Category Archives: Everything Mobile

News, Analysis and Reviews of Mobile Phones and Tablets including smart watches

The best fast wireless charging pad Amazon sells has never been cheaper

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There are really only two wireless chargers out there that iPhone and Android users should consider. If you want a versatile model that can convert from a charging pad to a charging stand, this Samsung fast wireless charger is terrific. If you want to save some money while also getting a unit made out of better materials (metal instead of plastic), the best fast wireless charging pad Amazon sells is currently on sale at its lowest price ever. The RAVPower Fast Wireless Charger launched at $49.99 before recently dropping to $45.99. Right now, it’s on Amazon for just $35.99 — and that’s before you clip the 10% on-site coupon. That coupon drops the price all the way down to just $32.39, which is an absolute steal.

Here are some highlights from the product page:

  • Note: Whether your iPhone is being standard charged, fast charged, or fully charged, the LED will stay orange and NOT turn green as iPhones do not send any signal to the wireless charger. Please do not place anything between your iPhone and charger, or the latter will not work.
  • RAVPower Redefines Fast Wireless Charging: our pioneering HyperAir technology delivers the fastest charging speeds for both iOS and Android devices, 7.5W for iPhone X, 8, and 8 Plus, and 10W for Samsung Galaxy S8, S7 and Note 8. 2x faster than traditional 3.5W – 5W wireless chargers.
  • Charge Up Safely: HyperAir features triple temperature controls disperse heat 15% faster and more effectively. And fail-safe circuitry prevents overcharging, over-current, over-voltage, overheating, and short circuit.
  • Instantaneous Device Detection: Sharing the same fixed frequency program as iPhones, HyperAir accurately detects your iPhone and starts charging immediately.
  • Important Notice: Please do not place any metal or magnetic objects between your phone and charger, or the latter will not work. Equip your device with a Qi receiver if it’s not Qi-enabled out of the box. Does not charge through phone cases thicker than 0.12 in / 3 mm.

Follow @BGRDeals on Twitter to keep up with the latest and greatest deals we find around the web.

BGR Deals content is independent of Editorial and Advertising, and BGR may receive a commission on purchases made through our posts.

This is the best Pixel 2 deal we’ve ever seen, so of course there’s a catch

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Ever wished the Pixel phones were priced just like the Nexus phones you used to buy from Google? Well, if you happen to be a loyal Google customer and you’ve owned Nexus devices in the past, then you may qualify for a neat treat: 20% off the Pixel 2. Google is apparently emailing former Nexus device owners with the news, in what appears to be a rather quiet but fantastic limited-time promotion.

The deal was first mentioned on Reddit, where a user said he received an email offer from Google for 20% off the Pixel 2 for being “a loyal Nexus owner.” Others confirmed the promo after receiving similar emails, but it’s unclear who is eligible and which Nexus devices qualify for the deal. It’s also unclear if international Nexus buyers are also going to be given the same discount on Pixel 2 purchases.

The offer is good through February 28th, so you’ll have to hurry to get it if you’ve received the email.

After the discount is applied, which happens at checkout, the 64GB Pixel 2 costs just $519.20, while the 64GB Pixel 2 XL is priced at $679.20, according to Phone Arena. That’s a sweet deal for one of the best Android devices out there — yes, the Pixel 2 has its flaws, but it’s still one of the best 2017 Android smartphones you can buy right now. The timing is also a bit curious though. Why is Google doing this now? Is it looking to dump Pixel 2 stock ahead of Samsung’s Galaxy S9 unveiling?

A report a few days ago revealed that Google sold just 3.9 million Pixel devices in 2017. That’s twice as many units as in the previous year, but it’s nowhere close the numbers we see for flagship phones from other smartphone vendors.

This $31 dongle is better than a $150 Apple TV for two main reasons

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The Apple TV is a nice little box, and it’s great for people who aren’t very tech savvy because it’s so easy to use. If you are tech savvy though, you should know that you can save a ton of money by using a media streaming device with AirPlay support instead of an Apple TV or Apple TV 4K, which are very expensive. Our recommendation is the Victony WiFi Display Dongle, which is on sale for just $31 right now on Amazon and is better than an Apple TV for two main reasons. First, it’s way more affordable. And second, it also supports Miracast and DLNA, so you can stream from your Android devices and Windows computers as well, not just Apple gadgets.

Here’s what you need to know from the product page:

  • Cordless Display: Streame 1080p videos, games, audio, pictures, apps and files from your mobile to your big HD TV, beamer and monitor. Built-in 5G WLAN module; support HDMI 1.4; A 1080P full HD output provides the perfect experience.
  • Easy to use: No additional app or driver required. Only 3 steps necessary to enjoy your media files on the large screen. Plug-Connect-Mirroring through Miracast, DLNA, Airplay.
  • Compact & Easy to carry:the wireless stick is perfect for presentation in the office or at school (Powerpoint, Excel, Word, PDF and pictures from the smartphone, tablet to the HD TV or beamer, Projector).
  • Good compatibility: Smartphones and tablets (Samsung, Sony, iPhone, etc) with Android 5.0+ and iOS 6.0+ are supported. The software can be updated online and still works when your smartphone or tablet is updated.
  • Satisfaction Guarantee: Each product of VICTONY provides a 30 day money back guarantee. We also have an excellent customer service team that can help you make the perfect shopping experience within 24 hours(24 hours a day) (contact us for more information).

Follow @BGRDeals on Twitter to keep up with the latest and greatest deals we find around the web.

BGR Deals content is independent of Editorial and Advertising, and BGR may receive a commission on purchases made through our posts.

Apple says it’ll fix the Telugu bug that crashes iPhones with a single character

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News emerged on Thursday that a single message containing an Indian character can crash your iPhone. That’s not something unheard of, as such bugs are discovered on a constant basis. Apple always fixes them using iOS updates, and the company confirmed that a fix for the Telugu bug, as it’s referred to, will be available to iPhone owners even before iOS 11.3 rolls out.

The character comes from the Telugu language, which is spoken by some 70 million people in India. When sent over chat apps including iMessage, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, or email apps, the bug can crash that particular app. To fix the problem yourself, you somehow have to get into the app that crashed and remove the message with the character. You can only do so from another device though, and only if that device doesn’t run iOS.

The character above can also crash the entire iPhone if the symbol appears in a notification card or banner, forcing you to restart the phone.

Apple told The Verge that iOS 11.3 fixes the problems. However, that’s a major release intended to bring over several new features, including a new battery health menu that lets you stop iPhone throttling. As such, the update won’t be released until this spring — though you can install developer and public beta versions to try it out early.

But Apple says it will release an intermediary update, a minor release that could take form as iOS 11.2.6 or something similar, to patch this particular bug. The Verge says that betas for other Apple operating systems, including macOS, tvOS, and watchOS, all fix the problem.

President’s Day Weekend Gear Sales (2018): Sonos, Bose, Dell, and More

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For some folks, President’s Day is a time to honor U.S. presidents of old, like George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. For others it’s a much-needed extra day off work. But for tech companies and online retailers, it’s another opportunity to lay out some discounts and rake in some sales.

We hope you’re able to enjoy the weekend. If you happen to be in the mood to peruse, we’ve hand-picked some of our favorite tech deals from around the web. At the bottom of this article we’ve also included links to some of the more notable sales going on, in case you want to browse for yourself.

2 Sonos One Smart Speakers (with Alexa)

$349 ($49 off) on Amazon and

Sonos is the leader in multi-room audio speakers and the Sonos One is Wired Recommended. It’s one of the best smart speakers you can buy, with a huge variety of integrated audio services (almost all of them), Alexa voice support, Spotify support, and Google Assistant support (later this year). This deal is likely a response to the newly launched Apple HomePod, which also costs $349. It’s mighty appealing. You get two Sonos One’s for the price of one HomePod—a speaker we believe is only for “Apple devotees” at this time.

LG G6+ Phone with 128GB and Unlocked

$470 ($330 off) on Amazon

The LG G6 is one of the better top-tier phones of 2017 and still plenty good this year. This Amazon Prime Exclusive version will work on most any carrier, including T-Mobile, AT&T, and Verizon. Prime Exclusive phones no longer have ads on their lockscreens either, so don’t let that hold you up.

Bose QuietComfort 25 Noise Cancelling Headphones

$170 ($130 off) on Amazon

These Bose were the best deal going last week, and they’re back in stock on Amazon. They’re some of the best headphones for travel. You can read more about them here.

Anker 4-Port USB Wall Charger

$20 ($30 off) on Amazon

Anker makes some of the best small accessories and adapters. This wall charger might help clean up your electrical outlets. I’ve had one of these for a year now, and tend to take it everywhere with me. It’s perfect if you own a smartphone and other gadgets that need charging. For a crazy techie like me, that means a smartwatch, wireless headphones, and a tablet.

Anker 10,000mAh Portable Charger

$26 ($12 off) on Amazon

Everyone should have a trusty portable battery for their phone. You may not carry it around with you every day, but a 10,000mAh charger is perfect for when you travel. It will charge most any phone three times over and Anker chargers have solid build quality. I’ve owned a 10,000 Anker charger that’s lasted years, and they come with an 18 month warranty. Here are some larger and smaller models.

iPhone Lightning Cable to Audio Jack adapter

$9 ($5 off) on Amazon, $10 ($6 off) on Walmart

The lack of a headphone jack on all new iPhones is a pain in the butt sometimes, and it’s easy to lose the included headphone jack adapter. This week, the adapters are on sale. It never hurts to have a spare!

Google Home Discounts

Google Home Speaker is $99 ($30 off) on Walmart

Google Home Mini is $39 ($10 off) on Walmart

We really like the Google Home and Google Home Mini. They aren’t the absolute best speakers for high quality music (the Maxx is), but they’ve come a long way since launch. They are a great value and solid introduction to the Google Assistant, which is quickly growing to be our favorite home assistant.

Ultimate Ears Boom 2 Speaker Discounts

Boom 2 in Black for $90 ($110 off) on Dell

Boom 2 in Purple/Orange for $100 ($100 off) on Dell

As a straight Bluetooth speaker, it’s hard to top the Boom 2. We rated it a 9/10 and named it the best wireless speaker for two years in a row. It’s still amazing today, and half off!

Sphero R2-D2 App-Enabled Droid

$130 ($50 off) on ThinkGeek

Sphero outdid itself with this incredibly accurate, fun R2-D2 droid you can move around and control with a smartphone app. Read our full review.

Star Wars Death Star Teapot & Mug

$10 ($15 off) on ThinkGeek

Yeah. You got us. There’s nothing tech-y about this Death Star teapot and mug combo. It’s just a lot of fun.

Dell 29-Inch Ultrawide Monitor

$266 ($134 off) on Dell

If you own a regular monitor, let me tell you about the beauty of space that awaits you. Ultrawide monitors are amazing if you like to multitask. They let you put 2 spaciously-sized windows side-by-side with room to spare for chat windows and other stuff. Under $300 is a great price for a solid monitor like this. If you want a more regular-sized monitor, try this 21-inch Dell 23 Wireless Monitor for $171 ($259 off).

LG 4K TV Deals

LG 43-inch 4K HDR TV for $300 ($250 off) on Dell

LG 49-inch 4K HDR TV for $400 ($300 off) on Dell

These TV’s don’t have LG’s famed OLED screens, but they are solid 4K TVs with basic HDR capabilities. We also like LG’s WebOS app interface, which is one of the nicer options out there. It’s hard to find a price better than $300 for a TV with these features.

TCL 49-inch 4K LED TV with Built-In Roku

$330 ($150 off) on Amazon

Roku integration and a tough-to-match price is why we’ve repeatedly recommended this TV when it’s on sale. You’ll want a Roku either way, and using this approachable remote for your entire TV experience is much nicer than most ordinary remotes.

Vizio 65-Inch 4K LED TV

$700 ($200 off) on Walmart

This Vizio is massive at 65 inches, and Wired Recommended. If you’re looking for a great monster 4K television, it’s hard to find a better deal than this one.

Yoosoo 50-Mile Range Digital TV Antenna

$7 ($15 off)”on Amazon (use code: Q4JZTPA8)

We haven’t used a Yoosoo TV antenna, but this space is full of smaller companies. It looks like it checks out, boasts a 50-mile range, and comes with a 24-month warranty. Plus, it’s only $7.

LG 4K Blu-Ray Player UP870

$110 ($90 off) on Dell

LG makes solid Blu-Ray players, and this one is no different. It will play 4K content and should work with whatever TV you own.

Three Player Circular Chess

$40 ($10 off) on ThinkGeek

Still playing two-player chess? Sucker. That’s old news. Haven’t you heard? All the cool kids play three player chess now.

Pandemic Legacy Season 2

$50 ($20 off) on ThinkGeek

Pandemic is one of the most exciting board games of the last decade. Instead of competing against other players, you all must try to work together to save the world from deadly disease. This new version is playable stand-alone, doesn’t require you know anything about the previous iterations, and has some fun new challenges.

Eufy RoboVac 11+ Self-Charging Robo Vacuum

$220 ($340 off) (Use code: “Clip $30 Coupon”)

We had some reservations about this Eufy for $500, but at this price, it’s worth it. A name-brand robotic vacuum for around 200 bucks—it’s hard to top that. It can vacuum for up to 100 minutes at a time and automatically ups its sucking power when your grimy floors need it.

Dyson Cordless Vacuum

$175 ($74 off) on Walmart

Dyson just likes things to work properly, and it’s petite wireless DC59 vacuum does just that. It’s short 20 minute runtime means it’s best for apartments or small homes. It’s nice to vacuum cord free.

Surface Pro (with keyboard)

$699 ($230 off) on Microsoft’s Store

The Surface is Wired Recommended and still the best 2-in-1 tablet and laptop combo you can buy. It’s not without its fault (tougher to use on your lap), but its light and thin design is impressive.

HP Iridium 15-Inch Windows 10 Laptop with 12GB RAM

$700 ($61 off) on Walmart

This is a great work laptop that should last you for a while thanks to 12GB of RAM, a 7th Generation Intel Core i7 processor, 1TB hard drive, and even a DVD drive, which is a rarity these days.

Lenovo Yoga 720 13-inch

$850 ($140 off) on Lenovo

Lenovo’s new Yoga starting price is down to $850. It has that nice reversible form factor that’s made Yoga a Lenovo staple for a few years now, and you can customize it with brand new 8th Generation Intel Core chips and up to 16GB of RAM.

Acer Aspire E5 15-inch Laptop

$479 ($70 off) on Jet

With a 1080p screen, 7th Generation Intel Core i5, a 1TB hard drive, and 8GB RAM, this is a very solid Windows 10 laptop for under $500.

Lenovo Legion Y520

$850 ($250 off) on Lenovo

Starting at $850, the Legion comes VR ready with a Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050Ti 4GB graphics card, 8GB of RAM, a 2TB hard drive, a 15-inch IPS Full HD screen, and a 7th Generation Intel Core i7 processor. It’s a fantastic gaming laptop.

Dell XPS 15-Inch 4K Gaming Laptop

$1,299 ($350 off) on Microsoft’s Store

For about $1,300, this machine has a 7th Gen. Intel Core i5, 256GB SSD, 15-inch 4K touchscreen, 8GB of RAM, and a Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050. It’s great for gaming and VR ready.

Logitech G810 Orion RGP Gaming Keyboard

$85 ($75 off) on Dell

This keyboard is great if you’re looking for an upgrade. It has RGB lighting and Romer-G mechanical switches for a nice click. Logitech makes very nice keyboards and this is a fantastic deal on a higher-end model.

Logitech G533 Wireless Gaming Headset

$85 ($65 off) on Dell

Wireless gaming headsets usually start around $100 – $150. We haven’t yet used this Logitech headset, but it looks like a good deal. It works on PS4 and PC, is completely wireless, has surround, and sounds pretty good, though at least one review mentioned it almost having too much bass.

Xbox One S Bundles $50 off

$250 for PlayerUnknown Battlegrounds Xbox One S bundle on

Microsoft is discounting all major versions of its Xbox One S for a limited time (Feb. 18 – March 3). The One S is still a fantastic console for HDTV owners and can even play a few video apps in 4K.

Mass Effect Andromeda (Xbox One)

$12 ($48 off) on Microsoft’s Store

The Mass Effect series is not as popular as it once was, but at $12, if you have any interest in helping humanity find a new home, now’s the time to give it a go.

Rainbow Six: Siege Gold Edition (PC)

$30 ($20 off) on Microsoft

Rainbow Six: Siege has aged pretty well. It lets you attack or defend a base in a terrorist situation, with remote cams, destructible environments, and a lot of door boarding.

President’s Day Sale Pages

If you want to see the deals a site has in full, here are some of the pages we found deals on. Browse at your leisure!

The Morning After: 'Black Panther', modernizing old B&O speakers

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Marvel/ Disney

Friday morning. Almost as good as Saturday. Today, we’re talking discounted PlayStation VR headsets (down to $200), our thoughts on Marvel’s Black Panther and a very convoluted way to upgrade your old B&O speakers for the modern age.

It’s unlike any blockbuster film you’ve seen before.
Review: ‘Black Panther’ proves why Afrofuturism matters

Black Panther is groundbreaking on every level. It’s a superhero film that’s smarter and more meaningful than anything from Marvel yet. It’s a blockbuster action movie written, directed by and starring black artists. And, Black Panther also happens to be the purest expression of Afrofuturism — science fiction and fantasy that reflects the African diaspora — to ever hit cinemas around the world. It’s about time.

The process even made water from Sydney Harbor safe to drink.
Graphene film makes dirty water drinkable in a single step

Researchers have developed a process that can purify water, no matter how dirty it is, in a single step. Scientists from Australian research organization CSIRO have created a filtration technique using a graphene film with microscopic nano-channels that lets water pass through, but stops pollutants. The process, called Graphair, is so effective that water samples from Sydney Harbor were safe to drink after being treated. Here, you can take a sip first.

Even the Apple Watch is affected.
Mac and iOS bug crashes apps with a single character

One single Indian-language character is capable of crashing a number of messaging apps on iOS. The problem also extends to the Apple Watch and even Macs, all of which struggle to process the character specific to the Telugu language spoken in India.

The character, when received or even pasted into iMessage, will at least crash the app if not the entire iOS SpringBoard (the core software that runs the iOS home screen). Other communication apps react the same way, including WhatsApp, Twitter, Facebook Messenger, Gmail and Outlook. Fortunately, this frustrating bug shouldn’t survive much longer. It affects devices running iOS 11.2.5, but has already been addressed in the latest beta software for both iPhones and Macs.

It sounds great on paper, but the reality is far from perfect.
Samsung Notebook 9 Pen review: solid stylus, so many compromises

Samsung’s Notebook 9 Pen is a tiny workhorse which is so light, it’s barely there, and it’s one of just a few Samsung PCs to feature the company’s S Pen. That it’s a quirky machine is without question, but its performance and build quality left us with a few concerns.

And you’ll have to supply your own Raspberry Pi.
B&O’s upgrade for old speakers requires some heavy tinkering

In 2018, most new speakers come with WiFi and/or Bluetooth as standard. Let’s face it: Almost everyone is using their phone to access music these days, so wireless connectivity is a must. However, if you invested in a set of non-connected speakers before the wireless craze hit, you may not want to shell out more money to replace them just yet. For older passive speaker setups, Bang & Olufsen has an option for getting that connectivity thanks to a collaboration with HiFiBerry. You’ll have to get your hands dirty, though.

But not if it means giving up America’s access to low Earth orbit.
Defunding the ISS might just help get us to Mars

There’s good news for NASA in the Trump administration’s proposed FY2019 budget and some bad. On the one hand, the space agency would receive a minor funding boost — NASA itself would get $19.9 billion, a 1.3 percent increase over 2017, while its science directorate would receive $5.9 billion, a 2.3 percent increase. On the other hand, not only does the current administration want to cut funding for the Wide-Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST), which would hunt for exoplanets and dark matter, it also wants to defund the International Space Station after 2024, when the US’s current commitment to the multinational project expires. Instead, Trump’s team hopes that a consortium of private businesses will take over running the station come 2025.

He relaxed the agency’s rules weeks before the deal was announced.
FCC watchdog is investigating Pai’s moves before Sinclair merger

Last April, the Federal Communications Commission, led by its Trump-appointed chairman Ajit Pai, eliminated a restriction that had capped how many stations media companies could own. Weeks later, Sinclair Broadcast Group announced a long-suspected deal to acquire Tribune Media for $3.9 billion. Anyone finding that timing suspicious wouldn’t be alone: For two months, the FCC’s internal watchdog has been investigating whether Pai and his aides improperly pushed to change the rules and timed it to help Sinclair. The FCC’s spokesperson responded, saying: “Given that the FCC under Chairman Pai’s leadership recently proposed a $13 million fine against Sinclair, the largest fine in history for a violation of the Commission’s sponsorship identification rules, the accusation that he has shown favoritism toward the company is absurd.”

But wait, there’s more…

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These LED bulbs work with Alexa and Google Assistant, and they cost under $10 each

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Since Philips Hue smart lighting products are so expensive, people are always on the lookout for good smart bulbs that are a bit more affordable. Well, look no further than the Sengled Element Classic A19 60W Equivalent Soft White Smart LED Bulb. This top-rated smart LED bulb works with Alexa, Google Assistant, and popular smart home systems like SmartThings and Wink. It comes in either soft white or daylight, and a single bulb costs just $9.99. But wait… Amazon also sells 4-packs that drop the price per bulb to $9.75, and 8-packs that drop the price per bulb to just $9.62. You’ll never find another smart bulb this good for a price that low, so take advantage while you can.

Here are some bullet points from the product page:

  • SMART HOME INTEGRATION: connect the bulb Amazon Echo Plus, as well as Samsung SmartThings and Wink hubs. The bulb can also be added to any Sengled Element Starter Kit. (Classic or Plus, hub sold separately. A hub is required for bulb use.)
  • VOICE CONTROL INTEGRATION: connect the bulb to your favorite hub to use with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant (hub required for use)
  • CONTROL YOUR LIGHTS, AT HOME OR AWAY: use the iOS or Android app to set lighting schedules, dim or turn your lights on and off. Control your lights remotely and have the lights on before you get home at night.
  • MONITOR ENERGY USE: monitor electricity use (kWh) from anywhere from the iOS or Android app. See if you forgot to turn off the lights, then remotely turn off for added savings.
  • ENERGY EFFICIENT: LED bulbs use 80% less energy than incandescent lighting. Sengled bulbs last for over 20 years and are ENERGY STAR certified. Kits and bulbs come with a three-year warranty.

Follow @BGRDeals on Twitter to keep up with the latest and greatest deals we find around the web.

BGR Deals content is independent of Editorial and Advertising, and BGR may receive a commission on purchases made through our posts.

The iPhone took in 51% of global smartphone revenue over Christmas

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New research data compiled by Strategy Analytics reveals that Apple’s iPhone lineup accounted for a whopping 51% of global smartphone revenues during the 2017 holiday quarter. Specifically, the iPhone generated approximately $61.4 billion in revenue during the December quarter, with the global smartphone market raking in $120 billion during the same time period.

Year over year, the iPhone’s share of global smartphone revenue increased slightly, jumping from 48% to 51%. With Apple occupying the top spot, second and third place went to Samsung and Huawei which posted quarterly revenues of $18.9 billion and $8.4 billion, respectively.

“Apple iPhone generated a huge US$61 billion in the quarter, helped by solid demand for its premium X model,” the company noted in a press release, “and Apple now accounts for more revenue than the rest of the entire global smartphone industry combined.

“Apple generated three times more smartphone revenue than nearest rival Samsung and 7 times more than Huawei,” the press release adds. “Apple iPhone’s average selling price is approaching US$800 and almost three times higher than the overall industry average. Apple iPhone is an incredible money-making machine.”

All told, Apple’s ability to dramatically increase iPhone revenue during the holiday quarter is all the more impressive given how late into the quarter the iPhone X was released.

Looking ahead, Apple’s revenue dominance is poised to increase in the months ahead. Though the iPhone X did not usher in an upgrade super cycle as some anticipated, there’s a strong chance that Apple’s rumored 6.1-inch iPhone X variant with an LCD display — and a much more affordable price point — will spur an avalanche of upgrades later this year. With carriers no longer offering friendly subsidies as in years past, the reality is that the iPhone X’s $1,000 sticker price likely dissuaded otherwise interested iPhone owners from actually upgrading.

These Bose Noise-Cancelling Headphones Are Half-Off Right Now

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Some audiophiles dislike Bose with a passion, and noise cancelling in general. The hate is unwarranted. Here at WIRED, we love these headphones, and it’s hard to top Bose QuietComfort series. Bose’s noise cancelling technology has come a long way, making the QC series among best headphones for travel or to wear during a noisy commute.

Usually, you have to pay about $300 for a set of QuietComfort 25s, but this week you can find the QC25 series for up to 50 percent off. If you’re in the market, it’s an excellent time to buy.

UPDATE: Our friends at TechBargains inform us that Amazon now has these headphones available for $170. The Android-compatible version below is still available for $180.

If you have an Android or Samsung device, the Quiet Comfort 25 built specifically for those phones are on sale for $180 on Newegg and $199 on Amazon, again down from $300 normally. Want to add wireless to these Bose headphones? This adapter lets you add it to the QC25 for $70.

As a sidenote, if you want to go wireless, the Plantronics Voyager 8200 (Wired score 8/10 Recommended) also have amazing sound and noise cancelling, and are currently about $284 ($96 off) on Amazon, $287 on Jet, and $280 on Newegg.

When you buy something using the retail links in our stories, we earn a small affiliate commission. Read more about how this works.

Researchers use CRISPR to detect HPV and Zika

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Zhang Lab, Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard

Science published three studies today that all demonstrate new uses for CRISPR. The gene editing technology is typically thought of for its potential use in treating diseases like HIV, ALS and Huntington’s disease, but researchers are showing that applications of CRISPR don’t stop there.

The first study comes from the lab of CRISPR pioneer Jennifer Doudna. Her team discovered that a CRISPR system different from the CRISPR-Cas9 one we’re used to hearing about can not only snip away specific bits of double-stranded DNA, but can then also cut single-stranded DNA that’s near it. After they uncovered this ability of CRISPR-Cas12a, they used it to detect two common types of HPV. Once their CRISPR-Cas12a system detected HPV DNA in infected cells, it cleaved a another piece of DNA that then released a fluorescent signal, providing a visual sign of the presence of HPV. The researchers dubbed the system DETECTR and The Verge reports that it takes around an hour to work and costs less than a dollar.

The lab of another CRISPR pioneer, Feng Zhang, has now improved on a previous system it developed last year. SHERLOCK, as it’s called, can detect specific bits of DNA and RNA to determine whether viruses like Zika or dengue are present in a blood sample, identify mutations in tumor DNA and spot the presence of harmful bacteria. In their latest study, the research team describes SHERLOCK version 2.0, which is not only over three times as sensitive as the first version, but can also detect both Zika and dengue in the same sample. Their system uses several CRISPR enzymes, including Cas13 and Csm6, and can be loaded onto a paper strip, making it incredibly easy to use. You can see examples of the strips in the GIF below. Jonathan Gootenberg, one of the authors of the study, told The Verge, “The fact that we can put all these different enzymes into a single tube and have them not only play nice with each other, but also tell us information we couldn’t get otherwise — that is really spectacular and it speaks to a lot of the power of biochemistry.”

Lastly, Harvard University’s David Liu published a study showing that CRISPR can be used to track certain ongoings in a cell. Seeing what a cell has been exposed to in the past has been a rather hard thing to do, but CRISPR systems provide a way for researchers to do just that. Liu’s team used CRISPR in two different ways to record when a cell was exposed to certain chemicals. In the first, CRISPR was used to snip bits of DNA called plasmids if it came in contact with a particular chemical, such as an antibiotic or a nutrient. By comparing the ratio of the plasmid types that were destroyed by CRISPR to other, similar plasmids that were left alone, the researchers were able to determine just how often the cells were exposed to those chemicals. Another version of the system changed individual letters, or bases, of DNA rather than snipping plasmids and the team was able to determine when cells were exposed to antibiotics, nutrients, viruses and light by examining those changes in the DNA bases.

While all three of these systems need further development before they can be used outside of the lab, they show that CRISPR has quite a lot of uses, beyond just treating disease. The technology is incredibly versatile and we’re sure to see even more applications going forward.

Image: Zhang Lab, Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard



Wirecutter's best deals: Save $40 on the Logitech Harmony Elite remote

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This post was done in partnership with Wirecutter. When readers choose to buy Wirecutter’s independently chosen editorial picks, it may earn affiliate commissions that support its work. Read their continuously updated list of deals here.

Logitech MX Master 2S Wireless Mouse

Street Price: $95; Deal Price: $80

Back on sale at $80, this matches the lowest price we’ve seen on the Logitech MX Master 2S, our upgrade wireless mouse pick. The successor to the beloved MX Master mouse is great itself, though one thing usually not so great is the cost, typically around $95. This deal drops it significantly lower, and if you use a mouse all day every day, at this price it’s worth a look.

The Logitech MX Master 2S is our upgrade pick in our guide to the best wireless mouse. Justin Krajeski and Kimber Streams wrote, “If you use a mouse for hours every day, we recommend the Logitech MX Master 2S Wireless Mouse for about $100. It’s expensive, but its comfortable design, excellent thumb rest, and smooth tracking on every surface (even glass and mirror) make it a pleasure to use for long periods of time in most situations. The Master 2S can also pair with up to three Bluetooth devices simultaneously; and it has six buttons that can be customized using the Logitech Options software, a scroll wheel toggle, and a second programmable scroll wheel for your thumb. Plus, it has a rechargeable battery that Logitech says will last 70 days on a single charge, and our testing so far supports this claim.”

AmazonBasics AAA Rechargeables 8-Pack

Street Price: $10; Deal Price: $9

We recommend the AmazonBasics AAA batteries because of their solid performance for the value they offer. Right now, they’re an even better value at $9 for a pack of 8, the lowest price we’ve seen for them. While this isn’t much less than they usually go for, it’s still notable in that it’s the first drop of any significance we’ve seen in a while and a new low– we aren’t likely to see them any lower.

The AmazonBasics AAA Rechargeable Batteries are our AAA pick in our guide to the best rechargeable batteries. Mark Smirniotis wrote, “If you need rechargeable AAA batteries, you should buy the AmazonBasics, or really just whatever reputable brand is the cheapest when you need them. We performed our standard bench tests on the leading AAA batteries, and even subjected them to advanced headlamp-and-watermelon tests, and still found no statistical difference in their initial capacity, their capacity after 50 cycles, or how they handled a common use like powering a headlamp.”

Anker PowerPort Wireless 5 Stand

Street Price: $27; Deal Price: $22

At $22, this is $5 off the typical price of the Anker PowerPort Wireless 5 Stand. If you’re seeking a stand Qi charger that performed as well as our top picks at a lower cost, this is a solid option. It’s been $27 for as long as we’ve been tracking it, so it’s a nice bargain, so long as you’re fine using an existing AC wall adapter (as it doesn’t come with one).

The Anker PowerPort Wireless 5 Stand is our inexpensive Qi charging stand pick in our guide to the best Qi wireless charger for iPhone and Android phones. Nick Guy wrote, “If our picks are out of stock, if you want to spend a little less, or if you prefer something with a less obvious status light, Anker’s PowerPort Wireless 5 Pad and PowerPort Wireless 5 Stand are great options, though you’ll have to provide your own AC adapter. In our tests they charged iPhones at the same rate as our Samsung picks and charged the Galaxy S8 as fast or faster, but they’re generally a few dollars less expensive. Both come with Micro-USB cables, but neither comes with an AC wall adapter, so you’ll need to use the charger that comes with your phone or tablet or buy one separately. Light-sensitive sleepers will appreciate the small blue charging-indicator lights, which you can easily cover.”

Harmony Elite Universal Remote

Street Price: $290; Deal Price: $250

If you’re looking for a touchscreen device with AV and smarthome functionality, the Harmony Elite is a nice option. Our luxury upgrade pick in our guide the best universal remotes, it typically goes for between $280 and $300. It’s been hitting the $250 mark every now and then since late November and is back to that price. As we’ve never seen it lower than $240 new, it’s still a solid deal at this price.

The Harmony Elite Universal Remote is our pick for serious home theater enthusiasts and smart home tinkerers in our guide to the best universal remote control. Darryl Wilkinson and Grant Clauser wrote, “If you need the Companion’s level of control, ease of programming, vast control database and smart activity-based systems but still want a touchscreen or want to add even more devices to better integrate your smarthome into your system, the Harmony Elite is your remote. Another Hub-based Harmony, it adds a touchscreen and support for up to 15 devices to the Companion’s specifications, giving home theater enthusiasts and smart home experimenters maximum flexibility.”

Because great deals don’t just happen on Thursday, sign up for our daily deals email and we’ll send you the best deals we find every weekday. Also, deals change all the time, and some of these may have expired. To see an updated list of current deals, please go here.



Geek Presidents’ Day Deals: Dell PCs, 4K TVs, and more

This post was originally published on this site

We’re headed into the Presidents’ Day weekend, and that means big savings on loads of products. If you’re looking for a new computer, 4K television, quad-copter, or some other new electronic gear, you’re bound to find something great at the perfect price point without even having to leave your home.

XPS Tower

Featured Deals

Dell XPS Tower Intel Core i7-6700 Quad-Core Win10 Pro Desktop with 16GB RAM, AMD RX560 for $669.99 at Dell (Coupon code: XPS669 – List price: $1129.99).

Dell Latitude 13 7000 Intel m7 13.3-inch 3200×1800 Touch Laptop with 256GB SSD, 8GB RAM (Refurb with 2yr Dell Warranty) for $749 at PCMag Shop (Coupon code: 7370250OFF – List price: $999).

Lenovo Presidents Day ThinkPad Sale: Up to 30% off X1 Carbon, T470s, T470 (Coupon code: THINKPADSALE).

Lenovo Ideapad 720s Intel Core i7-8550U Quad 13-inch 3840×2160 4K IPS Laptop with 8GB RAM, 512GB SSD for $949.99 at Lenovo (Coupon code: SAVEXTRA5 – List price: $1499.99).

Raspberry Pi 3 Complete Starter Kit with Retro Gaming Case for $65.99 at Amazon (Coupon code: 45YOCHIQ – List price: $74.99).

Micron 2TB SATA 6Gb/s 2.5-inch Internal Solid State Drive for $378.99 at Amazon.

Autonomous SmartDesk Height Adjustable Motorized Standing Desk for $237.99 at Amazon (List price: $349.99).

Anker Roav C2 1080p Dash Cam with Sony Sensor, Ambarella Chip, 3-inch LCD for $50.80 at Amazon (List price: $119.99).

Yosoo 50-Mile Range Transparent HDTV Antenna for $6.99 at Amazon (Coupon code: Q4JZTPA8 – List price: $21.99).

Prime Exclusive: LG G6+ 128GB Quad-Core 5.7-inch 2560×1440 Unlocked Smartphone for $469.99 at Amazon (List price: $799.99).

Samsung Gear S3 Frontier Smartwatch with Built-in GPS for $269.99 at Amazon (List price: $349.99).

TENKER Q5 800×480 1500-Lumens LED HDMI Mini Projector for $34.99 at Amazon (Coupon code: SV2ZDJND – List price: $69.99).

McAfee President’s Day Sale: McAfee 2018 Total Protection Software (10 Devices) for $29.99 (List price: $99.99).

Udemy President’s Day Sale: $9.99 Online Courses (Coupon code: FYY1201).

Samsung Tablet

Laptop and Desktop Computers

Samsung Galaxy Note Pro 12.2-inch 2560×1600 Octa-Core 32GB Tablet for $399 at PCMag Shop (Coupon code: NOTEPRO12100OFF – List price: $499).

Dell XPS 13 8th-gen Intel Core i7-8550U Quad-core 13.3-inch 1080p Ultra-thin Laptop with 8GB RAM, 256GB SSD for $999.99 at Dell (List price: $1299.99).

Dell XPS 15 Intel Core i7-7700HQ Quad-Core 15.6-inch 1080p Laptop with 512GB SSD and 16GB RAM for $1449.99 at Dell (Coupon code: 50OFF699 – List price: $1749.99).

New Dell Inspiron 5680 Intel Core i7-8700 Hexa-core Gaming Desktop with GeForce GTX 1060 3GB GPU for $999.99 at Dell (List price: $1149.99).

Dell OptiPlex 3050 Intel Core i5-7500 Quad-Core Kaby Lake Win10 Pro SFF Desktop for $529 at Dell (List price: $898.57).

Dell PowerEdge T30 Intel Xeon E3-1225v5 Quad-core Mini Tower Server for $299 at Dell (List price: $708).

Dell XPS Tower Intel Core i7-6700 Quad-Core Win10 Pro Desktop with 16GB RAM, AMD RX560 for $669.99 at Dell (Coupon code: XPS669 – List price: $1129.99).

Dell Latitude 13 7000 Intel m7 13.3-inch 3200×1800 Touch Laptop with 256GB SSD, 8GB RAM (Refurb with 2yr Dell Warranty) for $749 at PCMag Shop (Coupon code: 7370250OFF – List price: $999).

Lenovo Presidents’ Day ThinkPad Sale: Up to 30% off X1 Carbon, T470s, T470 (Coupon code: THINKPADSALE).

Lenovo Ideapad 720s Intel Core i7-8550U Quad 13-inch 3840×2160 4K IPS Laptop with 8GB RAM, 512GB SSD for $949.99 at Lenovo (Coupon code: SAVEXTRA5 – List price: $1499.99).

McAfee Presidents’ Day Sale: McAfee 2018 Total Protection Software (10 Devices) for $29.99 (List price: $99.99).

More Laptops and Desktop PC Deals here.

LG 65

HDTVs and Home Entertainment

65-inch LG OLED OLED65B7A 4K UltraHD LED HDTV with HDR for $1999.99 at Massdrop (List price: $2299.99).

74-inch Samsung UN75MU8000 4K HDR Smart HDTV for $2297.99 at Amazon (List price: $3799.99).

65-inch Samsung UN65MU6500 Curved 4K Ultra Smart LED HDTV and $350 Dell Gift Card for $999.99 at Dell (List price: $1499.99).

65-inch Vizio P65-E1 4K 120Hz Native LED HDTV with 126-Dimming Zones, Dolby Vision with HDR 10 and $400 Dell Gift Card for $1399.99 at Dell (List price: $1699.99).

65-inch Vizio D65-E0 4K UHD Smart HDTV and $250 Dell Gift Card for $799.99 at Dell (List price: $899.99).

49-inch TCL 49S405 4K Roku Smart HDTV for $329.99 at Amazon (List price: $479.99).

More TV Deals here.


Electronics and Components

DJI Phantom 4 Quadcopter with 4K Camera and 3-Axis Gimbal for $799 at Amazon (List price: $1199).

DJI Mavic Pro 4K Quadcopter for $838 at Amazon (List price: $999).

8Bitdo N30 Arcade Stick for Nintendo Switch, PC, Mac and Android for $51 at Amazon (List price: $79.99).

Bose QuietComfort 25 Acoustic Noise Cancelling Headphones for $169.99 at Amazon (List price: $299).

AirMod Wireless Bluetooth Adapter for Bose QuietComfort 25 Headphones (Turns QC25 Wireless) for $69.99 at Amazon.

Tenda Nova 802.11ac Whole Home Mesh Wi-Fi Router (3-Pack) for $129.99 at Amazon (List price: $199.99).

Today Only: Panasonic KX-TGE433B Cordless Phone with Answering Machine and 3 Handsets for $47.25 at Amazon (List price: $89.95).

Netgear Nighthawk R6700 Dual Band AC1750 Gigabit Wi-Fi Router and Netgear DOCSIS 3.0 Cable Modem for $99 at Amazon (List price: $189.98).

Ultimate Ears BOOM 2 Bluetooth Wireless Speaker (Phantom) for $89.99 at Dell (List price: $199.99).

Drocon Hacker Mini Quadcopter Drone with 720p HD Camera for $19.99 at Amazon (Coupon code: CHZ5CSXM – List price: $89.99).

Otium Wireless Bluetooth Sports Earphones for $9.80 at Amazon (Coupon code: L6GOZEAR – List price: $19.99).

APC P8U2 Performance SurgeArrest 8-Outlet Power Strip for $14.99 at Amazon (Clip $5 Coupon – List price: $34.99).

Etekcity 3-Prong 1ft Outlet Extension Power Cords (10-Pack) for $15.29 at Amazon (Coupon code: ZT9MSNYF – List price: $20.99).

AmazonBasics Pre-Charged AAA Rechargeable Batteries (8-Pack) for $8.99 at Amazon (List price: $11.99).

Raspberry Pi 3 Complete Starter Kit with Retro Gaming Case for $65.99 at Amazon (Coupon code: 45YOCHIQ – List price: $74.99).

Micron 2TB SATA 6Gb/s 2.5-inch Internal Solid State Drive for $378.99 at Amazon.

Anker Roav C2 1080p Dash Cam with Sony Sensor, Ambarella Chip, 3″ LCD for $50.80 at Amazon (List price: $119.99).

Yosoo 50-Mile Range Transparent HDTV Antenna for $6.99 at Amazon (Coupon code: Q4JZTPA8 – List price: $21.99).

Prime Exclusive: LG G6+ 128GB Quad-Core 5.7-inch 2560×1440 Unlocked Smartphone for $469.99 at Amazon (List price: $799.99).

Samsung Gear S3 Frontier Smartwatch with Built-in GPS for $269.99 at Amazon (List price: $349.99).

TENKER Q5 800×480 1500-Lumens LED HDMI Mini Projector for $34.99 at Amazon (Coupon code: SV2ZDJND – List price: $69.99).

More Electronics and Tech Deals here.


Tools and Home Improvement, Kitchen Gadgets, and more

Bowflex SelectTech 552 Adjustable Dumbbells Pair (Up to 52.5 lbs) for $249.99 at Amazon (List price: $299.99).

Zinus 12-inch Queen Size Memory Foam Green Tea Mattress for $189 at Amazon (List price: $289).

Philips HF3520 Wake-Up Light with Colored Sunrise Simulation for $72.55 at Amazon (Clip $25 Coupon – List price: $139.99).

AncestryDNA: Genetic Testing DNA Ancestry Test Kit for $69 at Amazon (List price: $99).

23andMe Discove(RED) DNA Test (Health and Ancestry Personal Genetic Service) for $149 at Amazon (List price: $199).

LEGO NASA Apollo Saturn V Rocket Model (1969 Pieces) for $119.95 at Amazon.

LEGO Architecture Shanghai Building Kit (597-Piece) for $47.99 at Amazon (List price: $59.99).

Eufy RoboVac 11+ Self-Charging Robotic Vacuum with HEPA Style Filter for $219.99 at Amazon (Clip $30 Coupon – List price: $559.99).

GermGuardian True HEPA Air Purifier with UV-C, Odor Filter for $81.99 at Amazon (List price: $149.99).

TurboTax Deluxe 2017 State and Federal and eFile Tax Software and Bonus Quicken Starter for $39.86 at Amazon (List price: $59.99).

Sengled Element 9W Smart Home BR30 LED Floodlight Bulb for $7.16 at Amazon (Coupon code: 50SENGLEDB – List price: $14.33).

Autonomous SmartDesk Height Adjustable Motorized Standing Desk for $237.99 at Amazon (List price: $349.99).

Udemy President’s Day Sale: $9.99 Online Courses (Coupon code: FYY1201).

For more great Presidents Day deals go to TechBargains.

The Intel SSD DC P4510 SSD Review Part 1: Virtual RAID On CPU (VROC) Scalability

This post was originally published on this site

Today, Intel is introducing their 64-layer 3D TLC NAND to the enterprise SSD market with the new Intel SSD DC P4510 NVMe drive. They are also finally giving us a chance to test the Virtual RAID On CPU feature introduced with the Skylake-SP and Skylake-X processors last year. Intel has provided four 2TB P4510 SSDs to test against the 8TB model, plus the much sought-after VROC Premium hardware key to unlock the full range of NVMe RAID features on this platform.

The Intel SSD DC P4510 is Intel’s first enterprise SSD to use their 64-layer 3D NAND flash memory. The P4510 uses the same second-generation Intel NVMe SSD controller as the other P45xx and P46xx drives introduced last year with 32-layer 3D NAND. With the Optane SSD DC P4800X now covering the highest product segment, Intel’s flash-based enterprise NVMe drives are now divided into just two performance and endurance tiers. The P4510 falls into the cheaper tier of drives with much lower write performance and write endurance ratings that are generally between 0.5 drive writes per day (DWPD) and 1 DWPD. The DC P46xx tier has write endurance ratings around 3 DWPD (and the Optane SSD DC P4800X is rated for 30 DWPD).

Intel regards the P45xx tier of products as intended for high-capacity primary storage usage, while the P46xx drives are targeted for use as a cache layer. With their second-generation NVMe controller, Intel is also dividing their enterprise NVMe SSD family on another axis. Unlike the controller used on the P3xxx series, new controller is small enough to fit on a M.2 card, and can operate within the power limits of that form factor. A month after first announcing the P4500 and P4600, Intel introduced the low-power P4501 as their first M.2 drive with an in-house controller. The P4501 is also available as a 7mm thick U.2 drive, compared to the 15mm thickness of the high-power U.2 drives. The P4510 falls into that high-power category, but the smaller capacities are rated for just 10W active power, which is comparable to the 2.5″ version of the P4501.

Intel SSD DC P4510 Specifications
Capacity 1 TB 2 TB 4 TB 8 TB
Form Factor 2.5″ 15mm U.2
Interface PCIe 3.1 x4 NVMe 1.2
Memory Intel 512Gb 64-layer 3D TLC
Sequential Read 2850 MB/s 3200 MB/s 3000 MB/s 3200 MB/s
Sequential Write 1100 MB/s 2000 MB/s 2900 MB/s 3000 MB/s
Random Read 469k IOPS 624k IOPS 625.5k IOPS 620k IOPS
Random Write 72k IOPS 79k IOPS 113.5k IOPS 139.5k IOPS
Maximum Power Active 10 W 10 W 14 W 16 W
Idle 5 W 5 W 5 W 5 W
Write Endurance 1.1 DWPD 0.7 DWPD 0.9 DWPD 1.0 DWPD
Warranty 5 years

Compared to the Intel SSD DC P4500, the biggest performance gains the P4510 brings are to write speeds. Random write performance is more than doubled, and sequential write performance is 60-90% higher. With those performance increases and the reduced power consumption, the Intel claims the P4510 offers twice the performance per watt on some workloads.

Intel has also tuned the P4501’s firmware to offer much better quality of service. A major part of this is that the P4510 is better about prioritizing read operations over flash program or erase operations, leading to an order of magnitude improvement in 99.99th percentile read latency. The P4510 also benefits from the 64L 3D TLC’s flash program latency, which is about half that of Intel’s 32L 3D NAND.

While today marks the first official announcement of the P4510, the 1TB and 2TB capacities started shipping to some large cloud providers in 2017. New today are the 4TB and 8TB models, and the full line will be more broadly available starting this quarter. With a broad range of capacities, and lower prices and higher performance enabled by the transition to 64L 3D NAND, Intel is expecting the P4510 to be their best-selling SSD this year. For now, the P4510 is only available as a 2.5″ U.2 drive, but in the future Intel may introduce other form factors, including EDSFF—the now-standardized version of the Intel Ruler concept.

We have only had a few days to play with the Intel SSD DC P4510 and Intel VROC, so the benchmark results in this review are very limited. This review focuses solely on the performance of the P4510 and the scalability limits of Intel VROC. Follow-up reviews will provide our usual in-depth analysis of single-drive performance and power efficiency as compared against other enterprise NVMe SSDs, compare VROC performance between Windows and Linux, and VROC performance with an Optane cache. We will also test VROC with our client SSD test suite and Samsung 960 PRO consumer SSDs.

For this review, we’re using the same system Intel provided for our Optane SSD DC P4800X review. This is a 2U server based on Intel’s current Xeon Scalable platform codenamed Purley. The system includes two Xeon Gold 6154 18-core Skylake-SP processors, and 16GB DDR4-2666 DIMMs on all twelve memory channels for a total of 192GB of DRAM.

Each of the two processors provides 48 PCI Express lanes plus a four-lane DMI link. The allocation of these lanes is complicated. Most of the PCIe lanes from CPU1 are dedicated to specific purposes: the x4 DMI plus another x16 link go to the C624 chipset, and there’s an x8 link to a connector for an optional SAS controller. This leaves CPU2 providing the PCIe lanes for most of the expansion slots.

Enterprise SSD Test System
System Model Intel Server R2208WFTZS
CPU 2x Intel Xeon Gold 6154 (18C, 3.0GHz)
Motherboard Intel S2600WFT
Chipset Intel C624
Memory 192GB total, Micron DDR4-2666 16GB modules
Software CentOS Linux 7.4, kernel 3.10.0-693.17.1
fio version 3.3
Thanks to StarTech for providing a RK2236BKF 22U rack cabinet.

As originally configured, this server was set up to provide as many PCIe slots as possible: 7 x8 slots and one x4 slot. To support U.2 PCIe SSDs in the drive cages at the front of the server, a PCIe switch card was included that uses a Microsemi PM8533 switch to provide eight OCuLink connectors for PCIe x4 cables. This card only has a PCIe x8 uplink, so it is a potential bottleneck for arrays of more than two U.2 SSDs. Without such cards to multiply PCIe lanes, providing PCIe connectivity to all 16 hot swap bays would require almost all of the lanes routed to PCIe expansion card slots. The Xeon Scalable processors provide a lot of PCIe lanes, but with NVMe SSDs it is still easy to run out.

In order to provide a dedicated x4 link to each of our P4510 SSDs, a few components had to be swapped out. First, one of the riser cards providing three x8 slots was exchanged for a riser with one x16 slot and one x8 slot. The PCIe switch card was exchanged for a PCIe x16 retimer card with four OCuLink ports. A PCIe retimer is essentially a pair of back to back PCIe PHYs; its purpose is to reconstruct and retransmit the PCIe signals, ensuring that the signal remains clean enough for full-speed operation over the meter-long path from the CPU to the SSD, passing through six connectors, four circuit boards and 70cm of cable.

When using a riser with a PCIe x16 slot, this server supports configurable lane bifurcation on that slot, so that it can operate as a combination of x4 or x8 links instead. PCIe slot bifurcation support is required to use a single slot to drive four SSDs without an intervening PCIe switch. Bifurcation is generally not supported on consumer platforms, but enthusiast consumer platforms like Skylake-X and AMD’s Threadripper are starting to support it—but not on every motherboard. In enthusiast systems, it is expected that consumers will be using M.2 SSDs rather than 2.5″ U.2 drives, so several vendors are now selling quad-M.2 adapter cards. In a future review, we will be testing some of those adapters with this system running our client SSD test suite.

The x16 riser and retimer board arrived a few days after the P4510 SSDs, so we have some results from testing four-drive RAID with the PCIe switch card and its x8 uplink bottleneck. Testing of four-drive RAID without the bottleneck is ongoing.

Intel’s Virtual RAID on CPU (VROC) feature is a software RAID system that allows for bootable NVMe RAID arrays. There are several restrictions: most notable is the requirement of a hardware dongle to unlock some tiers of VROC functionality. Most Skylake-SP and Skylake-X systems have the small header on the motherboard for installing a VROC key, but the keys themselves have not been possible to buy directly. When first announced, Intel gave the impression that VROC would be available to enthusiast consumers who were willing to pay a few hundred dollars extra. Since then, Intel has retreated to the position of treating VROC as a workstation and server feature that is bundled with OEM-built systems. Intel isn’t actively trying to prevent consumers from using VROC on X299 motherboards, but until VROC keys can be purchased at retail, not much can be done.

There are multiple VROC key SKUs, enabling different feature levels. Intel’s information about these has been inconsistent. We have a VROC Premium key, which enables everything, including the creation of RAID-5 arrays and the use of non-Intel SSDs. There is also a VROC standard key that does not enable RAID-5, but RAID-0/1/10 are available. More recent documents from Intel also list a VROC Intel SSD Only key, which enables RAID-0/1/10 and RAID-5, but only supports Intel’s data center and professional SSD models. Without a VROC hardware key, Intel’s RAID solution cannot be used, but some of the underlying features VROC relies on are still available:

Intel Volume Management Device

When 2.5″ U.2 NVMe SSDs first started showing up in datacenters, they revealed a widespread immaturity of platform support for features like PCIe hotplug. Proper hotplug and hot-swap of PCIe SSDs required careful coordination between the OS and the motherboard firmware, often through vendor-specific mechanisms. Intel tackled that problem with the Volume Management Device (VMD) feature in Skylake-SP CPUs. Enabling VMD any of the CPU’s PCIe ports prevents the motherboard from detecting devices attached to that port at boot time. This shifts all responsibility for device enumeration and management to the OS. With a VMD-aware OS and NVMe driver, SSDs and PCIe switches connected through ports with VMD enabled will be enumerated in an entirely separate PCIe domain, appearing behind a virtual PCIe root complex.

The other major feature of VMD sounds trivial, but is extremely important for datacenters: LED management. 2.5″ drives do not have their own status LEDs and instead rely on the hot-swap backplane to implement the indicators necessary to identify activity or a failed device. In the SAS/SCSI world the side channels and protocols for managing this are thoroughly standardized and taken for granted, but the NVMe specifications didn’t start addressing this until the addition of the NVMe Management Interface in late 2015. Intel VMD allows systems to use a VMD-specific LED management driver to provide the same standard LED diagnostic blink patterns that a SAS RAID card uses.

PCIe Port Bifurcation

On our test system, PCIe port bifurcation is automatically enabled for x16 slots, but not for x8 slots. No bifurcation settings had to be changed to get VROC working with the four-port PCIe retimer board, but when installing an ASUS Hyper M.2 X16 card with four Samsung 960 PROs, the slot’s bifurcation setting had to be manually configured to split the port into four x4 links. This behavior is likely to vary between systems.

Configuring the Array

Once a VROC key is installed and SSDs are installed in VMD-enabled PCIe ports, the motherboard firmware component of VROC can be used. This is a UEFI driver that implements software RAID functionality, plus a configuration utility for creating and managing arrays. On our test system, this firmware utility can be found in the section for UEFI Option ROMs, right below the settings for configuring network booting.

Once an array has been setup, it can be used by any OS that has VROC drivers. All the necessary components are available out of the box from many Linux distributions, so we were able to use CentOS 7.4 without installing any extra software. (Intel provides some extra utilities for management under Linux, but they aren’t necessary if you use the UEFI utility to create arrays.) On Windows, Intel’s VROC drivers need to be installed, or loaded while running the Windows Setup if the operating system will be booting from a VROC array.

Configurations Tested

With four 2TB Intel SSD P4510 drives at our disposal and one 8TB drive to compare against, this review includes results from the following VROC configurations:

  • Four 2TB P4510s in RAID-0
  • Four 2TB P4510s in RAID-10
  • Two 2TB P4510s in RAID-0
  • A Single 2TB P4510
  • A Single 8TB P4510

There are also partial results from four-drive RAID-0, RAID-10 and RAID-5 from before the x16 riser and retimer board arrived. These configurations had all four 2TB drives connected through a PCIe switch with a PCIe x8 uplink. Testing of four drives in RAID-5 without this bottleneck is in progress.

In order to properly stress a four-drive NVMe RAID array, this test covers queue depths much higher than our client SSD tests: from 1 to 512, using from one to eight worker threads each with queue depths up to 64. Each queue depth is tested for four minutes, and the performance average excludes the first minute. The queue depths are tested back to back with no idle time. The individual read operations are 4kB, and cover the span of the drive or array. Prior to running this test, the drives were preconditioned by writing to the entire drive with random writes, twice over.

Sustained 4kB Random Read

The 2TB and 8TB P4510s have the same peak random read performance. The RAID-0 and RAID-10 configurations both provide about three times the performance of a single drive, and the two-drive RAID-0 provides just under twice the performance of a single drive.

The individual P4510 drives don’t saturate until at least QD128. The RAID configurations with a bottleneck from the PCIe x8 switch uplink have hit that limit by the end of the test, but the four-drive configurations without that bottleneck could clearly deliver even higher throughput with more worker threads.

As with the random read test, this test covers queue depths from 1 to 512, using from one to eight worker threads each with queue depths up to 64. Each queue depth is tested for four minutes, and the performance average excludes the first minute. The queue depths are tested back to back with no idle time. The individual write operations are 4kB, and cover the span of the drive or array. This test was run immediately after the random read test, so the drives had been preconditioned with two full drive writes of random writes.

Sustained 4kB Random Write

The four-drive RAID-0 configuration manages to provide five times the random write throughput of a single 2TB drive, and even the configuration with a PCIe x8 bottleneck is over four times faster than a single drive. The RAID-10 configurations and the two-drive RAID-0 are only slightly faster than the single 8TB drive, which has more than twice the random write throughput of the 2TB model.

Several of the test runs show performance drops in the second half that we did not have time to debug, but the general pattern seems to be that random write performance saturates at relatively low queue depths, around QD16 or QD32.

The structure of this test is the same as the random read test, except that the reads performed are 128kB and are arranged sequentially. This test covers queue depths from 1 to 512, using from one to eight worker threads each with queue depths up to 64. Each worker thread is reading from a different section of the drive. Each queue depth is tested for four minutes, and the performance average excludes the first minute. The queue depths are tested back to back with no idle time. The individual read operations are 128kB, and cover the span of the drive or array. Prior to running this test, the drives were preconditioned by writing to the entire drive sequentially, twice over.

Sustained 128kB Sequential Read

The sequential read performance results are pretty much as expected. The 2TB and 8TB drives have the same peak throughput. The two-drive RAID-0 is almost as fast as the four-drive array configurations that were working with a PCIe x8 bottleneck, and with that bottleneck removed, performance of the four-drive RAID-0 and RAID-10 increases by 80%.

All but the RAID-5 configuration show a substantial drop in throughput from QD1 to QD2 as competition between threads is introduced, but performance quickly recovers.  The individual drives reach full speed at QD16 (eight threads each at QD2). Unsurprisingly, the two-drive configuration saturates at QD32 and the four-drive arrays saturate at QD64.

The structure of this test is the same as the sequential read test. This test covers queue depths from 1 to 512, using from one to eight worker threads each with queue depths up to 64. Each worker thread is writing to a different section of the drive. Each queue depth is tested for four minutes, and the performance average excludes the first minute. The queue depths are tested back to back with no idle time. The individual write operations are 128kB, and cover the span of the drive or array. This test was run immediately after the sequential read test, so the drives had been preconditioned with sequential writes.

Sustained 128kB Sequential Write

The 8TB P4510 delivers far higher sequential write throughput than the 2TB model. The four-drive RAID-10 configuration requires more than PCIe x8 to beat the 8TB drive. The four-drive RAID-0 is about 3.6 times faster than a single 2TB drive, but only 2.4 times faster than the equivalent capacity 8TB drive.

The sequential write throughput of most configurations saturates with queue depths of just 2-4. The 8TB drive takes a bit longer to reach full speed around QD8. The performance of a four-drive array scales up more slowly when it is subject to a PCIe bottleneck, even before it has reached that upper limit.

Our test of mixed random reads and writes covers mixes varying from pure reads to pure writes at 10% increments. Each mix is tested for four minutes, with the first minute excluded from the statistics. The test is conducted with eight worker threads and total queue depths of 8, 64 and 512. This test is conducted immediately after the random write test, so the drives have been thoroughly preconditioned with random writes across the entire drive or array.

QD 8
QD 64
QD 512

At the relatively low queue depth of 8, the individual P4510 drives show fairly flat performance across the varied mixes of reads and writes. The RAID configurations help a little bit with the random read performance, but have a much bigger effect on write throughput.

Our test of mixed sequential reads and writes differs from the mixed random I/O test by performing 128kB sequential accesses rather than 4kB accesses at random locations. The highest queue depth tested here is 256. The range of mixes tested is the same, and the timing of the sub-tests are also the same as above. This test was conducted immediately after the sequential write test, so the drives had been preconditioned with sequential writes over their entire span.

QD 8
QD 64
QD 256

At QD8, the single 2TB P4510 again has fairly flat performance across the range of mixes, but the 8TB model picks up speed as the proportion of writes increases. The four-drive RAID-0 shows strong increases in performance as the mix becomes more write heavy, and the two-drive RAID-0 shows a similar but smaller effect over most of the test.

At QD64 and QD256, the huge difference in write performance between the four-drive RAID-0 and RAID-10 configurations is apparent. The configurations with a PCIe x8 bottleneck show entirely different behavior, peaking in the middle of the test when they are able to take advantage of the full-duplex nature of PCIe, and slowest at either end of the test when one-way traffic saturates the link. For even balances of reads and writes, the PCIe x8 bottleneck barely affects overall throughput.

So far, we’ve only scratched the surface of the Intel SSD DC P4510 and Intel’s VROC solution for NVMe RAID. We’ve been able to verify only the most basic specifications for the drives, but most of the initial results match up with our expectations.  The 8TB Intel SSD DC P4510 offers some substantial performance increases over the 2TB model, and the aggregate capacity and performance it enables from a single server is impressive. Once we get the necessary adapter to measure power consumption of U.2 drives with our Quarch XLC Programmable Power Module, we will begin a deeper analysis of the P4510 on a single-drive basis, comparing it against competing enterprise NVMe SSDs. It is already clear that Intel has made significant generational performance improvements, but the purported efficiency improvements will be at least as tantalizing to datacenter customers. The 16W rated power draw of the 8TB P4510 sounds pretty good in comparison to the 20.5W draw of a 4TB P4500, or the 12W of a 2TB P3520.

Intel’s Virtual RAID On CPU (VROC) solution for NVMe RAID has very particular requirements for its use, but once all the pieces are in place, its use is straightforward. The experience using VROC on Linux has been fairly smooth so far, but we have not yet attempted to install an operating system to a VROC array. The RAID-0 and RAID-10 performance we’ve observed shows excellent scalability to 11.6GB/s sequential reads and over 2M random read IOPS from four drives, with no effort on our part to fine-tune the system for maximum performance. At the moment, we are testing RAID-5 performance and the CPU usage of the parity calculations involved in writing to RAID-5 arrays. At the speed of four NVMe drives like the P4510, this overhead is significant and requires multiple CPU cores, but it is unavoidable: there are no hardware RAID solutions for NVMe drives that can keep up with an array of four P4510s.

Are Smart TV Designs Taking Home Security for Granted?

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Millions of smart TVs from Samsung and some streaming devices from Roku recently were found to be vulnerable to cyberattacks, allowing intruders to take control and remotely change channels and volume settings, among other things, according to Consumer Reports research.

Vulnerabilities were discovered not only in Samsung televisions, but also in TVs from TCL and other brands that sell sets compatible with the Roku TV smart-TV platform and streaming video devices such as Roku Ultra, according to the report.

Further, the affected televisions and devices collect a wide range of personal data, Consumer Reports noted, and users who choose to limit that data collection would risk limiting the functionality of the TV.

The report is based on a wide ranging security and privacy review of major brands, including Vizio, LG and Sony.

This review was the first conducted as part of Consumer Reports’ new Digital Standard, which is an effort among several nonprofits, including the Cyber Independent Testing Lab and Aspiration, to help set standards for the way electronics makers handle digital rights, cybersecurity and privacy issues.

The vulnerability Consumer Reports detected in Samsung TVs did not allow testers to extract data from the affected device or monitor what was playing, said spokesperson James McQueen.

Televisions from other makers using the Roku TV platform also were vulnerable to attack, he told TechNewsWorld.

This is not the first time an unsecured API has been found to be problematic, McQueen said, noting that this issue has been discussed in forums since 2015.

Further legislative action is needed to protect the integrity of consumer data, according to Consumers Union, the advocacy arm of Consumer Reports .

“Congress needs to pass data security standards for connected products, and federal regulators need to step up and hold companies accountable for privacy, security and safety of these products,” argued Justin Brookman, director of consumer privacy and technology policy at Consumers Union.

Industry Pushback

Protecting consumer data is one of our top priorities,” Samsung said in a statement provided to TechNewsWorld by spokesperson Zach Dugan. “Samsung’s privacy practices are specifically designed to keep the personal information of consumers secure.”

Samsung’s Smart TVs include “a number of features that combine data security with the best possible user experience,” the company said.

Before it collects any information on consumers, Samsung always asks for their consent, according to the statement, and it makes “every effort to ensure that data is handled with the utmost care.”

Samsung has reached out to Consumer Reports and is looking into the specific points made regarding its smart televisions, it said.

The Consumer Reports findings are a “mischaracterization of a feature,” Gary Ellison, vice president for trust engineering at Roku, maintained in an online post.

Roku wanted “to assure our customers that there is no security risk,” he added.

Roku allows third-party developers to create remote controls, Ellison pointed out.

The technology is derived from an open interface that the company designed and published itself, and there is no risk to consumers or to the Roku platform using the API, he explained. Consumers can turn off the feature by clicking Settings>System>Advanced System Settings>External Control>Disabled.

As for the Automated Content Recognition, Roku ensures that consumers have to opt in to get the feature, Ellison said, and it is not on by default. Consumers can undo the feature by clicking on Settings>Privacy>Smart TV experience>Use info from TV inputs.

Mounting Concerns

Security has been a growing concern with the increased use of smart television and video streaming devices, observed Brett Sappington, director of research at Parks Associates.

“For many years, there was no reason to hack a television or a smart streaming media player,” he told TechNewsWorld.

It was only with the advent of subscription-based video services and transactional video that you started to see financial data, like credit card numbers, get stored online, Sappington noted.

Roku is at the top of the food chain among U.S. streaming video makers. The company controlled 37 percent of the domestic market as of the first quarter 2017, up from about one-third of the market in the same period in 2016, Parks reported last summer. In the global market, Roku is second to Apple, because Apple operates in market across the world with many devices.

Sixty-nine percent of new televisions sold have Internet functionality that helps them operate as smart entertainment devices, Consumer Reports noted, citing data from IHS Markit.

Adding security and privacy to the menu of consumer product issues it evaluates was a great move on the part of Consumer Reports, as the use of smart devices in the home is rapidly expanding, said Mark Nunnikhoven, vice president, cloud research at Trend Micro.

“The issue with the Samsung, Roku and other devices is a simple and, unfortunately, common one,” he told TechNewsWorld. “An API that blindly trusts anyone calling it, or — slightly better — a broken authentication scheme.”

Trend Micro has seen similar problems in other devices, Nunnikhoven said, most recently with smart speakers from Bose and Sonos, which compete against Google Home and Amazon Echo at the top end, targeting the audiophile market.

These devices were designed with the idea that the network they would connect to would be secure — but home and corporate networks often are not secure, he pointed out. “I wouldn’t consider this a hack, but a flawed design.”

These issues don’t pose a direct threat to consumer privacy, but they are symptomatic of a deeper issue, which is a failure to build security and privacy protocols into the fabric of the technology, Nunnikhoven said, and the entire tech community needs to do a better job of addressing that challenge.

David Jones is a freelance writer based in Essex County, New Jersey. He has written for Reuters, Bloomberg, Crain’s New York Business and The New York Times.

Protect Your Tables From Apple HomePod With These Tips

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The HomePod is Apple’s latest innovation, a smart speaker designed to play your music while also listening to your commands. An Amazon Echo with Siri instead of Alexa. Unlike the last major new Apple product, the HomePod, fortunately, doesn’t steal your face. But that doesn’t mean the tech doesn’t have issues of its own.

For a company so obsessed with clean design, Apple HomePod early adopters were shocked to discover the device was leaving strange, disfiguring white ring stains on wooden surfaces. According to Apple, “the marks can be caused by oils diffusing between the silicone base and the table surface,” and that it’s “not unusual for any speaker with a vibration-dampening silicone base to leave mild marks when placed on some wooden surfaces.”

But as accurate as that answer may be, folks obviously aren’t too happy their shiny new Apple product may mess up their tables, and that Apple doesn’t really have any answers. Fortunately, we do. Here are some quick, completely legitimate tips for protecting your table from Apple HomePod.

Use Coasters/Doilies

The HomePod isn’t the first case of stuff messing up tables with weird rings. Just ask anyone who drinks. And humanity has already come up with a solution. Just slap some doilies or coasters under that HomePod and you should be golden.

Use a Single Paper Towel

If doilies and coasters are too fancy for you (just try to say doilies out loud without hating yourself) just use one single old-fashioned paper towel as a buffer between the HomePod and your table. Plus, you already need paper towels for lots of other stuff anyway.

The Best Metal Gear Solid Shirts

Use an Old T-Shirt

Having a brand new Apple HomePod right at launch, while cool, can make one seem… elitist. So bring yourself back down to earth and protect your table at the same time by plopping the HomePod right on top of some old dumb t-shirt.

Check out Geek’s T-Shirt Tuesday!

Use an Apple Coffee Table Book

If you want to keep your HomePod protection plan within the Apple family, get yourself this big Apple coffee table book. Not only does it have gorgeous images of Apple’s iconic tech design throughout the years for you to show off to guests, it’s also already meant to go on tables, so just put it underneath your HomePod.

Use Flour/Cocaine

The first thing that came to mind when looking at the HomePod rings was obviously Apple is covering these things in cocaine. So if your table is going to be covered in cocaine, you might as well cover the whole thing in cocaine, or flour if you want that sweet white powder without “breaking the law.”

Use a New Table

Maybe the HomePod is just Apple’s passive-aggressive way of saying your table isn’t worth saving. The issue only seems to affect wooden surfaces anyway. So if your HomePod messes up one table, just throw it out and get a new one. Planned obsolescence.

Amazon Echo

Use an Amazon Echo

You could try to deal with these early issues of the Apple HomePod. But why not just save yourself the trouble and get an Amazon Echo, a better and cheaper product that’s already had time to work out its kinks.

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