’re near a Pokémon you’ve previously caught, it flashes yellow for new Pokémon and it glows blue for PokéStops.

This is where Pokémon Go Plus is most useful: PokéStops. Once the teardrop flashes blue and vibrates, press the button and viola, a bounty of Poké Balls, potions and miscellany are added to your inventory. That is, unless your inventory is full or you leave the PokéStop’s range before collecting the goodies. The bracelet lets you know if you’re successful by flashing in a rainbow of colors; if it doesn’t work, the device flashes red.

The same goes for catching Pokémon, though there are a few caveats here. The teardrop vibrates and lights up when a Pokémon is near, but there’s no way to tell what kind or what level that Pokémon is. Nor is there a way to change which type of Poké Ball you throw — if you want to use an Ultra Ball or raspberries, you’ll have to pull out your phone. With Pokémon Go Plus, you could unwittingly walk by a 2000 CP Charizard and attempt to catch it with a single standard Poké Ball, which is highly unlikely to work.

It’s crucial to note that with Pokémon Go Plus, you get just one chance to catch each creature; they always run away if you’re not successful on the first throw.

I walked around my neighborhood, which is thankfully littered with PokéStops, and tried the Pokémon Go Plus on my wrist and clipped onto the top of my jeans. Both options worked well, though I happened to be wearing high-waisted jeans and whenever the device activated there, it felt like a fat worm attempting to wriggle across my stomach. Its vibrations are definitely powerful enough get your attention — and maybe the attention of anyone nearby. I entered my building’s elevator with four other people and felt just a little ridiculous as the Plus vibrated and lit up at the top of my jeans. At least on my wrist I can fool strangers into thinking it’s a new kind of fitness tracker, rather than an accessory for a mobile game about trapping exotic fictional monsters in palm-sized prison balls.

Pokémon Go Plus is not a replacement for the game on your phone, but it’s good for the simple stuff, like hitting PokéStops and catching stray Rattatas, Pidgeys and Spearows. It’s a grinding machine. And, in a game where grinding is crucial for anyone who wants to dominate a gym or two, that’s not a terrible thing. Just be prepared to pack a few more items in your Pokémon Go survival bag.

17
Sep

SkyBell Trim Plus Release Date, Price and Specs – CNET


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SkyBell’s new Trim Plus doorbell.

SkyBell

Startup SkyBell, makers of the $199 SkyBell HD Wi-Fi Video Doorbell, unveiled a new product at the CEDIA consumer product conference in Dallas this week — the SkyBell Trim Plus.

Other camera tech:
  • Nest’s hardy outdoor camera watches over your roost
  • Pro version of the Ring Video Doorbell swaps flexibility for refinement
  • SkyBell’s HD door buzzer steals the show

Similar to the brand’s HD doorbell, the Trim Plus boasts 1080p high-definition video resolution, night vision and access to the related Android and iPhone app. But the Trim Plus comes with two bonus features: a smaller design and optional battery power.

This is important for a couple of reasons.

First, the current roster of connected doorbells is huge. Of course, “huge” is relative when you’re talking about a device that traditionally goes on a doorframe, but the SkyBell HD Wi-Fi Video Doorbell, August Doorbell Cam and Ring Video Doorbell are all significantly larger than your standard push-button buzzer that’s less than an inch wide.

That’s partly because these devices can do a lot more than the not-so-smart doorbell you probably have at home today. Additional features like live streaming, motion alerts and recorded video clips make them much more like security cameras than your traditional entryway buzzer. Some of these features, especially the camera portion, take up space. But SkyBell’s Trim Plus apparently packs all of these features into a 1.39-inch-wide frame.

Second, the battery option offers flexibility for anyone who doesn’t have a hardwired doorbell, but still wants to enjoy the features offered by a connected model. In the case of the battery-powered-optional Ring Video Doorbell, taking the battery-powered route means no access to a live stream (as it would drain the batteries fast). I’ve reached out to SkyBell for confirmation on whether this is also the case for the Trim Plus.

August’s Doorbell Cam is smarter than your front door buzzer

The $199 Doorbell Cam by startup August lets you see who’s at your front door straight from your phone.

by Megan Wollerton

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In addition to the Trim Plus, SkyBell will also offer Chime, a standalone speaker designed to play a doorbell melody. Chime is outfitted with LEDs that are supposed to change colors as someone approaches, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth “for communicating with other smart home devices,” according to the official press release.

SkyBell’s Trim Plus and Chime are expected to hit retail toward the end of the year. Details on pricing and third-party integrations are forthcoming. Check back soon for updates.

17
Sep

Oppo UDP-203 Release Date, Price and Specs – CNET


udp-203.png Oppo

For the past ten years or so Oppo has been the foremost name in enthusiast-level video players — from DVD to Blu-ray and now seemingly to 4K Blu-ray. Its players have been our reference models in the CNET labs for almost as long with the BDP-105 serving as one of our current 1080p standards.

So you can imagine we were quite excited by the stealthy announcement of the UDP-203 at this year’s CEDIA expo, and which Oppo has now made official. While details are still scant, journalist Chris Heinonen posted some tidbits on his Twitter page including a few pictures.

The new UDP-203 will be priced the same as the previous BDP-103 at $499, but it won’t include Darbee processing, Heinonen says.

Based on the back panel pictures the player will have a 7.1-channel analog output, two HDMI outputs, two USB 3.0 ports (plus one on the front), in addition to digital coaxial and optical.

According to Heinonen the player will be available by the end of the year, and so in the immediate absence of a Sony player and only a more expensive Panasonic player to contend with, this again looks like it could be the videophile player to buy.

Look forward to more details as they come including UK and Australian availability and pricing.

17
Sep

Google Calendar makes keeping track of reminders and events easy


google-calendar-events-hero.jpg?itok=knZ

How do I add events and reminders to Google Calendar?

Google Calendar allows you to easily keep track of your busy schedule. With events and reminders, you can ensure that you never forget the important days, no matter how busy you get. We’re here to show you how to do it all the right way.

How to add an event to Google Calendar

Open Google Calendar.
Tap the red plus icon in the bottom right corner.
Tap on the red event icon.
google-calendar-event-1.jpg?itok=vWeAlj_
Enter a title
Enter a location
Add people who are coming with you
google-calendar-add-event-2.jpg?itok=DfE
Add a time and date for your event
Add a notification to remind you when the event is getting close to starting
Choose a color for the event in your calendar
google-calendar-event-3.jpg?itok=OGZqmlf
Add notes to your event
Add attachments to your event
Save your event.
google-calendar-event-4.jpg?itok=Z2Hg5qt

It’s important to remember you don’t need to enter notifications, change the color of your event, attach notes or have attachments in your event. These are just the options that Google has given you to make sure all the information that you need is included within your event.

How to add a reminder to Google Calendar

Open Google Calendar
Tap the red plus icon on the bottom right of your screen
Tap the blue reminder icon
google-reminder-1.jpg?itok=1n9jvxFp
Enter what you need to be reminded of. Google will give you tons of options from making a call to making reservations for a trip.
Enter when you need to be reminded
Enter whether this reminder needs to be repeated
Save your reminder
google-calendar-reminder-2.jpg?itok=AV1Y

You can make reminders for just about anything, and this includes upcoming events. By using the two together, you can make sure that you not only have a reminder of when an important event is coming up, but have easy access to it at a tap.

17
Sep

ICYMI: The US Marines want your robots


ICYMI: The US Marines want your robots

Today on In Case You Missed It: The US Marine Corps announced its latest Innovation Challenge for robots that can handle dull, dirty or dangerous work autonomously, leaving humans free for more important tasks. Meanwhile the University of Pennsylvania has a researcher flying a quadcopter through 45-degree angle window openings at top speeds, with few extra onboard sensors. The algorithm behind it is neat, even if the potential applications make us uncomfortable.

You may already know why we should be covering up our computer webcams, but here’s more ammo if that’s needed. As always, please share any interesting tech or science videos you find by using the #ICYMI hashtag on Twitter for @mskerryd.

17
Sep

Samsung KS9500 4K TV review: Sweet HDR, pitched on a curve


Ask Samsung and it will tell you that curved is very much where you should be with televisions. Having pushed the curved display as the next big thing after 3D – which is a feature incidentally absent from the KS9500 – the company still rates its flagship sets as curved. The difference over previous years is that there’s now an either/or choice: the KS9000 being the flat model.

The Samsung KS9500, at 65-inches as reviewed here, is very much the flagship of the 4K family; if not the head of the house for 4K TVs as a whole – because it’s that good.

Sure, if you don’t like curved TVs then you probably shouldn’t be reading this review, but if you’re unsure then you almost certainly should because this could be the premier 4K TV to change your mind.

Samsung KS9500 review: Design

Although the curve is the biggest talking point of the KS9500, once you have a curved TV in your home, you probably won’t notice it. When it’s off, sure, you might look down on it or up at it and see that curved shape, but once you’re sitting in front of it you’ll barely notice the bend. 

What will standout is the narrow silver trim that runs around the bezel, giving a lift to the visuals and matching the sophisticated metal looks of the stand. Unlike some models, the Samsung KS9500 opts to have the stand in the centre which is very much our preference, and the execution of this stand gives a look as though the TV is almost hanging in mid-air.

Pocket-lint

There are clips to keeps cables tidy and the off-board One Connect box assists in keeping things clean on the back of the TV, too. It reduces the number of cables you need to connect to it – but more on that later. 

The KS9500 exhibits what Samsung calls “360-degree design”, in that it looks pretty good from all angles. That’s not unique: unlike TVs of a few years ago, the back now gets as much design attention as the front, as though it’s only ever going to sit in the centre of a huge loft apartment, rather than stuffed into the corner of your lounge. 

The back is plastic, although the brushed texture gives it a lift; this is a thick television, however, because of the direct illumination that this flagship set offers.

Pocket-lint

Compared to a something like LG’s OLED C6 this Samsung is perhaps not the best-looking curved TV around because, if we’re being critical, the build quality could be higher to make the joints tighter. But in reality, once installed, that probably doesn’t matter – because what you see on screen looks fantastic.

As for the remotes, the KS9500 comes equipped with two fairly standard ones that you get with most Samsung smart TVs. There’s a normal remote and a smart remote, the latter designed to be universal and allow you control basic functions of other devices. 

Samsung KS9500 review: Connections and setup

Samsung keeps things simple when it comes to connections, using its One Connect box. This takes the physical connections off the back of the TV and puts them in a separate box. That’s hugely convenient for those wall-mounting as there’s very little need to scramble around the back once it’s mounted – you just need the Ethernet cable, power and the One Connect cable.

Pocket-lint

There is the option to connect a USB to the rear – to use recording functions from the TV’s in-built tuner, for example – but otherwise the mainstay of connections is on the One Connect box.

Those connections include four HDMI ports, all of which are equipped for UHD 4K (HDCP 2.2 compliant), so there’s no shortage of space for connections. There are also tuner connections, for your aerial, as well as optical audio and USB connections. 

There is also built-in Wi-Fi and we’ve found this stable enough to stream 4K Netflix, YouTube and other entertainment – although we’d always advise a wired Ethernet connection to avoid any wireless vagaries once permanently installed in your home. 

Pocket-lint

Samsung has streamlined setup on its TVs, with the 2016 models simpler in their menus than previous models. Once you’re connected, it will run through and try to setup connect devices too, giving you the option to take advantage of the smart controller. 

Samsung KS9500 review: User interface and smart features

We’ve mentioned that Samsung’s menus are now simpler and that’s a good thing, as it’s easy to find your way around and tweak various elements, like the picture settings. Things aren’t quite as slick from Samsung’s Tizen-based platform as they are on LG’s webOS televisions, but there’s little to complain about as it’s easy enough to find your way around. 

Pocket-lint

The major navigation element is the bottom ribbon that will offer up your connected devices and services with a punch of the home button, meaning you can very easily get to what you want to watch. You can customise parts of this ribbon, adding your favourite channels to save hunting through the electronic programme guide (EPG), for example, as well as auto-populating this area with recently-watched content or recommendations from services you sign-in to, like Netflix, as well as the option to add extra apps. 

The EPG is rather basic and, although it offers timeshift and recording functions once you connect a compatible USB drive, there’s no backwards browsing as you’ll find in the Freeview Play or YouView EPGs of major competitors from Panasonic and Sony, respectively. For the UK that sets it behind the best, although that will only bother you if you’re using the internal tuner; equally, although BBC iPlayer and ITV Player are offered, we found no sign of All4 or Demand 5, leaving a small UK catch-up hole (which will probably be fixed in the future via firmware update).

That regional quirk aside, one of the big things that Samsung offers is bags of features. Like the company’s smartphones, its televisions are stuffed with just about everything you could want. There’s the full suite of subscription streaming apps, including important things like Netflix and Amazon, meaning you have a source of rich 4K and some HDR (high dynamic range) content. That’s what this TV is really all about. 

Pocket-lint

In terms of other functions, you can cast to the KS9500 from your Samsung phone, as well as transfer the picture back to your phone, which is a lot of fun – although, perhaps not that useful in the bigger picture of things.

Samsung KS9500 review: Performance

When you’re buying a flagship-level TV, the most important thing comes down to performance and picture quality.

Firstly, dealing with the curve is one aspect of the KS9500. There’s something of a sweet spot; like a driver’s car, this is a movie watcher’s TV and you’ll want to be front and centre with the TV at the right height to experience its full magnificence.

It’s head-on that Samsung’s moth eye filter does its best to cut out strange reflections. However, if you happen to be the person sitting at an oblique angle then you’ll see the downside of curved TVs: the potential to pull a stretched reflection across that display. Equally, if you view from too high or too low, you might see some banding or discolouration that you don’t get head-on.

Pocket-lint

The story behind Samsung’s flagship TVs is very much about Quantum Dots. This is a layer of nano particles designed to boost the colours that this display will show, with Samsung saying that Quantum Dots and the 10-bit LED panel behind results in 64 times the colours of a normal TV. It is wonderfully rich in colour, we must say.

The other side of the story is HDR. Even before we mention the 4K resolution, the KS9500 is an HDR master. Fire up content on Ultra HD Blu-ray and you’ll be rewarded with some of the most impressive pictures you’ll get in your home. Samsung’s big boast is about the potency on its HDR system and that rings true: this TV will give you incredibly bright points, while darker areas are smoothly integrated.

We’ve watched Marco Polo on Netflix many times in 4K HDR and we’ve never seen it as rich and vibrant as Samsung delivers it on the KS9500. This is a TV for those craving and pursuing HDR content, be that from disc or streaming sources, and no doubt future games consoles too (PS4 Pro, we’re looking at you).

Hook up the KS9500 to the Samsung UBD-K8500 UHD Blu-ray player and once the TV detects that HDR source it takes over (which is a more elegant solution than Panasonic and others have managed with 4K automation). This pumps the backlight all the way up to give it the potential to deliver its dazzling visuals, as well as disabling some of the other advanced picture settings. With Ultra HD Blu-ray discs, the high resolution, the impact of the HDR and the slightly increased immersion of that curve when sat in the sweetspot will dispel any qualms you might have, whether that be about curved TVs, HDR or Ultra HD Blu-ray. 

You can change some settings around HDR if you really want to, but if you’re watching a standard Blu-ray, you’ll find the TV behaves differently. That’s important to get the most of our every source of content and being able to have different picture settings for different inputs is important to make the very best of type of content you’re watching. 

Pocket-lint

When you step away from the top quality levels things get slightly more difficult and need a little more tweaking. Blu-ray still looks very good, although DVD on this size of display will start to look very soft – unless you’re some distance away from the screen, of course, which negates much of the point of its ultra-high resolution. Broadcast HD TV channels are perfectly watchable, too, but you’ll start to lose things like fidelity in the blacks that can lead to some odd visual effects. If you’ve got Sky Q then there’s now some 4K content and sport available.

Streaming lower-quality Now TV content coming from an Xbox One, we found that we had to change the HDMI black level and make better use of Samsung’s Smart LED system, otherwise black hair just became a textureless hole fringed in red smears. But with tweaking you can clean up most evils, which is where independent source controls becomes so important. That in itself shows that a panel such as this will highlight imperfections all the more; stick with premium content for the premium experience.

The result is that the KS9500 is a hugely capable TV, one that certainly can deliver some of the best images we’ve ever seen. Naturally, HDR is its realm and although we’ve seen some wonderful black handling from LG’s curved C6 OLED (and superb colours), Samsung can deliver greater brightness which means the KS9500 often looks more impactful. 

Samsung also offers a 10-year screen burn warranty on this panel, so if you’re worried it won’t last until you want to upgrade to that 101-inch 16K TV in 2026, rest assured it will.

Samsung KS9500 review: Sound

One of the changes that Samsung made when re-speccing its flagship curved TV for 2016 was in the audio. The KS9500 offers 4.2-channel speakers and they are designed to fire forward for better delivery. Here’s where having a slightly thinker TV pays dividends: as these internal speakers are actually pretty good and ideal for a minimalist setup.

The likelihood is that you’ll be hooking up to an existing sound system, or perhaps venturing into the Dolby Atmos-equipped Samsung HW-K950 soundbar that would complement it wonderfully. 

Verdict

Samsung offers a lot of TVs at a lot of different price points. From the first step on the Quantum Dot HDR ladder with the KS7000 up to this KS9500, we’ve seen impressive specs across the lineup. But the KS9500 really makes its mark.

Flagship televisions at this size aren’t cheap, but the KS9500 isn’t left lacking in among the competition. Priced at around £3,000 for the 65-inch model, but also available in 78-inches for around £6,500, the most obvious alternative option would be LG’s OLED C6, which is around £3,800 for the 65-inch model.

What the Samsung KS9500 delivers beyond all its rivals is visual punch. Sure, the build could be more substantial and the EPG could be more dynamic, but for many who hook up a Sky Q box or similar, that will never be an issue. And when you see just how vibrant and bright the KS9500’s images are, you’ll quickly see why it’s the kind of HDR.

If you’re in the market for a big-league 4K HDR curved TV, to overlook this Samsung would be foolish. And if curved isn’t your thing then the KS9000 ought to equally appease your HDR appetite.

17
Sep

Zipcar’s latest sharing mission: bikes


Zipcar has teamed up with a start-up called Zagster for a new vehicle-sharing venture that has nothing to do with cars. The partners are launching a bike-sharing program in January that’s aptly called Zipbike, and unlike big, city-run operations, it will only be available in 10 college campuses. Well, fifteen by the end of 2017, if everything goes according to plan.

A relatively tiny bike-sharing operation doesn’t sound like a good business decision, especially since the partnership will make it more affordable for universities. See, Zagster, which already runs a bike-sharing business, charges schools a $150 monthly fee per bike on its own. Zipbike will reduce that amount by 90 percent. Despite the huge reduction in cost to their clients, Zipcar told CNN Money that it still has something to gain from the partnership: new customers.

While students can sign up just for Zipbike itself, they’ll get a discount if they sign up for both the bike-sharing service and Zipcar’s main offering. Since they might need a rental car every now and then anyway, say to haul groceries or to take a new Ikea table to the dorms, they might be inclined to take advantage of that discount.

Zagster co-founder Timothy Ericson said:

“The process of securing sponsorship and underwriting is a time-consuming process for universities, and can set back the launch of bike sharing programs. Because we’ve solved that problem up front, Zipbike can be deployed seamlessly and quickly. We expect Zipbike to become the leading national collegiate bike sharing brand, and ultimately become synonymous with the category.”

Via: The Verge

Source: Zipcar

17
Sep

Uber and WhatsApp Updates Bring First SDK Integrations to iOS 10 Users


With iOS 10, Apple opened Siri to third-party developers with a public API, allowing the personal assistant to summon third-party services and apps hands-free.

Two of the first apps to make use of the new Siri SDK are WhatsApp and Uber, both of which issued updates for their flagship apps this week.

Uber users can now hail a ride with a “Hey, Siri” command, followed by “Book me an Uber” or other variants. Apple has also allowed the ride-hailing service to be integrated into Apple Maps under a new Ride tab, where users can choose from a list of available drivers in the area.

WhatsApp users meanwhile can now use Siri to dictate and send messages as well as initiate calls.

whatsapp-siri
WhatsApp also becomes one of the first third-party apps to make use of CallKit, Apple’s new framework that enables VoIP calls to function in iOS 10 like FaceTime and regular cellular calls.

After updating the app, incoming WhatsApp calls appear in the lock screen showing the caller’s profile picture and the typical call response buttons. In addition, WhatsApp contacts are now integrated into the native Contacts app in iOS 10, and also appear in the Phone app’s Favorites. The WhatsApp update includes a number of other enhancements, including the ability to forward multiple chats at once.

To enable Siri integration for both apps, users should go to Settings -> Siri -> App Support and toggle the relevant switches to the on position. Users should expect plenty more third-party Siri integrations to appear in the coming months.

WhatsApp Messenger is a free download for iPhone available on the App Store. [Direct Link]

Uber is a free download for iPhone and iPad available on the App Store. [Direct Link]

Related Roundup: iOS 10
Tags: Siri, WhatsApp, Uber
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