Joy, last year’s film about QVC and Home Shopping Network inventor Joy Mangano, may not have been the best collaboration between superstar Jennifer Lawrence and director David O. Russell. But the fact that Mangano inspired a major movie — as well as her continued success — says something about both invention and entrepreneurship. Between rapidly advancing high-tech gadgetry and the huge focus on the entrepreneurs of Silicon Valley, it’s easy to forget that the umbrella of invention is much wider. As Joy shows, it’s about finding a new solution to an existing problem. Easier said than done, of course.
That spirit of invention is what drove the American Dreams invention competition, a partnership between HSN and Good Housekeeping magazine. Hundreds of teams sent in details about their inventions, and about 100 were chosen to pitch to a panel of judges from HSN and Good Housekeeping. Out of that group, nine just-announced finalists will show their products on-air for HSN in December, and one winner will be granted the coveted Good Housekeeping Seal.
While HSN sells plenty of technology-focused products and has partnerships with major companies like Microsoft and Amazon, the contest mostly stayed in HSN’s traditionally popular categories. The finalists included home, kitchen and beauty products, with a smattering of home-improvement and travel accessories mixed in. That’s not to downplay the work being done by these inventors — but my hopes for seeing someone pitching some unknown, possibly experimental new technology appeared to be dashed. That is, until Marc Collins and Leah Lastre, the creators of iHOD, made their presentation.
Putting aside the unfortunate name for a moment, the iHOD Energypod is a product that’s unlike anything I’ve really seen before. At its most basic, the deceptively heavy sphere is a portable power generator — but instead of running on diesel, it uses small hydrogen pods that it can convert into energy on the fly. It’s silent and produces very little in the way of emissions, so it’s safe to use inside.
It includes a few standard 110v power sockets as well as USB connectors to keep your phone going. The obvious use case is in the home as a backup power supply in case of emergency, but iHOD also sees it as a way for people to stay connected wherever they are. Its capabilities are impressive, but they come with a few caveats.
Most notable is safety: You’re probably thinking, “Isn’t hydrogen highly combustible?” Fair point. It’s something judges asked iHOD about when the company showed its creation, and it’s obviously something it’s considered. The fuel pods, little hockey pucks that power the Energypod, contain two inert powders. Once water is added to the mix, hydrogen is created and pumped into the reactor to create electricity.
Collins said the iHOD team had been working on ways to use hydrogen safely for about four years before coming up with the current formula; he also noted there were two key safety points that allow the Energypod to do what it does. “The first one is to keep things, so we run it at a very low temperature,” Collins said. “The next one is keeping the pressure low through the method within the pod itself. We run that around 7psi — if you kiss someone, you’ve got about that kind of pressure.”
Between the low temperature and pressure, as well as the fact the fuel pods are inert, iHOD believes its method is totally safe. But it’s still powerful — in the demo I saw, the Energypod was powering a small flat-screen TV, a Samsung tablet, a USB fan and a lamp. Collins says it outputs between 105 and 110 watts, and iHOD is working on making more powerful versions as well.
All this power comes at a cost, though — iHOD set pricing for the Energypod at $899, and fuel pods cost $20 each. Collins declined to say exactly how long a pod would last; it certainly will vary depending on what’s plugged in and how hard you’re pushing it. While that price feels high in a vacuum, there’s really nothing to compare the Energypod to, and it’s not so crazy that people wouldn’t consider having it around for emergencies as well as the odd camping trip.
The panel of judges from HSN and Good Housekeeping
IHOD didn’t fit in with the rest of the products pitched at the HSN American Dreams competition. But that didn’t keep the judges from showing a lot of interest in it — in fact, the Energypod was picked to be one of the finalists to pitch its product directly on the air for HSN. It was set to show up competing for the top spot alongside items like the self-explanatory Travel Head Pillow, the surprisingly cool Re-Grip (which adds a strong and sturdy plastic grip to any handle), and the Original Wall Stamp (which lets you add patterns and art to your walls). IHOD’s ambitious and somewhat experimental product was truly an outlier in the field; you can find more details on all the finalists here and judge for yourself how well it fits in.
The Re-Grip in action.
But unfortunately for iHOD, the company wasn’t able to meet the manufacturing timeline dictated by the contest, and it was dropped from the event. For its part, iHOD’s Leah Lustre told me over email that the completion of iHOD preproduction units didn’t fit with the Good Housekeeping magazine deadline, but the current plan is to have the Energypod ready to deliver to customers by the end of Q1 2017.
This delay doesn’t stop the Energypod from being a standout, in large part because the company has plans that go far beyond offering portable power for people in the US. It’s starting here as a retail product, but Collins spoke at length about his desire to help get people on the grid in countries without a developed electrical infrastructure.
“We set the business up originally to try and get sufficient personal power to Africa, to the billions of people that don’t have energy or electricity,’ he said. “That’s a big market, and you can’t put a grid together and start pushing out electricity the same as we have in the US or Europe.” In some ways, iHOD’s US launch is a test case for getting out to other markets that will rely on the Energypod as a sole power source rather than a backup generator.
“This is a steppingstone, a way of getting power out to the people that need it in the US for various purposes,” Collins said. “But then we want to push the humanitarian side of things and start others connect to the rest of the world.” It’s a bold mission, but iHOD will need to get its manufacturing processes sorted out to achieve that goal — and it’ll have to do so without the boost in popularity that HSN and Good Housekeeping’s contest would have provided. But an HSN spokesperson says the retailer will likely work with iHOD down the line. Still, it’s too bad iHOD wasn’t able to get to the finals — a product so far outside HSN’s comfort zone could have inspired some other tech inventors to try and get on cable’s biggest retailer in the future.
Apple authorized reseller MacMall has started its annual Black Friday sale and is offering some of the best discounts we’ve seen on 12.9-inch iPad Pro models this week. MacMall is also offering some decent savings on other iPads, and select 12-inch MacBook, MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, iMac, Mac mini, and Apple TV models.
12.9-inch iPad Pro
– Wi-Fi + Cellular/128GB/Silver for $887 ($142 off, regular $1,029)
– Wi-Fi + Cellular/128GB/Space Gray for $887 ($142 off, regular $1,029)
– Wi-Fi/32GB/Space Gray for $675 ($124 off, regular $799)
– Wi-Fi/128GB/Space Gray for $767 ($132 off, regular $899)
– Wi-Fi/128GB/Space Gray bundled with Smart Keyboard and Apple Pencil for $988 ($278 off, regular $1,266)
– Wi-Fi/128GB/Space Gray bundled with Smart Keyboard and Apple Pencil for $1,008 ($159 off, regular $1,167)
– Wi-Fi + Cellular/128GB/Space Gray w/ Smart Keyboard and Apple Pencil for $1,128 ($169 off, regular $1,297)
9.7-inch iPad Pro
– Wi-Fi/32GB/Space Gray for $491 ($108 off, regular $599)
– Wi-Fi/128GB/Space Gray for $583 ($116 off, regular $699)
– iPad Air 2 in Wi-Fi/32GB/Space Gray for $347 ($52 off, regular $399)
– iPad mini 4 in Wi-Fi/32GB/Space Gray for $359 ($40 off, regular $399)
– Early 2016 1.1GHz/256GB/8GB RAM/Gold for $1,208 ($91 off, regular $1,299)
– Early 2016 1.1GHz/256GB/8GB RAM/Rose Gold for $1,172 ($127 off, regular $1,299)
– Early 2015 13″ 2.7GHz/128GB/8GB RAM for $1,195 ($104 off, regular $1,299)
– Mid 2015 15″ 2.2GHz/256GB/16GB RAM for $1,819 ($180 off, regular $1,999)
– Early 2015 13″ 2.7GHz/256GB/8GB RAM for $1,115 ($84 off, regular $1,199)
– Late 2015 21.5″ 2.8GHz/1TB/8GB RAM for $1,208 ($91 off, regular $1,299)
– Late 2015 27″ 3.2GHz/1TB/8GB RAM for $1,673 ($126 off, regular $1,799)
– Late 2014 2.6GHz/1TB/8GB RAM for $645 (save $54, regular $699)
– 4th generation/64GB for $159 ($40 off, regular $199)
– Apple Pencil for $89 ($10 off, regular $99)
– Smart Keyboard for 9.7-inch iPad Pro for $139 ($10 off, regular $149)
– Smart Keyboard for 12.9-inch iPad Pro for $152 ($16 off, regular $169)
Keep track of other Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals on Apple products and accessories by reading our Black Friday roundup.
MacRumors is an affiliate partner with MacMall and may sometimes get paid if you click one of the above links and purchase a product or service.
Related Roundup: Black Friday
Discuss this article in our forums
LeEco is making it abundantly clear – they are here and are looking to really disrupt multiple segments of the tech world. They have a car concept that turned heads, bought Vizio so that they could really capture the television market, and even a smart bike that runs Android. But it all ties back – as it should – to a phone.
In Jan this year, the LeEco Le Max Pro made a splash as one of the very first phones to sport the latest Snapdragon 820 processor of the time, but now their latest outing claims to be more than just a phone and more of an ecosystem in and of itself. Does the result spell greatness for this burgeoning brand? Let’s find out in our review of the LeEco Le Pro 3.
To any avid smartphone fans, the Le Pro3 may look a little too familiar – it is honestly just too hard not to think that this phone greatly resembles the OnePlus 3, right down to the antenna lines and the lens popping out at the top. Users might actually mistake the two if they happen to have them lying side by side. We just really felt the need to call that out, so with that out of the way, we can step back and explore the cues.
LeEco’s phone has a metal body with a very glossy look and feel, which puts a fingerprint reader on the back in lieu of capacitive buttons underneath the screen. With a 5.5 inch screen, the phone is not at all hard to manoeuvre in one hand and it helps that the body is a bit thicker than most of the slim profiles we’ve gotten this past year. The glossy material does take to fingerprints rather quickly, but not egregiously.
One main aspect to note is that there is no headphone jack found on this phone – an adapter has to be used in order to port the USB-C. Speaking of audio, a bottom mounted speaker is accompanied by the phone speaker that works double time for calls and media.
Overall, it is good looking phone that is mostly hindered by the fact that the design is a bit too much like something that we have seen before. It begs the question – besides the different ‘Le’ logos that are on the back and serves as the home capacitive button, what defines LeEco’s design language in this smartphone cycle? Granted, the phone looks and feels quite good, but starting things off with a derivative style may foreshadow the rest of the story that is the Le Pro3.
A 5.5 inch screen helps in the handling experience, though an affordable phone like this had to cut a few corners to keep the costs down. As such, this is an IPS display that comes with an unsurprising 1080p resolution. As an IPS display, it does get plenty bright even in broad daylight, but it seems a bit muted in its colors, noticeably lacking in vibrancy and saturation. This is in the standard LeEco color mode found in the display settings, even though there is a vivid mode that is available for that extra bit of punch.
The easiest problem to see at first glance is the sizeable bezel that is around the entire display. It can almost be considered the mark of a budgeted phone and it is plain to see in the Le Pro3. Pixel density is obviously not as high as it would have been if this were a Quad HD screen, but it is still plenty for text and general sharpness. Reading text and websites is not difficult, and games are still fun to play despite the need for a little better coloration.
That all said, this display is about as standard as you can get. In the grand scheme of affordable flagship phones, there are definitely better display experiences. For its affordable price point, general users won’t find too much to hate about the Le Pro3’s screen, aside from maybe the bezel.
We have to preference the performance aspect of this review by saying that the EUI LeEco put as the software is mostly to blame for the hiccups experienced on this device. The Snapdragon 821 has already proven itself a few times over as a powerful and reliable processing package, meaning that high performance tasks from productivity to gaming are actually about as good as they should be. Unfortunately, that is assuming the software can stably get from one place to another without messing up.
I did play some good games on the Le Pro 3 that included The Trail, one of the more lag-prone gaming experiences available right now, and it was not any worse than on other Snapdragon 821 performers like the Pixel. 4GB of RAM in the base model is adequate for general multitasking, though a 6GB model is available at a premium and should help the phone along a bit more. That said, jumping in and out of applications using the recent apps screen is smooth, as is going through the multitudes of homescreens that users will inevitably have because there is no app drawer.
Overall, having the Snapdragon 821 as the processor on this phone, which is meant to be quite affordable, is definitely one of the better aspects of the Le Pro 3, even if the hardware and software experience doesn’t quite live up to that offered by other Snapdragon 821-powered smartphones.
Which brings us to the hardware, where we’ll start with the good parts of the experience. Calls on the Le Pro3 are adequately good, with no real problems on either end of the call and with few dropped calls on the T-Mobile network. Sound, in general, is actually a bright spot for this phone because of the dual speakers – when watching YouTube or playing games, we didn’t feel too bad about the lack of a headphone jack because the audio coming out of the phone was pretty dang decent to begin with.
Speaking of the headphone jack, it does suffer from the iPhone 7 or Moto Z problem in that an adapter has to be used in order to connect wired headphones to the phone. This adapter is really small and can be easily misplaced, which is something that already happened to me on a couple of occasions. Bluetooth headsets are probably the best way to go for the sake of convenience, though it is an adjustment that many still have to get used to.
On a somewhat related note, getting certain Bluetooth speakers and other peripherals connected to the Le Pro3 ranged from decent to anger-inducing experiences. The main issue was with NFC connections, which were highly inconsistent and had trouble connecting to my Bluetooth speakers. Even then, the Bluetooth connection to one of my speakers cut out a few times, which was frustrating.
Another point of real contention is that the Le Pro 3 wasn’t able to work with Android Auto in my car. Connecting the phone using a USB-C cord took multiple tries because the phone kept trying to connect via Mirrorlink rather than Android Auto, but that is yet another mark against the software, admittedly. However, even when I did get Android Auto to work, it would lose connection every couple of minutes to the point of it being completely useless for my driving. As an everyday user of Android Auto, this took away a key portion of my daily requirements for any phone.
One last inconsistency came from the fingerprint reader. It often felt like I needed to hit it multiple times just to get it to trigger, making it a little annoying to wake and unlock the phone on more than a few occasions. It may be fixed with a future update but the fingerprint sensor definitely requires refining further and doesn’t have the responsiveness offered by other OEMs.
32GB of storage is available with the base model of the LeEco Le Pro 3, but 64GB and 128GB are also available at a further premium. Our unit has 64GB, which gives enough space for plenty of applications and media, but without expandable storage, you’ll want to ensure you pick up the right storage option for you. If you opt for the variant with 4GB of RAM, you can choose from either 32GB or 64GB storage while for those wanting 6GB of RAM, you storage options are doubled to 64GB and 128GB.
Battery life is dependant on the 4070mAh battery, which is a higher capacity than found on most flagship devices. Our Android Authority battery testing app showed a possible screen on time of 9 hours, with the gaming test managing to bring the phone from 100 to single digits in about 7 hours. While on paper it certainly seems like the battery can go the distance, using the phone as my daily driver made the battery life range from 3 and a half hours of screen on time to an upper limit of 5.
That is pretty good battery life, even if it is not particularly overachieving and that upper limit is somewhat expected for a 4000+ mAh unit. If users are itching for power despite the possibility of a solid full day of battery with some change, Quick Charge 3.0 is able to get the phone up to 50% battery in around half an hour.
The camera of the Le Pro3 is a 16MP shooter capable of 4k video recording and has a few different modes available. Before we get to that, the front facing camera does have a beauty mode that is on by default and smooths out details in selfies taken using the 8MP sensor. Selfies taken on the Le Pro3 are decent enough, though even at the middle setting, the beauty mode is a little too aggressive and makes pictures look a bit too soft. It is also quite slow to focus, which takes away from the selfie experience.
The app in general is not the fastest one out there, mainly in the sense that the shutter-to-file time is a little too long for our tastes. There is no problem changing to the different modes and activating different features, but the one big issue we have with it is that HDR is not a setting but rather a feature. This means that users would have to actively open it up in order to give pictures a little more punch and better highlight and shadow rendering.
As such, the pictures coming from the Le Pro3 are actually not all that bad. Though they won’t really blow anyone away, the pictures are all very serviceable with a good amount of detail in the right lighting situations. The noise, of course, comes out more in the lower light shots but at least it doesn’t look incredibly smudgy. All in all, it is a camera experience that you would expect from a sub-$400 handset.
LeEco Le Pro3 camera samples:
The colors are what make us give the camera a nod, with a slight bump up in saturation making pictures look more vivid and pleasing to the eye. Interestingly enough, this didn’t seem to be the case when looking at the pictures on the screen of the phone itself. This is likely due to the screen being a bit muted, as we mentioned in the display section earlier on. General users will be able to enjoy their smartphone photography on the Le Pro3, though prosumers will probably wish that there was more speed in the app and a few more options to get even better shots.
And finally, in software, the EUI brings its Asian styled flavor of Android; this means no app drawer and potentially a few different features that aren’t typically found in western versions of Google’s OS. EUI starts off pleasantly enough, with good design cues that are decidedly smaller in overall elements than other Chinese operating systems, perhaps as a way to avoid anything bleeding over their boundaries (as is rather common with overtly long translations in localized versions of Color OS and such).
The lack of an app drawer is a polarizing choice, with some users really hating the omission and others finding it rather refreshing. I am the former, but I understand that it doesn’t truly change the overall Android experience that much. LeEco, to their credit, tries a few different things in their skin, with the quick settings showing up above the recent apps screen, and the notification shade showing only notifications and a large button on the bottom to manage said notifications, even if it won’t be pressed all that often anyway.
Where LeEco hopes that the EUI will separate itself is through its ties to the LeEco streaming services. LeEco did well to get quite a few different partnerships with networks like SeeSo and Showtime to bring a lot of content to the masses, but it requires subscription and monthly payments to the EcoPass, which has its own digital currency called the EcoPoints which can be used in lieu of cash towards options in the LeMall.
Take a deep breath.
A lot of that content is found in the Le app, but in place of where the app drawer button would be is a wholly different application called Le Live, which brings users to a 3×3 grid of content distributors that all stream content straight to the phone on an ongoing basis. This can include the aforementioned SeeSo but also includes some Asian channels, Vice, and a few smaller outlets like TasteMade, which you might recognize from their Facebook ads or Snapchat. Basically content is consistently played and scheduled at certain time intervals, and is a portal to a lot of different streaming content that is curated, only somewhat expansive, and honestly a little hard to make sense of – the average user will probably be a bit confused and overwhelmed by the experience, especially considering there isn’t a whole lot of documentation or even built-in advertisement-style tutorials to guide the user.
What if users want an affordable Android phone, but aren’t open to getting inundated with Le’s all over the place?
SeeSo, Netflix, and Showtime are examples of subscription-based services that are all a part of the Le ecosystem, but they are paid addons on top of the already existing subscription service. While there are a few perks like 5TB of photo and video storage included, it is a little tough to recommend a whole new bill payment just to enjoy what is supposed to be the biggest part of the Le Pro3. What if users want an affordable Android phone, but aren’t open to getting inundated with Le’s all over the place? Of course, they can install a new launcher but the question bears statement.
|Display||5.5-inch IPS LCD display
1080p resolution, 403 ppi
|Processor||2.35 GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 821
Adreno 530 GPU
|Storage||32/64GB (4GB RAM)
64/128 GB (6GB RAM)
|Camera||16 MP rear camera, 1.12µm pixel size, f/2.0 aperture, PDAF, dual LED flash
8 MP front-facing camera, 1.4µm pixel size
|Connectivity||Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac
GPS + GLONASS
USB Type-C 1.0
|Battery||4,070 mAh non-removable
Quick Charge 3.0
|Software||Android 6.0 Marshmallow
|Dimensions||151.4 x 73.9 x 7.5 mm
Price & Final Thoughts
Another perk of being part of the LeMall and the Le ecosystem is that members can get the Le Pro3 at a pretty deep discount that makes this phone one of the most affordable devices available today. Starting at $399, the phone can be put on flash sales resulting in discounts of $100, making the phone potentially $299 if you wait for those days to come. This is undoubtedly a wonderful price, but as we have found in this review, you kind of get what you pay for.
And so, there you have it. The LeEco LePro3 – a phone that has all of the tools to be competitive but is bogged down by inconsistent performance that we only really see in phones at its price point. This doesn’t come at much of a surprise, but the phone does prove to be a reminder that value and money can sometimes be an inverse proportion. For it’s price, the LeEco Le Pro 3 is a solid device, but it only really makes sense as a recommendation if acquired at the $299 price, which we haven’t seen since the days of the OnePlus One.
- Coming to America: LeEco to formally launch US presence in October
- LeEco Le S3 hands-on
- (Update: Netflix denies any partnership) LeEco’s grand plans to take over the world
And for its full price, there is competition like the OnePlus 3 to consider – it is, after all, the phone that the Le Pro3 somehow manages to look incredibly similar to. It brings an inconsistent experience overall with Le features and software that aren’t particularly useful for anyone that just wants a reliable Android experience at a good price.
Looking to get your hands on a Google Pixel XL but don’t have the money available to purchase one for yourself right now? Well, Android Central Offers is hooking up one lucky person with a Pixel XL, and it could be you. All you have to do is sign up for the offer, which is completely free, to be entered for a chance to win it.
Sounds simple, right? That’s because it is, and there is very little reason you shouldn’t click through and enter for your chance now. The only way to know you won’t win is not to enter, so don’t do that to yourself.
See at Android Central Offers
A number of changes have been pushed out to Pokemon Go in recent months following the explosion in popularity the game enjoyed in mid-2016.
In addition to switching on the nearby feature in some regions, one of the unexpected changes was the inclusion of Ditto, one of the original gen 1 Pokemon that wasn’t featured in the game at launch.
Ditto, as the name suggests, can copy the form of other Pokemon. In its natural form Ditto is a purple blob, but when you find Ditto in the game it will be in the form of something else, like a Rattata or Pidgey.
You won’t actually know that it’s Ditto until you capture that Pokemon. After a successful Poke Ball throw, rather than saying “Gotcha”, the “Oh?” text will come up – just as when you hatch an egg.
Then that original common Pokemon will transform itself into Ditto and add itself to your Pokedex.
Obviously, if you’ve been playing for some time and ignore many of the common Pokemon, you’ll now have to catch some of them to get yourself Ditto – which I a clever way to get people playing more widely and not just hunting for rare Pokemon types.
Ditto is said to hang-out near people and settlements, which might help you track it down, although it’s not especially good once you have it, as it’s a weak fighter, unable to replicate the strengths of the Pokemon it mimics.
Ditto appears in the game as there’s a lot of talk about an expanded set of Pokemon being introduced to Pokemon Go to bring back those players who have either caught them all, or got bored of finding the same critters.
- Pokemon Go for Apple Watch: How to play and when can you get it?
- Pokemon Go: Best Pokemon with highest CP
- Pokemon Go: How to raise your XP level, power up and evolve your Pokemon
- Pokemon Go top tips: Master the Pokemon mayhem
Letter from the Editor
Happy Thanksgiving, everybody! We’re hitting you with the Weekend Edition a few days early in honor of the holiday — and so we can enjoy some turkey, too — but we’ll be back to our regular schedule starting next Monday. I’d like to take this opportunity to let you all know how thankful I am, and the entire staff is, to have you as readers. The work we do wouldn’t be possible without your support, and you have our gratitude for reading, watching and contributing to Engadget.
Before you sit down to give thanks and break bread with those close to you, here are our finest cuts — and best conversation starters — from the week that was.
For the philosophical thinkers out there, Aaron Souppouris tackled a difficult conundrum: Can and should the politics of an individual affect our ability to appreciate and enjoy his or her work? He poses the question regarding the video game “RimWorld” and its creator’s apparent biases regarding sexuality and gender, but it’s a philosophical query that begs answering in many other contexts, too.
Aaron also explored the reasons for the proliferation of fake news online, and the techniques employed to get folks reading it. It might not make for the most comfortable of Thanksgiving discussions, but it’s a worthy topic, assuming you’re not OK living in a post-truth world.
If you’re looking for more, ahem, lighthearted fare, perhaps reminiscing about Dave Chappelle’s best work in preparation for his three new forthcoming Netflix specials is in order. And everyone in the family will be interested to know that supercapacitors could someday have us measuring battery life in terms of weeks instead of hours, while reducing charging times to mere seconds.
An impossible drive?
Scientists are trying to figure out this drive that produces thrust without any fuel
If humanity plans to reach locations beyond our own solar system, new methods of propulsion will be required. We’re still not sure how the EM Drive’s microwave thruster works (or if it really works), but NASA’s first peer-reviewed paper on it is now available. Ultimately, that just means more research is in order, but if we can harness the power of bouncing microwaves, there could be a 41-day voyage to Mars in your future.
Tango is still a work in progress
Review: Lenovo Phab 2 Pro
Bleeding-edge tech isn’t everything, as Chris Velazco found out reviewing Lenovo’s Phab 2 Pro. It’s the first device shipping with Google’s Project Tango tech built-in, which lets it recognize and operate as an augmented reality device in all new ways. Unfortunately, the hardware and software combo isn’t quite polished, it’s huge, and there’s no killer app available yet.
Just a taste
24 hours with Sony’s A99 II
Sony’s new DSLR-like shooter is almost here, and while we don’t have a full review yet, you can experience its 42.2MP capabilities via these sample photos.
Some of the best discounts in gadgets and gamesBlack Friday 2016 deals
After Thanksgiving dinner, it’s time for Black Friday shopping. We’ve sorted through the best deals on phones, drones, TVs and more to put them all in one place for you.
In the eyes of a Model XTesla’s latest autonomous drive video shows you what the car sees
Not everyone is ready to trust self-driving cars, but maybe they should check out this demo. Tesla posted another video of one of its cars making a trip entirely under its own control, overlaid with views of exactly what its onboard cameras and computer are seeing as it drives down the road.
Clickbait battleTo battle fake news is to battle brain chemistry
That fake news is proliferating online isn’t a question, but why do people press “share”? Data shows that headlines with extreme emotion induce people to click, so we had researchers look at fake news headlines through the prism of sentiment analysis.
“SNL” was just the startDave Chappelle will release three comedy specials on Netflix
Right on time, Dave Chappelle is returning to the spotlight. After an impressive spot hosting “Saturday Night Live,” the comedian has signed a deal with Netflix for a rumored $60 million. Their agreement will apparently cover one all-new special, plus two others based on unreleased material from previous performances.
But wait, there’s more…
- New battery tech lasts for days, charges in seconds
- Review: LG V20
- Should a developer’s politics ruin a game I love?
- Mark Zuckerberg on how Facebook is fighting fake news
EE’s 4G coverage now exceeds that of any 3G network in the UK, the carrier has announced, after it switched on 800MHz spectrum capacity at 700 cell sites across the country. This filled in 5,000 square kilometers of 4G ‘not spots’ and improved indoor coverage in half a million homes overnight, according to the provider (the low-frequency signals penetrate trees, walls and such better, you see). EE hopes to add 800MHz capacity to a further 3,000 sites before the end of next year, too.
Thanks to the new spectrum rollout, parts of Shropshire, Somerset, Snowdonia, Oban, Glasgow, Berkshire and Derbyshire have been graced with 4G coverage for the first time. There is a bit of fine print attached to this, though. Because these areas are only covered by 4G frequencies, customers need a Voice over LTE (VoLTE)-capable phone to make calls on the network. EE began enabling VoLTE on its network this summer, and plans to launch a compatible own-brand device for under £100 next year.
From January next year, EE will begin reporting coverage in geographical terms, and it’s calling on competitors and regulator Ofcom to make it the new industry standard. Historically, mobile providers have reported population coverage, and where those numbers are concerned, there’s little to separate them. With the largest 4G network around, now covering 75 percent of UK land area, it’s obviously in EE’s interests for this to happen so it can boast the best numbers.
EE hopes to have 95 percent of the UK covered by 2020, though it’ll have to do that with limited spectrum. Just a few days ago, Ofcom banned the behemoth that is BT and EE from bidding on one of two slices of new spectrum in next year’s 4G auction. This doesn’t go quite far enough for Three, however, which has accused the regulator of letting deeper-pocketed carriers horde spectrum.
It’s no surprise EE mentioned how many not spots it killed with its new spectrum, either. A cross-party group of MPs recently called for an amendment to the in-transit Digital Economy Bill that would allow Ofcom to fine operators that failed to meet 2014 coverage targets. You may remember that same year, the UK government was thinking about forcing carriers to share their networks to eliminate coverage not spots. There were serious concerns it would be a technical nightmare, however, and the big four carriers convinced the government to ditch the plan by committing to invest £5 billion in infrastructure.
Google’s AI is not just better at grasping languages like Mandarin, but can now translate between two languages it hasn’t even trained on. In a research paper, Google reveals how it uses its own “interlingua” to internally represent phrases, regardless of the language. The resulting “zero-shot” deep learning lets it translate a language pair with “reasonable” accuracy, as long as it has translated them both into another common language.
The company recently switched its Translate feature to the deep-learning Google Neural Machine Translation (GNMT) system. That’s an “end-to-end learning framework that learns from millions of examples,” the company says, and has drastically improved translation quality. The problem is, Google Translate works with 103 languages, meaning there are 5,253 language “pairs” to be translated. If you multiply that by the millions of examples needed for training, it’s insanely CPU intensive.
After training the system with several language pairs like English-to-Japanese and English-to-Korean, researchers wondered if they could translate a pair that the system hadn’t learned yet. In other words, can the system do a “zero-shot” translation between Japanese and Korean? “Impressively, the answer is yes — it can generate reasonable Korean to Japanese translations, even though it has never been taught to do so,” Google says.
Even the researchers aren’t 100 percent sure of how it works, because deep learning networks are notoriously difficult to understand. However, they were able to peek into a three-language model using a 3D representation of the internal data (above). When zooming in, the researchers noticed that the system automatically groups sentences with the same meanings from three different languages.
In essence, it developed its own “interlingua” internal representation for similar phrases or sentences. “This means the network must be encoding something about the semantics of the sentence rather than simply memorizing phrase-to-phrase translations,” the researchers write. “We interpret this as a sign of existence of an interlingua in the network.”
In one experiment, for instance, the team merged 12 language pairs into a model the same size as for a single pair. Despite the drastically reduced code base, they achieved “only slightly lower translation quality” than with a dedicated two-language model. “Our approach has been shown to work reliably in a Google-scale production setting and enables us to scale to a large number of languages quickly,” the team says. Bear in mind that it only started seriously working on AI for languages a short time ago, so its rapid progress is pretty scary — especially if you’re a professional translator.
Apple Offering Free Gift Cards Worth Up to $200 With Select Purchases in Australia and New Zealand Today
Apple’s one-day shopping event is now live in Australia and New Zealand, offering customers free Apple Store gift cards worth up to A$200 or NZ$215 with the purchase of selected Apple products today only.
The offers are available through Apple’s website in both countries and at Apple retail store locations in Australia. Each customer is limited to two gift cards per product category. Refurbished products do not qualify.
In Australia, Apple is offering a $35 gift card with the purchase of an iPhone SE, or a $70 gift card with the purchase of an iPhone 6s or iPhone 6s Plus, at full retail price. iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus models do not appear to qualify.
Australian customers can also get a $140 gift card with the purchase of an iPad Pro, $70 gift card with the purchase of an iPad Air 2 or iPad mini 4, and a $35 gift card with the purchase of an Apple Watch Series 1 model or fourth-generation Apple TV.
The exact breakdown of Apple’s one-day shopping event in Australia:
The exact breakdown of Apple’s one-day shopping event in New Zealand:
Apple will be hosting similar one-day shopping events in the United States, Belgium, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, UAE, the United Kingdom, and elsewhere on Friday.
Tags: Australia, Apple retail
Discuss this article in our forums