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14
Jun

Festo’s cuttlefish-inspired robot looks like it escaped an alien aquarium


In today’s fast-moving world, there are three constants: Death, taxes, and that the nature-inspired robots built by German automation company Festo fill us with a geeky sense of joy. Having previously created everything from bat robots to a creepy OctopusGripper straight from the mind of H.P. Lovecraft, Festo is now back with its latest creation — and, boy, is it awesomely weird!

The creation in question is called BionicFinWave. While that totally sounds like it should be the name of a Japanese mecha anime series, in fact it’s an unusual looking fish-inspired underwater robot, designed to replicate the type of undulating long fin-aided locomotion most commonly seen in cuttlefish. The wave-shaped movement of these fins is used to generate forward, upward, downward, and even backward motion in the fishbot. Changing between different movements can be achieved by altering the wave patterns in the fins. This results in surprisingly efficient movement — with far less churning up of the water than is the case with some alternate forms of underwater propulsion.

Festo

In terms of components, the fish uses a primarily 3D-printed body with silicone fins and servo motors to provide its movement. It also has batteries, a pressure and ultrasound sensor for gathering information about its surroundings, and the technology to transmit this data to the outside world. It is able to carry out its movement without any tethers or cords leading up to the surface.

Most of Festo’s robots are created to be essentially fancy demos, akin to concept cars or the world’s fanciest business cards. While there’s no word on whether BionicFinWave is any different, the company does note that it could have real-world applications. These might include tasks like underwater inspections or data collection. Fields which might require such a robot include the water, sewage, and other process industries. It’s conceivable that the unusual propulsion system could also lend itself to crafts like future submarines.

Still, even if this remains no more than a fancy showcase of what Festo is able to put together in its labs, the fact that it exists at all makes us pretty happy. And excited to see what the company has up its sleeves next.

Editors’ Recommendations

  • MIT’s ocean-exploring robotic fish takes a test swim through a Fiji reef
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  • This robot eel glides through saltwater without making a sound
  • The best robot kits for kids
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14
Jun

Lessons to be learned: A brief history of self-driving car crashes


According to statistical data, you’re almost certainly safer in a car driven by a computer than one driven by a human. Self-driving vehicles have the opportunity to bring multiple benefits — from safer driving experiences to less congestion in our cities.

With that said, autonomous cars won’t mean the end of road traffic accidents. Crashes can occur as the result of both human error and technical fault. While this list isn’t supposed to be comprehensive, these are the most significant crashes in self-driving car history. Hopefully, the right lessons can be learned from them.

Google Lexus SUV, July 2015

Google revealed that one of its self-driving cars had been involved in the first crash to injure a human. The incident involved one of Google’s self-driving Lexus SUV vehicles being rear-ended in Mountain View, CA, during testing. Three Google employees who were on board at the time suffered minor whiplash. The driver of the other vehicle reported neck and back pain.

This wasn’t the first accident involving one of Google’s self-driving cars, but it was the first one which could be classified as serious (or, in this case, semi-serious.) The common factor in all the crashes up to this point was human error on the part of other drivers. Mountain View police responded to the incident, but did not file an accident report.

Tesla Model S, January 2016

The world’s first apparent autonomous car death took place in early 2016. Less widely covered than subsequent instances, it occurred in China, just three months after Tesla’s autopilot feature was introduced to the Chinese market. The incident involved a Tesla Model S sedan — supposedly in autopilot mode — which crashed into the back of a cleaning vehicle while driving in clear weather, resulting in the death of its 23-year-old driver Gao Yaning. No attempt at braking was made.

“The autopilot program’s slow response failed to accurately gauge the road conditions ahead and provide instructions,” claimed a lawsuit filed against Tesla. Tesla said that it was unable to confirm whether autopilot was engaged at the time, since the damage caused by the collision left the car “physically incapable of transmitting log data to our servers.”

A police investigation found that Yaning had failed “to drive safely in accordance with [autopilot] operation rules,” while also blaming the street sweeping vehicle’s “incomplete safety facilities.”

Google Lexus SUV, February 2016

One of Google’s self-driving Lexus SUV cars was involved in a non-fatal crash with a bus on Silicon Valley’s El Camino Real road. This was the 18th accident involving a Google autonomous vehicle, but is significant because it was the first time that the Google vehicle is apparently at fault.

The incident occurred while Google’s car is merging back into traffic after stopping to avoid an obstacle. It stuck the side of the bus while doing so. The SUV suffered superficial damage to one wheel, its side-mounted sensors and bodywork.

“We clearly bear some responsibility, because if our car hadn’t moved there wouldn’t have been a collision,” Google said in a statement. “From now on, our cars will more deeply understand that buses (and other large vehicles) are less likely to yield to us than other types of vehicles, and we hope to handle situations like this more gracefully in the future.”

Tesla Model S, May 2016

The first U.S. death involving a semi-autonomous car occurred when 40-year-old Ohio resident Joshua Brown’s Model S Tesla was in autopilot mode on the highway.

Unfortunately, the car’s sensors failed to recognize a white 18-wheel truck and trailer crossing the highway against the bright sky background. As a result, the Model S drove full speed under the trailer, which impacted the car’s windshield.

“Autopilot is getting better all the time, but it is not perfect and still requires the driver to remain alert,” Tesla said in a statement, while also noting that it was “beyond saddened” by Brown’s death.

Uber self-driving Volvo, March 2018

Volvo

An autonomous car killed 49-year-old Arizona resident Elaine Herzberg in what is believed to be the first fatal U.S. crash involving a pedestrian and self-driving vehicle. The incident took place at night when Herzberg was crossing the road with her bicycle outside of a sanctioned crosswalk.

The Uber test driver was not looking at the road in the moments leading up to the collision. “Our hearts go out to the victim’s family,” the company said in a statement. “We are fully cooperating with local authorities in their investigation of this incident.” Uber temporarily suspended autonomous road testing in the aftermath.

Tesla Model X, March 2018

Less than a week after the Uber self-driving car crash, another autonomous vehicle fatality took place — once again involving a Tesla vehicle. On this occasion, a Tesla Model X on autopilot crashed in Mountain View, killing the 38-year-old driver, Apple software engineer Wei Huang.

According to Tesla, Huang received “several visual and one audible hands-on warning earlier in the drive, and the driver’s hands were not detected on the wheel for six seconds prior to the collision.” However, no intervention was taken and the car collided with the concrete divider in the road.

Editors’ Recommendations

  • Tesla driver loses license after moving to passenger seat with Autopilot on
  • Tesla says driver ignored warnings from Autopilot in fatal California crash
  • Tesla Model X crashes into gym, driver says it accelerated by itself
  • What crash? Waymo to test autonomous cars without safety drivers
  • How Nvidia is helping autonomous cars simulate their way to safety



14
Jun

Everything we know about the upcoming LG G8 ThinQ smartphone


Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

2018 has been a busy year for LG. In February the company released the LG V30S ThinQ, an update of its beloved 2017 flagship. Shortly thereafter we saw the all-new LG G7 ThinQ boasting great specs and awesome audio, followed by the LG V35 ThinQ. And of course, there’s the rumored LG V40 ThinQ that’s in the works for later this year.

With such a busy year, it’s hard to believe LG is already working on its successor to the LG G7, but that does indeed appear to be the case. Here’s everything we know about the upcoming LG G8 ThinQ.

Name

Unlike some smartphone manufacturers, LG tends to stay true to its naming conventions. We believe the 2019 G-series handset will be called the LG G8 ThinQ. If anything, LG may drop the ThinQ moniker since it hasn’t quite caught on.

Design

Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

In terms of aesthetics, we’re not expecting LG to make a huge departure from the G7 ThinQ. Smartphone design change has slowed in general, and LG has said its primary focus is to create devices with long-term value. We do believe, however, the top notch may disappear on the LG G8 ThinQ since the company is reportedly working on new display technology.

Specs

Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

Since the LG G8 ThinQ will be one of LG’s 2019 flagships, we’re fairly confident the phone will have top-of-the-line specs. First off, we’re fairly confident the LG G8 ThinQ will sport a Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 processor since that will likely be the de facto flagship processor for 2019.

There are no leaks around RAM and storage options for the LG G8 ThinQ yet. If we had to venture a guess based off the LG G7 ThinQ and smartphone trends, we would say at the base model of the LG G8 ThinQ will have 6GB of RAM and a 128GB of onboard storage.

Display

Rumors LG G8 Will Adopt 4K Resolution LCD Screen

— Ice universe (@UniverseIce) June 6, 2018

The most exciting rumors about the LG G8 ThinQ thus far are all related to its display. Unfortunately, the rumors contradict each other.

The first rumor comes from mobile leaker Ice Universe. He states the LG G8 ThinQ will rock a 4K LCD display.  While it’s an exciting rumor, we’re not putting a lot of stock into it as there’s no source nor details.

The second rumor, courtesy of South Korean tech site ETNews says the upcoming LG G8 ThinQ will not only sport an OLED display, but will not have an actual top-firing speaker at all. Instead, the phone will rely on vibration and bone conduction to transmit sound when your ear is placed against the screen. This technology means bezels could even grow smaller on the phone since there’s no need for speaker cutouts.

Pricing and availability

Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

So when should we expect to see the LG G8 ThinQ? It’s hard to say for sure, but we’re anticipating the announcement will come earlier in the year than it did for the LG G7 ThinQ. Right now our best guess is that the LG G8 ThinQ will make its debut at the 2019 Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

At this stage of the game, any rumors about pricing are pure conjecture. Smartphone manufacturers tend to keep pricing details very close to the vest until after the phone is announced.  If we had to venture a guess, we would say the phone will come in around $800 — a modest increase over this year’s LG G7 ThinQ.

Editors’ Recommendations

  • LG V35 ThinQ: Here’s everything you need to know about LG’s newest flagship
  • LG G7 ThinQ vs. iPhone X: Which phone comes out on top?
  • LG G7 ThinQ vs. LG G6: Out with the old, in with the new
  • OnePlus 6 vs. LG G7 ThinQ: Can the flagship killer sink LG’s latest?
  • LG G7 ThinQ vs. Google Pixel 2 XL: A brains-versus-brawn comparison



14
Jun

New ‘smart’ Rubik’s Cube tracks your stats, lets you race against other people


From Rubik’s Cubes so large and complex that they’re practically torture implements to robots that are able to solve a standard cube in just 0.38 seconds, we’ve covered some pretty neat Rubik’s Cube-related projects here at Digital Trends. A new Kickstarter campaign also takes everyone’s favorite 3D combination puzzle as its jumping-off point — with the goal of updating the classic 1970s brainteaser for a new generation.

Called GoCube, it’s a smart connected cube that promises to open up exciting new play experiences and features for all players. It works in a couple of key ways. One is as a more accessible entry point into the world of Rubik’s Cubes, a puzzle that can often be daunting to (and therefore quickly discarded by) new players. GoCube keeps track of your cube solving through a virtual re-creation on your mobile device, allowing you to examine your moves, progress, statistics, and even gain access to step-by-step tutorials.

However, it also turns the experience into a multiplayer game by opening up features like online battles, shared leaderboards, live competitions (in which players all start from exactly the same cube positions), and more. In other words, whether you’re a fresh-faced newbie or a grizzled veteran with the Rubik’s Cube scars on your digits to prove it, this could be the cube for you.

“Rubik’s is a great game,” GoCube creator Udi Dor told Digital Trends. “However, so many people don’t cross the barrier of learning how to solve it just because it seems so complicated. For cubers [who have completed the puzzle], there’s no real feedback or a way to properly measure their performances and to improve. GoCube doesn’t change the basic game; it improves and modernizes the overall experience — making it modern, accessible, intuitive, measurable, and most importantly, globally connected and socialized.”

With Rubik’s Cubes being the world’s best-selling toy, with total sales in excess of half a billion units, Dor is convinced there is room on the market for something like GoCube. Dor also points to the large and growing player community, which includes formal competitions in 70 countries around the world. While not everyone’s going to want to trade in their “dumb” Rubik’s Cube for a smart Bluetooth version, we can definitely see enough folks being willing to make a success of GoCube.

We offer our usual warnings about the risks inherent in crowdfunding campaigns. If that’s not enough to put you off, though, head over to GoCube’s Kickstarter campaign to get involved. Prices for a GoCube and associated app start at $59, with shipping set for March 2019.

Editors’ Recommendations

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  • Here are the 20 best PlayStation 4 games you can buy right now
  • The best VR headsets of 2018



14
Jun

New ‘smart’ Rubik’s Cube tracks your stats, lets you race against other people


From Rubik’s Cubes so large and complex that they’re practically torture implements to robots that are able to solve a standard cube in just 0.38 seconds, we’ve covered some pretty neat Rubik’s Cube-related projects here at Digital Trends. A new Kickstarter campaign also takes everyone’s favorite 3D combination puzzle as its jumping-off point — with the goal of updating the classic 1970s brainteaser for a new generation.

Called GoCube, it’s a smart connected cube that promises to open up exciting new play experiences and features for all players. It works in a couple of key ways. One is as a more accessible entry point into the world of Rubik’s Cubes, a puzzle that can often be daunting to (and therefore quickly discarded by) new players. GoCube keeps track of your cube solving through a virtual re-creation on your mobile device, allowing you to examine your moves, progress, statistics, and even gain access to step-by-step tutorials.

However, it also turns the experience into a multiplayer game by opening up features like online battles, shared leaderboards, live competitions (in which players all start from exactly the same cube positions), and more. In other words, whether you’re a fresh-faced newbie or a grizzled veteran with the Rubik’s Cube scars on your digits to prove it, this could be the cube for you.

“Rubik’s is a great game,” GoCube creator Udi Dor told Digital Trends. “However, so many people don’t cross the barrier of learning how to solve it just because it seems so complicated. For cubers [who have completed the puzzle], there’s no real feedback or a way to properly measure their performances and to improve. GoCube doesn’t change the basic game; it improves and modernizes the overall experience — making it modern, accessible, intuitive, measurable, and most importantly, globally connected and socialized.”

With Rubik’s Cubes being the world’s best-selling toy, with total sales in excess of half a billion units, Dor is convinced there is room on the market for something like GoCube. Dor also points to the large and growing player community, which includes formal competitions in 70 countries around the world. While not everyone’s going to want to trade in their “dumb” Rubik’s Cube for a smart Bluetooth version, we can definitely see enough folks being willing to make a success of GoCube.

We offer our usual warnings about the risks inherent in crowdfunding campaigns. If that’s not enough to put you off, though, head over to GoCube’s Kickstarter campaign to get involved. Prices for a GoCube and associated app start at $59, with shipping set for March 2019.

Editors’ Recommendations

  • Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Smelly alarm clocks and portable camera gimbals
  • Aura fitness band rewards hard work with virtual coins to buy new sneakers
  • Alpina AlpinerX Hands-on Review
  • Here are the 20 best PlayStation 4 games you can buy right now
  • The best VR headsets of 2018



14
Jun

Microsoft Office’s new redesign puts web and desktop versions on equal footing


Microsoft wants its Office suite to look the same regardless of how you access it, and it’s working to make that experience more consistent across the web and on its mobile and desktop apps. While Office products — like Word, Office, and Excel — share a similar interface today, depending on how and where you access these apps, there are enough differences to how icons and menus are displayed.

The new visual overhaul marks a major change to Office since the ribbon was introduced with the 2007 edition. The new design includes three main elements, with a simpler ribbon as the biggest change to be introduced. However, despite Microsoft’s desire for consistency, it may take some time for the new interface to hit all Office products and platforms.

The new design is based on Microsoft’s Fluent Design principles. The new look is expected to hit the web and subscription-based Office 365 first. Given the launch timeline for Office 2019, Microsoft’s version of its productivity suite with a perpetual license, the new design may not be ready in time. This matches with Microsoft’s subscription strategy of delivering new features as updates to users who buy into its software-as-a-service model, whereas perpetual users won’t get new features until they purchase the next major release. “The development work simply won’t be done by the time Office 2019 is released,” Ars Technica said.

Starting Wednesday, June 13, on Word on the Web, Microsoft is replacing its three-row ribbon design with a simpler ribbon. There will be a single-row tabbed toolbar that can be expanded if needed. Microsoft will take its time rolling out the ribbon to Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, but users will be given a choice to revert back to the old ribbon if they prefer the old style better. “Users have a lot of ‘muscle memory’ built around these versions, so we plan on being especially careful with changes that could disrupt their work,” Microsoft explained in a blog post. “We aren’t ready to bring the simplified ribbon to these versions yet because we feel like we need more feedback from a broader set of users first.”

The second change is that Microsoft is switching to scalable vector graphics for icons. The icons will also get new colors, and the new change will hit Word on the Web first. Desktop Word, Excel, and PowerPoint apps will see the changes later this month, followed by Outlook for Windows next month, and Outlook for Mac in August.

Finally, the third change is a more intelligent search. The new smarter search is already available for Office for the Web and in Outlook mobile, which displays relevant documents, collaborators, and events based on what you’re doing even before you begin typing a search term. The new smart search box is coming to Outlook on the Web in August.

“We plan on carefully monitoring usage and feedback as the changes roll out, and we’ll update our designs as we learn more,” Microsoft said.

Editors’ Recommendations

  • You can download a free sneak peek of Office 2019 right now
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  • New ‘Interests’ feature recommends products you’ll actually want to buy on eBay
  • How to get Microsoft Office for free
  • Bowers & Wilkins will design the sounds of the future in a massive new lab



14
Jun

Porsche Design Huawei Mate RS review



Research Center:

Porsche Design Huawei Mate RS

When Digital Trends visited Porsche Design at its headquarters in Zell Am See, Austria, we got a clear overview of why the new Mate RS phone looks and operates the way it does. It fits in perfectly with the design studio’s philosophy, and its long history of products.

We’ve now been using the phone for a couple of weeks, giving us the chance to establish whether it’s worth the additional cost over the already-expensive Huawei P20 Pro, a phone it shares many features with. Design is one thing; but this is a device we have to live with and use every day, and it needs to do more than simply look good.

Beautiful design

The Porsche Design Huawei Mate RS is beautiful; heart-wrenchingly and pick-me-up-and-caress-me attractive. The proportions are just so right, and it’s something that’s impossible to fully understand until you hold the phone. Porsche Design altered the look of the rear panel compared to the P20 Pro, mounting the camera sensors centrally, in-line with a fingerprint sensor, the PD logo, and the flash unit. Symmetry is essential in a Porsche Design product.

If you like reflective phones, then prepare yourself for an almost completely mirrored surface on the back of the Mate RS. It’s a great illustration of Porsche Design’s deep involvement in the way the phone looks, as it refined the amount of mirror finish down to its exact liking. Yes, it gets covered in fingerprints, and yes it will probably smash if you drop it — but it does turn heads.

Heart-wrenchingly and, pick-me-up-and-caress-me attractive.

It’s very comfortable to hold, without sharp edges, and while it’s reminiscent of the Galaxy S9 Plus in its overall shape, it nestles in the hand more naturally. Every part of the Porsche Design Mate RS’ design is exactly right. There isn’t one wrong step, one aspect that looks out of place, or superfluous flourishes that add nothing to the final product. It’s a wonderful illustration of what designers, unfettered by the constraints of budget or committees, can do with a smartphone.

Here’s a piece of advice: The black version is great, but for maximum visual impact, get the gorgeous red model. It’ll make you swoon.

No notch screen, decent battery life

There’s no notch here, which goes against Porsche Design’s rigid stylistic ethos. It’s arguably all the better for it, because although Huawei will likely tell you the P20 Pro’s screen notch enables a greater screen-to-body ratio, it’s not pretty. The Mate RS’ screen is better looking with a big enough 6-inch screen at 2,880 x 1,440 pixel resolution.

Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

The AMOLED screen excels in almost every way. Whether it’s YouTube videos, photos taken with the camera, or just scrolling through Facebook, it’s stunning. It’s not immediately better to look at than the P20 Pro’s screen for gaming and video, but it does have a higher resolution, so it looks sharper.

The AMOLED screen excels in almost every way.

Interestingly, both the P20 Pro and the Mate RS have 4,000mAh batteries with Huawei’s SuperCharge fast-charging technology. The P20 Pro returns two days of use on a single charge, and is shockingly frugal with its power for a modern, high performance smartphone. The Mate RS can’t match it, strangely, with a day of strong use ending with between 20 and 30 percent of battery life remaining. On one heavy day’s use with GPS and photography, it was ready to die at 8pm.

The difference is confusing, as the phone has the same processor and software. While it may be optimization and the slightly different screen resolution, there may be another reason for the difference, which we’ll look at next. The Mate RS does have wireless charging though, which is missing on the P20 Pro.

Biometric security

Porsche Design likes to ensure that hardware with its name is the best you can get. The Mate RS has special heat-dissipating technology, and is one of the first to come with a massive 512GB of internal storage space. The other cutting-edge feature is the in-display fingerprint sensor; but instead of being a standout, it’s by far the worst thing about the Mate RS.

Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

We’ve used a phone where the technology worked almost perfectly — a Vivo phone — and it’s well-documented that other companies are struggling to make a similar system operate reliably. Most have done the sensible thing and kept it out of phones that actually go on sale. Huawei and Porsche Design didn’t, and fitted one to the Mate RS. What’s the problem? It doesn’t always work. We’ve used two different Mate RS phones and had the same problems each time.

The in-display fingerprint sensor could be forgiven if it worked, but it doesn’t.

It’s very dependant on the way you register, and then touch the screen, as to whether it’s going to work. Many fingerprint sensors like you to move your print around during registration; but the Mate RS doesn’t. Get registration right and it’s way more reliable, but not perfect. And for many people, re-registering fingerprints to get it working will be a frustrating step too far. We set up Face Unlock instead, and that unlocks the phone much faster than the in-display fingerprint sensor.

The two companies know it’s a finicky thing too, because there is a regular fingerprint sensor on the back of the phone, which works all the time, every time. It does feel like “cutting-edge tech” for the sake of it, and we’re pretty sure its existence is not doing the battery life many favors either. These sensors often continually monitor for your finger, pulling much needed power away from the rest of the phone.

Brilliant camera

From the ridiculous to the sublime, the Mate RS has a carbon copy of the Huawei P20 Pro’s tremendous triple-lens camera, and it’s an utter delight. It’s made up of a 40-megapixel RGB lens with an f/1.8 aperture, a 20-megapixel monochrome lens with an f/1.6 aperture, and an 8-megapixel f/2.4 aperture lens — all of which have been built with Leica’s expertise. You can take 5x hybrid zoom images with no detail lost, massive 40-megapixel single shots, slow-mo video at 960fps, and stunning true black and white stills. That’s before you play with the various portrait and bokeh modes, the Pro mode, and the astonishing Night Mode.

We’ve already sung the praises for the P20 Pro’s camera in our review, and in a camera shootout, and the story is the same for the Mate RS. It’s the number one reason to buy the phone, and it opens up creative doors that no other smartphone comes close to providing. It’s not just that we want to take photos with the Mate RS and the P20 Pro — we want to use it over and above any other capable smartphone camera. It’s really that good.

The Mate RS and P20 Pro demonstrate the speed and power of on-device artificial intelligence like no other phone on sale today.

The artificial intelligence features will split opinion. For example, we like the way it automatically enters close-up mode when an object is close to the lens, and the scene recognition is very effective. We also like the horizon meter that appears to keep everything straight in the photo. But some won’t like the changes to the photos when the camera switches scenes. Greenery and Blue Sky can over emphasize colors, and the end result won’t be to everyone’s liking. The good news is you can turn off the alterations for each photo, or permanently, if you prefer.

Regardless of whether you like the image settings, the Mate RS and P20 Pro demonstrate the speed and power of on-device artificial intelligence like no other phone on sale today.

Software and performance

The Mate RS runs Android Oreo 8.1 with version 8.1 of Huawei’s EMUI interface over the top. On our review model, the March 2018 Android security update was installed. This makes it identical to the P20 Pro, aside from some Porsche-themed wallpapers, fonts, and a ringtone. It is powered by a Kirin 970 processor with 6GB of RAM, which is again the same as the P20 Pro. The difference comes in the internal storage, with Mate RS buyers choosing between 256GB or 512GB, rather than the 128GB available inside the P20 Pro.

We noticed no difference in everyday performance between the two phones, and the Mate RS was stable, reliable, and speedy. It ran all the apps we wanted, at the time we wanted them. It’s also worth pointing out that inside the Mate RS is a modem capable of connecting to international 4G LTE networks, and it worked without a problem on the AT&T network in the U.S.

Let’s check the benchmarks:

  • Geekbench 4 CPU: 1,918 single-core; 6,822 multi-core
  • AnTuTu 3DBench: 208,275
  • 3DMark Sling Shot Extreme: 3,332 (Vulkan)

These are near identical to the scores from the P20 Pro, which isn’t a huge surprise. On paper, it can’t match the Galaxy S9 Plus, but it trounces the Pixel 2 XL. Benchmark scores aren’t the end-all and be-all of performance, though. Under normal conditions, and even heavy use, the Mate RS performed without any problems.

Price, warranty, and availability

How much do you like and respect Porsche Design? If it’s anything less than a lot, you’ll not be impressed by the price of the Mate RS. The 256GB version is on sale through the Porsche Design online store for 1,550 euros, or around $1,825 at the conversion rate as of publication. It’s not for sale officially in the U.S.

In the U.K., the Mate RS can also be purchased without a contract through high street retailer Carphone Warehouse, where the 256GB model costs 1,500 British pounds, or just over $2,000.

For comparison, the Huawei P20 Pro can also be purchased from Carphone Warehouse for 800 British pounds, or about $1,070. That’s quite a difference for a phone that’s very similar outside of design, especially as the P20 Pro has the same camera — which is the primary selling point on both phones.

Porsche Design Huawei Mate RS Compared To

Moto Z3 Play

Alcatel 3V

Moto E5 Plus

Sony Xperia XA2 Ultra

Nokia 7 Plus

Google Pixel 2 XL

Maze Alpha 4G

ZTE Blade Z Max

ZTE Max XL

Meizu M3 Max

ZTE ZMax Pro

Blu Pure XL

Huawei Mate 8

ZTE Grand X Max+

LG G Flex

Our Take

You can get everything the Porsche Design Huawei Mate RS does best on a phone that costs half as much — the Huawei P20 Pro — and its a massive struggle to find a compelling reason to splash out the extra.

What are the alternatives?

The prime alternative to the Porsche Design Huawei Mate RS is the Huawei P20 Pro, which has the same triple-lens camera and AI features, plus a longer-lasting battery, an equally eye-catching color scheme, and the same degree of performance. For half the price. Unless money is no object, you’d be mad to buy the Mate RS over the P20 Pro.

Porsche Design’s involvement ensures the Mate RS has few parallels if we’re comparing like-for-like, in that few big-name design houses with strong reputations and a serious philosophy get involved to the degree PD has with Huawei. The Mate RS is almost unique in that respect, and its high price ensures it will remain very exclusive in the smartphone world, which some may consider a good reason to buy one.

However, ignoring its heritage and comparing the Mate RS’ performance and ability with the rest of the smartphone market, more choices open up. The Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus has a great camera and plenty of power, with a very attractive screen and design. The Pixel 2 XL is always a strong choice with its stock Android operating system and a great camera, as is the iPhone X. The OnePlus 6 offers great value for money and a decent if unremarkable camera, but if you’re looking seriously at the Mate RS, it may not provide the desired level of exclusivity.

How long will it last?

We’d expect the phone to last for more than two years, and Huawei’s software algorithms promise to keep it smooth and speedy for a good amount of time too. But there’s no water resistance or a rugged body, so it’s quite fragile. Inside the box is a folio style case which we’d definitely recommend using if you want to keep the phone looking its best.

Huawei does deliver software updates, but not on quite the regular basis we’d like. Both the Mate RS and the P20 Pro may or may not receive speedy updates to Android P, and the phone is already behind on monthly Android security updates.

Should you buy one?

No. Buy the Huawei P20 Pro instead and use the remaining money to pay for a weekend away somewhere photogenic, and put the fantastic camera to the test. You won’t regret it.

14
Jun

Twitter’s Happening Now, Explore are about to get more personal


Twitter

Twitter is digging the tweets you care about most out of the timeline and making them easier to find. On Wednesday, June 13, the company announced an overhaul to several areas of Twitter focused on delivering more relevant, personalized tweets and live video on news and events. In a set of changes to Happening Now, Explore, Moments, and the search tool, Twitter is aiming to deliver more custom content, some rolling out now and others over the next few months.

The changes are designed to highlight Twitter’s focus on real-time conversation and continue a focus on news that has already brought several changes to the platform. The changes are designed to help you find relevant content, even without knowing the best accounts to follow for tweets on that topic, Twitter says. The overhaul makes big events and breaking news easier to find while customizing sections of Twitter based on the topics you follow and what you tweet about.

Twitter’s Happening Now section will soon be driven by both breaking and personalized news, expanding beyond the original sports beat the tool was first designed for. The feature continues the placement at top of the timeline but expands to include personalized news and breaking news, including tweets and video. A similar test was spotted earlier this year. The focus on personalized news will expand to Happening Now over the next few months for users based in the U.S.

Happening Now won’t be the only place Twitterverse finds custom curated news and events — Twitter will soon start sending out notifications for the biggest news events as they happen. Twitter already sends notifications on breaking news, but the network is now testing out notifications that, like the news in the Happening Now, are based on factors like who you follow and what you tweet about. Another update with a timeline measured in “months,” users will be able to turn the news notifications off inside the settings.

While the Happening Now and notifications will work to deliver content based on user interests, the updated Explore section is designed for users that seek out that information on their own. Currently organized by the type of content like tweets and video, new tabs that divide the section by topics is slated for arrival over the next few months.

Twitter

The first part of the overhaul to launch to users is an updated search, which started rolling out today. The Search tool now has a new bar at the top that displays related news and events. Each one contains both a recap as well as a section with the latest tweets and scores for sports.

Twitter is also rolling out a new look for Moments, the network’s collections to put related tweets and videos all in one place. Moments is switching from a horizontal swipe navigation to a vertical scroll, switching from the Stories-like format to a more traditional Twitter feel after tests of the feature increased the number of users coming back to the tool.

In the U.S., Moments will also allow users to choose whether to see a reverse chronological list or the top tweets. New tabs will organize the section into recaps, the latest, and top comments. Live video will also be included inside Moments when available. The update has already rolled out for sports but is beginning to roll out to news and events. The slow rollout means some users will continue to see the horizontal swipe design in some Moments and not others.

Some changes are already headed out to users, while others are a slower trickle that will pop up over the next few months.

Editors’ Recommendations

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  • Facebook is messing with your memories as On This Day gets refreshed
  • Twitter’s updated privacy policy sheds light on just what happens to your data
  • From video chat to AR filters, Instagram builds long list of new tools
  • Social Feed: Fake tweets, more Facebook Stories, and required hashtags



14
Jun

10 travel gear to make the most of your summer jaunts


With the school year coming to an end and summer ramping up, you and millions of others are probably gearing up for travel. While you’re supposed to disconnect on vacations, we know geeks can’t leave the tech at home. Whether you’re traveling by air, train, bus, or car, here are a few of our must-pack gadgets to bring along.

Sony Cyber-shot RX10 IV camera ($1,700)

There is a perception that all-in-one cameras are no match for interchangeable lens cameras. That might be true of smartphones and compact point-and-shoots, but the RX10 IV isn’t your ordinary all-in-one. Sony took the best of qualities of high-end cameras — fast performance, high-quality photos, adjustable settings galore, 4K video, exceptional lens — and put them inside a small DSLR-like body that provides a nice grip. It’s ideal for travelers who want to shoot all sorts of great=looking photos and videos — from wide landscapes to close-ups of birds or nighttime skies — but don’t want to deal with swapping lenses. Although the RX10 IV uses a smaller sensor than most DSLR or mirrorless cameras, the 1-inch, 20.1-megapixel “stacked” sensor is one of Sony’s best. It’s coupled with the latest Bionz X image processor. If the RX10 IV is too big for your liking, consider the compact Sony RX100 VI, which goes on sale in July 2018.

Buy it now from:

Amazon B&H

Casper Nap Pillow ($35)

Wish you could sleep on a real pillow instead of those uncomfortable blow-up things? Then bring along Casper’s Nap Pillow on your next road trip or long-haul flight. Made with a 280-thread-count cotton exterior and fine, breathable microfiber interior — a similar construction to Casper’s standard pillows — the Nap Pillow is compact enough to squeeze into a bag, yet large enough to provide good sleep support for your head, or cushioning between a laptop and your lap. It even comes with a pillowcase and carrying bag.

Buy it now from:

Casper

Kobo Aura One eReader ($230)

Summer vacations are the best times to finally catch up on those tomes you’ve been meaning to read, and the best way to do that is to load all your books into an ebook reader. The Kobo Aura One remains our favorite. It’s waterproof, so you can take it to the beach, by the pool, or even in a bathtub. This Digital Trends Editors’ Choice product has a large, crisp screen and long battery life, giving us one of the most pleasurable reading experiences we’ve had from an ebook reader. And unlike Amazon’s Kindle (which we also love), the Aura One supports a wide variety of ebook formats, giving you more options in terms of where you purchase ebooks. Read our full review.

Buy it now from:

Rakuten Kobo

Ultimate Ears Roll 2 Bluetooth speaker ($100)

The Ultimate Ears Roll 2 has a lot going for it. We like its compact size for easy packing, yet it can still pump out very good sound quality. As the photo above suggests, the Roll 2 is also waterproof — it can be submerged into 3 feet of water for 30 minutes — and is made with durable material. Best yet, it’s one of the more affordable portable Bluetooth speakers you can buy that also sounds good. For more Bluetooth speakers, check out our other favorites.

Buy it now from:

Best Buy

Sony WH-1000xM2 wireless noise-canceling headphones ($350)

Airplane cabin noise is not only distracting when you’re trying to watch a movie, listen to tunes, or catch some sleep, but researchers found it can also affect your appetite. Noise-canceling headphones can help counter the effects of engine noise, making the flight more pleasant. The Sony WH-1000xM2 is a terrific — it’s a Digital Trends Editors’ Choice — noise-canceling pair of headphones that are comfortable to wear (great for long-haul flights), easy to stash, and deliver clear sound. It has a long battery life to keep those beautiful-sounding tunes going, and the superb noise canceling can be turned off when not needed. While the WH-1000xM2 is our current top choice, we have other favorites too; check out our full list of the best noise-canceling headphones. Read our full review.

Buy them now from:

Amazon Best Buy B&H

Outdoor Tech Buckshot Pro portable multifunction device ($80)

When you’re hiking or on a bike ride, you don’t want cumbersome tech to slow you down. The Buckshot Pro is a multitasking device that’s a flashlight, portable Bluetooth speaker, and backup battery that lets you recharge your smartphone or GoPro camera. The unit is very rugged (shock and water resistant), and comes with a mount for attaching it to your bike’s handlebar. In case of an emergency, the flashlight can function as a distress call signal. Read more here.

Buy it now from:

Amazon REI Backcountry

Bestek Travel Converter ($40)

Going abroad? You’ll most likely need an adapter — but not just any adapter. This one from Bestek also handles voltage conversion, which helps ensure you don’t fry any electronics you plug into a foreign outlet. What we also like are the three standard outlets and four USB ports for charging mobile devices and cameras. This helps you cut down on the number of power adapters you need to bring along, and make more room in your bag for souvenirs.

Buy it now from:

Amazon

GoPro Hero (2018 model, $200)

GoPro’s new entry-level Hero is an affordable way to record your vacation moments. It’s easy to use, thanks to the touchscreen, and it can record up to Full HD 1080 at 60p at 16:9 ratio. It also inherits the waterproof body design shared with the higher-end Hero5 and Hero6. For travel, the camera is compact and easy to carry, but we think a great feature is Quik Stories. Using the GoPro and Quik apps on your smartphone, you can quickly create short movies from the clips you shoot — the process is largely automated, so all you need to do is fine-tune the edits afterward. This way, your vacation footage can be shared, rather than stay stuck in the camera. If you need 4K and other advanced functions, splurge for the Hero5 or Hero6. Read more here.

Buy it now from:

Amazon B&H Best Buy GoPro

Kenu Airvue car headrest tablet mount ($50)

Got restless kids in the back seat, constantly asking, “are we there yet?” Keep them entertained by mounting a tablet to the back of a car headrest with the Airvue. This accessory can accommodate tablets as large as an iPad Pro, and it’s easy to install and remove. The Airvue has a pivoting mechanism for positioning a table in either landscape or portrait mode. You can find similar and cheaper mounts, but we prefer Kenu for the quality.

Buy it now from:

Amazon

Quip electric toothbrush ($35-50)

We hate packing our bulky electric toothbrush and charging cradle when we travel, which is why the Quip is so attractive. The thin design takes up little room in a carry-on, backpack, or purse, and it comes with a cover that doubles as a stand. It’s approved by the American Dental Association, and since it runs on a AAA battery, you don’t need to look for an outlet to recharge it, making it handy when traveling internationally.

Buy it now from:

Quip

Editors’ Recommendations

  • More people are flying than ever, and here’s how the TSA is dealing with surges at airports
  • The new Kobo Clara HD is a worthy (and affordable) Kindle competitor
  • Kobo Clara HD review
  • Less is more: How to pack your gadgets for travel, quickly and easily
  • Don’t sweat a thing with the 8 best cooling pillows for hot-blooded sleepers



14
Jun

These games were revealed at E3 2018, and you can play them right now


Now that all the pre-show E3 2018 press events are out of the way, what games revealed by Microsoft, Electronic Arts, Sony, and the other big players can you play right now? Glad you asked. We threw together a list of games spanning all four platforms, including a few surprises you may have missed outside the individual press events. 

‘Fallout Shelter’ (Switch, PS4) 

First launched in June 2015, Bethesda’s free-to-play Vault building simulator is now available on the Nintendo Switch and PlayStation 4. Your task: Create the perfect Vault buried 2,000 feet under the surface and oversee a thriving community of Dwellers. Give them jobs or send them out to explore the ruined wasteland: It’s your call, boss. You can even earn “lunchboxes” that contain rewards such as items or resources, or simply purchase lunchboxes with real cash within the game.  Ka-ching!

‘For Honor Starter Edition’ (PC) 

Ubisoft is offering the Starter Edition of For Honor free of charge on Uplay until June 18, 2018. And if you grab the Starter Edition now, it’s yours to keep forever and ever. This version fully unlocks three vanguard heroes (Kensei, Raider, and Warden) and makes three additional heroes playable (but not customizable), depending on your chosen faction. To unlock all heroes, you’re required to spend 8,000 steel, For Honor‘s in-game currency, on each. 

‘Fortnite’ (Switch) 

Epic Games’ crazy third-person shooter Fortnite arrives on the Nintendo Switch for free. This is the Battle Royale edition where you drop into a 50-vs.-50 multiplayer battle until the last team or player is standing. There’s currently no means for purchasing the “save the world” campaign and player-vs-environment mode, but you can spend your hard-earned cash on outfits, harvesting tools, emotes, and the Wingman Starter Pack. You can purchase in-game content using V-Bucks you buy with real money. 

‘Hollow Knight’ (Switch) 

First released for Windows 10 and MacOS, Hollow Knight is now available on the Nintendo Switch. It’s a side-scrolling action-adventure platformer set in the fictional world of Hollownest. The player assumes the role of a silent, insect-like knight as he explores the world, taking you through ruined cities, overgrown fields, twisting caverns, and more. The unnamed knight is on a quest to discover the dark secrets of an ancient ruined kingdom laying deep below Dirtmouth. 

‘LawBreakers’ (PC) 

If you wanted to see what this arena-style first-person shooter is all about, now is the time to catch a glimpse of LawBreakers. Developed by Cliff Bleszinski’s Boss Key Productions studio, the game arrived in August 2017 for Windows 10 and the PlayStation 4, seemingly in hopes of recapturing the brutal fun of the Unreal Tournament series — but with a twist. Yet the game didn’t sell and the studio closed its doors, pinning a death sentence on LawBreakers that will be carried out September 14, 2018. That said, you can play the game for free now until the servers are shut down forever. 

‘Overwhelm’ (PC) 

Available now on Steam, this 2D side-scrolling platformer has a blood-soaked horror theme where most of the colors you’ll see are red and purple. The “overwhelm” aspect stems from your inability to receive power-ups while your enemies receive power-ups from the game’s five unique bosses. The game has you exploring dark “oppressive” caverns using a limited map while fighting off enemies that can appear at any time. If you get hit, your character is dead. Three deaths mean game over, man, game over. 

‘Prey: Mooncrash’ (PC, Xbox One, PS4) 

Serving as the first DLC for Prey, Mooncrash is now available and sends players to the secret TranStar moonbase. Transmissions from this base ceased shortly after the events in Prey and players take the role of Peter, a hacker stationed aboard a spy satellite that kept tabs on communications with the base. He’s forced to discover what’s going on at TranStar and uncover its “lost secrets.” Meanwhile, the base Prey game received a free update as well, adding a Story Mode, a New Game+ mode, and a Survival mode. 

‘Quake Champions’ (PC) 

Bethesda’s arena-style multiplayer shooter, which serves as the successor to 1999’s Quake III Arena, launched as a closed beta on the PC in 2017. Those who jumped on the Early Access bandwagon can play for free with the Ranger character and unlock additional playable characters using real-world cash. You can also purchase the Champion Pack to unlock all current and future characters, custom match-making, and more. The upcoming free-to-play model will be similar to the Early Access version, only you won’t need to be on a waiting list or use a special access code. Bethesda is now serving a preview of the free-to-play now until June 17. After that, you can continue to play even after the preview period ends. 

‘Splatoon 2: Octo Expansion’ (Switch) 

Nintendo surprised Switch owners with the early launch of the Octo Expansion DLC for Splatoon 2. Originally slated for the end of July, the expansion pack provides a new single-player campaign packing 80 missions starring Agent 8. You take the role of an Octoling who’s lost her memory and are joined by Pearl, Marina, and Cap’n Cuttlefish. At the end of the campaign, you’ll unlock the Octolings as playable characters in Splatoon 2‘s multiplayer component.  

‘Unravel Two’ (PC, XB1, PS4) 

The sequel to Electronic Arts’ side-scrolling platformer, Unravel Two builds on the original by supporting two players, although you can play solo and control both yarn-based characters. The game provides puzzles designed for two Yarnys, requiring you to distract a hungry, towering bird with one Yarny while solving the current puzzle with the other. According to EA, fresh challenges and areas to explore open as you journey through Unravel Two‘s visually-rich world.  

Xbox Game Pass 

With the announcement of Tom Clancy’s The Division 2 and Fallout 76, these three games are now available via Microsoft’s subscription plan. They are also on sale for a limited time. 

  • Tom Clancy’s The Division ($15) 
  • The Elder Scrolls Online: Tamriel Unlimited ($10) 
  • Fallout 4 ($24)

PlayStation Plus 

On the PlayStation front, Activision introduced Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 during E3 2018. To celebrate, Sony added Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 to its PlayStation Plus subscription as a free game for the month. If you pre-order Black Ops 4, you’ll also get a “Back in Black” pack of remade “classic” maps that you can play on Black Ops 3. Called Firing Range, Jungle, Slums, and Summit, these four maps will be offered in Black Ops 4 as well. 

Editors’ Recommendations

  • From ‘Anthem’ to ‘Smash Bros. on Switch,’ here are the games coming to E3 2018
  • Here’s everything Sony revealed at its E3 2018 press conference
  • The best Android games currently available (May 2018)
  • What to expect from Microsoft’s E3 2018 press conference
  • ‘Radical Heights’ is a battle royale game from the makers of ‘LawBreakers’



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