• Did you stay at one of the 54 Starwood hotels affected by a malware attack?

    Digital Trends - Mon, Nov 23, 2015 16:07 GMT

    Nothing ruins a good vacation (or its memories) like a data breach. Unfortunately, if you stayed at one of the 54 Starwood hotels that were recently hit by malware, you may want to check your accounts and make sure everything is in order. Between the end of 2014 and the first half of this year, over four dozen Starwood properties, including W Hotels, Sheraton, Westin, and Le Meridien, fell victim to yet another cyber attack. According to the hospitality giant, the malware was designed to steal “cardholder names, credit card numbers, security codes, and expiration dates,” but added that “there is no evidence that other customer information, such as contact information or PINs, were affected by this issue.” As per a recent press release, Starwood Hotels says that the data breach was centered around “certain restaurants, gift shops and other point-of-sale systems at the relevant Starwood properties,” but that reservation and Starwood Preferred Guest membership systems seem safe from the breach. “Protecting our customers’ information is critically important to Starwood and we take this issue extremely seriously,” said Sergio Rivera, Starwood President of the Americas region. Noting that the firm has taken “prompt action to determine the facts,” Starwood is assuring customers that its hotels have since “implemented additional security measures to help prevent this type of crime from reoccurring.” As compensation, the hotel chain is offering affected customers a year of AllClear ID to provide identity protection and credit monitoring services, free of charge. Related: Despite security revisions, the secrecy of your passwords may still be at risk with LastPass These sorts of incidents are becoming increasingly commonplace, with such large corporations as Target, the Home Depot, and Oracle recently falling victim to cyber attacks. Indeed, it seems that no sector is safe from hackers — in addition to large retailers, insurance companies and even the U.S. government has been affected by malware. Should you believe that you may have been affected by this Starwood breach, the company encourages you to “immediately contact [your] bank or card issuer.” More information can be found on Starwood’s website.  More »Did you stay at one of the 54 Starwood hotels affected by a malware attack?

  • Will the production version of Chevy’s Bolt EV debut at CES?

    Digital Trends - Mon, Nov 23, 2015 15:56 GMT

    Back in January at the 2015 Detroit Auto Show, General Motors fairly shocked everyone with the Chevrolet Bolt EV concept. At that time, the firm announced that it would put the 200-mile, $37,500 electric car into production. That production version may appear in just a couple of months. The Bolt EV will be presented at CES in January 2016, GM executive vice president Mark Reuss told The Verge at the recent Los Angeles Auto Show. It was previously reported that Bolt EV production would begin at the end of 2016, so the timing does make sense. GM CEO Mary Barra will also keynote CES 2016, so it’s possible the company will try to make the most of the spotlight with a big reveal. Unveiling a car at CES certainly wouldn’t be unusual. All manner of prototypes and concepts have been unveiled at the event over the past few years, including the test mule for the 2016 Toyota Mirai fuel-cell car, and the Mercedes-Benz F 015 autonomous concept. Related: GM develops fleet of autonomous Chevy Volts Photos of camouflaged prototypes that have been released so far indicate the production Bolt EV will retain the concept’s general shape. But within the tall, five-door hatchback body, there may be more significant changes to the concept’s somewhat unrealistic interior. Beyond the 200-mile range and $37,500 base price, GM hasn’t released any other specifications. The Bolt EV could use the same platform as the next-generation Chevy Sonic, which will be built at the same assembly plant. GM is also quick to note that the Bolt will be sold in all 50 states, unlike the current Spark EV, which is only sold in California, Oregon, and Maryland. Getting the Bolt EV into production in just under two years will be difficult, but GM believes a major partnership with LG will help. The Korean company already supplies battery cells for the Chevy Volt and Spark EV, but it will supply much more for the Bolt EV. The long list of these items includes the battery pack, drive motor, onboard charger, infotainment system, and more. Also watch: Top 10 Most Expensive Cars in the World (Sept 2015) Please enable Javascript to watch this video More »Will the production version of Chevy’s Bolt EV debut at CES?

  • Rice University chemists harness light to power fast, single-molecule submarine

    Digital Trends - Mon, Nov 23, 2015 15:48 GMT

    The now-classic science fiction movie Fantastic Voyage is becoming more like science and less like fiction thanks to the work of Rice University chemist James Tour. Scientists led by Tour at the university are making progress toward a nanoscale submersible vehicle that potentially could be used for drug delivery and other medical purposes. Tour is known for his expertise with molecular machines, having created a the world’s first nanocar a decade ago. Designed by Tour and his team of student researchers, the single-molecule sub is built using 244 atoms. It is capable of swimming through a fluid with a tail-like propeller that spins at more than 1 million RPM. Each full revolution of the propeller moves the submersible forward by 18 nanometers, which equates to a speed of one inch per second. Though slow compared to other larger vehicles, that speed is breakneck for molecular-level machines. The motor in the nanoscale submersible is powered by ultraviolet light, which causes the double bond holding the rotor to the body of the sub to break into a single bond. This breakage cases the rotor to turn a quarter turn. The motor, by returning to its normal lower energy state, turns the rotor another quarter turn. This turning process continues as long as the sub is exposed to UV light. Though the sub moves easily through liquids, its does so randomly as the rotor mechanism is not designed for steering. Related: Books burn and discs die, but these etched sapphire ‘Nanoforms’ last forever To help measure the movement of the submersible, the researchers partnered with professor Gufeng Wang at North Carolina State University. The team of researchers used a custom confocal fluorescence microscope to track the sub as it traveled through a solution. The researchers flooded the sub with UV light to provide enough power for movement, and a laser to light up the sub’s pontoons, which fluoresce red when excited by a laser. Using this setup, the Rice team was able to analyze the movement of one single-molecule sub at a time. The Rice researchers published their work in the journal Nano Letters. Now that they have proven their submersible vehicle can move efficiently, the Rice team is ready to expand upon this breakthrough. “This is the first step, and we’ve proven the concept. Now we need to explore opportunities and potential applications,” said lead author and Rice graduate student Victor García-López. “There’s a way forward.” One such forward-looking use could be the adaptation of the sub for drug delivery to targeted parts of the body. Also watch: Raimond de Hullu's vision for Oas1s green buildings Please enable Javascript to watch this video More »Rice University chemists harness light to power fast, single-molecule submarine

  • Samsung Galaxy S7 rumors and news

    Digital Trends - Mon, Nov 23, 2015 15:30 GMT

    Given the popularity of Samsung’s major smartphones, it isn’t surprising that speculation is running rampant well ahead of the company’s blockbuster reveals, but what  is a bit surprising is just how early it has started. Already, rumblings about the presumed successor to Samsung’s Galaxy S6, the Galaxy S7, have begun in earnest. It has been revealed that the Galaxy S7 has the codename of Project Lucky. We can’t think of a more appropriate name since the number 7 is often referred to as a “lucky” number. Here’s everything we know about the “Lucky” Galaxy S7 so far: Updated on 11-23-2015 by Malarie Gokey: Added in a rumor that Samsung might bring the MicroSD card back to the Galaxy S7. Related: Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge rumors and news Click on a link to jump to a topic: Processor and specs Release date and price Amazing camera High quality design Screen sizes and Force Touch High-end specs and a return to Qualcomm’s processors The Galaxy S series has always been known for its awesome display, powerful processor, high amounts or RAM, and high quality camera. Up until recently, premium Samsung phones always had a MicroSD card slot for storage expansion. Neither the Galaxy S6 nor the Galaxy Note 5 had a MicroSD card slot, which upset many Samsung fans, but the MicroSD card slot may finally return on the S7, according to a rumor picked up by HDBlog.it. The report also claims that the screen size will be 5.2-inches and the top and bottom of it may be curved. The Galaxy S series’ sound quality was never anything to brag about, but that might change with the Galaxy S7. A report out of China in mid-October claims that it will feature a high quality audiophile-grade Stereo D/A converter from ESS Technology. This converter (SABRE9018AQ2M) debuted at the Consumer Electronics Show in January 2015, and is the world’s most powerful 32-bit converter. It features 129dB dynamic range and -120dB (0.0001 percent) harmonic distortion. This report also claims that the Galaxy S7 will feature a 20-megapixel Isocell camera. However, it’s unclear whether Samsung will continue to use Sony sensors for certain models like it did with the Galaxy S6. Depending on the variant, the Galaxy S6 came with either an ISCOCELL or Sony sensor. Related: Samsung Galaxy Note 5 Review At the beginning of October, a report originating from Korea’s Electronic Times and picked up by Reuters, agrees that Samsung may return to Qualcomm power for the Galaxy S7, and cites anonymous industry sources. Not all Galaxy S7’s may use the Snapdragon 820, if the report is accurate — only those models released in the U.S. and China. S7 phones sold elsewhere may feature Samsung’s own Exynos chips. This wouldn’t be the first time Samsung has used both sources of power for a Galaxy phone, and in the past the decision has been necessitated by the accompanying modem, and international connectivity issues. Two variants of the Galaxy S7 were spotted in benchmarks in early September. The first such device showed up in the Geekbench database with a model name of Samsung Lucky-LTE. It’s sporting an Exynos 8890 processor, which is believed to have an internal codename of M1 Mongoose. No other specs were revealed other than that the device is running Android 5.1.1. The second device appeared in the AnTuTu database with the model name of Lucky. However, this model sports the Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 processor. It has already been rumored that Samsung could implement both the Snapdragon 820 and Exynos on certain variants, so these benchmarks add credence to that rumor. Related: Hands On: Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge Plus This Snapdragon phone reveals a lot more specs too. It’s sporting a 5.7-inch Quad HD (2,560 x 1,440 resolution) display, an Adreno 530 GPU, 4GB of RAM, 64GB of internal storage, 16-megapixel rear camera, 5-megapixel front-facing camera, and Android 5.1.1. Samsung has entered the 4GB RAM territory with the Galaxy Note 5 and Galaxy S6 Edge Plus, so it’s no surprise that both sizes of the Galaxy S7 are rumored to also sport 4GB of RAM. According to internal documents obtained by a Chinese Weibo user in August, the Galaxy S7 is codenamed “Jungfrau” after a summit in the Bernese alps, and it may pack powerful new Qualcomm silicon. Specifically, Samsung’s said to be considering the Snapdragon 820, a zippy 3.0 GHz processor that bested Samsung’s Exynos 7420 — the chip in Samsung’s Galaxy S6 — in single-core performance in leaked benchmarks. A move back to Snapdragon processors wouldn’t be unprecedented. Samsung’s decision to source its own Exynos processor for the Galaxy S6 was reportedly motivated by the Snapdragon 810’s overheating and performance issues. Qualcomm is said to have addressed those problems in the 820. It features four custom-designed, 64-bit Hydra cores built on Samsung’s 14nm process, a powerful new Adreno GPU, and far more efficient heat dissipation than its notoriously throttled predecessor. Release date and pricing Samsung continues to feel the pressure from other lower cost handsets, so the company might have to change things up with the Galaxy S7. Chinese analyst Pan Jiutang thinks that Samsung will likely cut the price on the Galaxy S7 in order to boost sales. According to Jiutang, this cut could be as much as 10 percent. This means that if you paid $650 (off contract) for the Galaxy S6, the Galaxy S7 could come in as low as $585. As nice as that would be, it not at all certain that it would be enough. The Nexus 6P is priced at $500 for 32GB, and appears to be a good starting point. The Galaxy S7’s release date remains a mystery, but it could be sooner than widely expected. Samsung’s reportedly moved to a streamlined development process, dubbed “Agile,” that aims to shave months off of its design-to-sale device cycle. The company’s shooting to finalize the S7 by December, which could translate to a Spring 2016 launch. However, ET News reported in mid-October that Samsung could announce the Galaxy S7 in January, one to two months earlier than normal. In early September, it was rumored that Samsung would launch the Galaxy S7 by the end of 2015. Although Samsung did release the Galaxy Note 5 earlier than normal, it was only by a few weeks. A December launch would put the Galaxy S7 ahead of its normal schedule by two to three months. This seems highly unlikely, but Samsung has been known to shock us before. Camera may be major selling point Samsung filed a trademark application for “Britecell,” and according to the listing, it’s an image sensor for mobile phones. It also sounds very familiar to Isocell, which is Samsung’s current sensor technology. Isocell forms a physical barrier between neighboring pixels, thus allowing more light to be captured. The name Britecell obviously is a play on the word “bright,” which would indicate that this sensor also deals with collecting more light. A rumor in early November indicated that Samsung might ditch higher pixels in favor of better image quality. While the Galaxy S6 had a 16-megapixel camera onboard, the Galaxy S7’s camera could actually drop to 12 megapixels. However, the sensor size could increase to 1/2.0” (from 1/2.6″) and could be equipped with dual-PD (dual-photodiode) technology. The increased sensor size would allow more light while the dual-PD technology would offer a more accurate auto focus through phase detection. This could be exactly what Britecell is referring to, and if so, there is a good chance this rumor is true. The move to a larger sensor would be similar to what Google did with the Nexus 5X and Nexus 6P, in that those phones have 1/2.3″ sensors. Ironically, both of those phones are equipped with 12-megapixel (actual is 12.3) lenses too. At present, the Nexus 5X and Nexus 6P have the largest sensors ever on a smartphone, but the Galaxy S7 would take the crown if this rumor is true. It should be noted that a contrary rumor published on the Chinese social network Weibo at the beginning of November asserted that Samsung is talking to Sony, with the intention of securing the IMX300 camera sensor for use on the Galaxy S7. The IMX300 is apparently the same sensor used in the Sony Xperia Z5, and is rated at 23 megapixels. However, Samsung apparently wants to use both its own Isocell 20-megapixel camera sensor, and Sony’s sensor for the S7, meaning it’ll have to bring them both into line, megapixel-wise, to avoid differences in models. The rumor is unconfirmed, and the source is unknown. Samsung used a mix-and-match strategy for camera components — with Sony — on the Galaxy S6, so the decision to use two different camera sensors in the S7 range wouldn’t come as a surprise. Sony has also acquired Toshiba’s CMOS sensor factory, increasing its ability to produce camera sensors. These two factors indicate that the rumor carries some weight. Before this, Chinese suppliers reported in August that Samsung had begun sourcing components for a dual-camera array. Unlike the primitive twin shooters on the HTC One M8, Samsung’s implementation is said to focus on low-light performance and “accuracy.” One lens will supply color information, and the other will focus on brightness, sources claim. The device will then combine the metadata to produce photos up to “double” the quality of single-camera shots. In a move which may belie Samsung’s intentions, the company’s Exynos 7420 shipped with dual-camera support enabled. Related: Apple and Samsung will break boundaries with new dual-camera tech for smartphones Some sources inside South Korea are unsure if this tech will be used on the Galaxy S7, however. Samsung may have plans to test the waters with a dual-camera setup on another smartphone shortly after the Galaxy S7 launch. Samsung execs want to see how the market responds to a small batch of dual-camera phones, before implementing the tech inside the flagship smartphone, the sources say. Samsung reportedly has an end-of-year goal for the dual camera, meaning if it does change its mind, it will still have a few months before the Galaxy S7 launch to add the dual cameras to its flagship phone. Similar design, but even higher quality Samsung finally brought high-end materials to the Galaxy S6, and that trend is expected to continue. The S6 featured a frame made of 6013 aluminum with a glass back, making it the best Galaxy S phone in terms of quality. However, the Galaxy S7 might go one step further. A report out of China in mid-October claims the phone will have a much stronger frame built from magnesium alloy. Samsung is also expected to utilize a similar glass back as well. In a nutshell, the Galaxy S7 probably won’t look all that different than its predecessor, but it will be of a higher quality. Two display sizes and Force Touch Samsung’s next S phone could come in two sizes just like the Galaxy S6, and now there are even more rumors about the technology that’ll sit behind the screen. The I Ice Universe Weibo account hinted that Samsung may follow Apple’s lead and add Force Touch to its next flagship phone. The Galaxy S7 will reportedly pack a special tech from Synaptics that’s called ClearForce. Much like 3D Touch on the iPhone 6S and Force Touch on the Apple Watch, ClearForce technology registers a firm press differently than a light tap. On the Galaxy S7, this tech could be used to bring up contextual menus and other cool features, CNet reports. A patent published by the Korean Intellectual Property Office in mid-October reveals that Samsung might bring force touch technology to the Galaxy S7 onscreen keyboard. Samsung’s implementation uses voltage to detect the force of touch, which in turn determines the output. For example, pressing the “a” key lightly would register a lowercase “a,” while a harder press would output an uppercase “A.” The patent further reveals that this technology could also be used in a keyboard accessory such as a flip-style cover with a built-in keyboard. Related: Read all the Galaxy S7 Edge rumors Another report indicates that the Galaxy S7 will come in two sizes: 5.2 inches and 5.8 inches. It’s unclear whether either one of these models will be an Edge model. If this rumor is true, it would mark the first time that Samsung offered two display sizes of a Galaxy S phone. Apple did something very similar with the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, so we wouldn’t be surprised if Samsung goes in this direction. Now that Sony debuted the first smartphone with a UHD 4K (3,840 x 2,160 resolution) display, Samsung may consider following suit. A report in early September indicated the Galaxy S7 is likely to sport a 4K display, but it’s not clear if both the 5.2-inch and 5.8-inch variants will get such treatment. It’s possible that Samsung will reserve this high end display for the larger model, which would put it at 759 pixels per inch. If Samsung does opt to offer a 4K display on the 5.2-inch model, it would come in at a whopping 847 pixels per inch. Samsung’s got a lot riding on the Galaxy S6’s follow-up — it badly misjudged demand for the Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge earlier this year, leading to dips in year-on-year profit. It won’t want to make the same mistake again. In the meantime, we’ll keep you updated here. Previous updates: Updated on 11-09-2015 by Robert Nazarian: Added in news that Samsung might price the Galaxy S7 for much less than the Galaxy S6. Updated on 11-04-2015 by Robert Nazarian: Added in news that Samsung trademarked “BRITECELL” and this could be the technology used in the Galaxy S7 camera. Updated on 11-03-2015 by Robert Nazarian: Added in news Samsung might use a smaller 12-megapixel sensor camera with a larger sensor size in the Galaxy S7. Updated on 11-02-2015 by Andy Boxall: Added in news Samsung may be talking with Sony to acquire its 23-megapixel camera sensor for use in the Galaxy S7 Updated on 10-20-2015 by Robert Nazarian: Added in news that Galaxy S7 could feature a magnesium alloy build and a high-end 32-bit Stereo D/A Converter Updated on 10-19-2015 by Robert Nazarian: Added news that Samsung received a patent that involves force touch technology, Updated on 10-13-2015 by Malarie Gokey: Added news that the Galaxy S7 may have Force Touch in its display. Updated on 10-02-2015 by David Curry: Added new information that Galaxy S7 might not receive the dual-cameras.  Updated on 10-02-2015 by Andy Boxall: Added in further rumors Samsung will chose the Snapdragon 820 processor for the Galaxy S7 Updated on 09-11-2015 by Robert Nazarian: Added in specs from recent benchmarks and news that the Galaxy S7 is codenamed “Project Lucky” Updated on 09-09-2015 by Robert Nazarian: Added in news that the Galaxy S7 could come in two sizes along with rumored specs Also watch: Apple iPhone 6S Plus vs. Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge Please enable Javascript to watch this video More »Samsung Galaxy S7 rumors and news

  • Bezel-less ZTE Nubia Z11 spotted with curved glass display, Snapdragon 820, and 4GB of RAM

    Digital Trends - Mon, Nov 23, 2015 15:30 GMT

    The next flagship from Chinese manufacturer ZTE might have been leaked earlier today, with press photos of the Nubia Z11 being spotted on the Web. The two photos show the side and back of the Nubia Z11, featuring a bezel-less 5.2-inch display and fingerprint sensor. First reported on KKJ.cn, the Nubia Z11 is expected to use Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 820 processor, 4GB of RAM, and 128GB of internal storage. Related: ZTE ups the Axon Pro’s storage to 64GB and debuts a cheaper version called Axon The report suggests that ZTE will outfit the Nubia Z11 with a 13-megapixel front-facing camera and a 20.7-megapixel rear camera. It might be one of the first devices in China to run Android 6.0 Marshmallow, alongside ZTE’s own ROM employed for Nubia devices. The display is less curved than Samsung’s Galaxy S6 display, making it hard to notice on the press photo. ZTE will apparently use Frame Interactive Technology (FIT), which makes the side of the display interactive through gestures and swipes — FIT was used previously on the Nubia Z9. We haven’t been informed of a conclusive launch date for the Nubia Z11, though rumors suggest a launch in the first quarter of next year. That fits nicely with other high-end smartphones from Xiaomi, Vivo, and HTC that are supposed to be launching early next year. That said, the Nubia Z9 itself only launched six months ago, and with an Elite and Max version announced later in the year, the rumored launch period for the Nubia Z11 feels rushed. ZTE has been quietly gaining mobile market share, and is now one of the top seven manufacturers in the world. The company is the fourth largest mobile provider in the U.S. and it recently announced its own lease-to-own program for its America-based customers. Also watch: Apple iPhone 6S Plus vs. Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge Please enable Javascript to watch this video More »Bezel-less ZTE Nubia Z11 spotted with curved glass display, Snapdragon 820, and 4GB of RAM

  • EPA officials find a second defeat device in diesel-powered Audi, VW and Porsche models

    Digital Trends - Mon, Nov 23, 2015 15:02 GMT

    Volkswagen has admitted that at least 85,000 U.S.-spec cars powered by a 3.0-liter TDI V6 engine are programmed with an illegal defeat device that disables certain emissions control functions during normal use. The defeat device is fitted to cars built between the 2009 and 2016 model years, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the California Air Resources Board (CARB). On our shores, the 3.0-liter V6 TDI is primarily found under the hood of Audi models such as the A6, the A7, both the short- and long-wheelbase variants of the range-topping A8, the Q5 (pictured), and the Q7. It also powers the Porsche Cayenne and Volkswagen’s Touareg off-roader. While the alternative exhaust control device fitted to the 3.0-liter TDI violates U.S. law, Audi — whose ad slogan is, ironically, “This is Truth in Engineering” — points out that it’s legal in Europe but executives failed to properly notify regulators of its existence. The company also stresses that the six-cylinder TDI isn’t fitted with the same defeat device as the smaller 2.0-liter TDI that powers nearly half a million cars in the U.S. including Volkswagen’s Golf and Jetta and the Audi A3. The announcement is surprising because the Wolfsburg-based car maker flatly denied the EPA’s allegations earlier this month. “Volkswagen AG wishes to emphasize that no software has been installed in the 3.0-liter V6 diesel power units to alter emissions characteristics in a forbidden manner,” explained Volkswagen in a statement published on November 2nd. Volkswagen, Audi, and Porsche have issued stop-sale orders that apply to the aforementioned models equipped with the 3.0-liter TDI engine, and representatives from all three companies are cooperating with federal authorities. A tentative fix for the non-compliant 2.0-liter TDI was presented to regulators on Friday, but what it consists of hasn’t been made public yet. Related: Volkswagen won’t build a mid-engined roadster after all The EPA is allowed to fine the Volkswagen Group up to $37,500 per offending vehicle, meaning the Dieselgate scandal could cost $21 billion in penalties alone. Also watch: Top 10 Most Expensive Cars in the World (Sept 2015) Please enable Javascript to watch this video More »EPA officials find a second defeat device in diesel-powered Audi, VW and Porsche models

  • HP partners with Indian watch brand, plans range of smartwatches for later this year

    Digital Trends - Mon, Nov 23, 2015 14:51 GMT

    HP has partnered with watch maker Titan to produce a new smartwatch it says will be innovative, filled with custom technology, and use a software platform that won’t intrude on our lives. Neither HP nor Titan are big names in the world of smart wearables yet, but this is the second such announcement from HP in a short space of time — it recently teamed up with watch brand Movado to make the Motion and Bold Motion smartwatches. India-based Titan is the world’s fifth largest watch maker, and sells its products in 27 countries. The smart watch is expected to be the first in a range from Titan, and they’re described as a ‘unique lifestyle offering,’ but we’ve yet to see what the first finished device looks like. Exactly what it will do, the operating system being used, and the final price are also a mystery. Related: Read our review of the gorgeous Vector Luna smartwatch The press release gives us a hint of Titan and HP’s plans, referring to the new product as a blend of tradition and technology, so owners can still wear a beautifully styled watch that has smart functionality. It’s hardly a new approach, and certainly the same ethos that drove TAG Heuer to make the newly unveiled, $1,500 Carrera Connected smartwatch. TAG Heuer chose Android Wear for its watch, but that may not be the route Titan and HP take. The Movado, and HP’s last push into smartwatches — the MB Chronowing made with designer Michael Bastian — use proprietary operating systems, that while compatible with Android and iOS devices, often lack apps and continued support. Browsing Titan’s website shows its watches vary in price, but most hover between $100 to $200, although some basic models are less. There’s a strong chance the Titan smartwatch will cheaper than TAG Heuer, Huawei’s or Apple’s smartwatch models. The Titan watch will launch before the end of 2015, and it’ll be sold in India along with other international markets, the names of which haven’t been confirmed. We’ll keep you updated. Also watch: Huawei Talkband B2 - Hands On Please enable Javascript to watch this video More »HP partners with Indian watch brand, plans range of smartwatches for later this year

  • Tesla recalls every Model S built to inspect the front seat belt assemblies

    Digital Trends - Mon, Nov 23, 2015 14:51 GMT

    Tesla Motors has announced that it’s recalling every single Model S it has built since production kicked off in 2012 to inspect the front seat-belt assembly. The company sent an email to customers around the globe that explained that an owner in Europe recently reported the S’s seat belt became disconnected when the front passenger turned around to talk to the occupants riding in the back. Tesla technicians immediately looked into the issue and found that the front seat belt wasn’t properly connected to the outboard lap pretensioner. “The seat belt is anchored to the outboard lap pretensioner through two anchor plates that are bolted together. The bolt that was supposed to tie the two anchors together wasn’t properly assembled,” said the company in a statement. Tesla inspected 3,000 examples of the Model S and closely monitored its production process but it wasn’t able to find another car with the same issue. It stresses the affected car wasn’t involved in an accident and that no injuries have been linked to the defect, but it has nonetheless chosen to issue a voluntary recall that applies to every single Model S built over the past three years. Roughly 90,000 sedans are affected, though how many of them are in the United States isn’t known at this point. Unlike previous issues with the Model S, the seat belt can’t be fixed by an over-the-air software update. Customers are being asked to bring their car into the nearest service center so that a technician can test the belt and replace the mechanism if necessary. Concerned owners can test them by themselves by pulling on it with at least 80 pounds of force, but every car will ultimately need to be looked over by a technician. The process only takes a few minutes. Related: Tesla owners say the P85D doesn’t make 691 hp Tesla is recalling the cars out of “an abundance of caution.” Since the issue is seemingly limited to a single car, it’s unlikely that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) would have asked the company to issue a recall. Also watch: Top 10 Most Expensive Cars in the World (Sept 2015) Please enable Javascript to watch this video More »Tesla recalls every Model S built to inspect the front seat belt assemblies

  • NASA developing satellite network for real-time wildfire tracking

    Digital Trends - Mon, Nov 23, 2015 14:45 GMT

    Wildfire detection is headed to space thanks to a team of mission design specialists from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. The team came up with the idea of equipping over 200 satellites with sensors to detect thermal events such as wildfires on a global scale. This FireSat sensor network will significantly improve ground wildfire detection and provide information on other thermal activities such as illegal gas flaring, volcanic eruptions and more. FireSat was first presented to the joint NASA/U.S. Forest Service Tactical Fire Remote Sensing Advisory Committee in 2011, but the technology to bring the project to fruition was not yet available. “Such a system has only now become feasible at a reasonable cost,” said Robert Staehle, lead designer of FireSat at JPL. “Enabled by advances in commercial microelectronics that NASA, JPL, and universities have tested in space via CubeSat experiments, and by software technology originally developed to give Mars rovers and Earth orbiters more autonomy in their science observations.” Related: NASA confirms that the ‘impossible’ EmDrive thruster really works, after new tests Using satellites to detect wildfire activity is nothing new. NASA already has a space-based fire detection system in place, but the system is limited in what it can do. It can only detect fires twice a day and can only transmit large image files that show the fire from space. The new FireSat system will offer a significant improvement, providing the ability to detect a new fire (35 to 50 feet wide or larger) within 15 minutes of when it starts. Once detected, the network can begin sending data to first responders in the area of the fire within three minutes. Low-resolution images of the wildfire can be sent at a rate of one image per minute. Each image is accompanied by the GPS coordinates of the area that is burning along with other information such as the perimeter, intensity, and movement of the fire. The satellite information will be delivered to first responders via a FireSat app that will combine the fire data with important hydrological, carbon, and vegetation information. Because it uses satellites, the system can provide this information in areas with little to no Internet coverage. This near real-time data provides first responders with both an early detection system and an unprecedented level of detail about an existing wildfire threat. JPL will take the lead on the project, working on the design and development of the sensor network along with California’s Ecliptic Enterprises which is supplying the sensor assemblies for the satellites. JPL is also collaborating with San Francisco-based Quadra Pi R2E, which is running a kickstarter project to publicly announce the project and gauge public interest in it. The Quadra group already has obtained the $30 million in funding that is necessary for the project, with $20 million coming from non-US government grants or investment funding and another $10 million in debt funding. The team hopes to have the satellite network up and running by June 2018. Also watch: Raimond de Hullu's vision for Oas1s green buildings Please enable Javascript to watch this video More »NASA developing satellite network for real-time wildfire tracking

  • Box office hits and misses: The Hunger Games wins big, but there’s a catch

    Digital Trends - Mon, Nov 23, 2015 14:35 GMT

    The odds favored  The Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Part 2 this weekend, with the grand finale of the blockbuster franchise earning the top spot in the box-office rankings with a $101 million debut. Despite the film’s big opening weekend, the outlook wasn’t entirely positive for  Mockingjay — Part 2, the fourth film in the hit series adapted from Suzanne Collins’ popular, post-apocalyptic young-adult novels. Related: The Night Before is a raunchy holiday romp without the sickly sweet filling Not only did the film have the lowest opening of the series so far, falling $20 million short of its 2014 predecessor, but it also currently ranks as only the fifth best opening of the year (and likely to be the sixth after  Star Wars: Episode VII — The Force Awakens debuts). Given that all of the previous films ranked in the top three openings of their respective years, it’s a notable step down for the franchise. Still, there have been few — if any — franchises to have their first four films earn more than $100 million on their opening weekends, so it’s not all doom and gloom for the final installment of The Hunger Games. # Title Weekend U.S. Total Worldwide Total 1. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Part 2 $101M $101M $247M 2. Spectre $14.6M $153.7M $677.8M 3. The Peanuts Movie $12.8M $98.9M $108.7M 4. The Night Before $10.1M $10.1M $10.1M 5. The Secret In Their Eyes $6.6M $6.6M  $6.6M 6. Love the Coopers $3.9M $14.9M  $14.9M 7. The Martian $3.7M $213M $486.4M 8. Spotlight $3.6M $5.9M  $5.9M 9. The 33 $2.2M $9.9M  $22.6M 10. Bridge of Spies $1.9M $65.2M  $85.2M In other news, the debut of the R-rated holiday comedy  The Night Before might not have generated a lot of box-office business, but the film did manage to earn rave reviews from critics and audiences alike. That could mean good things for the raunchy comedy starring Seth Rogen, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and Anthony Mackie, as positive word-of-mouth tends to provide a big boost for films around the holiday season. Also making its debut in the top ten films of the weekend was the thriller  The Secret In Their Eyes, a remake of the Oscar-winning Argentinian film of the same name. The English-language film stars Julia Roberts, Chiwetel Ejiofor, and Nicole Kidman and earned a modest $6.6 million — a result that’s probably viewed as a win by the studio, given the movie’s nonexistent marketing campaign. Finally, Ridley Scott’s  The Martian continued to stay strong at the box office and make a strong case for extending its run in theaters with another $3.7 million over the weekend. That total was good for seventh place on the weekend, and  The Martian now ranks as the sixth highest-grossing film of the year in U.S. theaters and the 11th highest-grossing film of the year worldwide. This upcoming weekend features the release of several big films, including the latest animated feature from Walt Disney Pictures and Pixar Animation Studios,  The Good Dinosaur. The film’s debut during a holiday week when many children are out of school makes it as close to a sure thing as you get in Hollywood, so expect to see it post some big numbers over the extended weekend. For the older crowd, the Rocky spin-off  Creed finally arrives in theaters over the weekend, as well as the Oscar-friendly biopic T he Danish Girl, which casts Eddie Redmayne as Lili Elbe, one of the first known recipients of sex reassignment surgery. More »Box office hits and misses: The Hunger Games wins big, but there’s a catch

  • Abarth will inject the Fiat 124 Spider with 200 HP and send it out with a hardtop

    Digital Trends - Mon, Nov 23, 2015 14:27 GMT

    Whether or not you were impressed by Fiat’s redesign of Mazda’s new MX-5 Miata, also known as the Fiat 124 Spider, your ears might perk up when they hear that Abarth is already working on a mightier version. Not even a full week after the Italian automaker revealed its new roadster at the LA Auto Show, rumors of a hotter version by its in-house tuning division, Abarth, have already surfaced. With the sale date of the Fiat 124 still about a year off, there’s still plenty of time for these rumors to be proven or disproven, but the initial word about a more hardcore variant is very good news indeed. Accompanying this rendering by Omniauto.it are some performance specifications dug up by Piston Heads. The publication reports that the Abarth iteration will pack the same 1.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder as the normal 124, but will be tuned from its current 160 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque to a healthier 200+ horses. Related: Fiat Debuts Its Fiesty 124 Spider At The 2015 LA Auto Show The standard Fiat 124 Spider already makes 5 more ponies and 36 more lb-ft of twist than Mazda’s MX-5, but that’s not enough for Abarth. In addition to the extra power, the tuning house will give the sports car a more aggressive body, including an optional black hood, stiffer suspension, larger brakes, and other handling tweaks. The target is to bring to life the inspiration of the Abarth 124 Stradale homologation car from the 1970’s. Like its ancestor, the Abarth 124 will be offered with a hard-top, too. With only about 2,200 pounds to lug around, a 200-plus hp sports car will be a de facto enthusiasts dream … that is until Mazda gets around to building its rumored Mazdaspeed MX-5 Miata. In addition to the road-going Abarth version, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles plans to race the Abarth 124 in the World Rally Championship (WRC) starting in 2017. The model is set to compete in a new sports car category. The last time Fiat was committed to that racing series was in the late 70s/early 80s when it won the WRC three times with its 131 Abarth. Also watch: Top 10 Most Expensive Cars in the World (Sept 2015) Please enable Javascript to watch this video More »Abarth will inject the Fiat 124 Spider with 200 HP and send it out with a hardtop

  • Need some motivation? Fitbit's update tracks and records your exercises for you

    Digital Trends - Mon, Nov 23, 2015 14:16 GMT

    If your Fitbit has been lying around gathering dust, here’s some motivation to strap it back on your wrist. Fitbit announced two new updates to the Fitbit Charge HR and Fitbit Surge: SmartTrack, which means you don’t need to manually log in your exercises, and improvements to PurePulse for high-intensity workouts. The updates also bring weekly exercise goals, which affect all Fitbit devices and app users. Related: Exercise for a cause with Fitbit’s FitForGood SmartTrack, which can only be accessed on the Fitbit Charge HR and the Surge, automatically recognizes certain exercises and records them in the Fitbit app as you work out. Along with the exercise summary, it will also record the duration, calories burned, and heart rate stats. The new feature can identify elliptical, outdoor biking, running, walking, some dance classes, aerobic workouts, and sports such as tennis, basketball, and soccer. You can select the type of activities you want recognized as exercise and adjust when the app begins recording. The default setting kicks in after 15 minutes of activity. PurePulse, the feature that tracks heart rate, also has been updated to provide more accurate tracking and a better experience during and after high-intensity workouts such as Zumba. The data shows the user’s resting heart rate and heart rate trends over time. Related: Syncing an infected Fitbit could be a security risk, says analyst, but Fitbit’s not worried “These new features allow them to focus on their exercise, giving them credit for their most active moments and letting the technology do the work to automatically track progress toward their fitness goals,” said Tim Roberts, vice president of Interactive at Fitbit. Fitbit also introduced weekly exercise goals to push you to work toward a fitness goal. This particular update is available to all Fitbit devices and app users. The goals are tracked on a daily basis, and users can personalize them by choosing the number of exercise days per week and type of activities. The software updates for the Charge HR and Surge are available now, and the exercise goals are up for grabs for iOS and Windows Fitbit app users. Fitbit promises that Android support is on the way. As the holidays are fast approaching, the company also announced new colors for the Fitbit Charge HR and Fitbit Surge, both of which will be available in blue and tangerine. The Charge HR will also be available in teal. Also watch: Huawei Talkband B2 - Hands On Please enable Javascript to watch this video More »Need some motivation? Fitbit's update tracks and records your exercises for you

  • ASUS N series laptops get Skylake CPUs and 4K displays

    Digital Trends - Mon, Nov 23, 2015 13:34 GMT

    Intel’s new Skylake CPUs continue their invasion of the world’s systems, with their introduction to the newly expanded lineup of Asus’ N Series laptops. The two new systems utilize Intel’s high-end Core-i7 processors, and combine them with ultra-high definition displays, Nvidia graphics, and bountiful connectivity options. The new N series laptops come in two different sizes. The first, the N552, has a 15.6 inch display, while the larger N752 has a 17.3 inch screen. Both however come with the same 4k (3,840 x 2,160) IPS panel, with a 100-percent sRGB color palette. At its widest, the tablet portion is just 30mm thick, and it weighs just over 5.5lbs. Internally the potent quad-core, i7 CPUs (6700HQ or 6300HQ) are twinned with 16GB of DDR4 RAM and up to 512GB of PCIExpress SSD storage, which has a sustained read rate as high as 1,500 Mbps. There are also choices for more traditional 2.5 inch storage SSD and HDDs, as per TPU. Options for graphics are left up to the buyer to decide, but they can go all the way up to a GTX 960M if they need higher powered 3D rendering abilities. Related: Speak and it shall be done: Intel’s Skylake can be awakened with your voice In terms of ports, there’s one of the much-lauded USB type-C connectors that is also able to make use of USB 3.1’s high-speed data transfer. Alongside that futuristic connector are three more traditional USB 3.0 ports, as well as an RJ45 Ethernet port, an HDMI connector, headphone and microphone jacks, and a mini DisplayPort. ASUS has also put a lot of effort into the audio for this laptop, utilizing its “SonicMaster” audio system, which has B&O ICEpower class-D amplifiers for the speakers. Although we wouldn’t expect sound quality to be like that of full-size speakers, audio should certainly be above average with these new laptops. For now the eventual price and release date for the N552 and N752 laptops are unknown as they have only appeared on international versions of the ASUS site. We will endeavor to update this piece when that information becomes available. More »ASUS N series laptops get Skylake CPUs and 4K displays

  • Mohawk smart helmet kit features camera, GPS, black box, Bluetooth, and more

    Digital Trends - Mon, Nov 23, 2015 13:24 GMT

    We wear a helmet to protect our skulls, but being human, we expect more from these inert lifesavers. So we strap on cameras to film our stunts or canyon carving adventures — the world needs to see! We want to talk to our buddies while in the wind, so we pop in a Bluetooth kit. In our pockets and around our wrists, we have apps for navigation and tracking. Though there are helmets on the market that come with one or more of these technologies, you still have to add on what’s missing. That’s no longer so, as Fusar Technologies has created a platform that combines a camera, activity tracker, Bluetooth 4.0 communication device, GPS, black box, Wi-Fi capability, and emergency response system all into one device. It’s called Mohawk, and it is compatible with any type of helmet. This “Swiss Army knife” of smart helmet technology hit its $100,000 Indiegogo goal the first day, and is fast approaching $150,000. Fusar wants to change the way riders share their media, navigate, and communicate, all while remaining safe. Related: Eyesight’s Raptor smartglasses feature augmented reality and more The camera, which Fusar claims to be the most aerodynamic mounted unit on the market, allows users to capture 12MP photos and shoot 1080p video at 30 or 60 FPS via the touch of a button on a handlebar or wrist-mounted remote. Short press the button on your BRC (Bluetooth remote controls) to snap a photo, and long press to record video. The media instantly syncs to your smart phone. Real-time videos can be uploaded to social media with the HotShot feature, which can be activated anytime to save the last 15 seconds of footage, even if you weren’t recording. Mohawk can be synced to your smartphone, providing walkie-talkie style communication and GPS tracking for up to 12 friends and fellow riders, keeping everyone together. This should reduce the stress of teaching the newbies to properly interpret hand signals! How much air did you catch on that last trail jump? Were you knee-down on that third bank? Onboard sensors allow you to track air time, degree of lean, and more using a built-in 3-axis accelerometer, magnetometer, and gyroscope. A major fear for solo riders is taking a fall when no one else is around. In a crash involving head or spinal trauma, every minute is crucial, and if you’re lying unconscious or unable to move, what can you do but wait for passersby to call for help? Mohawk is equipped to notify loved ones and emergency contacts via text and email in the event of a crash. It also provides them with a map to your precise location and the phone numbers of the three nearest EMS dispatchers. If you do go down, the black box records the last two minutes of audio and video, your speed and direction of travel. This can be beneficial afterwards, especially for insurance purposes. The mobile app, Bluetooth headset, and handlebar remote are expected to ship in the first quarter of2016, while Mohawk itself will follow in the third quarter. It will be available for $550, but early birds can pre-order the kit for $300. More »Mohawk smart helmet kit features camera, GPS, black box, Bluetooth, and more

  • Google once made, but never released, a Star Trek-style Communicator badge

    Digital Trends - Mon, Nov 23, 2015 13:03 GMT

    Remember how Captain Picard and other Enterprise crew members in Star Trek would talk to each other, or the ship’s computer, using a cool pin attached to their uniforms? It turns out, Google made its own version, where we could talk to the Google search tool. If you’re already on your way to the Google Play Store looking for this gadget, don’t bother, because although a prototype was made, it never went any further. The revelation came from Google’s Amit Singhai, Senior Vice President of Search, in an interview with Time. “I always wanted that pin,” he told the publication, “You just ask it anything and it works. That’s why we were like, ‘Let’s go prototype that and see how it feels.’” Sadly, it obviously didn’t feel right, and the Communicator-style pin never went beyond the early test phase. Related: Google starts Star Wars: The Force Awakens promotion Singhai admits to being a massive Star Trek fan, and says the Google pin was not only inspired by, but also modeled after the one used in the TV shows and movies. It connected to another device using Bluetooth, had a built-in microphone, and only needed a tap to wake it up. The answers to questions posed would be broadcast through its own speaker, or a set of connected headphones. In a picture Singhai is shown wearing the pin, which appears to be circular with an LED indicator light, although most of the detail is obscured or too hard to make out. It’s not explicitly stated, but the pin most likely operated using Google Now, the company’s clever predictive software commonly used on its phones. While Google’s Combadge pin never became an actual product we can all buy and wear, there are several other ways to talk to devices other than our phones in public, if that’s your desire. The easiest is to grab yourself an Android Wear smartwatch and start chatting away, while Google Glass also liked having a conversation, although only the wearer could hear the responses. If you’re desperate for a Google-made Communicator pin, there’s no indication the project will be resurrected; but if there’s enough interest now the word is out one exists, perhaps it’ll change its mind. Also watch: Google tackles takedowns, LG watch SNAFU, shoot fireballs! Please enable Javascript to watch this video More »Google once made, but never released, a Star Trek-style Communicator badge

  • Google promises Force Awakens goodies if you decide between the Light or the Dark Side

    Digital Trends - Mon, Nov 23, 2015 11:34 GMT

    Google is excited about Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and has launched a special promotional campaign to make sure we’re all aware the new movie is now less than a month away from release. By choosing to support either the Light Side or the Dark Side of the Force, all your Google apps and sites will get a special Star Wars makeover. Getting involved is easy. Padawans need to visit google.com/StarWars, where you’re told to pledge allegiance to the Force, but with the option of going down the light or dark path. When you join, Google puts a filter over your profile image and adds the relevant insignia, which can also be downloaded for posterity. If you suddenly have a change of heart, and would like to follow a different way, then just hop back to the main page. Related: Watch the first TV spot for Star Wars: The Force Awakens From here, Google will customize different sites and apps. For example, Google Maps will show iconic Star Wars vehicles marking your location, Gmail gets a  Star Wars theme and wallpaper, and if you visit Google Play, you’ll find an updated version of Disney’s Star Wars app. The new version includes a Star Wars watch face for Android Wear. Additionally, Google will add little Star Wars touches to YouTube, Calendar, Translate, Search, and Waze. The more you explore, the more you’ll discover. The changes are often very subtle. Check out Google Maps on the desktop, where if you’ve followed the Dark Side, the Street View stick man changes to become a little Stormtrooper. Have patience if you don’t see anything that different straight away, Google warns there could be a short wait before changes go live. There’s more cool stuff to come, says Google, highlighting that it’ll add a virtual reality tour of the Millennium Falcon and other surprises between now and The Force Awakens release. That’s taking place on December 18, and we can’t wait. More »Google promises Force Awakens goodies if you decide between the Light or the Dark Side

  • This long-arm selfie stick wants to help you blend in, sort of

    Digital Trends - Mon, Nov 23, 2015 11:15 GMT

    While selfie-stick owners may on the whole look like a self-assured bunch, there’s likely one or two in every horde of tourists that, having forked out for the device, just can’t muster the courage to pull it from their bag and actually use it, fearful of looking like a doofus or attracting the attention of any selfie-stick haters lurking in the crowd. Fear of embarrassment was what kept Japanese inventor Mansooon from extending his stick in public, a situation that led him to dream up an ingenious way around the issue. Related: Selfies hit a new low with the Belfie Stick His special kit comprises two fake hands ordered from Amazon, a couple of selfie sticks, a clamp for his smartphone, and a shirt restitched to give it unfeasibly long arms, thereby concealing the poles (both arms are about the same length to make the outfit look “normal”). Once fitted together and fully tested, Mansooon headed to Asakusa – one of Tokyo’s top tourist spots – to grab a few selfies without drawing attention to himself. Mansooon OK, you’re right, there’s no way on earth Mansooon could blend in, his absurd contraption instead gaining plenty of attention among those nearby. Still, with that extra height, he must’ve got some great shots. Mansooon In a detailed explanation of his project, Mansooon notes that the inclusion of the “arm” in the photos makes the images look just like old-school selfies, an outcome that may well appeal to many self-portrait enthusiasts. However, if you’re a self-conscious selfie-stick owner who rather likes the look of Mansooon’s creation, don’t build your hopes up. He doesn’t mention whether he plans to commercialize his invention, but with the likelihood of next to no one buying it, we’re betting he won’t be approaching investors anytime soon. Or ever. Still, you could always build the device yourself, and then use it to skirt the increasing number of selfie stick bans at tourists sites around the world. Also watch: Sony's E-Ink FES Watch Goes on Sale This Week Please enable Javascript to watch this video More »This long-arm selfie stick wants to help you blend in, sort of

  • Riva Audio Turbo X Bluetooth Speaker review

    Digital Trends - Mon, Nov 23, 2015 11:15 GMT

    Portable Bluetooth speakers always used to disappoint me a bit. But just when I was ready to concede I expected too much, Riva came along with the Turbo X and proved I had every right to expect more. Billed as a speaker built by and for musicians, the Turbo X is not just another Johnny-come-lately to what has become an exceedingly saturated product category, it’s a premium offering worthy of those who demand audio excellence. You may find lighter, more rugged, or more portable battery-powered Bluetooth speakers out there, but you won’t find anything else that combines such superb sound quality with must-have features. Here’s why the Riva Turbo X is now my favorite portable Bluetooth speaker. Out of the box The Turbo X is a bit of a brick. Like the Braven 850, Creative Labs Roar 2, and UE Megaboom, you’ll notice this speaker’s 3-lb. heft when you toss it in your backpack, but you won’t mind it so much when you get where you’re going and crank it up. The weight is there for good reason, resulting in a difference you can hear just as much as you feel. In the box with the speaker is an RCA (male) to 3.5mm (male) cable and a 3.5 mm to 3.5 mm (male to male) to accommodate connection of any number of outboard analog audio devices – think TV, Blu-ray player, or turntable. Bill Roberson/Digital Trends What isn’t in the box is the carry case Riva sells for $30 extra. It’s a great heavy-duty case, built to last, and outfitted with a separate pocket for the speaker’s power adapter, connecting cables, or pretty much anything else you might want to stuff in there. This should really be included, considering the speaker runs a good $300 online, and because the speaker is heavy and less than easily “portable” without it. Fun features The Turbo X is filled with all sorts of features, only one of which we’d consider frivolous: A wave of the hand over the top of the speaker will “wake up” on-board controls, which basically means they light up – the touch-capacitive keys also illuminate as soon as you touch one. Otherwise, the Turbo X is loaded with useful stuff. For instance, the namesake Turbo button increases loudness and bass so the speaker can play as loud as a claimed 100 decibels without blowing itself up (to say nothing of your eardrums). We can vouch that the button certainly does increase loudness, but we think most folks won’t need it while indoors unless there’s a big party going on. Outdoors, where the extra beef helps the speaker sound much bigger than it is, the Turbo button makes a little more sense. We just wish engaging it didn’t make the ridiculous “vroooom” sound effect you can hear in the video above. The Trillium sound mode produces a quasi-surround sound effect, which is far from immersive, but it does add a bit of spatial sound effect. It tricks the ear into believing sound is coming from outside the confines of the speaker. This mode works best when the speaker is placed in a corner, or with a large, flat surface about 6-inches behind it. A large TV works, but we got the best effect with the speaker placed in front of a large pane of glass. Bill Roberson/Digital Trends Bill Roberson/Digital Trends The last of three different sound modes available on the Turbo X is Phono mode. By raising input gain and disabling some compression, the speaker is made well-suited to vinyl playback. You’ll need a turntable with a built-in phono pre-amp or an outboard phono pre-amp for the best sound, but you’d be surprised how well the speaker works for listening to records without having to have a big, elaborate system. Perhaps the Turbo X’s most desirable and practical feature, however, is its excellent battery life. Riva claims 26 hours of playback at 75db SPL (sound pressure level), and while that’s a bold promise, the Turbo X delivers. During our testing, we charged an iPad Air from depleted to capacity and played music for well over 20 hours before needing to recharge the speaker. Under the hood At the heart of the Turbo X is a complement of drivers and amplification chosen by Riva’s engineers to reproduce the most accurate sound possible. Riva tells us the speaker includes three active 60 mm (about 2.4-inch) drivers, each with its own dedicated 15-watt (RMS) channel of amplification, and four passive radiators. If that doesn’t seem like much, then you have yet to witness what can be done with seemingly modest digital amplification and a hearty dose of DSP. The Turbo X supports SBC, AAC, and aptX codecs. It does not, however, digitally connect directly to devices, so there’s no Hi-Res audio support here. Performance Based purely on sound quality, my top three portable Bluetooth speaker picks would be the Bowers & Wilkins T7, Bang & Olufsen A2, and the Riva Turbo X. Each of these three has its own admirable sonic characteristics, making a “which is best” determination very difficult. But in the end, the one I want to take home and live with on the long term is the Turbo X. This speaker just does it for me. The A2 is a much snazzier looking speaker than the Turbo X (hey, it’s Bang & Olufsen), is far more portable thanks to its soft leather strap and light weight, and puts out an impressive amount of bass, but it lacks the warmth and depth I crave. The T7, on the other hand, has a more uniform, balanced sound, a respectable amount of bass, and a very cool aesthetic, but it lacks the punch and power the Turbo X has, and its battery falls a good eight hours short of the Turbo X’s. The Turbo X may not be the most fetching speaker on the block, but it certainly isn’t rough on the eyes, either. It’s got killer battery life and, with the addition of Riva’s carrying case, is just as portable as the A2 and T7. What really cinches the deal for the Turbo X is the right blend of sonic power, punch, presence, balance, and detail. It’s a speaker made by musicians, and it sounds like it. The funny thing about us musicians is that we want to hear honesty from a speaker — music the way it was made to sound. We want faithful reproduction, not sculpted art. The sculpting has already been done by the mixing and mastering professionals who recorded and produced the music, it doesn’t need to be re­-sculpted. In fact, the best thing a speaker can do is just get out of the way, and the Turbo X does that better than any other Bluetooth speaker I’ve tested thus far – and I’ve tested a lot. Bill Roberson/Digital Trends Peter Gabriel’s performance of Solsbury Hill from the Growing Up Live tour is one of my favorite versions of the tune, and a great test track if you’ve never tried it. The persistent thunk of drummer Ged Lynch’s kick drum sets the tone and tempo, even if it does sound a little less prominent than you might expect. But then the bass gets serious as bassist Tony Levin hooks up in lockstep with the kick, delivering a driving pulse over which strumming guitars and piano comps provide their harmonic foundation for Gabriel’s vocal husk. It’s a feast for the ears, and the Turbo X made it all sound delicious. The Turbo X can do power, but it can also do delicate. Nickel Creek’s When You Come Back Down is full of the transient clicks of guitar and mandolin picking, and it all dances between the left and right channel before a full chorus of voices comes in, dominating the mix. With the Turbo X playing the cut, I never lost the delicate details hiding toward the back of the mix – they stayed with the tune from beginning to end, providing a bit of texture and pulse to a tune which has no percussion otherwise. Of course, sometimes you just need to party, and that’s where the Turbo in theTurbo X really steps up where other portables simply can’t. If you need to rock your camp site or beach party all day, the Turbo X can do that and charge up your smartphone at the same time. Believe me when I say, your Spotify playlist will peter out before the Turbo X does – isn’t it nice to know it doesn’t have to be that way, though? Conclusion The Riva Turbo X is worth every penny of its $300 asking price to the discerning listener who wants the best sound quality and long-term performance possible while away from the comforts of their Hi-Fi (or recording studio.) It’s finally a Bluetooth speaker you can be proud of, without having to make any compromises. Highs Big, balanced, rich sound Phono mode for turntable connection Long-lasting battery Charges devices Splash proof Lows Carrying case not included Annoying Turbo sound effect More »Riva Audio Turbo X Bluetooth Speaker review

  • Apple reportedly prepping support app to ease pressure on Genius Bar

    Digital Trends - Mon, Nov 23, 2015 10:45 GMT

    If you’ve ever had to call upon Apple’s support services and found its website confusing and its in-store Genius Bar too busy (or too far away), help may soon be at hand in the form of an app the company’s believed to be prepping. Screenshots of the support app were obtained by known Apple leaker Sonny Dickson and posted online by tech site uSwitch. An unnamed Apple insider told uSwitch the app has been designed in a way to make it easy for users to “boil down to the problem quickly,” enabling them to either sort the issue out immediately, chat with an advisor, or schedule an appointment with an in-store expert if they happen to live close to one of the company’s brick-and-mortar outlets. Related: Apple’s App Store revenue surges 80 percent higher than Google Play Store Apple’s online help strategy currently consists of a website-based offering that combines its own support articles with user-generated posts on specific topics. However, with so many users accessing online information via their smartphones these days, it’d make obvious sense for Apple to have a specially designed app geared specifically toward helping its customers pinpoint and solve issues with their Apple gear. Such an offering would also serve to ease the pressure on its Genius Bar specialists, with shorter wait times for customers a welcome added benefit. The app reportedly links in to the devices registered to a user’s Apple ID, enabling it to offer up suggestions and solutions for common issues related to particular bits of Apple kit. Related: Is Apple beefing up its own apps’ rankings in the App Store The grabbed screenshots show a list of categorized subjects such as “battery, power & charging,” and “setup & usage” allowing you to tap through and drill down to your specific inquiry. Alternatively, you can input a search term in the box at the top of the display. Also included are a number of “how-to” guides related to Apple devices. It also offers “recommended actions” such as initiating there and then a chat with an advisor, scheduling an in-store visit, and other options. There’s been no confirmation from Apple about any imminent launch of a support app, or whether any such offering will be integrated into its existing Apple Store app. We’ll keep you posted. Also watch: Apple iPhone 6S Plus vs. Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge Please enable Javascript to watch this video More »Apple reportedly prepping support app to ease pressure on Genius Bar

  • A man with a sword terrorized Apple’s flagship New York store

    Digital Trends - Mon, Nov 23, 2015 10:15 GMT

    There was panic inside Apple’s famous “glass cube” store in Manhattan on Friday afternoon when a man entered the premises wielding a samurai sword. Eyewitnesses described how the man waved the sword around while standing on the store’s glass staircase as worried shoppers looked on. Local resident Nancy Birnbaum told the NY Post she was in the store when she saw the individual suddenly unsheathe the weapon. “Usually the staircase is mobbed with people, but this time it wasn’t. There was a guy in the mid part of the staircase kneeling,” she told the Post. Birnbaum described the man’s face as looking “a little contorted and twisted,” explaining that at first she she thought he was doing “some sort of performance art, but then he pulls out this sword with a huge two-foot-long blade and it was dead obvious that it was a real sword.” She added, “I’ve never been so terrified in my entire life.” Related: Apple and its CEO apologize for incident in an Australian Apple Store A video posted online shows the man sitting on the store’s spiral staircase before standing up and swinging the sword against the handrail. At the same time, concerned staff keep customers away from the staircase – it’s not clear if there were any cops on the scene when the video was captured. Another witness, Luis Apolo, told Gothamist he saw the man “talking loudly to one of the employees” shortly before he moved to the staircase with the sword. Officers were reportedly able to apprehend the man without further incident. Named as 30-year-old Hsu Chien, he was later taken to a nearby medical center for a psychiatric assessment. Also watch: Apple iPhone 6S Plus vs. Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge Please enable Javascript to watch this video More »A man with a sword terrorized Apple’s flagship New York store

  • You know all that data your smartphone is sharing? It doesn't really serve a purpose to begin wi …

    Digital Trends - Mon, Nov 23, 2015 07:35 GMT

    It’s already been established that your smartphone is probably sharing an alarming amount of personal information with various third party sites. So well established, that we seem to more or less brush it off, assuming that this data sharing is just a necessary evil. As it turns out, it’s not. According to new research from MIT, “much of the data transferred to and from the 500 most popular free applications for Google Android mobile phones makes little or no difference to the user’s experience.” That’s right; that data that’s being handed around willy nilly (often unbeknownst to you) often serves little to no purpose. Noting that half of the data communicated between applications and third parties “cannot be attributed to analytics,” experts say that the main issue at hand is that users are kept largely in the dark about what their personal information is used for. “There might be a very good reason for this covert communication,” said Julia Rubin, a postdoc in MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL), who led the recent study. “We are not trying to say that it has to be eliminated. We’re just saying the user needs to be informed.” In conducting their study, the MIT team examined 500 of the most popular apps on the Google Play store, and found that of the top 20, 62.7 percent of the data communication could be considered “covert” (or superfluous). And when these communications were completely shut down, there was “no major impact on the apps’ performance.” So why have these channels open in the first place? Omer Tripp, the technical lead on mobile security and privacy at IBM’s T. J. Watson Research Center, has some ideas of his own, namely that this data sharing is proactively guarding against potential network outages. Related: Microsoft builds two data centers in U.K. “You may imagine that the application may want to be more resilient and go on functioning without reporting a problem,” he said. “Which, when you think about it, is an interesting opportunity for optimization.” If the user has no Internet connectivity, which can occur when abroad, or is limited by data, anything that keeping important apps running smoothly is a good thing. So don’t be  too upset about all this covert communication. But you may want to start asking a few more questions about what’s going on behind the scenes. Also watch: Apple iPhone 6S Plus vs. Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge Please enable Javascript to watch this video More »You know all that data your smartphone is sharing? It doesn't really serve a purpose to begin with

  • When it comes to cyber-security, Millennials have a lot to learn

    Digital Trends - Mon, Nov 23, 2015 05:16 GMT

    Baby boomers are proving to be more aware about cyber-security than tech-savvy millennials, claims a new Symantec survey. The Norton Cybersecurity Insights Report showed that respondents are generally more aware and anxious for their virtual security than ever before, but older generations the most likely to take proactive steps to stay safe. The global report claims that millennials are “overly confident” and “often throw caution to the wind,” with 36 percent of respondents saying that they share their passwords. Less than a third of millennials feel that they are to blame when an online crime happens to them while one in five said they don’t feel like they should worry because online security is not their responsibility. At the same time, 38 percent said they don’t feel like they’re interesting enough to be a target, but 56 percent admitted to having personally experienced an online crime. Symantec’s survey breaks down the respondents by generation, and found password sharing to be most prevalent with the younger generations. Email, social media, and banking account for most of the password sharing that goes on, with 31 percent of millennials likely to share a password, which is more than double that of baby boomers, at 15 percent, and higher than Gen-Xers, at 20 percent. Related: Google issues ultimatum to Symantec over unauthorized HTTPS certificates The baby boomer generation is less likely to experience cybercrime, says Symantec. Why is this so? “[Baby boomers] are more likely to take certain protective measures, such as always using a secure password (42 percent) and fewer share passwords (only 15 percent),” said the survey, which goes on to say that fewer younger people use a “secure” password. According to Pew Research, much higher percentages of younger Internet users have social media accounts, and a GlobalWebIndex report from last year showed that millennials are much more active on social media with multiple accounts. This may suggest why cybercrime is more common among millennials, as there are more avenues for a breach occur. The Symantec report adds that 150 billion was lost globally to cybercrime over the last year, and now at least 80 percent of people are worried about cybercrime. But that hasn’t lead to users following through with protective measures. “Our findings demonstrate the headlines rattled people’s trust in online activity, but the threat of cybercrime hasn’t led to widespread adoption of simple protection measures people should take to safeguard their information online,” said Fran Rosch, executive vice president of Norton. Also watch: Asus ROG GX700 Hands On Please enable Javascript to watch this video More »When it comes to cyber-security, Millennials have a lot to learn

  • Rdio Free will be the only available streaming service from Rdio

    Digital Trends - Mon, Nov 23, 2015 01:24 GMT

    In the aftermath of Rdio’s acquisition by Pandora, the music streamer has announced its plans to wind down the service in the next few weeks. In a blog post, Rdio explained that current subscribers will have their subscriptions cancelled on their next billing date, effective November 23. After users’ subscriptions end, they can continue listening to the ad-supported Rdio Free service, which allows access to on-demand songs and albums, as well as playlists on the web and ad-supported stations on mobile. The statement goes on to say that subscriptions will remain active “for any period of time you’ve already been billed.” As previously reported, Rdio was forced into bankruptcy last week and owes about $220 million to creditors. The streamer, which charged $10 per month for a subscription, had roughly 150,000 monthly subscribers (and with that about $1.5 million in subscription revenue) when it shut down, but took a loss each month due to operating expenses of $4 million. Related: Pandora buys pieces of Rdio to battle rivals Spotify and Apple Music Pending the company’s Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing, Pandora — which bought pieces of the on-demand music streamer for $75 million — will implement some of Rdio’s assets. “Adding Rdio’s impressive technology and talented people will fast-track new dimensions and enhancements to our service,” said Pandora CEO Brian McAndrews in a statement. “I couldn’t be more optimistic about Pandora’s future and the future of music.” Pandora has further stated that it will offer an “expanded listening experience” by the end of 2016. In the meantime, Rdio Free will continue to be offered until the service goes offline. The service will stop taking new subscriptions beginning on November 23, although it’s unclear why anyone would want to begin subscribing to the near-defunct streamer now. More specifics on the exact timing of Rdio’s end of service and how to export Rdio data, including playlists and favorites, will come soon via email, according to the blog post. Also watch: Plugged Crown Headphones Review Please enable Javascript to watch this video More »Rdio Free will be the only available streaming service from Rdio

  • How much does Netflix cost these days? Here’s the lowdown

    Digital Trends - Mon, Nov 23, 2015 01:15 GMT

    You shouldn’t  have to fear when your one-month free trial of Netflix draws to a close. The streaming king currently offers a bevy of subscription options, whether you prefer to stick with a streaming-only package or simply opt for one or two discs a month. Related: Battle of the streaming giants: which is best for you? Below, we’ve outlined each pricing plan so you’ll know exactly what you’re getting and if those extra add-ons are worth the extra cost to you. After all, while it might only be a $4 leap from the basic plan to the premium, perhaps you’d rather save your cabbage for Hulu’s Showtime add-on or a premium slice of ‘za. The choice is yours. Price Netflix has three different plans when it comes to streaming: basic, standard, and premium. Plans start at $8 and increase incrementally by $2, rendering the standard and premium plans $10 and $12, respectively. Below is a breakdown of what each plan entails, with the added features. Plan Price Number of screens Resolution Basic (streaming) $8 1 SD Standard (streaming) $10 2 HD Premium (streaming) $12 4 HD + Ultra HD The folks at Netflix certainly pride themselves on their streaming plans, but that doesn’t mean the service ditched discs altogether. The company still offers DVD and Blu-ray plans — none of which include streaming access — beginning at $5 and going up from there. The monthly cost just depends on how many discs you have check out at a time, or how many you want per month. Plan DVD Price Blu-ray Price Number of discs out at a time 1-Disc $8 $10 One 2-Disc $12 $15 Two 3-Disc $16 $20 Three Limited $5 $6 Two (per month) What is simultaneous viewing — streaming only If you opt for a streaming package, this is a huge perk if you want to share your Netflix account with roommates, friends, or family. The basic Netflix plan allows you to stream content on only one screen at a time, though the number of screens on which you can simultaneously stream content increases with each plan upgrade. Ergo, if you opt for the standard plan, you use the same account to watch content on two different devices at once, or four different devices at the same time with the premium plan. That said, the number of devices and people you want to share your account with will likely influence which plan you pick. What is HD and Ultra HD — streaming only Even if you never plan on sharing your Netflix account or watching on two screens at the same time, opting for the standard or premium plan is likely worth it considering it enables HD streaming. The basic plan doesn’t offer high-definition content, and unless your Internet speed is too slow to handle HD streaming, the quality difference between the two resolutions is enough to make the $2 leap worth it. However, Netflix offers more than just HD content. Related: Everything you need to know about Ultra HD 4K If you’ve shelled out the bucks to buy a 4K TV or monitor, you might as well spend a few extra dollars for a premium account. Doing so will grant you access to Ultra HD content — such as NBC’s The Blacklist and the lauded Breaking Bad — allowing you to watch shows and films at a resolution considered to be four times that of 1080p (HD). Just type “UHD” or “4K” into the search bar in Netflix to find the high-resolution programming. More »How much does Netflix cost these days? Here’s the lowdown

  • We tried all the best gaming keyboards, and one fragged the rest

    Digital Trends - Mon, Nov 23, 2015 01:15 GMT

    Mechanical keyboards have become the only choice for hardcore PC gamers, and gaming peripheral manufacturers have responded with mechanical keyboards purpose built for gaming. Capable of professional gaming, but designed for everyone, these sprawling monuments to the gaming tower are fitted with complex key switches, advanced macro features, and bold aesthetic design. With so many preferences and opinions about the best mechanical keyboard for gaming, we decided the best course of action was to bring some in and pit them against each other in keyboard battle royale. The competitors include the Logitech G910 Orion Spark, Razer BlackWidow Chroma, SteelSeries Apex M800, and Cooler Master Quick Fire XTi. They’re all excellent keyboards, and crowd favorites, but only one can take home the title. Time for a keyboard cage match! The gaming aesthetic The current state of gaming peripherals is all about shades of black, hits of color, and exciting edges. To different degrees, the boards are in line with that look. While the Logitech has wild loops and angles, the Razer and SteelSeries are a bit more subdued, with smooth corners, matte and glossy black, and stylized print on the keycaps. Cooler Master, on the other hand, has taken a classic approach with the Quick Fire XTi, opting for a heavy duty chassis with no logos or detailing. If not for LED backlighting, the Cooler Master could pass for an office keyboard. Regardless of aesthetics, all of the keyboards in our review suite are built with great care. There are no panel gaps, weak corners, or flexible panels on any of the boards. Flip the switch While the industry standard is the Cherry MX switch, we’ve also chosen a selection of keyboards with in-house or commissioned keys. This has become a popular trend as of late, as each brand looks to distinguish its keyboards with a specific feel and sound. The Cherry MX Blue switches found in the Cooler Master are something of a control for our experiment. The Blue switches are designed to have both a physical and audible response, with a light touch and quick activation point. There’s a reason Cherry MX switches are still so popular, and it doesn’t take much time with the Cooler Master to feel it. The keys slide easily when touched, and click satisfyingly after hitting the actuation point. They quickly return to fully extended, so the loudest part of typing on the Blues is the cap smacking as it snaps back into position. The most comparable keyboard to the Cooler Master is the Razer BlackWidow. Although the switches are branded Razer Green, they’re produced in partnership with Kaihua Electronics, which has been making switches for almost as long as Cherry has. The Green switch is the rough equivalent of the Cherry MX Blue, with a slightly higher actuation point, and a heavier touch. The result is a switch that feels more defined than the Cooler Master. That’s not to say a quick strike won’t fire the key, but it’s easier to hold the key right above the activation point. The BlackWidow has a more distinct feel to activation than the Blue does. The Logitech’s Romer-G switches lack an intentional click mechanism in the switch, which makes them quieter. The activation point is very close to the surface, so a quick touch can fire a switch easily. It doesn’t take much force to do so, but just enough to keep the keys from firing accidentally. The high activation point means a slower spring rebound than the other keyboards, which means they take more time to bounce back, but they returned quickly enough to keep me satisfied. SteelSeries’ Apex 800 is supported by its proprietary QS1 switches, the only truly linear switch in our roundup. They’re comparable to the Cherry MX Brown switch, a popular choice for fans of FPS games, for their fast rebound time and easy double-tapping. The lack of tactile response means a quicker reset before pressing again, and the lack of an audible click makes the keyboard whisper quiet. Related: Why mechanical keyboards aren’t just for geeks anymore The same qualities that make the board a great fit for an avid CS:GO player also render the keyboard difficult to type on or use casually. The unclear activation point and light touch mean lots of accidental key presses, which is annoying while typing, and detrimental to MMO and RTS play, where an extra tap can mean the difference between victory and defeat. Make some noise Mechanical keyboards usually come in “clicky” or quiet variants.The noise caused by the keycap hitting the top or bottom can be mitigated with careful typing, but clicky switches, like those found in the Razer and Cooler Master, always make a noise when activated. It would be easy enough to measure the key volume of a mechanical keyboard by how many coworkers it angers, but it’s more helpful to use real values. In order to find some noise levels, we took to Counter-Strike: Global Operations for some finger-snapping fun-er…work. At the onset of the testing, the keyboards seemed similarly rowdy. Once I had a feel for the tactile feedback of the Logitech’s activation point, though, I could play silently. The SteelSeries took even less acclimation time, and was nearly silent within a couple matches of Arms Race. No amount of careful typing can quiet the storm that brews under the keys on the Razer and Cooler Master. That isn’t a bad trait for a keyboard, assuming no one is nearby that needs complete silence. Noise is user preference, but I prefer switches without audible feedback, especially since I wear headphones while gaming, anyway. Cap it off All the keyboards in this shootout opt for custom printed keycaps. That allows for the use of symbols that coordinate with macro and mode keys, as well as finer tuning of the shape and curve to the keys. Most modern mechanical keyboards have curved keys, with a scalloped left-to-right feel that keeps cradles the user’s fingers. That’s the case with the Cooler Master, Razer and Steelseries. The Logitech’s keycaps are a different story. Rather than a curved shape, the keys have a flat panel in the middle, with distinct, sloped banks around the sides and far edge of each key. Logitech admits that some users don’t like it for typing. The payoff for that compromise is more comfortable gaming. SteelSeries’ keyboard has the lightest curve to its keys, followed by the Razer. The deepest wells, apart from the aforementioned Logitech, belong to the Cooler Master. It’s worth noting that users tend to look for oily, shiny spots on keys to tell when they’re starting to wear down. In the case of the Razer, finger oils developed almost instantly on the keys, and even popping them off for cleaning didn’t help clear things up much. Mostly braided Two of the keyboards, the Logitech and the Cooler Master, use a single USB cable to connect to the PC. The Razer and SteelSeries have a second USB plug on the cable to power their built-in hubs, but can be left unplugged without that functionality. The Razer’s cable also has a mic and headphone jack, supporting corresponding jacks on the keyboard. Related: Razer goes for longevity and sweet lighting with new BlackWidow mechanical keyboard All of the cables except the Logitech’s are braided. Granted, that’s not as important for a keyboard as it is for a mouse, but it’s still a feature we like to see. Braided cables have quickly become the norm for their durability and shaping. The Razer’s thick cable is particularly hefty, and is malleable while still holding a shape. All the colors of the rainbow All but one of the keyboards sports full RGB lighting across individual keys. The exception is the Cooler Master, which offers red and blue lighting, plus every shade possible using those two colors. It also includes a clever gimmick that lets you play snake on the keyboard’s lights. On the Logitech and SteelSeries boards, the LED is located in the center of the key, right in the middle of the switch mechanism. This requires a change in how the keycap is mounted, but also allows improves the backlight’s appearance. Characters can sit in the middle of the key cap, rather than to the side, and the light behind the characters, even on larger keys like caps lock, is still superb. There’s also no light leakage with centrally located LEDs. The backlighting is limited to the characters on the keys themselves, which makes the keys easier to read. Bill Roberson/Digital Trends Both the Razer and Cooler Master have LEDs located on the far edge of the keycap. The result is light that bleeds out into the channels between each key. That reduces the contrast of the backlit characters, making them harder to read. Lights and music All four companies take different approaches to the software used to control each keyboard’s advanced features, but largely provide the same feature set and customization options. Apart from the standard macro recording and light settings, each keyboard’s software has a little trick that sets it apart. Razer’s management suite is Synapse, a cloud-supported customization application that handles whatever Razer peripherals are plugged in. Notably, the Razer Chroma Workshop allows users to share not only lighting profiles, but integrated applications built using the SDK. Logitech has a software suite specific to its gaming products, and the standout feature by far is the Arx control. It’s a smartphone app, with a dock in the keyboard, which seems a little gimmicky until it’s actually up and running. The app is essentially an extension of the management software, and includes media control, lighting and macro customization, and a diagnostic suite that displays quick info on various component temps and usage stats. Steelseries makes a name for itself in the software by including more advanced game integration than the other keyboards. It can keep track of active keys in a specific game, as well as show cooldowns on the light behind each key to show exactly when it’s ready. The Cooler Master is the only keyboard that lacks its own dedicated software suite. Its lighting modes are baked into the device right out of the box. Macros are recorded on the keyboard itself, using a series of commands. Thankfully, the individual key lighting assists greatly with this task, and with a little help from the video manual, the macro and lighting customization is quite robust. The only feature the Cooler Master is noticeably lacking is game integration, which all of the other games support. It’s a fun feature, to be able to see health under your fingertips, or check cooldowns based on key color, but if the game is intense, your eyes are usually on the screen anyway. Fat pockets You’ll have to spend between $150 and $200 to snag one of these boards. To those un-initiated PC gamer, that might seem like a lot, but it’s well within budget for serious system builders. Related: Logitech’s G410 mechanical keyboard dons Romer-G switches, RGB lighting, second screen controls At the top of the charts is the SteelSeries, which retails for $200. That’s tough price to stomach considering the Apex M800’s limited feature set. The build quality isn’t as nice as the Cooler Master either, which is actually the least expensive keyboard in the roundup at just $150. The other two boards fall right in the middle price-wise, and offer a decent balance of price and feature set. Conclusion All of the keyboards in our roundup are at the top of mainstream gaming keyboards, and in reality, none of them are a bad choice for serious gamers or system builders with an eye on premium peripherals. But there has to be a winner, and in a number of important aspects, that winner is the Logitech G910 Orion Spark. That’s not to say the other keyboards in the group don’t have their merits. When it comes to key feel, there’s no beating the Cooler Master’s Cherry MX switches – there’s a reason they’re so popular. The satisfying chunk, sturdy feel, and perfect balance lend a refined presence. Subtle isn’t for everyone, and for those users, there’s the Razer BlackWidow. While it doesn’t stand out much from the Blue switches (not a bad thing) it does make up for it with gorgeous, splashy backlighting. The other boards offer it too, but Razer sets itself apart with clear, bright lighting and a deep customization community. But the Logitech offers up intentional, important features in every aspect of the board. The switches feel and sound great, the lighting is subdued and classy, and it provides a set of gaming and media controls that would make any membrane keyboard blush. Logitech paid a great deal of attention to feedback from pro gamers when building the G910 Orion Spark, and it shows from the software to the switches. More »We tried all the best gaming keyboards, and one fragged the rest


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