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27
Dec

Apple got a bummer of a Christmas present, cuts iPhone X expectations


Plenty of Apple devotees will have woken up to an iPhone X under their tree on Christmas Day, but perhaps not as many as previously expected. Wall Street analysts have lowered projections for the amount of devices set to be shipped in the first quarter of 2018, citing diminished demand toward the end of the holiday season.

Zhang Bin of Sinolink Securities suggested that iPhone X shipments for the first quarter of 2018 could come in at 35 million, some 10 million fewer than previously estimated. JL Warren Capital echoed this standpoint, predicting that 25 million devices would be shipped over the period, according to Bloomberg.

Pricing seems to be the sticking point for the iPhone X. At $1,000, it is undoubtedly a luxury purchase, but some would argue that it simply doesn’t offer the innovation that might be expected from such a price tag.

The iPhone X is something of a critical darling — the Digital Trends review of the device called it “the iPhone to buy this year” — but this hasn’t necessarily translated to blockbuster sales. It seems that once the most dedicated Apple fans made the upgrade, interest in the smartphone has cooled significantly.

Apple slashed its internal forecast for sales in the first quarter of 2018 from 50 million to 30 million. The company has enjoyed a reprieve from its rivalry with Samsung as its biggest competition in the smartphone market recovers from the Galaxy Note 7 recall, but competition is heating up once again.

Given that consumers seem to favor Apple’s less expensive iPhone models, it will be interesting to see whether the company moves to introduce some of the new features exclusive to the iPhone X across its other devices. Its facial recognition functionality seems to be the most likely candidate — animoji might be something of a novelty, but Face ID feels like a genuine step forward, despite its limitations in its current form.

Even if the iPhone X is underperforming, Apple is by no means in trouble, with the company’s market value well on its way to the $1 trillion mark. Still, the cutthroat smartphone market is in a constant state of flux, so Apple’s 2018 offerings will need to be compelling if it is to remain on top.

Editors’ Recommendations

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  • Motorola doubles up as U.S. smartphone shipments dip 2 percent overall
  • Razer Phone vs. iPhone X: Android newcomer takes on Apple’s finest




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27
Dec

The next big thing for treating Parkinson’s symptoms could be … laser shoes?


Parkinson’s disease is a long-term degenerative movement disorder which affects an estimated 1 million Americans, and more than 10 million people worldwide. One of the symptoms of Parkinson’s is something called gait freezing, in which sufferers are unable to take a step forward, despite their best intentions. Fortunately, a new high-tech solution may be here to help — and, like the best high-tech solutions, it involves lasers.

At the Netherland’s University of Twente, researchers have been working with a pair of laser shoes designed to deal with exactly this scenario. The shoes use a laser projection device that is mounted on the toe, which generates a straight line that follows around 18 inches ahead of its wearer. This line helps guide wearers forward, so that they no longer feel as if their feet are glued to the floor.

“In our study recently published in Neurology, we found that in the lab, laser shoes were able to reduce by half the frequency and duration of freezing episodes,” researcher Murielle Ferraye told Digital Trends. “That laser shoes work by providing a rhythmic and spatial target for patients to step towards can help Parkinson’s disease patients walk again may seem surprising. However, this increased receptivity of Parkinson patients to visual information [has been] known for decades, and is inherent to the disease itself. Parkinson’s disease indeed affects automatic movements. Patients may compensate for this lack of automaticity by paying more attention to their movements. In this context, external cues help them focus on their stepping movements, hereby bypassing the disrupted automatic circuit in the brain and shifting to a more conscious way of walking.”

The laser is operated by a pressure-sensitive switch under the sole of the shoe. It turns off when a person’s foot is lifted, and back on when they place their foot back down. The laser is oriented to project its beam orthogonally, in front of the patient’s opposite foot that is about to be lifted. The laser line acts as a visual cue and is tuned exactly to the stepping frequency of the patients, thereby making it a closed-loop system.

At present, such a device isn’t publicly available in the U.S. as far as we are aware. However, in Europe and Turkey, the company Walk With Path manufactures a shoe attachment called Path Finder which works in this way by projecting a laser line in front of wearers’ feet for each step they take. “Path Finder is [currently] available directly on our website for users based in the European Economic Area, Switzerland and Turkey,” company founder Lise Pape told Digital Trends. “We are working on making it available in the U.S., Australia, and Canada in the near future.”

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27
Dec

LG G6 spotted running Android 8.0 Oreo beta in China


LG’s testing the Oreo waters.

The LG G6 was definitely one of the most underrated phones of 2017, but it looks like it’s finally starting to get some Oreo love in the form of a beta that’s being run in China.

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One Chinese forum user shared numerous screenshots of their G6 running Oreo, and while all of the text is in Chinese, it’s easy to see that this is definitely the Oreo that we know and love. Some of the screenshots show off Oreo’s reworked App Shortcuts, the ability to snooze notifications from individual apps, adaptive app icons, and more.

The software version for the 8.0 Oreo beta is V19A and supported models include the LGM-G600L, LGM-G600S, LGM-G600K, LGM-G600LR, LGM-G600SR, LGM-G600KR, LGM-G600LP, LGM-G600SP, and LGM-G600KP.

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It’s unclear if LG will be expanding this beta to other countries prior to a public release, but even so, it’s exciting to see that LG is giving the G6 the attention that it deserves. LG just started rolling out a stable version of Oreo for the V30 in South Korea on December 26, so the G6 shouldn’t follow too far behind it.

LG G6

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  • LG forums

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27
Dec

MrMobile spent $1950 on the L16 Camera (so you don’t have to)


The very first time I laid eyes on the Light L16 camera, I knew I had to test it. 16 individual 13MP sensors ranging from 28mm to 150mm, laid out in a scattershot pattern without even the pretense of adhering to a grid, festooned with steerable mirrors that wiggled and warbled as they fixed those big mechanical eyes on a subject … it was the perfect mix of oversized smartphone and terrifying Matrix robo-spider. I snapped one up as soon as it went on sale.

Unfortunately, I very quickly encountered many of the problems I’d read about – all of which trace themselves back to the core promise of the product. Light calls the L16 the “camera of the future,” and given its potent mixture of cutting-edge technology and the hefty $1950 price tag, I expected nothing less. Sadly, though, the photos the L16 delivered fell far short of the pictures kicked out by my Pixel 2 XL – disappointments which continued even after a software update and a trip through Light’s special Lumen desktop suite. 

Of course the L16 wasn’t made to go head-to-head with a smartphone; rather, it seems to have been built as equal parts technology showcase and DSLR replacement. And there’s still a lot to learn (and some to even like) about the L16. It’s just not a camera I would recommend to anyone at this point. Click on through to the MrMobile L16 review above to find out why!

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27
Dec

AIAIAI TMA-2 modular headphones review: Fantastic sound, compromised comfort


AIAIAI’s TMA-2 headphones are extremely customizable and sound fantastic, but may not be for everyone.

Headphones are an odd product to review. There are a lot of variables involved, particularly music taste and comfort levels. I may think one pair of headphones fits fantastically, while others find that same pair puts too much pressure on their head, ruining the listening experience.

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AIAIAI is a company looking to combat these issues. Its TMA-2 headphones are completely modular: the user selects the speaker unit, headband, and earpad that can be tailored to each user, and each of these pieces can be swapped on the fly. There are four speaker units, five headbands, and seven earpads, making for 140 possible headphone combinations.

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I’ve been listening to music with the TMA-2 headphones since March 2017, with the S02 speaker unit. These drivers allow for punchier sound than the other drivers, and in my listening, they match up with AIAIAI’s description. I’ve primarily used the PU leather over-ear ear cups, but also tried the microfiber over-ear cups and microfiber on-ear pads. Finally, I spent most of the year using the H03 PU leather headband but switched that for the H05 Bluetooth headband when my Indiegogo-backed order was fulfilled in mid-November.

The great

These headphones are very understated, design-wise. The matte black plastic throughout looks superbly stealthy, and the lack of branding makes the minimalist inside me very happy. The 3.5mm cable is detachable and can be inserted into either the left or right speaker. This may sound trivial, but not having the cable cross my body went a long way in keeping the audio cable from getting annoying.

tma2-review-4.jpg?itok=AQtpgFw3 Being able to choose which side of the headphones to have connected with a wire is a huge convenience.

The wireless headband requires a battery and controls of course but isn’t too much bigger than the standard headbands. In fact, the extra space made the wireless headband a bit more comfortable to wear than the PU leather version I used for most of the year. The wireless headband uses a USB-C port for charging (yay!) and for connecting to a computer for firmware updates. The firmware can only be updated from a desktop computer, not over Bluetooth from your phone.

The different speakers are tuned for different genres of music, and I found the S02 speakers I used to perfectly compliment all of my songs. Regarding sheer song count, my music library primarily consists of Johnny Cash (older country), Rosanne Cash (pop/alternative country) and Lily and Madeleine (folk/pop), with a smattering of other rock, pop, and country artists.

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When I first used the headphones, I planned on just listening to my favorite songs while doing school work. The school work quickly took a back seat, though, since the sound coming from these headphones was just so… delightful. Every song I listened to felt like I was listening to it for the very first time. Listening to my favorite song, Sea of Heartbreak by Rosanne Cash instantly sent chills up my spine.

This continued even when I swapped in the wireless headband. The aptxHD Bluetooth codec means there is less compression involved in delivering your music to a pair of headphones, and — to my ears at least — music played through these headphones sounded the same when streamed with Bluetooth as it did when listening over a wire.

The not so great

I could not listen to music for more than 30 minutes because of discomfort.

The delight of listening to my music was short-lived, unfortunately. No matter what I tried, I could not listen to music for more than 30 minutes without wanting to rip the headphones off my head and throw them into a pit. They’re that uncomfortable. Even with the wireless headband — which is more comfortable than the standard headband I used before — my discomfort ruins what should be a great listening experience.

tma2-review-5.jpg?itok=KcdX_7jZ The charging port is in an odd location due to the modular nature of these headphones.

I haven’t used the headphones for more than 30 minutes at a time even after owning them for most of the year because it’s just an unpleasant experience. The circular speakers and earpads are surely easier to swap around than oval-shaped parts would be, but human ears are shaped like ovals, not circles. My ears never properly fit under the earpads as they should, and it soured the entire experience.

The wireless headband has its compromises, too. Because a user could swap the speakers or earcups out, the charging port, microphones and audio controls are further up on the headband. For the charging port and control buttons, this is a minor inconvenience. With the mics, this is a big problem: whenever I took a phone call while wearing these headphones, the caller on the other end struggled to hear me.

I’m also dubious on the proposition that customers will want to swap parts around. Had I not had the issues with discomfort, I wouldn’t have bothered trying new earpads, and I’m not ponying up another $65 to $100 for new speakers when the ones I have already sound great.

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That last bit leads to my main criticism of these headphones, and all modular gear we’ve seen over the last two years: there isn’t any consumer benefit for the product being modular. It’s great for AIAIAI: manufacture a bunch of generic parts that work together then let the consumer sort things out. It also sounds good on paper for consumers: you get exactly the headphones you want.

But trying 140 different combinations gets old, fast. AIAIAI does offer recommendations based on the genres you like, as well as a discovery tool that connects to Spotify to recommend a configuration. However, most customers would be better served by going to their favorite local retailer and trying headphones from other brands that are a complete experience right out of the box.

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Finally, the modular nature of the headphones leaves me with a bunch of extra parts that are just taking up space. I could always get use out of the audio cables (especially the very nice coiled cable that was sent to Kickstarter and Indiegogo backers of the wireless headband), but the extra headband and earpads are never going to get used.

Against the competition

I’m a speaker unit away from having two okay pairs of headphones when all I wanted was one great set of headphones.

At the $200 I spent on my first configuration, there are plenty of wired headphones that easily best these. For the $365 I spent on all the parts I’ve purchased, someone could buy the excellent Bose QC-35 II or Sony WH1000XM2 with a bit left over, or pony up another $35 for the excellent Bowers and Wilkins PX. All of those headphones are complete out of the box, and feature something the TMA-2 set does not: active noise cancellation.

All of my complaints about these headphones would be irrelevant if they were more comfortable. While I’d still recommend going to a physical store and trying headphones from other brands, these headphones did sound better than any others I tried before the PX headphones. AIAIAI offers a 30-day return period, so use that to your advantage if you want to give these headphones a try.

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27
Dec

How to change the theme of your PlayStation 4 home screen


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You’re right! That default blue background is boring! You’ve probably been hoping that you could change that drab background to something more exciting. Looking at exactly the same thing every time you fire up your PlayStation 4 can become quite tedious. There is a reason why computer operating systems have had the option to change your wallpaper for a long time.

Thank goodness, there is a better way. You can change the theme on your PS4 and the options are endless!

There are two methods of changing the theme on your PS4. You can install a prebuilt theme by selecting it from your theme library or downloading it from the PlayStation Store or you can create a totally custom background by using one of the screenshots you have taken of your gaming sessions.

Here’s a quick and easy guide on how to achieve each of these.

How to install a pre-built theme on your PS4

From your home screen, move up and over to select Settings.

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Scroll down and press the X button on your controller to select Themes.

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Press X to select a theme or scroll down to the bottom to find more in the store.

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How to set a custom image as your home screen wallpaper

Open Settings and select Themes.

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Select custom.

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From here choose Select Image.

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You can now select any screenshot you have saved.

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Hit Apply.

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The ability to use screenshots as your background make the options quite literally endless! Sometimes as I am deeply ensconced in a game I think that certain images would be perfect as a background for my home screen. With a simple screen shot, I can make that a reality.

What sort of images are you using as your background?

27
Dec

The WHO may add video games to its list of recognized addictions


The World Health Organization’s ICD, or International Classification of Diseases, is used by medical professionals, scientists, researchers and more to define and classify diseases around the world. It’s currently in its 10th revision (ICD-10), but the 11th revision has been in the works for years. Now, a draft for the ICD-11 has been released online (the final version is due in 2018), and it recognizes video game addiction on its list of conditions.

It’s very important to remember that this is a draft list, and is in no way finalized. It also hasn’t been approved by the WHO and is very much a work in progress. Still, it’s interesting that the condition made into this beta version. It’s called “Gaming Disorder,” and comes right after “Gambling Disorder.” It’s described as “a pattern of persistent or recurrent gaming behaviour (‘digital gaming’ or ‘video-gaming’)” that fits three criteria. The first is lack of control over playing video games (when and how often), priority given to gaming over other life interests and being unable to stop playing games even when negative consequences have occurred as a result. Generally, a diagnosis will require 12 months of continued behavior.

The issue of gaming addiction is a serious one that we’ve covered extensively in the past. It’s interesting that those who’ve contributed to the ICD-11 consider it an important enough condition to warrant consideration. While video game addiction does affect adults, there are plenty of children and teens who grapple with the condition. The question is, would an official recognition improve the lives of those who have video game addiction? It will be interesting to see what the WHO does in response to this draft proposition.

Via: Popular Science

Source: ICD-11 Beta Draft

27
Dec

LG and Here help self-driving cars share their knowledge


Self-driving cars clearly stand to benefit from sharing data — you want your car to know about traffic jams before you’re stuck in gridlock. And LG knows it. The tech giant is partnering with Here on a next-gen communications hub for nearly or completely autonomous cars. Here’s location info will help LG share a car’s situational awareness with other vehicles, giving you customized driving info and (potentially) smarter decisions. If there’s a road ahead with mercifully light traffic, for instance, your car might turn on to it to avoid delays.

This isn’t LG’s first driverless rodeo. It teamed with Mercedes on automatic braking back in 2014, and LG already supplies batteries and other components. However, this new alliance makes it clearer that LG wants a major stake in the autonomous driving world. It may not build the cars themselves, but it wants to form the backbone that these cars need to talk to each other.

Source: LG Newsroom

27
Dec

China’s extension of EV tax rebates is good news for car makers


Electric cars had their best year ever in 2017, but the market is still fragile — without subsidies, prices still aren’t cheap enough for the average consumer. The US decided to keep EV tax credits for 2018, much to the relief of EV fans and automakers, and China has announced that it will also extend them until the end of 2020, Reuters reports. The move, confirming previous rumors, will “increase support for innovation and development in new energy vehicles,” China’s Ministry of Finance said.

China is the world’s largest electric car market with sales of 507,000 electric vehicles in 2016 (over half of the EVs sold around the world), and will easily beat that this year. Governments has been trying to curb dangerous pollution by mandating sales of EVs and restricting ICE (internal combustion engine) vehicles in large cities. Beijing, Shanghai and other larger centers account for the bulk of EV sales in the nation, as such cars can enter the cities at any time. China is also weighing an outright ban of ICE vehicles, but unlike countries like France, hasn’t set a date yet.

China’s is highly protective of its EV market, so you may not be familiar with the best-selling brands like BAIC, JAC and Zhidou (Tesla’s Model X is 16th on the list). The best-selling BAIC EC-Series costs around $22,000, so the 10 percent national rebate would save a buyer $2,200 or so.

While foreign manufacturers are mostly shut out of the Chinese market, many plan to come in through the side door via partnerships. Both Mercedes and Toyota said they would team up with local automakers (BAIC, in the case of Mercedes) to build EVs in the nation.

All of this will be to the benefit of the global EV industry. Rebates in China will keep the EV market heated up, stimulating the development of battery and other tech both there and abroad. At the current pace of development, EVs could be cheap enough for regular buyers by the time the rebates expire — both in the China and the US.

Source: Reuters

27
Dec

Putin wants to police social media ahead of Russian election


Russia’s president Vladimir Putin wants to start monitoring companies on social media during the country’s presidential election next year, to assess just how involved they are with domestic politics. Speaking with leaders in Russia’s parliament, he said “it should be carefully analysed how they are operating and will be operating during the presidential election”, but didn’t specify which companies would go under the spotlight, nor whether he was focusing on foreign or local firms.

Russia made headlines this year following numerous accusations of using the internet to meddle in US and other western elections, so it makes sense that Putin would be wary of the impact it could have on his own efforts to remain in power. But he’s already taken steps to mitigate this risk. Last month, apparently in retaliation to US pressure on Russian media, he signed a new “foreign agents” law. This allows the government to list any international media operating in the country as a “foreign agent”, and subject them to additional and often demanding requirements.

Putin says that the new law and proposed plans for monitoring online activity won’t “narrow the space” for freedom on the internet, which is obviously up for debate. It will make his re-election bid more straightforward though, not that he desperately needs additional help at this stage. Polls currently show he’s on course for comfortable re-election in March, putting him in power for another six years until 2024.

Source: Reuters

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