Category Archives: Technology

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MovieBob Reviews: COCO (2017)

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Is Coco good?
Very good.

What’s it about?
The story concerns a Mexican boy named Miguel Rivera who dreams of being a musician but faces fierce opposition from his extended family, a generational collective of shoemakers who disdain and forbid all music owing to having been founded by an iron-willed matriarch. The footwear entrepreneurship found salvation after her husband left home to become a musician himself and never returned. Through a series of plot complications, Miguel comes to believe that his absentee great-great grandfather is actually Ernesto de la Cruz, a celebrity musician who famously died young. And in attempting to prove this, finds himself trapped by a curse in the Afterlife during Dia de Los Muertos; the Mexican holiday wherein passage between the living and dead worlds is traversable under certain circumstances.

So it’s similar to The Book of Life from a few years ago?
Only very broadly. Apart from both using supernatural characters rendered in the style of Dia de los Muertos decorations the two aren’t actually very similar. Whereas Book of Life was very much about its supernatural mythology, Coco ends up being an intimate family drama where – apart from the sight gags and otherworldly adventure business, obviously – the afterlife plot device is ultimately a way to tell a story about a kid confronting his own family history in literal terms.

How so?
Once crossed-over, Miguel is quickly discovered there by the skeletal spirits of his ancestors, who are able to send him back but want to do so with the condition that he foreswear his musical ambitions. So he embarks on a quest to find de la Cruz, whom he believes can be more helpful in that regard – enlisting help from a skeleton hustler named Hector who has an agenda of his own.

I heard there was some controversy here?
At one point it was going to be called “Dia de los Muertos,” and Disney filed a copyright for the title. Obviously, this did not go over well at all with people in Mexico and throughout Latin America who’ve been celebrating the Holiday for several centuries. Disney eventually reversed course.

What sets it apart from other animated movies this year?
The decisive grounding in Mexican popular culture and folklore gives all of the proceedings a refreshing sense of identity apart from prior variations on the same kind of story. It’s not just a matter of Disney/Pixar borrowing a setting and a culturally-specific holiday, the storyline and Miguel’s journey through it allows for what’s effectively a walking tour of Mexico’s lasting contributions to art, music, movies sports and popular culture… but in a way that feels genuine and “lived” as opposed to just grabbing the well-known stuff – including some surprise cameos (sort of) by the Afterlife versions of historical figures I… can safely say I never expected to see in a Disney movie.

How does it compare to other recent Pixar movies?
At this point I feel like we’re reaching the point where comparing each new Pixar movie to where it might fit into the “canon” with the others has become kind of a pointless exercise – I mean, this isn’t some small artisanal operation anymore, if it ever was one… but for what it’s worth I’d say Coco is easily the best since Inside Out even though I didn’t have any real issue with Finding Dory or Cars 3. What IS kind of nice is that it feels like the first Western animated movie in forever that doesn’t feel like the need to merchandise played a strong role in the production. I’m sure there WILL be merchandise, and I don’t have anything against that per-say, it’s just a refreshing change to see something and NOT immediately be able to pick out which supporting character is trying to be this year’s Minions.

Is this one of those Pixar movies that will make me cry?
I did.

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Black Friday 2017 deals master list: All of this year’s best deals

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Black Friday 2017 is finally here! It’s not Friday yet, of course, but “Black Friday” is no longer a day. For some retailers it’s a full week, and other retailers kick off their early Black Friday sales two weeks in advance. But regardless of when the early sales begin, every single online retailer begins their official Black Friday sale on Thursday, Thanksgiving Day. After all, what better way is there to spend all that time you have while your family prepares a massive feast than saving a ton of money on just about anything and everything you can think of.

Before we get to the fun stuff, we have a few points of order. Firstly, our Black Friday 2017 Hub should be the very first bookmark in your browser right now. Our deals team has been absolutely killing it for the past two weeks, digging up all the best deals from around the web and sharing them with our readers.

If you’ve been following along, you’ve undoubtedly already scored some killer deals on products across every category imaginable. 4K TVs? Duh. Smartphones and computers? Covered. Home audio, headphones, and video games? You bet. Heck, our team even shared two killer sales on some of the best mattresses money can buy. After all this shopping you’re going to want a good night’s sleep, after all.

The BGR Deals team has no intention of slowing down, so follow along as they share the best Black Friday 2017 deals from every major retailer. While they’re busy doing all the heavy lifting, we’ll be taking all the best Black Friday deals they find and aggregating them right here in this post. Below, you’ll find the cream of the Black Friday crop from every major product category, and you’d better hurry because some of these Black Friday deals are so good that inventory might not even last until Friday.

TVs

Streaming Media

Wireless Speakers

Home Audio

Headphones

Smart Home

Tablets and E-readers

Gaming

Fitness Trackers

Dash Cams

Mattresses

Other

Today only: Amazon has a huge Black Friday sale on SanDisk memory cards and more

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Yup, this is the one you’ve been waiting for boys and girls. SanDisk storage devices and memories cards are always among the hottest product lines during the Black Friday shopping blitz. After all, you need new memory cards for all the hot new gadgets you picked up, right? Well Amazon definitely did not disappoint this year — the retailer has more than 20 different SanDisk products on sale today. Highlights include terrific prices on a SanDisk Ultra 256GB microSDXC UHS-I card, Sandisk Ultra 128GB Micro SDXC UHS-I Card, SanDisk 64GB iXpand Base, SanDisk 1TB Extreme 500 Portable SSD, and SanDisk Cruzer CZ36 64GB USB 2.0 Flash Drive.

Unlike most Black Friday deals, this huge SanDisk sale is actually only good today for one day, so it’ll be over by the time Black Friday rolls around. In other words, get in on the action now while you still can. Shop the full SanDisk sale right here, and check out some of our favorite deals below.

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.

eBay has the best Xbox One S Black Friday deal out there

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eBay on Monday shared with the world its Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals, which contain plenty of exciting discounts on electronics and gadgets, among other things. eBay’s deals start on Thanksgiving Day and run through Cyber Monday — here are the full ads for eBay’s sales events.

But the retailers waited until Thursday to unveil what’s possibly the best Xbox One S deal we’ve seen this Black Friday shopping season.

If you’ve been following our Black Friday deals coverage, then you probably know that most electronics retailers out there run console promos on Black Friday and Cyber Monday. This year, the cheapest consoles from Sony and Microsoft cost around $200, give or take a few bucks. That’s the PS4 and Xbox One S, respectively, if you’re keeping track. The PS4 Pro and Xbox One X, meanwhile, are the more expensive consoles that you can buy this holiday season.

So, how much is eBay charging for an Xbox One S console? Just $169.99, which is $110 lower than the regular $279.99 price, and slightly cheaper than all the other Black Friday deals. Microsoft sells it for $189, which is a great deal. eBay didn’t even include this Xbox One S promo in its official Black Friday flyer, so the only way to get it is by following this link. You should also save the link in case you want to try to price-match the deal at other stores.

Microsoft, meanwhile, has its own Xbox deals, available at this link. You should also check our list of discounted Xbox One games available in stores this Black Friday season.

Aquantia to Sell Its 5G and 10G Network Cards for $59 and $69 on Black Friday

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Aquantia got a lot of positive publicity this year with its relatively inexpensive 5G and 10G network cards, which brought multi-gigabit Ethernet down to around $100, making them some two-to-three times cheaper than earlier NICs. On Black Friday, the company is going to slash prices of its cards even further to $59 – $69 per unit, making these the cheapest multi-gigabit NICs to date.

Aquantia’s AQN-107 and AQN-108 network cards are based on the company’s AQC107 (10 GbE) and AQC108 (5 GbE) multi-gigabit network controllers. The more affordable AQN-108 card uses a PCIe 3.0 x1 interface and supports various BASE-T standards, including 100M, 1G, 2.5G and 5G over an RJ45 connector using Cat5e/Cat6 cabling. The more advanced AQN-107 card features a PCIe 3.0 x4 interface and supports all of the aforementioned standards as well as 10G. The cards are compatible with various contemporary and legacy PCs running Windows 7/8/10 or Linux 3.2/3.6/4.2/4.4.

On Black Friday, November 24, the Aquantia AQtion AQN-108 5G NIC will be sold for $59, down from its regular price of $99. The AQtion AQN-107 10G NIC will be available for an $69, down from $127 regularly. This promotion is only going to work with Aquantia’s international distributors — Arrow, WPGA and WPI, but not regular retailers (see direct links to the cards on websites of the said companies in the table below).

Aquantia AQtion Multi-Gigabit NICs
Card AQN-107 AQN-108
Controller AQC-107 AQC-108
100BASE-T Yes Yes
1000BASE-T Yes Yes
2.5GBASE-T Yes Yes
5GBASE-T Yes Yes
10GBASE-T Yes No
Ports 1 1
MSRP $127 $99
Black Friday Promo Price $69 $59
Buy from Distributors Arrow
WPGA
WPI
Arrow
WPGA
WPI

It is not unusual for various companies to sell their products at bargain prices on Black Friday, however such a deep discount on a recently launched product is a bit more atypical. Keeping in mind that the AQN-107 and AQN-108 network cards were released only several months ago and are up to date (and you do not expect NIC developers to introduce new models every year), it is clear that $59 – $69 per unit are price points that Aquantia is comfortable with, and that this isn’t a Black Friday close-out sale. It’s probably a bit premature to make predictions regarding future retail prices of Aquantia-based multi-gigabit network adapters from partners like ASUS and GIGABYTE (who want to earn on their products), but it is safe to say that the multi-gig cards can get cheaper than they are now.

While multi-gigabit Ethernet cards for $59 – $69 look very affordable (by today’s standards), multi-gigabit switches still remain rather expensive. We have been monitoring pricing and availability of 10 GbE-supporting switches at leading U.S. retailers for several months now and it turns out that the least expensive model is still the ASUS XG-U2008 10GBase-T (two 10 GbE ports, eight GbE connectors) that is available for $220 from Amazon and Newegg. Perhaps, Black Friday will bring some sweeter deals.

Related Reading:

Every single Amazon Echo, Kindle and Fire device on sale right now for Black Friday

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What would Black Friday be without big discounts on just about every Amazon gadget on the company’s website? This year, as has been the case in years past, Amazon is shaving a ton of cash off the prices of most of its popular Echo, Kindle, and Fire devices. Highlights include $30 off All-New Echo Plus, $20 off All-New Echo, $20 off Echo Dot, $15 off Fire TV Stick, $20 off Amazon Cloud Cam, $50 off Amazon Tap, $30 off Kindle, $30 off Kindle Paperwhite, $50 off Fire HD 10” Tablet, $20 off Fire 7, and so much more.

Below, you’ll find a list of every single Amazon Echo, Kindle, and Fire device that’s on sale right now, including bundles. It’s a very long list, so make sure you don’t miss anything.

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.

Early Galaxy S9 leaks show Samsung can’t copy the iPhone fast enough

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A report from a noteworthy insider said on Wednesday that the Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9+ will be nearly identical to their predecessors when it comes to the design. However, it also highlighted one unexpected detail about the upcoming pair of high-end Galaxy phones. The Galaxy S9+ and the Galaxy S9 will not offer the same set of features, something that will annoy some of the loyal fans out there.

The report also seems to suggest Samsung needed more than a year to replicate Apple’s recent success and strategy, and may further fall behind its biggest rival.

The iPhone is still a major source of inspiration for Samsung, and while Galaxy phones may debut some features before Apple incorporates them into its flagship device, it’s always Samsung that’s expected to follow Apple’s lead. And Samsung usually delivers.

After tweeting that the Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9+ will be itteratie upgrades, Evan Blass shared more details on VentureBeat about the two phones, including the unexpected revelation that the Galaxy S9+ will have a dual lens camera on the back and more RAM, while the Galaxy S9 will only get a single lens cam.

That’s what Apple did with the iPhone 7 last year, equipping the supersized smartphone with a dual camera and extra RAM to handle the Portrait Mode functionality. Samsung was not able to add a dual lens camera to the Galaxy S8, even though it tried to do it, and only introduced one such camera setup with the Galaxy Note 8 that launched almost a year after the iPhone 7 Plus.

From the looks of it, equipping a dual cam on the Galaxy S9 might still be a pretty challenging endeavor. Either that, or Samsung is looking to raise the average selling price of the Galaxy S line by restricting some features to the bigger model.

The Galaxy S9’s dual cam will be available some 18 months after Apple launched its own dual camera handset. But since then, Apple found a way to equip a dual camera on a smartphone about as big as the iPhone 7. And the iPhone X brings several other novel features, like an incredibly fast processor that has no rival in the Android world, and a facial recognition system that uses 3D technology to offer security that trumps Touch ID.

These are features that won’t be available on a Galaxy phone for some time to come. Recent leaks suggested the Galaxy S9’s chips won’t be able to match the power of the A11 Bionic. As for a Face ID equivalent from Samsung, you should not expect one on the Galaxy S9, reports said. Samsung may equip 3D sensors on other 2018 handsets, with the Galaxy Note 9 being a likely candidate.

Finally, what’s also interesting is that Samsung will stick with 3.5mm headphone jacks for at least one more year. By now, it should be fairly safe to ditch the aging jack without having to face too much backlash. Keeping the port may also be an indication that Samsung’s AirPods aren’t ready for mass consumption just yet. The norm seems to be that if you do plan to murder the 3.5mm jack, the least you could do is launch wireless headphones of your own.

That doesn’t mean the Galaxy S9 will not be a compelling device, or that it should be ignored because it’s a minor upgrade over the Galaxy S8. That’s hardly the point. But these early reports seem to indicate that Samsung is having a harder time “copying” the iPhone than before, and some of the things you see on a brand new iPhone won’t be available almost immediately on the next Galaxy S model. And yes, Samsung could very well refrain from replicating iPhone features every year. It’s just that many customers may expect Samsung phones to do everything an iPhone can, and perhaps even more.

Mysterious Sony Xperia ZG Compact appears again on Geekbench

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Back in August, several Sony Xperia ZG Compact listings appeared in the Geekbench database. Now, the phone makes another appearance with slightly different scores.

Mysterious Sony Xperia ZG Compact appears again on Geekbench

Both scores are a bit lower than the results in August, and a lot lower than the Xperia Z5 Compact results with Snapdragon 810 from 2015.

It is highly unlikely Sony is building a phone with such an old chipset, especially when the Xperia XZ1 Compact came out in August with Snapdragon 835.

There are two possible explanations for this. For one, the device name may have been falsified and all of this is just someone feeding fans false hopes. Alternatively, this could be a device of lower standing, compared to the XZ1 Compact, and so it’s running older hardware. Smart money is on the first version, but you never know.

Shoutout to Andras Petnehazy for the tip!

Source

Black Friday sale gets you an Amazon Fire TV Stick for just $25

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The Fire TV Stick with Alexa Voice Remote is without question one of the greatest media streaming devices ever made. Amazon’s Fire TV interface is awesome, and it’s compatible with all of the popular apps and services that you might want to use. It’s also a tremendous value at $40, but Black Friday means that value is going to get even better, obviously. How much better? How does a brand new Fire TV Stick for just $24.99 sound? It’s the lowest price ever, and it’s good through the end of the day on Cyber Monday (or while supplies last).

Here are the highlights from the product page:

  • The next generation of our bestselling Fire TV Stick. The most powerful streaming media stick under $50–now with the Alexa Voice Remote.
  • Enjoy tens of thousands of channels, apps, and Alexa skills including Netflix, Hulu, HBO NOW, YouTube, Amazon Video, NBC, WatchESPN, Disney, and more. Subscription fees may apply.
  • Launch and control content with the included Alexa Voice Remote. Simply say, “Play Game of Thrones” or “Launch Netflix” and Alexa will respond instantly. Plus, play music, find movie show times, order a pizza, and more—just ask.
  • No cable or satellite? No problem. Watch the best of live TV and sports from AMC, HGTV, ESPN, FOX, and others with a subscription to DIRECTV NOW, or top-rated primetime shows with CBS All Access.
  • Find the best way to watch with universal search results from over 190 channels and apps including Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Video.
  • Prime membership unlocks thousands of movies and TV episodes, including Thursday Night Football, Amazon Original Series, Amazon Channels, and ad-free listening to millions of songs with Prime Music.
  • Pick up where you left off. Bring hit shows and movies with you when you travel. Plug Fire TV Stick into any TV’s HDMI port, connect to Wi-Fi, and continue watching.
  • Play current favorites or quickly discover what to watch next directly from the Home screen.

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.

Sonos speakers are on sale for Black Friday beginning right now

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Discounts on Sonos speakers are super rare. High-end audio fans only get two or maybe three opportunities each year to save on Sonos speakers. Needless to say, Black Friday is one of those opportunities. Sonos just went live with its annual Black Friday sale, and this time it covers every single one of the company’s most popular wireless speakers.

How good is the sale this year? You’ll save $25 on the new Sonos One, which is basically a Play:1 but with Amazon Alexa built in. It’s a modest discount, but it’s a brand new speaker so it’s better than nothing. More substantial discounts are available on the Sonos Play:1 and Sonos Play:3, both of which are $50 off right now. Finally, you’ll save $100 each on the Sonos PlayBar sound bar or the Sonos PlayBase, both of which offer killer sound for your TV in addition to wireless streaming.

There is a definite chance that supply on some of these speakers won’t last through the weekend, so take advantage while you can.

Sonos One

  • Start and control your music with your voice. Amazon Alexa built right in.
  • Play songs, check news and traffic, manage smart devices and enjoy other helpful Amazon Alexa skills using a single Sonos speaker. Sonos One does not support Alexa voice calling.
  • Ask Alexa to play music from Amazon Music, Pandora, iHeartRadio, TuneIn and SiriusXM. Spotify voice control supported by 12/21/17. Listen to hundreds of other streaming services with the Sonos app.
  • Enjoy surprisingly rich, room-filling sound from a smart speaker.
  • Connect wirelessly with other Sonos Home Sound System speakers to play music in any or every room.
  • Better over time. Since Sonos is continually updating with new features, services and skills, your music and voice options will both keep getting better over time.
  • Pair two Sonos Ones together in the same room for instant stereo sound. Cannot be stereo paired with other Sonos speakers.

Sonos Play:1

  • Play:1 is our compact, surprisingly powerful speaker. It’s a perfect fit for bookshelves, counters, and other snug places. So now you can enjoy great-sounding music anywhere.
  • Connect your Play:1 to any Amazon Echo or Alexa-enabled device, then just ask for the music you love.
  • Play different songs in different rooms at the same time. Or, pump one song in perfect sync, throughout your home.
  • Set-up in five minutes using your home Wi-Fi. Easily expand your home audio system over time by adding wireless speakers to additional rooms whenever you’re ready.
  • Wirelessly Stream all your favorite music services like Amazon Music, Pandora, Apple Music, and Spotify.
  • Perfect for home theater rears or a stereo pair. Wall mountable.

Sonos PLAY:3

  • Delivers richer and deeper sound than PLAY:1, making it perfect for spots where you have more room.
  • Connect your Play:3 to any Amazon Echo or Alexa-enabled device, then just ask for the music you love.
  • Play different songs in different rooms at the same time. Or, pump one song in perfect sync, throughout your home.
  • Set-up in five minutes using your home Wi-Fi. Easily expand your home audio system over time by adding wireless speakers to additional rooms whenever you’re ready.
  • Wirelessly Stream all your favorite music services like Amazon Music, Pandora, Apple Music, and Spotify.
  • Versatile design fits great in almost any space. Place it vertically or horizontally. Can be used as home theater rears and as a stereo pair.

Sonos PLAYBAR TV Soundbar

  • Complements HD television screens with crisp and powerful sound from nine amplified speaker drivers. Wirelessly streams all your favorite music services too.
  • Connect your Playbar to any Amazon Echo or Alexa-enabled device, then just ask for the music you love.
  • Syncs wirelessly with other Sonos speakers so you can listen to TV or music in perfect sync, throughout your home.
  • Pair with two PLAY:1s and a SUB for a 5.1 surround system, the ultimate home theater experience.
  • Simple two-cord setup. One for power and one for the TV. Control from your existing TV remote, or wirelessly connect on the Sonos app from your smart device.
  • Enhances speech for extra clarity. Turn on night sound to enhance quiet sounds at lower volumes and reduce the intensity of loud sounds.

Sonos PLAYBASE

  • Full-theater sound for TVs on stands and furniture. Wirelessly streams all your favorite music services too.
  • Connect your Playbase to any Amazon Echo or Alexa-enabled device, then just ask for the music you love.
  • Slim, low profile design practically vanishes beneath your screen, yet it amps up movies, TV shows and games.
  • Custom-built 10-speaker array delivers a completely immersive audio experience. Robust construction securely supports TVs up to 75 lbs.
  • Pair with SUB and two PLAY:1s for full surround sound. Sync wirelessly with other Sonos speakers to enjoy TV, sports and music throughout your home.
  • Simple two-cord setup. Control from your existing TV remote, or wirelessly connect on the Sonos app from your smart device. Dialog Enhancement and Night Mode settings accommodate your unique viewing needs.

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 Morning After: Thursday, November 23rd 2017

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TMA

Hey, good morning! You look fabulous.

To go along with the Thanksgiving feast, we have the FCC’s plan to kill net neutrality. It’s not much of a treat but should provide some reading material if you have the day off. Otherwise, we have an alert about Intel CPUs, and a peek at Apple’s work on self-driving cars.


Speak up before the commission votes December 14th.FCC releases the final draft of its proposal to kill net neutrality

The FCC has released the final draft of its proposal to rollback 2015 net neutrality protections. If enacted, the order would reclassify broadband internet service as an information service and Title II regulations would no longer apply. While chairman Ajit Pai says his process is more transparent than previous efforts, it’s unpopular across wide swaths of the internet, and as written places a lot of trust in ISPs to do the right thing. How much faith do you have in Comcast, Verizon, AT&T and the rest?


No hybrid taxBMW 530e review

With a sticker price that’s the same as its all-gas 530i counterpart, the 530e offers hybrid power minus the premium. They also match in horsepower; however, the hybrid setup does add some extra torque — if that’s what you’re looking for. It can even drive up to 19 miles in all-electric mode. There are some other small differences, but check out Roberto Baldwin’s review to find out if a slightly greener experience can still be just as luxurious.


FYI.Intel’s latest Core processors have serious security flaws

Sixth-, seventh- and eighth-generation Core chips (Skylake, Kaby Lake and Kaby Lake R), along with Pentium, Celeron, Atom and multiple Xeon chips, have a security flaw in their Management Engine. Security researchers have identified several ways someone could take advantage of them to take over systems, but there is some good news: Only one of the vulnerabilities can be exploited remotely. Still, PC makers are working on firmware updates to patch the holes, so keep an eye out for updates coming soon.


More than just multiplayer.‘Gran Turismo Sport’ brings back a classic solo-racing mode

In December, an update for the newest Gran Turismo game will introduce GT League, a new single-player mode. Like cup tournaments in previous games, some of the races will require certain cars, and Polyphony Digital says it will expand with more races in 2018. Plus, there are some new cars on the way — look forward to driving 12 more next month (including the Ferarri F40 and Enzo) and 50 more next year.

But wait, there’s more…


The Morning After is a new daily newsletter from Engadget designed to help you fight off FOMO. Who knows what you’ll miss if you don’t Subscribe.

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Apple iPhone X vs LG V30

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Exciting, appealing, futuristic – these are just some of the words we’d use to describe Apple’s iPhone X. But so are “expensive” and “imperfect”, as those who have read our iPhone X review should know. Long story short, the iPhone X is a phone worth being thrilled about, but it doesn’t quite tick all the boxes that a $1000 phone should, and many rivals in the high-end space could give it a good run for its money. One of these rivals is the LG V30, which is no less rich in features, but comes at a considerably lower price. Let’s now dive deeper and see how these two phones compare.

Design

On the surface, the iPhone X and the LG V30 seem similar in many ways. They are both made of glass and metal, they are both designed around “bezel-less”, extra-tall displays, and they’re both water resistant. But the closer we examine the two, the more differences we encounter. The iPhone X, for instance, uses a stainless steel frame, and while steel is heavier than the aluminum used in the V30, it is also stronger. The V30, on the other hand, has a higher water resistance rating and retains the 3.5mm headphone jack which the iPhone lacks.
Both phones have a certain visual appeal to them – not only thanks to their stylish glass-and-metal construction, but also by the fact that their screens fill nearly all of their front areas. LG’s execution looks better, though. The iPhone X’s notch eats up screen space and simply takes away from the experience. But we must admit that the iPhone X feels better in the hand. It may be heavier than the V30, but it is also narrower, allowing for a firmer grip and more comfortable single-thumb navigation.

The dedicated mute switch is a nice perk you get only with the iPhone X. What you don’t get is a fingerprint scanner. In its place is Face ID, which is Apple’s facial recognition system – a facial recognition system that is difficult to fool and works reliably most of the time. Still, a fingerprint scanner is a fast and convenient alternative, and that’s exactly what we have on the V30, where a fingerprint scanner is embedded in the power button at the back.

Display

First things first, we must point out that the two displays we’re comparing here are based on the very same OLED technology, which is known for its greater contrast compared to traditional LCD panels. The screens are also packed with plenty of pixels: 1125 x 2436 pixels (459 ppi) for the iPhone X and 1440 x 2880 pixels (537 ppi) for the LG V30 is more than enough resolution to produce clear and sharp visuals.

Still, the iPhone X is superior when it comes to color reproduction. Colors are accurate and vivid, but without any of that artificial saturation boost OLED screens are known for. In contrast, the V30 produces colder whites and pumped-up colors. This is a look that some might actually find appealing, but it is unnatural nonetheless. Thankfully, color reproduction can be configured from the settings menu.

Despite its shortcomings, the screen on the LG V30 has a thing or two going for it. For instance, the Always-on Display feature is kind of neat, and the greater area has the potential to fit more content. But most importantly, it doesn’t have a notch getting in the user’s way.

Software and interface

Android vs iOS: it’s an ever-going rivalry of mobile platforms, and while labeling one as better than the other would be tricky, we can easily list a number of factors that set them apart. To put it briefly, the theme with the LG V30 is that it is a phone made for power users. LG’s software experience, running on top of Android 7.1, is highly customizable and packed with features, most of which would be appreciated primarily by enthusiasts: the Floating Bar and side-by-side multitasking, for instance, or the option to adjust the screen’s resolution to save battery.

The iPhone X, on the other hand, running iOS 11.1, has a much shorter list of bells and whistles. But Animoji is definitely on it, and by now we’re pretty sure you know what these are. Sure, they’re fun, and the face-tracking technology behind them is remarkable, but we feel like most people (read: people who can actually afford an iPhone X) would get tired of them quickly. Animoji aside, iOS 11 remains a fast and rich operating system acclaimed for its visual consistency and for being a gateway to a universe of quality apps and games.

You might have noticed that the iPhone X lacks a home button. There are no on-screen buttons either. To get back to your home screen, you just swipe from the bottom of the screen. New gestures for Reachability and for switching between apps are also implemented. Fear not, as these are mostly easy to get the hang of. Meanwhile, the LG V30 relies on familiar on-screen buttons. These do eat a small fraction of screen space, but can be configured to disappear when not needed. Also, it is neat that their arrangement can be modified, and a handy shortcut for pulling down the notifications panel can be added.

Processor and memory

Here we could have listed the technical specs of these two phones side by side: processor cores, clock frequency, amount of RAM and so on. However, we chose not to, as that wouldn’t be giving you the slightest clue as to how these two phones actually perform. In a nutshell, neither the iPhone X, nor the LG V30 feel slow in any way. Both are fast and responsive in real life and deliver performance of roughly the same level, although benchmarks indicate that the iPhone X has a greater potential as far as raw number crunching goes.

On-board storage starts at 64GB for both phones. Unsurprisingly, there is no storage expansion slot on the iPhone X, so if you need extra gigs, you will have to spend the extra cash on a 256GB model. The LG V30 offers a microSD card slot, which is nice having, but one should keep in mind that microSD cards are neither as fast, nor as reliable as on-board storage.

Camera

Both phones are playing the dual camera game, but with a totally different strategy. On the iPhone X we find a regular camera paired with a secondary telephoto shooter providing 2X optical zoom, bringing the subject in the frame significantly closer. Also, the arrangement enables Portrait Mode, which adds artistic background blur to images, and Apple’s software algorithms let us apply lighting effects to the image, even after it has been taken.

On the LG V30 we have a standard camera as well, but it is coupled with a wide-angle shooter, which fits much more in the frame than any other standard camera would. While image quality and detail suffer, the secondary cam allows you to fit epic sceneries, monuments, or parties without having to step back. In tight spots, this camera proves a valuable asset.

Both of these dual cam setups have their pros and cons and we can’t say that one approach is better than the other. It’s all a matter of what kind of photographer you are and what kind of situations you find yourself into. But no matter which side you’re on, regardless of which phone you pick, you’ll be definitely using its primary camera more often. Their secondary cameras just aren’t as sensitive to light as the normal ones are.

One thing worth mentioning is that the LG V30 comes with full manual camera settings out of the box. In other words, you can take full control of how images and videos look, which is great news for camera enthusiasts. On the iPhone X you need the help of a third-party app if you require manual adjustments of any kind.

Image quality

We recently featured the iPhone X and the LG V30 in a camera comparison across a number of situations. Both phones did well, especially in daytime and well-lit situations, where the two perform at the same level. But the outcome was in favor of the iPhone, mostly thanks to its consistent low performance and better handling of scenes where HDR mode is required. Low light images from the iPhone are livelier, with better colors and detail, while the V30 tends to leave such images a tad underexposed.

Selfie quality

All in all, both phones take good-looking selfies, but it is different features that make their selfie cameras special. On the iPhone X you can use Portrait Mode and Studio Lighting when taking selfies to achieve a more dramatic or more professional look, but the results are mostly hit and miss. Still, regular selfies turn out great, with faithful colors and more than enough detail.

The LG V30 has a skin softening effect to smooth out imperfection and a lighting slider to make faces brighter, but we kept these set to a minimum level to avoid an unnatural look in our selfies. The selfie cam’s top feature, however, is its extra wide lens mode. While it adds some distortion near the edges, it has a very wide field of view that lets you fit the whole party in a single shot. Admittedly, overall image quality is still better from the iPhone, but the V30’s wide-angle selfie cam could prove useful when snapping group shots.

Video quality

The LG V30 is advertised as a phone that excels at video capturing. It comes with full manual video controls and advanced modes that experienced videographers could find useful. And indeed, videos out of it look pretty good, but as far as every-day video recording is concerned, the iPhone produces better results with less effort on the user’s side. Videos are more detailed, better stabilized, and the 60fps 4K mode produces footage of epic clarity.

Multimedia

One detail that we haven’t mentioned yet is that both phones support HDR video, which delivers richer color and contrast. Such content is still in short supply, but can be found on Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, even on YouTube. But as far as general video playback is concerned, the V30 is the more suitable device. It may not have the iPhone X’s excellent color calibration, but it has a larger screen where there isn’t a notch in the way.
As we mentioned in the beginning, the LG V30 has a headphone jack for those who still prefer conventional, wired headphones. Plus, its Quad DAC has a high-enough output to drive even large, high-impedance earphones. But you don’t get a pair of headphones in the box, at least not with the V30 sold in the US. Since the iPhone X has no headphone jack, you can either use the dongle found in the box to connect a pair, or you can just use Apple’s own Lightning Earphones that come included. Or you can always go wireless, of course.

When it comes to loudspeaker quality, however, the iPhone X has the upper hand. While the V30 sounds okay with its single bottom-firing speaker, the iPhone’s stereo speakers are clearer and with more substantial bass to accentuate any music you may be listening to.

Battery life

How long a phone lasts between charges depends greatly on how it is used and configured. That’s why we level the playing field by subjecting phones to our custom battery test, which runs at a constant screen brightness level and simulates real-life usage. All in all, both the iPhone X and the LG V30 scored really well, meeting our expectations for a phone of this class.
Charging, however, is significantly quicker on the LG V30. The phone is supplied with a rapid charger out of the box, which allows it to charge nearly twice as quickly as the iPhone X. To get faster charging on the iPhone X, you need both a more powerful charger and a special cable, both sold separately.

Wireless charging is available on both phones, assuming you have a Qi wireless charging accessory. Right now, however, only the LG V30 supports fast wireless charging, while the iPhone X charges at a slower rate.

Conclusion

At $1000, the iPhone X is one of the most expensive phones around. While the LG V30 isn’t cheap either, it costs $200 less, which is a considerable price gap – enough to get you 2 years of Spotify Premium or a decent budget backup phone like the Nokia 6 or the fifth-generation Moto G.

Yet despite the four-digit figure, the iPhone X has been selling really well, and it is easy to tell why: it is a phone surrounded by hype and excitement, and owning one is like holding a piece of the future – today. For many people, choosing the iPhone X over any other phone would be an emotional decision above all. But the good news is that the iPhone X, while expensive, is also a great phone – fast and good-looking, with excellent cameras, clear-sounding speakers, and, ahem, a top-notch display. If money is no object, that’s the phone to go with.

On the other hand, the LG V30 still has a lot going for it. Just like the iPhone X, it is an enthusiast-grade device, but while the iPhone X is targeted at early adopters, the V30 is more suitable for tinkerers and power users. It may not have the iPhone’s color-accurate display, but it doesn’t have a notch to distract you with. Its cameras may not have Portrait Mode, but its wide-angle lenses could be of use in tricky situations. And while you won’t find Animoji on it, you will find a fast charger in the box. In other words, if you value practicality over showmanship, perhaps the V30 is the phone to consider.

Pros

  • Bright and color-accurate display
  • Better fit in the hand
  • Superior cameras take great photos and videos
  • Loud and clear stereo speakers

Pros

  • Larger screen without a notch on it
  • Wide-angle cameras can be useful
  • Fast charging out of the box
  • Cheaper, easier, faster to get

Amazon’s deal of the day gets you one of the best-rated robots vacuums for just $135

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Vacuuming is easily the most aggregating chore we have to deal with in our day-to-day lives. There are so many better things you could be doing with your time, and the worst part is that you’re never really done. By the time you finish vacuuming your home, your family has already started to make a mess again. That’s what makes robot vacuums so great — they do the work for you and they never complain when people make a mess again.

Of course, not all robot vacuums are created equal. Some can cost almost $1,000, which makes a lot of consumers think that you need to spend that much in order to get a decent product. Well, we assure you that’s not the case at all. The ILIFE A4s Robot Vacuum Cleaner is one of the best-rated robot vacuums on Amazon, and it costs just $199.99. It’s worth every penny, but right now it’s Amazon’s deal of the day, dropping the price to just $134.99 for a limited time.

The ILIFE A4s is designed to adapt to different types of floors without sacrificing suction at all. It can handle wood floors, laminate, tile, and even low-pile area rugs with no problems at all. It’s packed with sensors so it can navigate around obstacles and under chairs or beds with no problem, and it also won’t take any spills down stairs. Best of all, our two favorite features are that it automatically returns to its base to recharge, and it has a high-quality motor that’s far quieter than any other robot vacuums in this class.

Here are some highlights from the product page:

  • 3-step cleaning system with a strong suction provides thorough and concentrated cleaning.
  • Automatically starts on its scheduling program and returns to docking station to recharge when battery runs low.
  • Multiple smart sensors avoid bumping around or falling off stairs. The A4s even cleans under beds, along the walls and around the clutter… Dirt cannot hide.
  • Superior battery-group brings up to 140 minutes of cleaning time and prolonged life time.
  • Advanced BLDC motor with extremely quiet delivery compared to other vacuums.

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Our nights keep getting brighter

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Barcroft Media via Getty Images

Our nights are getting brighter and they have been every year since 2012, according to a new study published today in Science Advances. Researchers led by Christopher Kyba at the GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences used satellite imagery to track changes in nighttime outdoor artificial lighting around the world and they found that between 2012 and 2016, the amount of lit area grew by 2.2 percent per year. The amount of brightness from continuously lit areas also increased by 2.2 percent per year. So not only is more area being illuminated at night, already lit areas are getting even brighter. “We’re losing more and more of the night on a planetary scale,” said the journal’s editor, Kip Hodges.

Some areas stayed largely the same year over year, but many of those regions, including those in Italy, the Netherlands, Spain and the US, were already among the brightest to begin with. Lighting increased throughout South America, Africa and Asia. And the numbers are likely to underestimate the problem because the satellite used doesn’t pick up blue light emitted by LEDs, which have been used more and more in the last few years.

“The numbers are truly shocking, given that we know illuminating the nocturnal environment can have widespread ramifications for the environment and human health,” University of Exeter researcher Thomas Davies, who wasn’t involved with the study, told Gizmodo. And exactly how much it will impact human and environmental health is unclear since nighttime illumination is a fairly new phenomenon. “Artificial light at night is a very new stressor,” said Franz Holker, one of the researchers on the project. “The problem is that light has been introduced in places, times and intensities at which it does not naturally occur and [for] many organisms, there is no chance to adapt to this new stressor.”

And unless we change how we’re lighting our outdoor spaces, this trend will likely continue. “In the near term, it appears that artificial light emission into the environment will continue to increase, further eroding Earth’s remaining land area that experiences natural day-night light cycles,” said the study.

Image: Carla Schaffer / AAAS

 

 

MacMall Black Friday deals offer up to $250 in savings on new Macs and iPads

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If you’ve been patiently waiting to update any of your existing Apple hardware, this is the best time of year to finally take your wallet out and take the plunge. Whether you’re in the market for a new MacBook, iPad, iMac or even a brand new Mac Mini, there are a lot great deals to be had if you know where to look. Of course, if you’re keen on exploring every noteworthy Black Friday deal going on, you’ll definitely want to check out our master list over here. But if you’re exclusively on the lookout for deals on Apple hardware, you’ve come to the right place.

MacMall recently rolled out its Black Friday 2017 sale on all things Apple where you can save upwards of $200 on an assortment of Apple hardware. Listed below are just a few of the deals you’ll be able to take advantage of. Unless otherwise noted, all the listed prices below offer up $100 in savings.

iMac

21.5″ iMac – 2.3GHz – $999

21.5″ iMac with Retina 4K Display – 3.0GHz – $1,199

21.5″ iMac with Retina 4K Display – 3.4GHz – $1,379 ($120 in savings)

27″ iMac with Retina 5K Display – 3.4GHz – $1649 ($150 in savings)

27″ iMac with Retina 5K Display – 3.5GHz – $1869 ($130 in savings)

27″ iMac with Retina 5K Display – 3.8GHz – $2099 ($200 in savings)

21.5″ iMac with Retina 4K display – 3.1GHz – $1249 ($250 in savings)

MacBook Pro

Below are just a sampling of the deals available, with the full range of buying options viewable here.

13.3″ MacBook Pro (without Touch Bar) 2.3Ghz, 128GB SSD- Silver – $1219 ($80 in savings)

13.3″ MacBook Pro (without Touch Bar) 2.3Ghz, 256GB SSD – Space Gray  – $1349 ($150 in savings)

13.3″ MacBook Pro (without Touch Bar) 2.3Ghz, 256GB SSD – Silver – $1349 ($150 in savings)

13.3″ MacBook Pro (with Touch Bar) 3.1GHz, 8GB RAM, 256GB SSD – Space Gray – $1629 ($170 in savings)

13.3″ MacBook Pro (with Touch Bar) – 3.3GHz, 16GB RAM, 256GB SSD – Space Gray – $1909 ($190 in savings)

13.3″ MacBook Pro (with Touch Bar) – 3.3GHz, 16GB RAM, 512GB SSD – Space Gray – $2199 ($100 in savings)

13.3″ MacBook Pro (with Touch Bar) – 3.3GHz, 16GB RAM, 1TB SSD – Silver – $2,499 ($250 in savings)

iPad

Full list of iPad deals can be seen here.

9.7-inch iPad Pro Wi-Fi 256GB Rose Gold – $659 ($140 in savings)

9.7-inch iPad Pro Wi-Fi + Cellular 128GB Rose Gold – $729 ($100 in savings)

Savings on Apple hardware doesn’t come around too often, so you’ll definitely want to take a look at some of these deals if you’ve been thinking about getting a new Mac or iPad.