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26
Jan

Google has a mess on its hands with internal discrimination


Wired recently interviewed some Google employees following the James Damore situation, and their insight is eye-opening.

Last August, Google was placed under the spotlight for firing James Damore after he shared his controversial memorandum to Google’s internal networks. The memo talked about the wage gap between men and women in the engineering field, and Damore tried to explain that this gap existed due to biological difference between males and females.

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Earlier this year, Damore issued a class action lawsuit against Google with the claim that the company discriminated against white, conservative males. This whole situation has (unsurprisingly) resulted in a lot of commotion, and amidst all of this, Wired recently interviewed some employees at Google to get an idea for how this is affecting workers within the company.

After the Damore filed the lawsuit, Google employees report that diversity advocates at the company were subject to unrelenting harassment, with some of this going as far as their addresses, phone numbers, and pre-transition names for transgender employees being publically shared on the likes of 4chan.

Speaking to Wired, Engineer Colin McMillen said:

Now it’s like basically anything you say about yourself may end up getting leaked to score political points in a lawsuit. I have to be very careful about choosing my words because of the low-grade threat of doxing. But let’s face it, I’m not visibly queer or trans or non-white and a lot of these people are keying off their own white supremacy.

Google’s security team has reportedly done their part in tackling any physical threats that are made, and Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer Danielle Brown has “been supportive and reassuring” during these recent events. However, not everything is perfect:

But, they say they have not been told the outcome of complaints they filed against coworkers they believe are harassing them, and that top executives have not responded assertively to concerns about harassment and doxing. As a result, some employees now check hate sites for attempts at doxing Google employees, which they then report to Google security.

At Google, employees are required to go through training for ethnic, racial, and sexual diversity. Damore said in the memorandum that the training programs are “highly politicized” and that they alienated non-progressive individuals, but an anonymous black female employee says:

The programs lack context about discrimination and inequality and focus on interpersonal relationships, instructing employees to watch what they say because it might hurt someone’s feelings. “It robs Google of the chance to discuss these issues,” and leaves criticisms unanswered, she says. She says co-workers and her manager have described diversity as “just another box to check and a waste of time.”

In addition to these current events, former engineer Cory Altheide said that problems go back as far as 2015 when he quit. According to Altheide, one Google wrote on an internal blog that said:

Blacks are not equal to whites. Therefore the ‘inequality’ between these races is expected and makes perfect sense.

Wired says that Google’s confirmed it’s met with all employees that have shown concern regarding these issues, and while this whole situation will likely continue to develop over the coming months, it is interesting (and a bit disheartening) to get a closer look inside how this is affecting real people on the day-to-day.

AT&T proposes ‘Internet Bill of Rights’ after net neutrality’s death

26
Jan

‘Madden 18’ eSports events will air on ESPN and Disney XD


ESPN and Disney are about to get a significant influx of eSports content. Through a new multiyear deal announced today, the two networks will broadcast a number of Madden NFL tournaments as well as an episodic series featuring Madden NFL 18 Ultimate League players. “Through this collaboration with ESPN and Disney XD, we’ll provide ongoing coverage for fans worldwide across a variety of ESPN and Disney platforms, but also digitally through our own Madden streaming and social channels,” Todd Sitrin, EA’s competitive gaming division general manager, said in a statement.

Competition coverage kicks off tomorrow when ESPNEWS airs the Madden NFL 18 Club Championship quarterfinals. The tournament is taking place at the Pro Bowl and features players repping all 32 NFL teams. The Club Championship finals will then take place at the Super Bowl Experience on February 1st and will air on ESPN2 and ESPN Deportes.

Starting February 2nd, Disney XD and ESPN video on demand will air Madden NFL 18 Ultimate League regular season competitions, which pit 16 Madden NFL 18 players against each other in one-on-one competitions. Episodes will air weekly and be one hour long. The Madden Ultimate League Championship final will air from the NFL draft on April 28th and will be broadcasted on ESPN2.

Lastly, starting in April, ESPN2 will air half-hour weekly episodes featuring Ultimate League players, giving viewers a look into their lives and how they prepare for and handle the League competitions. The series will run from April 3rd to May 1st.

The NFL is the first pro sports league in the US to have each of its teams represented in an eSports tournament. And while ESPN has been dabbling in pro gaming coverage for a few years now, last July marked the first time the network aired a full block of eSports content on its major channels. In 2016, ESPN aired the Madden NFL 16 Championship for the first time.

Via: Variety

Source: ESPN

26
Jan

Review: Promise’s $249 TD-300 Thunderbolt 3 Dock Offers Lots of USB Ports and an SD Card Reader


Thunderbolt 3 docks continue to hit the market, and today we’re taking a look a recent entrant from popular data storage company Promise Technology, the TD-300 Thunderbolt 3 Dock.

I’ve tested quite a few Thunderbolt 3 docks over the past year, and the TD-300 ranks right up with the best I’ve seen due to standout features like five USB 3.0 ports and an SD 3.0 card reader. At $249, it’s also priced very competitively against other full-featured Thunderbolt 3 docks.

Design

In the box, you’ll find the typical contents for a dock of this type, including the dock itself, an external power brick, and a 0.5-meter Thunderbolt 3 cable. Any other cables such as for USB devices or an HDMI display need to be provided separately, although they frequently come with the devices you’d be connecting.

The TD-300 comes in a horizontal form factor similar to many others on the market, and it sits nicely under an external display. It measures just over 9 inches wide, 3.5 inches deep and a little over an inch tall, and weighs just about a pound, so it’s a pretty typical Thunderbolt 3 dock from a size perspective.


The enclosure is made of black plastic, matte on the top and glossy around the sides, which sets it apart from the silver and gray finishes seen on most of the other docks I’ve tested. There’s a fairly small Promise Technology logo in the rear left corner of the dock’s top, but it’s not terribly obtrusive, and the top tapers slightly toward the front of the dock.


The front of the dock includes a pair of status lights, a green one letting you know there’s power to the dock and a blue one signifying an active connection to a computer. The lights are fairly bright and can be distracting in a dark room. You’ll also find the handy SD card slot, a pair of USB Type-A 3.0 ports (the left of which supports higher-power 5W/1.5A charging) and an audio in/out port.


On the rear, you’ll find three more USB Type-A 3.0 ports, a Gigabit Ethernet port, two Thunderbolt 3 ports, an HDMI 2.0 port, and the DC-in connection for power.

USB Ports

With all five USB ports being USB 3.0, they support 5 Gbps connections, which isn’t the fastest standard but is typical for Thunderbolt 3 docks where bandwidth is frequently shared among a host of peripherals. Most other docks on the market offer only three USB ports, so the inclusion of five here offers some nice expandability, and with two of them on the front there’s easy access for USB accessories that only need to be attached occasionally.

Testing transfer speeds using a 10 Gbps USB 3.1 Gen 2 CalDigit Tuff external SSD and Blackmagic’s disk speed testing software, I saw speeds around 350 MB/s read and 320 MB/s write through the Type-A USB 3.0 ports, which is typical for docks like this.

USB-A CalDigit Tuff speeds
If you want better transfer speeds and don’t need the second Thunderbolt 3 port on the dock for a display, you can hook up a USB-C external drive that way, where I saw speeds in excess of 500 MB/s read and 475 MB/s write with the CalDigit Tuff.

USB-C CalDigit Tuff speeds over Thunderbolt 3 port
With a top-of-the-line Thunderbolt 3 drive like the new ThunderBlade V4 from OWC, I saw read and write speeds approaching 1900 MB/s, pretty close to what I previously saw with a direct connection to my MacBook Pro. Obviously if you start tacking other high-bandwidth peripherals like a 4K HDMI display on to other ports on the dock, the SSD speeds will drop.

SD Card Slot

The TD-300’s SD 3.0 card reader on the front of the dock is a great feature that’s missing on most other Thunderbolt 3 docks released so far. If you’ve got photos or other data stored on an SD card, it’s great to be able to just pop the card into the front of the dock and have it show up on your computer without needing to connect a separate card reader over USB.

Displays

In line with other Thunderbolt 3 docks, Promise’s dock can support either a single 5K display attached to the downstream Thunderbolt 3 port, or a pair of 4K displays attached through the Thunderbolt 3 port and the HDMI port. I tested extensively with an LG UltraFine 5K display hooked up via Thunderbolt 3 and it ran at the full 60 Hz refresh rate with no problems. The usual macOS System Preferences let you manage the monitors in terms of mirroring/extending and arrangement.

Charging

The TD-300 offers up to 60 watts of charging power over its Thunderbolt 3 connection to a computer, which is enough for a 13-inch MacBook Pro but falls short of what a 15-inch model might be able to draw at maximum load. In reality, 60 watts is often enough to keep even a 15-inch MacBook Pro charged up under normal use, but if you’re doing a lot of heavy lifting with your machine it might not be able to quite keep up. Recharging a depleted battery via the TD-300 will also be a bit slower than from an 85-watt dock or the 87-watt power adapter that comes with the MacBook Pro.

Most Thunderbolt 3 docks seem to be going with the 60-watt power delivery, so the TD-300 is by no means unique in this limitation, but there are 85-watt ones on the market if that’s a necessity for you.

Wrap-up

The Promise TD-300 Thunderbolt 3 Dock offers a solid set of features at a very competitive price point compared to similar docks. It doesn’t have FireWire or eSATA ports like a few competitors have, but with those ports becoming less and less popular it makes sense for Promise to put its focus on the flexibility of USB while also including a built-in SD card reader.

Full 85-watt charging support would have been nice to see, so if you’re a 15-inch MacBook Pro owner you’ll need to decide if that’s a dealbreaker based on whether you push your machine hard enough to need the full power, and if so, whether you’re okay with using the standard MacBook Pro power adapter alongside the dock.

But overall, the TD-300 stacks up very well against the competition and is worth a close look. The Promise TD-300 is priced at $249 and is available from a variety of retailers including B&H Photo and Amazon.

Note: Promise Technology provided the TD-300 to MacRumors free of charge for the purposes of this review. No other compensation was received. MacRumors is an affiliate partner with B&H Photo and Amazon and may earn commissions on purchases made through links in this article.

Tags: Thunderbolt 3, Promise Technology
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26
Jan

Verizon Details New BOGO Deal: Buy One iPhone 8, 8 Plus, or X and Get $699 Off Second


Verizon this morning announced an offer coming for both existing customers and new customers who are switching to a Verizon line, which will go live on Monday, January 29. With the deal, if you trade in an eligible smartphone and then purchase an iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, or iPhone X, you’ll get $699 off a second iPhone 8, 8 Plus, or X.

The offer is available when purchasing any combination of these iPhones, as long as they are both purchased on device payment plans and a new line is activated on Verizon unlimited. Afterwards, the $699 discount on the second smartphone comes in the form of bill credits spread out over a 24 month period.

The offer allows you to get both trade-in credit and $699 to cover the cost of the second device you purchase, greatly discounting the $999 or $1,149 iPhone X, or even offering the 64GB iPhone 8 base model for free.

The smartphones eligible for trade-in cover the same devices in Verizon’s current BOGO sale for Android smartphones, which can be seen on this page by clicking “See offer details.”

Verizon outlined the steps you’ll need to take to get the offer:

To get this offer, you need to:

– Purchase both phones on device payment
– Activate a new line on Verizon unlimited
– Trade in your phone within 30 days. You will receive the trade-in value in addition to the bill credits.

Verizon’s deal is similar to one that T-Mobile began two weeks ago today, where new and existing T-Mobile customers could buy one iPhone and get up to $700 off another iPhone of equal or lesser value. One of the main differences is that T-Mobile offered the $700 discount in the form of a rebate received via prepaid MasterCard card, while Verizon’s will be credited to the user’s monthly bills over 24 months. T-Mobile’s also included the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus, but Verizon’s is only for Apple’s 2017 line of iPhones.

For more on the latest sales, visit our full Deals Roundup.

Related Roundups: iPhone 8, iPhone XTag: VerizonBuyer’s Guide: iPhone 8 (Neutral), iPhone X (Buy Now)
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26
Jan

Nike’s ‘PlayStation’ shoes make hypebeasts out of gamers


It’s not often we see a shoe that appeals to both the sneakerhead and gamer communities. But Nike managed to do exactly that with the PG2, the second signature model of professional basketball player Paul George, which features a design inspired by Sony’s PlayStation console and its DualShock controller. Nike says that George, who plays for the NBA’s Oklahoma City Thunder, worked closely with PG2 designer Tony Hardman to create an on-court shoe that would represent his love for gaming and, specifically, the PlayStation.

George claims to be one of the league’s most avid gamers, so much so that he says he takes the PS4 with him every time his team travels during the NBA season. That’s why he was so keen on the “PlayStation” PG2s being the first version of his new signature shoe line. If you’re a DualShock fan, you’ll find plenty of details around here to love. That includes lace loops that are the same color as the controller’s buttons (blue, green, pink and red) and a black patent leather heel tab with graphics of the cross, circle, square and triangle.

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Meanwhile, the midsole is full of bright, galaxy-themed speckles that are meant to look like one of the PlayStation’s dynamic wallpapers. As great as all those touches are, though, the main highlights of the PG2 are the blue light-up logos on on the pair. On the left shoe, there’s a “PS” logo and on the right one, Paul George’s personal “PG” futuristic lettering, which you can turn on via a power button located on the back of the sneaker’s tongue. When you do that, you’ll feel a pulse-like haptic effect that’s intended to mimic a DualShock controller. And because Nike really wants to take bring the ’90s back, part of the bottom sole glows in the dark.

It’s worth noting that the batteries in the PG2s are actually self-contained, so there’s no way to charge them if they ever die. Nike claims the shoes have a life span of around 150 hours, so you’ll have to be cautious about when you use the light-up feature. According to Hardman, the idea from the beginning was to keep the PG2s simple and not have rechargeable or replaceable power, otherwise the cost of the pair could end up being quite high. Nike’s self-lacing HyperAdapt 1.0s, for instance, come with magnetic wireless charging pods, but they cost a steep $720. Not exactly affordable.

Those of you who are into sneakers know this isn’t the first time Paul George and Nike have made a gaming-inspired shoe. The PG1 had a model that was created in partnership with NBA 2K17’s developer, dubbed simply the “2K,” although that project wasn’t as memorable as the “PlayStation” PG2. It only had a sock liner with an image render of George’s avatar in 2K17, the year he was the title’s cover athlete.

Of course, the PG2 is a basketball shoe after all, so Nike didn’t leave out any of the tech that’ll make basketball players comfortable when they’re hooping. The Nike Air Zoom unit is will give you stability, while the insole/midsole combination feels plushy and offers a “bounce” effect as you take steps around the court. All in all, Nike and Sony did a great job of collaborating on a shoe that won’t just be good for playing basketball, but also promises to be sought after as a collector’s item for sneakerheads and gamers alike.

If that’s you, you’ll have to keep your eyes peeled on Nike’s SNKRS app, because the “PlayStation” PG2 will be a limited edition model when it launches on February 10th for $110.

26
Jan

Dutch intelligence had a front-row seat to Russian DNC hack


Of all the ways Russia attempted to exert influence over the outcome of the 2016 presidential election, the hacking of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and party officials was arguably one of the most damaging blows to the Clinton campaign. And according to an investigation by Dutch media, the national intelligence agency of the Netherlands, AIVD, watched the whole thing play out. Anonymous American and Dutch sources tell the story of the AIVD infiltrating the computer network of a Moscow university building — a network which just so happened to be used by Russian hacking group Cozy Bear, aka APT29.

The AIVD initially gained access to the network in the summer of 2014. It wasn’t until later, though, that they observed attacks on the Democratic Party and the copying of emails and documents that were later leaked to the public. The AIVD alerted their US counterparts, opening a line of communication and evidence-sharing that was allegedly key to the FBI launching investigations into Russia’s influence over the presidential election. During the time the AIVD had access to the network, which is said to be up to two and a half years, the agency witnessed various keyboard battles between Cozy Bear and US gatekeepers, including attacks on the State Department.

And it wasn’t just network traffic the AIVD is said to have been spying on. Apparently, the agency knew the actual room in the university building Cozy Bear was operating out of and hacked into the security camera feed watching the corridor outside. The AIVD documented the hackers’ comings and goings, including pictures of those involved, and subsequently concluded Cozy Bear was tied directly to Russia’s foreign intelligence service SVR.

Russia is accused of running a comprehensive campaign aimed at disrupting the election, from hacking individuals and state voting systems to disseminating fake news and engineering opinion on social media. However many official probes take place, we’ll probably never get a clear picture of exactly what went on, but according to this new report, the Netherlands was instrumental in helping the US understand and combat Russian cyberespionage. And all because the AIVD stumbled upon a network that ended up being a goldmine of intelligence.

Via: Reuters

Source: de Volkskrant

26
Jan

BMW’s next generation of hybrids relies on modular electrification


BMW’s alternative-fuel interests go beyond plug-in hybrids. Sure, the company has been building a battery-powered ecosystem, with cars like the city-styled i3 and i8 sports Coupe and Roadster serving as the testing grounds for tech that will later trickle down through the rest of the model line. But the company is also licensing out its electrification technology to Karma’s recently resurrected luxury EV sports car, the Revero, in addition to luxury boats from Torqeedo and yachts from Hinckley.

It’s encroaching on Tesla’s Power Wall territory too, with lithium-ion batteries that can be taken directly from an i3 and put into service powering a home. Then there’s BMW’s partnership with Solid Power, a Colorado-based facility researching solid state batteries, the future of battery architecture. For Stefan Juraschek, BMW’s head of electric powertrains, these are necessary steps in the automaker’s grand plan to go all-in on electric.

“What we are doing right now,” he said in an interview last week at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, “is we are setting up a new generation.”

He describes this next generation as a modular electrification kit that BMW’s entire fleet can use, be it a full electric drivetrain or the hybrids the automaker currently offers. You can see this platform in action with the hybrid Mini Countryman S E that debuted in late 2016. The all-wheel drive compact uses the i8’s dual-motor setup, with a gas engine providing power to one set of wheels while an electric motor drives the other. It’s a smart stop-gap solution until reality catches up with the battery technology and charging infrastructure required to go full electric.

Current lithium-ion battery capacity grows between five and seven percent each year — just look at the i8’s jump from 2017 to 2018 if you need proof — and Juraschek expects those gains to continue. By 2025, they could as much as double from where Li-ion battery capacity was last year. He also predicts Li-ion will be the dominant power supply for at least the next decade.

Come 2025, Juraschek expects that research and development on solid-state batteries will potentially have evolved such that next-gen power supplies can be put into BMW’s cars. However, he doesn’t anticipate high demand initially, nor does he seem particularly sold on the power supply just yet.

“We assume or expect [solid-state batteries] might be an increase in energy of 20 to 30 percent, but in terms of power,” he said, “we aren’t sure if we can increase key figures to a higher level.” And by key figures, he was referring to things like overall capacity and output. There’s also an issue with battery temperature at the moment. Solid-state batteries generate (and can withstand) lots of heat, but BMW isn’t sure how that will affect performance or passenger comfort.

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Stefan Juraschek

Timothy J. Seppala/Engadget

For BMW’s future, the biggest variable is vehicle architecture and what type of cars people will want in 2022 and beyond, regardless of drivetrain. “It’s very important that we are able to have a flexible and scalable architecture at that point,” he said. The automaker has been vocal about its deliberately paced plans for autonomous driving — don’t expect to see a Level 3 BMW on the road until 2021 — and it seems to be taking a similar, although faster approach to futuristic EVs and hybrids.

The difference here is that the company has customer data (sales and otherwise) to help chart its way into electrification. “We are looking forward, to go on with the speed of development in a wide range of vehicles that we have for every customer, for every demographic available,” Juraschek said. He added that “every model” of electrified vehicle is selling better than expected.

The key tactic for BMW, he notes, is providing a choice in EVs and hybrids for customers. Whether someone is looking for a sporty ride like the i8 or maybe something more pedestrian like the Mini Countryman, the automaker wants to offer a car that’s not only green, but also lives up to the brand’s standards.

“The most important issue we have as BMW, is that at the end of the day we have a very reliable solution,” he said.

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26
Jan

HTC Vive Pro’s dual cameras can apparently track hand motion


When HTC unveiled its higher-end Vive Pro VR system back at CES, the company was suspiciously quiet about the dual cameras on this VR headset: there were no related demos, and the company reps remained tight-lipped. The smart-ass in me assumed that based on the similar looks, this module was probably a variant of the inside-out tracking sensor on the standalone Vive Focus, while others speculated that it would bring AR capability. Well, today we finally have an answer: it’s actually a depth sensor, and it’ll apparently enable basic hand tracking without additional hardware.

This new bit of information came straight from the horse’s mouth. By that I mean HTC Vive’s Vice President Raymond Pao, who I bumped into at the company’s Shenzhen event earlier this week — it was celebrating the commencement of the Vive Focus’ shipment, as well as introducing the Vive Pro to the Chinese media and partners. It wasn’t until I sat down with Pao afterwards when he shed light on the Vive Pro’s mysterious pair of cameras.

According to the exec, this stereoscopic camera only has a low VGA resolution, so fundamentally, it’s far from capable of performing inside-out tracking à la Vive Focus. Its real purpose, however, is to capture depth data from about one to two meters away. The idea here is to use this module to enhance the Chaperone safeguard feature, in the sense that on top of your pre-defined virtual fence, it can also notify you of obstacles as you approach them. Pao’s team is still working with Valve to see how best to realize this feature, but they also think the camera can do so much more.

“When we first designed this camera, we wanted to use it to enhance Chaperone and let it detect boundaries more automatically and more accurately… but we later realized that it may enable even better applications, so we wanted to share this with developers, such as at the Vive Developer Meetup in Chengdu later this week,” Pao said.

As such, HTC is planning to offer a development kit for the Vive Pro’s depth camera to see what VR developers can do with it. One use case that impressed Pao came from a Japanese developer who had early access to the kit: in this haunted house game, the two players could use and see their own hands instead of Vive controllers, and they held props that were rendered as glowing torches in an otherwise pitch-dark room. If they wanted to, they could even hold hands in both the real world and the virtual world.

Even though Pao stressed that the depth camera could only do “basic” hand tracking here, the players could still see their individual fingers. HTC Vive’s China President Alvin Wang Graylin added that this camera allows developers to enable this type of hands-free experience on the Vive Pro without having to deal with Vive Trackers; though obviously, they are still available if precise tracking is needed. Hopefully we’ll see more fun examples that take advantage of this new camera by the time the Vive Pro launches, whenever that may be.

26
Jan

The best gear for building your home theater


By Grant Clauser

This post was done in partnership with Wirecutter, reviews for the real world. When readers choose to buy Wirecutter’s independently chosen editorial picks, it may earn affiliate commissions that support its work. Read the full article here.

Everyone loves watching a great movie on a big screen with a kickass speaker system, but few would complain about losing the sticky floors, uncomfortable seats, and kids with smartphones (unless they’re your own kids). Our A/V team spends thousands of hours each year to find the best-looking and -sounding home theater equipment. Whether you have a dedicated theater room planned or are thinking of upgrading your weeknight living room movie night, we have recommendations covering whatever space and budget you have.

The best home theater projector

If your room is large enough (you can check using this calculator) and you want the best picture quality, we heartily recommend the Sony VPL-HW40ES. After testing five leading models in the same price range, our projector guru Geoff Morrison concluded that the Sony offers the best combination of performance and price. It’s easy to install, has accurate colors, and creates very little noise (which is great if you have a small room and the projector is mounted above your head).

The best home theater screen

A good home theater screen should reflect the right amount of the projector’s light back at you and accurately reproduce colors, but shouldn’t create hot spots, shimmer, or blind you. That’s not always an easy task, as our home theater screen tester Chris Heinonen discovered when he tested 10 screens in his home theater. He also found out that price isn’t necessarily a predictor of performance and concluded that the bargain-priced 100-inch Silver Ticket screen was the smartest option for most home theaters.

The best dedicated home theater AV receiver

The AV receiver is the hardest-working component in a home theater. If you’re planning on a 7.1 surround system or you want to power a second zone of stereo speakers, we think the Denon AVR-S730H is the best home theater receiver for you. Compared with the other models we tested, the Denon was extremely easy to set up and use. It offers great sound quality even at high volumes, and has tons of streaming features. It also has six HDMI inputs, and one HDMI output.

The best dedicated room home theater speakers

A great-sounding home theater doesn’t need the biggest or the loudest speakers, just the best ones for your room and budget. We set out to find the best 5.1 home theater speaker system without going over $2,000, and eventually settled on the ELAC Debut system. They have a smooth, natural balance and deftly handle quiet scenes and outbursts of action. You can also calibrate the subwoofer to your room’s shape, an uncommon feature for subs in this price range.

The best projector mount

Selecting a ceiling mount for your projector can be complicated, though you may get lucky the first time. The problem is that one best mounting kit doesn’t really exist because there’s no industry-wide standard for mounting patterns. That being said, our personal favorite projector mount is the Omnimount PJT40. It’s the closest we’ve found to a true universal mount, having used it to mount multiple projectors. The Omnimount is a cinch to install, and you can easily make fine adjustments.

The best Blu-ray player

Photo: Chris Heinonen

A Blu-ray player, spinning Blu-ray discs, is going to provide the best video and audio for your home theater. Most current Blu-ray players are fairly equal when it comes to video and audio quality. Some, like the Oppo BDP-103D, use video processing magic to improve contrast and detail. Often processing like this causes more harm than good, but the Oppo performs admirably. However, it’s quite expensive. If you’re looking for a cheaper option, we suggest the Sony BDP-S3500.

The best streaming media player

Photo: Kyle Fitzgerald

Even though a Blu-ray disc provides a better picture and better audio than streaming services, we know most people depend on streaming for most of their viewing. And although lots of your other devices come with streaming services built in, we still think the best way is a stand-alone media player. We’ve tested them all, and think the Roku Streaming Stick is the one you should buy. It’s very customizable and easy to use, with a large content selection.

The best universal remote

Photo: Michael Hession

The remotes that come with your devices usually do a decent job of operating them, but if you’ve got a bunch of gear and have ever done the remote shuffle just to watch a movie, you can understand the appeal of a universal remote. There’s very little competition anymore, so these days, our reviewers are mostly comparing different Logitech Harmony products against each other. They settled on the midrange Logitech Harmony 650 as the best universal remote for most people. It can control up to eight components at a time, and can connect with more than 6,000 different products.

The best TV antenna

After testing 11 leading indoor TV antennas, we recommend the newest version of the Antennas Direct ClearStream Eclipse as the best indoor antenna for most people who live within 20 miles of their broadcast towers. In both our urban and suburban tests, the Eclipse pulled in all our target channels easily. And its Sure Grip tack system lets you quickly attach it to a wall without any hardware.

The best HDMI cable

You’re going to need a few HDMI cables for your home theater, just don’t pay too much for them. We think you should buy the Monoprice 6105 six-foot HDMI cable because it can transmit any current audio or video standard, including Ultra HD 4K video, has Ethernet data and Audio Return Channel capabilities and costs less than $1 a foot. There’s no reason most people should pay more than that.

The best wireless HDMI kit

Photo: Michael Hession

Sometimes your TV or projector sits too far away from your source devices or is separated by obstacles, so a wireless approach seems best. If that’s the case in your home, we think you’ll like the IOGear Wireless HD Digital Kit. This system includes a transmitter with two HDMI inputs to connect to your sources and one receiver to connect to your display. It uses WHDI technology, which can easily travel through walls and other obstacles with no noticeable signal degradation.

The best speaker wire

Don’t believe the hype spread by high-end speaker wire manufacturers. Yes, you need good speaker wire for your home theater system, but you don’t need to spend a ton of money for it. We assembled a panel of experienced audio reviewers and asked them to conduct a blind listening test on a wide assortment of speaker wires using a blind listening test. They found the Monoprice 2747 12-gauge sounded great, even better than a high-end wire costing 100 times more.

The best surge protector

Photo: Kyle Fitzgerald

One of the least fun (but potentially most important) devices for your home theater is the surge protector. We spent 30 hours testing leading models to determine that the Tripp Lite TLP1008TEL is the best surge protector for most people. It includes 10 well-spaced outlets (four big enough for large wall-warts), which should cover all but the most extreme home theater setups. We also liked that it stops delivering power when the protection circuit is worn out.

The best wireless headphones

Sometimes you want to enjoy your home theater while other people are asleep (or maybe even just doing something that requires quiet). Unless your theater room is soundproofed, wireless headphones are the way to go. After researching 32 models and putting 14 through extensive testing, we think you should get the Power Acoustik Fahrenheit HP-902 RFT. We thought they struck the right balance of sound quality, value, and user-friendly features.

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

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26
Jan

Acer Chrome OS tablet pops up at UK education event


Google’s said before that Chrome OS would be used for tablets, but so far we’ve only seen whispers of such a device. Now, it seems that Twitter user Alister Payne (@Alister_Payne) got an early look at what appears to be an Acer tablet that operates on Chrome OS. The tweet and picture, taken at BETT 2018, has since been deleted, but Chrome Unboxed preserved it. The device appears to have a screen between 8 and 10 inches, but further details are unavailable.

This isn’t the first hint at a Chrome tablet that we’ve seen. Samsung may also prepping a detachable Chrome OS tablet called “Nautilus.” Lenovo’s Yoga Book was also available with a Chrome OS, though it’s a convertible laptop, rather than a true tablet. This is just another peek to whet our appetites for the what will hopefully be a slew of tablets introduced in the near future.

Via: The Verge

Source: Chrome Unboxed

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