No, you’re not dreaming: Walt Disney World plans to open an insanely ambitious immersive Star Wars hotel that sounds like something out of Westworld. Every guest will experience a completely unique story throughout their stay, which will “touch every single minute” of their day, according to Disney’s resort chairman Bob Chapek. You’ll dress up in Star Wars clothing and explore a starship (the hotel itself) filled with familiar-looking aliens. And just to complete the experience, every window will look out onto space.
Basically, it sounds like Disney is extending the interactivity you typically find in its theme park experiences with one of its resort hotels. It’s a part of Disney World’s upcoming “Galaxy’s Edge” area, which is dedicated to Star Wars experiences. As Gizmodo describes, those theme parks will also be very interactive — you could, for example, run into Chewbacca who recruits you for a mission. That leads you to the Millennium Falcon ride, and depending on your team’s performance across your different jobs, you could get extra credits, a reprimand, or even have bounty hunters chasing you across the park.
Both Disneyland in California and Disney World in Florida will be getting the “Galaxy’s Edge” lands in 2019, but at this point it sounds like the immersive hotel is only headed to Orlando. We’ll be following the hotel’s progress closely, if only to keep an eye on those suspicious Droids.
Source: Disney Parks
My home has always had a pair of Wi-Fi dead zones that drive me nuts — the basement, and the living room on the first floor. I usually manage a solid 40-80Mbps in all other locations, which is ample for my needs. But in those two trouble spots the signal can drop to a pathetic 130Kbps (yup, slightly faster than the average modem circa 1998) or disappear entirely. That’s a problem when you’re trying to stream Netflix, or do anything. I’ve struggled with this for months, but then our review of Google’s OnHub router gave me an idea. “OnHub is designed to be out in the open, where Wi-Fi works best,” said Google’s marketing copy. At first, I was skeptical. Place a router more centrally? How do you do that when it needs to be connected to your DSL or cable modem and to a power supply? Still, it made me wonder. Can you boost Wi-Fi speeds by simply moving your router around a bit?
At 2,800 square feet, my house isn’t the largest. But it’s narrow (18 feet at its widest point) and includes thick wood beams backed by solid brick walls. Over the years, I tried 9 different routers from companies like Linksys, Buffalo, Apple and Netgear, as well as multiple range extenders from brands like Belkin and TP-Link. Nothing seemed to get those problem areas reliably connected, but one thing has remained the same. The router has always been in the same place, atop a metal filing cabinet in our home office.
Long story short? I was able to dramatically improve Wi-Fi performance just by moving my router! Specifically, I elevated it with a simple cardboard box and readjusted my antennas to make a big difference. Here’s what I was working with, what I did, and how it can help your router situation, too.
The first step was to make sure that the router itself was not part of the problem. The folks at Linksys kindly offered to loan me one of their latest models for my test, the fabulously retro-styled, and third-party firmware-friendly, WRT 1900 ACS ($220). It’s a dual-band, a/b/g/n/ac router with four external antennas and a dual-core 1.6Ghz processor.
The Test Tool
To figure out what the various changes in position did to my Wi-Fi performance, I used software called iPerf. With iPerf, you set a machine on your network (preferably a computer that’s wired into the router’s ethernet port, like my iMac) as the host, then run an iPerf-compatible app on your wireless device as the client (I used the free HE.NET for iOS running on an iPhone 6). The client pings the host machine with your choice of protocol (TCP or UDP), and package size (in this case, a single megabyte of data), and the host records and relays the result of that ping back to the client. You’ll see the amount of data sent, the speed it was able to achieve, and how long it took to send.
Baseline: Before installing the new WRT 1900 ACS, I took measurements using my existing router, the Linksys WRT 1200 AC, a two-antenna dual-band router.
1) Original Placement, Antenna Position 1: WRT 1900 ACS sitting directly atop of a 2-foot-3-inch metal filing cabinet, about one inch from a drywall wall, which is the same location used for the Baseline. The rear antennas were at a 45-degree outward angle, the side antennas pointing straight up.
2) Partially Elevated, Antenna Position 1: Identical to (1), but router placed on top of its cardboard package, four-and-a-half inches elevated from the surface of the filing cabinet
3) Fully Elevated, Antenna Position 1: Identical to (1) but with the router placed on top of its cardboard box positioned vertically for a distance of 12.5 inches from the surface of the filing cabinet.
4) Fully Elevated, Antenna Position 2: Identical to (3) but with side antennas set to a matching 45 degree outward angle as the rear antennas.
5) Fully Elevated, Antenna Position 3: Identical to (3) but with side antennas set to a 90 degree outward angle (parallel to the floor).
6) Original Placement, Antenna Position 3: Removed the cardboard box from config (5), but kept everything else the same.
The Test Zones
Third Floor Bedroom
Second Floor Bedroom
Second Floor Office (where router sits)
First Floor Living Room (front of house)
First Floor Kitchen (rear of house)
The chart requires a bit of explanation. For the baseline test with the original router, I took measurements in all six locations of the house. I then swapped out the WRT 1200 AC for the WRT 1900 ACS, mostly so I could see what (if any) effect using a newer router with 2 additional antennas would have to my overall connectivity. As you can see, speeds in my “good” zones improved considerably, with Zone B seeing the biggest jump in performance. My problem zones (D, F) didn’t improve at all. In fact, Zone F got worse (though I’m not sure how that’s even possible).
Moving the router slightly from the metal surface (Config #2) of the filing cabinet certainly helped, but I was still stuck well under 1 Mbit/s. Elevating the router further (Config #3) produced a similar increase in Zone D, but actually diminished the speed in Zone F. Angling out the side antennas to match the rear antennas’ 45 degree slant (Config #4) finally bumped Zone D above 1Mbit/s, but the basement continued to stagnate.
Then I angled the side antennas down to a 90-degree position (Config #5), and, BINGO! Speeds improved in Zone D by 2,000 percent, and in Zone F by a staggering 64,000 percent, over the previous configuration. Finally, speeds I can live with. But was this massive speed bump simply a matter of angling two antennas?
The last configuration (#6) where I keep the antennas the same but eliminate the cardboard box, tells the tale. No amount of antenna angling can overcome the signal impediment that the metal filing cabinet throws into the mix.
What’s Going On?
Bill Roberson/Digital Trends
To find out why the combination of router height and antenna angles from Config #5 proved so successful, I reached out to Linksys Product Manager, Mathieu Whelan.
“Most external antennas are dipole,” Whelan said. “If you imagine the radiation pattern in 3D space it will look kinda like a fat donut. From the top-down it will look like a perfect circle. When you angle the antenna at 45 degrees, you have to picture that donut tilting at 45 degrees as well.” Moving the donuts around has a direct impact on your coverage area. “If you angle the antenna parallel to the ground, that donut is now sitting vertically instead of horizontally,” Whelan pointed out.
Sure enough, when you look at a diagram of our house — seen head-on so you can visualize these donuts — the starting antenna angles from Configuration #1 (45 degrees on the rear and straight up on the sides) creates a series of donuts that never come in direct contact with my two trouble spots.
Which explains why, when you simply rotate the side antennas down to a 90 degree angle, the donut pattern changes too, resulting in way better overall coverage.
Both the front room (Zone D) and the basement (Zone F) are now within the signal path created by the side antennas. However, this represents an optimal arrangement, without any impediments to the signals as they disperse around the house.
Re-introduce an obstacle (like a metal filing cabinet) and you might as well not have those side antennas at all!
This diagram makes it look like the signals can’t get to the bottom of the house, but in reality it’s more subtle. “Generally, metal [like the filing cabinet] is pretty bad. Metal acts like a reflector [to radio waves] in much the same way that metal reflects light,” Whelan told me. “Light hits the metal of the filing cabinet and then bounces backward. With RF [radio frequencies] some of it will get through, but most of it will bounce back.” That’s why my trouble area had a signal — but only a weak one.
In a perfect world, our best Wi-Fi routers would occupy roughly the same location in our homes as the dining room chandelier — up high, away from any obstacles and roughly centered in the space of the home.
But since that arrangement isn’t likely to look very good (or even be practical from a wiring point of view) your best bet for maximum Wi-Fi coverage is to follow these guidelines as closely as possible.
Higher is better. Moving the router off the floor or even off the table can help. get as close to the middle of the room’s vertical space as possible.
Avoid surfaces that reflect RF. Metal is the major culprit here, but not all metal can be seen. If your home was built or renovated recently, there may be metal studs or panels in the walls.
Play the angles. Remember the donut analogy–try to orient your router and angle your antennas so that the resulting donut patterns hit all of the areas of the house where you need coverage. If your router does not have moveable external antennas, you can still affect the donut pattern by changing the orientation of the router itself.
Updated: Edited to be more concise.
Sprint has revealed yet another two new programs in an effort to lure subscribers away from other carriers. Back in June, it introduced a promo offering other carriers’ customers a year of free data. Now, it has launched Sprint Flex and Sprint Deals, which it describes as the “simplest and most flexible device financing program.” Flex is for customers who want to lease phones before they commit to purchasing them — they can choose to turn in their devices and upgrade to a new one in either 12 or 18 months.
Those who choose to upgrade in 12 months can avail themselves of iPhone Forever or Galaxy Forever at no additional monthly charge, giving them the chance to switch to the newest Apple or Samsung flagship every year. But those who wait until 18 months to decide can also opt to keep paying for six more months to officially own the phone or to pay for the whole amount in one go.
Sprint Deals, the carrier’s other new program, gives new customers the chance to get a line even without a credit check. Those who do get a credit check can lease a low-end to mid-range phone for $5 to $10 a month. On the other hand, those who don’t can get a subscription under Sprint Forward’s pay-in-advance plans. They need to pay for their phones in advance, as well, but they’ll at least get 25 to 50 percent off the devices’ retail price.
Sprint has likely been cooking up more and more promotions, since it hasn’t been growing as much as it would like these past few years. T-Mobile even eclipsed its customer number under John Legere’s leadership. According to reports that surfaced in May, the two carriers are talking about a merger again, except this time, Sprint might have to be the one to surrender the wheel.
The messaging app field is as hot as ever with Apple, Facebook and Google (among others) slugging it out… and Amazon appears to want in on the action. AFTVnews claims to have customer survey info revealing that Amazon is working on Anytime, a messaging app for Android, iOS and the desktop that promises a few twists on the usual formula. It has mainstays like message encryption, video, voice and (of course) stickers, but it reportedly has a few hooks that would make it easy to sign up and participate in group chats.
You would only need a name to reach out to someone, for one thing — no WhatsApp-style dependence on phone numbers here. You only have to use Twitter-style @ mentions to bring people into conversations or share photos, and you can color-code chats to identify the most important ones. Naturally, there are app-like functions (such as group music listening and food ordering) and promises of chatting with businesses for shopping or customer service.
We’ve asked Amazon for comment. Provided the scoop is accurate, though, Anytime wouldn’t be coming out of the blue. Amazon is already diving into communications between Echo calling support and business videoconferencing — it wouldn’t be a stretch to add text-based messaging to the mix. A chat app would give Amazon another way to bring people into its fold, and could serve as a sales hook for Amazon gadgets (say, sending and receiving messages through your Echo). Anytime might not keep Facebook execs awake at night anytime soon, but it could be an advantage if it catches on in the long run.
Kingdom Hearts 3 has been slow in coming, but you’ll at least get a reward for your patience. Square Enix took to Disney’s D23 stage to announce that the action role-playing game will have our heroes visit the world of Pixar’s Toy Story — yes, you’ll be helping Buzz Lightyear and Woody clear the neighborhood of villainous toys. There’s even a bit of Titanfall-style action as you jump into plastic robots to do battle. Oh, and did we mention that KH3’s release has finally been narrowed down, to 2018? That could still put a release well into the future, but it’s a relatively short wait given that fans of the Disney/Square crossover series have already gone more than a decade without a sequel.
Source: PlayStation Blog
After offering up a quick look at Star Wars: The Last Jedi in April, Disney gave us a further taste at its D23 Expo today with a new behind the scenes reel. More than anything, it sets the mood for what looks to be a particularly dramatic film. According to director Rian Johnson, fans might find some aspects of The Last Jedi “shocking.”
The footage features everyone you’d expect: the new core trio (Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, and Oscar Isaacs), as well Mark Hamill’s bearded Luke Skywalker and Carrie Fisher’s General Leia. But we also get a glimpse at some new faces, including Benicio del Toro and Laura Dern.
As usual, Disney was careful not to reveal too much from the footage. We still don’t know what The Last Jedi is actually about, aside from the fact that Luke Skywalker seems ready to hang up his lightsaber. But given Johnson’s excellent track record — including Brick, Looper and The Brothers Bloom — I have a feeling it’s in good hands. Star Wars: The Last Jedi hits theaters on December 15th.
Choosing the right notebook is hard, but selecting the perfect gaming laptop is even more challenging. In addition to specs like the processor, graphics card and storage drives, you need to consider the special sauce that each manufacturer adds to its systems in the form of design, software, keyboards and even warranty coverage.
When you’re potentially investing more than $1,000, the brand matters as much as the specs and features.
In order to help you choose wisely, we’ve evaluated the top nine gaming laptop brands and given each a score on a 100-point scale. In order to determine the winners and losers, we rated them on eight different criteria: Design, Review Scores, Keyboards, Displays, Software, Innovation, Warranty and Customization/Selection Options.
Due to its consistently high review scores, beautiful displays, willingness to innovate and wealth of configuration options, Dell/Alienware earned first place. MSI took second place, thanks to a diverse lineup of laptops, powerful specs and impressive mechanical keyboards. Razer rounded out the top three, due to its sleek designs and useful software.
See how all the best (and worst) gaming laptop brands fared below.
Alienware / Dell (90/100)
Our top-rated brand, Alienware/Dell, has the best-looking laptops with the strongest keyboards and displays on the market. The company also offers some of the most customizable systems around and provides helpful utilities that enable you to play your best.
Alienware Report Card | Our Top Alienware Gaming Laptop
Always the first or one of the first to implement new technologies, MSI has a huge selection of innovative and powerful laptops. The company’s strong designs, snappy keyboards and helpful software make it a leader in the gaming space. MSI is also the only company that offers free accidental-damage protection on its laptops.
MSI Report Card | Our Top MSI Gaming Laptop
We love Razer’s sleek designs, beautiful screens and innovative ideas, and its Synapse software is among the best first-party utilities in the business. However, Razer’s shallow keyboards and limited laptop selection hold it back.
Razer Report Card | Our Top Razer Gaming Laptop
Asus has some of the most powerful gaming laptops on the market, and many are great values for the money. The company is also quick to implement new technologies like Nvidia’s Max-Q standard for low-profile gaming laptops and AMD’s Ryzen processors. However, Asus’ design, keyboard and screen are all good, but not industry-leading.
Asus Report Card | Our Top Asus Gaming Laptop
Acer’s strengths are in its responsive keyboards and its innovative ideas (21-inch, curved-screen laptops, anyone?) but its flaws are just as obvious. Its warranty service is lackluster, and the company’s preloaded software doesn’t stand out.
Acer Report Card | Our Top Acer Gaming Laptop
The king of customization, Origin lets you configure your laptop to order, choosing most of the key specs and even opting for different paint jobs. The company’s first-party software isn’t near the top of the pack, and its one-year limited warranty doesn’t include round-trip shipping costs, should you need to send your laptop in for service.
Origin Report Card | Our Top Origin Gaming Laptop
Aorus / Gigabyte (70/100)
Gigabyte has a solid mix of laptops from both of its brands, though the Aorus systems are much sleeker-looking. We also like the colorful displays, snappy keyboards and helpful software on most of the models. However, Gigabyte / Aorus didn’t lead the pack in any of our categories and it tied for last place in review scores.
Gigabyte Report Card | Our Top Aorus/Gigabyte Gaming Laptop
With a handful of respectable, but risk-averse, gaming laptops, Lenovo seems like a company that’s dipped a couple of toes into the gaming market, but hasn’t decided to dive in. The manufacturer’s Legion and IdeaPad Y Series notebooks have palatable designs and snappy keyboards, but they don’t offer the features serious gamers crave, such as customizable backlighting and high-end Nvidia 1080 graphics.
Lenovo Report Card | Our Top Lenovo Gaming Laptop
While there are bright spots in HP’s Omen line of gaming laptops, the company has made too many compromises, from shallow keyboards to dim displays and boring, plasticky chassis. However, the future looks brighter, since the company now has new, more-promising designs available.
HP Report Card | Our Top HP Gaming Laptop
Read LAPTOP’s detailed report on each gaming brand:
- Alienware / Dell
- Aorus / Gigabyte
If it wasn’t already clear that Disney is big on wearable gaming, it is now. It just introduced Powers United VR, and it’s pretty much what you’d expect if you dreamed up a superhero virtual reality game. You step into the suit of one of multiple legendary Marvel figures (including Captain Marvel, the Hulk, Rocket Raccoon and Ronan the Accuser) and join your friends as you battle villains using your character’s unique powers. And in this case, that makes a big difference — Hulk towers over his enemies and can throw missiles back at his opponents, for instance, while Rocket makes up for his small size with firepower.
You will have to be picky about your choice of VR hardware, though. Powers United will be an Oculus Rift exclusive when it shows up in 2018, so you’re out of luck if you snagged an HTC Vive. Other than that, though, what little we’ve seen of the title looks promising.
Fidgeters have long been scorned for their wriggling ways, but thankfully, the days of contempt are no more. For the time being, these individuals can seek solace and sanctuary in the year of the spinner. Over the past few months, an onslaught of fidget toys and accessories have seemingly taken the world by storm. As decades of fleeting fads have shown us time and time again, however, nothing lasts forever. So let’s just enjoy this wave while its lasts. Never fret — or fret as you please — we’ve boiled down the massive number of options to choose from. Below are seven of the best fidget toys on the market.
While some will surely write off these fidget toys as much ado about nothing, as we reported earlier this year, there is scientific evidence that suggests neurological benefits of fidgeting — and the Moondrop is one of our favorite fidget toys currently available. The aptly-titled device was originally designed to replicate this gravitational difference between the Earth and our moon. The built-in vertical slider descends at the rate an object would fall on the lunar surface, which is considerably slower given the gravity on the moon is roughly a sixth of that here on Earth. A second version of the Moondrop uses a copper slider that imitates the gravitational force on Mars. These fidget toys allow you to tinker locally as your mind drifts cosmically.
Think Ink Pen ($44+)
We covered the Think Ink Pen earlier this year, and the device is still one of the more unique offerings out there. The flexible device is a “focus tool” festooned with a a bevy of accessories that will allow you to get your fidget fix. And unlike the majority of fidget toys on the market, this unit has functionality outside of the fidget capacity. Keep this gizmo in hand and you’ll be ready to jot down that million dollar idea the moment that eureka moment strikes.
Thumb Chucks ($10)
Thumb Chucks allow you to use centripetal force to fidget the day away, and the individual “chucks” are detachable for further personalization. Although exceedingly difficult — you must utilize precision strikes on the right pressure points — you could theoretically use a pair of Thumb Chucks for self-defense. In pure Tech Deck fashion, the manufacturer also offers a rather extensive collection of trick tutorials on its site. After all, fidgeting is more than a fad — it’s a way of life.
Stress Blocks ($8)
The cube-style iteration of the fidget gizmo is another popular toy on the market. Rather than simply being limited to a single trick, Stress Blocks have six sides, each of which provides a unique tactile experience. The device also easily fits in your pocket, allowing for fidgeting on the fly.
Dodecahedron Tactile Toys ($20)
This brings us to the DT Word of the Day. A “dodecahedron” is a figure with 12 plane faces and, as you could have postulated at this point, the Dodecahedron Tactile Toy has 12 sides, each with its own fidget function. These include everything from a rotating sprocket and sliding switches to a series of “worry stones.”
Closs Orbiter ($13)
The Closs Orbiter has a slight groove etched along its exterior, allowing you to girdle the unit with the accompanying steel ball. The unit comes with a velvet carrying pouch to boot, so you can present your fidget toy to the world as conspicuously as you please.
Every fidget spinner aficionado is privy, in practice at least, to Newton’s Third Law: Every action has an equal and opposition reaction. With this in mind, the Newton aptly bears the namesake of the physicist and polymath, Sir Isaac Newton. Thankfully, there are instructions for creating your very own Newton on Thingiverse.
Sleep is incredibly important to our physical and mental health. Research suggests that a chronic lack of sleep can have all kinds of negative repercussions, from heart disease and diabetes to impaired attention, alertness, concentration, and more.
In fact, at least one study showed that reducing sleep from seven hours a night to five or fewer hours almost doubled the risk of death from all causes. Our modern lifestyles include many factors that lead some people to get less sleep than they should, and our many gadgets could be some of the worst offenders.
And it’s not just the constant bombardment with sights and sounds that are at fault — some researchers submit that it’s the light emitted by our devices that is causing many of us to sleep fewer hours, and for the sleep we do get to be less restful. Thankfully, there is a solution; you just need to learn how to use a blue light filter on a PC or Mac.
The reason blue light hurts is purely biological. Sleep is a part of the circadian rhythm, the cycle of biological processes that’s determined in part by the amount of light and dark to which our bodies are exposed. In the most natural setting, which is one where we’re only exposed to sunlight, our retinas sense when the sun is going down and the environment is getting darker. That induces our hypothalamus to tell the body to produce melatonin and other sleep hormones and to reduce our body temperature.
When we use artificial lighting to extend our day, however, our bodies get confused and the various sleep signals are disrupted. Even worse is the blue light that’s emitted by fluorescent and LED lights — like those on our various device displays — and that actually causes us to be more alert and to produce even less melatonin.
So, what’s a person to do in our modern world where using technologies that produce copious amounts of blue light seems unavoidable? The answer is to find ways to block the blue light that our devices emit, if we’re determined to use them well into the evening hours.
Windows 10 and MacOS have recently gained their own special blue light limiting features, and we’re going to show you how to make use of their potentially health-improving benefits.
Microsoft added a blue light limiting feature to Windows 10 in the Creators Update that was released in April 2017. Called “Night light,” this feature shifts the Windows 10 display to show warmer colors that reduce the amount of blue light that’s emitted.
Turning the Night light feature on is a simple enough process. Just go to the Action Center and click on All Settings, then click on the System button, and then select Display. Night light can be toggled on and off.
Mark Coppock/Digital Trends
To configure the Night light feature, click on Night light settings. Configuration options include the ability to turn the Night light on immediately, adjust the color temperature while the feature is enabled, and schedule when the Night light will turn on and off.
Mark Coppock/Digital Trends
To set the schedule, toggle the Schedule night light option to on. Then, you can either choose to let Night light turn itself on at sunset and off at sunrise — automatically determined by your location — or you can set the time manually by clicking Set hours and choosing when the feature should turn on and off.
Mark Coppock/Digital Trends
When you first turn the feature on, you’ll notice the color shift immediately. After a while, your eyes will adjust to the change and it should be less intrusive. By reducing the amount of blue light, however, the Night light feature will now be limiting the impact of using your Windows 10 PC late at night — you could find it easier to get to sleep, and your sleep might be deeper and more restful.
Apple first implemented its own blue light limiting feature, dubbed Night Shift, in iOS 9.3. That helped out the company’s iPhone and iPad users, but it did nothing for MacOS users who were more apt to prop up their MacBooks in bed before turning in. Fortunately, it didn’t take Apple long to bring Night Shift to MacOS, with the feature debuting in MacOS Sierra in 10.12.4 in March 2017.
As with Windows 10, the feature is easy enough to turn on and configure to your tastes. To get started, open System Preferences and select Displays, then click on the Night Shift tab.
Mark Coppock/Digital Trends
On this settings page, you can configure when the Night Shift feature will automatically run, turn it on until the next day’s sunrise, and set the color temperature to your preferences. In terms of scheduling, you can let MacOS turn it on and off at sunset and sunrise based on your location, or you can set a custom schedule.
Mark Coppock/Digital Trends
Just like with Windows 10’s Night light feature, Night Shift will make your display’s colors warmer and reduce the amount of blue light that’s emitted. Give it a try to see if it improves your sleep habits and lets you be healthier, more productive, and generally a happier Mac user.