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Amazon UK’s new video options will require a TV licence

Live TV viewers in the UK are supposed to pay a fee that supports services and content from the BBC. Lately, despite changes that closed the “iPlayer loophole,” that still doesn’t apply to people who only watch streaming video on-demand, so some cord-cutters can avoid the charge. However, the TV Licensing agency is reminding people that as Amazon UK rolls out its new Channel add-ons with live TV, it means that viewers are again responsible for paying the fee.

Amazon’s packages include channels like Eurosport, ITV Hub+ and Discovery, so as TV Licensing spokesperson Jason Hill explains “If you watch or record live TV, either through your TV or live online through a website, then you need to be covered by a TV Licence…Around 94 per cent of people are correctly licensed so are already covered to watch live TV online.” Currently, an annual colour TV Licence costs £147.

Source: TV Licensing


Hisense 4K TVs look for a place to fit on crowded shelves

At CES we were quite impressed by the Hisense lineup of smart TVs, and now the company says its 2017 models are arriving at retail. The H6D, H7D, H9D and H9D Plus series cover a range of price points and sizes, with 4K models ranging from the 43-inch H6D for $348 to the top of the line H9D Plus 65-inch with advanced motion processing and ULED edge LED lighting for $2,000.

There’s no word yet on other items like versions with Roku technology built in, but its freshly redesigned platform includes access to Amazon, Netflix, YouTube and Vudu, which should cover most of the bases. We’re also keeping an eye out for the 4K Laser Cast TV projector, but until then, these will have to do battle in the crowded midrange 4K TV segment. That won’t be easy, a look at the competition shows Vizio’s M-Series selling a 65-inch model for $1,200 that compares very well to the 65-inch H9D with a price about $100 higher.

Source: Hisense


Apple Orchard Road in Singapore Officially Opens to the Public

Apple today officially opened up its first retail location in Southeast Asia, Apple Orchard Road in Singapore, to the public at 10:00 a.m. local time. The store marks the newest addition to Apple’s next-generation retail rollout, following similar design principles and community-focused values seen at Apple Union Square in New York and Apple Dubai Mall.

So honored to spend some time this morning with Apple’s head of retail @AngelaAhrendts at Apple Orchard Road. She’s a rock star!!

— MuttonsInTheMorning (@muttons) May 27, 2017

As the first Apple retail store in Southeast Asia, Apple Orchard Road has received a lot of attention over the past few weeks leading up to its grand opening. Reports began to ramp up in early May when Apple put up a mural in front of the store that displayed large “Apple Loves Singapore” artwork in various places. Upon closer inspection, the details of the artwork represented different “Creative Pros” who will now help run Apple Orchard Road’s “Today at Apple” programs.

After the opening date was announced, Apple removed the barricades from the storefront, unveiling the design of the inside of the store for the first time. Earlier this week, the Cupertino company then allowed members of the press to visit the store and take pictures of its next-generation design, which included a curved staircase inspired by Apple Park and an upstairs “town hall” gathering space for Today at Apple sessions.

Apple Orchard Road is the newest step in the company’s plan to eschew more traditional retail establishment principals where the only purpose is to visit the store to buy something, and encourage customers to be inspired by the products through Today at Apple. When the company announced the new sessions would begin expanding worldwide in May, Apple senior vice president of retail, Angela Ahrendts, said that Today at Apple was catalyzed by Apple’s “desire to educate and inspire the communities we serve.”

Ultimately, Ahrendts hopes that the next generation refers to Apple as a meeting spot similar to the communal nature of a place like Starbucks. “Starbucks figured it out, you know? Being a gathering place for – right? ‘Meet me at Starbucks,’” Ahrendts said. “And you know, I’ve told the teams, ‘I’ll know we’ve done a really, really great job if the next generation, if Gen Z says, “Meet me at Apple. Did you see what’s going on at Apple today?”‘”

Tags: Singapore, Apple retail
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Now you can design Google Photo Books on iOS or Android

Among the many things Google announced at I/O 2017 last week, one of them was the ability for people to create and order physical albums with Google Photos. The only problem with that, however, is you could only use it through a desktop browser. Thankfully, the search giant has updated its Photos app on iOS and Android to support the new feature, letting you use your mobile device to easily order a book of your favorite images — which can be created automatically using Google’s AI.

The softcover albums (7-inch, 20 pages) will cost you $10, while the more premium hardcover (9-inch, 20 pages) is $20. Unfortunately, you’re only able to buy one if you’re in the US, and there’s no word on whether Google plans to bring the service elsewhere anytime soon.

Source: Google Photos (Twitter)


BMW’s latest motorcycle concept links futuristic style and tech

No doubt, BMW has come up with some cool conceptual vehicles lately, with a color-changing Mini and a futuristic, self-driving Next 100 auto. Its Motorrad Vision Next 100 motorcycle, revealed last October, is maybe the coolest yet with a gyroscopic system designed to keep riders upright and safe no matter what. It also looks pretty, well, rad. The company’s latest electric motorcycle, the BMW Motorrad Concept Link, is based on the first Next 100 but brings a more refined, commuter-friendly style to the idea of a zero-emission electric motorcycle.

The Concept Link has a long, low profile with a flat bench seat which covers the “flat energy packs in the underfloor.” There’s a diagonally rising handlebar section, too, and a windshield upon which BMW says it will project “speed, navigation and battery information.” Secondary information will be displayed below that on a large flat panel which can be controlled via programmable buttons on the handlebars. BMW says that the Concept Link will have access to your calendar and next destinations, letting the bike plan fast or more scenic routes while choosing music for your trip. Oh, and you’ll open and close the sliding door on the luggage compartment — also under the seat — with gestural controls enabled by some sort of futuristic jacket.

While concept vehicles like this are super fun to gawk at, the chances of them hitting the road exactly as pitched are minimal. Still, having a slick-looking future commuter motorbike that runs on electricity and connects to our mapping apps and streaming music is a neat future that we’d all probably like to live in.


Via: The Verge

Source: BMW


Which Microsoft Surface device is best for you? Surface Pro, Surface Laptop, Surface Book, or Surface Studio?

Microsoft has recently launched two new Surface machines and rounded out its Surface line to include four device families.

While each one has a touchscreen, only three of them are “mobile”, as one of them is an eye-catching all-in-one that sits on a desk. Also, one of them runs a sandboxed version of Windows known as Windows 10 S. Confused now? No worries. It’s actually really simple, and to prove it, we’ve compared every new Surface device spec by spec to give you a better idea of which one might be best for you.

  • Microsoft Surface Pro event: What was launched and how to watch
  • Microsoft Build 2017: All the announcements that matter
  • Windows 10 Fall Creators Update: Everything you need to know

Quick summary

The Surface Pro is the cheapest Surface device overall. It’s a Windows 10 Pro PC that also offers a tablet experience, but it’s definitely not for people who need a workhorse PC or desire a conventional laptop. It offers a fan-less configuration and a longer battery life over its predecessor. However, before you get all excited and buy it now, keep in mind Microsoft said a 4G/LTE version will arrive by the end of the year.

The Surface Laptop is more expensive than the Surface Pro. It’s also Microsoft’s first Surface device that doesn’t fold into a tablet, though it does have a touchscreen display. It’s definitely not great business PC, as it runs sandboxed Windows 10 S, meaning you can only run apps in the Windows Store. But you can take advantage of the free upgrade to Windows 10 Pro, which we certainly recommend.

The Surface Book is a professional laptop, and like all other Surface devices, it has a touchscreen. What makes it standout, however, is its solid base and a discrete GPU option. It’s bigger and more expensive than the Surface Laptop, but it offers more in terms of performance. The i7 Surface Book (and some i5) configurations, for instance, give you a nice performance boost and up to a 16-hour battery.

The Surface Studio is the most expensive Surface device, and it’s primarily for creatives. It’s a gorgeous all-in-one Windows 10 PC with a Zero Gravity Hinge. With a light push, a creative can push it down to a tablet-like position and then use the included Surface Pen or even the optional Surface Dial to sketch. This device is the first of its kind. But it’s super pricey, and it’s not at all mobile, obviously.


Microsoft Surface Pro

  • Dimensions: 10.81 x 6.81 x 0.53 inches ;768g weight
  • Display: 12.3-inch PixelSense display; 2736 x 1824 resolution (267ppi)
  • Connections: One USB 3.0, microSD reader, Mini DisplayPort, Cover port, Surface Connect, headphone
  • Battery: Up to 13.5 hours
  • Accessories: Type Cover (sold separately); Surface Pen (sold separately)
  • Price: Starting at £799

The new Surface Pro looks just like its predecessor, the Surface Pro 4. Although it ditched the model number, it has the same dimensions and standout features as last year’s Surface Pro. There’s a kickstand, and it works with a detachable Type Cover and Surface Pen, but it also brings some impressive improvements, such as a longer battery life. You can also get the fan-less m3 and i5 models if you hated the fan noise of the Surface Pro 4, so long as you don’t require intensive processing power. Microsoft also said a 4G/LTE version will arrive by the end of the year.

  • Microsoft Surface Pro (2017) vs Apple iPad Pro 12.9: What’s the difference?

The new Surface Pro is a Windows 10 Pro PC that also offers a tablet experience. It’s not for people who need a workhorse PC or desire a conventional laptop; it’s for people who want to be mobile and prefer to get done work on a tablet. In many ways, its main rival is the iPad Pro, which Apple has marketed as a tablet with some computer-like features. Before you choose this device, make sure you consider the level of computational power you need and whether you want a hybrid device – especially one only offering Wi-Fi connectivity at the moment.


Microsoft Surface Laptop

  • Dimensions: 12.13 x 8.79 x 0.57 inches; 1,252g weight
  • Display: 13.5-inch PixelSense display; 2256 x 1504 resolution (201ppi)
  • Connections: One USB 3.0, Mini DisplayPort, Surface Connect, headphone
  • Battery: Up to 14.5 hours
  • Accessories: None
  • Price: Starting at £979

The Surface Laptop is Microsoft’s first Surface device that doesn’t fold into a tablet. It basically serves as a reference design for a Windows 10 S-powered mobile PC. It has a bit of flair, offering up an Alcantara fabric keyboard and multiple colour choices. But if you’re considering this device, style options won’t matter too much. You value the ability to work on the go, and you don’t need tonnes of computer power. Make no mistake: this is not a business PC. It’s a cross between a MacBook Air and a Chromebook, but it runs sandboxed Windows.

  • Microsoft Surface Pro (2017) vs Surface Laptop: What’s the difference?

The Surface Laptop weighs slightly less than the MacBook Air but has a battery life that’s 2.5 hours longer. It also supports biometric sign-in with Windows Hello facial recognition. Although it doesn’t transform into a tablet, it does have a full touchscreen that’s the same size as the Surface Book (though it has a lower resolution). We suspect students will want to try this machine, though if they do, we’d recommend taking advantage of the free upgrade to Windows 10 Pro. That way they can run a myriad of apps, not just ones in Windows Store.


Microsoft Surface Book

  • Dimensions: 12.30 x 9.14 x 0.51 inches; 1,516g weight
  • Display: 13.5-inch PixelSense display; 3000 x 2000 resolution (267ppi)
  • Connections: Two USB 3.0, full-size reader, Mini DisplayPort, Surface Connect, headphone
  • Battery: Up to 12 hours
  • Accessories: Surface Pen (included)
  • Price: Starting at £1,449

The Surface Book is a convertible device that functions as a professional laptop, thanks to its solid base and a discrete GPU option. It’s bigger than the Surface Laptop, but it offers more in the performance department, which makes sense considering the higher price tag. We also think the Surface Book competes with the MacBook Pro, but it comes with more unique features, such as a touch experience and a Surface Pen. The Surface Book is a high-powered, touchscreen laptop. Graphics professionals, in particular, could really use it for work.

  • Microsoft Surface Pro (2017) vs Surface Book: What’s the difference?

The i7 Surface Book (and some i5) configurations, for instance, include a discrete Nvidia GPU, so you’ll get a performance boost that’s not available with onboard graphics. It also has a nice-sized battery, and the updated Performance Base ups the battery life even further from 12 to 16 hours. It weighs more than the MacBook Pro, though, coming in at 3.34 pounds (3.68 pounds with the Performance Base). If you can’t choose between these Surface devices, just evaluate your needs. This is the right machine if you need a mobile workhouse that’ll last all day.


Microsoft Surface Studio

  • Dimensions: 25.1 x 17.3 x 0.5 inches; 21-pound weight
  • Display: 28-inch PixelSense display; 4500 x 3000 resolution (192dpi)
  • Connections: Four USB 3.0, full-size SD reader (SDXC), Mini DisplayPort, headphone
  • Battery: Power cord with grip-release cable
  • Accessories: Surface Pen (included); Surface Dial (sold separately)
  • Price: Starting at £2,999

This is a desktop Windows 10 PC aimed at creative professionals who don’t care about price. Microsoft sought a niche crowd with the Surface Studio. While its OEM partners can pump out Windows 10 devices at great price points that’ll appeal to a mass market, Microsoft clearly thought it could be a bit eccentric and put out a device that won’t compete with OEMs but will score it some design points. Similar to the iMac, the Surface Studio is an upright, all-in-one PC. But it uniquely has a Zero Gravity Hinge that transforms it into Studio mode.

  • Microsoft Surface Studio: A stunning PC that doubles as a drafting table

With a light push, a creative can push it down to a tablet-like position and then use the included Surface Pen or even the optional Surface Dial to sketch, colour, and mark-up on the screen. This device is the first of its kind. It’s like an iPad Pro and iMac all in one, but better. The only problem is the humongous price tag. We can’t imagine there isn’t too many people out there with the urge to spend so much, unless of course they’re really artsy and want a showstopper of a machine. If that’s not you, you’re better off considering another Surface device.


Apple ‘Neural Engine’ chip could power AI on iPhones

Apple’s focused on increasing the speed of every new mobile processor generation, most recently pairing its quad core A10 Fusion chips with its iPhone 7 and 7 Plus models last September. But to keep its devices competitive, Apple is building a secondary mobile processor dedicated to powering AI.

Sources told Bloomberg that Apple is developing the chips to participate in two key areas of artificial intelligence: Augmented reality and self-driving cars. The tech titan’s devices currently split AI tasks between two chips — the main processor and a GPU — but this new one, allegedly known internally as the Apple Neural Engine, has its own module dedicated to AI requests. Offloading those tasks should improve battery life, too.

Unfortunately, it’s unclear if the chip will come out this year. That puts Apple further behind Qualcomm’s latest Snapdragon mobile chips, which already have a dedicated AI module, and Google’s Tensor Processing Units available in its Cloud Platform to do AI heavy lifting.

Apple announced it was deploying its own deep neural networks at last year’s WWDC, but that kind of machine learning happens on server racks, not mobile processors. Unlike the company’s differential privacy methods protecting data sent to Apple’s servers, the Neural Engine chip would let devices sift through data on their own, which would be faster and easier on the battery, just like the M7 processors did for motion back in 2013.

Source: Bloomberg


Skip Bed Bath & Beyond and 3D print these useful doodads at home

When 3D printing first arrived, enthusiasts imagined a future of desktop factories, where people wouldn’t need to drive out to a store to get things they needed anymore. Instead, they could just download pre-made designs from the internet and print them from the comfort of their own home.

Ladies and gentlemen, that day has come.

Modern 3D printers may not be in every household quite yet, but the internet is already filled with millions of ready-to-print objects. Name practically any household item you could ever need, and there’s likely a printable version of it online. Not all these things are worth the spool of plastic they’re printed from, but a few of our favorites are downright genius — and totally free to download and print, right now.

T-Rex shower head

Not all shower experiences are created equal. While this faucet may not play music, change colors, or save water, it is shaped like a Tyrannosaurus Rex skull. The choice is yours.

Customizable box

These individual boxes allow you to easily organize your workstation, or that messy junk drawer. Need we say more?

Hollow Draudi

This 3D-printed thingamajig may have zero functionality, but it’s still rather impressive to behold. Put this little number on your desk, or beside your 100-pound cast-iron turntable, and you’ll have hours of small talk potential.

Capsule planter

There are hundreds of 3D-printed flower pots to choose from, but this simple capsule design is one of our favorites.

Fidget spinner

Fidget spinners have become wildly popular, and this model uses a small bearing and individual cups to catch wind — like a zap from your air duster. You can watch a clip of this gadget in action here.

Balancing wine rack

This curio adds a welcome touch of aesthetic whimsy to the traditional wine rack. How does it stay standing? Magic. Also, physics.

Ten-way drink dispenser

So you need to dole out 10 drinks, but you only have the energy for a single pour? Look no further than this quaffer’s dream. Bottoms up.

Outlet protectors

These 3D printed outlet plugs are an easy way to prevent children from inserting objects into electric outlets. The risk of electrocution aside, there’s nothing like a short circuit snafu to bring down household morale.

Pen holder

Do you have an inordinate number of pens and no place to arrange them? This twisted curio allows you to reward your inner hoarder and save that introspective conversation for another day.

Bottle opener

A bottle opener is always a handy tool to have at your disposal. Simply clip this gadget onto your keychain and you’ll be ready when thirst strikes.

Garden hose flow controller

The next time your trusty garden hose nozzle breaks, remember to remain calm. Just 3D print a new one and you’ll be back to watering your juniper bushes in no time.

Drink coasters

Countertop rings can be unsightly. Thankfully, coasters exist to save us from this unspeakable tragedy.

Guitar wall mount

These 3D-printed mounts allow you to showcase your favorite guitars, or simply keep them organized along the wall.

Windshield scraper

During a sudden snowstorm, a windshield scraper can be a regular godsend. If you forgot to plan ahead for the season, simply print this tool before venturing outside.

Measuring cup set

Measuring cups are crucial for the exact science of baking, and this 3D-printed set is arguably one of the more useful items on our list.

Garlic press

Some recipes call for pressed garlic and, thankfully, this garlic press takes the grunt work out of the process.

Chip clip

So you failed to completely demolish that bag of Cool Ranch Doritos in one sitting, huh? We’ve all been there. Thankfully, this handy clip will keep your choice munchies fresh until you’re ready to give them another go.

Toothpaste tube squeezer

Dental hygiene is nothing to laugh at, and neither are micro-ounces of wasted toothpaste. That said, this small clip will help you squeeze every last drop from the tube.


TeslaBot is a new AI assistant from SmartCar for your Tesla Model S or X

Why it matters to you

Want to check if your Tesla’s doors are locked? Just ask a new Facebook bot to do it for you.

The car of the future can not only transport you from Point A to Point B, it can now converse with you, too. Well, sort of. Thanks to a new chatbot from SmartCar, you can now talk to your Tesla with TeslaBot. The virtual assistant is synced with your Tesla Model S or Tesla Model X by way of the car company’s open APIs, and mimics Tesla’s native app in many ways. But unlike the existing Tesla app, this new bot will let you interact with your car on a desktop, whether it’s a Mac or a PC. And if you’re on your phone, you can use your voice to control your vehicle as well.

You can actually glean quite a bit of information from TeslaBot. Once you’ve opened the chat, you can simply type things like “vehicle info,” and the bot will spit out your car model name as well as its VIN (vehicle identification number). If you type in “odometer,” the bot will tell you how many miles you’ve traveled in your Tesla, and if you inquire about the climate status, the bot will let you know what your car’s temperature is set to, and whether the system is currently on or off.

You can even order the bot to do things for you, like lock your car, vent your sunroof, and more. And according to SmartCar founder Sahas Katta, this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to what the company plans on doing. “We used a Machine Learning engine to train it to the thousands of ways people may ask something,” he told Electrek. “We’re excited to see what developers will build on the SmartCar platform in the future.”

Already, the bot can be pretty clever. Telling TeslaBot “I’m bored,” for example, will get you plenty of the type of amusing responses that you might expect from your dorky dad (much as we love him). And of course, as folks keep experimenting with the bot, it’s sure to reveal even more of its personality.

SmartCar is already working alongside Hyundai on the carmaker’s Ioniq platform, so we’ll soon be able to see what these bots can really do.


Smart algorithm lets autonomous drones fly faster without crashing

Why it matters to you

In order for autonomous drones to become more prevalent, they need to get better at dodging obstacles at high speeds.

We don’t think we are going out on a limb when we say that autonomous drones are going to be big. But, like the archetypal protagonist at the start of any hero’s quest, they need to learn a few things first.

One such challenge is how to fly quickly while managing to dodge obstacles. The reason this is hard for drones is because their cameras can only process images up to a certain speed since they have to do it frame by frame. Anything faster than 30 mph causes a bit of a headache.

That is where a new research project from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology comes into play. It builds on a technology called the Dynamic Vision Sensor (DVS), invented by researchers in Zurich. The DVS continuously visualizes scenes by looking for changes in brightness. This is similar to the way that the human brain senses visual information and means that it can work at short, microsecond intervals much faster than regular cameras.

The problem is the amount of processing time it requires due to the huge mass of data. By the time an obstacle has been detected and a control outputted, a drone would have already crashed.

MIT’s work represents a step forward. It is an algorithm that is able to isolate very specific changes in brightness, which has the effect of reducing complex scenes to their most essential elements.

“The DVS has had a lot of empirical successes,” lead author Prince Singh, a graduate student in MIT’s Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics, told Digital Trends. “However, there [hasn’t previously been] a concrete algorithm that can process the sensor’s ambiguous data to, for instance, control a dynamic system such as a drone. My work addresses the control of any system that has a linearized representation by making sense of the DVS’s ambiguous data. This work unifies the empirical successes observed, and most importantly, one doesn’t need knowledge of the problem’s geometry, as was the case for works until now.”

Singh is currently presenting the work at the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers American Control Conference in Seattle. Next up, the plan is to publish a paper on the work. Hopefully, it won’t be too long after that before drones — and other autonomous robots — can take advantage of this high-speed breakthrough.

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