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10
Sep

Sphero Debuts Education-Focused ‘Bolt’ Robotic Ball With Programmable LED Matrix


Sphero today announced the “Bolt” robotic ball, which is aimed at teaching kids basic programming with its advanced sensors, LED matrix, and infrared communication that lets it interact with other Bolt devices (via Gizmodo).

The Bolt is the same size as previous Sphero balls, but has an increased runtime of two full hours thanks to a bigger battery. The device connects to the Sphero Edu app, allowing users to discover community-created activities, build their own program, analyze sensor data, and more.

One of the device’s biggest updates is an 8×8 LED matrix that can be seen through the Bolt’s translucent shell. This matrix displays helpful prompts like a lightning bolt when Bolt is charging on its inductive cradle, but users can fully program the matrix to display a wide variety of icons connected to certain actions, like a smiley face when a program is completed.

Infrared sensors allow the Bolt to detect other nearby Bolts, and users can program specific interactions if they have multiple devices. According to Sphero, this means that the Bolts can join up and create a swarm of robotic balls, or avoid one another. Gizmodo gives an example: “So imagine a real-life version of Pac-Man where you’re controlling one Bolt and escape other Bolts programmed as ghosts perpetually giving chase.”


The connected Sphero Edu app includes the ability for users to learn to code by drawing on an iOS device’s screen, using Scratch blocks, or writing JavaScript text programs. Written programs can affect the Bolt’s speed, acceleration, and direction. If users simply want to play with Bolt, the robot can also connect to the Sphero Play app.

The Sphero Bolt is available to purchase today for $149.99 on the company’s website.

Tag: Sphero
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10
Sep

Apple Pushing Updates to Resolve Apple Watch App Signing Issue


Apple today alerted some developers about a temporary signing issue that prevents their apps from being installed on the Apple Watch.

The full text of Apple’s email, obtained from a MacRumors reader:

We’ve discovered that there was a temporary issue with the App Store signature of your binaries that affects the ability of your app to install on Apple Watch. As a result, we’re pushing an update with the proper signing to customers’ devices.

It’s unclear what went wrong, but Apple is pushing server-side updates with the proper signing to the devices of affected customers.

Related Roundups: Apple Watch, watchOS 4, watchOS 5Buyer’s Guide: Apple Watch (Caution)
Discuss this article in our forums

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10
Sep

Never say never! Does new ‘Halo 5’ box art hint at PC release?


The majority of first-party games released on Xbox One this generation have been console exclusives, meaning they also arrive to PC. Only a handful of Xbox One games are true exclusives, but 343 Industries’ ambitious Halo 5: Guardians is one of them. That could change soon, however, if the game’s new box art is any indication.

Head to Amazon right now, and you’ll notice that the Halo 5: Guardians cover has been tweaked. It still includes the same image of Spartan Locke and Master Chief, but instead of saying “Only on Xbox One” at the top, it now says “Xbox One Console Exclusive.”

Twitter user AllGamesDelta pointed out the change over the weekend, noting how Xbox One games that also released on PC, such as Quantum Break, have sported this banner.

New Halo 5 boxart hints at incoming PC release https://t.co/W0XQGKxWVr pic.twitter.com/98fbidOaRs

— AllGamesDelta (@AllGamesDelta_) September 9, 2018

The box art also specifies that the game supports 4K resolution on Xbox One X, added in an update when the console launched last year. Halo: The Master Chief Collection has also received considerable updates — including a major one earlier this year — but it doesn’t appear to have had its box changed like Halo 5.

A few months ago, an error on the Microsoft website made it appear that Halo 5 was coming to PC, with 343 Industries’ Frank O’Connor saying it wasn’t actively being worked on. The box art situation could be similar, but with Microsoft planning to release the upcoming Halo: Infinite on PC in addition to Xbox One, we wouldn’t be surprised if its predecessor finally makes the jump, as well. A limited version of the game’s Forge mode is available on PC, and it actually does let users play around with the combat.

If Halo 5 were to come to PC, it would only leave a tiny number of games as true Xbox One exclusives. These include the excellent Sunset Overdrive, as well as the racing game Forza Motorsport 5 and the compilation Rare Replay. All current Microsoft-published games have released as part of “Xbox Play Anywhere,” giving users the opportunity to play on either system with just one purchase, as well as transfer their save data back and forth and compete with users on the other platform. It has helped to keep communities alive in games like Sea of Thieves, where players can team up and form parties even if they are not all on the same system.

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10
Sep

Treat your home to Sengled’s starter kits and smart bulbs for less today


Alexa, make the lights rainbow colored.

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Right now you can save big on a selection of Sengled Smart Lighting at Amazon as part of its daily deals. If you’ve been considering making the switch to smarter lights, today’s the day to begin. The 2-bulb white starter kit is down to just $27.99 from a regular price of $40, or you can opt for the color version of the kit for $59.99, which is $20 off. Both of these come with the bulbs, and the required hub to control them.

If you have recessed lighting in your home, the BR30 version of the 2-bulb kit is $34.99 with two bulbs or $48.99 with four bulbs, which is $10 and $21 off respectively. The single color bulbs are down to $22.49, which is one of the best prices we’ve seen, and the 4-pack of white bulbs is $29.24 or the 8-pack of white LED bulbs is down to $53.89 so you can affordably outfit most of your home.

These bulbs can all be controlled using a free app on your phone or using just your voice through one of Amazon’s Alexa-enabled devices, like the Echo Dot. Need both an Echo and some smart bulbs? This 2nd-gen Echo Bundle come with a two-bulb starter kit for the same price you’d normally buy just the Echo. At $100, it’s hard to beat that deal. Keep in mind these prices are good for today only, so be sure to get your orders in now, before the discounts fade away.

See at Amazon

10
Sep

How’s your Galaxy Watch battery life been?


Turns out the Galaxy Watch is (mostly) a battery champ.

Samsung’s Galaxy Watch is one of the latest smartwatches on the market, and while it’s not drastically different compared to the Gear S3 or Gear Sport, it’s still one of the best wearables you can buy right now.

samsung-galaxy-watch-42mm-charger-chargi

One of the Galaxy Watch’s biggest claims to fame is its multi-day battery life on a single charge, and now that shipments are starting to go out, early adopters are starting to chime in with how the gadget’s been holding up in these regards.

Here’s what they have to say.

avatar375644_1.gifJax112
09-04-2018 03:50 PM

Had mine for a week now. really used to military style watches with big thick bands. however the functionality of this watch makes up for it. you’re not going to get 4 days or maybe I just use the watch too much I averaged about two and a half 3 days. does anyone know where you can get wider bands for this understand the attachment point is 22 mm

Reply

avatar3056334_3.gifguitar_65riff
09-09-2018 01:35 PM

Well finally got my Rose Gold 42mm yesterday and love it. So light on my wrist I just can’t feel it. So it really is comfortable!
Battery life is excellent despite my family group WhatsApp chat buzzing on the watch every few minutes. Kept the original watch face as it looks so nice.
Does everything I want it to and the improved speakers sound very good. Even music isn’t too awful through them …

Reply

avatar2505853_1.gifJREwing
09-04-2018 06:39 AM

Wife got the 42″ Rose Gold LTE through TMobile. Had it for two days and sent it back. Battery life was horrible. The non-LTE version would be the one to get. The Rose Gold is a work of art. It is absolutely beautiful.

Reply

avatar2922173_1.gifRandomGuy Yo
09-04-2018 09:18 AM

Got a 46mm on Sunday at TMobile. Wow, I’ve had an Apple watch before but this thing makes the Apple watch seem like a POS. I love this thing, haven’t charged it since Sunday, I’ve been sleep tracking and testing the auto workout function. Really enjoying it so far

Reply

What about you? How’s your Galaxy Watch battery life?

Join the conversation in the forums!

10
Sep

UK Daily Deals: Fire HD 8 tablet, Nintendo Labo, and more


Whether you’re looking for new tech gear or household items, we’ve got you covered.

We found plenty of great deals today that include big discounts on Amazon’s new Fire 8 HD tablet, Nintendo Labo kits, SanDisk microSD cards, and more!

View the rest of the deals

Each day, the Thrifter UK team scouts out and shares amazing deals on products you know and love, helping you find the best prices on the ‘net.

For more UK deals coverage, be sure to keep an eye on Thrifter UK and follow the team on Twitter for the most up-to-the-minute coverage.

10
Sep

Samsung Galaxy Watch review: The do-it-all smartwatch for Android owners


A great all-around smartwatch anyone will love wearing.

Samsung has put together a string of great smartwatches and fitness wearables over the last three years, leveraging the same basic principles and Samsung-specific synergies. From the launch of the Gear S2, Samsung’s smartwatches have consistently provided more features, better fitness tracking, longer battery life, and arguably better styling than their Android Wear or Wear OS counterparts.

The new Galaxy Watch continues the trend.

Samsung Galaxy Watch



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Price: $329+

Bottom line: The Galaxy Watch can be a great smartwatch for you no matter your needs. It can handle fitness and health tracking, but also daily wear with lots of useful tools and good notification support. Battery life is a concern if you use an always-on watch face, but that’s the only mark against an otherwise excellent all-around smartwatch.

See at Amazon

Pros:

  • Excellent display, even in sunlight
  • Rotating bezel is lovely
  • Health and fitness tracking are good
  • Software is helpful and polished
  • Hardware is robust and resistant

Cons:

  • Always-on watch face kills the battery
  • Charges too slowly
  • Masculine design narrows appeal
  • Third-party apps are generally horrible

The Galaxy Watch doesn’t provide particularly bold or unique styling, and in fact it isn’t all that changed from the last two Gear smartwatches. The multi-step design with mixes of finishes and materials is reminiscent of the Gear S3 Frontier, but now comes in two sizes — 46mm, like the S3, but also 42mm similar to the Gear Sport.

Samsung Galaxy Watch vs. Samsung Gear Sport

But the Galaxy Watch is tidy, efficient and well built — albeit slightly masculine in terms of color and finishes. The silver and black models really skew to the male spectrum, and the rose gold option, only available in the 42mm size, is simply a difference in color, not a design change that would open this up to a more diverse audience. Most people are going to gravitate toward the 42mm just because of its size, and it’s the one I recommend purely based on its comfort on a wider range of wrists.

In exchange for not having the diversity of design options as the Wear OS world, you get a fantastic experience elsewhere in the hardware. Samsung’s circular OLED screens are beautiful and bright enough to use outdoors, including pseudo-auto brightness that will crank to max brightness in direct sunlight and dim down considerably at night. Wrapped around the screen is the now-standard rotating bezel, which I continue to sing the praises of as the best possible interaction method for a smartwatch.

Samsung didn’t update the hardware much, because it really didn’t need to.

The hardware really works because Samsung’s own Tizen Wearable OS is tailor-made for it. The watch faces, notifications, widgets and apps all make great use of the circular space, and it’s intuitive to act on everything by rotating the bezel, tapping on the screen or pressing the back or home buttons. I also never came across hiccups or stutters, either, which is a testament to Samsung’s own-made processor that’s optimized for the watch.

Tizen is also just packed with features, which can be a tad overwhelming but if tamed can be extremely useful. By configuring the dozen-plus widgets available out of the box, you can make the Galaxy Watch exactly the kind of device you need. You can focus on health tracking, or communication, or keeping up with everything throughout the day. Same goes for the watch faces, where you can choose a mechanical-style face (with a simulated ticking second hand to boot) or a full digital layout with tons of information.

Tizen is still far ahead of Wear OS in terms of features and customizability.

And no matter what, notifications are always available to the left of the watch face, controlled from your smartphone on a per-app basis. They work about as well as you can expect on a small screen, giving you a chance to ignore unimportant notifications, archive emails and quickly read messages — and you can even reply to important messages with canned responses, voice dictation or a T9-style keyboard.

The new Wear OS interface that just launched is a big improvement for that platform, but if you have any desire to customize or get more done on your smartwatch, Samsung’s Tizen is far ahead of it.

The big software differentiator for Samsung is health and fitness tracking — which is still well ahead of Google’s effort, despite the recent overhaul of Google Fit. It’s not that Google Fit is bad, but that Samsung Health has just been around for so long and has things figured out. The Galaxy Watch accurately tracks daily activity like steps and floors, and can help log your food, water and caffeine intake. But it can also provide automatic (or manual) tracking and guidance for dozens of different workouts — and it also integrates with popular fitness apps like MapMyRun and Strava, among others, for data portability.

Samsung Health on the Galaxy Watch is good enough for anyone who wants to keep up with a healthy lifestyle.

The combination of a Galaxy Watch and Samsung Health is good enough for most people who want to lead a healthy lifestyle, and what it offers is easily above what I needed. I liked tracking my step goals and it worked just fine for runs both outside and on a treadmill. But I’d caution from thinking that it could challenge dedicated fitness watches from the likes of Garmin if you really need accurate tracking for your training. In my conversations with more serious runners and bicyclists, the accuracy of the tracking — particularly with GPS and pace information — still isn’t up to speed with dedicated fitness wearables.

None of the advanced features of a smartwatch are worth much if your battery dies, which is why Samsung keeps putting so much emphasis on multi-day battery life with the Galaxy Watch. With my 42mm model, which has just a 270mAh battery, I could make it through the quoted three full days without charging — that is, when I left all of the settings on their defaults. That means the screen turned off after just 30 seconds, auto-GPS for workouts was not turned on, and the only actively-working fitness feature was heart rate monitoring on a 10-minute interval.

But once I turned on the always-on watch face, which is honestly the only way I want to wear a smartwatch because it looks so good, I could only make it about 30 hours before having to drop the Galaxy Watch on its charger. That’s simply good, not great, especially considering Samsung is positioning the Galaxy Watch as being able to be worn all day and all night, with automatic sleep tracking built in. And If you also exercise outside using GPS on a regular basis, that 30-hour figure may not even be achievable.

Battery life is good — unless you want to have a great-looking always-on watch face.

And because the Galaxy Watch takes an excruciatingly slow two and a half hours to recharge fully, it isn’t really a viable option to simply bump-charge it 10 or 15 minutes each morning — it just won’t add enough if you’re planning to use an always-on watch face. If you want to keep that watch face on at all times and preserve the proper mechanical watch look, you’ll have to dedicate an hour-plus charge every couple days in addition to opportunistic charging here and there.

Or, you could always buy the larger 46mm version (for just $20 more), which is roughly the size of a flattened meatball but comes with a larger 1.3-inch display and 75% more battery capacity. That’s enough extra capacity to get another day out of the watch before charging, though it’s also so big I’d be surprised if you wanted to wear it to bed anyway, making overnight charging an easy battery management routine.

The Galaxy Watch is a wonderful overall smartwatch for anyone with an Android phone.

Samsung didn’t do a ton to improve the Galaxy Watch over its predecessors, but that’s mostly because those watches were already great. The Galaxy Watch continues to offer excellent hardware, a beautiful display and software that’s uniquely tailored to the form factor and glorious rotating bezel. Its software is more advanced than Wear OS, and can be configured to offer just as much — or as little — as you need it for. It can be a daily fitness watch, or just a general smartwatch that provides notifications and useful information throughout your day — or both. For $50 you can jump up to an LTE-connected model to get even more done.

4
out of 5


Unless you have some specific draw to Wear OS because of its simplicity, or need the pro-level fitness tracking offered by dedicated fitness wearables, the Galaxy Watch is a wonderful overall smartwatch for Android owners. The only question, then, is which size you want. The 42mm model is the one to get for most people purely based on its case size being usable on more wrist sizes. But it makes a trade-off of having just average battery life — particularly if you want to use an always-on watch face. The $329 price is fitting for everything the Galaxy Watch considering everything it can do, and how good it looks while doing it.

See at Amazon

10
Sep

OnePlus confirms in-display fingerprint sensor for the OnePlus 6T


OnePlus is going to end 2018 with a bang.

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Ever since it was released this past May, the OnePlus 6 has been one of the absolute best values in smartphones we’ve seen in 2018. The phone’s only gotten better thanks to striking new colors and fast software updates, and right around the corner is its incremental successor — the OnePlus 6T.

The 6T likely won’t shake up the OnePlus 6’s formula too much, but even so, it’s already shaping up to be one of the year’s most interesting smartphones.

Without further ado, here’s everything we know about the OnePlus 6T!

The latest OnePlus 6T news

September 10, 2018 — OnePlus confirms in-display fingerprint sensor for OnePlus 6T

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Less than a week since the OnePlus 6T retail box leaked, OnePlus has confirmed to CNET that one of the main features shown there — specifically the in-display fingerprint sensor — will be present on the phone at launch.

In an email sent to the publication, OnePlus said:

We unlock our phones multiple times a day, and Screen Unlock reduces the number of steps to complete the action. By adding this feature as an addition to other display unlocking options such as Face Unlock, users will have options to unlock the display in a way that is most efficient for them.

OnePlus also shared a screenshot of the 6T’s lock screen, and as you can see, an icon near the bottom of the display will show users where to put their finger to unlock the phone. Similar to devices like the Vivo X20 Plus UD and Vivo Nex, the 6T uses an optical scanner under its screen that views your print, matches it with one that’s been set up, and unlocks your phone.

In-display sensors have typically been slower than traditional ones on the front or back of a device, and if that’s the case with the 6T, at least we’ll also have Face Unlock as an unlocking option, too.

September 4, 2018 — Retail box reveals an in-display fingerprint sensor and “waterdrop” notch

Our first big OnePlus 6T leak has finally arrived!

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A retail box for the phone recently appeared in a few photos online, and while the phone itself isn’t anywhere to be seen, the packaging actually confirms a couple key details about it.

Thanks to an outline of the 6T inside the box, we can see that it adopts a very similar design compared to the Oppo R17 that was announced in mid-August. As such, we’ve got a phone with very slim bezels, a tiny chin at the bottom, and a waterdrop style notch at the top.

This outline also shows a fingerprint near the bottom center of the display — suggesting that the 6T will be the first OnePlus phone to adopt an in-display fingerprint sensor.

August 17, 2018 — OnePlus 6T to launch on T-Mobile in the U.S. in October

A new report from CNET surfaced today, and if you’ve been waiting for more juicy details on the OnePlus 6T, there’s plenty for you here.

OnePlus phones in the U.S. have always been sold exclusively as unlocked handsets through OnePlus’s website, but with the 6T, OnePlus will be launching the phone on its first carrier partner in the States — T-Mobile. The T-Mobile version of the OnePlus 6T is said to be “optimized for T-Mobile’s network” and will work beautifully with the Un-Carrier’s 600Mhz band.

Pricing for the OnePlus 6T is said to be about $550 (a slight increase from the $529 OnePlus 6) and it’ll launch at some point in October.

August 14, 2018 — The new Oppo R17 is likely the phone the OnePlus 6T will be modeled after

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If you’ve been following OnePlus for a while, chances are you know that its parent company is Oppo. OnePlus typically uses Oppo phones as references for its own hardware, and this year, the reference device for the OnePlus 6T will likely be the all-new Oppo R17.

While the 6T won’t be identical to the R17, the phone’s biggest features will likely carry over — including the waterdrop notch at the top of the display and all-glass back.

oppo-r17-notch-up-close.jpg?itok=KdG2A5G

The R17’s notch is one of the smallest we’ve ever seen, and should this make its way to the 6T, it’ll be a big win for the phone’s design. The display below that measures in at 6.4-inches, and to not much surprise, retains a resolution of 1080 x 2280 Full HD.

Where will I be able to buy the OnePlus 6T?

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Like previous OnePlus phones, we’re certain that the OnePlus 6T will be sold unlocked on OnePlus’s website.

However, new this year in the U.S., OnePlus has apparently secured its first carrier partner.

In addition to selling the phone unlocked, OnePlus will also sell the 6T via T-Mobile. The unlocked variant will work just fine on TMO, but by having the phone sold directly through the carrier and available to purchase via monthly financing, this should hopefully get the 6T in more people’s hands than previous OnePlus devices.

When will the phone be released?

According to a report from CNET, the OnePlus 6T will launch this fall — sometime in October, to be exact.

Seeing as how the OnePlus 5T went on sale November 21 and sales for the 3T opened up November 28, we have no reason not to believe OnePlus will shoot for an October launch. It’s not uncommon for OEMs to move up launch dates by a month or so compared to previous releases, and seeing as how the next-gen iPhones will be announced on September 12 and the Pixel 3 will be unveiled on October 9, OnePlus appears to be slotting itself in nicely with those big-name launches.

How much will the 6T cost?

oneplus-6-silk-white-hands-on-3.jpg?itok

Per that same report, the OnePlus 6T will cost $550.

In typical OnePlus fashion, that’s a minor price hike compared to its past releases. Here’s how the $550 OnePlus 6T will compare to previous OnePlus phones:

  • OnePlus 6 — $529
  • OnePlus 5T — $499
  • OnePlus 5 — $479
  • OnePlus 3T — $439
  • OnePlus 3 — $399

OnePlus 6 review: The matter is settled

OnePlus 6

  • OnePlus 6 review
  • OnePlus 6 vs. OnePlus 5T: How much changes in six months?
  • OnePlus 6 vs. OnePlus 5: Should you upgrade?
  • These are the official OnePlus 6 cases
  • The OnePlus 6 doesn’t work on Verizon or Sprint
  • Join the discussion in the forums

10
Sep

Kingdom Hearts 3 gets new gameplay trailer from the world of Big Hero 6!


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Want to know what’s going on with Kingdom Hearts 3? Here’s everything we know so far

In the early years of gaming, there were quite a few swings taken at the creation of a game utilizing Disney properties. Most of those games ranged anywhere from unplayable to mediocre as far as quality goes.

Then in 2002, Square released Kingdom Hearts onto the PlayStation 2. Disney fans and gamers rejoiced as they finally had a significant video game with Disney characters. Thus far, there have been a total of nine Kingdom Hearts games and here in 2018 Square stands poised to release a new entry to the gaming public.

We have been hearing rumblings about Kingdom Hearts 3 for years now but there is finally light at the end of the tunnel for fans of the series. As it stands now, we should see a release toward the end of 2018. However, what do we know about Kingdom Hearts 3 right now? Let’s take a look.

What’s new with Kingdom Hearts 3?

All the latest Kingdom Hearts 3 details can be found straight ahead. Be sure to check back often to find out everything new as we head toward release!

September 10, 2018

Ahead of Tokyo Game Show (TGS) 2018, Square Enix has released a new Kingdom Hearts 3 trailer showcasing the world of San Fransokyo in Big Hero 6. Along with new gameplay, we got a glimpse at cinematics from the worlds of Monsters, Inc., Tangled, and Toy Story.

July 17, 2018

kingdom-hearts-3-pre-order-fabric-poster

Those looking to pre-order Kingdom Hearts 3 just received some extra incentive to do so from GameStop. The company has revealed that one of three fabric posters will be included with your pre-order of the game, and it’s up to you to cast your vote on Twitter with the hashtags noted in the image above to decide which one it will be.

June 11, 2018

Sony had their own piece of exclusive Kingdom Hearts 3 footage to show at E3 2018. The new footage confirms the inclusion of Pirates of the Caribbean. This isn’t the franchise’s first appearance in a Kingdom Hearts game, with Kingdom Hearts 2 having been the first.

Yes, Captain Jack Sparrow is back, and Sora’s crew are on deck to help him live the pirate’s life. The gameplay sequences for this world seem pretty epic, with both a ship battle and a fight with a huge sea monster being featured. The trailer also shows that a replica version of Riku will make an appearance.

Alongside that new footage, we get word that not only will there be a special edition Kingdom Hearts 3 PlayStation 4 console, but you’ll also be able to buy all three mainline Kingdom Hearts games as a bundle. That means you’ll get Kindom Hearts 1.5 HD Remix, Kingdom Hearts 2.5 HD Remix, and Kingdom Hearts 3 in the same package. They’ve even thrown in Kingdom Hearts 2.8: Final Chapter Prologue for good measure.

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A release date for the special edition PS4 has not yet been confirmed, though it’s likely we’ll see it on or close to Kingdom Hearts 3’s release date, which was previously confirmed to be January 29th, 2019.

June 10, 2018

Square Enix has announced a release date for Kingdom Hearts 3. It’ll be arriving January 29th, 2019. Originally, their goal was to get the game out in 2018. However, the company needs more time to ensure the game is the best it can be before launch.

With that news, we also saw a new trailer at E3 2018 that revealed new details, namely showing off new content and abilities surrounding previously unannounced Disney franchises. Those franchises include heavy-hitting staples such as Frozen and Lion King, with Elsa and Mufasa making appearances, respectively.

A whole new world

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Since its inception, an important element of the Kingdom Hearts games has been the setting. Part of the joy of these games is the opportunity to explore familiar Disney worlds in a way that is not possible when you’re watching a film. Some of the worlds which have been tapped for inclusion in KH3 include Andy’s House from Toy Story, Twilight Town, Mount Olympus from Hercules, Monsters Inc, Tangled, and even San Fransokyo from Big Hero 6.

With Disney owning just about every existing IP under the sun there doesn’t seem to be many worlds left that are not within their reach. However, everything indicates that all the worlds tapped for inclusion will remain those who lie directly under the Disney Umbrella, as well as some from underling Pixar.

While Kingdom Hearts 3 isn’t a traditional open world game, Square Enix has a clear goal to increase the scope and capacity of each world. Some of these levels are the most expansive we’ve ever seen in a Kingdom Hearts game. You’ll especially feel the scale at places like Toy Box in the Toy Story world, or Mount Olympus over in Hercules’ corner. Despite the increased size, Square Enix manages to create each world with the level of detail that’ll make you feel like you’re in the theater watching your favorite movies all over again. It’s this nice balance of scope and focus that gets us excited to be sucked into Disney’s magical kingdom once more.

Characters Welcome

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Another critical element of the Kingdom Hearts series has, of course, been characters. There is something undeniably exciting about running into some of your favorite Disney denizens whilst you progress through a KH game.

While your main characters will remain steadfast – Sora and the gang are back – there are some additions. With the inclusion of the aforementioned worlds, it should come as no surprise that we will see end up crossing paths with their related character inhabitants. You’ll certainly be seeing Woody, Buzz, and the glutton of other toys living in Andy’s room for the Toy Story sections. I, for one, am totally ready to get some heals from Beymax.

And that’s alongside mainstays such as Goofy, Donald Duck, and Mickey Mouse, all of whom have proven to be valuable comrades for Sora over the years.

Gameplay

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Kingdom Hearts 3 will seemingly feature a keen blend of all the combat mechanics introduced in each previous title. Keyblades still cut foes down with ease and magic is still here to help you quickly dispel waves of enemies. However, we’ll also be seeing new mechanics such as character summons, keyblade transformations, link attacks, something Square Enix is calling “attractions,” and more. Here’s a quick rundown of what those types of attacks are:

  • Character Summons: You can call on one of your Disney or Pixar friends to fight alongside you for a short time.
  • Keyblade Transformations: Alongside your keyblade’s normal abilities and combos, you can transform the keyblade after hitting a series of uninterrupted attacks. The temporary transformation unlocks a wealth of new abilities, as well as a finisher attack.
  • Link Attacks: Like Character Summons, this mechanic brings your friends into the fray, but instead of being there as a sidekick they’ll execute a more coordinated and powerful attack with Sora.
  • Attractions: These are flashy, big abilities that play out like rides you’d see at Disneyworld and Disneyland. For instance, you can call on something like a water ride to splash through a ton of foes.

There will also be other miscellaneous gameplay mechanics that may be unique to certain worlds and sequences. For instance, Sora can take control of robot Gigas at Toy Box to help him get around the store and fight enemies faster. Expect a lot of variety in this regard.

Players will get stronger as the game goes on with a leveling system that should increase your power, health total, mana pool, and offer new abilities. And it’s not just Sora getting this treatment, either – all your mainstay companions have their own experience to grow.

World traversal has been a big part of the Kingdom Hearts series, and Sora’s movement abilities are seeing some interesting changes with this entry. Sora has seemingly been practicing parkour as a new mechanic allows him to scale up, down, and across walls. This is likely to help players quickly maneuver through a world is just as wide as it is tall, with verticality being a staple element of Kingdom Hearts.

As was the case in most Kingdom Hearts games to date, you’ll be fighting enemies who use Darkness for evil. Darkness is both an alternate realm and an actual force of energy. Good characters can use Darkness to augment their abilities, though the bad ones use it with far more malevolent intentions. Much of your battling will be done against those known as the Heartless, a common enemy in the game. The Heartless are actually living forms of the darkness that exists in everyone’s heart. Their goals are likely driven by some evil no-gooder behind the scenes, as the heartless don’t act on any sort of feeling or emotion of their own.

When can I play?

Square Enix has announced that Kingdom Hearts 3 will now launch January 29th, 2019. The game was originally given a 2018 launch window, but Square Enix has felt the need to delay it, likely to make sure it gets the polish it needs.

If you want to get in line early, you can always head over and preorder a copy for $60.

See at Amazon

In its long and storied history, Kingdom Hearts has done a stellar job of taking the elements that work and adding new ones. Like a fine wine, Kingdom Hearts has (mostly) gotten better with age. At this point, we don’t know everything about what is in store for us but as the year progresses we will undoubtedly see more new pieces of the puzzle unveiled.

I think Square knows that part of the magic and joy in these games is the surprise of running into unexpected characters. I have no doubt that they are holding a few cards close to their chests for the time being but I can’t wait to find out what those cards are.

What do you want to see in Kingdom Hearts 3?

Updated September 2018: Square Enix revealed a new trailer showcasing the world of San Fransokyo from Big Hero 6!

PlayStation 4

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  • PS4 vs. PS4 Slim vs. PS4 Pro: Which should you buy?
  • PlayStation VR Review
  • Playing PS4 games through your phone is awesome

Amazon

10
Sep

4 reasons you should get into the Sonos ecosystem right now


Now’s the time to jump aboard the Sonos train.

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Thanks to gadgets like the Amazon Echo and Google Home, smart speakers have quickly become one of the hottest consumer tech gadgets around. It’s been great fun seeing this new product category come to life, and in addition to new brands emerging to jump aboard this train, other companies have been learning to adapt and change their ways to beat Amazon and Google at their own game.

One such company is Sonos.

Although Sonos has been around since 2002, the company’s recently been given a whole new light thanks to the rise of smart speakers. Gadgets like the Sonos One and Sonos Beam are speakers featuring Alexa, but when compared to competing devices, the high price tags that accompany Sonos’s gear often deters people and leads them to look at cheaper, more affordable options.

That’s perfectly fine, but if you’ve got the cash to spare, there are a few big reasons you should seriously consider picking up a Sonos speaker for your house — or two or three. Maybe even 10.

Here’s why you need to get into the Sonos ecosystem right now.

The sound quality is amazing

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The Amazon Echo ($99) and Google Home ($129) might be considerably cheaper than the $199 Sonos One, but if you’re familiar with the phrase “you get what you pay for,” it applies perfectly to this scenario.

While sound quality on the Echo and Home is fine, it absolutely pales in comparison to the One.

The Sonos One doesn’t sound like a smart speaker — instead, it sounds like a really, really good speaker that just happens to have built-in voice controls. There’s noticeably more punch and clarity with the One that you just don’t get with more affordable options.

See at Amazon

There’s a big lineup of different speakers

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There’s no doubt the Sonos One is one of the best-sounding smart speakers available right now, but if you find yourself needing more volume, bass, or anything else, it’s far from the only product in Sonos’ lineup.

If you want a more powerful home speaker and are OK with giving up the Alexa smarts, the Play:5 delivers room-filling audio that puts the Google Home Max and Apple HomePod to shame.

Want to upgrade your TV’s built-in speakers? Sonos now has three different soundbars to choose from — the Playbar, Playbase, and recently released Beam. If you really want to go crazy, you can even splurge for the $699 Sonos Sub that’ll shatter your house’s foundation, but it’ll totally be worth it.

Sonos Beam review: Raising the sound bar

Hell, you can even buy the new Sonos Amp amplifier if you want to upgrade any exisitng speakers you have.

Everything works and is easy to manage

All of those products serve a big purpose on their own, but what really ties all of this together is how each and every Sonos products works beautifully with one another.

No matter how many Sonos devices you have, everything is controlled via the Sonos app. You can see what rooms have speakers in them, browse through songs/podcasts from any services you’ve connected (e.g. Spotify, Pocket Casts, etc.), search for a particular song, add a subwoofer or surround sound speakers to your soundbar, and plenty more.

It’d be easy for all of these controls to be messy and convoluted, but for the most part, Sonos lays everything out in a manner that makes sense and is easy to understand. I don’t know if I’d call it the greatest app ever made, but it’s ten times better than the mess that is the Google Home app.

Everyone is welcome 🤗

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The Sonos One and Beam both support Alexa. Earlier this year, the One, Beam, Playbase, and second-gen Play:5 got updated with AirPlay 2 and support for Siri commands. At some point before 2018 is over, Sonos will finally bring over the Google Assistant.

Rather than limiting yourself to one specific ecosystem, Sonos products are designed so that you can choose which platform(s) you want to use. Want to use Alexa to control your smart lights while also using AirPlay to stream your favorite music? You can do that with Sonos.

Giving users so much choice and not locking them down into one camp is pretty rare in 2018, so it’s awfully reassuring to know that an option like this still exists.

What do you think?

That’s enough rambling from me — what do you think about all this? Do you have Sonos products in your home or are your audio/smart speaker needs served elsewhere? Let me know in the comments below!

Sonos One and Alexa are a match made in heaven

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