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15
Feb

Sit down and relax in our favorite office chairs


Anyone who works a typical 9-to-5 job knows that sitting is the bane of their existence. Our backs and overall body structure aren’t made to withstand hours sitting at a desk, but work often demands just that. Opting for the proper office chair, one designed to cradle you as you work and provide you with the ample comfort, is a practical and well-advised solution.

More: Don’t just sit there, check out the best standing desks you can buy

The best chairs go beyond what you’d expect. Many offer resounding ergonomic benefits, breathable mesh backing, and excellent lumbar support, while simultaneously granting you a swath of customization options spanning everything from colors to contours. None of them are going to be a cure-all for your workday woes — at least, not in the way a standing desk might be — but customized suspension and the appropriate aesthetics go far in the long haul.

The Best: Herman Miller Embody

best office chairs

So, what is it about the Embody we hold so revered? It’s a fair question, sure, especially considering the Embody’s lofty price tag and accompanying shipping costs. Well, for starters, the chair offers a dynamic matrix of “pixels” that allow the seat and back to automatically conform to your body’s every movement, while the chair’s central spine and flexible ribs work to maintain proper posture regardless if you lean forward or recline. Said movement capabilities help promote better blood and oxygen flow, and if that wasn’t enough, the advanced tilt mechanism helps combat unwanted hip, neck, and lumbar strain. The chair even sizes to fit your body perfectly, comes in a swath of colors, and features a skin-like covering for increased airflow.

Price: $1,160+

Buy one now from:

Amazon Office Designs

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15
Feb

Common Google Pixel problems and the solutions to deal with them


So you’re having a few problems with your new Google Pixel? There’s no need to panic. All smartphones, especially new ones, have their fair share of issues, bugs, and glitches, from the unique to the familiar. Of course, if you’ve just spent a large sum of money to acquire Google’s phone, there’s no doubt you want it to be in perfect, working condition. We can help with that.

More: 20 Google Pixel and Pixel XL tips and tricks

Below, we’ve detailed multiple problems that Google Pixel owners have experienced, as well as as a few potential solutions and workarounds to deal with them. If you’re having a Pixel problem, this list will help you get your smartphone back in working order.

Problem: Pixel won’t charge or isn’t charging correctly

Some Pixel owners on Google’s product forums have reportedly been unable to charge their Pixel phones. In other cases, the phone does begin charging, but it’s not as responsive or quick as it should be.

Potential solutions:

  • Try a different wall outlet, the one you’ve been using may be faulty.
  • Try your charger with another device. If it doesn’t charge the other device, the charger may be faulty and you’ll need a replacement.
  • Restart your Google Pixel.
  • Clean the Pixel’s charging port.
  • Connect your phone to power and wait about a minute:
    • If you see a battery icon, your phone is currently off, but is charging. You can restart it.
    • If there’s a red light, the battery is fully discharged. Charge your phone for at least 30 minutes before restarting it.
  • Press and hold the Volume down and Power buttons for about 20 seconds. If you see the Android mascot and the word “Start” with an arrow around it, press and hold the Volume down button until you see “Power Off.” Use the Power button to select it, then charge your device for 30 mins. Restart your Pixel.
  • If none of the above solves your issue, reach out to Google.
15
Feb

At long last, ‘Pokémon Go’ adds monsters from ‘Gold’ and ‘Silver’


Why it matters to you

Lapsed Pokémon trainers may now finally have a reason to go back to Pokémon Go

Tired of catching 37 Weedles whenever you go outside to play Pokémon Go? Thanks to the game’s next content update, fans will have an additional 80 monsters to catch from the Gold and Silver games, and it just might be what developer Niantic needs to draw former players back into its world.

“Starting later this week, you’ll have the opportunity to catch more than 80 Pokémon originals discovered in the Johto region in the Pokémon Gold and Pokémon Silver games,” said Niantic in the announcement.

This, coupled with the “baby” second-generation Pokémon added to the game late last year, mean that nearly every new monster introduced in Gold and Silver will soon be available in Pokémon Go. The update also adds “gender-specific variations” to give more diversity to the Pokémon we’ve already seen, and the Kanto-region monster that previously couldn’t evolve will now be able to do so thanks to additional items available at PokéStops.

More: Pokémon Go sprints to $1 billion milestone ahead of generation 2 update

The update also includes a few changes to the game’s interface — berries and Poké Balls will now be easier to select — and wild creatures will now “react in new ways as you’re trying to catch them.” If you’re getting bored with the look of your trainer, you can also trick them out with a selection of new cosmetic items.

But for all the new content this update includes, what’s just as important is what it doesn’t include. Though mentioned as a potential feature by Niantic back in September, trainers still can’t trade Pokémon with each other, unlike every “main” game in the series. Battles are also still limited to gyms, and fans have been pleading since the game’s launch for one-versus-one matches to be implemented.

Are the new Pokémon enough to get you back into Pokémon Go? Let us know in the comments!

15
Feb

Asus ROG Strix GL553VD-DS71 review


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Research Center:
Asus ROG Strix GL553VD-DS71

Asus has made a name for itself as a manufacturer of reliable, affordable, and surprisingly capable gaming machines, under the Republic of Gamers brand. The latest, the ROG Strix, has all the makings of an excellent gaming laptop. This is a notebook that weighs in at 5.5 pounds, and is slightly over an inch thick, yet it boasts a GeForce GTX 1050 graphics card, an Intel Core i7-7700HQ CPU, and 16GB of RAM.

Couple that performance with a retail price of $1,100, and the Strix starts to look very appealing. It has a decent price, solid specs, all in an attractive package. In other words, the Strix seems like it should be a killer deal. But does it live up to that perception?

Sleek, pleasant, and troubling

When you first behold the Strix, named after a genus of predatory owls, you’ll notice that it’s a little less flashy than its predecessors. Like a sleek predator, the Strix conveys a sense of quiet power, of quality, and sophistication — despite its bright orange accents. It’s a refreshing change, a compromise between gaudy “gamer” styling and slick professional design, and it works. It’s clear this is a gaming laptop, but it’s not ostentatious or eye-rollingly over-the-top.

More: Razer’s updated BlackWidow Chroma keyboard gets yellow and a comfy wrist rest

Unfortunately, some of that luster wears off once you close the lid for the first time, and apply even slight pressure to the back of the display. The metal plate on the back of the display, where the bright orange acrylic panels reside, snaps inward like a fresh-seal cap on a jar of jelly. Press on the back with less force than you’d use to push a key on the keyboard, and the aluminum pops like a Snapple lid.

At first, it looked like it might just be a design quirk. After all, a lot of laptops have some amount of give in the display lid, and can be bent to a degree. This is different. When even a minuscule amount of pressure is applied to the back of the laptop, the aluminum case pops inward hard enough to visibly bruise the interior of the LCD.

asus rog strix gl  vd ds review vBill Roberson/Digital Trends

asus rog strix gl  vd ds review vBill Roberson/Digital Trends

asus rog strix gl  vd ds review vBill Roberson/Digital Trends

asus rog strix gl  vd ds review vBill Roberson/Digital Trends

Imagine you have the Strix in your bag, or backpack, with a water bottle, travel mug, or even a couple pens in an adjacent pocket. Any amount of pressure placed on the back of the laptop causes the lid to pop inward and put pressure on the LCD. Over time, you might even inadvertently cause serious damage to the screen simply by putting the laptop through the rigors of a daily commute.

To find out if this was simply a manufacturer defect, or a design flaw, we took a closer look at the culprit. The metal plate on the back of the Strix has two creases where the metal was bent to create an accent effect for the orange acrylic inserts. It looks nice, and adds some aesthetic appeal to the striated metal back plate. But those creases also create the structural flaw which causes the Snapple-lid effect.

Asus ROG Strix GL553VD-DS71 Compared To

asus rog strix gl  vd ds review acer predator product

Acer Predator 15

asus rog strix gl  vd ds review avadirect avant p dm g press

AVADirect Avant P750DM2-G

asus rog strix gl  vd ds review g vs xb k product

Asus ROG G752VS-XB78K

asus rog strix gl  vd ds review acer predator x product

Acer Predator 17 X GX-791-73FH

asus rog strix gl  vd ds review origin pc eos s and get the amd radeon hd m

Origin EON 17-S (2014)

asus rog strix gl  vd ds review g jx press image

Asus G750JX-DB71

asus rog strix gl  vd ds review alienware m x r

Alienware M17x R4

asus rog strix gl  vd ds review maingear ex l

Maingear eX-L 17

asus rog strix gl  vd ds review g j d

Asus G51J 3D

Asus G51VX

Gateway P-7808u FX Edition

Gateway P-7801u FX Edition

Asus G50VT

Dell XPS M1730

Alienware Area-51 m9750

So, this isn’t a one-off factory defect. This is a problem that will affect the entire product line, and it’s something you need to check out in person if you’re considering this laptop.

Throwback thursday

The Strix offers a number of ports, with a good amount of variety. The left side houses two USB Type-A ports, and one USB Type-C port, alongside an HDMI port, a headphone jack, and an Ethernet port. The right side has an extra USB Type-C port, and the rest of the real estate on that side is taken up by an optical drive.

Optical drives are less common than they used to be, so it seems like an odd choice. That real estate might have been better used for a few extra ports or an extra vent. As optical drives go, though, this one feels a little flimsy, and rattles around a fair amount even when the tray is secured and closed.

Satisfying clicks

Lately, laptop manufacturers have been putting a little extra effort into the keyboards and trackpads on their flagship gaming laptops, and it’s definitely appreciated. The Strix benefits from that trend, providing a keyboard with excellent key travel, and a surprisingly high-quality feel. It has a little give, as most laptop keyboards do, but the keys themselves are responsive, clicky, and satisfying to the touch.

The Strix features an excellent display, rich stereo sound.

Of course, it wouldn’t be a gaming laptop if it didn’t have an LED backlit keyboard. The lights on display here are sharp, bright, and transition smoothly from one color to another. They’re programmable via an included ROG Aura app, which allows you to set up transition animations, and customize each zone with its own color.

The trackpad feels great. It’s slick, with a matte texture that is pleasant to the touch. It’s also surprisingly accurate, sharp enough to use in games like Civilization VI, or other turn-based games that don’t require the precision and speed an external mouse provides.

Sharp picture, rich sound

Despite its flaws, the Strix manages to set itself apart when it comes to display and audio quality. A 1080p screen isn’t as cutting-edge as it used to be, but it’s a good standby, and the Strix is outfitted with an incredibly rich display even for a gaming laptop. This thing hits about 840:1 contrast, which is what you should expect from a high-end desktop monitor. On a laptop, it’s particularly stunning.

Colors are rich and vibrant, darks are deep and inky. Running through some high-resolution black-and-white photos, the Strix’s display rendered them perfectly, with an appreciable contrast between the brightest whites and the darkest darks.

More: The best laptop you can buy

Shadows and lowlights appeared stark and black without trending toward gray. Additionally, the Strix didn’t appear to suffer any amount of light bleed around the edges of the display, an issue common even in high-end gaming laptops.

Here you can see the Strix leaving the competitors in the dust when it comes to out-of-the-box picture quality. The color accuracy is close enough to perfect that you can trust the Strix’s display for color-sensitive work like photo editing in a pinch, but not quite enough to ditch a professional grade desktop monitor.

Similarly, the Strix faithfully reproduces 75 percent of the AdobeRGB spectrum, just a little more than the Acer Predator 15, and AVADirect Avant, which hit 73 percent and 71 percent, respectively. These are decent scores for laptop displays, which typically have a lower color gamut than a full-on desktop display.

Sound off

Moving on, the Strix is outfitted with a set of speakers that can produce rich, deep sounds a step above what you might be used to on a gaming laptop. The Acer Predator 15 features a set of speakers that produced hollow, relatively empty sounds that felt like they were coming out of a set of cheap earbuds. The Strix, by comparison, reproduces rich and lifelike sound without any noticeable clipping.

They also offer surprisingly precise directional sounds. It’s certainly no surround sound speaker system, but in games like Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, ambient sound has a directionality you don’t often hear on laptop speakers. Civilians talking to each other on your left, giant robot cops stomping through the streets on your right, sound moving in and out as you pass by or get closer. It’s a pleasant surprise.

Whelming performance

When it comes to processor speed, the Strix manages to keep up with the competition, but never quite pushes past similarly outfitted competitors. That said, the Strix is outfitted with a 7th-generation quad-core Intel Core i7-7700HQ processor clocked at 2.8GHz, which proves to be very nimble in everyday use.

In our tests the Strix managed to stay right in the middle of the pack, with solid single and multi-core scores in Geekbench, just below the desktop-grade AVADirect Avant’s Core i5-6600K, and just above the Acer Predator 15’s Intel Core i7-6700HQ.

When converting a 4K video using Handbrake, the Strix achieves similar results, landing just between the AVADirect Avant and the Acer Predator 15. All in all, it’s a decent performer, never falling below performance expectations, but also never quite exceeding them.

Big but slow

If there’s one thing the Strix has an excess of, its storage space. Given how big games are getting, its 1TB hard disk will fill up faster than it would have just a year ago, but it’s still a staggering amount of space.

Because it features a standard hard disk, as opposed to a quicker SSD, the speed you can expect when reading or writing files will be well below what you might be used to. In fact, it’s downright slow, and despite its size, a quicker 256GB SSD would have been a more flexible choice — just enough space for a few games, and enough speed to move files around without any major issues.

More: The 10 best laptops from CES 2017 will have you itching to upgrade

Above you can see its read/write speeds are about on par with the comparable AVADirect Avant’s hard disk, but they’re far slower than the Acer Predator 15’s SSD, and all three are much slower than the MSI GS63VR’s lightning-fast SSD, which managed an impressive read speed of nearly two gigabytes per second.

Underpowered, underwhelming

Featuring an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 with 4GB of RAM, the Strix is no slouch when it comes to horsepower. Keep in mind, Nvidia has all but done away with pared-down mobile GPUs for gaming laptops, and this GTX 1050 is the real deal — an almost-desktop-grade graphics card in a 15.6-inch laptop, albeit the lowest-power option in Nvidia’s latest generation.

It is still a budget gaming notebook, but with those specs it should be able to hold its own against competitors and offer decent framerates at high settings. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. The GTX 1050 is a decent graphics card, but it really pales in comparison to even a GTX 1060, just one step up the Nvidia performance ladder.

Let’s look at the performance from the Acer Predator 15 G9-593. The unit we reviewed featured a GTX 1060 graphics card, and averaged 58 frames per second in Deus Ex: Mankind Divided on high , while the Strix averaged 28.3 frames per second. That’s not bad, but it’s a huge gap, and well below the display’s 60Hz refresh rate so gameplay isn’t as smooth as it could be.

On ultra-high detail settings, the gap between these two cards widens significantly. In Deus Ex the Strix’s GTX 1050 manages a barely playable 20 frames per second on average, while the Acer Predator 15 hits an average frame rate of 37 frames per second.

Those are some serious performance gains, and you can see the GTX 1060 in the Acer Predator 15 beating out the GTX 1050 in the Asus by similar margins in Civilization VI. Now, to be fair, the GTX 1060 is a bit more expensive than the GTX 1050, but those performance gains are not marginal. The GTX 1050 is a card that will likely start to show its age very quickly. It already has trouble running recent games at high and ultra-high detail settings in 1080p.

Heating up

While performing our gaming benchmarks, we noticed another peculiar issue. The Strix has a bad habit of accumulating an enormous amount of heat. There are two big intake vents on the underside of the laptop, and one exhaust vent on the left-hand side, where all the internal heat gets pushed out. The vent heats up and it heats up fast. After just ten minutes of running Battlefield 1 the desk beside the vent heated up to about 110 degrees Fahrenheit.

After about half an hour, the vent becomes nearly too hot to touch, hitting temperatures around 130 degrees Fahrenheit according to our IR thermometer. Thankfully, internal temperatures climbed only gradually while gaming, and remained well within tolerable levels. This is just an issue of dispersal, an extra vent would probably remedy this issue, taking the heat — literally and figuratively — off of that single vent.

Easy to carry, easy to drain

The Strix is a gaming laptop, and as such, it’s packed to the gills with heavy, power-hungry hardware. That means it’s not exactly dainty, but it is thinner than many of its competitors.

At five and a half pounds, it’s not too overbearing during a daily commute, and many laptop bags comfortably accommodate a 15.6-inch laptop like the Strix. Even when accompanied by a travel mug and a few other items, it doesn’t make your bag cut into your shoulder like some bigger, heavier laptops — looking at you, Predator 15.

asus rog strix gl  vd ds review vBill Roberson/Digital Trends

asus rog strix gl  vd ds review vBill Roberson/Digital Trends

That pleasantly slender form factor may have resulted in a bit of a problem for the Strix — its battery life is notably lacking due to the undersized 48Wh battery its equipped with. For comparison, the Dell Inspiron 7500, another 15.6-inch laptop with a similar form factor, features a 75Wh battery — and it came out in 2015. There’s really no excuse for packing a gaming laptop with such a small battery, especially considering the Strix is fitted with a nearly desktop-grade video card which puts heavy demands on the battery life.

In our tests the Strix’s battery barely broke two hours of battery life on a full charge, and about two and a half hours during light usage. You might be able to stretch that out by turning the brightness down, the LED keyboard off, and sticking to word processing or other everyday tasks, but you should probably also pack a charger.

Still, its battery underperformed compared to nearly every other gaming laptop we’ve tested recently. The Strix couldn’t keep up with the Acer Predator 15 in this area either, which had less-than-stellar battery life — between two-and-a-half and three hours on a full charge.

Helpful utilities on demand

The Strix somehow manages to be less than the sum of its parts.

The included software is light, and you won’t find much in the way of manufacturer bloatware. In our experience, the included Asus-branded utilities worked well, and provided helpful functionality, no redundancies or uninstallation-fodder here.

The Asus ROG-branded utilities are available at the push of a button, the one on the keyboard that looks like a scary eyeball. Press it, and the ROG suite pops up, with diagnostic information presented front-and-center. Other utilities are linked at the bottom of the window, which is a nice addition so you don’t have to go digging for your LED settings.

Warranty information

The Strix includes a standard one-year warranty, covering parts and labor for any manufacturer defects you might encounter. That’s a standard warranty for a laptop, but some manufacturers like Acer slap on an extra year for gaming laptops.

Our Take

The Asus ROG Strix GL553VD somehow manages to be less than the sum of its parts. Despite having decent, middle-of-the-road specs, it’s plagued by a handful of significant design flaws and surprisingly underwhelming performance. The speakers, display, and processor performance can’t quite manage to make up for the Strix’s other flaws.

Is there a better alternative?

Yes, there are several better alternatives. Here’s the thing about the Strix: it’s $1,100 price point is reasonable, and because of that it’s easy to forgive some of the serious problems we encountered — until you start looking at what else is available.

The Acer Predator 15 will run you at least an extra $300, but what you get is a gaming laptop that doesn’t pull any punches and manages to impress at nearly every turn. On the other end of the spectrum, the latest Dell Inspiron 15 Gaming has very similar specs for just $899, with the same video card and a sturdier, more thermal-efficient design.

The DT Accessory Pack

Razer BlackWidow Chroma V2 gaming keyboard

$170

SteelSeries Arctis 5 gaming headset

$100

Razer DeathAdder Chroma gaming mouse

$50

How long will it last?

The Strix will likely outlast its own video card. The build quality is solid, despite the Snapple-lid issue, which might cause some screen fatigue over time, but will likely hold up for a few years. The GTX 1050, however, is already starting to show its age.

It has trouble running new games at high and ultra-high settings, and those problems are only going to get worse over the course of 2017. By the time 2018 rolls around, you’ll still be able to run new games, but you’ll probably be doing so only after paring back the detail settings significantly.

Should you buy it?

Unfortunately, no, you shouldn’t buy it. Hold off, and see if Asus fixes some of these issues, or spend a little extra to pick up an Acer Predator 15 — or even save a little cash and pick up the latest Dell Inspiron. A good display and surprisingly rich speakers don’t quite make up for the underwhelming performance and troubling structural issues from which the Strix suffers.

15
Feb

Chuwi confirms February release date for its Hi13 2-in-1 tablet


Why it matters to you

2-in-1 tablets have become big business in recent years, and the Hi13 is one of several devices looking to knock Microsoft’s Surface line from its perch.

Last month, Chuwi announced its Hi13 2-in-1 tablet at the Consumer Electronic Show, but didn’t reveal when the system would be made available, or how much it would cost. Now, the company has decided that it’s time to share that information — and the tablet will be launching sooner than you might have expected.

The Chuwi Hi13 will be available starting February 20. However, the device’s pricing is perhaps even more surprising, as it’s set to retail for just $369, according to a report from Liliputing. For comparison, Microsoft’s Surface Pro 4 is priced from $799, while the Surface Book starts at $1,299.

Of course, that’s not to say that the Hi13 is able to match specs with the most capable devices in the Surface line. However, anyone that’s simply looking for a potent 2-in-1 tablet with impressive 3,000 x 2,000 screen resolution might have a more difficult decision to make once Chuwi’s hybrid hits the scene.

More: Chuwi spills more details about its new Hi13 2-in-1 packing an ‘Apollo Lake’ CPU

The Hi13 comes with Windows 10 Home pre-installed, and also offers support for Ubuntu. The system features an Intel Celeron N3450 processor, 4GB of RAM, and 64GB of eMMC storage. The device is also equipped with a MicroSD card slot that allows for up to 128GB of removable storage to be added.

Its 13.5-inch display offers support for 10-point multi-touch input. In terms of connectivity, it’s outfitted with a USB Type-C port, a micro HDMI port, and two full-sized USB ports. The Hi13 is designed for use with peripherals like Chuwi’s HiPen H3 digital pen, and a detachable keyboard.

Given the continued strength of the Surface brand, it’s unlikely that Microsoft is preparing for a major shift in the 2-in-1 market once the Hi13 launches later this month. However, it’s clear that more and more companies are fielding their own hybrid devices to contest this sector, so there’s likely to be plenty more competition for the Surface line in the months and years ahead.

15
Feb

Uber finally lets Android Wear owners hail rides with their smartwatches


Why it matters to you

Smartwatches are useful if you can perform actions without the need of a smartphone, and Uber is helping Android Wear grow up with the option to hail a ride from your wrist.

Attention, Android Wear smartwatch owners: You can finally hail an Uber from your wrist. Support for the Wear app was announced at I/O 2015, Google’s annual developer conference, but it has taken the ride-booking company a whopping 21 months to deliver.

Now that Android Wear 2.0 is available on the LG Watch Sport and Watch Style — with a roll out to current smartwatches arriving at the end of the month — apps can be downloaded directly by the Android Wear Play Store app without the need for a phone. The stand-alone watch features in version 2.0 also mean you hardly need to interact with your phone to hail a ride with the Uber app.

More: Will your watch get Android Wear 2.0? Read our guide to find out

After installation, open the Uber app and you’ll be prompted to sign in — you’ll need to enter your login details via your phone, but you don’t need the Uber app on your phone to do this. You’ll then need to allow the Wear app to access your location — and that’s it. You can then drop a pin wherever you want and press the check mark. Set a destination, choose what type of ride and price you want — you have all the options depending on your location from UberPool and UberX to UberXL and SUV. Tap request, and a driver should be on the way.

You can check the driver’s ETA and progress to you, and the vehicle’s model and license plate number. Once you’re in the car you can view your progress to your destination.

Right now, it looks like Uber is the only on-demand ride-hailing service for Android Wear users — there’s no alternative, though Lyft used to have an app. It’s likely the company is working on a Android Wear 2.0 stand-alone app to compete with Uber.

More: Are cash payments to blame for assaults against Uber drivers in Brazil?

You can download the Uber app from the Android Wear Play Store now if you have the LG Watch Sport or Style, but you’ll have to wait until the latest version of the smartwatch operating system makes its way to existing smartwatches later this month.

15
Feb

Apple reportedly looks to Chinese supplier for iPhone displays amid OLED shortage


Why it matters to you

OLED displays are popular for their impressive contrast and energy-saving capabilities, but supply issues may dictate whether Apple can use the tech on its next iPhone.

Apple has been assembling a team of suppliers to satisfy demand for OLED displays in future iPhones, and it appears one of those suppliers could be China’s BOE Technology Group, according to Bloomberg.

The switch from LCD technology, which has powered every previous iPhone, to OLED has been one of the major changes predicted for the upcoming iPhone 8. Trouble is, OLED panels are more costly and difficult to produce, and Samsung, which was initially tipped to be Apple’s exclusive OLED supplier for this year’s batch of smartphones, is not confident it will be able to produce enough. This has caused Apple to look elsewhere, and one of the companies it is reportedly courting is BOE.

More: More leaks suggest wireless charging for the iPhone 8, as well as better battery life

BOE, which Bloomberg cites as the world’s largest producer of LCD displays by market value, is constructing one plant in Chengdu specifically for OLED manufacturing purposes, scheduled to be completed in the summer, and will start up on another in Mianyang soon after. Apple has been testing BOE’s displays for months, according to the report, and is still unsure if it will enlist the company’s services. While BOE seems likely to miss the cutoff for the iPhone 8, the companies might partner on Apple’s 2018 smartphones, and BOE is ramping up capacity in response.

The upshot of all of this is that Apple still may not have enough OLED displays on hand by the end of the year to equip the entire iPhone range — something the Cupertino, California, company was reportedly considering. Even with production from LG, Japan Display, and Sharp, in addition to Samsung, some analysts say Apple might be forced to restrict OLED to the flagship iPhone 8, or just shelve the new screens entirely until next year.

OLED displays are favored for their impressive contrast ratio and frugal energy consumption compared to conventional LCD. Previous sources have suggested the iPhone 8’s implementation could be curved and run from side to side, similar to Samsung’s Galaxy Edge series.

15
Feb

Now on sale for $300, the Intel NUC Core i5 is a mini PC with plenty of power


Computer hardware is getting smaller and smaller, and even laptops — once a revolutionary step forward from bulky desktop PCs — are no longer the most portable game in town. You likely carry a small computer with you throughout the day in the form of a smartphone, but now, even desktop PC technology is small enough to be packed into cases that can easily fit in your bag. Models like the versatile Intel NUC Core i5 mini PC, now available on Amazon for a 22-percent discount which brings it down to just $300, offer desktop-like performance in a compact package that can go with you anywhere.

The NUC6i5SYH mini PC sports a Core i5-6260U built on Intel’s sixth-generation processor architecture. The dual-core CPU boasts 1.9GHz of clock speed which can be increased up to 2.8GHz with Intel Turbo technology. The integrated Iris 540 graphics processor offers 4K display capabilities for crisp high-definition video output via HDMI or the Mini DisplayPort. For audio, the compact computer supports 7.1 surround sound and the 3.5mm audio jack allows use of headphones and microphones.

More: Need a gaming monitor on a budget? Score $171 off a 24-inch Samsung monitor

Intel NUC Core i5 mini PCDual-channel DDR4 RAM slots can handle up to 32GB of memory and the Intel NUC Core i5 supports a 2.5-inch internal HDD at SATA3 speeds. You can also upgrade your hard drive performance by installing a 2.5-inch SSD or compatible M.2 SSD card. Intel Wireless-AC 8260 M.2 antennas support Wi-Fi as well as Bluetooth 4.1 for wireless connectivity, and an Ethernet port on the back gives you wired internet when necessary. Four USB 3.0 ports and an SDHC card reader take care of your portable storage and data transfer needs.

At just 5 inches wide and 5.5 inches thick, this lightweight mini PC can be your portable computing companion for work and play. Now at $300 on Amazon, the Intel NUC Core i5 is available at an $86 discount for a limited time.

$300 on Amazon

15
Feb

Pioneer’s Rayz Plus Lightning earbuds let you juice up your iPhone while listening


Why it matters to you

If you often find yourself pausing your music to charge your iPhone 7, these headphones will finally let you listen in peace.

When Apple released the iPhone 7 without a headphone jack, it was the end of an era. Like it or not, it’s doubtful the company will re-introduce the headphone jack in the future. Headphones with Lightning connectors are gaining in number, but many introduce another problem in that you cannot charge and listen at the same time. With its new Rayz Plus earphones, Pioneer lets you do both.

Pioneer’s Rayz line, announced on Wednesday, consists of two models: the Rayz and Rayz Plus. The models are similar when it comes to most features, but only the Rayz Plus offer the built-in Lightning port that enables charging while listening. Even so, both models do make use of the Lightning connector on iOS devices.

More: How to use the old headphones you love with the new iPhone 7

Both the Rayz and Rayz Plus make use of Avnera’s LightX platform, which the company says allows them to use the least possible power from iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch devices. The company doesn’t go so far as to say if this means more or less power draw than Apple’s own Lightning EarPods, but the LightX platform does enable features that Pioneer says isn’t possible with a standard 3.5mm jack.

Each mode features six embedded microphones for a feature Pioneer calls Smart Noise Cancellation, which is supposed to scan your ear and optimize the cancellation for your ears and environment. These microphones can also detect when you’re wearing the earphones and when you’re not, allowing for smart pausing of playback when you take them off and resuming playback when you put them back on. This also causes the headphones to enter a low- power mode, saving you precious battery life.

A companion app, called Rayz by Pioneer, is available in the App Store and allows you to adjust the EQ as well as program the “smart button,” a feature available on both models. This button allows you to quickly and easy open apps without having to reach into your pocket for your phone.

More: Pioneer’s latest 2-channel receiver features hi-res audio, Chromecast

The Pioneer Rayz will be available in Onyx and Ice for $100, while the Rayz Plus come in graphite and bronze metallic finishes for $150. Neither model is available now, but Pioneer says that the earphones will be sold via OneCall. For more information on the new Rayz line, see the company’s website.

15
Feb

Clever new water bottle tricks your brain into thinking regular H2O is flavored


Why it matters to you

Water is an incredibly healthy drink, but it sure can get boring! The creator of this flavor-changing water bottle Kickstarter wants to help.

Do you get bored of drinking plain old water when you’re out jogging, but don’t want to switch it for another drink that’s full of added junk and preservatives? Then 20-year-old pre-med student Saef Munir may have the perfect solution in the form of his innovative “Flavour Bottle.”

Currently raising funds on Kickstarter, the Flavour Bottle is a regular water bottle with a scented silicone spout. Since smell accounts for up to 80 percent of our sensation of taste, the idea is that the proximity of the scent essentially tricks your brain into thinking that what you’re drinking carries a flavor when in fact it’s purely water.

More: Everything can taste sweet with the Taste Buddy gadget

Flavors available for pre-order include strawberry, watermelon, orange, grape, and cola (which can be augmented by using carbonated water), so interested parties should be able to find one they like to quench their thirst.

“I am a future medical school student who had the idea when I was in my college anatomy class and learned about the connection between taste and smell,” Munir told Digital Trends. “I’ve worked on this product for the past three years, starting with a scented water bottle cap, scented ring, and eventually to a prototype scented straw and then scented spout. The straw worked the best because drinking through it allowed a person to breathe in while drinking, while the ring and cap did not work as well because a person had to consciously smell and drink at the same time. That is how we came to create the scented spout.”

Each scent reportedly lasts up to twelve months, depending on usage. You don’t have to throw the whole thing away once the taste has worn off, though, but can instead buy additional lids to replace the old one. Munir said that the lids are safe, with the spout made of a material similar to the edible waxes that are incorporated into paper coffee cups to keep them from leaking. The flavorings have also been approved by the FDA.

“We think it’s great for people who are trying to get in their water goals, but can’t because of their addiction to sugary drinks,” Munir continued. “It’s also great for kids to build up healthy water habits, [as well as for] diabetics as they cannot enjoy sugary beverages — but with this product they are able to get a taste of that.”

Flavour Bottle prices start at $20, with a shipping (or should we say “sipping?” No, we shouldn’t!) date set for July 2017.

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