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30
Oct

‘Skyrim Special Edition’ audio took a step backward


As a rule, remasters of classic video games are supposed to be clear steps forward in audiovisual quality. However, Bethesda didn’t get that memo before launching Skyrim Special Edition. PC and Xbox One owners have noticed that their version of Skyrim is using highly compressed audio that’s noticeably worse than in the original release. You’re fine if you have the PS4 version (or are willing to modify your PC copy), but it’s a rude surprise for everyone else.

Mercifully, you won’t have to put up with this downgrade for too long. Bethesda is testing a patch that improves audio quality, and might have the update available by early November. It’s not certain what prompted the use of compression in the first place (it’s possibly a size reduction measure), but it’s safe to say that Bethesda will be careful with any remasters going forward.

[Thanks, Kristy]

Source: Reddit (1), (2)

30
Oct

DraftKings and FanDuel may be serious about a merger


DraftKings and FanDuel have dismissed talk of a possible merger for ages, but it looks like those rumors may be more than just idle banter. Sources for both ESPN and Recode say that the daily fantasy sports websites are in serious talks about a union. Just how close they are is up for debate (ESPN says it’s “imminent,” Recode says the terms are “still being ironed out”), but this wouldn’t just be an exploratory discussion.

FanDuel isn’t commenting so far, but DraftKings has responded with a non-denial. While it says that it doesn’t talk about “rumors or speculation,” it also says that a combination would be “interesting to consider” and that there are “no assurances at this time” that talks would lead to a formal alliance.

It wouldn’t be shocking for the two to join up at this stage. The two have paid a steep price to put their legal troubles behind them, and it’s still not over. ESPN contacts understand that both DraftKings and FanDuel are behind on paying some partners. A merger may be more a matter of survival than anything else.

The biggest challenges may be the regulatory environment and the company leadership. The two sites dominate daily fantasy sports, and would immediately hold a monopoly if they teamed up. Officials would likely demand concessions if a merger went through, assuming it went through at all. Also, the CEOs of Draft Kings and FanDuel are notoriously hostile to each other despite the companies’ overly cozy ties. Pride may make it difficult for either leader to assume a less prominent role, and there’s no certainty that the two will find a way to share responsibility for a single company.

Source: ESPN, Recode

30
Oct

Bose SoundTouch 300 Release Date, Price and Specs – CNET


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The competition for sound bars over $500 is heating up with the release of some excellent models recently including the Sony HT-NT5 and the Samsung HW-K850. Now, Bose is trying to get in on the act with its latest wireless model, the SoundTouch 300.

The SoundTouch 300 is a sound bar which offers “larger than life” sound thanks to its widening PhaseGuide technology and the QuietPort promises better-than-normal bass despite the lack of a separate subwoofer. measures 38.5 inches wide by 2.25 inches high and 4.25 inches deep.

The sound bar includes Bose’s SoundTouch Wi-Fi music system onboard which enables users to stream Spotify, Pandora and others without loss. SoundTouch is Bose’s take on multiroom sound and is compatible with its standalone SoundTouch 10-and-up speakers. If you want to go the Bluetooth route the sound bar has that too.

The SoundTouch 300 comes with other connectivity including HDMI in and out, plus optical digital audio and a 3.5mm subwoofer out. The HDMI ports offer 4K pass-through in addition to both Dolby Digital and DTS decoding.

The SoundTouch is available now for $699, £599 or AU$999. The optional Acoustimass 300 wireless subwoofer is available for the same price.

30
Oct

Roundup: Five essential tech accessories for the holiday travel season


With the holidays on the horizon, many of you will be traveling somewhere across the country. Thanksgiving is the most traveled holiday of the year, with Christmas right behind it. It’s when we get off time from work and school to take time to relax and spend time with loved ones.

Our dependence on smartphones and tablets is higher now than ever. We use our devices to entertain, capture memories, stay in contact with friends, family and work colleagues, get directions, research topics, and even as boarding passes for flights. Being prepared for the holiday season may prevent headaches from traffic, delayed travel, sickness or even lost luggage.

We’ve gathered five incredibly useful accessories for your smartphone that you should consider taking on your trip.

RavPower 22000mAh Ace Series power bank

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With three smart USB 2.0 ports available, and 22000mAh of power, this portable power bank is built for power users, families and long trips. It’s sizable at 6.81 x 0.87 x 3.19 inches, and just over a pound in weight. All three ports will work at the same time, providing a max output of 5.8 amps.

Most smartphones have internal batteries that range in size from 2500-3800mAh. Generally those sized batteries equate to almost a full day of average usage no matter which phone you are using. If you are talking on the phone, texting, watching movies, or listening to music while traveling, your battery will consume energy at a much faster rate. Wall outlets are limited at airports, so bring your own power along for the ride.

The RavPower Ace Series 22000mAh can get most single users through a full week without ever needing power from an outlet. Or it can charge three devices at the same time keeping everyone in the family happy and connected.

RavPower has made quality accessories for years and the Ace Series portable power bank is another great buy at $39.99 at Amazon. Once you’re done with your holiday travels, this power bank also serves as a great backup source for power during power outages.

TrackR Bravo

The TrackR Bravo is a Bluetooth and GPS tracker that will help you locate lost items. It’s an invaluable accessory when home, but even more so on the road. We’ve heard of way too many stories of losing wallets, tablets, smartphones and keys. It is a coined sized device that slips into your wallet, clips onto your keyring, and connects to your phone or tablet through the iOS or Android app, to provide distance, GPS and audio functionality for locating your precious items.

It’s made out of aluminum for maximum durability and minimal weight.

A single TrackR is only $29.99, while a pack of three is on sale for $89.99 with free shipping at http://www.thetrackr.com. If the TrackR saves your keys, mobile device or wallet one time, it already paid for itself. Hopefully you won’t ever need to really use it and the investment is for your peace of mind on your travels.

Zhiyun Z1 Gimbal – Say goodbye to bouncy videos

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It goes without saying that our smartphones are incredibly important for capturing memories. And we snap and record more memories on vacation than at other times.

Have you ever wondered how people manage to get such steady photos and videos? Chances are they’re using a gimbal. Gimbals were originally designed to keep compasses or chronometers horizontal in moving vessels and so captains could maintain direction when steering. Engineers adapted the technology for average consumers to use with their personal smartphones to end shaky photos and videos.

The Zhiyun Z1 Gimbal isn’t a cheap investment at $199.99, but it’s compatible with a wide range of smartphones from Android and iOS. When you’re watching the videos you made a year or several years from now, you’ll be glad you invested in this gimbal as your memories will be recorded properly.

WHOOSH! – It’s time to take tech hygiene seriously

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Hygiene is one of the most important lessons humans learned over the last 200 years and has contributed to longer lifespans. We brush our teeth, wash our hands, and put on clean clothes everyday. Yet most of us almost never clean the devices we use the most; some of you even use those devices in the restrooms which makes for some nasty devices.

It’s peak flu season during the winter months, and viruses and bacteria are ripe for infecting unsuspecting victims. Make tech hygiene a regular habit and it may help prevent you from getting sick. Our resident Editor and Scientist Derrick Miyao reviewed WHOOSH earlier in the year and swears by it.

WHOOSH! starts at $10 for a 1oz bottle and is a worthy investment for the holiday season.

Bluesmart One – The smartest luggage you can buy

The Bluesmart One smart luggage is one of the most well rounded travel accessories on the market. Not only is it a hard suitcase with wheels, but it is also a portable power station with GPS tracking abilities that connects to your smartphone. It also has a built-in scale to ensure you don’t overpack, and can be remote locked to prevent would be thieves from stealing your laptop or other valuables.

Over 10,000 backers made the Bluesmart One possible through Indiegogo almost two years ago, and it is still selling like hot cakes.

Oh yeah, it can also pack your clothing too!

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The Bluesmart One measures at 22″ x 14″ x 9″ with a storage capacity of 34L. It’s perfect to use as a carry-on for 2-3 day trips. It can be purchased at Amazon for $449 with free Prime shipping.

Wherever you might be traveling this holiday season, the writers here at AndroidGuys wish you all safe travels and well wishes. Make sure to put down your devices and appreciate the loved ones in your lives.

30
Oct

Game studios go all-out with Halloween events and sales


Game developers thrive on seasonal events, and that’s truer than ever this Halloween. It’s not just themed skins and game modes, although there are plenty of those — there are some serious bargains to be had, whether you’re a Steam veteran or just getting into virtual reality. Even PlayStation Now has some Halloween goodies. We’ve rounded up some of the spookier events and sales to make sure you don’t miss out.

30
Oct

Fiil Diva headphones are almost perfect for on-the-go VR users


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Good, portable headphones are hard to come by.

Most of the great headphones out there aren’t all that portable. Even with collapsible sides, many still take up quite a bit of space in your bag. That makes bringing decent headphones with you when you also plan on bringing your VR headset with you filling even more space when you go around every day. You could go earbuds, or you could take a look at some smarter headphones.

After spending a couple of weeks with the Fiil Diva headphones, it’s clear these are the headphones VR fans should be looking at for their next audio fix.

Read more at VR Heads

30
Oct

The bottom line: Our quick verdict on the PlayStation VR


And then there were three. The PlayStation VR went on sale earlier this month, making it the third big-name tethered VR headset to arrive this year. Though it’s less immersive than either the Oculus Rift or HTC Vive that came before it, the PSVR is compelling for an entirely different set of reasons. It’s cheaper than the competition, for one, with a starting price of $400.

Secondly, look at all the content available for it! The PSVR launched with 30 compatible games, and Sony promises that number will grow to 50 by year’s end. And that includes some major franchises too, including Batman and Resident Evil. Not only are these games people will want to play, but the gear you need to experience them — a PS4, PlayStation Camera and Sony’s “Move” motion controllers — are already in millions of homes. Equally important, the PSVR is comfortable to wear — something we haven’t been able to say about every headset we’ve tested. That’s the bottom line, but if you’re craving a little more, find our full review here.

30
Oct

Watch crew leave the International Space Station at 4:45PM Eastern


It’s always a momentous (if melancholic) moment when astronauts finish their stints aboard the International Space Station, and NASA is determined to capture every last minute of the occasion this time around. It’s livestreaming the departure of astronauts Kate Rubins, Anatoly Ivanishin and Takuya Onishi as they end 115 days in orbit. Things get started in earnest today (October 29th) at 4:45PM Eastern, when the crew says its goodbye and enters the Soyuz spacecraft. The undocking should begin at 8:37PM, and the deorbit burn should start at 11:06PM. If all goes according to plan, the team will touch down on Earth at 11:59PM.

This isn’t the longest stay in space. That honor goes to Scott Kelly, who spent a whopping 340 days aboard the ISS. However, this still marks an important milestone. Expedition 50 (under NASA’s Shane Kimbrough) gets started as soon as the outgoing crew undocks, with three more astronauts joining the ranks 3 weeks later. That’s a lot of trips, and it shows just how busy the station has been over the years.

Via: The Verge

Source: NASA

30
Oct

Android and Chill: We need a third mobile platform


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Google and Apple offer a great experience and everything we could want in our phones. While that’s a great recipe for success and happy customers, it also means they can afford to get a little lazy.

Now I’m not saying the people working there aren’t busting their butts and worth their salaries, I’m talking about the company — and their mobile ecosystem (God I hate that phrase) — becoming complacent and less willing to try new ideas. New ideas are what drives technology forward. Every time a great idea fails, that’s an opportunity for people to figure out why and to work on ways to ensure it won’t fail the next time — the perfect example in recent memory is the idea of a “modular” phone.

A modular phone is a pipe dream. Project Ara kept scaling back until they announced its death, and the resurgence by others picking up the pieces won’t be anything at all like the concept if it ever really happens. But a phone that had optional hardware you can add and remove at will didn’t die: LG tried it. It flopped. Motorola is trying it and it’s a little better. Eventually, someone will figure out a way to deliver a set of accessories and upgrades that we as consumers can add to a phone that doesn’t have any suck factor attached. This is a great example of the people making the phones we love still trying. We need the companies controlling those ecosystems I hate to mention trying just as hard.

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This happened because Google had to fight to get there.

Five years ago, BlackBerry (then Research in Motion, the coolest company name ever) had started in its downward spiral, Microsoft was telling us how great stuff would be next year (some things never change), Apple was counting piles of money and Google was shaking everything up. They had to. Android was a perfectly usable (and fun to monkey around with) software platform for a phone, but it was a bit of a mess. People who are tech orientated and love to fiddle with settings were impressed at how powerful it was, but it lacked any polish. The only reason Android took the majority of the market was because companies were making super-cheap smartphones that brought the web and Google Play to anyone who had $100 to spend.

Sure, there were some great phones out there running Android, but most people who were buying expensive phones and had plenty of disposable income were buying Apple products. That made Google try harder. Five years later we see how Google, Samsung, Motorola, HTC and LG have transformed Android into a software package that can equal or exceed anything from anyone else when it comes to the user experience.

The mobile experience we love is a direct result of competition.

While that was happening, some really talented people at Apple were doing everything they could to keep the simple and user-first experience they’re known for while adding some must-have features. When Google can offer better services and apps for an iPhone than Apple can, that makes people work hard. The motivation to keep making money starts at the top and the best way to keep making it is to have the right people thinking of — and trying — the right things. Apple Maps was fun to laugh at as long as it wasn’t you being steered into the desert or off of a bridge, but Apple needed to do it, and anyone using it now can tell you it’s a great service. Plenty of people with an iPhone still use Google Maps because they have years of data Google uses to turn a map into something more like a tour guide, but Apple Maps will soon catch up there, too. It has to.

But what about the next big thing? If we want the next YouTube or the next iTunes to be something awesome on our phones, we need people willing to try something besides what they know already works. Every quarter that goes by where sales look good, money flows in and sites like Android Central or iMore tell you how great the things we have are, the incentive to shake it all up lessens. Why take a chance when things look good? That great idea that came from Larry in engineering sounds kind of cool, but when the bosses and investors are happy with the status quo, why risk trying it? We will still be happy when things become stagnant if we have no idea they are stagnant.

The iPhone 7 and Google Pixel (as well as Android 7.1 in general) are the end result of companies filled with bright minds fighting for their place in the market. The market is set, Apple and Google have enough cash to buy paradise, and they no longer have to duke it out.

We need Microsoft to force Apple and Google to try harder.

If a third company with know-how in mobile were to start pouring money into the right thing, Google and Apple won’t go there. Yes, right now, unless Derek Kessler and LG can revive webOS, that means Microsoft. It looks like Microsoft has all but giving up on selling Windows phones. Some people think otherwise, and there’s always industry talk about what happens behind the scenes, but when you visit AT&T or Verizon (or Rogers or EE) you don’t walk out with a Windows phone. When you visit Carphone Warehouse or Best Buy you don’t see them. Windows phone does not exist right now. That’s a bad thing.

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The Galaxy S3 changed everything in mobile. For the better.

On episode 312 of the Android Central Podcast, we were talking about money and companies who aren’t making as much of it as they like. I said Microsoft needs to get with LG and make the shit out of Windows phones. Yeah, that got the reaction you imagine it would, but I was serious. We need Microsoft to find a partner bigger than just phones and set a goal to sell a billion Windows phones. If (when) they fail, both companies have huge incomes from other divisions and can absorb the losses. They can try again next year. Keep building them, keep working on the software and keep trying great new ideas until it works.

I want the phone I buy in 2018 to do things I never imagined.

That’s exactly what Google and Samsung did. Google did what they could to help Samsung get Android into a billion phones. They weren’t timid and didn’t play safe. If you had a Samsung Galaxy S, you knew it was pretty damn different from anything we’ve seen before. Fast forward a couple years and the Galaxy S3 changed everything. And changed it for the better.

I want someone new to do it again. I want to see what Google can do when they have to fight to be the best again. I want the phone I buy in 2018 to do things I never imagined. And I want someone to come along and force it to happen.

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