Skip to content

Archive for

4
Aug

The best mechanical keyboards


By Kimber Streams, Dan Frakes, and Ryan Whitwam

This post was done in partnership with The Wirecutter, a buyer’s guide to the best technology. When readers choose to buy The Wirecutter’s independently chosen editorial picks, it may earn affiliate commissions that support its work. Read the full article here.

If you spend most of your day typing, a mechanical keyboard can be a worthwhile upgrade: Mechanical keyboards are more durable, responsive, comfortable, and customizable than other types of keyboards. The best for you depends a lot on personal preference and what you’re using it for, but after spending months testing 31 top-rated keyboards with a four-person panel, we unanimously agree that the WASD Code 87-Key is a great place to start because of its fantastic key feel, build quality, and elegant design.

How we picked

Mechanical keyboards are best for people who spend most of the day typing, and want a keyboard that’s durable, comfortable, and pleasant to use. For the most part, we focused on Cherry switches in this guide, because they’re by far the most prevalent and have a decades-long reputation for reliability. But we also considered some of the clones that have appeared since Cherry’s switch patents expired in 2014, as well as other, completely different types of mechanical switches, such as Topre and Alps clones (the latter found in our Mac pick).

Each of Cherry’s switches is named after a color, with the Cherry MX Browns, Blues, and Clears being the most popular according to GoMechanicalKeyboard’s survey of enthusiasts. Because everyone has different preferences, we can’t recommend one particular switch that’s best for everyone. We recommend buying (or borrowing) a switch tester, trying a friend’s keyboard, or going to a store and poking some mechanical keyboards for yourself. And be sure to reference our handy chart detailing the types of Cherry switches in our full guide.

There are three common sizes of mechanical keyboard: full, tenkeyless, and 60 percent. Full keyboards have all the keys: letters, numbers, modifiers, function keys, arrow keys, and a number pad. Tenkeyless (often abbreviated TKL) keyboards lack a number pad, but have all the other keys. Lastly, 60 percent keyboards—popular in the mechanical-keyboard enthusiast community—include only the essential block of letters, numbers, and modifiers, and have no function keys, no arrow keys, and no numpad.

If you need the number pad all the time, you should stick to full keyboards, but most people are best off with a tenkeyless board. We recommend a 60 percent keyboard only if you’re very sure you don’t need the arrow or function keys.

Our pick: WASD Code 87-Key

The WASD Code 87-Key looks great on a desk, and feels great to type on.
Photo: Michael Hession

If you spend most of your time typing, the WASD Code 87-Key is a fantastic option. This keyboard is available with all the most popular switch options for general use and typists: Cherry MX Brown, MX Clear, MX Blue, or MX Green. It’s available in international layouts, too. But it lacks multicolor backlighting and can’t record or store macros.

Our panelists universally loved the Code because of its subtle, elegant design and unmatched build quality. The keycaps feel smooth but not slippery, and make a solid clacking noise when depressed into the steel backplate. The trade-off for the Code’s superior build quality is that it weighs 2 pounds, but we don’t think this is a dealbreaker.

With a number pad: WASD Code 104-Key

The Code 104-Key is identical to the 87-Key, but with the addition of a number pad.
Photo: Michael Hession

If you need a full-size number pad, get the Code 104-Key instead. It’s exactly the same as our main pick, but includes a number pad and weighs a bit more (2.42 pounds). The Code 104-Key is available in all the same switches: Cherry MX Brown, MX Clear, MX Blue, and MX Green.

For Mac enthusiasts: Matias Tactile Pro

The Tactile Pro gives you a fully Mac-standard layout, Mac-specific keys and labels, and a great typing experience. Photo: Michael Hession

If you’re looking for a mechanical keyboard for your Mac, we recommend Matias’s Tactile Pro. This full-size keyboard offers an unmatched combination of a Mac-standard layout, great custom switches, Mac-specific function keys, solid construction, and exceptionally useful key labels for accessing alternate characters. It also has a three-port USB 2.0 hub, with ports on each end and one in the back.

Rather than using the popular Cherry-class key switches, the Tactile Pro incorporates the same Alps switch mechanism used in the original Apple Extended Keyboard. The switches aren’t a perfect match for those on the Extended Keyboard, but they’re very similar.

Full-size budget: Logitech G610 Orion

If you want a full-size keyboard for under $100, the Logitech G610 Orion is the best we found.
Photo: Michael Hession

If you want a budget mechanical keyboard with a number pad, get the Logitech G610 Orion. It’s a full-size keyboard available with Cherry MX Brown or MX Red switches, and it has a fun volume-control wheel. You can assign and record Macros for the F1 through F12 keys using the Game Center software, and choose keys to disable when Game Mode is toggled. It also had one of the least-gaudy designs of the budget keyboards we considered. Most of our panel members liked the Quick Fire Rapid-i, even though it requires software to change backlight effects and has a nonremovable USB cable.

For gaming: Razer BlackWidow Tournament Edition Chroma

The Razer BlackWidow Tournament Edition Chroma is the best option if you want macros and fun lighting effects. Photo: Michael Hession

If you want a gaming keyboard with programmable macros and multicolor LEDs, you should get the Razer BlackWidow Tournament Edition Chroma. The BlackWidow TE Chroma is available with Razer’s proprietary Orange and Green switches that are roughly equivalent in feel to Cherry MX Browns and MX Blues, respectively. It has customizable RGB LEDs, allows macro recording for nearly every key, and has a gaming mode to disable keys and key combinations that can throw you out of the game. We don’t love the edgy sci-fi font or the glowing Razer logo on the front, but overall the design is more compact and elegant than that of other gaming keyboards we looked at.

Full-size gaming: Corsair K70 LUX RGB

The Corsair K70 LUX RGB is the best full-size gaming keyboard, with all the bells and whistles.
Photo: Michael Hession

If you want a full-size gaming keyboard with media keys and Cherry switches, the best option is the Corsair K70 LUX RGB Mechanical Gaming keyboard. It’s available with Cherry MX Brown, MX Blue, MX Red, and MX Speed switches. Though the K70 LUX was one of the more expensive full-size gaming boards we tested and doesn’t have the most tasteful design, it was still the favorite of our panel testers because of its superior build quality and flexibility, and handy media keys. You can assign macros to any key, and experiment with a whopping 13 lighting effects. And unlike our other picks, the K70 LUX has two sets of feet to prop up the board. By using only the front pair, you can achieve the slight negative slope recommended by ergonomic experts, unique among our picks.

This guide may have been updated by The Wirecutter. To see the current recommendation, please go here.

Note from The Wirecutter: When readers choose to buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn affiliate commissions that support our work.

4
Aug

Bloomberg: Elon Musk is building his own Hyperloop


Elon Musk may have dreamt up the Hyperloop, but the bulk of its development has been carried out by others. When he unveiled the white paper in 2013, the South African billionaire said that his vision was “open sourced,” and it would be for other startups to build it out. Now, however, sources close to Musk say that he will now build his own Hyperloop, starting with the New York to Washington D.C. route.

The news was confirmed in a statement sent to Bloomberg via Musk’s Boring Company, which said that it wants to “accelerate the development of this technology as fast as possible.” That may pose an existential threat to the number of startups that have begun working on their Hyperloop designs. Businesses such as Hyperloop One, Hyperloop Transportation Technologies, Arrivo and TransPod have new competition.

The statement adds that Musk will continue to “encourage and support” everyone that wishes to build a Hyperloop. But, there is also a coded threat tacked on to the end, saying that these companies need to be “truthful,” or face losing the use of the name. As SpaceX holds the Hyperloop trademark, it’s possible that Musk could force companies he doesn’t like to rebrand.

Last month, Musk tweeted that he had received informal approval to build his first Hyperloop, from NYC to DC — approval that appears to have come from the White House. There are no concrete plans in place, but Musk’s initial tweets prompted a flurry of chatter amongst the other Hyperloop companies. It was reasonable to assume that Boring Co. would dig the tunnels, with a partner building the loop itself.

What’s not clear is why Musk has suddenly decided to reverse course and begin working on his own Hyperloop platform. It could be that the announcement is simply incentive to encourage others to speed up, although it’s not as if things aren’t moving at a pace. Hyperloop One just demonstrated its phase two test, and seems far closer to a finished product than anyone else. Not to mention, that unless SpaceX has been quietly developing a system, it is now several years behind these other companies.

I guess a proof of concept is needed

— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) August 4, 2017

But as well as SpaceX nurturing various academic pod design competitions, Musk has been a vocal backer of the Hyperloop project. Earlier today, in response to a negative story from The Guardian, Musk tweeted that “a proof of concept is needed.” We just didn’t realize that he was going to be the one to build it.

Source: Bloomberg

4
Aug

Spotify may finally make the leap to Xbox One this fall


Sony and Spotify have been pretty cozy for the past few years on PlayStation, but it looks like the streaming service is going to show Xbox fans some love soon too. Reddit’s unblinking eyes spotted Xbox’s Larry “Major Nelson” Hryb using the app on Xbox Live. The Verge independently confirmed with its off the record sources that an app for the Swedish music service was being tested internally, with a wide roll-out planned before the Xbox One X’s launch November 7th. Now to speculate whether Microsoft will abandon Groove Music for Spotify the way that Sony did its Music Unlimited service.

Spotify for Xbox One? Nope, this is fake https://t.co/ImNRnYRRYX pic.twitter.com/d18tGGXs7w

— Tom Warren (@tomwarren) August 3, 2017

Via: The Verge

Source: Reddit

4
Aug

Toyota and Mazda will work together to build EVs


Recently, Taiwanese electronics company (and Apple supplier) Foxconn announced a Wisconsin-based plant to build TVs, part of a larger $10 billion investment into the US. Now, Japanese companies Toyota Motor Corp and Mazda have an announcement of their own. They’re joining forces to build a US assembly plant that will focus on EVs.

The plant will cost $1.6 billion and will produce roughly 300,000 cars per year. It’s not clear where in the US it will be located, but it will create jobs for around 4,000 people. Toyota will also take a 5 percent stake in Mazda as a part of the deal.

This partnership is a good move, when you consider how crowded the EV landscape is right now. These days, car companies aren’t just competing with one another. They’re also competing with electronics companies interested in the EV and self-driving business. It allows the companies to pool their resources and catch up with competitors in EV markets and other areas of developing tech.

Source: Reuters

4
Aug

Robot chefs and en route baking could be the future of pizza delivery


Looking at its storefront, you wouldn’t expect Zume pizza to be the kind of business gunning to revolutionize the food-delivery business. Tucked into a quiet commercial park in Mountain View, California, next to a defunct flower shop — which now serves as the company’s engineering bay — Zume looks more like the countless IT startups that dot Silicon Valley than a pizzeria. But only from the outside.

One look in the building’s kitchen facility belies its benign facade: Instead of chefs tossing dough and slopping sauce, the company has installed a human-robot hybrid workforce that can crank out as many as 400 pizzas an hour and can reportedly have them to your door in a fraction of the time (and price) as the competition.

“One of the things that we have always focused on is how to create a system that works for both parties,” Zume Pizza co-founder Julia Collins, told Engadget. “How do we create a system that’s stable and predictable, which are great conditions for machines, but flexible and collaborative, which are great conditions for human beings?”

Zume does not operate like conventional delivery services. Rather, it has sought to achieve a productive balance between its meaty and metallic employees, enabling each to better support the other. “Human beings are better at taste-testing,” Collins said. “Human beings are better at recipe development, produce selection. Robots are great at repetitive tasks — like moving pizza in and out of an 800-degree oven 1,000 times a day — so the goal is not end-to-end automation because that’s not what’s going to create better food for the customer.”

The robotic pizza-making process mirrors the traditional method, albeit with a few high-tech twists. Rather than hand-toss dough balls into their circular pizza shape, which can be tiresome and mind-numbingly repetitive for human chefs, a customized hydraulic press, dubbed Doughbot, smashes the ball into shape. The pizza crust then travels down a conveyor belt to the saucing station, where a pair of extruders named Pepe and Giorgio slather the dough with marinara or alfredo sauce. From there, a fourth robot named Marta uses a multi-axis arm to evenly spread the sauce. The pizza then continues along the conveyor to the topping station — one of the few steps in this process where human hands are involved.

Marta the sauce spreading robot

“We actually looked initially at having robots do that task,” Collins said. “Then as we moved into the engineering work and the design involved realized we’re going really far down a rabbit hole that wasn’t necessarily going to create more value for our customers or a safer job for our employees. … [But] something like toppings has a lot of diversity; there’s a lot of joy in sort of dressing up a pizza. If it’s not better for our workers and it doesn’t create more value for the customer, then, really, what’s the point?”

Once the pizza has been properly prepared, it is picked up by a modified six-axis robotic arm named Bruno (originally designed to stack pallets), and set into an oven for what the company calls the “par-bake” or partial baking. The pizza isn’t fully cooked to start, a la Papa Murphy’s, and for good reason: Par-baking essentially freezes the dough-rising process as the pizza is delivered. “Bouncing around the [uncooked] yeast will actually deactivate it, and then you’ll be cooking a tortilla,” Collins said. Once the pie comes out of the oven, Leonardo, the chopping bot, will slice it into eight even pieces using a 200 psi cutting press and it will be loaded into one of the company’s delivery vehicles.

The delivery truck’s wall of mini-ovens

But these aren’t run-of-the-mill delivery vehicles. Each is roughly the size of a FedEx van, their interiors lined with as many as 56 miniature ovens. Using a GPS-based predictive algorithm, each oven will turn on and fire the partially cooked pizzas for the final four minutes before the truck arrives at the drop point.

Once the pizza is ready, it ejects from the oven like a CD from a car stereo, into a waiting box (itself made from sugar-cane fiber and specially designed to ensure the crust stays crunchy) for the trip to the front door.

This leads to some tricky logistical challenges because demand for pizza tends to be really spikey. Roughly 50 percent of Zume’s order volume occurs between 5PM and 8PM, Collins told Engadget, and there are a number of factors that will affect demand. “We’re looking at past order data. We’re also looking at season, time of day and any cultural events that might be happening that could lead to a spike in sales like maybe the Silicon Valley premiere or the Game of Thrones premiere.”

Bruno-2.jpg

Bruno the par-bake oven-loading robot

Zume Pizza

When the company becomes swamped in orders, the delivery truck can convert into a localized hub. “When we get incredibly busy,” Collins said, “the truck goes into what it’s called a ‘forward deployment mode.’ So the truck essentially fixes in its location, and additional resources like scooters and cars come help to fill the last mile of that delivery.” The truck acts as a miniature neighborhood pizzeria with par-baked pies being delivered to the truck from the central storefront and then delivered to nearby residences via car or scooter after they’ve finished cooking.

With this system, the company should be able to take advantage of the higher population densities of cities by simply parking a van in each neighborhood, supplying them with pies from the central kitchen and then shuttling out the finished orders using smaller vehicles. In this way, Zume could theoretically cover an entire city with delivery service without having to build brick-and-mortar storefronts in each neighborhood.

Head chef Aaron Butkus working on a new pizza creation

The company also says it’s working to address the issue of food deserts, which the USDA defines as any low-income census tract in which more than a third of the population lives more than a mile from the nearest supermarket. In fact, according to the USDA’s Food Desert Locator, 10 percent of the country’s 65,000 census tracts met those criteria, and of the 13.5 million people without access to healthful food, 82 percent lived in urban areas.

“When we move into a metro area, our goal is to win that entire area,” Collins said. “We’re not going to carve out pockets where we don’t serve. We’re not going to prioritize places where we do serve.”

Zume may be first on the field, but these logistical and mechanizing trends are beginning to take hold to the rest of the pizza industry, which rakes in $40 billion annually in the US alone. In fact, practices like prediction and inventory delocalization (also known as “cross stocking”) are already being used by the likes of UPS, DHL and Amazon and may soon spread to Domino’s, Pizza Hut, Little Caesars and Papa John’s, which collectively control 40 percent of the delivery market. “Many people are doing the same thing that we’re doing,” Collins said. “We’re just doing it to get better food onto your table.”

Images: Zume Pizza

4
Aug

Match.com turned its most eligible bachelors into free dolls


Match.com is as synonymous with online dating as Tinder is with casual bonking, but even an established platform needs a good PR push occasionally. In a campaign that would’ve almost certainly become national news if genders had been reversed, Match.com and PR agency Brands2Life set up a pop-up shop in London’s swanky Marylebone area this week, offering free dolls modelled (literally) on the site’s most eligible bachelors.

Check out the gallery for totally legit bios of the short-statured singletons.

After downing the welcome gift of a glass of bubbly, single females are encouraged to browse the shelves and take away a free figurine. Not to perform voodoo rituals on, of course, but as a reminder to contact the life-sized, animate version at their leisure. There are only seven different chaps to choose from, mind. Perhaps the countless other fellas signed up to the dating service aren’t attractive enough to be made into lo-fi, 3D-printed models, or they’re just obviously married.

The “Model Males” pop-up shop was only open in London for a couple of days this week, but there is the potential that clones could appear in other UK cities. (Surely it’s easier to just go on the website from the comfort of your own sofa? You don’t have to get dressed if you’re just chillin’ on the sofa.) Conveniently — from a PR perspective, I mean — the launch of the pop-up shop coincided with the publication of important research that concluded chivalry is dead.

Apparently, men either don’t text women enough, or spend too much time on their phones, or don’t offer their phones to their dates with dead-batteried phones. A lot of it revolves around phones, for some reason, and doesn’t include stats such as what men like and don’t like about dating. Still, it’s the best live marketing exercise I’ve had the pleasure of visiting since Vodafone’s “1984G Street.”

Source: Match.com

4
Aug

Messaging app Kik reportedly has a child abuse problem


Kik is the “de-facto” app for grooming children online, alleges a new video report. What’s more, the messaging platform (which is primarily home to teens) is apparently allowing child exploitation to continue unchecked. It’s allegedly not even taking down the profiles of accused or convicted pedophiles, according to the joint investigation by Point and Forbes. The app currently counts 300 million users among its ranks, and claims it reaches 40 percent of teens in the US.

As part of their report, Jay McGregor and Thomas Fox-Brewster set up a handful of fake Kik accounts. Posing as a 14-year-old girl (whose age was clearly displayed on her profile), they claim they received a barrage of messages from older men. This after joining just a few public groups — including one they stumbled upon after it was recommended by one of the company’s own bots. One man, who “appeared to be in his forties,” sent a message using sexually explicit language. When they used a third-party app to find more followers, the messages spiked to over a hundred. Many of them contained “aggressive sexual content,” and even pictures of male genitalia.

The sign-up process on Kik is extremely straightforward. The platform revolves around usernames — there’s no need for a phone number, Facebook link, or any other form of identity verification. The app allegedly has no preventative measures in place to stop younger users from direct messaging other public group members, and vice versa (regardless of age). It also apparently has no barrier that blocks underage members from viewing obscene images and material.

Individual child abuse cases facilitated via Kik have appeared in the media in the past. As recently as June, a convicted child molester described the app as a “predator’s paradise” to CBS News48 Hours. For its part, the platform claims it is “increasing its investment” in regards to safety. Yet, the findings in the report contradict the safety measures it lists on its website. In its “guide for law enforcement,” for example, it claims it deletes accounts associated with individuals convicted of an offence that involved the “inappropriate” use of its app.

Speaking to Engadget, McGregor said the following: “Kik told us that it doesn’t proactively remove accounts of people that have been charged with an offence, because that assumes guilt, which is right. But it did admit that it will do a better job of removing profiles of convicted pedophiles.” He added: “I can’t think of any reason, other than incompetence, for why profiles of convicted offenders hadn’t been removed.”

However, Kik is vocal about its cooperation with law enforcement. The company holds seminars with the police, provides training videos on how to use its app, and claims it hands over suspect data. According to the report, this suggests Kik encourages law enforcement using the app as a “honeypot to sting pedophiles.” A court document shown in the report also quotes a police officer as stating that the app is “frequently used by individuals who trade child pornography.”

In an email, Kik told Engadget it takes safety seriously, but has “work to do on this front…every company does.” Its full statement can be read below:

We take online safety very seriously, and we’re constantly assessing and improving our trust and safety measures.

There are two ways we do this. One is through technology and constant improvements to the product itself. We encourage users to report content that they believe violates the Kik Terms of Service and Community Standards. Users are also able to Block other users they no longer wish to chat with, or ignore chats from people that they don’t know. Actions are taken against users found to have violated Kik’s Community Standards and TOS, including removal from the Kik platform where circumstances warrant.

The other is through education and partnerships with organizations that help adults and teens understand the challenges of today’s online landscape and how to avoid bad situations. For years, we’ve had teams dedicated to this, and we will continue to invest in those types of tools, provide resources to parents, and strengthen relationships with law enforcement and safety-focused organizations.

This is a priority for us. We want all users to be safe on Kik and will continue to make Kik a safe, positive and productive place for our users to interact.

Source: Point (YouTube)

4
Aug

The best gear for building a home theater in your dorm


To the extent that your shoebox of a dorm will be your home for the next nine months, you should do whatever you can to make it feel cozy and inviting. To that end, we’ve included some home-theater items in our back-to-school guide, and we’ve ensured everything is reasonably compact (you can hold off on your first 65-inch set until you have your very own pad). From media streamers to speakers to a handful of small- to medium-sized TVs, you have options if you want to upgrade from watching Netflix off your 13-inch laptop.

Source: Engadget’s 2017 Back to School Guide

4
Aug

Grab an Amazon Echo for half off today


Amazon’s been expanding its line of smart, Alexa-powered home speakers for awhile now. If you’re interested in buying an Amazon Echo, well then today is your lucky day. The smart speaker, which usually is priced at $180, is on sale for just $90 at select retailers today. You can also grab an Amazon Echo Dot for $35, a $15 discount off its regular price of $50, and an Amazon Tap for $80, discounted from the regular price of $130.

It’s strange that these devices would be on sale at third-party stores and not Amazon itself (not only is the Echo showing as full price, but it’s out of stock, with an estimated ship date of August 11. However, you can pick up a discounted device at stores such as Bed Bath & Beyond, Best Buy and Bloomingdale’s. We’ve seen sales on the Echo before, but this seems to be the steepest discount yet. If you want to take advantage of this offer, make sure you grab one before midnight tonight, Central time.

Source: The Verge

4
Aug

‘Karate Kid’ reboot no one asked for debuts on YouTube Red in 2018


Ralph Macchio and William Zabka are getting back together to reprise their roles as Karate Kid’s Daniel LaRusso and Johnny Lawrence in a 10-episode TV series called Cobra Kai. Announced today, the series takes place three decades after the 1984 All Valley Karate Tournament of the original film. LaRusso, though successful, is finding life a little difficult without Mr. Miyagi to mentor him and a struggling Lawrence reopens the Cobra Kai dojo in an attempt to find some redemption. The two work out their issues through karate in the comedy’s half-hour episodes.

While offers for the series reportedly came from Netflix, Amazon, Hulu and AMC, YouTube Red was the victor and the series is set to premiere on the streaming service in 2018. YouTube recently announced a slew of new shows for 2017 and a handful of renewals. It also said that its original shows have hit nearly a quarter billion views. As noted by the Hollywood Reporter, YouTube execs have been looking to attract a slightly older audience than what it has been and the reboot seemed like a good way to do that. But I don’t know if true fans of The Karate Kid are going to be into a TV comedy series that will have a hard time standing up to the original.

Cobra Kai will be written and produced by Hot Tub Time Machine’s Josh Heald alongside Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg of Harold and Kumar. “Like everyone who grew up in the 1980s, the three of us are enormous fans of The Karate Kid​,” the three said in a statement. “Cobra Kai​ will be a true continuation of the original films — packed with comedy, heart and thrilling fight scenes. We can’t wait to reignite the LaRusso-Lawrence rivalry, and we’re thankful to our partners at YouTube Red, Sony Pictures Television and Overbrook for their shared enthusiasm in making our dream project a reality.”

Source: Hollywood Reporter

%d bloggers like this: