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Lenovo unveils Moto Z2 Play phone with four new Moto Mods

Lenovo-owned Motorola has made the Moto Z2 Play official. It’s the latest modular smartphone from the company, compatible with Moto Mods accessories.

Motorola introduced the Moto Z Play last August; a chunkier, battery-laden mid-range version of the top-spec Moto Z. The Z2 Play mostly differs from that model thanks to a thinner footprint, at 5.99mm, plus an updated fingerprint sensor with gesture navigation – just like the more budget Moto G5.

That new size means a slight nip to the battery capacity – it’s 3,000mAh, down from 3,510mAh – but otherwise the Z2 Play’s specs are similar to its predecessor: it features a 5.5-inch Full HD display, Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 chipset with 4GB RAM, and 32GB/64GB of storage with microSD expansion. And, yes, there’s a 3.5mm headphone jack.

  • Moto Z2 Play review: All the mod cons
  • Motorola Moto Z review: A modular muddle?
  • Motorola Moto Z vs Moto Z Force: What’s the difference?

The Z2 Play’s camera sees a boost, with a 12-megapixel dual-autofocus pixel sensor paired with an f/1.7 aperture lens on the rear, while a 5-megapixel lens with flash unit sits on the front.


In addition to the new smartphone, Motorola has launched four new Moto Mods: the JBL SoundBoost 2 ($79), the TurboPower Pack ($79), Moto Shells with wireless charging ($39), and the Moto GamePad ($79). These add new functions, respectively, for robust sound, extra battery, wireless charging, and full-on gameplay controls.

The Z2 Play will launch in the US in early July for $499. We anticipate a similar UK price, around £449, when the device launches in July. As for the new Moto Mods, they will be available in July, except the Moto GamePad, which is expected to launch later this summer.

We’ve been using the Z2 Play for a full week ahead of launch. Check out our full review, link below.

  • Moto Z2 Play review: All the mod cons

Denon Envaya Bluetooth speakers are back with a new model and complete redesign

Denon has refreshed its Envaya range of wireless Bluetooth speakers for 2017. There will be three models in the family: Envaya and Envaya Mini, which are long-running models, and a new Envaya Pocket.

  • Denon Envaya Mini review: Massive sound from a mini Bluetooth speaker 

Denon went back to the drawing board when it came to the design of the speakers, and so now instead of the slightly more striking lines and black/blue colour finish of the previous model, this new range is a lot more traditional in its approach.

The three speakers share many of the same features, namely a 30 metre Bluetooth range, aptX Bluetooth to ensure you get the highest possible sound quality from compatible devices and and IPX7 waterproof rating.

Up to eight mobile devices can be connected to any of the Envaya speakers at one time, and you can wirelessly connect two speakers together to create a stereo pair.All three models are compatible with Google Now and Siri for controlling various features with your voice.

Battery life is rated at between 10-12 hours depending on the speaker you choose and how hard you push it. And all have a 3.5mm auxiliary input for connecting other sources.

Onto the speakers themselves. The Envaya is the flagship of the range and will be available for £169. Denon says it offers the best performance of the family and can happily be used both inside and outside the home. The Envaya Mini is ideal for taking on holiday. It will be available for £129. Finally, the Envaya Pocket is the baby of the range and will be available for £89. All three will be released in October.


Samsung Notebook 9 Pro preview: Flip screened laptop with built-in S Pen

Samsung announced its latest iteration of the Notebook 9 series at Computex this year and it comes with something extra. The Notebook 9 Pro has an embedded S Pen stylus and we got to go hands-on with the device on the show floor.

As the device was on the Microsoft stand – having first appeared on stage at the Microsoft keynote on Tuesday 30 May – some specs were missing. However, we could see that it’s a 15-inch 2-in-1 convertible with some pretty convincing power going on under the hood.

t was running on Windows 10 and is Hello capable through facial recognition. There is no fingerprint scanner though.

Inside, the CPU is an Intel Core i7-7500U with AMD’s Radeon TM 540 GPU providing the graphics. The Computex model showed 16GB of RAM, plus a 256GB SSD.


It sports a Full-HD touchscreen and the display we saw was bright and crisp. It has a rather generous lower bezel, reasonably slim bezels on the sides and an acceptably wide upper bezel to accommodate the camera.

  • Computex 2017: All the announcements that matter

The most immediately notable aspect, aside from the switch to convertible format, is the addition of the S Pen – Samsung’s own peripheral which has previously only been seen on their mobile devices.

It is neatly contained in a dedicated slot on the right-hand side of the base, which we assume handles the charging aspect. We did notice that the exposed end had already been scuffed, but this is perhaps more an issue of a busy show floor than poor quality workmanship. The S Pen worked smoothly when we played around with it and, according to the Microsoft staff, supports 10 touch points. It also supports Windows Ink.


In terms of ports, there are two USB 3.0 ports, a microSD card slot and the power button on the right-hand side.

The power button placement is a little odd – we accidentally switched the screen off a couple of times while we were handling it.

The left side has a USB Type-C port, HDMI, audio jack and a power-in slot. It wasn’t apparent if the Type-C could be used for fast charging, but we’d hope this is an option.

This is a 2-in-1 convertible and we found that the all-important hinge movement is smooth when switching into tablet mode. Overall, it handles quite well and while the weight wasn’t given at the time, it feels reasonably light enough to hold in one hand. That’s great bearing in mind that this is a 15-incher.


The keyboard is a fairly standard affair with plastic keys and regular spacing and we found no issues in our brief test. There’s a large buttonless touchpad situated just below the keyboard too.

There are two speakers on either side of the curve of the base and we quickly popped on a spot of the KLF to test them. We were pretty disappointed with the volume and the sound quality. It’s not the worst we’d heard but it was nothing special.

The Samsung Notebook 9 Pro also comes in a 13.3-inch option and we’d look forward to getting a chance to review both fully.

At present, Samsung has not announced availability or pricing.


Tablo’s new Dual DVR is ready to record right out of the box

The original Tablo box debuted in 2013, pitched as a DVR for cord-cutters that could stream TV nearly anywhere, and now the company is back with a second generation version. The Tablo Dual is redesigned to fit everything in a smaller case with no fans for quieter operation, and also manages to squeeze in 64GB of memory. That means new users can start recording TV right away, without needing to plug in extra storage (although it does support to 8TB).

A “headless” tuner, it doesn’t need to connect directly to your TV, instead it’s ready to place wherever your antenna can get good reception, then serve up video streams viewable by apps on a PC, mobile device (iOS/Android), video game system (Xbox One) or connected TV setup (Android TV, Apple TV, Roku, Fire TV, Chromecast, LG webOS).

Just like its predecessor, accessing friendly features like guide data or the ability to stream while away from home will require paying a fee, $5 per month, $50 per year or $150 lifetime. The Tablo Dual itself will retail for $250 when it goes on sale June 4th exclusively through Best Buy’s stores and website.

Source: Tablo Dual


Mobile is helping The Pokémon Company make tons of money

It’s not every year that a mobile game becomes a genuine global phenomenon — but as I’m sure you all noticed, that’s exactly what Pokémon Go was. For a good few months, Nintendo and Niantic transformed most of the world into wandering cellphone zombies, and now, The Pokémon Company is reaping the benefits. In the previous fiscal year, the house of Pikachu found itself in a bit of a slump, turning over a middling profit of just $5.6 million dollars. Now, a report spotted by analyst Serkan Toto reveals that this financial year The Pokémon Company’s profits exceeded $143.3 million — more than 26 times what it made the previous year.

With Pokémon Go reportedly generating over a billion dollars worth of revenue by February, for many, the news won’t come as a huge surprise. A huge chunk of that profit has undoubtedly come from in-app purchases, but even more crucially for The Pokémon Company, its blockbusting app has helped to reignite brand awareness in a big way. From CG Pokémon trailers gracing the Superbowl to clothing brands seemingly revealing a new Pokémon merch collaboration every other week, Pokémon Go has seen the brand enjoy the most exposure it’s had since the 90s. Surprisingly, even the traditional handheld games have enjoyed a resurgence. While many assumed a free Pokémon game on mobile would cannibalize the franchise’s usual gaming entries, last year’s Pokémon Sun and Moon went on to become the third best-selling titles in the series.

Unfortunately, there is currently no breakdown of profits, leaving us with little information on how exactly merchandise and game sales contributed to The Pokémon Company’s lofty turnover. Yet, despite 2016’s impressive success, it’s hard to imagine the nostalgic brand capturing lightning in a bottle for a second year in a row. Pokémon Go’s AR-powered gaming offered something genuinely different, combining a powerful blend of social gaming and nostalgia that is near impossible for the brand to replicate.

With the rumored Pokémon Stars likely coming to the Nintendo Switch, the next financial year will see whether the brand can still continue to stay relevant with just a traditional game and the bizarre-looking Magikarp Jump propping it up.

Via: TechCrunch

Source: Serkan Toto


Javascript creator’s browser raises $35 million in 30 seconds

You may remember Brendan Eich, the former CEO of Mozilla who stepped down amid political backlash surrounding his support for an anti-gay marriage bill in California. Well, he’s back, and he has cash to burn: His new browser startup, Brave, raised $35 million in under 30 seconds, reports TechCrunch.

He was able to accomplish such a dramatic feat because of initial coin offerings, or ICOs. It’s similar to an IPO (initial public offering) that occurs when a private company sells stock to the public for the first time. An ICO fundraises for a company but uses cryptocurrency rather than traditional cash.

Brave actually created its own coin, the Basic Attention Token (BAT), and priced it based on the cryptocurrency Ethereum (ETH). One ETH is equal to 6,400 BAT. The company then offered a maximum of 1.5 billion BAT tokens for sale, hoping to raise 156,250 ETH, the equivalent of just over $35 million. They sold out in under 30 seconds, breaking records in the process. That’s in addition to $7 million that Eich has already raised from investors.

It’s important to note that, unlike an IPO, consumers are not buying shares or ownership in Brave. BAT are the equivalent of digital coupons; they can be traded and sold, but grant the holder no ownership rights. People purchased BAT tokens because they hope that Brave will be successful, causing the value of their cryptocurrency to rise.

The Brave web browser emphasizes privacy, with powerful built-in ad blocking features. What sets Brave apart from the rest, though, is its promised browser ad network. Eich maintains that if users opt into seeing ads from Brave’s internal network, the browser will actually pay you. This intriguing feature hasn’t yet been implemented, but it’s worth paying attention to the browser to see where it goes — especially considering how much money they now have for development.

Source: TechCrunch, Basic Attention Token


littleBits’ latest kit is ready to teach kids coding skills

In March, tech startup littleBits announced the Code Kit, which would make it a little easier to teach kids how to code, both at home and in the classroom. Today, the Code Kit is finally on sale for a price of $300 (educators can email for a 5 percent discount). Code Kits are aimed at ages 8 and up — third through eighth graders — and the company estimates that one kit is good for three people.

The Code Kit puts an emphasis on fun, rather than learning — while the final goal is to teach kids how to code, littleBits aims to do so by showing kids that it doesn’t have to be boring. The Code Kit comes with 16 bits, from a pressure sensor to a slide dimmer, and 32 accessories, such as screws, USB power adapters and a mechanical arm; the idea is to give kids the resources to make four different games.

Kids program their games though a free app, and coding is based on Google Blockly. The bits are also reusable, so kids can improvise once they’ve built the games in the box. It’s an attempt to teach kids the value of STEM and STEAM to encourage interest in tech and engineering.

The Code Kit is designed for use at home or at school, though littleBits’ classroom aims are apparent: It was designed in consultation with 29 educators and comes with comprehensive educator resources. It’s clear that littleBits wants to make it as easy as possible for teachers to use the product in their classrooms; hopefully they can help reiterate the importance of STEAM education in our schools today.

Source: Business Wire, littleBits


Discover NYC’s ‘Lost Arcade’ on your go-to video library

The polish of modern gaming has nearly killed off the arcade era, but at what cost? The Lost Aracade, a documentary about Chinatown Fair, New York City’s last true arcade, captures the camaraderie, grit and sex that was all part of that culture. “There was a melting pot of a community that congregated there,” says director Kurt Vincent, “where all walks of life came together and shared one common interest: video games.”

A big part of the film’s charm is the grime of New York City, and the “CF,” as locals called it, looks like every seedy thing you ever imagined about the Big Apple. Founded at an unknown time, but came to prominence in the ’70s with coin-op games like Space Invaders, Ms. Pac-Man, Defender and Asteroids. It was around that time it was purchased by Pakistani immigrant Sam Palmer, who said the arcade “came to him in a dream.”

The story is told via its two protagonists, Local Chinatown resident Henry Cen and Akuma Hokura, a foster home runaway who found some peace by gaming. The core of the film is about the culture, relationships and vibe of the place, which attracted prostitutes and drug dealers as well as gamers. “That’s what this movie is really asking,” says Vincent. “How did this arcade manage to break down all social barriers that usually prevent seemingly disparate people from connecting with one another?”

When it closed in 2011, Chinatown Fair was the one of the last true arcades in New York. Its bittersweet fate is offset a bit by a section on the resurgence of “barcade gaming,” a trend Engadget’s Jessica Conditt reported on last year.

The film played to decent reviews, and should appeal to fans of gaming history as well lovers of old-school New York culture. It’s now available on iTunes, Google Play, Amazon, VHX, Vimeo and Vudu $10, or $3 as a rental. To get the links, check here.


Google Sheets uses machine learning to built you better charts

Google spent plenty of time at its I/O developer conference earlier this month talking about how we’re entering the age of AI. Today, the company’s humble spreadsheet app Sheets is getting an upgrade thanks to Google’s machine learning smarts. Sheets has long had an “explore” tool that analyzes your spreadsheets and builds charts automatically, but as of today you’ll be able to ask for charts using natural language.

Hitting the “explore” button brings up some default charts based on your particular spreadsheet. But if you want to get custom, you can just type things like “histogram of 2017 customer ratings” or “bar chart for ice cream sales” (two examples Google provided).

Another handy new feature closely links Sheets with Google’s presentation app Slides. Last year, Google added the ability to automatically update data from Docs into Slides with one click. Now, Google’s adding similar syncing features that go from Sheets into both Docs and Slides. That is, if you’re using the same table for data between these apps, you can just click an “update’ button to pull in the latest information from the master source.

Google also added a bunch of new functions to Sheets, bringing the total to more than 400. There’s also a new chart editor sidebar that should make building the right graph a little bit easier; this will also be available on Sheets for iPad and iPhone today as well. And for those of you who still need to put your spreadsheets on dead trees, there are a few new tools that make it easier to print your document. If you want to give these new features a shot, Google says they’re live today.


Lego Boost coding blocks arrive during summer vacation

In January, Lego announced a new line of products called Boost aimed at teaching kids aged seven and up how to code. Now, Lego Boost is available for preorder at a price of $160. Units will begin shipping in late July.

This first Lego Boost kit is called a “creative toolbox” and containing Boost bricks, Lego blocks, a Move Hub with a six-axis tilt sensor and instructions for building different Lego creations. But it’s not limited to what’s in the box — kids can use their own Lego bricks with Boost, encouraging creativity and teaching coding at the same time.

Much like littleBits’ Code Kit, which is available to ship starting today, Lego Boost uses an app to program kids’ creations. The Boost set contains five possible creations — from a robot to a cat to an Autobuilder, which builds its own Lego works — but the app also contains activities to encourage additional building and coding.

There’s been a trend of toys geared toward teaching kids to code. The aforementioned littleBits’ Code Kit focuses on teaching coding skills to elementary and middle school kids. And Apple’s Swift Playgrounds is a free iPad app designed to help kids program drones and robots. The abundance of coding apps and kits makes clear that getting kids interested in coding doesn’t have to be a laborious process.

Source: Lego Boost

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