Tag Archives: Gadget Reviews

Pandora’s app now offers direct control for Sonos speakers

Additionally, Sonos now works with Pandora Premium, the company’s on-demand music service. Previously, Sonos only worked with the traditional radio-style stations that Pandora creates based on songs, artists or genres, but Premium subscribers can now send any music they want from Pandora’s catalog to their speakers.

It’s a pretty notable addition that rounds out the Pandora experience — as a Sonos owner, using Pandora Premium has been a non-starter until now. And being able to control music directly through the app makes for a much-improved experience as well. Just like using Spotify Connect with Sonos, you can group and un-group speakers, move music to different speakers around the house and adjust volume right in the Pandora app. This all follows the recently-added support for Pandora stations on the Alexa-powered Sonos One speaker. Unfortunately, you can still only use your voice to start stations — Pandora Premium users can’t just pick anything from their libraries and ask Alexa to play it just yet.

Anyone who uses Pandora will be able to use the app to control their Sonos speakers, regardless of whether they pay for one of Pandora’s two subscription options or use the free, ad-supported station service. And with the addition of Pandora Premium support, Sonos users will be able to access their full Pandora libraries through the Sonos controller app, as well. These updates are going live in the Google Play Store and App Store today — if it’s not on your phone yet, it should be soon.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/2017/11/14/pandora-sonos-direct-connect-premium-support/

Linksys has a new tri-band range extender to eliminate WiFi dead spots

RE9000 tri-band WiFi

Its “tri-band” MU-MIMO technology can help avoid interference if you have a lot of devices (it connects to your router using one band, while any devices communicate with it on either another 5GHz network or 2.4GHz), while Netgear’s Spot Finder tech can help you find the optimal place to put it. The best thing, however, may be its support for automatic firmware updates, so that the next time there’s a KRACK in security it can get a patch without needing any intervention from you (it does support manual updating for those who prefer direct control).

Of course, that ease of use comes at a price — the RE9000 goes on sale November 23rd for $170 at the usual electronic outlets (Amazon, Best Buy, Fry’s, Micro Center, Newegg, and Walmart.com) but The Wirecutter has some cheaper suggestions that may also work.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/2017/11/14/linksys-ac3000-range-extender-re9000/

Airbus is ready to test its self-flying taxi

Preparing the aircraft for shipment meant disassembling it and loading it into a truck. Once it arrived in Pendleton, the team took Vahana’s landing gear and towing provisions on its first real-world test. After the aircraft arrived safely in the hangar, the team reassembled it. Because the plane was designed to be quickly assembled and disassembled, this process took less than a day.

Now that this cumbersome process is complete, Vahana can finally make its first test flights. Earlier reports had the aircraft on track to complete its first test by the end of next year, 2018, but it’s possible it could come sooner, given the success of the transfer to Oregon.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/2017/11/13/airbus-vahana-self-flying-taxi-test/

Google explains the Pixel 2’s super-stable video recording

The system starts off by collecting motion info from both OIS and the phone’s gyroscope, making sure it’s in “perfect” sync with the image. But it’s what happens next that matters most: Google uses a “lookahead” filtering algorithm that pushes image frames into a deferred queue and uses machine learning to predict where you’re likely to move the phone next. This corrects for a wider range of movement than OIS alone, and can counteract common video quirks like wobbling, rolling shutter (the distortion effect where parts of the frame appear to lag behind) or focus hunting. The algorithmic method even introduces virtual motion to mask wild variations in sharpness when you move the phone quickly.

This isn’t to say that Google’s approach is flawless. As others have noted, the Pixel 2 can crop the frame in unexpected ways and blur low light footage more than it should. On the balance, though, this shows just how much AI-related technology can help with video. It can erase typical errors that EIS or OIS might not catch by themselves, and produces footage so smooth it can look like it was captured with the help of a gimbal.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/2017/11/12/google-explains-the-pixel-2s-super-stable-video-recording/

After Math: Well that’s helpful

138 MeV: That’s how much energy a pair of quarks would theoretically give off if smashed together hard enough. That’s eight times the amount of energy you get when smashing hydrogen atoms. And, since it should only take 130 MeV to successfully smoosh them, researchers believe they may have discovered the world’s next clean energy source. Assuming, of course, that doing so doesn’t first rip open a breach in the space-time continuum.

10 feet per second: That’s how fast NASA’s Active Response Gravity Offload System (ARGOS) can accelerate a 300 pound load, including astronauts training for off-world expeditions.

100 miles: That’s how far Daimler’s new all-electric school bus can travel before needing a recharge. Eat your heart out Miss Frizzle.

1 million: That’s how many times Ford’s automotive assembly workers have to lift their hands above their heads every year. To combat the recurring stress and shoulder injuries that often come along with such activities, the car company has begun testing out non-powered assistive exosuits to shift the load from man to machine.

100,000: That’s how many Puerto Ricans could have their internet connections restored once Google fills the skies above the island nation with its Project Loon Wi-Fi balloons.

1 hour: That’s how long Las Vegas’ new autonomous shuttle bus managed to be on the road before getting into its first fender bender. Hopefully they’ll work out the bug by the time CES rolls around in January.

50: That’s how many characters Twitter users can now leverage for their cleverest of account names, never mind the fact that you can’t read the entire thing from the timeline.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/2017/11/12/after-math-well-thats-helpful/

Hasbro offers to buy Mattel as tech pressures the toy world

Hasbro is likely taking advantage of Mattel’s relative weakness. While Hasbro has been riding high on sales of Disney-themed toys (including Star Wars) as well as licenses for movies and TV, Mattel is in the midst of turning around years of failed toy lines that weighed it down. Also, the two are complementary: where Hasbro ditched its manufacturing facilities a while ago, it would get some back with a Mattel deal. There are concerns that a Hasbro/Mattel pact could violate US antitrust law by creating a dominant toy maker, but it’s not certain that a union would face scrutiny as tough as for, say, a telecom.

If a deal did go ahead, it would reflect the tech industry’s increasingly firm grip on kids’ free time. Although Hasbro clearly has the upper hand, both it and Mattel have to compete with consoles and tablets — how do you get parents to buy Barbie playhouses when video games beckon? It could have long-term consequences for connected toys, too. Hasbro would have a larger stable of tech-driven toys, and could fold Mattel’s know-how into its own projects.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/2017/11/11/hasbro-offers-to-buy-mattel-as-tech-pressures-the-toy-world/