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Six wheels that give cars (and bikes) superpowers

By Cat DiStasio

For a long time, business experts said, “Don’t try to reinvent the wheel.” Now, that’s the primary objective for many engineers looking to create the vehicles of the future. And just when it seems that there are no further improvements that could possibly be made to the most basic of mechanical parts, someone finds a way to tweak it just enough to open up a world of new possibilities. Imagine having tires capable of generating electricity to top off your electric car’s battery and extend your driving range. There are also a few versions of omnidirectional wheels in development, which make it possible to drive in any direction and banish parallel parking headaches forever. And our list of inventions wouldn’t be complete without at least one that seems totally insane, so try this on for size: cube-shaped wheels that perform better than round ones? You have to see it to believe it.

Goodyear’s energy-generating BH03 tires

With the rise of electric cars, would-be buyers are sometimes put off by the limited range and the need to find a place to recharge. Goodyear, tire company extraordinaire, unveiled a concept design last year for a tire that could end range anxiety forever, by recharging the battery of an electric car while you’re driving it. The BH03 concept tire promises to do all the things a tire normally does, but it also turns heat and light into usable electricity thanks to a layer of thermo-piezoelectric material. That electricity could then be used to top off your battery, stretching the range of an electric car. No word yet on price or a possible release date, but for now, suffice to say it’s piquing the interest of electric car drivers, and for good reason.

Liddiard’s omnidirectional wheels

One of the most noticeable innovations in vehicle technology is found right here in these omnidirectional wheels that make it possible to maneuver a car in almost any direction. Parallel parking becomes a breeze, obstacles vanish in the rearview and mimicking any scene from “The Fast and the Furious” is like taking candy from a baby (without all that burned rubber). Canadian car buff William Liddiard created the omni wheels, which he so humbly named after himself. The Liddiard Wheels can be installed on nearly any car or truck, just like other wheel sets. The difference here is that, rather than rotating around an axis, the rubber surface of each tire actually rolls around itself, from the outside in or the inside out, depending on which direction the car is moving.

Hankook iFlex airless tires

If you’ve ever had to change a tire on the side of the road, you may have asked yourself why nobody has figured out how to make a tire that isn’t so much like a balloon. Well, the folks at Hankook Tire have done that and their latest non-pneumatic (read: airless) iFlex tires are expected on the market soon. The fifth iteration in the company’s line of airless tires, the iFlex series were designed and tested to meet the same performance standards as regular tires, but with 100 percent fewer flats. Hankook is also taking steps to make its tires greener, with recyclable materials and a speedier production process that shrinks its carbon footprint.

Loopwheels have a built-in suspension system

Designed by UK-based Jelly Products, the Loopwheel reinvents the bicycle wheel for a smoother, gentler ride. Traditional spokes are nowhere to be found. Loopwheels instead feature a built-in suspension system designed just for small frame bikes. By making compact bikes more comfortable to ride, Loopwheels’ creators seek to address the “last mile” of many an urban commute. A spring system between the hub and the rim of the wheel cleverly cushions the rider from bumps and potholes, offering the same level of comfort as traditional spoked wheels but in a model that can be easily attached to a folding bike frame perfect for the average commuter.

Goodyear’s spherical Eagle-360 tires

It should come as no surprise that Goodyear appears twice in this roundup of innovative wheel technology. What is surprising, though, is how the company’s engineers really did reinvent the wheel for this one. Instead of the traditional wheel shape we are accustomed to seeing on every car or truck on Earth, Goodyear has designed a spherical tire — yes, that’s right, a ball-shaped tire — that would theoretically make it possible to drive in any direction. Rather than being bolted onto an axle, the Eagle-360 tire would operate via magnetic levitation technology. It would also feature a special non-linear tread pattern, which looks like brain coral and is responsive to conditions no matter which direction the car is rolling.

Square Shark Wheels

The wheel of the future wasn’t designed for a car, but for a more laid back form of transportation: the skateboard. Unlike traditional round wheels that are prone to breakage, the cube-shaped Shark Wheel created by David Patrick provides a smooth, fast ride that he claims is better than the original. The innovation, like so many before it, was actually the result of an accident. Patrick was working to build new spherical wheels and dropped his piece during the process. The cube-shaped wheel took off rolling and didn’t stop, which kicked off a similar sequence of events for Patrick’s mental gears. The crowdfunded product probably hasn’t taken over your local skate park yet, but it’s certainly kicked down the door for future out-of-the-circle innovations to follow.


EV concepts merge with reality at the Paris Auto Show

I might have been imagining things, but automakers seemed a bit nervous at this year’s Paris Auto Show. Maybe it’s because it’s first the first major car event to follow Tesla’s successful Model 3 campaign, in which it snagged around 373,000 pre-orders for the EV. If Elon Musk’s company can build that many (and that’s a big if), the Model 3 will become one of the top ten selling vehicles in the US and a huge thorn in the side for mainstream manufacturers and dealers.

Not only that, but Renault’s Zoe EV, with a slim $27,000 price (not including the $77 per month minimum battery lease) and 248 mile range goes on sale today in France. That should be a big success, as only EVs are allowed in Paris on certain days, and parking is free for such cars almost everywhere in France. GM will soon start selling the Bolt EV (Opel Ampera in Europe), and could see similar demand. Other manufacturers have improved their EV lineups — BMW recently bumped the range of its i3 electric car from 81 to 114 miles.

With that in the background, there was a lot of buzz about electric vehicles at the show. In particular, Mercedes and Volkswagen launched brand new EV platforms, the Generation EQ and I.D., respectively. Both will be the basis for upcoming vehicles, but Mercedes won’t start building them until 2019, and Volkswagen’s I.D. arrives in a distant four years. VW in particular has promised great things, with up to 378 miles of range, a family of 30 vehicles and 3 million EVs sold by 2025.

The Opel Ampera, aka the Chevy Bolt, at the Paris Auto Show

This is all good news, but you can’t help but think that car manufacturers are only making the switch because rivals forced their hands. VW minted coin with dirty diesels by cheating the system, so you might be skeptical about it suddenly growing a conscience. And seemingly every manufacturer is still pushing crossovers and other gas-guzzlers as mainstay family offerings. (For more details on the key vehicles, EVs and tech launched at the Paris Auto Show, check the gallery above.)

But Tesla has proved that Jane and Joe Sixpack are ready to buy an EV, and not necessarily because they’re tree huggers. They realize that clean vehicles are actually a way to stick it to the man, because if you have solar panels, a home battery system and an EV, you can live off the grid without corporations or government.

By next year’s show, the Zoe, Bolt and Model 3 may have significantly changed the automobile landscape where it counts: sales. If Tesla is anything to go by, total EV numbers will be in the millions by 2017, compared to 540,000 in 2015. That might shock the rest of the industry still doing concepts and four-year plans, so that they’ll realize the public wants mass-market EVs, and it wants them now.


Recommended Reading: The role of hip-hop in ‘Luke Cage’

The Unexpected Hip-Hop
Crossover in New Netflix
Series ‘Luke Cage’

Adelle Platon,

Based on the trailers Netflix released ahead of this week’s Luke Cage debut, you might’ve guessed that hip-hop plays a big role in the new series. Thanks to Billboard, we have a full rundown of the score, cameos and background on the director for some added information ahead of the upcoming binge session.

Why Tech Companies Pumping Billions Into VR Could Actually Kill It
Cliff Kuang, Fast Company

Is all of the money being invested in VR a good thing? Fast Company argues that those billions could do more harm than good.

These Filmmakers Just Expertly Trolled Their Indiegogo Supporters
Kristen Dold, Esquire

After raising $78,000 to fund their feature, three filmmakers fell off the map before resurfacing in photos of them drinking on a boat and traveling the world. They gave the appearance the film wouldn’t be made, but that was all part of the plan.

How 1.5 Million Connected Cameras Were Hijacked to Make an Unprecedented Botnet
Lorenzo Franceschi-Bicchierai, Motherboard

Hackers used a botnet of over a million IoT devices to force a security researcher to take down their website last week. Here’s how they did it.


How to use the bokeh effect on the iPhone 7 Plus – CNET

Master the bokeh effect on the iPhone 7 Plus

The dual-lens camera on Apple’s iPhone 7 Plus is finally showing off its full potential with the update to iOS 10.1. We’ll show you what the new portrait mode looks like and how to use it.

by Vanessa Hand Orellana



The upgrade to iOS 10.1 will let Apple’s iPhone 7 Plus take full advantage of its dual lens camera to create a greater sense of depth in portraits.

The only standout feature on the camera at launch was the 2x optical zoom, which allows you to get closer shots than ever on an iPhone. And while the official software update is not slated to arrive until late October, the public beta is already out in the wild. To get iOS 10.1 right now, you have to be a part of Apple’s Beta Software Program, which you can sign up to here.

In the new portrait mode, the camera uses the 12-megapixel wide-angle lens — the same one found in the regular iPhone 7 — and the 12-megapixel telephoto lens to distinguish between background and foreground. It’s then able to keep the subject sharp while blurring out the background, to achieve that bokeh effect typically achieved with a far more expensive dSLR camera.

The iPhone 7 Plus’ ‘portrait’ mode does background…






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The iPhone 7 Plus isn’t the first phone to add this feature, but it is brand-new to long-time iPhone owners and works as promised. And iOS 10.1 makes it just a swipe away.

What can you photograph?

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Portrait mode also works on pets!

Vanessa Hand Orellana/CNET

Portrait mode is not just for humans. During our testing we used it on pets, plants and inanimate objects, using the same basic principles.

Start using Portrait Mode

Once you’ve updated to the iOS 10.1 beta, click on the camera app, and swipe down on the menu wheel until you hit Portrait. Lock in on your subject and pay attention to the directions on the screen. Because it uses the telephoto lens for the foreground it will appear closer than with the regular camera, so you may have to move away.

Once you’ve hit the sweet spot you’ll see a yellow “depth effect” sign pop up. Now lock in your focus, adjust the brightness and hit the shutter when you’re ready. Keep the phone stable until it it finishes taking the picture — it takes a little longer to process in this mode.

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The subject doesn’t always have to be centered to create the effect.

Vanessa Hand Orellana/CNET

Bokeh basics

The effect works in just about any scenario, but ​if you want a more dramatic blur you’ll need to increase the depth of field, meaning you’ll have to leave more space between the subject and the background. The closer you can get to the subject, the greater the blur. And lastly, pay attention to the lighting. Make sure the subject is well lit and avoid backgrounds that are overexposed.

Enlarge Image

Get closer to your subject for a more dramatic blur.

Vanessa Hand Orellana/CNET

The end result

Now go to your camera roll to check out your masterpiece. As with HDR mode, the camera saves a copy with and without the depth effect so you can see the difference as you scroll. Just click on the image and look out for the the “depth effect” tag on the top left if you’re having a hard time deciphering which is which.

The image will retain the effect even when you share it to devices other than the iPhone 7 Plus.

More features coming for the dual lens?

Later software updates could bring even more features to the iPhone 7 Plus, such as 3D mapping and augmented reality capabilities similar to those found in Google’s Project Tango. But it’s possible we may have to wait for those in next year’s 10th anniversary iPhone.


GE ADT521PGJBS review – CNET

The Good The GE Artistry dishwasher features an appealing retro design and a solid list of features. It cleans quickly, quietly and more-or-less effectively.

The Bad It’s not as good at cleaning as similarly priced competition. You’ll want to rinse your dishes before you load them. You might not be able to fit large pots and pans — this dishwasher lacks any fold down tines and changing the height of the upper rack is a pain.

The Bottom Line You can find more well rounded and better performing dishwashers for the same price, but if you factor design heavily in your buying decisions, the GE Artistry dishwasher does everything else well enough to be worth your consideration.

It feels like we’ve been down this road before. The GE Artistry Series dishwasher looks a lot like the other GE Artistry appliances we’ve reviewed — simple colors accented by curved silver handles and an old fashioned GE logo. That’s not a bad thing — the designs would go well together if you bought them as a set and all of the models in the series look great in a cool, retro fashion that reminds me of a classic Cadillac.

Other than its cool design, though, the $500 ADT521PGJBS doesn’t have any competitive edge over the similarly priced $700 Kenmore 13699 or $650 Frigidaire FGID2466QF. Both are better cleaners and have comparable features. If you prioritize design when buying appliances, the ADT521PGJBS holds its own as a cleaner and is worth your consideration. Otherwise, go with the Kenmore for the best cleaner in this price range, or the Frigidaire for the most well-rounded dishwasher of the bunch.

If looks could kill, you’d have to arrest…
See full gallery






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Making way for modernity

Thankfully, the beauty of the GE Artistry ADT521PGJBS isn’t just skin deep. Pull the curved silver handle, and the old fashioned exterior gives way to modern features and design trends — such as the control panel hidden on the upper lip.

The ADT521PGJBS is missing a delicate cycle, but otherwise has a useful quartet — AutoSense, Heavy, Normal, and Light. The Light cycle does a good job of cleaning up recently dirtied dishes in a snappy 40 to 50 minutes. The Frigidaire FGID2466QF has a 30-minute quick cycle, but 40 is suitably fast and much better than the hour and a half “quick” cycle on the $700 LG LDS5040ST.


GE’s quartet of cycles provide a standard but useful variety.

Tyler Lizenby/CNET

The options on the ADT521PGJBS help its limited selection of cycles feel more robust. You can run a cycle on the upper rack or lower rack only. You can change the temperature of the water, and you can add a steam pre-wash to help the dishwasher loosen stuck on dirt.

Make any changes to the cycles or the options, and the display will update the estimated time to completion, which stays on and updates as the cycle runs.


The Artistry’s list of options is plentiful.

Tyler Lizenby/CNET

You can buy the GE Artistry ADT521PGJBS dishwasher at AJ Madison, Home Depot, JCPenney, and other large appliance retailers. Head to GE’s site for a list of retailers in your area. As usual with large appliances, you’ll find the ADT521PGJBS for less than its $500 price tag. Currently, Home Depot has it for $450. You won’t be able to find the ADT521PGJBS overseas.

Inflexible interior

The inside of the ADT521PGJBS is plain, and not in the understated, striking way of the exterior. It has a plastic tub — which will be a drawback for some as a stainless steel tub helps save energy over time — but the plastic tub is a big part of the reason the cost of the ADT521PGJBS is so reasonable.


The Artistry lacks fold down tines, but I like the movable silverware basket.

Chris Monroe/CNET

The racks themselves lack flexibility — none of the tines fold down, so you’ll have a tough time fitting larger pots and pans. That said, they’re not poorly designed, and comfortably fit standard plates, bowls, and the like. We had plenty of room for our ten place settings and the ADT521PGJBS can fit as many as 15 of them.


Amazon Fire HD 8 (2016) review – CNET

The Good The latest Fire HD 8 delivers faster performance, a bigger battery and more base storage than the previous version for almost half the price. Its 8-inch screen is bright, the speakers are loud and it offers expandable microSD storage and ample parental controls. Amazon Prime members can access gobs of free video, music and other content with their subscription.

The Bad Display isn’t as sharp as that of current iPad Mini models; to truly take advantage of what the tablet has to offer, you need an Amazon Prime membership; slow charging (takes 6 hours to fully cap battery).

The Bottom Line Despite some small drawbacks, you just won’t find a tablet with these features and performance at this price.

Amazon’s new Fire HD 8 looks a lot like last year’s Fire HD 8, but there are a few key differences, the biggest of which is the new lower price tag. Much lower, in fact: $90 or £90. (It’s not available in Australia so far, but the US price converts to about AU$115.) By comparison, the similarly sized Apple iPad Mini 4 costs $399, £379 or AU$569 and the Mini 2 costs $269, £239 or AU$369. Both now start at 32GB capacities, but you could literally buy three or four Fire HD 8s for the price of once Mini.

The previous generation Fire HD 8 started at $150 (£130 or AU$215). That model came with only 8GB of storage while this new one includes 16GB, with an expansion slot for adding microSD memory cards up to 200GB in capacity.

While the 1.3GHz quad-core processor in the 2016 HD 8 is a new chip, Amazon says the real performance boost comes from a bump in RAM from 1GB to 1.5GB. And a larger battery delivers up to 12 hours of juice, up from 8 hours. Amazon says that 12-hour battery rating is for “mixed-use,” so it’s hard to determine in our own tests if the new HD 8 lives up to those numbers, but the battery life, while not exceptionally good, seemed significantly improved from the old HD 8 during the week I used the tablet. The biggest hit it took was with heavy use of Wi-Fi and playing more graphics-intensive games.


The new Fire HD 8 comes in four colors, including tangerine (shown here).

Sarah Tew/CNET

The other noteworthy feature addition isn’t available yet, but will be in the next few months: Alexa, the cloud-based voice service, makes its debut on Fire tablets. To activate Alexa, you’ll have to press a virtual button (with the Echo you simply have to say her name — so long as you’re connected to the internet). You can use voice commands to tell Alexa to play music, launch games, read audiobooks, deliver weather reports and more.

Those who bought an Amazon tablet recently, fret not: Alexa is also coming to the entry-level Fire, Fire HD 10, and 2015’s Fire HD 8 tablets via a free over-the-air software update in the coming months.

Available in four colors, the new HD 8 does feel zippier than the previous model — I thought apps loaded reasonably quickly and the device didn’t feel sluggish (we knocked last year’s HD 8 for mediocre performance).

Thanks to the stereo speakers tuned with Dolby audio, the tablet outputs a good amount of sound and works well for movie watching. The front and rear cameras are pretty basic by today’s standards (the rear captures 720p video), but at least they’re there and available for such apps as Skype.


Fire HD vs. iPad Mini 2 with Retina display.

Sarah Tew/CNET

You’re looking at a handful of drawbacks. While this is an 8-inch widescreen HD display with 1,280×800-pixel (189 ppi) resolution, it’s not as sharp or vibrant as the iPad Mini 2’s more squarish 4:3 screen and its 2,048×1,536-pixel resolution (326 ppi). But that tablet costs about three times as much. It will be fine for most people, but if you’ve used an iPad before, you’ll feel it’s a step down. Even Amazon’s late, great Fire HD 6 has a better-looking screen because it has the same resolution as the HD 8 but packs it into a 6-inch space at a denser 252 ppi (pixels per inch).


Best Phone For Gamers


Mobile gaming has come a long way from the days of playing Snake on your Nokia 3310. These days, with the right phone in your hand, there’s no reason to compromise gaming quality for mobility.

Best overall

Samsung Galaxy Note 7


See at AT&T
See at Sprint
See at T-Mobile
See at Verizon

It sort of goes without saying that Samsung’s launch of their newest flagship phone didn’t go as planned. But battery issues aside, the Note 7 is hands down one of the best phones you can buy in 2016 — especially if you’re a gamer.

Featuring a brilliant 5.7-inch AMOLED display powered by a Snapdragon 820 chipset and 4GB of RAM, the Note 7 will have your games looking great and running smooth as butter no matter how much of a resource hog they happen to be. With 64GB of on-board storage and a dedicated microSD slot you should easily be able to load up all your favorite games. And let’s not forget the versatility of the S-Pen, which can totally change the way you play puzzle games. It takes a fantastic game like Brain It On! and makes it even greater by giving you the precise input you need to master every level.

On top of all the hardware features that make the Note 7 an outstanding device, Samsung’s software has built-in features that make gaming a breeze on the Note 7. If you’re a serious gamer, you’ll definitely want to dive into the advanced settings and turn on the Game Launcher and Game Tools. They help to optimize the phone for gaming so you never feel bogged down or distracted from your game.

Bottom line: The Samsung Galaxy Note 7 was seemingly designed to be a gamer’s best friend, from the top-tier hardware to its convenient software tools for gaming.

Why the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 is the best

Gamer mode is a real gamechanger.

As we already mentioned, the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 has all physical components required to handle pretty much any game you toss at it. It delivers exactly what you’d expect from a top-of-the-line flagship device in 2016.

But what really separates the Note 7 from the rest of the pack is Samsung’s two gaming features: Game Launcher and Game Tools.

Game Launcher compiles all the games on your phone into one place, allowing you to keep your home screen uncluttered while still having all your favorite games just a tap away. Admittedly it’s nothing too earth-shattering, but it does include options for optimizing battery life and turning off distracting alerts during your game.

But the real hero is Game Tools, a discreet floating icon that pops up every time you launch a game. A quick tap of the Game Tools icon pops up with a host of important settings to improve your gaming session. Getting annoyed by all your notifications? You can quickly toggle a do not disturb mode that blocks all alerts for as long as you’re in the game. Sick of accidentally touching the Back or Recent keys and being taken out of your game? You get a quick option to disable the Recent and Back keys. You’re also able to use the menu to minimize the game, which keeps a floating icon on your screen so you can quickly check your messages or other notifications while your game stays running in the background.

If you’re the type that likes to stream as you game, you get built-in screen recorder tools, which even allow you to use the front-facing camera and record commentary as you play, so you can share your favorite moments like a pro.

Whether or not these tools are enticing for you or not, the fact that Samsung has included them in their latest software (they’re also available on the Galaxy S7 and S7 edge) shows their commitment to creating the best phones for Android gaming.

Best for battery life

Moto Z Play


See at Motorola

We’ve also dealt with the battery drain of extended gaming sessions when you’re gaming on the go. There’s nothing worse than getting all caught up in the heat of the action, only to have a low battery warning ruin things. If you suffer from battery anxiety when gaming off charger, the Moto Z Play Droid is the perfect device to alleviate that stress.

The latest in Motorola’s modular lineup, the Moto Z Play comes with a massive 3,510 mAh battery that’s optimized by a more efficient processor and a lower-resolution display. Granted this your display won’t get quite as bright as other UHD displays, but the color calibration and viewing angles remain great. You’ll definitely enjoy the outstanding extended battery life you’ll get in exchange. When it’s time to top up, you’ll be able to give your phone up to 9 hours of charge in just 15 minutes with Motorola’s TurboPower wall charger.

Still not enough power? Take advantage of the Moto Z Play’s modular design and slap on the Incipio offGRID Power Pack and add an extra 2,260 mAh battery to your phone, along with charging efficiency and the added ability to wirelessly charge both the pack and your phone.

All this battery life business would be pointless if the Moto Z Play was a pain to use, but fortunately that’s not the case. As AC’s Daniel Bader wrote in his Moto Z Play preview, if you’re a fan of the Motorola’s past offerings — including their handy gesture and voice controls — you’ll be happy to know they’re all present in the Moto Z Play:

For anyone who has used a Motorola phone over the past three years, the software experience is a known quantity. […] I like it because it’s fast and fluid all the time, even with 3GB of RAM and a low-cost processor, and has truly useful add-ons that improve my life.

Bottom line: Starting at just over $400, the Moto Z Play is the perfect companion for the mobile gamer with battery anxiety.

Best for touch responsiveness

HTC 10


See at HTC

Serious gamers know that input lag is simply unacceptable. Any amount of lag can have a devastating effect whether it’s a coming down to a photo finish, or a frantic deathmatch shootout. While traditional gaming allows for full controller customization (whether we’re talking keyboard and mouse or controller), mobile gaming on a touch screen ultimately relies on the touch responsiveness of the sensors on the phone.

In that regard, there’s no better phone than the HTC 10. With their 2016 flagship, HTC boasts the 10 has the lowest touch latency of any smartphone on the market — iPhones included. While that’s not typically a frequently touted spec in 2016, it does make a difference for gaming.

Beyond touch responsiveness, as mentioned in our official review the HTC 10 is a fairly impressive phone that features outstanding high-definition audio output, a capable 12 megapixel camera, and fast performance thanks to the Quad-core 2.2 GHz Snapdragon 820 processor and 4GB RAM. It’s all wrapped up in an aluminum unibody design with a curved back that’s ergonomically designed to fit comfortably in your hand.

Bottom line: Never blame your poor performances on lag again with the super responsive HTC 10.

Get your game on with the Note 7!


See at AT&T
See at Sprint
See at T-Mobile
See at Verizon

It sort of goes without saying that Samsung’s launch of their newest flagship phone didn’t go as planned. But battery issues aside, the Note 7 is hands down one of the best phones you can buy in 2016 — especially if you’re a gamer.

Featuring a brilliant 5.7-inch AMOLED display powered by a Snapdragon 820 chipset and 4GB of RAM, the Note 7 will have your games looking great and running smooth as butter no matter how much of a resource hog they are. With 64GB of on-board storage and a dedicated microSD slot you should easily be able to load up all your favorite games. And let’s not forget the versatility of the S-Pen, which can totally change the way you play puzzle games. It takes a fantastic game like Brain It On! and makes it even greater by giving you the precise input you need to master every level.

On top of all the hardware features that make the Note 7 an outstanding device, Samsung’s software has built-in features that make gaming a breeze on the Note 7. If you’re a serious gamer, you’ll definitely want to dive into the advanced settings and turn on the Game Launcher and Game Tools. They help to optimize the phone for gaming so you never feel bogged down or distracted from your game.

Bottom line: The Samsung Galaxy Note 7 was seemingly designed to be a gamer’s best friend, from the top-tier hardware to its convenient software tools for gaming.

Android Gaming


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ICYMI: Harnessing mother nature’s fury for energy

ICYMI: Harnessing mother nature's fury for energy

Today on In Case You Missed It: A Japanese engineer created a wind turbine that can harness energy from both typhoons and hurricanes, watch the video of it here. Meanwhile, researchers at Northwestern University developed a 3D printed bone made of ceramic and polymer materials that can encourage bone to regrow itself once it’s implanted.

Scripps Institution for Oceanography had bad news for humanity this week after the group said the world’s carbon levels went over 400 parts per million. There are three RIP items in the news this week, so get acquainted with the Rosetta Probe’s storied history, Blackberry’s decision to stop making its own handsets, and camera wearable company Narrative deciding to call it a day. As always, please share any interesting tech or science videos you find by using the #ICYMI hashtag on Twitter for @mskerryd.


Porsche Panamera (2017) preview: A tantalising tech-fest

Say hello to Porsche’s new Panamera, shown off in all its glory at the Paris Motor Show 2016.

But let’s cut to the chase: the last Panamera was always a bit of a difficult car to look at. As one of the people we talked to in Paris said: “it looked like a dog doing its business”. And it’s certainly true to say that the Panamera’s rear aspect was difficult to get on with. It had a hunchback quality, to put it kindly. But to drive it. Well, that was the business – of a whole other kind. 

  • Paris Motor Show in pictures: The 16 best cars from the show floor

Cut to 2016 and new Panamera (2017) feels much more palatable, much easier to get on with – aesthetically at least. Whisper it, but it almost feels like Porsche has been looking at the Tesla Model S – even the window line bears some similarity.


Look at the numbers and the clues are there – it’s 20mm lower at the rear of the roofline. And the whole car is longer. In fact, at over 5m long, you’ll have problems getting a Panamera into some parking spaces. Many cars this size are orientated around the person being chauffeured in the back. And while we folded ourselves into the back seat and were surprised at both how much space we had and how much control we had of in-car digital tech via the system in the rear, this is a Porsche – so the only place you really want to be sitting is in the driving seat.

Drop down into the Panamera’s low, low driver’s seat and the view is at once familiar, yet very new. Where once Porsche had showered an array of buttons at the centre console – that seemed to have been based on a Vertu phone – now someone in Stuttgart has clearly seen an iPad and everything has gone touch-based.

It’s very, very techy inside – and we’re going to need longer with this car to properly decode it. But the headlines are that in front of the driver you keep Porsche’s signature five-gauge driving cluster. However, only the central rev-counter stays analogue – the four other gauges become screens (they’re actually a pair of 7-inch displays). Porsche didn’t divulge specs, but they’re high-resolution and blacks are deep.


The bigger news is in the centre of the car, where a 12.3-inch touchscreen integrates into the cross-car dash panel. It’s very reactive, sharply rendered and capable of giving you just about any piece of info you could care to mention – from the car’s ride height, to your lap time, the current weather and even flight check-in ability. This console also runs Apple CarPlay – but not Android Auto. See our 911 review for Porsche’s philosophy on why.

Below the Panamera’s 12.3-inch screen, there’s a digital touch panel – where Porsche’s usual array of buttons are replaced by a large black panel – which gives haptic feedback from digital buttons and which also integrates a couple of beautifully knurled, analogue knobs. Deeply complex to look at, it’s surprisingly easy to jump in and make everything work, find what you want in the menu structure. But that’s on a Paris Motor Show stand, going nowhere. On an autobahn, at 140mph? We’re not so sure it’ll be so easy. Or safe. You even have to control the central air-vent, purely through the touchscreen.


This is the issue for Porsche. It’s becoming – or trying to become – a much techier, modern brand but retain its heritage of racing and driving superiority. The Panamera 4 e-hybrid on the stand is testament to this. You can plug it in, go 50km on electric alone – but still have 462bhp at your disposal via the electric motor and 2.9 litre, bi-turbo V6.

Elsewhere in the range you can go for a 6-cylinder diesel or petrol engine, petrol V8 and range-topping V8 turbo. The last of which covers 0-60mph in 3.8-seconds. All come with a PDK auto gearbox, several are four-wheel drive and all are more efficient than their predecessors.

The Panamera is impressive as a static object and – given Porsche heritage – it’ll doubtless get better out on the road. But until Porsche drops a production version of the fully electric Mission-E concept it showed in Frankfurt last year, the Panamera carries a whiff of yesterday’s idea.


A Tesla Model S doesn’t look as good, but it looks similar, it’s got more space, it’s cheaper, has equally impressive tech and is faster. A twin test between the two would make for fascinating reading.

For now, the Panamera remains the archetype, sporting German autobahn express. It does everything the old car did, just better. And now, you might even enjoy looking at it.


Volkswagen ID Concept preview: Electric atonement?

“What does the ID stand for?” “Isn’t Diesel’?!” shouted one lark across the Volkswagen stand at the Paris Motor Show.

Follow the auto industry and you’ll know the score by now about the pickle VW is in related to diesel emissions fixing. Yes, Volkswagen did some bad things. Volkswagen said sorry (but was a bit sorrier to American consumers than those in Europe).

And now Volkswagen has chastened, it’s re-inventing itself and going head-long into the electric car revolution. The ID, then, is our first look at this new future. 

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Rather confusingly, Volkswagen seems to be telling us everything about its future and what it’s trying to do in one concept, so there’s quite a bit to get your head around. Its press conference talked about this representing a combination of a vision for 2020 (a car like the ID will be on the road by then) and 2025 (when the ID’s autonomous capabilities will be reality, Volkswagen says). But it also said something about Volkswagen being represented in three ways today: through Tiguan (with its guide and inform infotainment system), the e-Golf (with its 300km battery range), and ID Concept with it’s “think new” approach – autonomous driving and near 600km battery range. Confused yet? We were.


The reality is, the ID appears quite simple. It follows VW’s clean aesthetic. Where VWs recently have been sharp-edged, here we get a very soft front-end, moving towards a sharper rear with elements that recall a Golf’s C-pillar and an Up’s boot panel. But the ID is more interesting because its battery makes the floor flat – which means the designers have been able to give the ID the wheelbase of a Passat, and the interior cabin space of that car, but in a footprint that’s shorter than a Golf.

The seats in the rear fold up, the boot space is family car sized, but the elements that stops you in your tracks is the dashboard. It’s a super-plain, fabric covered element with no buttons at all. In normal mode, the ID’s steering wheel seems relatively normal – the hub’s directly fixed to the column, and the gear selector’s on the wheel which is unusual – but there’s just a single screen display which is in the usual place, behind the steering wheel, in the dash. This display is (3D) map-dominated.

But the magic happens when you place your hand on the steering wheel boss. The screen then blinks and the steering wheel pulls itself into the dash, neatly slotting around the screen and integrating seamlessly. The ID is now in autonomous mode. Place your hand back on the steering boss, and the wheel shuttles out again, so you’re back in charge of driving.


The ID is quite typical of a concept car: it features coach doors (opening from the centre), no B-pillar, lighting as a means of communication, and no grilles or gills as it’s electric aspects don’t need normal cooling. The tyres are blue, and the wheel design runs into the tyre (this won’t make production).

But it is based on VW’s forthcoming MEB (Modular electric) platform, which will underpin a production car which follows the ID by 2020 and then a wider range of EVs. These cars will have varying power outputs, a range which varies between 400-600km and should be cost competitive with today’s internal combustion engine cars.

For all that, we think the ID looks a little apologetic. VW says it’s friendly, but most of the time we were with it, it simply looked sad. The ultimate “sorry”? The designers say the EV powertrain allowed them to experiment and do radical things. But it looks nothing like as radical as a BMW i car, for instance.

Perhaps that’s the point. VW is trying to atone for its dieselgate, it’s trying to create itself a future which truly embraces electric drive, autonomy and software-heavy cars. It wants to create a get-able, and reasonably normal set of electric cars that people will want to buy.


You can’t necessarily judge much from a concept, but the basic ingredients for Volkswagen’s electric future seem fundamentally fine. But given a Tesla brand which is already the electric standard bearer and a slew of updated EVs you can buy today – like the Renault Zoe with its new 400km-range battery launched at this Paris show – quite what new-thinking the VW ID brings to the party, or what it’s unique selling point will be, we’re not sure. Roll on 2020, when we’ll hopefully find out.

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