The Morning After: PlayStation Classic and iPhone XS


TMA

Hey, good morning! You look fabulous.

Sony picks up a strategy from Nintendo, and we have our first impressions of the iPhone XS family. It’s Wednesday, so update your old iPhone without fear and take a look at an awe-inspiring early image taken by NASA’s TESS spacecraft.


$100 for 20 gamesPlayStation Classic jumps on the retro trend December 3rd

Apparently Sony has been watching the success of Nintendo’s miniature Classic systems because this holiday season, it’s reaching back for a PlayStation Classic. It’s 45 percent of the size of the original and comes pre-loaded with 20 titles (so far Sony has only confirmed Final Fantasy VII, Tekken 3, Ridge Racer Type 4, Jumping Flash and Wild Arms). It comes with two PS1 controllers (no analog sticks), a virtual memory card and buttons that help change or suspend games, but you’ll have to bring your own USB power adapter.


Expect our full review soon.iPhone XS and XS Max, Day 1: A clear step forward

We’re still in the middle of testing our iPhone XS and XS Max — you can expect our full, detailed review soon. In the meantime, we’ve picked up on a few things that you should definitely keep in mind before these new flagship phones go on sale. So far, the camera is noticeably improved from the iPhone X, and the faster Face ID makes unlocking feel even more magical. If you’re still rocking an older iPhone, either of these would be phenomenal upgrades, but the colorful, fascinating iPhone XR is right around the corner and might be a better bang for your buck.


Has Bose been dethroned?Sony WH-1000XM3 headphones review

These aren’t just a great pair of noise-canceling headphones, they’re quality cans, period. While you used to have to choose between great sound quality and decent noise reduction, the 1000XM3 does both while being a blast to listen to.


Welcome to the current day.Nintendo Switch Online lands

A premium online and multiplayer experience is finally available for the Nintendo Switch. The biggest change subscribers will notice is that their saves are no longer tied to one console (as long as they keep their subscription active) for games that support its new cloud save feature. If you don’t want to pay the $20 annual fee, don’t worry, you’ll still be able to play Fortnite — good to know if you snag the special edition Switch bundle that’s going on sale October 5th with some extra bonuses.


Planned unobsolescence?Don’t be afraid to upgrade your old iPhone to iOS 12

At WWDC this year, Apple said iOS 12 would deliver improved performance on devices as old as 2013’s iPhone 5s. After spending the last day or so playing with iOS 12 on his iPhone 6s, Nathan Ingraham can say that Apple has definitely breathed new life into the device.

Sign up for a daily newsletter of the most important stories in tech.
Just enter your email and we’ll take care of the rest:


Time to go find some planets.NASA’s TESS spacecraft captures ‘first light’ image

The planet-hunting spacecraft’s four cameras have taken their “first light” image — the first astronomical photo after a telescope has been assembled — showing the satellite’s full field of view. The whole photo, which TESS captured during a 30-minute period on August 7th, shows a dozen constellations. It represents one of the 26 sectors TESS will monitor over the next two years. The spacecraft will observe one sector for 27 days each, with the first half making up the southern sky taking place during its first year.


Produced by Marvel Studios, not Marvel TV.MCU heroes could get their own shows on Disney’s streaming service

According to a report from Variety, Disney may be preparing big-budget TV series featuring characters (and the actors who play them) from the Marvel Cinematic Universe films. They’d be exclusive for its streaming service that will launch next year and give viewers even more reason to consider it as a Netflix complement or alternative. The idea apparently is to focus on second-tier super-powered characters who haven’t had a solo movie, like Scarlet Witch or Loki.

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.

Craving even more? Like us on Facebook or Follow us on Twitter.

Have a suggestion on how we can improve The Morning After? Send us a note.

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

Link to original source

PlayStation Classic jumps on the retro trend December 3rd for $100


Sony

With “Classic” game systems occasionally outselling modern ones, Sony is bringing back its own old school system. The PlayStation Classic will launch in December, loaded with 20 “generation-defining” games in their original format for $100 (€99.99 RRP). It’s 45 percent smaller than the original system and uses a virtual memory card for saves. It will arrive with two PS1-era replica controllers from the time before analog sticks for local multiplayer and connect to modern TVs via HDMI-out, but you’ll have to bring your own USB power adapter.

Gallery: PlayStation Classic | 7 Photos

Naturally it doesn’t load any real discs and it doesn’t sound like it will be able to install new games after purchase, but the button and logo layout matches the original console. Pressing “Open” changes the virtual disc so you can swap games, while “Reset” suspends games. Sony’s website hasn’t listed all of the titles that are included, but Final Fantasy VII, Tekken 3, Ridge Racer Type 4, Jumping Flash and Wild Arms are all confirmed, and others will be announced via the PlayStation Blog.

Pre-orders are available now on Best Buy’s website. GameStop.com also shows a listing in its search results, and while the linked page is blank, you can add it directly to your cart. If we see any other listings pop up we will update this post.

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

Link to original source

Amazon helps others make accessories for Echo speakers


Engadget

There aren’t many Echo-oriented accessories beyond Amazon’s own Echo Button, but that’s about to change very shortly. Amazon has released a beta Alexa Gadgets Toolkit that lets hardware brands make Echo-focused Bluetooth accessories that respond to Alexa commands. You can have a cuckoo clock that responds to your Echo’s wake word or a notification, a switch that releases dog food after an alarm, or a chime that sounds when time’s up. A future update will even allow visual interaction with music — it’s easy to see a lamp that pulses in sync with Amazon Music tracks.

Child-oriented updates will also let developers build gadgets that include compatible kid-friendly skills.

The toolkit is invitation-only and focused on businesses in the US, UK and Germany, so this isn’t available to absolutely anyone. Amazon does have big name partners like Hasbro, TOMY and WowWee , and the first products (including smart plush toys and Gemmy’s Big Mouth Billy Bass) are due before 2018 is over.

While the restrictions aren’t going to make do-it-yourself enthusiasts happy, this does promise to significantly expand the Echo ecosystem. Companies won’t need to implement sophisticated processors, audio capture or cloud services. Instead, they can let an Echo do the heavy lifting and focus on a gadget’s special features. Don’t be shocked if an Echo quickly becomes a must-have component for play time, or even around-the-house widgets like clocks and timers.

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

Link to original source

The Punkt MP02 inches closer to what a minimalist phone ought to be

There’s an empty space in my heart for a minimalist phone with only the most basic functions. Bad for my heart, but good for a handful of companies putting out devices aiming to fill it. Punkt’s latest, the MP02, goes a little ways to making the device I desire, but it isn’t quite there yet.

Punkt’s first device included just texting and calling, which would likely have worked as intended if not for the inconvenient choice to have it connect only to 2G networks. These networks are being shut down and replaced all over the world, so you would have ended up with a phone that was even more limited than you expected.

The MP02 is the sequel, and it adds a couple useful features. It runs on 4G LTE networks, which should keep it connected for years to come, and it has gained both threaded texting (rather than a single inbox and outbox — remember those?) and Blackberry encryption for those sensitive communications.

It has nice physical buttons you can press multiple times to select a letter in ye olde T9 fashion, and also lets you take notes, consult a calendar, and calculate things. The battery has 12 days of standby, and with its tiny monochrome display and limited data options, it’ll probably stay alive for nearly that even with regular use.

Its most immediate competition is probably the Light Phone, which also has a second iteration underway that, if I’m honest, looks considerably more practical.

Now, I like the MP02. I like its chunky design (though it is perhaps a mite too thick), I like its round buttons and layout, I like its deliberate limitations. But it and other would-be minimal phones, in my opinion, are too slavish in their imitations of devices from years past. What we want is minimalism, not (just) nostalgia. We want the most basic useful features of a phone without all the junk that comes with them.

The Light Phone 2 and its nice e-ink screen.

For me, that means including a couple things that these devices tend to eschew.

One is modern messaging. SMS is bad for a lot of reasons. Why not include a thin client to pass text to a messaging service like WhatsApp or Messenger? Of course iMessage is off limits — thanks, Apple — but we could at least get a couple of the cross-platform apps on board. It doesn’t hurt the minimalist nature of the phone, in my opinion, if it connects to a modern messaging infrastructure. No need for images or gifs or anything — just text is fine.

Two is maps. We sure as hell didn’t have maps on our featurephones back in the day, but you better believe we wanted them. Basic mapping is one of the things we rely on our phones for every day. Whatever’s on this minimal phone doesn’t have to be a full-stack affair with recommendations, live traffic, and so on — just location and streets, and maybe an address or lat/long lookup, like you’d see on an old monochrome GPS unit. I don’t need my phone to tell me where to eat — just keep me from getting lost.

Three, and this is just me, I’d like some kind of synchronizing note app or the ability to put articles from Pocket or whatever on there. The e-ink screen on the Light Phone is a great opportunity for this very specific type of consumption. Neither of the companies here seems likely to add this feature, but that doesn’t change the fact that it’s one of the few things I regularly use my phone for.

Light Phone 2 is possibly getting music, weather, and voice commands, none of which really screams “minimal” to me, nor do they seem trivial to add. Ride-share stuff is a maybe, but it’d probably be a pain.

I have no problem with my phone doing just what a pocketable device needs to do and leaving the more sophisticated stuff to another device. But that pocketable device can’t be that dumb. Fortunately I do believe we’re moving closer to days when there will be meaningfully different choices available to weird people like myself. We’re not there yet, but I can wait.

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

Link to original source

Google's own smart display is reportedly the $149 Home Hub


MySmartPrice

On October 9th, Google will reveal its latest hardware lineup. Rumors have spread for some time that the company is preparing to unveil a smart display at the event, and a leak unearthed by MySmartPrice corroborates the existence of the device, indicating that it will be called Home Hub. Meanwhile, a separate leak of a retail listing suggests the smart display will cost $149, according to Android Authority.

The Home Hub appears to have a seven-inch screen and apes the design of Google’s other smart home products such as Google Home Max and Mini. The Google Assistant-powered device is said to weigh just 480 grams, which as the same as Google Home. Home Hub may be available in charcoal as well as the chalk finish in the leaked images.

Along with time, weather and transit information, you’ll likely be able to use Home Hub to view Nest Cam footage and access Google Photos. On the back of the display, there’s a physical switch to turn off the microphones. However, it seems there won’t be a front-facing camera for you to have Duo calls with your friends and family.

The lack of a camera and the relatively small screen could be a factor in helping Google keep the cost lower than competitors such as the $199 Lenovo Smart Display and the $250 JBL Link View. We’ll likely find out more details about Home Hub at Google’s fall hardware event next month, at which the company is also expected to reveal its Pixel 3 phones.

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

Link to original source

Nintendo is offering an exclusive Fortnite bundle with the Switch

Fortnite has taken the world by storm. In fact, the game is so popular that Epic has released versions for PC, Xbox, PS4, iOS, Android and the Nintendo Switch, making the game about as accessible as possible.

The popularity of the game stems from the general popularity of the Battle Royale genre and popular streamers like Ninja, who have made the game so much fun to watch. But it also comes from the fun, and often fleeting, skins, dances and pick axes the game offers in its Item Shop.

On October 5th, folks interested in the Switch can pick up some extra Fortnite swag.

Nintendo is releasing a bundle that will include an exclusive Fortnite skin, glider and pick-axe, as well as an extra 1,000 V-Bucks. To be clear, 1,000 V-bucks is the equivalent of $10 and won’t get you much from the Item Shop.

Plus, as pointed out by the Verge, Nintendo has offered several different bundles which would allow customers to pick up a Switch for $329 alongside one of a few games. In most cases, those games cost money, whereas Fortnite is a free to play game.

But the Nintendo Switch bundle is the only way to get your hands on the Switch gear that comes with it.

This isn’t the first time that Epic has given out exclusive gear to players using different hardware or services. There is an exclusive Twitch Prime skin, a Sony PS4 skin, and even a skin for Galaxy Note 9 owners.

The Bundle is available for $329 on October 5.

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

Link to original source

Sony WH-1000XM3 headphones review: Goodbye, Bose

Sony’s WH-1000XM3 headphones are the sort of dream gadget I can review succinctly in one sentence: They’re incredibly comfortable, and they sound amazing. That’s it. End review. When the first 1000XM pair debuted in 2016, they weren’t just another set of premium cans — they were a sign that Sony was ready to take on Bose for the high-end noise canceling crown. The company managed to deliver something that sounded better than Bose’s best headsets while matching them at their own game. Now with its third version, Sony is giving us little reason to look elsewhere. The $350 WH-1000XM3 are basically the ideal pair of wireless noise canceling headphones.

Gallery: Sony 1000XM3 headphones | 7 Photos

Engadget Score


Poor


Uninspiring


Good


Excellent

Key

from $349.00

94

Pros
  • Excellent sound quality and comfort
  • Noise canceling is best in class
  • Generous battery life
Cons
  • A premium price Google Assistant isn’t very useful
  • Touch controls are still finicky

Summary

Sony’s WH-1000XM3 aren’t just a great pair of noise canceling headphones, they’re quality cans period. While you used to have to choose between great sound quality and decent noise reduction, the 1000XM3 do both while being a blast to listen to.

While the previous model was a slight upgrade over the original, Sony re-built the 1000XM3 (Mark 3) from the ground up. In the process, it fixed most of the line’s lingering issues. For one, it’s significantly more comfortable, thanks to a generous amount plush cushioning around the pads and headband, as well as extra room for large ears (thanks, Sony). It’s also lighter, and it no longer leaves a noticeable gap around your head while wearing them. And despite all that, the 1000XM3 is actually more compact when it folds up, making it easier to travel with. (I had to look up directions to get them in the case correctly though — it’s not very intuitive if you’ve never done it before.)


Sony’s 1000XM3 (left) vs the 1000XM2 (right)
Devindra Hardawar/Engadget

Sony’s biggest upgrade for the WH-1000XM3 is a new noise canceling chip, the QN1. The company claims its four times better than the previous model at reducing external sound. Sony previously integrated noise canceling into the headphone’s DAC, but the QN1 is a completely standalone chip. That separation also gives each of the components more room to work without getting in each other’s way. It’s also why Sony is able to deliver 32 bit audio processing with the 1000XM3. While that won’t make a huge difference for typical compressed music files, it should console people dedicated to their lossless tracks. The headphones also feature Sony’s LDAC codec, which has three times the bandwidth of Bluetooth and supports high-resolution 24-bit/96 kHz music.

There’s something almost magical about a great pair of headphones — they make music come alive, no matter what you’re playing. The 1000XM3 are simply fun to listen to, with a healthy dose of thumping bass and sparkling clarity in the mid and high-range. They’re definitely not neutral headphones, which many audiophiles prefer. Instead, the WH-1000XM3 are loaded with personality — it doesn’t matter that the bass is sometimes overbearing. Dare I say it: enjoyment matters more than accuracy.

It really didn’t matter what I threw at it — Led Zeppelin’s discography, Tan Dun’s sweeping and bombastic Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and Hero scores, or Yoko Kanno’s classic ’90s anime soundtracks (I’ll never stop listening to Cowboy Bebop) — the 1000XM3 proved itself to be one the best headphones I’ve encountered. You know you’re hearing something special when you can unearth new details in songs you’ve listened to hundreds of times. There were moments when the 1000XM3’s sound stage was so transparent, as if I was listening to a live performance. I had to stop myself from clapping on more than one occasion.

I’ve tested plenty of high-end headphones that sound great, but for one reason or another, are a pain to wear for too long. Sometimes the headbands are too tight, or they end up hurting your ears. But in my dozens of hours wearing the 1000XM3 — including on most of an eight hour flight to Berlin from NYC — I never felt any discomfort. The earcups and head band are pillowy soft, and they’re breathable enough to keep my ears from getting sweaty. I also appreciated that these headphones are lighter than the last model, at times I forgot I was even wearing them. My only complaint is Sony’s touch controls on the right earcup. They work decently most of the time, but they occasionally skipped a track when I mean to turn up the volume.

What truly pushes the 1000XM3 into must buy territory is its noise cancelling. In a head-to-head comparison with the previous model, the new headphones managed to block out noticeably more noise from a loudspeaker playing directly in front of me. It wasn’t exactly night and day, but it was still enough of a difference to tell that Sony isn’t kidding about the advantages of its QN1 chip. During that flight to Berlin, the usual loud drone of the airplane cabin turned into a pleasant hum. And once I started playing music and watching in-flight movies, the cabin noise all but disappeared. Similarly, the headphones did a fantastic job during my subway commute, turning the noisy and crowded cars into a sanctuary of music and podcasts when I closed my eyes.


Devindra Hardawar/Engadget

I’m not one of those New Yorkers that enjoys walking around with large headphones, especially noise canceling cans. Situational awareness is an important thing when you’re dodging pedestrians, traffic and the daily surprises of city life. Typically, I just stroll with a pair of wireless earbuds, with one in my left ear. I felt less anxious moving around town with the 1000XM3, though, since its ambient sound modes did a fantastic job of bringing in outside noise.

You can access it by hitting a button on the left ear or by jumping into Sony’s Connect mobile app, which lets you adjust how much external sound you let in. There’s also a handy option to focus on voices, which is useful if you’re wearing the headphones in a noisy office but still need to hear your colleagues. And if you don’t want to deal with constantly changing settings, there’s Adaptive Sound Control, which tweaks the noise canceling based on your environment. It usually reduces all noise when you’re sitting still, but lets in ambient sound once you start walking around.

Sony’s app also lets you customize the noise canceling to your ear profile by playing back a series of tones while you’re wearing the headphone. And it can also tweak the feature based on your current atmospheric pressure, which should make it work even better on planes.I’ll be honest, it’s tough to tell if those app tweaks actually improved things. But it was enough a placebo to make me think the headphones were actually custom tuned for me. You can also integrate Google Assistant into the 1000XM3 through Sony’s app, which turns the noise canceling button on the left earcup into an Assistant prompt. While the feature works fine, I prefer having sound controls within easy reach. If Sony really wants to go all in with Google Assistant, it should at least have a dedicated button.

Sony claims the 1000XM3 gets 30 hours of battery life, and that’s not far off from my testing. It survived my flight to Berlin, as well as several days of constant use without needing a recharge. Sony also added a USB-C port for charging, which is convenient if you’re already gathering devices supporting that new standard. If you have a well powered USB-C connection (or Sony’s AC adapter), the headphones will have five hours of charge after just 10 minutes.

Bose has long been the king of noise canceling headphones, but Sony has put up a good fight over the years with the 1000XM line. This latest iteration is the knockout punch Sony needs (especially since Bose is still struggling to combine decent noise canceling with high quality sound in its headphones). The biggest downside with the 1000XM3 is its $350 price tag. That’s the same as Bose’s latest QuietComfort, so at least it’s competitive. If you want something that’s almost as good, though, take a look at Sony’s Hear On 2 headphones. They’re not as comfortable as the 1000XM3, but you can find them refurbished under $150.

Based on its fit and sound quality alone, the WH-1000XM3 is one of the best headphones I’ve ever used. But the addition of killer noise canceling integration also makes it one of the most useful pieces of gear you can have. During one particularly busy morning on my Brooklyn block, the 1000XM3 helped me keep my sanity as a semi-truck and row of cars honked outside my window for half an hour. It didn’t completely drown out the noise, but it reduced the truck’s horn from ear-piercing to minor nuisance. And once I started playing music, I was able to ignore it entirely. Sometimes, it’s just nice to have instant quiet on demand.

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

Link to original source

Spire Health Tags are now on Apple’s shelves

Spire’s Health Tags, the dark and tiny devices you stick on your clothes to gather all sorts of health data from your steps, heartbeat and stress levels is now available at your local Apple Store.

The company started out with a breath tracking device to detect when you are feeling tense and help calm you down. But four years in and its now all about the wearable “tags” you stick on items of clothing like your pants or sports bra.

Yes, yes, there are lots of gadgets out there to gather similar information — the Apple Watch will now even detect if you have a fall or something is wrong with your heart — but the Spire health tag is nothing like a Fitbit or Apple Watch, according to the company. For one, there’s zero need to charge the device. One tag’s battery will last a year and a half before dying out. They’re also machine washable. You just pick a few outfits and stick a tag on each of them.

Of course a few other startups out there are working on making smart, washable, data-gathering clothes. Enflux makes the clothing and then sews in the motion sensor to tell you if you are lifting correctly. Vitali is a “smart” bra with a built-in sensor to detect stress. Then there’s OmSignal, which makes body-hugging workout clothes that gather “medical-grade biometric data to achieve optimal health.” But these tiny health tags are different in that they allow you to choose the clothes you want to adhere the monitor to.

Like Spire’s first product, the Stone, which earned more than $8 million in sales, according to the company, the tags will also pick up on times of stress and help calm you down through a series of breaths and focus on the app.

“Continuous health data will revolutionize health and wellness globally, but early incarnations have been hampered by poor user experiences and a focus on the hardware over the outcomes that the hardware can create,” Spire’s founder Jonathan Palley said. “By making the device ‘disappear’, we believe Health Tag is the first product to unlock the potential.”

Spire’s Health Tags will be sold in Apple Stores as a three-pack for $130, six-pack for $230 and an eight-pack for $300, with additional pack sizes available on the company’s website.

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

Link to original source

'Fortnite' Switch bundle arrives October 5th with in-game perks


Nintendo

Back in June, Fortnite fans cheered when the popular game arrived on the Nintendo Switch. But starting October 5th, fans of the battle royale shooter can express their love for the game in a new way: a Nintendo Switch bundle featuring special items from the game. The set retails for the same price as a regular Nintendo Switch console, $300.

While the Fortnite Bundle won’t feature a custom designed console (you get the red and blue Joy-Con version instead), the set comes with 1,000 V-Bucks (Fortnite‘s currency, which can be used to purchase in-game items and/or a Battle Pass) and the Double Helix set, which is a unique Character Outfit, Pickaxe, Glider and Back Bling. The game itself is free to download on any Nintendo Switch console and will remain free to play after the launch of the Switch’s online service.

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

Link to original source

Google's 'Family Link' parental controls expands to teens

“Family Link,” Google’s parental controls for Android and Chromebooks, is growing up. Well, in a sense. For one, it’s no longer limited to kids — soon adults will also be able to manage their teen’s devices with existing Google accounts. Wisely, that can only occur with the teenager’s permission, and they can also “unlock” their devices after parental controls are enabled (though that’ll send an alert to parents).

The idea isn’t to control teens, instead it’s a way for adults to still be involved as their kids grow more attached to devices. Parents won’t be able to change teen’s devices or change their passwords, like they can for younger children.

Additionally, Google says Family Link is coming to “almost every” country in the world. Given just how early kids get their hands on phones and tablets these days, that’s a smart move. Family Link is also getting more useful for families with Google Home devices — parents will be able to lock and locate devices with just a voice command. And that smart speaker is also getting more useful for kids, with the ability to answer questions in a child-friendly way, as well as tell stories. While Family Link can’t do much with Chromebooks yet, Google says it’ll offer app controls for parents eventually.

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

Link to original source