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4
Mar

Can’t sleep? Text Dirty Lemon and see if its Sleep potion will help


Why it matters to you

Getting a good night’s rest is crucial, and you may be able to do it with the Sleep beverage from Dirty Lemon.

Finally, a nightcap that won’t make you feel like you need to wear a ball cap the next morning to hide a hangover. No, we haven’t discovered a side effect-less alcoholic beverage, but we may have found a way to help you sleep better. Meet Dirty Lemon, a new functional beverage brand based in Brooklyn that is sells its various tonics (really, we don’t know how else to describe them) exclusively via text message.

Created to address its customers beauty and wellness needs, Dirty Lemon offers three major products — Sleep, Detox, and Skin + Hair. Sleep — which launched just this January, promises to put customers to bed quickly and naturally with its combination of “functional herbs along with magnesium and rose water to promote drowsiness and mental calm.” Made with chamomile, lemon balm, and passionflower, Sleep hopes to help you get ready for bed when you need it most.

More: Your sleep tracker may actually disturb your sleep, study suggests

So what do those apothecary-esque herbs actually do for you? According to Dirty Lemon, passionflower is used to promote healthy sleep in those who experience restlessness, wakefulness or interrupted sleep patterns. Chamomile, on the other hand, is described as a sleep-inducer that modulates a healthy inflammatory response throughout the body. Magnesium Glycinate is said to promote an overall state of muscle relaxation,and also to improve sleep efficiency, early morning awakening, and combat insomnia.

As for its other products, Detox and Skin + Hair, these drinks also do what their names suggest. Detox, which is made with filtered water, lemon juice, herbal extracts, and activated charcoal (sourced from coconut shells), claims to help calm the stomach, support the liver and kidney functions, and trap impurities before they can be absorbed by the body. As for Skin + Hair, the first bottled beverage to contain collagen (along with hydrolyzed fish collagen peptides, horsetail, red clover, and cayenne) promises to aid in skin elasticity, hydration and skin density, increase internal collagen production, and offer nutrients for optimal hair health.

Marketed directly to millennials, Dirty Lemon’s unique SMS model was conceptualized by the company’s co-founders, Zak Normandin and Sommer Carroll. With hopes of changing the way people buy beverages, Dirty Lemon sought to open up lines of communication in direct a way as possible. “By being direct-to-consumer, Dirty Lemon has the ability to look ahead of what big beverage brands are doing and break the traditional commerce format with his unique text-to-buy platform,” the company notes. “The system gives the brand the opportunity to directly communicate with their consumer, which leads to the customer having a more intimate connection to the brand.”

So if you’re looking to try Dirty Lemon, just shoot the company a text.

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4
Mar

9 military robots that are totally terrifying … and oddly adorable


The military has always been at the cutting edge of technology, so it should come as no surprise that the most advanced robots in the world are being built with military applications in mind. While the thought of autonomous machines carrying heavy armaments might make people a bit nervous, they have the potential to dramatically reduce loss of life, allowing soldiers to safely scout locations or breach enemy locations. Many of them are even designed for support purposes, rather than eliminating threats.

More: Meet Boston Dynamics’ eclectic lineup of innovative (and peculiar) robots

While many military projects from around the world are naturally shrouded in secrecy, some of them see the light of day, including robotic projects. Here are some of the coolest robots we’ve seen with military applications, from tiny spy robots to unmanned battle tanks.

MAARS

Don’t let its small size fool you. The MAARS (Modular Advanced Armed Robotic System) fits a lot of firepower into its diminutive frame. Its modular design allows its controllers to outfit it with a variety of armaments, ranging from non lethal lasers (designed to blind foes) to tear gas and even a grenade launcher. The MAARS is a follow-up to an earlier model of robot called SWORDS, which saw deployment in Iraq a few years ago.

DOGO

“What a cute robot!” you might say, as you see the DOGO round a corner. The small machine, roaming around on two treads, could be mistaken for a toy — at least, until it whips out its Glock. Yes, the DOGO houses within its body not only a camera, allowing for remote reconnaissance, but also a 9-millimeter pistol. A promotional video from manufacturer General Robotics shows off the DOGO in a scenario like something out of a Tom Clancy story, as a special forces team sends the DOGO into a hostage situation, taking out one of the kidnappers remotely.

SAFFiR

When designing a robot for military use, creating a heavily-armed assault machine is an obvious route to take. However, any military force has needs beyond shooting bad guys, and there are quite a few robots in development with an eye toward support functions. Take the SAFFiR (Shipboard Autonomous Firefighting Robot), for example. The creation of Virginia Tech engineering students, the SAFFiR is designed to extinguish fires that break out on Naval ships. Although the machine is still in development, it will hopefully be able to react quickly to fires and resist much higher temperatures than the human body, thus keeping sailors out of danger.

Guardbot

Not every military robot needs to come equipped with guns. Reconnaissance is a vital part of military operations, and the small, spherical Guardbot is built with that purpose in mind. Originally designed for missions to Mars, the Guardbot is equipped with powerful cameras and can navigate various adverse environments, including those prone to snow, sand, and even water.

Gladiator

Designed to assist the U.S. Marine Corps in various operations, the Gladiator Tactical Unmanned Ground Vehicle looks like a small tank, and can be outfitted with various modular tools and armaments depending on what the situation calls for. Although it tops out at 10 miles per hour, the Gladiator trades speed for toughness; it has an armored hull, and users can mount machine guns and grenade launchers directly onto its body.

Alrobot

Allegedly built by two brothers, according to a story by the Baghdad Post, this robot is an unmanned vehicle designed to combat ISIS forces. Footage of the machine shows it sporting heavy weaponry and rolling around the Iraqi desert on four large wheels. Given the typical hazards soldiers face when combating ISIS — IEDs, ambushes, etc. — machines like the Alrobot may be crucial in minimizing risks to human soldiers.

Anbot

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The Chinese-developed Anbot is an armed police robot designed by the country’s National Defense University. Capable of reaching max speeds of 11 mph, the machine is intended to patrol areas and, in the case of danger, can deploy an “electrically charged riot control tool.” Those worried about the Anbot’s resemblance to a Dalek, take heart; no blue police boxes have yet been seen in its vicinity.

RoboBee

Developed by Harvard’s Microbiotics Laboratory, this tiny robot is capable of hovering, although it seems to require an attached power cable for the time being. Theoretically, the RoboBee could represent an important step toward insectoid robots capable of transmitting audio or video, which would allow military intelligence to truly be a fly on the wall in important meetings. Of course, it could also help with non-military operations; its creators highlight the Robobee’s potential for crop pollination.

PD-100 Black Hornet

Another model of flying surveillance robot, the Black Hornet is made by Prox Dynamics, and looks like a miniature helicopter. The machine contains cameras that can stream live video to the user, allowing them to scout areas from a safe distance. Small, quiet, and helpful on the battlefield, the Black Hornet is like a Mission Impossible gadget in real life. The robot has already seen its share of action, too. Speaking with UAS Vision, British Major Adam Foden said that the military has already begun deploying the Black Hornet inside compounds in an effort to clear routes through enemy-held spaces. It’s worked well thus far, and frequently transmits clear and concise images back to British forces.

4
Mar

Ultimate List of Moto Z Mods


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Want to give your Moto Z an ego boost? Tack on one of these magnetic modular backs.

The Moto Z, Moto Z Force, and Moto Z Play are all modular smartphones that can take advantage of Motorola’s proprietary Moto Mods. You can buy them separately online or through your carrier. Once you snap them on, the Moto Z knows how to utilize them from there. Here’s the complete list of Moto Mods to check out for your modular smartphone.

JBL SoundBoost

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The music is better when you’re dancing to it with your friends. Bring your Spotify playlists to life with the JBL SoundBoost speaker, which snaps on to the Moto Z and has a built-in kickstand. The mod is comprised of two 27mm speakers with 6W of power each. You can use the speaker to broadcast conference calls and make sure everyone in the room can hear what’s being said back at headquarters. There’s also an extra 1000 mAh of battery packed in there.

See at Amazon

Moto Insta-Share Projector

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YouTube is fun for everyone, but not when you have to huddle over a small screen to see what’s going on. Snap on Motorola’s Insta-Share projector, which projects what’s on your Moto Z’s screen onto the wall of your choice. You can project up to 70-inches and adjust the device as you like with the included stand. The projector also adds on an extra 1100 mAh of battery.

See at Amazon

Hasselblad True Zoom Camera

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Get up the ten times the optical zoom with the Motorola-commission Hasselblad True Zoom Camera. This Moto Mod turns your regular old smartphone into a bonafide point-and-shoot of sorts. It features optical zoom, xenon flash, and physical buttons for zooming’ and shootin’. And if you use the Moto Z’s RAW shooting format, you can do all the editing and tweaking you need to do to make it look professional in a desktop app.

See at Amazon

Mophie Juice Pack

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The battery will eventually peter out on your Motorola smartphone. Avoid living life without smartphone juice by packing something like the Mophie Juice Pack. This snap-on module provides an extra 3150 mAh of battery and can be easily recharged when you charge up the Moto Z.

See at Amazon

Kate Spade New York Power Pack

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For the stylish lady in your life, get her a Kate Spade New York Power Pack. It not only hails the brand’s simplistic, modernist color palette, it also boosts her smartphone’s battery capacity an extra 2200 mAh. Like the Mophie Juice Power Pack, this easily charges alongside the Moto Z when it’s plugged in for the night.

There is also a polka-dotted variant that we found offered at Verizon.

See at Amazon

Incipio Offgrid Power Pack

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One more power pack! This one is from Incipio and, like the Mophie Juice Pack, it’s a simplistic battery back you can tack on to the Moto Z for an extra boost of battery power. The Incipio Offgrid Power Pack features an additional 2200 mAh of battery. It also supports both Qi and PMA wireless charging, which will come in handy from time to time where wireless chargers might be available —this one compatible with the charging pads offered at Starbucks! It comes in both white and black.

See at Amazon

TUMI Wireless Charging Power Pack

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We were clearly joking. Here’s one more power pack and it’s from trusted luggage brand, TUMI. The TUMI Wireless Charging Power Pack is outfitted in a cool, collected black and adds an extra 2220mAh of battery to either of the Moto Z devices. It also supports Qi wireless charging, so you can set it down to charge both the phone and the power pack at the same time. The TUMI Wireless Charging Power Pack will also charge with the Moto Z when it’s plugged in for the night.

See at Amazon

Incipio Vehicle Dock

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This phone mount doesn’t just cradle the Moto Z, it latches on to it. Once you snap in the smartphone, the dock will fire up Android Auto so that you can have immediate access to your contact, music, and maps without being distracted from the road. The Incipio Vehicle dock also offers 15-watt fast charging in your car.

See at Verizon

Coming soon

The above Mods aren’t the only ones you can look forward to attaching to the Moto Z series. At Mobile World Congress 2017, Motorola announced a bevy of new Moto Mods, including a gamepad, a glass back wireless charging add-on, a Turbo Charger, and a charging adapter for other Moto Mods. There’s also an Alexa-powered Harman speaker dock coming at a later date.

Moto Z, Moto Z Force and Moto Z Play

  • Moto Z + Z Force review!
  • Moto Z Play review
  • The Hasselblad True Zoom is a Mod to remember
  • Moto Z specs
  • Moto Mods custom backs
  • The latest Moto Z news
  • Discuss in our Moto Z forums

Motorola
Verizon

4
Mar

AI continued its world domination at Mobile World Congress


Silicon Valley investor and web pioneer Marc Andreessen said in 2011 that “software is eating the world.” The explosion of app ecosystems seems to prove his point, but things have changed dramatically even since then. These days, it might be more accurate to say that “AI is fueling the software that’s eating the world,” but I’ve never been very quotable. In any case, it’s not impossible to ignore the normalization of artificial intelligence at this year’s Mobile World Congress — even if a resurrected 17-year-old phone did end up stealing the show.

When it comes to the intersection of smartphones and AI, Motorola had the most surprising news at the show. In case you missed it, Motorola is working with Amazon (and Harman Kardon, most likely) to build a Moto Mod that will make use of Alexa. Even to me, someone who cooled on the Mods concept after an initial wave of interesting accessories slowed to a trickle, this seems like a slam dunk. Even better, Motorola product chief Dan Dery described what the company ultimately wanted to achieve: a way to get assistants like Alexa to integrate more closely with the personal data we keep on our smartphones.

In his mind, for instance, it would be ideal to ask an AI make a reservation at a restaurant mentioned in an email a day earlier. With Alexa set to be a core component of many Moto phones going forward, here’s hoping Dery and the team find a way to break down the walls between AI assistants and the information that could make them truly useful. Huawei made headlines earlier this year when it committed to putting Alexa on the Mate 9, but we’ll soon see if the company’s integration will attempt to be as deep.

Speaking of Alexa, it’s about to get some new competition in Asia. Line Inc., makers of the insanely popular messaging app of the same name, are building an assistant named Clova for smartphones and connected speakers. It will apparently be able to deal with complex questions in many forms: Development will initially focus on a first-party app, but should find its way into many different ones, giving users opportunities to talk to services that share some underlying tech.

LG got in on the AI assistant craze too, thanks to a close working relationship with Google. The LG V20 was the very first Nougat smartphone to be announced … until Google stole the spotlight with its own Nougat-powered Pixel line. And the G6 was the first non-Pixel phone to come with Google’s Assistant, a distinction that lasted for maybe a half-hour before Google said the assistant would roll out to smartphones running Android 6.0 and up. The utility is undeniable, and so far, Google Assistant on the G6 has been almost as seamless as the experience on a Pixel.

As a result, flagships like Sony’s newly announced XZ Premium will likely ship with Assistant up and running as well, giving us Android fans an easier way to get things done via speech. It’s worth pointing out that other flagship smartphones that weren’t announced at Mobile World Congress either do or will rely on some kind of AI assistant to keep users pleased and productive. HTC’s U Ultra has a second screen where suggestions and notifications generated by the HTC Companion will pop up, though the Companion isn’t available on versions of the Ultra already floating around. And then there’s Samsung’s Galaxy S8, which is expected to come with an assistant named Bixby when it’s officially unveiled in New York later this month.

While it’s easy to think of “artificial intelligence” merely as software entities that can interact with us intelligently, machine-learning algorithms also fall under that umbrella. Their work might be less immediately noticeable at times, but companies are banking on the algorithmic ability to understand data that we can’t on a human level and improve functionality as a result.

Take Huawei’s P10, for instance. Like the flagship Mate 9 before it, the P10 benefits from a set of algorithms meant to improve performance over time by figuring out the order in which you like to do things and allocating resources accordingly. With its updated EMUI 5.1 software, the P10 is supposed to be better at managing resources like memory when the phone boots and during use — all based on user habits. The end goal is to make phones that actually get faster over time, though it will take a while to see any real changes. (You also might never see performance improvements, since “performance” is a subjective thing anyway.)

Even Netflix showed up at Mobile World Congress to talk about machine-learning. The company is well aware that sustained growth and relevance will come as it improves the mobile-video experience. In the coming months, expect to see better-quality video using less network bandwidth, all thanks to algorithms that try quantify what it means for a video to “look good.” Combine those algorithms with a new encoding scheme that compresses individual scenes in a movie or TV episode differently based on what’s happening in them, and you have a highly complex fix your eyes and wallet will thank you for.

And, since MWC is just the right kind of absurd, we got an up-close look at a stunning autonomous race car called (what else?) RoboCar. Nestled within the sci-fi-inspired body are components that would’ve seemed like science fiction a few decades ago: There’s a complex cluster of radar, LIDAR, ultrasonic and speed sensors all feeding information to an NVIDIA brain using algorithms to interpret all that information on the fly.

That these developments spanned the realms of smartphones, media and cars in a single, formerly focused trade show speak to how big a deal machine learning and artificial intelligence have become. There’s no going back now — all we can do is watch as companies make better use of the data offered to them, and hold those companies accountable when they inevitably screw up.

Click here to catch up on the latest news from MWC 2017.

4
Mar

Recommended Reading: How Foursquare managed to survive


The Not-So-Surprising
Survival of Foursquare

Aaron Gell,
The New Yorker

When Foursquare split its app in two with a second dedicated to check-ins, the move was questionable to say the least. The company eventually brought its popular mayorships back to Swarm and has largely held on to users as a directory for food and more inside the namesake app. The New Yorker takes a look at how the company has been able to survive largely due to its very active users and a trove of data.

‘Shovel Knight’ Rethinks Gender in Retro Games With Body Swap Mode
Yacht Club Games, Polygon

The Shovel Knight developer penned a blog post on Polygon to explain the details behind the decision to offer both male and female versions of the main characters in the game.

How Prompto’s AI-driven Selfie System in ‘Final Fantasy XV’ Was Built
Alex Wawro, Gamasutra

Final Fantasy XV designer Prasert “Sun” Prasertvithyakarn explained how the game’s AI system was built at GDC this week and Gamasutra has a breakdown of the talk.

A Formula for the Perfect Superhero
Jason Concepcion and Shea Serrano, The Ringer

Two editors from The Ringer set out on a quest to build the perfect super hero. You may not agree with all of the choices, but that doesn’t make the results any less interesting.

How the Chili Dog Transcended America’s Divisions
Christina Olson, The Atlantic

A food that’s a mixture of a few different immigrant dishes originating in several different countries has united America behind the need for more napkins.

4
Mar

Airbnb: What you need to know before becoming a guest or host


Why it matters to you

Airbnb seems like a win-win for the host and guest, but there are some things to keep in mind before you become either.

Instead of copying travel sites like Expedia and Travelocity, Airbnb takes a totally unique approach. Part of the “sharing economy,” Airbnb offers you someone’s home as a place to stay, instead of a hotel. On Airbnb, you can find places to crash on your backpacking trip through Europe, or you can find a place to stay for a month during your internship in LA.

If you want to rent out extra space in your home, you can host through Airbnb and make money for allowing a guest to stay the night. Here’s what you need to know about Airbnb before you book a stay or become a host.

More: Welcome to London: Airbnb is using Twitter live 360 video to showcase travel spots

Airbnb had a rough start

Airbnb founders Joe Gebbia, Brian Chesky, and Nathan Blecharczyk developed the business in 2008. Initially, Gebbia and Chesky started off using their own place as a bed and breakfast to make a few extra bucks to pay rent. With a big design conference coming to the San Francisco area and a city full of sold-out hotels at the time, they saw a potential market for the idea and developed a website called airbedandbreakfast.com. To fund their operation, the guys sold breakfast cereals during the 2008 presidential race — Obama O’s and Cap’n McCains — and the cereals earned them around $30,000.

Airbnb was not an immediate success, though. The startup experienced several ups and downs, and it went through at least three separate launches. A number of investors didn’t take the idea seriously. However, one venture capitalist, Paul Graham, did see a potential lottery ticket in Air Bed & Breakfast. Graham invited the founders to join a program called Y Combinator, which provides a startup with cash and training in exchange for a percentage of their company. In 2009, Air Bed & Breakfast became Airbnb, and that was the company’s turning point. As of August 2016, Airbnb was worth $30 billion, Business Insider reports.

4
Mar

Whether you’re a downhill demon or a newbie, having the right skis is key


What is sidewall construction and why does it matter? What is Titanal and do you want it in your skis? Does the market require you to spend thousands of dollars on gear and have a STEM diploma to shop for skis or to have fun on the hill? These are all questions a shopper for new skis may have to answer.

More: Rossignol and PIQ Sport Intelligence create world’s first “connected ski”

The variety of skis available to the urban shopper is both a blessing for the 100-days-a-year shredder and a curse for those who just want something decent to have fun on in between trips to the lodge bar and buffet. Here, we will decode the major technical aspects one has to consider before picking their planks.

Ski shape

Skis are slippery planks that come in different levels of float and sensitivity that allow you to control input from your feet through different shapes, sizes and degrees of stiffness.

Narrow-waisted skis of around 80-millimeters wide will not float over powder like a pair of big mountain or “all-mountain wide” skis, but they are nimble and well-suited to fast-twitch, agile styles or users in need of low-effort changes of direction. These skis target beginners or on-piste chargers as they require smaller lateral shifts in your center of gravity to push the arced edge of the skis into the snow and initiate a turn. Narrow skis are suited to the denser snow conditions of the Eastern United States, or for front-side resort groomers in most places.

Wide-waisted skis with widths of about 95 millimeters or larger have the surface area necessary to distribute your body weight and keep you afloat in the powdery, low-density snow often found in the backcountry or popular resorts in the Western United States. The increased flotation from wider skis rewards a skier with the ability to surf down a mountain under optimal conditions, but the increased distance you must shift your weight from side to side to knife into a turn demands greater physical exertion from the skier.

Manufacturers counteract the increased physical demand of handling wider skis by offering products that employ a rockered, upturned shape in the tip and tail that make a ski behave as if it were smaller when riding on harder snow conditions. The result is a minimized effective edge in contact with the snow that allows for wide skis to carve a tighter arc. A little bit of tip and tail rocker makes for versatile capabilities in a myriad of conditions where the skis might otherwise be too difficult to turn when not on powder. The more tip and tail rocker a ski has, the shorter the ski will ride compared to other skis of the same length.

4
Mar

Dell Inspiron 15 7000 (2017) review


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Research Center:
Dell Inspiron 15 7000 (2017)

Gaming notebooks are notoriously expensive, to the point that spending anything less than $1,200 for a low-end machine is a rarity. That’s why we were so impressed by Dell’s Inspiron 7500 in late 2015. It was a capable gaming notebook in a compact package, all for about $800. It was a pleasant surprise, and undercut the competition by a significant margin.

Dell sought to build on that legacy with this year’s model, the Inspiron 15 Gaming. It boasts a 7th-generation Intel Core i5 processor, an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 Ti GPU, and comes in an attractive new chassis. At first glance, it looks like it would run circles around the 2015 model, but you might be surprised by some of our test results.

Slick and professional

This laptop is a real looker. It features a sleek, professional design which manages to effortlessly blend form and function. The front-side features a speaker grille with a beveled angle, the back-side features a similar grille pattern over the massive exhaust vents, beveled at an opposing angle for a unique take on the classic notebook silhouette.

The Dell Inspiron 15 Gaming’s design is all at once stylish, modern, and playful. Unlike the previous late-2015 model, Dell went all-in on the black-and-red design. By kicking the white LED keyboard backlighting to the curb and ditching the almost shy, dull red accents featured on the earlier model in favor of rich, candy apple red design elements, Dell has created a truly unique and striking laptop.

dell inspiron  review

dell inspiron  review

dell inspiron  review

dell inspiron  review

This is a design that seamlessly bridges the gap between the design language of professional workstations and an off-hours LED-bedazzled gaming powerhouses. It’s just striking enough to stand out, without feeling out of place in more professional situations.

Missed connections

Let’s talk about ports. They’re never the kind of headline feature that you would see touted prominently in celebrity ad campaigns, but they’re very important. In fact, they might be more important than ever, since we’re currently in a period of transition between the old standby, USB Type-A, and the somewhat troublesome newcomer, USB Type-C.

More: MMD jump-starts new line of Philips displays with ultrathin 24-inch monitor

So, it’s a little disappointing that the Inspiron 15 Gaming doesn’t include even a single USB Type-C port. Still, it does feature three traditional, USB Type-A, ports, an Ethernet port, an HDMI 2.0 port, a 3.5mm headphone jack, and an SD Card slot. They’re evenly distributed on the left and right sides of the laptop, and frankly they feel a little lonely. There’s a lot of space here, and it feels like it should be put to better use.

Gritty, and not in a good way

No matter your keyboard preferences, you’re likely to be disappointed by the Inspiron 15 Gaming’s flimsy plastic keys. The keys themselves are matte plastic, and they feel oddly gritty and cheap. Imagine if someone made a keyboard out of those plastic fast-food soda lids, and you get the idea.

To say that this display has problematic color accuracy is a vast understatement.

The LED backlighting is a nice touch, Dell wisely chose to adopt a deep-red backlight which fits with the overall aesthetic of the keyboard. The lighting shines through the key caps, and under the edges for a pleasant but not overbearing effect.  The backlighting here isn’t RGB, it’s just R, there’s no way to change the color – but it does feature three brightness settings, bright, dim, and off.

It looks nice, but doesn’t feel that way. Which is a shame because the trackpad is a huge improvement over the previous model. The 2015 Inspiron 7500 featured a matte trackpad that only seemed to have two sensitivity settings: way too high, and way too low. It was an inaccurate and generally awful trackpad, but that’s one compromise you can get away with on a budget system, so it wasn’t a dealbreaker.

The Inspiron 15 Gaming ups its game significantly, offering a smooth and silky trackpad that is laser-accurate and never fails to go exactly where you want it to. Adjusting sensitivity settings can tune the trackpad to your liking, and even on the highest and lowest settings the trackpad never loses that unerring accuracy.

The display is a huge disappointment

When you’re purchasing a laptop, particularly a gaming laptop, every component is important. Unlike a desktop PC, you’re essentially buying a static platform. Problems are harder to fix, because you can’t just swap out a new CPU, or GPU, and for most users, swapping out a display is just as difficult — if not impossible. It’s not an ideal solution, but it’s something a few Inspiron 15 Gaming users have resorted to after realizing the poor quality of the included TN display panel.

When you’re talking about display performance, you’re usually splitting hairs — looking at contrast ratios that differ by very small margins, color error figures that are less-than-perfect, but still very good. That is not the case with the Inspiron 15 Gaming. This display’s poor quality is immediately noticeable. Colors are way off, everything is tinted blue, and if you vary your viewing angle by even a few inches, the entire screen becomes washed out.

Everything is cast in a bruised purple-blue pallor, whites are too bright, and darks are dim and gray. Such a poor contrast ratio coupled with awful color accuracy means that everything has a flat quality that just sucks the life out of photos, and movies.

The display even made playing games difficult to stomach. In Deus Ex: Mankind Divided for instance, we had to constantly push the screen forward and back to try and find the narrow “sweet spot” to diminish the discoloration caused by non-optimal viewing angles.

Poor viewing angles and discoloration are par for the course when it comes to inexpensive twisted nematic, or TN, LCD displays. These panels are among the most common LCD panels on the market thanks to their cheap manufacturing cost. TN panels typically have slightly better response times than other types of display panels, but they’re based on technology pioneered in the 1980s and their ability to fully resolve all 16.2 million colors available from modern GPUs tends to remain limited.

Unfortunately for the Inspiron 15 Gaming, the numbers only confirm what our eyes were telling us. This display doesn’t stack up to its nearest competitors in any way.

With a contrast ratio of 120:1, the Dell Inspiron 15 Gaming has about one tenth the display performance of a smart phone. Its average color error is massive at 9.40, meaning your colors are always going to be off, shifted heavily toward the blue end of the spectrum.

For comparison, the Acer Predator 15 managed an average color error of 3.48. It’s not a great score, and it would be cause for concern if you were looking at purchasing that notebook. Colors were a little off, barely noticeable to the naked eye, but just enough to be problematic if color accuracy was an important part of your workflow.

The Inspiron 15 Gaming is three times worse when it comes to color reproduction. To say that this display has problematic color accuracy is a vast understatement.

With that in mind, it’s no surprise that the color gamut is way off. Revisiting the Predator and Strix, they both reproduce over 70 percent of the finicky AdobeRGB scale. Most monitors land somewhere between 70 and 75 percent but the Inspiron 15 Gaming falls well below that standard.

The Inspiron 15 Gaming is three times worse when it comes to color reproduction.

The TN panel on the Inspiron 15 Gaming is only capable of reproducing 44 percent of the AdobeRGB scale. This laptop can only reproduce about half the colors most monitors can — and even that small spectrum of colors is going to be wildly inaccurate.

These results are so bad you might think them a mistake. They’re not. We have witnessed similar performance in the past, when TN panels were actually rather common in laptops. They’re not anymore, so we generally don’t see displays this bad.

We spoke to Dell about its decision to go with this display. The company was adamant that this decision was the only way to upgrade the internal hardware without increasing the price. We understand the pressure to keep the price low, but in case, too great a sacrifice was required. Improved internal hardware is useless if the display used to enjoy it looks awful.

7th-generation gains

Let’s step away from the display issues and dig into the Inspiron 15 Gaming’s CPU performance. Outfitted with an Intel Core i5-7300HQ clocked at 2.5GHz, the Inspiron is very quick on its feet. Even when working with a second monitor and running a dozen demanding applications all at once, the Inspiron’s 7th-generation Intel CPU kept up beautifully.

As you can see, the Inspiron 15 Gaming is capable of keeping pace with systems that cost hundreds of dollars more, and only loses significant ground to the Core i7-7600HQ in the Asus ROG Strix.

Perhaps most importantly, what you can see in our results here is a progression in performance from Intel’s 6th-generation chips to their current 7th-generation lineup. The Acer Predator 15 features a 6th-generation Core i7-6700HQ, a fast quad-core CPU clocked at 2.6GHz, while the Asus ROG Strix features a 7th-generation Core i7-7600HQ, essentially a current-gen version of the Acer’s chip.

There’s a substantial performance gulf between these two chips, and the Asus leads the pack and easily eclipses the CPU performance of the Acer. But what do we have right in the middle? The Inspiron 15 Gaming and its 7th-generation Intel Core i5-7300HQ. This is a CPU that has a lower clock speed than the Acer Predator 15, but manages to perform just as well in most of our tests.

This is a massive step backward for an otherwise impressive product line.

The 6th-generation i7 in the Acer Predator 15 features hyper-threading and a slightly larger cache, meaning it’s a bit better than the Inspiron’s 7th-gen i5 chip, when it comes to handling multiple CPU-intensive applications at once. The i7’s hyper-threading allows it to use its four cores to essentially emulate an eight-core chip, and pump out better multi-tasking performance. The 7th-generation i5, on the other hand just has four traditional cores and doesn’t feature hyper-threading.

Without getting too into the weeds about the differences between i5 and i7 chips, what we’re seeing here is that the Inspiron 15 Gaming’s current-gen Intel Core i5 works nearly as well as the Acer’s previous-gen i7 chip, with slightly less power, but the i7 is still a more capable, all-around CPU.

Small but quick

The Inspiron 15 Gaming isn’t exactly spacious when it comes to hard disk storage, but the included 256GB SSD performs well, if not spectacularly, when compared to its nearest competitors. Like most modern notebooks, you can opt to include a 1TB hard disk when you’re putting it together on the manufacturer’s website, but raw storage isn’t quite as important as speed.

Hitting 463 megabytes-per-second in our write test, the Inspiron’s SSD proves it’s not going to slow you down when you’re moving big files around. In the read test, it managed 495.3 mbps, and fell a bit behind the Acer Predator 15’s 256 SSD, but remained well ahead of the Asus ROG Strix and its 1TB HDD.

The Inspiron’s included 256 SSD isn’t the biggest out there, but for the price it’s a good little drive, and in our tests it never choked or slowed things down even when we were installing games or moving around huge files. It’s not as fast as some, and it’s not as big as others, but it gets the job done.

Ti-ed up

Nvidia’s 10-series graphics cards are generally quick and powerful, with GeForce GTX 1080s at the very top of the price and performance spectrum, and GTX 1050s toward the bottom. The Inspiron 15 Gaming is outfitted with a GTX 1050 Ti graphics card, with 4GB of RAM.

It’s a budget card, and it’s no surprise to see it in what is ostensibly a budget notebook, but as we’ve seen in some of our other reviews, the 1050 Ti doesn’t quite perform well enough to get the most out of modern games.

Looking at our performance results, the Asus ROG Strix makes an interesting comparison for the Inspiron 15 Gaming. The Strix features a 6GB GTX 1050, where the Inspiron features a 4GB 1050 Ti.

Naturally, you’d think the Strix would perform better with a little extra memory, right? Well, that’s half right. The Inspiron features a GTX 1050 Ti, which is sort of the “pro” version of the GTX 1050. The 1050 Ti is capable of pumping out 2.1 TFLOPs of data, to the 1050’s 1.8, and it features a slightly higher number of CUDA cores – 768 to the 1050’s 640.

All in all, what it means is that both cards are within striking distance of each other, but the 1050 Ti is a little more capable, and even with less video RAM it’s a formidable match for the GTX 1050 in the Asus ROG Strix.

The Inspiron’s 1050 Ti offers a small performance boost across the board, pushing just a hair past the Strix in Battlefield 1, Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, and Civilization VI.

dell inspiron  review

dell inspiron  review

Still, you can see that the Acer Predator 15 with its Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 easily outperforms both the Inspiron and the Strix by a sizable margin, and the 1060 is only one rung up the price and performance ladder.

Formal benchmarks in 3DMark illustrate just how wide that performance gap really is. The Predator’s GTX 1060 easily eclipses the GTX 1050 and 1050 Ti in every one of our benchmarks. The results here are instructive for any potential gaming laptop customers out there:

Lightweight longevity

Just Google “gaming laptop” and you’ll be presented with a tableau of LED-bedecked notebooks, many of which are as light and portable as a sack of bricks. Luckily, Dell has decided to buck this trend with the Inspiron 15 Gaming, weighing in at just 5.76 pounds. That might sound heavy for a laptop, in this era of ultra-light-ultra-thin netbooks, but for a gaming laptop it’s downright svelte.

By comparison, the Acer Predator 15 weighs 8.6 pounds — and speaking from experience, that’s a very heavy laptop to carry around all day. The Asus ROG Strix is a little lighter, at 5.5 pounds, but both the Strix and the Inspiron are well within the “goldilocks zone” when it comes to weight.

Nvidia’s 10-series graphics cards are generally quick and powerful.

Battery life on the Inspiron was a pleasant surprise. Even with a power-hungry GTX 1050 Ti purring away under the hood, the Inspiron managed to consistently provide between four and five hours of battery life in most of our tests. The Peacekeeper browser test drained the battery in a little under four hours, but our video loop and web browsing macro tests remained between four and five hours each.

Looking the Asus ROG Strix and the Acer Predator 15, the Strix barely managed two hours on the Peacekeeper browser test, and the Predator 15 managed just over two and a half hours. The Inspiron is the clear winner here, providing all-around battery life well in excess of its nearest competitors.

Anecdotally, you can expect about five or six hours of battery life during an average day of mixed-use (if that mixture doesn’t include any gaming). It’s not quite long enough to last an entire workday, but long enough for on-and-off usage or an afternoon away from the office. Just turn off the keyboard backlighting and turn the display brightness way down.

Dell Inspiron 15 7000 (2017) Compared To

dell inspiron  review asus zenbook press

Asus Zenbook 3 UX390UA

dell inspiron  review lenovo thinkpad x product

Lenovo ThinkPad X260

dell inspiron  review precision product

Dell Precision 15 3510

dell inspiron  review lenovo ideapad s product

Lenovo Ideapad 710S

dell inspiron  review hp spectre ( ) product image

HP Spectre

dell inspiron  review acer aspire s jr product image

Acer Aspire S 13 S5-371-52JR

dell inspiron  review latitude series in

Dell Latitude 12

dell inspiron  review lg gram z

LG Gram 15 Z960

dell inspiron  review samsung notebook pro np z l x us

Samsung Notebook 9 Pro…

dell inspiron  review asus zenbook ux vw ds t

Asus Zenbook UX501VW-DS71T

dell inspiron  review skylake

Dell Inspiron 15 7000 (Late 2015)

dell inspiron  review x ji front open ash black

Samsung ATIV Book 9 (2014)

dell inspiron  review toshiba satellite p press

Toshiba Satellite P755

dell inspiron  review hp pavilion g front display

HP Pavilion g6

dell inspiron  review lenovo ideapad u

Lenovo IdeaPad U550

Useful utilities

Thankfully the Inspiron doesn’t include very much manufacturer bloatware, just the usual Dell-branded utilities like a registration tool, system information, and a display calibration tool. If you end up buying an Inspiron 15 make sure you get familiar with that last tool, it can’t make up for the terrible TN panel, but you can at least rebalance your colors so everything is a little less purple.

Warranty information

The Dell Inspiron 15 Gaming comes with a standard one-year warranty against manufacturer defects including a 90-day warranty for any individual Dell-branded spare parts you purchase for the Inspiron. There’s nothing out of the ordinary here, it’s the same warranty that covers most Dell products.

Our Take

Close your eyes and the Inspiron 15 Gaming is a resounding success. Plug in an external monitor and it stands on its own and as a worthy successor to the 7500 as a gaming laptop with just enough horsepower for most modern games. Are you sensing a theme here? The hardware in the Inspiron 15 is solid, reliable, and powerful enough to make the $950 price tag seem very reasonable, but the display is so demonstrably, mathematically poor that it’s very difficult to recommend.

Is there a better alternative?

The DT Accessory Pack

Cable Matters USB Type C

$6.49

Razer Mamba Tournament Edition mouse

$74.99

Samsung CFG70 Series 24-Inch 1ms curved gaming monitor

$325.35

Yes, there are better alternatives out there. The Asus ROG Strix has some eccentricities, including its own display abnormalities, but at $1100, it’s very close to the same price range as the Inspiron and its display is much, much better. On the other end of the spectrum, the Acer Predator 15 outperforms the Inspiron in nearly every way, and it starts at $1500. But at that price point, there are a lot of competitors out there, and almost all of them provide better quality displays than the Inspiron 15 Gaming.

How long will it last?

It would be easy to rag on that atrocious TN display panel and say it probably won’t last very long since its already washed out, but there’s another concern here: the GTX 1050 Ti. As we mentioned previously, the GPU just doesn’t give you enough performance headroom to get the most out of modern games.

If it can barely run 2015’s games at max settings today, how well will it fare against games a year from now? Two years from now? The GTX 1050 Ti just doesn’t have enough horsepower to lend the Inspiron 15 Gaming any amount of real longevity. You’d be better off saving up and getting a notebook with a GTX 1060, or GTX 1070 a few months down the line.

Should you buy it?

No. Considering all the mitigating factors — a low price, very attractive design, fast hard drive, and good battery life — there is just nothing this notebook does that can make up for the unbelievably poor display panel. It doesn’t render nearly enough of stock-standard color spectra, and the parts that it can reproduce, it does so poorly with a high degree of inaccuracy. Despite all the factors working in its favor, the Inspiron 15 Gaming’s display makes it impossible to recommend.

4
Mar

Track the progress of your burgeoning baby with these pregenancy apps


Are you a new mom-to-be looking for a little help? Keeping track of your health is vital, but the right information — and access to other moms and families who are also expecting — is important as well. These apps will help you learn about different aspects of your pregnancy, at all different stages, and put you in touch with others going through the same experiences. We’ve made a list of some of the best pregnancy apps available for both iOS and Android.

More: These are the best period, fertility, and ovulation tracking apps out there

There is one important point to keep in mind, however. As good as these pregnancy apps are for keeping track of your changes, keeping a calendar, and connecting with others, they are in no way a substitute for professional advice from your doctor. You should always consult your doctor first if you have health concerns, and keep following your scheduled doctor’s appointments as usual.

I’m Expecting Pregnancy App and Baby Guide

pregnancy apps
This app is all about learning and sharing your experience throughout your pregnancy. The app provides access to a robust community, where you can ask questions and share your personal experiences. It also offers videos, guides, tips, and other resources for you to read and learn from. You can use the app to calculate your due date, too, and it will provide weekly updates about your pregnancy and what you can expect. There’s even a photo diary where you can take weekly photos of your baby bump, and watch the change over time.

Download now for:

Android iOS

Baby Names!!

pregnancy apps
This app will help you answer the big question: What will you call your baby? If you need help finding a good name, then this is the app you’re looking for. The app lets you choose from more than 30,000 names. Not only do you get to see the name, but you also get to see the meaning, origin, and pronunciation of the name in question. It also features a built-in Genie that can suggest names that pair well with the names of both parents.

Download now for:

Android iOS

BabyBump Pregnancy Pro with Baby Names

pregnancy apps
Here’s another pregnancy and health tracker that benefits from strong social features, one that provides access to forums where you can share your experiences with a broader community. The app lets you track a few things, too, such as doctor appointments and contractions. It has a kick counter and a chart that will calculate your estimated weight gain for each week, allowing you to better log your pregnancy and share information with your doctor.

Download now for:

Android iOS

My Pregnancy & Baby Today | Daily Tracker

pregnancy apps
This app has all the features you’d expect in a pregnancy app, including access to community forums, videos, and calendars designed to help you through your pregnancy. What makes this app different, however, is the Baby’s First Year feature, which is will help you after your little bundle of joy has arrived. The convenient tool provides you with a daily calendar to help you through your child’s first year, along with useful articles, videos, and activity suggestions.

Download now for:

Android iOS

Pregnancy ++

pregnancy apps
This is another great app that allows you to sync your health information with Apple’s Health app. The app is a bit more versatile than most, however, given it can be personalized for the father, grandparents, and other family members. All the standard features are here, too, including calendars, kick counters, names suggestions, and different logs that allow you to track your weight, doctor visits, and daily pregnancy information. You can also use the software to keep a personal diary.

Download now for:

Android iOS

4
Mar

Watch the first 10 minutes of Fullbright’s ‘Tacoma’


Tacoma feels a lot like its predecessor, Gone Home, even though its environments couldn’t be more different. Rather than leading players on an emotional journey through an abandoned family home, Tacoma places players on an abandoned space station.

The feeling of familiarity comes from the game’s design and mechanics: Players are encouraged to explore all the nooks, crannies, notes and recordings scattered around the station, while the layout of the winding metal hallways and air locks quietly guides them through a mysterious, dangerous storyline.

In Tacoma, players attempt to figure out what went wrong on the space station — something clearly did, as the holographic recordings of the missing crew demonstrate. Something (or someone) has corrupted the AI system, ODIN, making the recordings glitch out at inopportune moments. In the first 10 minutes, the crew members themselves, represented as brightly colored holograms, have to deal with an emergency situation that threatens their lives.

It’s highly probable that things head downhill from there.

The cosmic mystery that is Tacoma will hit Xbox One, PC, Mac and Linux in the spring. For now, enjoy the first few minutes of the game, complete with player commentary, straight out of this week’s Game Developers Conference.

Click here to catch up on the latest news from GDC 2017!

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