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12
Dec

Best Racing Games for VR


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What are the best racing games for VR?

If you’ve invested in a VR setup, like the HTC Vive or Samsung Gear VR, and haven’t yet tried a racing game, you owe it to yourself to at least experience it once. The speed, combined with the feeling of actually sitting in the driver’s seat, delivers an unmatched experience. Here are the best racing games you can grab right now.

Read more at VRHeads

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12
Dec

Explore real savings with Oculus Rift + Touch virtual reality for $349


The worlds are fake, but the savings are real.

The Oculus Rift and Touch Virtual Reality System is down to $349 on Amazon. This bundle normally goes for $400. The last time it had a direct price drop this low was over the Black Friday weekend. Other than that, the best deals we’ve seen usually involve buying it at full price and getting a gift card. I’d rather get the discount, myself.

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Features include:

  • Riftʼs ultra low-latency tracking offers unparalleled immersion
  • The Oculus Touch controllers bring your hands into VR, letting you interact naturally with the virtual world
  • NVIDIA GTX 1050Ti/AMD Radeon RX 470 or greater Graphics Card Required and a RAM of 8 GB+ RAM
  • Windows 8.1 or Windows 7 SP1 64 bit or newer Operating System required
  • Windows PC and internet connection required – review recommended specs to confirm system compatibility

When you make the purchase, you’ll also get 6 free titles to start gaming with right away: Robo Recall, Luckyʼs Tale, Quill, Medium, Dead and Buried, and Toybox.

See at Amazon

12
Dec

OnePlus turns four, celebrates with accessory discounts and prizes


Celebrating four years of never settling.

It’s hard to believe, but four years ago OnePlus was founded and started to tease its very first phone – the OnePlus One. The OnePlus One redefined what you could expect from a smartphone for just $300, and since then, OnePlus has continued to release excellent hardware at even better prices.

In honor of its fourth birthday, OnePlus is running a few different promotions to help thank its customers.

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The first of these are discounts up to 30% off select accessories. Most of the savings are on cases and screen protectors for the OnePlus 5 and 5T, but you’ll also find a modest discount on the OnePlus Bullets Earphones V2.

OnePlus also has some sort of exclusive gift box that it’ll begin selling on December 14 at 9:00 AM CET, and it’ll be filled with a “handpicked assortment of fan favorites.” No other details are given, but seeing as how only 500 of the boxes will be available for purchase, it’s probably something worth picking up.

Along with the accessory discounts and mystery box, OnePlus is also running the “Anniversary Lucky Draw” so you can try your hand at winning some free goodies. The current prize pool consists of backpacks, messenger bags, a t-shirt, baseball cap, and $5 and $10 off promo codes for OnePlus accessories and gear. A mystery prize will be unveiled on December 17, and although OnePlus hasn’t announced what it is, it’ll likely be a new OnePlus 5T.

See at OnePlus

OnePlus 5T and OnePlus 5

  • OnePlus 5T review: Come for the value, not the excitement
  • OnePlus 5T specs
  • Should you upgrade from the OnePlus 3T?
  • OnePlus 5T vs. Galaxy S8: Beast mode
  • All of the latest OnePlus 5T news
  • Join the discussion in the forums

OnePlus
Amazon

12
Dec

Snag a Moto Z2 Play for just $350 right now


Here’s a phone deal worth considering!

Not all Android phones are created equal which is part of the beauty of the platform. In the recent years, we’ve seen a whole bunch of phones under $500 that are worth considering, and the Moto Z2 Play is one of them. Right now you can pick up an unlocked version for just $349.99, which is a savings of $150. It comes equipped with 64GB of internal storage, and can be expanded by using a microSD card. You can pick between the gold and black version, depending on your style preference.

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This variant will work on all major U.S. carriers, and the smaller MVNOs as well. In case you missed it, we did a full review of this phone, which the was summed up with saying:

I love this phone. I don’t even want to go back to my Samsung Galaxy S8 right now because the Moto Z2 Play does everything I need it to, and has the deep (and growing deeper) Moto Mods ecosystem to help do what it can’t out of the box. That’s great.

The price was something that was knocked in the review, but at $350 it is far more affordable and an amazing value. Be sure to grab one now to have it in time for the holidays.

See at Motorola

12
Dec

AT&T announces new international Passport plans starting at $60


Passport Gold and Silver are being replaced with AT&T Passport 1GB and 3GB.

If you’ve ever traveled abroad and are an AT&T customer, you’ve probably ordered a Passport package before. AT&T Passport is the carrier’s program for offering international coverage while out of the country, and today it’s receiving a sizeable upgrade with plans that offer even more data and better value.

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AT&T’s Passport Silver and Gold plans are gone and have been replaced by Passport 1GB and 3GB.

Both plans come with unlimited texting, unlimited Wi-Fi access at participating hotspots through the AT&T Global Wi-Fi app, and $0.35 per minute of talk time to any country. As the names suggest, the main difference lies with how much data each comes with. Passport 1GB comes with 1GB of data, whereas Passport 3GB comes with – wait for it – 3GB of data. Should you go over that allotment, you’ll pay an overage fee of $50 per extra GB that’s used.

You can choose to get Passport 1GB and 3GB as either a one-time package or as a recurring charge, and both are available to purchase from AT&T right now.

See at AT&T

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12
Dec

Samsung vs. Acer Mixed Reality headsets: Which handles VR best?


The big VR story this year isn’t another headset from Oculus or HTC — it’s Microsoft’s entry into the space with Windows 10 Mixed Reality devices. They promise to be cheaper and easier to use than the Rift or Vive, thanks to a bit of help from HoloLens’ 3D tracking technology. Acer’s was among the first we saw in action, and it was a promising example of what an inexpensive VR headset could look like. Samsung, meanwhile, was late to the party with HMD Odyssey, but it also gave us a glimpse at high-end Mixed Reality headsets. Now that we’ve spent some time with both (along with HP’s headset earlier this week), it’s time to decide which handles Mixed Reality best. (Spoiler: It isn’t Acer.)

Hardware

The difference between Samsung’s and Acer’s headsets is immediately clear. The only thing remarkable about Acer’s aesthetic is the glossy-blue plastic visor, which, together with the rest of its design, makes it feel like a basic headset. It’s a bit flimsy, almost as if it would break apart if it tumbled to the floor. Acer’s choice of materials isn’t inspired either, especially the cheap foam around the eyepiece. To the company’s credit, the faux leather cushioning on the top and rear portions of the headband feels decent.

Samsung’s HMD Odyssey, on the other hand, is simply striking. That makes sense though. It was always intended to be a high-end showpiece for Microsoft’s Mixed Reality platform. While it, too, is made of plastic, it’s of a much higher quality than Acer’s device. It looks and feels classier, and it’s clearly sturdier. The built-in AKG headphones are also hard to miss: They give the entire device the aura of an expensive pair of audio gear. Samsung’s headset is much heavier than Acer’s — it weighs 625 grams versus 380 — but the plush cushioning around its eyepiece and headband still makes it comfortable to wear.

Samsung’s headset even feels more premium than the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive. That’s because the company was able to learn from those earlier headsets. The HTC Vive still gives off the impression of being a complex device meant for super geeks; the Oculus Rift is admittedly more consumer friendly but lacking in flair. Compared to the PlayStation VR, the most popular headset out there, Samsung’s offering feels less like a toy.

You’ll notice even more dramatic differences between the two headsets when you examine their displays. Acer’s relies on two 2.9-inch screens running at a combined resolution of 2,880 by 1,440 pixels, with a 100-degree field of view. Samsung’s, however, uses larger 3.5-inch AMOLED panels, each of which boasts 1,440 by 1,600 resolution (or 3,200 by 1,440 pixels together). Thanks to those bigger screens, the HMD Odyssey also has a wider, 110-degree field of view. And as you’ll see below, that makes everything seem much more immersive.

When it comes to their motion controllers, the two companies are once again worlds apart. Acer basically followed Microsoft’s reference design completely, similar to HP. That allowed it to get the basics down; it has a decent thumbstick and touchpad, along with the trigger and grip buttons that are so essential to VR experiences. But it’s not comfortable to hold for very long, since the controller’s straight handles don’t rest naturally in your hands. Additionally, the buttons feel flimsier and less satisfying than what you’d get with the Vive and Rift.

Samsung’s controller has the same button layout, but the handles are curved slightly to make them more comfortable to hold. Its plastic frame feels sturdier than Acer’s, and its buttons and trackpad are also a step up in quality. My only complaint: The top of its joystick is so smooth that it’s hard to actually keep your thumb on it. It would have been nice to have ridges or another type of material to avoid slipping. Despite that, the thumbstick steel feels smoother to use than Acer’s; it’s more in line with what we expect from gaming-console controllers these days.

In use

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Devindra Hardawar/Engadget

Even at this early stage, there’s one thing every Windows Mixed Reality headset has in common: They’re incredibly easy to set up. Assuming your computer is powerful enough (at the minimum, Mixed Reality requires a fourth-generation Intel processor and an NVIDIA GTX 960 GPU), all you need to do is plug in HDMI and USB 3.0 cables and you’re good to go. Unlike the Oculus Rift, which relies on tabletop sensors, or the HTC Vive, which requires installing two Lightbox devices in opposite corners of your room, Mixed Reality headsets use built-in sensors to track your movement. That instantly solves one of the biggest headaches for consumers. Setting up the Rift’s and Vive’s sensors can be an annoying ordeal when you just want to hop into VR.

Once you have a headset plugged in, Windows automatically launches its Mixed Reality Portal, which double-checks your hardware to make sure it can run VR. You can pair the motion controllers like any other Bluetooth device — just hit the pairing button under the battery cover and select the controller in your system settings. Finally, the Mixed Reality Portal gives you two ways to use your headset: sitting and standing in place, or walking around. If you choose the latter, it asks you to make a virtual border by holding a headset and walking around the clear area of your room. That’s important, since it’ll help you avoid walls and obstacles while you’re in VR.

Once I set up both headsets, it quickly became clear that the Samsung HMD Odyssey is simply better on every level. It’s easy to put on, and it fits over my glasses without a problem. Most importantly, it’s one of the most comfortable headsets I’ve ever used, thanks to its liberal use of premium cushions (around the eyepiece, on your forehead, on the back of your head and on the headphones). It feels similar to expensive memory foam I’ve seen in high-end pillows and mattresses.

Upon stepping into Microsoft’s virtual living room, which serves as an area to return to between VR experiences, I was astounded by how different it looked with the HMD Odyssey. Colors were brighter, and the entire environment appeared to be much sharper than with other Mixed Reality headsets. And thanks to that 110-degree field of view, I felt enveloped by that virtual world. Mostly, that’s because Samsung avoided using simple circular lenses like Acer and HP. Instead, its VR screens are more like uneven ovals that are taller than they are wide. That’s in line with what we’ve seen from the Rift and Vive.

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Superhot team

Superhot on the Windows Store looked clearer and more vibrant with Samsung’s HMD Odyssey, compared to the Rift and Vive. It also did a solid job tracking my movement as I dodged and weaved through bullets and fists flying toward my head. Samsung’s controllers felt just as accurate as the Oculus Touch’s and HTC Vive’s; I easily fired off shots at enemies who were dozens of virtual feet away.

That was the case for most games and VR experiences, though I had some trouble with Duck Season in SteamVR (which Windows headsets are also compatible with). Aiming and reloading my virtual shotgun felt clumsy and awkward, even though I had no trouble playing it on the Vive. There’s a good chance the developers still need to optimize that game to better support Mixed Reality headsets and controllers.

I tested Acer’s headset after spending a few hours with Samsung’s, and it almost felt unfair to compare them. While the former is lighter and easier to put on, it was much harder to make it fit comfortably. I also grew to hate the foam padding Acer used around its eyepiece. It felt cheap and scratchy on my skin, even after just a few minutes of wearing it. It’s baffling why that foam also covers where the headset sits against your nose, since it constantly presses against your nostrils. That sometimes made it a bit hard to breathe while in VR — and yes, I tried adjusting the headset plenty of times to avoid that.

Acer’s model is also a clear downgrade from Samsung’s once you step into VR. Since its lenses are shorter, your view of the virtual world is more like peering through a pair of binoculars rather than being surrounded by the environment. And beyond that, the screen quality was also much worse; everything looked duller and less sharp than with Samsung’s headset. I still managed to enjoy several rounds of Superhot, but I couldn’t shake the feeling that I was having a worse experience.

After bouncing across several VR experiences, including the intimate Through You, by Lily Baldwin and Saschka Unseld, as well as several other 360-degree videos in the Jaunt VR app, the Acer headset felt adequate at best. It does the basics of what we’d want from a VR headset, but it has a hard time competing against more-impressive entries like the HMD Odyssey.

Pricing and the competition

Acer’s Mixed Reality headset was the first we saw from Microsoft’s platform, so it’s no wonder it feels a bit like a rush job. It was also one of the $300 models Microsoft was initially touting as a discount entry into VR. Now, though, the Acer headset costs $400 together with its controllers. That’s harder to stomach when Samsung’s HMD Odyssey bundle goes for $500. There’s clearly far more than a $100 difference in quality between the two. Meanwhile, HP’s Mixed Reality headset, which we reviewed last week, comes in at $450. I’d still recommend Samsung’s model over that, since it has far better controllers and displays.

Of course, the real competitors to every Windows VR headset are the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive. Given that the Rift is now down to $400 with its Touch Controllers and it has a larger library of VR titles, it still seems like the better option for most people. You lose the convenience of built-in tracking, but you get a more vibrant software ecosystem in exchange (and it’ll also work with SteamVR titles).

Wrap-up

Side by side, Samsung’s and Acer’s offerings seem like textbook examples of what to do, and what to avoid, when making VR headsets. The HMD Odyssey is comfortable, well-built and makes virtual reality seem incredibly immersive. Acer’s, meanwhile, is none of those things. While it’s still early days for Microsoft’s Mixed Reality Platform, if you want to jump in, it’s clear that Samsung’s headset is your best option.

12
Dec

Lyft’s first international service goes live in Toronto


Lyft’s first offering beyond US borders is finally up and running. The ridesharing service has gone live in the Greater Toronto Area, giving you a big-name alternative to Uber whether you’re in Toronto’s core or living as far away as Hamilton or Oshawa. To mark the launch, Lyft is offering $5 off your first ride and round-up-based donations to the SickKids Foundation.

The addition is crucial for Lyft. If it’s going to compete with Uber on a large scale, it needs to do more than strike deals with foreign companies — it has to run its own service in other countries. Canada is a logical choice given that it’s relatively close both culturally and physically, minimizing the amount of work Lyft needs to do.

And for Canadian passengers, it’s an important step. While Americans who’ve wanted to ditch Uber over its policies (at least, before Kalanick left) have frequently had Lyft and other services as options, Canucks haven’t had that choice. More often than not, the choice has been between Uber and old-school taxi service. Uber has already improved its services in response to criticism, but Lyft’s international expansion could pressure it to step up its game.

Via: Reuters

Source: Lyft

12
Dec

Apple Increases Mac Trade-In Values to Up to $2,500


Apple today increased its trade-in values for select Mac models released in 2009 and later. In partnership with buyback company Phobio, Apple now offers customers up to $2,500, compared to up to $1,500 previously.

The new trade-in values in the United States are as follows:

• MacBook: up to $1,110
• MacBook Air: up to $430
• MacBook Pro: up to $2,500
• iMac: up to $2,500
• Mac Pro: up to $1,560

To determine how much credit you can receive, visit the Phobio website, enter your Mac’s serial number, and answer a few questions about its current condition. Phobio will then provide an estimate based on the information provided.

If you accept the quote, you’ll receive payment after your Mac has been inspected and its condition has been verified. The payment can be in the form of an emailed Apple Store gift card, PayPal deposit, or a virtual prepaid Visa card.

A maxed-out 2017 15-inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar in good condition, for example, has a trade-in value of $2,510. A maxed-out 2016 15-inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar in good condition is eligible for $1,460 credit.


Apple’s trade-up program is convenient, but customers can get better resale value by selling their Mac on eBay or listing it in classifieds such as Craigslist or the MacRumors Marketplace, so long as you adhere to our rules and requirements.

Apple also offers up to $500 for select PCs. Meanwhile, Macs released earlier than 2009 are eligible for Apple’s free Renew and Recycling program only.

Related Roundups: iMac, Mac Pro, MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, MacBookTag: Apple trade-inBuyer’s Guide: iMac (Neutral), Mac Pro (Caution), MacBook Air (Neutral), MacBook Pro (Neutral), MacBook (Neutral)
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12
Dec

Tinder’s new feature is a social feed from your matches


Today, Tinder introduced a new feature called “Feed,” which allows you to learn more about the people you’re most interested in. From Instagram posts to their favorite artists on Spotify, Feed works with other services to bring you real-time updates about what people are doing across their social media networks. The service is currently being tested in Australia, New Zealand and Canada.

On one hand, this is already data that Tinder had access to; people have been able to connect their Spotify and Instagram accounts to the service for awhile now. Tinder is simply putting the information from these third-party services into one convenient place.

Presumably, though, Tinder will be adding additional social networks in the future, as this test program expands. All of a sudden, it becomes a convenient way for people to creep on and stalk people they don’t know. The idea behind it is to give your matches more substance, interacting with their social media posts on Tinder, which is fine in theory. The problem is the amount of data it could end up aggregating in one place.

According to Tinder, this feature will only work on the people you’ve swiped right on, not on everyone. Additionally, people do have the option to manage what they share with matches on their Feed. It will be interesting to see how this feature develops as it goes through testing, but it’s fair to say we have some reservations.

Via: TechCrunch

Source: Tinder

12
Dec

A humanoid robot carried the Olympic torch in South Korea


One of the traditions of the Olympics is the torch relay, in which people carry the flame from Olympia, Greece to the location of the Games. In 2018, the Olympic Games will be held in Pyeongchang, South Korea, and the torch relay is currently underway. Earlier this week, the HUBO, the humanoid robot, carried the flame for part of its journey.

HUBO only covered 150 meters (about 500 feet) with the torch, but its presence was largely symbolic. As part of its torch duties, HUBO performed an example of a disaster rescue operation in which it cut a hole in a brick wall (while still holding the torch). It was intended as a “display of innovation and creativity,” according to PyeongChang 2018 Organizing Committee President LEE Hee-beom.

It’s a little bit silly, especially considering it was largely a stunt, but it doesn’t change the fact that HUBO is Korea’s first humanoid robot and what it accomplished was pretty cool. It has two articulated hands and can walk 65 steps per minute. It’s being designed as a first-responder robot (hence the display of its abilities). It will be interesting to see how it develops from here, but for now, we know that HUBO is quite capable of participating in stunt demonstrations at least.

Via: Inside the Games

Source: Pyeongchang 2018

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