Is your new iPhone hissing? Is your replacement Galaxy Note not exploding? Regardless, we shall begin. This week we saw plenty of new (and old-school) cameras at Photokina, one editor tried to improve his odds on dating apps by outsourcing the task, and one of Japan’s pro-league basketball courts got covered in LED screens. We also had our collective minds blown by the mere notion of a 1TB SD card. Arguably, our minds are easily blown. Let’s After Math.
The team responds to the Pokémon Go craze, taking your suggestions to create an improved Pokémon Trainer experience. Ben, Felix and Karen join forces to design and build a smartphone wrist mount for your iPhone or Android handset that will help you to catch ’em all. Thanks to Autodesk Fusion 360, designing a 3D model of the smartphone carriage is easy. Felix builds the battery charging and power management to ensure your phone has enough power on the go since the app otherwise drains the battery rather quickly. But, this extra hardware needs somewhere to sit. Karen steps in to help, with Ben using her as a hand model to demonstrate the design for the battery holder, phone carriage and blinking lights (an important detail for showing everyone which team you’re affiliated with). Still, working with fabrics isn’t as easy as it may seem. Want to make your own? You can find the build files at the element14 Community, where you can suggest your own project and interact with the team.
The Good The $199 Kuna Toucan outdoor camera connects to the included Smart Socket light bulb adapter via USB so you don’t have to bother with batteries or a power cord. It has a very discreet design and a built-in 100-decibel siren for an extra dose of deterrence.
The Bad Kuna’s Smart Socket adapter made the light bulb extend past the bottom of my wall light. The Toucan relies on the light fixture for illumination rather than infrared LEDs, it doesn’t work with smart home products from other manufacturers and its motion sensor was too sensitive.
The Bottom Line If you’re looking to add a low-maintenance outdoor camera to your home security setup, Kuna’s Toucan could easily fit the bill.
Visit manufacturer site for details.
Kuna’s $199 Toucan has a bunch of the basic outdoor camera stuff: HD video resolution, a motion sensor, alerts, a related app, two-way talk and cloud storage. But the best bit is that it also retrofits to existing outdoor wall lights via a USB cable, which means no batteries, no wires and no fuss. And since your purchase includes a Smart Socket adapter to make a dumb bulb smart, you can create rules in the Kuna app that link your camera to your light fixture.
I do wish its motion sensor were less sensitive and that the Toucan integrated with products from other smart-home companies. The Toucan doesn’t have infrared LEDs for night vision, either. You have to rely on the illumination from the light fixture above instead. Even so, the Toucan is easy to recommend for its fast installation, unobtrusive USB cable, clear HD feed and the added bonus of a built-in 100-decibel siren to startle trespassers.
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Getting to know Toucan
Housed in a circular, matte-black panel, the Toucan looks more utilitarian and discreet than the design-forward models out today like Nest Cam Outdoor. When you’re talking about outdoor security devices, though, I’d likely opt for a Toucan’s subtlety over a Nest’s shiny white finish.
Beyond its unobtrusive aesthetic, the Toucan was also built to integrate with standard outdoor wall lights. And Kuna came up with a clever way to harness power from your light fixture so you don’t have to install batteries in the camera or deal with wiring: a Smart Socket light bulb adapter and a small USB cable. That makes it much more low-maintenance than the battery-dependent Netgear Arlo outdoor cameras or the power-adapter-dependent Nest Cam Outdoor.
The complete installation took roughly 10 to 15 minutes. Here are the steps:
- Turn off power to your wall light
- Detach the wall light’s housing with a screwdriver
- Unscrew your existing bulb
- Screw in the Smart Socket adapter
- Reattach the same light bulb*
- Plug the USB cable into the USB port on the Smart Socket Adapter
- Reinstall the wall light housing **
- Install the Toucan camera below your wall light ***
- Plug the other end of the USB cable into the Micro-USB port on the camera’s base plate
- Turn on power to your wall light
*The Smart Socket is 3 inches long and might be too big too work with your current light bulb and light fixture. In my case, the light bulb hung below the fixture.
**When you reinstall the wall light housing, make sure you feed the USB cable through the housing so it dangles down behind the wall light. A section of the USB cable is wrapped with a protective plastic cover to act as a cushion at the spot when the cable and the housing meet.
***When installing the Toucan camera, you can either use the included hardware or the strong adhesive backing; I used the sticker since my installation was temporary. Kuna also provides a conduit cover to hide any excess USB cable that might be dangling between the wall light and the camera’s install spot. I stuck the camera directly under the light fixture, so I simply tucked the extra cable between the camera’s base and face plate during installation.
It’s okay, and entirely expected, to be frustrated by cumbersome phone launches — but some perspective on what’s happening can be helpful.
Launching a smartphone is difficult. Even if you think you understand how difficult it is, it’s far more difficult still. When you’re a small company you have a certain set of problems, usually limited by money and scale of distribution; but if you’re big, you have an exponentially larger customer base to serve and the issues associated with the momentum of a huge company.
In the past couple of weeks we’ve seen a range of issues come front and center before consumers. On one hand, we have the Note 7 — it hit the market swiftly with carrier and retailer support, but had a critical battery flaw that required weeks of backtracking and recalls. Then we have Moto and Sony, which both just launched unlocked phones in the U.S. for what most are calling “too high” $699 prices — bonus round of fail is Moto is launching unlocked nearly four months later than its Verizon Droid Editions (which themselves launched over a month after announce). And finally we have the LG V20, which was unveiled three weeks ago now and we’ve yet to see even a peep of pricing, availability or pre-orders from the U.S. carriers — and no indication whatsover that it’s coming to Europe.
When launching a phone, stumbles are almost inevitable.
The point here is that no matter how big or small the company is, the process of creating and launching a phone while hitting every last point to a T is near impossible. And even when you think you’ve really nailed it, something happens in the open market that can torpedo the plans. There are so many moving parts, whether it’s manufacturing, distribution, carrier partnerships, pricing quibbles with the accounting department or a problem with a supplier. Something inevitably has to give, and there are compromises made throughout the process.
We hold these companies to extremely high standards, and rightfully so — they’re asking for a lot of our money, loyalty and patience when launching new products. But if we take a minute to consider just how many balls are up in the air at any given time for a phone launch, it can help us understand what’s happening while we’re frustrated that our next phone costs $700, is launching two months late and is missing a key feature.
Now, a few other thoughts on other things:
- On my monrning Alaska Airlines flight, we received a specific announcement from the head flight attendants that Note 7s should be turned off and unplugged for the duration of the flight. Seems like a common refrain, based on my Twitter feed over the past week.
- I now have a new Note 7 with a fresh battery and its associated green battery icon. Everything seems normal.
- The Note 7 is on the back burner for now, though, as I have an LG V20 to spend more time with (it’s pre-production and not review-ready, but I’m excited nonetheless). It’s bigger than I remember it being; much more imposing than the Note 7.
- I’m already loving the wide-angle rear camera on the V20, though. The build dramatically nicer than the LG G5 as well.
- Also been using a pair of Samsung Gear IconX earbuds (those totally wireless ones). Russell Holly’s handling our review, but I’ll contribute some thoughts also. They’re a great tech demo, and are clearly positioned for exercise — but they’re pretty bad for daily listening headphones.
- I love that when I travel internationally I don’t even have to think about connectivity. T-Mobile and Project Fi have me covered.
This Editor’s Desk is nicely timed, as I’m going to have a little bit of a vacation. Enjoy whatever your local equivalent of a beach and a fruity drink is, and have a great week.
Hydrogen-powered cars and planes are on the rise, and this week Germany announced plans to launch the world’s first completely hydrogen-powered passenger train in 2017. In other transportation news, Volvo unveiled a new SuperTruck that’s 70 percent more fuel-efficient than big rigs on the road today. The world’s first solar-powered helicopter lifted off on its maiden flight in Maryland. And Amsterdam is getting set to launch a fleet of autonomous boats in its famed canals.
Tesla’s battery technology can power your car and your house, but how about an entire neighborhood? The company just announced plans to install the world’s largest backup battery in Los Angeles, and it’ll be able to run 2,500 households for an entire day. The cost of solar power continues to fall, and Abu Dhabi just set a new world record by hitting a price point of just 2.42 cents per kilowatt hour. General Motors announced plans to power all of its operations with 100 percent renewable energy by the year 2050, and we took a firsthand look at the largest airport solar farm on the planet.
Belgium is known for its beer — and one brewery in Bruges just built a two-mile-long underground beer pipeline to cut down on transportation costs and traffic congestion. In other design and technology news, an Australian father and his son used crowdfunding to raise over $13 million for a honey harvesting hive that supports threatened bee populations. A Turkish company has found a way to turn cars into fully operational real-life Transformers. And in wearable tech news, Wair unveiled a pollution filtering scarf that monitors air quality and Felder Felder created a dress that is basically 97 percemt car.
Of all the Renn Sport models that Audi makes, the TT RS perhaps makes the most sense. At its basic level, the Audi TT is a sports car lite. That dropping roof and low-slung stance point to a sporty little coupé or roadster, even when it’s a front-wheel drive diesel.
With the 2015 release of the Audi TT, the third-generation model, Audi continued the move towards a more aggressive-looking car. Creases and an evil squint meet more polish and an uplifted interior.
Well, Audi only went and made it into a racing car in the new TT RS. And here it’s not only aggressive-looking, it’s just downright and wonderfully aggressive.
Audi TT RS review: Design
Where the first-generation TT was about curvy fun, the Audi TT has fought ever since 1998 to throw off the tag of “hairdresser’s car”. If the new Audi TT is a hairdresser’s car, then sign us up at Toni & Guy’s academy, because we want in.
With the regular model a slick road racer, the makeover to arrive at the TT RS isn’t as dramatic as it might be. The lines are more or less the same, but with reworking of the front for bigger air intakes, trimmed in matte aluminium colouring, ready to gulp in more air for that pepped-up engine.
It’s the rear oval tailpipes and spoiler that really give the game away. Both the Coupé and the Roadster carry the good looks of the regular car through and give it an RS boost.
We’re not looking at the sort of arch widening that once dressed models like the RS4, leaving the TT RS a little more understated. There’s even the option to swap that rear wing for an auto-raising alternative, continuing the subtle approach.
There are some nice details, like the TT badging sitting within the new rear OLED lights. That’s right, the TT RS is the first Audi to offer this new lights tech – so expect to see more of that over the next year.
Overall, the TT RS is a makeover that you could almost miss. Well, until you thumb that steering-wheel mounted start button and hear it roar and splutter.
Audi TT RS review: Engineering performance
This understated nature flows through into one of our favourite options: control of the exhaust noise. When equipped with the RS sport exhaust system, you have the option to control the TT’s exhaust flaps to release the throaty, guttural roar of the engine, or silence it. With the noise button on, you certainly won’t miss a thing.
There’s no artificial boosting here, it’s all natural, you just have a button that will switch between quiet and noisy by moving a flap in the exhaust. As we said of the Audi R8, the thing that really defines what Audi is doing with its performance models is giving you ridiculous power, but paired with control and practicality.
Being able to turn off that engine noise (something you can’t do in the RS3, for example) means your neighbours won’t have to hate you (although they might be jealous, because you own one). But when you hit one of those tunnels skirting the shoreline of Lake Garda, the TT RS can roar like a supercar and you can bask in the magnificence of the noise from the 5-cylinder engine.
With engineering in mind, the Audi TT RS has a new engine that’s been on a diet. Sticking to five cylinders, Audi walked through a number of steps to shed weight and increase power. The engine block is now aluminium rather than iron, the cam shaft is stronger but lighter, the sump is a much lighter magnesium alloy and the turbo has been reconfigured, to make it more compact and more efficient.
The result is more power and greater efficiency, a better engine all round, and less weight at the front, to improve the handling.
Audi TT RS review: Hitting the track
Pairing this new 2.5-litre, 400bhp petrol engine with Audi’s Quattro all-wheel drive, routed through a 7-speed S tronic gearbox, you’re looking at a TT that races to 62mph in 3.7-seconds for the hard top Coupé, or 3.9-seconds for the soft top Roadster. The 480nm torque is delivered across a huge band of revs too, so there’s power, power and more power – and right from the off.
Not wanting to be a sports car that talks the talk and fails to walk the walk, the TT RS offers launch control (just as you’ll find in the Audi RS3 and the likes of Porsche 911 Turbo S). Switching over to Sports mode, there’s a special mode of the ESP (the traction control system) designed for racing. You simply have to put your foot on the brake and floor the accelerator and the engine will leap to, and lock at, 3,500 revs. Release the brake and it’s like being fired from a cannon.
So this might clash with what we’ve been saying about practicality, but if you’re after a performance TT, you want some of the fun stuff too. When you’ll actually get to use it, we’re not so sure, but you can say the same of the Ford Focus RS’s drift mode, or the Mustang’s line lock.
Like the Audi R8, the TT RS offers you huge performance, but holds your hand, keeping you heading in the right direction, with a feeling of competence. This isn’t a car that’s so powerful it’s scary; it’s not a brute, it’s not unruly.
For some that might be the downside. The TT RS is about precision and getting you where you’re going, rather than slithering and sliding. Purists will point out that this isn’t a mid-engine rear-wheel drive sports car like some of its close rivals, but Audi will point to its performance figures and smirk, perhaps reminding you that you’ll be going forwards, rather than sideways.
Offering a little more assistance and to help control the body roll of those sitting within, the sports seats also offer powered side adjusts, so your lithe body is gripped, or your expanded girth accommodated, resulting in a seat that’s really comfortable, in an interior that’s plush and, like the original car, centred around the driver. That means the passenger gets to look at an empty piece of dash or out the window, rather than doing anything useful like fiddling with the music.
Unlike some of the other RS models – the RS Q3, or the RS6 Avant, for example – the TT RS feels much more like a car designed to race. It has the stance and the poise meaning that on the track it’s a blast; squirming as you brake hard, keeping you on the line, gripping through the corners, and exploding with power as you come out and hit the straights.
There are options for those who want more: there’s the RS sports exhaust that we’ve mentioned, but there’s also a carbon ceramic brake option. The sports suspension is standard, but there’s an option for adaptive dampers with magnetic ride control. There is no manual gearbox option, however, so it’s a case of taking Audi’s autobox and liking it – but manual paddle control is also offered, which might help you avoid the occasional pause in power when the revs drop low (not that this happens in Sports mode).
These different aspects of the car’s drive systems are pulled together in the drive select modes, so when you’re in Dynamic, you’re really in dynamic and set to hit the track, skipping through gears and keeping the revs high, popping and booming with orchestral majesty when you hit the brakes hard. The sound is very much part of the thrill and everything comes together with precision once you’re in the driving seat.
Audi TT RS review: On the road
Flipping to Comfort mode and the engine noise drops, the gear change is regular enough to keep things quiet and the throttle response is just the way you’d want it for popping to the supermarket to buy some curly kale.
You might be sitting in a track-happy thoroughbred, but the TT RS is as useful on a Sunday drive as it is midnight street racing. The suspension is naturally firm, keeping the car flat through fast corners, but forgiving enough to not cave in your posterior when you hit a speed bump a little faster than you should.
The TT RS Coupé sees a 2+2 configuration with the suggestion of a backseat. Just as you’ll find in the rear of something like, say, a Porsche 911, there’s a rear seat that’s better suited to your coat or bag than it is a childseat or your dog (ok, it’s probably perfect for your dog). You can fold an adult into that space behind the front seats, but with the move to racing seats, there’s a little less space than you get in the regular model. Perhaps a BMW M2 would suit your needs better, if backseats are really a point of focus.
For the Audi TT RS Roadster, the rear seats are lost so that the cloth roof can be accommodated, so it’s a two seater like, say, a Porsche 718 Boxster. The Audi does feel more modern with its Virtual Cockpit display, keeping the centre console clear of other displays, while still offering support for things like Android Auto and Apple CarPlay alongside Audi’s great entertainment options – just as you’ll find in the regular Audi TT.
Audi will also be offering a smartphone app to owners, meaning you’ll be able to track your stats from your phone, check your lap times and everything else.
There are plenty of options for giving the interior a lift, too: from colour trim to carbonfibre door handles, engine covers and centre console tops. We have to say this carbon treatment gives a really good finish to the TT RS, although we’re sure it will cost you a pretty penny on a car that’s already pretty expensive.
The TT RS Roadster launches alongside the Coupé, meaning you get the option of soft or hard tops and, having driven both, it’s the Coupé that has the edge on performance for us. We also think it’s slightly better looking with that rear roofline. For those wanting the wind in their hair – and roof down driving is one of the best things about having a sports car – then the Roadster offers much the same set of driving thrills.
The drawback of the Roadster is the level of compromise you make for that roof in a car that’s already compact: you lose those back seats and the boot is smaller, as is the opening, so managing luggage is slightly less convenient. If it’s pure practicality, it’s the Coupé that wins. If your other car is a Volvo XC90, go with the Roadster.
The Audi TT takes a compact and sporty car and makes into a ridiculously fun racer, fit for all conditions. It punches right into the middle of the Porsche pack, doing what Audi does so often: engineering itself to better performance and, as it is, pricing itself into the middle of the Porsche pack.
Of all the RS models, we can’t help thinking that the TT RS makes the most sense. It’s the car that feels the most natural with this enhanced power and performance, in a way that an SUV doesn’t. At the same time, will Audi be able to shake off that old image of the TT of old? Will prospective Porsche buyers consider a car that’s quite similar on the surface, even if the skin beneath delivers a very different setup? That’s perhaps the TT RS’s biggest barrier.
Like all Audi RS models, the TT is expensive. Something it justifies with impressive performance figures and a high level of trim. But starting just north of £50,000 there are some really tough choices to be made about what you’re actually looking for in a compact sports car.
The bottom line is that Audi has taken everything we love about the TT, kept every ounce of practicality, and made it into a monster; a beautiful monster at that.
The FBI’s investigation into Hillary Clinton’s private email server continues to turn up important new details. Reuters has found interview summaries showing that Bryan Pagliano, a technician who joined Clinton’s team when she became Secretary of State, says he shared concerns about the legality of the server with chief of staff Cheryl Mills back in 2009. Two colleagues pressed Pagliano to bring up the server with Clinton’s “inner circle,” according to his statements, including one who was specifically worried about a possible “federal records retention issue.” One said he “wouldn’t have been surprised” if there was classified info passing through.
It’s not certain just how Clinton’s upper echelon responded to this heads-up. If accurate, though, it contradicts what Clinton and government officials have said. Mills has previously testified that she can’t remember anyone warning that the private email server might run afoul of retention laws — Pagliano suggests she knew about it early into Clinton’s term in office.
This may not be the only issue arising from interviews, either. An anonymous State Department worker claims that there was pressure to downplay the presence of classified email while screening soon-to-be-published messages in 2015. This may be difficult to prove (the Department “strongly disputes” the allegations, a spokesman tells Reuters), but Clinton isn’t helped by her changing response. She first denied handling any classified messages on her server, only to respond to the FBI’s investigation by saying she didn’t consciously handle classified info.
A lot of this is water under the bridge. Both Mills and Pagliano have secured immunity from prosecution, and the Attorney General has already said that the feds won’t press charges in the Clinton case. However, the mounting evidence suggests that Clinton and crew had at least some inkling that the server was breaking rules.
It’s very commonplace for me to see people who move their single port chargers with them whenever they need a charge. Most people stick with the chargers that came with their phones or tablets, only to be forced to swap it out when another wireless device needs power. There are only two plugs per wall outlet, and single port chargers take up half of the plugs even though there’s more than enough power to supply multiple devices at the same time.
It’s time you consider upgrading to a multi-port charging station.
The verdict is in – UNITEK makes solid and reliable chargers. Two weeks ago I reviewed a massive 10-port charging station from UNITEK and since then my desk has been organized and much more pleasant to look at. I’ve been using UNITEK’s 60W 6-Port USB Smart Charging Station and have come to the conclusion that it offers great chargers at excellent prices.
Build and Usage
UNITEK’s 60W 6-Port USB Smart Charging Station has enough ports to satisfy even the most tech savvy consumer. Six ports is enough to charge a smartphone, tablet, wireless headphones, speaker, power bank and smartwatch all at the same time.
UNITEK’s 6-port charger has one Quick Charge 2.0 port for charging smartphones like the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 at the fastest possible speed. No wireless accessories are capable of charging at QC 2.0 speeds so having more than one QC USB port would add unnecessary cost. This is a well thought out decision by UNITEK considering most people only have one smartphone capable of Quick Charge speeds.
The UNITEK charging station has five 2.4A charging ports with integrated smarts to take advantage of charging most devices at the maximum speed. iOS devices come to mind when I think of 2.4A as the maximum amount of power they can take at any given time.
The UNITEK 6-Port charging station is compact for its capability of charging six devices at simultaneously. It measures in at 4.5” L x 3″ W x 1.1″ thick. The Amazon description lists it at 6″ x 6″ x 3″, but that is a reference to the product packaging. I didn’t quite think this charging station was anywhere near as long or as wide as six inches, so I measured it myself with a calibrated set of digital calipers. The station is made of high quality plastic, which keeps it light weight at just .8 ounces.
There’s a small vent on the back for releasing heat when it is under full load. The front is where the six USB ports are located, and the one QC 2.0 port is clearly labeled and separated from the rest. It’s a simple yet effective charger.
One nice feature I came across is the built-in rotating stand. All other multi-port charging stations I have used in the past include a stand, but it is usually a separate piece that can easily be lost.
This kind of feature normally shouldn’t make news, but it shows UNITEK’s commitment to perfecting its products. The integrated stand is very effective at keeping the charging station upright and is a detail I appreciate. It simply proves to me that while others may consider it an afterthought, UNITEK does not, and that gives me even more confidence in the internals.
The QC 2.0 port is perfect for charging my Note 7 from 5%-50% in just over 30 minutes. It’s nice to have this feature when I am in need of quick power, although the other five ports suit me just fine 98% of the time.
Being so compact makes this a great travel companion, as the last thing I want to bring along is more than one charger. I can easily fit this into a laptop bag or backpack and set it on my hotel desk to recharge all of my devices at the same time.
It’s a fact that most of you have more than one wireless USB device. Rather than sticking with single USB chargers, upgrade to a multi-port version. UNITEK hooked up AndroidGuys’ readers with an exclusive discount code so you can grab it for just $16.99 at Amazon with discount code LQCABGRV at checkout.
You can search for multi-port charging stations on Amazon, but you have to be weary of low-quality versions. They have the potential to fry your devices. UNITEK sits on my desk and nightstand with its multi-port charging stations, and I wholeheartedly recommend both, especially at the prices they are listed for.
Check out the UNITEK 60W 6-Port USB Smart Charging Station at Amazon.
If you would like to read my full review of the UNITEK 10-Port Charging Station, click on the link below.
UNITEK 60W 10-port Charging Station with QC 2.0 (review)
Monday’s US Presidential debates are shaping up to be the most easily streamable live TV in history, with options ranging from Twitter and YouTube to Facebook Live and Snapchat. Not wanting to be left out of the party, Instagram and CBS News have announced a new partnership that will make CBSN the first network to feature Instagram Stories in live coverage.
Unlike ABC’s deal to stream the debates on Facebook Live, CBS News will be taking a slightly more editorial slant. According to a statement from the nework, CBS News anchors and reporters will contribute original Instagram stories that will be rolled into the traditional debate coverage alongside additional curated Stories from political experts and voters across the US. The Instagram tie-in is also a slightly different approach than their competition at Snapchat, which will cover the debates from a variety of different angles via a Live Story with contributions from a variety of students, volunteers and media personalities on the ground at the debate.
CBSN, CBS News’ 24/7 Streaming service is currently available on CBSNews.com, via the CBS News mobile app for Android and iOS or connected TVs and streaming devices.
Source: CBS News
The US just broke new ground in its bid to fight pro-terrorist hackers. A judge has sentenced Kosovo citizen Ardit Ferizi to 20 years in prison for hacking a US company in order to collect information about 1,300 government and military personnel and help ISIS create a hit list. It’s the country’s first conviction for terrorism-related hacking, according to Assistant Attorney General John Carlin. Ferizi pleaded guilty on June 15th, roughly 8 months after Malaysian police arrested him on the US’ behalf.
The 20-year term isn’t as tough as it could have been (Ferizi was facing a maximum of 35 years), but American officials still see it as a warning. The case “sends a message” to those who’d materially support terrorist groups, Carlin says — the US will come after you, and you’ll get much more than a slap on the wrist. This isn’t going to deter the most committed ISIS hackers (at least not those operating from ISIS-occupied territories), but it may give pause to others who are still considering cyberattacks.
Via: Ars Technica
Source: Department of Justice