When you consider the limited features you get for the astronomical prices, it’s easy to roll your eyes at Leica. However, it’s just released the TL2, the compact APS-C successor to the original TL, that finally looks like a modern mirrorless. For $1,950 — a lot, but not as crazy as some models — you get an all-new 24-megapixel sensor, a shutter that allows up to a 20 fps shooting speed and 1/40,000th of a second and, yep, 4K video.
All of that is squeezed into a compact, understated all-aluminum body (in silver or black), replete with an overstated red dot that tells everyone your relative net worth. Like Sony and unlike Fujifilm APS-C models, it’s mostly a menu-driven camera, with just a couple of dials to change settings.
The main features are an all-new 24-megapixel sensor and image processor, a big improvement from the TL’s 16-megapixel chip. It can shoot mechanically at up to 7 fps and in electronic mode at 20 fps, capturing about 100 RAW images — not too shabby for its class, especially compared to the original TL. Maximum ISO is now 50,000, again a jump up from before, and there are 49 focus points instead of nine. That’s also nice, but AF performance is reportedly slow compared to stellar models like Sony’s A6500.
Another big plus is 4K video. You can shoot Ultra HD resolution (3,840 x 2,160) at up to 30 fps, 1080p at 60 fps, or in “slomo” 120 fps mode at 720p (there are no headphone or microphone ports, unfortunately). Leica never said whether it’s reading the entire sensor or line-skipping, though, and since video has never been its strong point, we’ll reserve judgement until we get a better look at the quality.
Leica redesigned the TL2’s menu system, “grouping menu items according to related functions, [so] the menu is now more clearly and logically structured.” The 3.7-inch rear display also functions as a touchscreen, but for an EVF you’ll need to buy the $575 Visoflex, the same model sold with the TL. If you want to shoot remotely or transfer images, the TL2 has integrated WiFi and a USB 3.0 port, plus the TL app (on iOS or Android).
Leica’s forté is its lenses, and it has three primes and three zooms available for the TL system, including a Summicron-TL 23 mm f/2 ASPH ($1,500) and Summilux-TL 35 mm f/1.4 ASPH ($2,400). It’s also compatible with full-frame Leica SL lenses without an adapter, and M-system lenses with one. It’s now on pre-order in stores like B&H Electronics for $1,950.
It’s been a couple of months since we launched a new series about the stuff we use every day. Since then, we’ve talked about games new and old, Netflix Originals, synthpop and even a WiFi router. This week, it’s time again for music and podcasts: From Radiohead remasters to Jay-Z’s latest, via New York history and forgotten TV pilots.
In October of 2014 Vince Staples’ dropped the Hell Can Wait EP. It was dark, violent and boiling over with artistic potential. Then in 2015 he released his first full length: the ambitious double album Summertime ’06, which delivered on all of that promise. Both shared a similar aesthetic. They were lyrically dense, almost claustrophobic in their story telling. Fatalistic tales of drug addicts, dealers and gang life (Knowin’ change gonna come like Obama and them say, But they shootin’ everyday ’round my mama and them way) sit on top of apocalyptic beats.
But his latest, Big Fish Theory takes a hard left turn. Both sonically and thematically. For one, it ditches many of the trappings of modern hip-hop production for dance music. Detroit techno, Chicago house and even hints of UK garage can be found throughout. And, instead of focusing on tales of his youth, painting bleak pictures of life on the streets of Long Beach, Staples takes broad shots at celebrity, rap culture (How the thug life? How the love life?) and American politics (Prolly ’cause I’m feelin’ like the world gon’ crash, Read a hundred somethin’ on the E-class dash). But it’s no less fiery than his previous releases — it’s loaded with scorching social criticism and eye rolling references to the trappings of wealth and celebrity (Our father art in heaven, as I pray for new McLarens, Pray the police don’t come blow me down ’cause of my complexion).
It’s an album you didn’t know you wanted or needed until you hear it. For two weeks straight now I’ve listened to it almost every day — at least once — and I’m no where near tired of it. Big Fish Theory is the sound of an artist at the top of his game and unafraid to take chances. And that latter part is important. Vince Staples could have simply tried to recreate “Norf Norf” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mb6Jc4juSF8) for the rest of his career and people would have eaten it up. Instead he chose to release something risky and different, and that’s worth celebrating all on its own. And it doesn’t hurt that it’s amazing.
Terrible, Thanks For Asking
Community Content Editor
As someone who spends roughly 10-12 hours a week commuting, I have a lot of time on my hands so it’s probably not a surprise that I am a big fan of podcasts in general. And while my podcast library consists largely of true crime and ghost stories, my latest listening obsession has an entirely different focus: Feelings and loss and uncomfortable truths and real-life hardships.
Initially, it was the podcast title — Terrible, Thanks For Asking — that drew me in as I am a) not very attune to social niceties and b) have a tendency to answer the question “How are you?” with far, far more honesty than the person asking it intended to receive. But a podcast that centered around “talking honestly about our pain, our awkwardness and our humanness” sounded, well, pretty heavy for a long bus ride home so I held off on starting it.
I concretely remember listening to the first episode — in less than ten minutes of starting it I was nodding my head in complete agreement and five minutes after that I was crying as my seatmate on the train politely pretended not to notice. Because listening to TTFA is heavy, and listening to the first episode (in which two women discuss how to raise their children after their partners have died) is heart wrenching, but also because the stories being shared are so real, and so honest, and so incredibly genuine. Nobody is holding anything back in TTFA and while that often results in me crying on the commute home, it just as frequently results in me laughing aloud. (Pro tip: If you laugh and cry interchangeably on public transit, no one will sit next to you!)
Nora McInerny, the host, has had her fair share of terrible (and probably a few other people’s shares to boot) but maintains a tone that is compassionate and relatable and down right funny — even when talking about things that are distinctly not funny like suicide or sexual assault. Her voice shines through, guiding the podcast and its participants to tell their stories in a way that honors their experiences, and feelings, and strengths. Telling friends to listen to a podcast about death and loss, entitled Terrible, Thanks For Asking, is… kind of a hard sell but there is, quite frankly, nothing else like TTFA — nothing so open, so unapologetic and so authentic about the terrible things we experience as humans and how we get through them.
Timothy J. Seppala
I’ve had Jay-Z’s 4:44 on repeat since it dropped Tidal exclusivity. Unlike his past work, this is the first time Jay has worked with one producer for an entire album. It feels less like a collection of songs and more like a singular piece of music as a result. Just when I thought I’d found my favorite beat, the next track would play and I found myself enamored all over again, but for an entirely different reason.
I’m coming off a steady diet of J Dilla, Run the Jewels and Kendrick Lamar, so initially-reluctant producer No ID’s style took a little getting used to. What keeps me coming back, though, is how his beats flow from one song to another as effortlessly as Jay’s lyrics. Case in point: The title track, “Family Feud” and “Bam;” tracks five, six and seven, respectively.
Hannah Williams (via sample) on “4:44” takes what could’ve been a schmaltzy apology song to Beyoncé and turns it into an apology any of us could use when we’re in the dog-house. Speaking of Queen Bey, I can’t get enough of the layering on “Family Feud” and how her vocals float in and out of the mix, over and under the drums and piano. Then the beat drops on the reggae’d-out “Bam” featuring Damian Marley, my head instinctively starts nodding and I reach out to hit the imaginary 808 in front of me when Carter says “HOV.” A vinyl edition seems unlikely, but hopefully Jay can find it in his billionaire heart to release the 4:44 instrumentals sooner rather than later — if at all.
Dead Pilots Society
I would have listened to Dead Pilots Society for the pun alone, but the podcast has a phenomenal concept: Interviews with the creators of TV pilots that weren’t greenlit followed by a never-before-heard reading of the pilot’s script (frequently featuring well-known talent). It’s astounding that this show reaches me, because I barely watch TV — but this podcast picks apart the great ideas that never were and tries to discover why they couldn’t have been. What I needed, apparently, was a clinical eye dissecting what makes seemingly stupid-simple sitcom concepts so precisely successful and what separates those few from the mass of near-misses.
The creators bring more than hindsight analysis to the podcast as they look back on their unloved children. The adoration, care, belief and hard work they poured into these projects really comes across, and made me pay attention to all the moving parts of a TV show I dismissed. Plus, hey, there are a lot of gems in these rougher cuts, so stick around for the live readings. The podcast has been around since October, but it’s one of those you “will get to” when you can stomach creatives talking about their dead dreams. Don’t wait. These are gold.
I once read a study that said your musical tastes begin to ossify in your early ’30s, to the point where you no longer are interested in finding new tunes. That, sadly, probably explains why I was so excited to buy a release, or re-release, of material that’s now two decades old. But I still raced down to my local record store to buy OKNOTOK, Radiohead’s 20th anniversary re-issue of OK Computer.
The package is made up of the album, remastered, along with the b-sides that were collected onto the Airbag / How Am I Driving EP. The big news, however, was the official release of three of the band’s tracks that have long since passed into legend: I Promise, Man of War (Big Boots) and Lift. You’ve been able to hear live and demo versions of all three forever, especially if you own the bootleg compendium Towering Above the Rest.
The remastered album is fine, and my non-audiophile ears can hear little difference between the original and its replacement. I’ve spent most of my time on the second disc, reliving my love of the OK Computer b-sides, which are almost uniformly as good as the original album. I Promise and Man of War are both utter delights, and two songs that could easily slip onto a “proper” Radiohead album at any time.
The song that I was perhaps most excited to hear — Lift — turned out to be least enjoyable of the three, although I’d stop short of calling it a let down*. When played live, the song was a loose prototype of the sort of anthemic stadium rock that would define Coldplay’s early sound. In fact, it’s easy to map the lyrics of Coldplay’s Yellow onto Lift should you, like me, have little going on in your life. As a reaction to that, the new Lift is aggressively downtempo and low-fi, a reaction to the idea that the band should give fans what they want.
Plus, there’s only three years before — hopefully — the Kid A double album lands, which I’m already psyching myself up for.
* Pun not intended.
The Bowery Boys: New York City History
Senior Editor, Database
You can’t live in a city as big and diverse as New York without being at least a little curious about its history. (Oh, that’s just me?) Anyway, I recently had a strong urge to learn more and got myself a nice stack of New York-centric books from the library.
The subjects were as varied and esoteric as a survey of the forgotten waterways of the city and a field guide to urban internet infrastructure. My favorite of these tomes ended up being The Bowery Boys: Adventures in Old New York, based on the podcast by the same people, which I promptly subscribed to. The hosts, Greg Young and Tom Meyers, break down Manhattan neighborhood by neighborhood, with an in-depth look at the landmarks still standing and historic events that once transpired at each location.
As I hop between old episodes, I’ve taken a particular interest in the NoHo-East Village area where the Engadget NYC offices are located. That building across the street? That was the site of the Astor Place Riot in 1849, a fight between immigrants and nativists that started as an argument between which Shakespean actor of the time was superior, Edwin Forrest or William Charles Macready (no, seriously). Even the office building we work in has its own bit of media history: It was once a Wanamaker’s department store annex, but for a time it was also a TV studio for the now-defunct DuMont Network. I find this incredibly cool given how many videos are shot here at the Oath (née AOL) offices today.
“IRL” is a recurring column in which the Engadget staff run down what they’re buying, using, playing and streaming.
Fans of retro games will want to pay attention to Thimbleweed Park’s latest announcement. The PlayStation Blog has announced that the popular game will arrive on the PS4 on August 22nd.
Thimbleweed Park is a popular 2D adventure game that was successfully Kickstarted back in 2014. It came from the co-creators of popular LucasArts games such as Monkey Island and Maniac Mansion, Ron Gilbert and Gary Winnick. It was initially only available on PC and Mac, and was later released on the Xbox One (and it’s still the only console the game is currently available on.)
While the date for a PlayStation 4 release has been announced, Thimbleweed Park’s Nintendo Switch availability is a little more cryptic. Gilbert posted a video to YouTube showing a pretty fully functional port to the system, so it’s clear it’s in the works (if not already ready). We’ll just have to wait and see when it will finally release.
Netflix is keeping Will Arnett pretty busy between Flaked and Arrested Development. Now comes news that he’ll return to the service September 8th in Bojack Horseman’s fourth season. The introspective animated series’ third season was widely lauded by critics, specifically for its near-silent episode “Fish out of Water.” Each series has surpassed the one that came before it, so hopefully that trend continues here as well.
— BoJack Horseman (@BoJackHorseman) July 10, 2017
Source: BoJack Horseman (Twitter)
Geek Squad is supposed to be one of Best Buy’s few clear advantages over internet retailers: you can ask for help from a real human being if you’re not sure how to set up your devices. Even that edge is disappearing, however. Recode has learned that Amazon is quietly rolling out a smart home setup service that helps you get started with connected lights, thermostats and (of course) smart speakers. If you have an Echo or another Alexa-connected device, you can get a free 45-minute consultation from an Amazon staffer who’ll answer questions, demo Alexa-linked devices and, naturally, create shopping lists. However, the real stars of the show are the in-person visits.
Pay the typical $99 fee (more for long or multi-device services) and Amazon will install your smart home device and teach you the essentials of how to use it, including through voice commands if you have Alexa-capable gear. Amazon won’t set up just any device, but it handles some of the common brands: Philips Hue lights, Ecobee thermostats, Eero WiFi routers and Ring doorbells are some of the eligible gadgets.
The services are only available in a handful of areas, including Amazon’s home turf of Seattle as well as Los Angeles, Portland (Oregon), Orange County, San Diego, San Francisco and San Jose. While Amazon isn’t commenting on the offering, any expansion will likely depend on whether or not Amazon can hire enough technicians to support a given area. It might not be available nationwide, then, let alone worldwide.
However, Amazon has multiple incentives to make this help as widely available as possible. The Alexa angle could help sell more Echo speakers, of course, and the shopping lists will likely lead to some extra sales. The move could cut down on returns, too — smart home devices can be intimidating if you’re a novice, and this might convince some newcomers to stick with their products. While you might not need these services yourself, they could easily pad Amazon’s bottom line if they become a regular part of its catalog.
Last month, we reported that Waze was allowing Android users to record your own voice prompts, but we didn’t know when the feature would be available on iOS. Yesterday, version 4.26 of the app quietly appeared in the App Store, which allows iOS users to “record your own voice directions to guide you on the road.”
To access the voice recording option, go into Waze’s advanced settings and hit “Sound & voice.” Then tap the “Voice directions” option, which takes you to a screen that offers the option to record a new voice. The system will then lead you through quite a few prompts to record your own directions, so make sure you set aside some time to go through every option. Any prompts that you neglect to record will automatically play Waze’s default voice.
You can also easily share your custom voice pack with your friends, family and basically everyone on the internet, because who doesn’t want that? Waze provides an handy dandy link you can send out to make it easy as possible.
If you’re clamoring to catch up on Game of Thrones but don’t have an HBO subscription, you’d better get ready for an epic binge watch. Starting today, TV customers can access all six seasons of the show through Xfinity on Demand for free. The promotion will run through Sunday, July 16th, which is the premiere date for the show’s seventh season.
Current Xfinity TV customers have multiple options for accessing previous seasons of Game of Thrones, including Xfinity X1 and the Stream portal. Additionally, users can download the Stream app and watch on their mobile devices. This is a pretty cool deal for existing Xfinity TV users; if you’re interested in taking advantage of this promotion, you’d better get down to it. Watching the entire run of Game of Thrones so far in less than a week will be no easy task.
Apple today seeded the third beta of iOS 11 to developers for testing purposes, more than two weeks after releasing the original second beta and over a month after introducing the new update at the Worldwide Developers Conference.
Registered developers can download the iOS 11 beta from Apple’s Developer Center, or over-the-air once the proper configuration profile has been installed.
The second iOS 11 beta included a slew of bug fixes, addressing issues that were discovered in the first beta. The third beta will also include many bug fixes, but could also focus more heavily on feature tweaks and changes. In iOS 11 beta 2, there were only a handful of changes, most notably the enabling of Do Not Disturb mode.
iOS 11 introduces some design changes, including a customizable Control Center and a new Lock screen that’s merged with the Notification Center. Peer-to-peer Apple Pay payments are being introduced in the Messages app, which is also gaining a new App Drawer, and there’s a new Do Not Disturb feature that is designed to help drivers stay focused on the road. Siri, Photos, the Camera app, and more are also gaining significant improvements.
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ARKit for developers will result in a wide range of new augmented reality apps, while a Core ML SDK will allow apps to become a whole lot smarter. iOS 11 is also the biggest update ever for the iPad, with a new Dock that introduces much improved multitasking, a Files app for better managing files, improved Apple Pencil support, a revamped App Switcher, and system-wide drag and drop.
iOS 11 available for both registered developers and public beta testers. A second public beta test that’s identical to the third developer beta should be released later this week.
For full details on all of the new features included in iOS 11, make sure to check out our extensive iOS 11 roundup.
Related Roundup: iOS 11
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Apple today seeded the third beta of an upcoming tvOS 11 update designed for the fourth-generation TV, nearly three weeks after seeding the second beta and more than a month after releasing the first beta during the 2017 Worldwide Developers Conference.
Registered developers can download tvOS 11 by connecting the Apple TV to a computer with a USB-C cable and installing the beta software using iTunes.
tvOS 11 received little attention at the Worldwide Developers Conference, but according to Apple’s release notes, it introduces a few new features to the operating system, and the third beta likely focuses on bug fixes, as the second beta did.
tvOS 11 introduces automatic switching between light/dark mode based on local time, Home screen syncing options that keep multiple Apple TVs in a household in sync, new background modes and notification support, Focus API improvements, custom sound support, network-based pairing and development support, improvements to Mobile Device Management, and more.
The new tvOS 11 update is available for registered developers and for the first time, public beta testers. A new tvOS 11 beta for public beta testers is likely to come out later this week.
Related Roundups: Apple TV, tvOS 10
Buyer’s Guide: Apple TV (Don’t Buy)
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Why it matters to you
Nintendo Switches should have no problem running NES games once Nintendo decides to make them available.
The Nintendo Switch has a NES emulator built into it known as “flog,” though it doesn’t appear to be used by anything at this time. It could be that this is the system that will help run original NES games on the modern Nintendo console when they launch on the new online service at some point in 2018.
Although Nintendo’s new Switch console is proving to be a pretty solid success story for the Japanese company, arguably its biggest boost in recent years have come from less likely sources. Alongside millions of downloads of mobile apps built on Nintendo properties, it also created a huge buzz around its hard-to-find NES Mini Classic. Who’d have thought that 30 years after their debut, NES games could be so popular?
Of course original NES games have been available in a digital capacity on various emulators for years now, but Nintendo has put some real effort behind them in recent years and it’s looking to do the same in 2018 when its Nintendo Switch Online service launches. For that though, it will need an emulator of its own and it looks like most Switch devices won’t need much of an update to run it.
During explorations of Nintendo Switch hardware, modders have discovered a whole ream of system modules, applets, and data archives, but they also stumbled upon an NES emulator. Called “flog,” we’re told that every retail switch comes with the emulator pre-installed, though as it stands, it doesn’t appear to be used by anything in an official capacity (thanks NintendoEverything).
While this is good news for those who missed out on buying an NES Mini Classic or for those who want to play NES games on the go in the near future, it does raise the question of why Nintendo has yet to make those games available to Switch owners. If the NES emulator is already a part of the system, couldn’t Nintendo have expanded its launch lineup of games with a number of original NES games?
We do know Nintendo is planning to leverage online play to augment those retro games and an expansive library of classic titles could help push the new online service when it debuts. For now though, all we know is that the emulator is there and should be ready to go whenever Nintendo decides to pull the retro trigger and release its NES library on modern gamers in a portable guise.