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30
Aug

Riptide’s electric skateboard balances power and portability


Electric skateboards have been coming out of the woodwork lately, popping up in all shapes and sizes, with each new company trying to find a niche in the market. There have been examples of extremely tiny models accentuating portability and longboards with hyperextended ranges. It depends on what fits your use case, but I’ve been eyeing boards that match normal decks for scale, along with a belt-driven motor and a relatively affordable price. The newest entry to hit the crowdfunding scene is the Riptide R1, which dropped on Indiegogo today. So far, it’s come closest to what I’ve been looking for on all fronts: size, price and power.

The great thing about having a shorter deck and some kicktail as opposed to the popular longboard designs is maneuverability. You can make far sharper turns and adjust your direction using the tail on boards like the 31-inch Riptide R1. While the popular Boosted Boards line may be the limo of electric rides, a smaller format is preferable when it comes to tight turns, which helps in a fragmented cityscape like New York. The R1 also has handle cutouts on both sides of the deck, making it easy to pick up and carry when you’re not cruising. The board may not be as light as they come, weighing around 13 to 14 pounds, but when handles are added, it seemingly lightens the load.

When it comes to power, Riptide gives Boosted’s boards a run for their money, all at a lower price. As a comparison, Boosted has 1,500- and 2,000-watt belt-drive longboard models ranging from $1,300 to $1,500. The Riptide R1 falls smack in the middle with 1,800 watts of belt-driven power, starting at a retail price of $749. However, that doesn’t even include crowdfunded early-bird pricing, which is available now, starting at $499 for the basic R1 model and $629 for the R1 Elite.

Both versions of the R1 have the same deck, trucks and motor assembly. The standard R1 has blue 83MM / 78A wheels, while the R1 Elite package includes an additional set of taller (and softer) green 90MM / 75A wheels, plus a set of lights for the front and rear of the board. Those would be Shredlights, truck-bolt-mounted skateboard lights that helped Riptide founder Eric Birkemeier get his start.

As usual, there’s a handheld controller to manage speed and braking. There’s a ring grip for your finger, helping to keep it in your hand and a battery-level indicator on the side, and the unit is rechargeable via USB. You get both a standard mode and pro mode, letting you decide whether to cap your top speed at 12MPH or get the full top speeds of either 18 or 20MPH, depending on which model you get.

The regenerative braking works well, perhaps even too well if you’re familiar with some other models that ease into a stop. Riptide boards currently brake a bit more quickly but seem easy enough to get familiar with, and as a brakes go, they have a lot of stopping power. There’s also another button on the side for toggling into reverse mode. It would have been preferable to have braking and reverse bundled into the throttle lever as a single function, but I’ve rarely used reverse unless I overshot a crosswalk at a stoplight and wanted to back it up a bit.

The R1 boards have a range of up to seven or eight miles depending on which model you use, which is comparable to many boards, especially smaller decks with less space for large batteries. Since you’re not pushing around, riding for distances greater than that in one go can tend to cramp up your legs, at least in my experience. Greater range is always a benefit, but chargers are light enough to chuck in a backpack when you need to re-up. As for pushing when the battery is dead? Like many belt-drive models, you can push around, but there is a little bit of resistance if you’re on flat ground or vertical inclines, which is one area that hub motors do improve on.

Like most models on the market, the battery takes about three hours to fully charge, unless you splurge for the fast charger; then you can get juiced up and ready to go in 90 minutes. (If you can swing it, the fast charger is a must-have for any board.) While you’ll technically be able to swap batteries, it’s not a hot swappable setup, so you’d literally be unscrewing the pack to install a new one. The battery pack is made up of 3.6v 18650 Li-on cells and provides a total of 97.2Wh worth of juice, all UL approved. Riptide also notes that this <99 watt-hour rating makes it safe for air travel as well.

If you consider the early-bird pricing, this is a great deal for a board with this amount of power. Even at full retail pricing, it’s comparable to boards like the Elwing, which also has a standard-size deck but uses a less robust (albeit more efficient) hub motor. The Riptide R1 Elite prototype that I tested was easy to get up to full speed quickly, and braking was smooth (once you get used to its rapid slowdown abilities). While being higher off the ground with the larger 90mm Elite series wheels may put a kink in your ollie ability — something I’ve increasing found to be irrelevant for enjoying electric models — they provide a smooth and stress-free ride.

The Riptide R1 and R1 Elite models are live on Indiegogo starting today with early-bird prices ranging from $499 to $629.

[Images: Riptide (R1 controller and deck); Jon Turi/Engadget (R1 Elite top/bottom view)]

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30
Aug

The iPhone 8 reportedly swaps the home button for gesture controls


The folks over at Bloomberg got their hands on some images of the next iPhone as well as some information from people familiar with the new model. Some of the features confirmed in their report were already known or at least heavily suspected, but there are also some new details about how the phone will function without the home button.

As has been reported before, the images viewed by Bloomberg show that the iPhone 8 will have thin bezels and a larger screen than the iPhone 7. It’s also going to have a facial recognition sensor that, along with the earpiece and front-facing camera, will be contained in a cutout at the top of the screen. Some other physical details include rounded edges for the screen, a longer power button, a glass front and back and stainless steel edges with antenna cuts on the corners. The app dock is also getting a redesign and looks a lot like the iPad iOS 11 dock, according to Bloomberg.

But one of the bigger changes — the removal of the home button that’s been a part of the phone for a decade — comes with some tweaks to how users will access the features that the home button has brought them to in the past. Now, what was once the home button’s function is going the way of the iPad and Apple’s laptop trackpads. Gesture controls will now bring you to the main app grid and show you which apps are open. The bottom of the screen will host a software bar that can be dragged upwards to open the phone and also to get to the multitasking interface once the phone is unlocked.

The new iPhone is expected to launch on September 12th alongside the 7s and 7s Plus models.

Source: Bloomberg

30
Aug

Watch Samsung’s IFA event at 12PM Eastern


Samsung’s last big event was just one week ago, but it already has another one lined up. The tech giant is hosting its IFA 2017 presentation at 12PM Eastern — and as always, you can tune in to its live stream to catch the news as it happens. This year, the focus is likely to be on wearable tech. Samsung has already confirmed that it’ll launch a new Gear smartwatch at the German trade show, and it’s no secret that the Gear Fit 2 Pro fitness tracker is on the horizon. We wouldn’t be surprised if there’s more, either. Whatever’s unveiled, it’s safe to say that Samsung will have plenty to talk about when it takes to the stage.

Follow all the latest news from IFA 2017 here!

Source: Samsung Newsroom

30
Aug

Samsung Gear Fit 2 Pro hands-on: Tiny changes, big improvements


As the all-important holiday season approaches, companies want to make sure their products have a spot on your shopping list. So Samsung’s trio of wearables launching at IFA 2017 is timely, especially given how well wearables tend to sell ahead of fitness-related New Year’s resolutions. At a relatively affordable $200, the new Gear Fit 2 Pro is poised to be a popular gift. It adds a handful of updates to the existing Fit 2 activity band to make it a better tracker than before, especially for swimmers and runners. During a brief hands-on here at the show, I was impressed by how a few small enhancements helped the Fit 2 Pro feel like a huge improvement on its predecessor.

Perhaps the most important update is the Fit 2 Pro’s water-resistance. Rated at 5 ATM, the Pro can survive being submerged in up to 50 meters of water, like the Gear Sport smartwatch, which Samsung also unveiled today. With that underwater capability, the Fit 2 Pro can track your swims with the company’s own S Health app or a new Speedo app that’s launched alongside the new Gear wearables. The difference between the two is that S Health can track your heart rate during your swim as well, something the Speedo version can’t do. When it detects that you’re underwater, the Fit 2 Pro will go into something called Water Lock Mode, which prevents water bubbles from activating or interacting with your screen. When I tried plunging my wrist into a tank of water while wearing the Fit 2 Pro, its screen simply went black until I pressed a button on the side. Then, the display turned on to show it had been running the swim tracking app that I had launched before dunking my hand.

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The Fit 2 Pro now comes in small and large sizes, which will both sport a 1.5-inch curved Super AMOLED screen. That’s a smaller display than last year’s Fit 2, which measures 1.58 inches. Still, the Fit 2 Pro’s bright, colorful screen felt adequately roomy during my preview and it was responsive as I swiped through widget after widget on the band’s Tizen-based OS.

Samsung also unveiled a few new features for this year’s Gears, which I’ve described in detail in my hands-on of the Sport here. But just to give you an overview — the devices now continuously track your heart rate (they only checked it in intervals before) and automatically detect your workouts once you’ve been engaged for at least 10 minutes. Both the Gear Sport and Fit 2 Pro now also let you enter your calorie intake from your wrist, saving you from having to dig around for your phone after a meal. They’ll also show you your net caloric intake for the day and advise you on how to reach your goals. In short: Move more, eat less.

The two devices have 4GB of onboard storage, too, which will let them support a new Spotify offline playlists feature. I tried this out during my hands-on, and was impressed with how intuitive it was to save a playlist, since the process is largely similar to that on a smartphone. You can then stream the music to a pair of Bluetooth headphones.

The Fit 2 Pro now features a buckle clasp instead of the slightly unwieldy peg-and-hole closure from before. Thanks to this change, it was relatively easy to put it on during my demo. Like the Fit 2, the Pro has built-in GPS to make it possible to map your runs and bike rides without your phone, as well as get more-accurate calculations for your running pace.

Many of the updates for the Fit 2 Pro are incremental or software-heavy, but when taken as a whole they make the device a much more useful band for a wider variety of situations. Having Spotify playlists offline makes the Fit 2 Pro a better running or long-distance workout companion, and the new water-resistance and swim-tracking apps add swimming to the list of activities you can monitor with the band. For $200, the Fit 2 Pro is a compelling activity tracker for those who want a full-featured fitness band with smartwatch-like characteristics as well as a brilliant display. It will be available for pre-order on August 31, so you won’t have to wait long to get one. Those who want something that looks more like a traditional watch and more apps should hold out for the Gear Sport smartwatch.

Follow all the latest news from IFA 2017 here!

30
Aug

Samsung Gear Sport hands-on: Promising but incomplete


Samsung may have just unveiled the Galaxy Note 8, but it’s not done with new devices just yet. Here at IFA 2017, the company unveiled a trio of wearables with a deeper focus on fitness — the Gear Sport smartwatch, Gear Fit 2 Pro fitness band and the Gear IconX 2018 wireless earbuds. The Gear Sport, in particular, stands out as a sleeker, more health-centric version of the Gear S3. The Sport borrows its overall aesthetic from the S3, but has some key differences, including an assortment of new features that are very reminiscent of Fitbit’s recently launched smartwatch. Samsung hasn’t shared how much the Sport will cost yet, but we do know it will range between $200 and $350 when it arrives for this year’s holiday season.

Let’s begin with the similarities to Samsung’s existing flagship wearable, which launched at IFA last year. With its rotating bezel, round face and shiny finish, the Sport could easily be mistaken for the S3 (or even the S2 that came before it). Upon closer inspection, though, you’ll notice differences like the new device’s smaller 42.9mm case and tinier 1.2-inch Super AMOLED display. The straps are also narrower, measuring 20mm wide now instead of 22mm before. Basically, this is a more petite wearable, which is good news for people like myself with slender wrists.

I like the Sport’s dainty size, but I appreciate its versatile aesthetic even more. Despite its name, the Sport doesn’t look like it was made to only be worn at the gym or on a run. It looks a lot like a typical watch that can complement most of my outfits, and you can switch out for the band for a variety of options, including a “leather hybrid strap” that mixes rubber on the underside to wick away sweat with leather on top for a more-premium appearance. That’s similar to the hybrid band Huawei made for its own Watch 2, although Samsung’s features a perforated pattern which I don’t care for.

What I love, however, is the Sport’s blue case, which somehow manages to be understated and uniquely attractive at the same time. Samsung also designed a colorful collection of watch faces to complement individual bands for a unified theme. Those watch faces were particularly eye-catching on the Sport’s vibrant display, and although Samsung wasn’t able to provide an exact measurement for brightness yet, the screen was definitely bright enough to see in harsh light.

Even though the Sport’s face is smaller than the S3’s, I had little trouble navigating the Tizen OS interface on it, thanks in large part to the nifty rotating bezel that’s the hallmark of the Gear S line. I used the wheel to scroll quickly through widgets and apps to zoom in on the ones I wanted. There are a few new features for the Gear Sport, and I’m most excited about the ability to save Spotify playlists to the watch’s onboard 4GB of storage. The interface I saw during my demo was very similar to the smartphone version of the app, and was intuitive and easy to use. After getting to the playlist you want, you’ll just have to toggle the Download switch to store that selection of songs.

Another new feature is the Speedo app, which is the swimwear company’s first wearable offering. It’ll be preloaded on the Fit 2 Pro, but you can download it for free on the Sport as well. The app will track your laps, monitoring your time taken, calories burned and distance traveled. Don’t worry, the Sport will survive your swim, since it’s rated 5 ATM to withstand submersion up to 50 meters deep. It’s also supposed to survive saltwater, so you can keep your Sport on when you go for a dip in the sea.

If you don’t want to use an app that reminds you of banana hammocks, you can go for Samsung’s own S Health to track your swims. The native app can also track your heart rate under water, so you’ll know what cardio zone you’re in during your swim. The S Health and Speedo apps will communicate with each other, too, so you can switch between the two without losing your workout history. I didn’t get to test the swim-tracking feature at my demo, unfortunately, but I am intrigued at the promise of cardio-monitoring under water.

There are a few more apps for the Sport in addition to the thousands already available for the Gear S3, including MyFitnessPal, MapMyRun and Endomondo. You can use these usually paid-for apps for free for a year on the Sport (and the Fit 2 Pro). These let you track not only your exercises, but also your sleep and nutrition. Speaking of, Samsung also added a new tool to the Sport that lets you enter the number of calories you’ve consumed directly into the watch, so you don’t have to whip out your phone to keep track of your meals. The caveat here is that you’ll have to guess how many calories your meal was instead of looking it up on the watch.

Since the device is also tracking the amount of calories you’re burning throughout the day, it has a good idea of your net calorie loss (or gain) and will encourage you to meet your goals either by being more active or having lighter meals near the end of the day. Again, I didn’t get to try this for myself, but the colorful interface I saw was easy to understand.

Like most of the latest fitness trackers and smartwatches, the Sport comes with GPS built-in to map your runs for more accurate distance and pace calculations. The new Gear wearables now also auto detect your activity once you’ve been working out for at least 10 minutes, and will constantly monitor your heart rate. Other fitness trackers, like the Fitbit Charge 2 and Alta HR, have had these two features for some time now, so Samsung is playing a bit of catch up here.

Samsung also introduced a new service called Fitness Programs (only for the Sport for now) that shows you workout videos that you can follow along on your phone’s screen. You can also cast the content to your Samsung TV, and set scheduled alerts to remind you to work out if you want to meet your goals. With the Sport, you can also display your heart rate on the phone or TV screen so you can keep tabs on your cardio performance. Fitness Programs sounds just like Fitbit’s newly rebranded Coach tool, which offers guided workouts but on the wrist instead of a separate screen. Fitbit charges a fee for the full version of Coach, whereas Samsung’s offering is free, but I prefer having the workouts displayed on my wrist instead of having to bring a phone to the gym with me.

The Sport will also support Samsung Pay like the Gear S3 does, but instead of using MST (magnetic swipe transmission), which is accepted at many more merchants worldwide, the Sport will only have NFC. Samsung says it had to drop MST for the Sport to accommodate the device’s smaller size.

You can also use the Sport to control PowerPoint presentations or navigate VR experiences. At our briefing, Samsung’s David Ng surreptitiously (or not so) clicked through slides by turning the his Sport’s bezel and checked his presentation’s timing, although we weren’t able to try this for ourselves. Another feature that was teased but that we didn’t get to see in action was the Sport’s potential ability to act as a remote control for smart home devices via Samsung Connect. The company says you’ll be able to use the watch like a “realtime dashboard on your wrist” for things like your TV and home appliances that are compatible with Smart Things.

Ultimately, the Gear Sport promises to be a feature-packed smartwatch that retains some of the best features of the S3, although in a limited capacity, while adding some helpful new tools. The Gear S3 will remain available as Samsung’s top-shelf wearable, while the new Sport is a bridge device between the Fit 2 Pro band (which you can read about here) and the high-end smartwatch. So far, the Sport certainly looks like a formidable competitor to Fitbit’s Ionic, but we’ll have to wait till we can test the touted features for ourselves before we can decide. Until then, those looking for a fitness-centric smartwatch should hold off on making a decision.

Follow all the latest news from IFA 2017 here!

30
Aug

Samsung’s refined Gear IconX earbuds now talk to Bixby


The Gear Fit 2 Pro and Gear Sport aren’t the only products Samsung is unveiling at IFA 2017. Today, the company also introduced a revamped version of its Gear IconX wireless earbuds, which feature better battery life (up to five hours of streaming) and support for its virtual assistant, Bixby. That means you can now use your voice to control your music or paired phone, all by simply tapping and holding the side of the IconX earbud. And because runners may be into these, Samsung added a Running Coach mode that gives you real-time, in-ear status updates as you’re working out.

In terms of ergonomics, they’re slightly lighter and have been redesigned to ensure they stay in your ear securely — and, importantly, that they feel comfortable while you’re using them. Samsung didn’t reveal when the improved Gear IconX earbuds will hit stores, but we do know they’ll launch in three different colors (black, gray and pink) this time. There’s no word on pricing either, though the previous IconX Bluetooth set cost $200, so you can expect the new ones to be close to that.

Follow all the latest news from IFA 2017 here!

30
Aug

Dropbox Paper’s newest features cater to designers


Dropbox Paper originally seemed like a Google Docs clone built for the big businesses that have been an increasingly large focus for the cloud sync-and-share company. But two years since its initial introduction, Paper’s ability to embed and display a huge variety of content (including images, Google spreadsheets, data from Github YouTube videos, Spotify playlists and plain old code) has helped it carve out niches in a variety of businesses.

Dropbox says that designers in particular have found Paper to be useful for their workflow, so today it’s adding new features that’ll help the service work even better for them. Chief among those is new embed support for the services InVision, Figma and Sketch. “We’re not going trying to replace specialized tools when people are creating designs,” says Kavitha Radhakrishnan, Paper’s lead product manager. “But we’ve gotten a lot of requests for a way to embed design boards and prototypes and so on.” Obviously, adding support for these apps isn’t going to matter to everyone using Paper, but it will help it solidify the base of designers who have found it to be a useful collaboration tool.

Other new features will appeal more to the entire Paper userbase. Paper has always let you link to other Paper documents, and now you’ll get a rich preview of those links when you hover over them with your mouse. Basically, they’re big and detailed enough for you to get a good sense of what’s in the document before you click through — it’s a way to keep people from jumping back and forth trying to find the right file they want to work on. Radhakrishnan says that a lot of organizations will make one Paper doc that’s a “master” repository that links out to many other files; this preview feature should make those kinds of scenarios easier to manage. There’s also improved archive and delete features. The former is meant for organizations that need to save files indefinitely; having an archive means they can keep things without months-old files cluttering up the file system.

Another file system improvement comes to iOS and Android users — you can now create folders and move files around from Paper’s mobile apps. Previously, the app would show the file structure as it exists when on the desktop web app but you couldn’t make any changes. It’s a simple thing, but Radhakrishnan said it was a “number one ask” the company has heard from its users, many of whom are using iOS and Android “not only as a companion but as a first-class app.”

The last feature Dropbox is announcing today won’t directly affect end users at first, but it has the potential to make Paper a lot more useful down the line. “Create and upload” functionality is being added to the Paper API — which means that developers can build in the option to start new Paper documents right in their apps. Presumably, once this is implemented, you’ll be able to sign in with your Dropbox account, create a doc, embed that app’s files right into it, and then sync that doc back to your Dropbox. It sounds not dissimilar to how Dropbox started letting users create Microsoft Office documents right in its app a few years ago. It’ll take a while before we see if developers embrace this possibility, but more integration into the apps that teams are already using could help Paper become more useful.

Dropbox’s record with products outside of its core “sync and share” mission haven’t fared well in the past. The purchase and subsequent demolition of excellent mail app Mailbox and the way it launched and then forgot about photo app Carousel are hard to ignore. But two years on, it seems like Paper should be able to avoid such a fate, precisely because it’s a better fit to the company’s main mission. Dropbox has increasingly focused on enabling collaboration between teams and businesses, and Paper seems to have enough unique features going for it to make it a success. At the very least, updates like the ones rolling out today should make users feel confident that Dropbox isn’t going to kill off Paper any time soon.

30
Aug

Samsung has a 43-inch version of its Frame TV for smaller spaces


Samsung has announced that its art-inspired Frame TV, which launched this past June, will soon come in a 43-inch version. The new model could be a good alternative for people who may not be able to fit one of the existing 55- or 65-inch Frame TVs on their wall, or for those who simply think the others are too large for their taste. As part of today’s reveal, Samsung also said that it has partnered with Spain’s Museo del Prado, aka the Prado museum, on an experience that will let Frame TV owners to display about 1,000 of its pieces. There’s no word on pricing or availability yet, but you can expect the 43-inch version to cost around $1,500 since the 55 and 65 are $2,000 and $2,800, respectively.

Follow all the latest news from IFA 2017 here!

30
Aug

NYC’s Citi Bike adds Apple Pay to make bike-sharing easier


Next time you rent a Citi Bike in New York or New Jersey, you’ll be able to pay with your iPhone. The latest update for the bike-sharing service’s app adds support for Apple Pay, as spotted by AppleInsider. No, this isn’t the most exciting update, but it does make using the app a little faster and easier for new users. From here on out, they won’t have to stand idly on the sidewalk, fumbling with entering credit card info in the app just so they can take a quick ride to the JC Penny a few blocks away.

Via: AppleInsider

Source: iTunes

30
Aug

ASUS’ Windows Mixed Reality headset may come with a premium price


After a teaser back in the spring, ASUS is ready to talk in-depth about its Windows Mixed Reality headset… and it’s clear that this is a premium design, with the price to match. The headgear (known as the ASUS Windows Mixed Reality Headset) isn’t just riding on that funky polygonal look. It’s lighter than most with a weight under 0.9 pounds, and it doesn’t use sensors to track six-degree movement — instead, it relies on two cameras and LEDs on the included motion controllers. That promises both simpler setup (10 minutes or less, ASUS claims) and a more portable design.

It otherwise has familiar specs, including a 1,440 x 1,440 resolution in each eyepiece as well as a 90Hz refresh rate.

This sounds like it might be the WMR headset to beat, but as we said earlier, you will have to pay for that edge. ASUS’ model will sell later this year for €449 (about $535). While European pricing doesn’t translate neatly to the US, that’s still noticeably more expensive than the $450 you’d pay for a Dell Visor with included controllers. If that price premium carries over to a US launch, you may have to think carefully about whether or not ASUS’ design justifies the extra cash.


Follow all the latest news from IFA 2017 here!

Via: The Verge

Source: ASUS (1), (2)

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