Category Archives: Gadget News, Reviews, And Features

Los Angeles schools won’t be giving students their own devices

iPads at grade school

Los Angeles’ one-time dream of giving every student an iPad (or any device, for that matter) just got dashed. The city’s school district superintendent, Ramon Cortines, tells the press that he doesn’t believe LA “can afford” gadgets for each student. Instead, schools will fall back on a more conservative model that doles out hardware when kids need it for lessons and tests. The move is unfortunate if you like the idea of young learners having their own laptops and tablets, but there’s no question that reviving earlier plans would have been daunting. The iPad effort was going to be expensive ($1.3 billion, at last count), and it ran into problems with misuse almost as soon as it began. Cortines suggests that the initiative reduced education to a “gimmick of the year” — to him, device programs have to be sustainable.

[Image credit: AP Photo/Michael Conroy]


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Apple

iPad Air 2

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Apple iPad Air 2

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  1. Newegg.com




    $477.99

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  1. 5



    Share your impressions of the Apple iPad keynote?


    Share your impressions of the Apple iPad keynote?


  2. 2



    Is Apple losing their focus on hardware?


    Is Apple losing their focus on hardware?


  3. 2



    What's the best (cheap) tablet for seniors?


    What’s the best (cheap) tablet for seniors?

Article source: http://www.engadget.com/2015/02/21/los-angeles-drops-device-per-student-plan/?ncid=rss_truncated

Taking laps with the Thrustmaster T300RS racing wheel

Let’s get this out of the way up front: The market for the Thrustmaster T300RS is incredibly narrow. At $400 (the price of a PlayStation 4!) it’s far beyond an impulse buy and demands you’re taking every aspect of your living room racing experience Very Seriously. That’s something I discovered when the company sent me a demo unit to try.

You see, at Casa de Seppala, my couch sits about 6 feet from my 65-inch TV. In between those two are an area rug and a coffee table I got for $75 on Craigslist. It’s an awesome setup for movies and every other game I’ve played, but when it came time to put the T300RS through its paces, I couldn’t figure out if the wheel was ill-suited to my space or vice versa.

Taking laps with Thrustmaster’s T300RS

To Thrustmaster’s credit, the initial setup was incredibly easy and took about 10 minutes total. The T300RS comes in three pieces — wheel, motor base and foot-pedal board — and the necessary cables and power cord were long enough to reach everything without the need for extensions. Compared to other racing wheels, though, the T300RS’ mounting options are a tad limited when it comes to casual use. The wheel module needs a surface that’s at least 6 inches deep for it to clamp onto for a stable experience. The lip on my coffee table only extends about 2 inches, providing anything but.

After a few hours of frustration and worrying I was going to break something by tightening the clamp as much as I did, I detached the unit from my coffee table and put it in my lap. Unlike the Mad Catz’ Force Feedback Xbox One wheel’s lap rest, however, there isn’t a way to keep the T300RS there securely. I awkwardly gripped the wheel between my thighs, which sort of okay worked while I tooled around Canada and Scotland in DriveClub, but this made operating the gas and brake pedals more difficult than it already was. Why’s that? Well, because as far as I can tell, the pedal-base isn’t meant to be used anywhere outside of being a hard-mounted racing seat setup. The nine small rubber squares on the bottom didn’t do anything to keep the board in place on hardwood, and were even less effective with carpet.

The brief moments where everything was working in concert and I wasn’t fighting my living room to keep the illusion of being behind the wheel of an Aston Martin Vanquish were killer, though. There’s an inherent thrill to gripping an actual wheel, pulling on an aluminum paddle shifter to drop a gear and easing your foot onto a brake pedal coming into a turn. Same goes for hitting the apex, flooring the accelerator and slapping the other paddle to upshift, but realizing you were too aggressive with the gas (through the steering wheel thanks to force feedback motors tucked inside the unit’s base) and feeling the rear-end break away. It’s something that feathering the DualShock 4’s lower triggers, jabbing the left control stick and alternating between the circle and triangle buttons to shift down and up, respectively, just can’t match.

The T300RS is ahead of its time, though; the type of game that demands the precision it affords doesn’t exist yet. Well, at least not on the PlayStation 4. Project Cars still isn’t out, and DriveClub only offers a bare-minimum level of support for racing wheels. I could assign custom bindings to face buttons and adjust levels of steering assist, force feedback strength and vibration, but that’s it, really.

That might sound generous on paper, but the unit is cross-compatible with PlayStation 3 games as well, and compared to a sim like F1 2014 (I don’t own Gran Turismo 6) that offers adjustments for both steering-and-throttle deadzones and saturation among others, it’s pretty paltry. The coarse tuning options meant I couldn’t be sure if the game’s physics and handling were too imprecise or if I was simply over-correcting due to loose, arcade-style controls.

The T300RS is ahead of its time, though; the type of game that demands the precision it affords doesn’t exist yet.

What the T300RS does manage, surprisingly, is making the otherwise dull DriveClub actually enjoyable to play. Except, rather than competing with the AI opponents on the track, I was racing against myself and seeing how much better I could get at using the wheel — a meta-challenge of sorts — and not worrying about the game’s archaic career mode.

Is it worth dropping $400 to make one of last fall’s most underwhelming games relatively fresh and exciting? No — not even if you have the cash and room to spare. It’s a shame, really, because you’re definitely getting what you pay for here. But when you’ll actually see its full potential is anyone’s guess.


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Sony

PlayStation 3 (late 2012)

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Sony PlayStation 3 (late 2012)

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    Where can I rent Rock Band instruments for PS3?


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    Assassin's Creed III (3)


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    What are your most anticipated games for this holiday season?


    What are your most anticipated games for this holiday season?

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Sony

PlayStation 4

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Sony PlayStation 4

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    Do I really need to upgrade my PS3 this year?


    Do I really need to upgrade my PS3 this year?


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    Favorite games from 2013


    Favorite games from 2013


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    Want to Play Destiny... Which Console to Buy?


    Want to Play Destiny… Which Console to Buy?

Article source: http://www.engadget.com/2015/02/21/thrustmaster-t300rs-racing-wheel/?ncid=rss_truncated

Google’s staring down the barrel of a Russian antitrust probe

It’s only been two days since Russian search giant Yandex accused Google of anticompetitive mobile shenanigans, and the country’s Federal Anti-Monopoly Service has already leapt into action. The Wall Street Journal reported earlier today that Russia’s antitrust body is kicking off a probe investigating how Google requires some smartphone makers to preload its apps onto their devices before they hit store shelves. If those deals are found to have run afoul of Russian law, Google could be on the hook for some hefty fines and might even have to change how it licenses Android to device makers.

To get a better sense of what’s going here, we’ll have to flash back to last year — Russian smartphone makers Explay, Fly and Prestigio all pre-loaded Yandex’s search engine and apps onto the devices they sold. Considering Yandex’s status as the biggest search site in Russia and all of the apps and services it cooked up to expand on its core business, it’s only natural a Russian OEM or three would want to tap into a vein of national fondness. Sounds like a win-win, non? At some point, though, each of the three companies told Yandex that they wouldn’t be able to preload its service onto their wares anymore, and Yandex deduced that Google was to blame. In a nutshell, phone makers that want to give its customers instant access to the Play Store or apps like YouTube and Gmail have to abide by the rest of Google’s rules.

When all’s said and done, Yandex just wants Google to separate its core apps from the rest of Android proper to keep things fair for everyone else. “We believe that user-centric services, such as search, maps, email, etc., should be unbundled from the Android OS,” the company said in a statement. “It is essential to return to a level playing field where competition is over quality of products and services rather than bundling and pre-installation.” Whether or not the dice will fall that way is another question entirely, but one thing’s for sure: Fans of legal posturing have plenty to look forward to.


Article source: http://www.engadget.com/2015/02/20/google-antitrust-probe-russia/?ncid=rss_truncated

Formula E adds extra race to season climax at London’s Battersea Park

The UK’s Donington Park racetrack was chosen as the official home of Formula E last year, so it was only fitting that the final race of the inaugural championship be held in Blighty, too. The plan has always been to close out the season in London, but you can’t exactly turn part of the capital into a racing circuit without cutting through reams of red tape. The initial proposal to transform Battersea Park into a makeshift track was approved late last year, but race organisers can breath a further sigh of relief as full planning permission has now been granted by Wandsworth Council. This was essential, as there would be no ePrix without the temporary facilities required for race teams and spectators alike. The Battersea Park racetrack — the layout of which is yet to be finalised — won’t host just one event, though, as the FIA has also announced the London leg will become a double-header, with separate races being held on June 27th and 28th.

The first all-electric Formula E season kicked off in spectacular fashion in Beijing, China last year, and since then other races have been held on city-street circuits in Malaysia, Uruguay and Argentina. And there are several more in the calendar before the final two races at Battersea Park, which will not only mark the end of the championship, but will also be the last time all teams compete in identical Spark-Renault vehicles. You see, all participants received a couple of these stock EVs for the first season, so as to establish a level playing-field. For the next championship, however, teams are allowed to modify their vehicles, using different batteries and motors to hopefully give them an edge over their competition. The teams are under strict instructions not to focus on improving aerodynamics and the like, though, as that would defeat one of the main aims of Formula E: to develop new technologies that can quickly trickle down to consumer vehicles.


Article source: http://www.engadget.com/2015/02/20/formula-e-london-battersea-park/?ncid=rss_truncated

Wearable banana shows your heart rate and is still edible (sort of)

Cleverly folding in this weekend’s Tokyo Marathon with the current appetite for fruit-named wearables, here’s some advertising silliness from Dole: the wearable banana. Underneath the skin, there’s an array of LEDS that beam out enough red light to scroll lap-time times, the runners’ heart rate and even motivational tweets of support — or you just send Bluth quotes, right here.

Wearable bananas don’t grow on trees. The banana skin is initially peeled back, then an LED display and oddly, a smaller banana is crammed inside. There’s also a GPS in there, although it’s wired all to a separate device that the wearer will have to carry — which defeats the purpose of the wearable, not that we were taking a fitness wearable banana too seriously. Two runners will strap on the smartfruit, which apparently attaches to the wrist, as they run this weekend’s Tokyo Marathon. Maybe next year Dole will 3D-print something out of all that carved-out banana.

And if you’re not a banana lover, there’s also tomato wearable, automating delivery of tomatoes to your mouth to promote tomato-based foodstuffs maker Kagome. It’s still a fruit though.


Article source: http://www.engadget.com/2015/02/20/wearable-banana/?ncid=rss_truncated

Sony will sell a ‘premium’ memory card to go with its $1,200 Walkman

Sony will sell a 'premium' memory card to go with its $1,200 Walkman

Never mind that Sony plans to spin off its audio and video business. For now, the company is pressing ahead with plans to sell high-end A/V gear, even if it’s not exactly sure who’s going to buy it. According to the Wall Street Journal, Sony next month will beginning selling a “Premium Sound” memory card aimed at audiophiles that claims to produce less electrical noise when reading data. All told, the 64GB SR-64HXA microSDXC card will retail for the equivalent of $160 in Japan. So how much of a “premium” is that? Quite a big one: A “regular” 64GB Sony microSD card can be had for just $29 on Amazon. Surely, then, a card this expensive isn’t for everyone, but Sony is betting at least somebody will be into it — specifically, the sort of audio geek who would buy its $1,200 high-fidelity Walkman. “We aren’t that sure about the product’s potential demand,” a Sony spokesperson told the Journal, “but we thought some among people who are committed to great sound quality would want it.”


Article source: http://www.engadget.com/2015/02/19/sony-premium-sound-memory-card/?ncid=rss_truncated