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Essential’s Amazon-exclusive phone comes with Alexa onboard

Fri, 16 Feb 2018 15:22:00 -0500


Oh, you thought Essential was out of new color options to show off? Not quite. The company announced today that a new, so-called Halo Gray model is now available to purchase exclusively from Amazon. Unlike the other, limited-edition versions of the PH-1, this new model goes for $449 rather than $599 and it ships with Amazon's Alexa app pre-installed.

Source: Essential (Twitter), Amazon

HTC Vive Pro's dual cameras can apparently track hand motion

Fri, 26 Jan 2018 11:49:00 -0500


When HTC unveiled its higher-end Vive Pro VR system back at CES, the company was suspiciously quiet about the dual cameras on this VR headset: there were no related demos, and the company reps remained tight-lipped. The smart-ass in me assumed that based on the similar looks, this module was probably a variant of the inside-out tracking sensor on the standalone Vive Focus, while others speculated that it would bring AR capability. Well, today we finally have an answer: it's actually a depth sensor, and it'll apparently enable basic hand tracking without additional hardware.

'Minecraft' is a microcosm of Microsoft's gaming strategy

Thu, 25 Jan 2018 13:30:00 -0500


Minecraft is pretty important to Microsoft. Not only did the company spend $2.5 billion in 2014 to own the world's most popular building-block game, but just last week it promoted Matt Booty, the head of Minecraft, to corporate VP of Microsoft Studios. As far as Microsoft sees it, there's a direct line from Minecraft to Gears of War, Halo and all of the company's major first-party games. And now, with Booty's ascent, there's a new Minecraft boss.

SpaceX plans to fire the Falcon Heavy rocket’s engines on Wednesday

Tue, 23 Jan 2018 10:11:00 -0500


SpaceX has announced a new (tentative) static fire date for its Falcon Heavy rocket. The test is currently scheduled for no earlier than Wednesday, according to Spaceflight Now.

Source: Spaceflight Now

Nike’s ‘PlayStation’ PG2s are like a DualShock for your feet

Sat, 20 Jan 2018 15:30:00 -0500


Nike has never been afraid to use different technologies to experiment with its sneakers. After all, this is the company that brought you the Mag and HyperAdapt, two shoes powered by auto-lacing mechanisms. And while its latest basketball silhouette isn't as tech-forward as those, there's still plenty to like here, especially if you're both a sneakerhead and an avid gamer. Meet the PG2, Paul George's new signature shoe, which Nike created in collaboration with Sony and was inspired by the PlayStation. Sorry, Xbox, maybe next time.

Facebook's Hugo Barra says standalone headsets are key to social VR

Tue, 16 Jan 2018 07:00:00 -0500


Even though Oculus didn't have an official presence at CES this year, its leader, Hugo Barra, made a surprise appearance at Qualcomm's press conference to make an important announcement: Xiaomi would be its global hardware partner for Oculus Go, its first standalone VR headset. What's more, Xiaomi would also be making a special variant of the Go, the Mi VR Standalone, especially for China. In an interview with Barra following the press conference, he explained the reason for the push in standalone headsets: social VR.

Amazon’s flop of a phone made newer, better hardware possible

Sat, 13 Jan 2018 10:30:00 -0500


Amazon devices have taken root in our homes with almost alarming speed, but the tech giant hasn't gotten everything right. Back in 2014, Amazon released the Fire Phone, an ambitious smartphone that remains the company's biggest hardware flop to date. The comapany has never confirmed how many Fire Phones it sold, but considering that Amazon took a $170 million write-down in October of that year, it's fair to say the device bombed.

Dolby knows what you're feeling at the movies

Fri, 12 Jan 2018 09:21:00 -0500


If you thought it was creepy that technology lets networks know what you're watching, you'd better sit down. It turns out that Poppy Crum, chief scientist at Dolby Labs, has been researching how our bodies and emotions react to what we see and hear. Don't panic, though. All that information is being used to understand how to make us feel more when we watch a Hollywood epic, as Crum explained to Engadget on stage at CES. Watch the highlights in the video above.

​​​Click here to catch up on the latest news from CES 2018.

Samsung talks PC strategy and its vision for a connected world at CES

Thu, 11 Jan 2018 16:35:00 -0500


This week, Samsung showed off everything from new laptops to a massive microLED wall to a chattier kind of refrigerator. The message couldn't be any clearer: Samsung would like nothing more than to be the center of your digital world. To dig deeper into this week's big news, we invited Shoneel Kolhatkar, Samsung's senior director for product marketing to our CES stage for some wide-ranging conversation. We touch on Samsung's new Notebook 9 Pen, the growing role of wearables and (most important) how Samsung plans to weave its products into together in a single intelligent ecosystem.

FCC Commissioner Clyburn talks about net neutrality at CES

Thu, 11 Jan 2018 08:00:00 -0500


Commissioner Mignon Clyburn has been a vocal defender of net neutrality and even helped author the Open Internet Order in 2015. She was on the ground and Las Vegas for CES and was nice enough to make time to swing by the Engadget stage. She sat down to talk about the importance of net neutrality and her quest to protect it for future generations as well as how current policies are putting at risk those most vulnerable. Unfortunately, there were some technical problems with our audio during the interview, so we've included a slightly abridged transcript after the break.

Click here to catch up on the latest news from CES 2018.

Fitbit, Fossil and Samsung on the challenges for wearables in 2018

Wed, 10 Jan 2018 13:58:00 -0500


The first official day of CES 2018 is all wrapped up, and things were quite busy at the Engadget CES stage. Along with people like GoPro CEO Nick Woodman joining us at the show, we had other companies from the tech industry there as well. In one of our chats, we talked to executives from Fitbit, Fossil and Samsung about where they see wearables going in 2018, and what will be the biggest challenges ahead for the category. A main point of emphasis was that moving battery life from days to months is key to the success of wearables in the long term, which may seem obvious but will continue to be a main topic of discussion until there's a major breakthrough.

People don't want to talk to LG's big friendly robots

Wed, 10 Jan 2018 12:19:00 -0500


Last year was when talking to a smart speaker started to become the norm, but surprisingly, LG has struggled to replicate the same success with its CLOi series commercial robots. Ahead of LG's CES show, I talked to its Head of Research for Life Robots, Jaewon Chang, who updated on the company's robot trial service in South Korea's Incheon International Airport. Since deployment in July, each of the five Guide Robots has interacted with around 2,500 people. However, only a quarter of travelers used voice interaction, with the majority preferring the touchscreen mounted vertically on the robot's chest. Likewise, just as few people let the robots guide them to their destination. Chang needs to find a way to boost those figures -- and make us learn to trust these big friendly robots.

Samsung's future of the living room: MicroLED, and an 8K AI TV

Tue, 09 Jan 2018 23:30:00 -0500


Samsung has a busy year ahead when it comes to TVs. There's the world's first MicroLED set, the 146-inch "The Wall," as well as an 8K TV that uses AI to upconvert lower-res content. And we're still waiting for more details on its QLED lineup. Samsung's Scott Cohen, who serves as the company's senior product-training manager, joined us on stage today to help break down what's next.

As ‘PUBG’ finally exits beta, its creators look to the future

Wed, 20 Dec 2017 13:10:00 -0500


PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds (PUBG) has been this year's biggest surprise. Since launching on Steam Early Access in late March, the game, which conceptually started life as a DayZ mod, has picked up 25 million players on PC, not to mention a marketing and publishing deal from Microsoft for an Xbox One version. This week, version 1.0 arrives on Steam, gaining a second map and new instant replay feature in the process.

But for PUBG Corp CEO Chang Han Kim, even though the game is losing its beta status, work is far from finished. "When we first started this project and thought of the Early Access model, we never took it as a model where you start developing a game, you complete it, you ship it out and then be done with it," Kim said through a translator. "As long as we have fans out there playing our game, it will never be complete."

How 'Life is Strange' landed in Deck Nine's hands

Thu, 23 Nov 2017 10:00:00 -0500


Idol Minds had been making video games for 20 years when it rebranded as Deck Nine in May. It's not just the studio's name that changed -- its entire mission refocused. Instead of working on titles like Cool Boarders 2001 and Pain, developers built a suite of storytelling tools ideal for crafting narrative-driven games. Deck Nine hired experienced writers and shopped itself around to major publishers, offering to take on emotionally complex projects with branching dialogue paths.

Game director Chris Floyd didn't expect much to come of these early meetings.

"And it was Square [Enix] that came back to us and said, 'What do you think about making the next game in the Life is Strange franchise?'" Floyd said. As fans of the series, developers were floored. And they were in.

How Netflix keeps ‘Stranger Things’ lo-fi in a high-tech world

Mon, 23 Oct 2017 09:00:00 -0400


Netflix is still surprised that Stranger Things, a science-fiction series starring five young kids, became a worldwide sensation immediately after it was released. Unlike some of its biggest hits, like House of Cards (which is based on a British series), Stranger Things was an unknown property when it premiered in July of 2016. But it quickly captivated audiences, thanks to its '80s nostalgia and the perfectly executed homages to Hollywood classics from the likes of Stephen King and Steven Spielberg.

The Surface Book 2's secret weapon is ceramic, says Panos Panay

Thu, 19 Oct 2017 10:45:00 -0400


With the Surface Book, Microsoft delivered yet another way to rethink traditional computers. It resembled a laptop more than the earlier Surface devices, which were basically tablets with keyboard covers. But it also packed in one new trick: a large screen that you could easily remove at the touch of a button and use as a tablet. At the heart of that feature was a unique hinge that looked unlike anything else on the market. It had one big problem, though: It wasn't very stable.

Sonos One hands-on: Betting on voice control to evolve

Wed, 04 Oct 2017 12:56:00 -0400


After months filled with teases, rumors and speculation, Sonos has finally introduced its first speaker with built-in support for voice commands. Today, at an event in New York City, the company unveiled the Sonos One, a device billed as "The Smart Speaker for Music Lovers." As expected, the main attraction here are the voice features, which at launch will be powered by Amazon's Alexa virtual assistant. We say "at launch" because Sonos CEO, Patrick Spence, ended the presentation with the news that the One will also work with Google Assistant in 2018.

The NBA’s big eSports push begins in May 2018

Tue, 26 Sep 2017 15:00:00 -0400


The line between eSports and traditional sports is blurring, and organizations like the National Basketball Association are looking to stay ahead of the curve. Seventeen teams from the NBA will be part of the upcoming 2K League, a competition it created in partnership with Take-Two Interactive, the developer of the popular NBA 2K series. And that league is going to have its first season next May, NBA 2K League Managing Director Brendan Donohue revealed to Engadget in a recent interview.

The director of 'Final Fantasy XV' isn't finished yet

Sat, 26 Aug 2017 13:00:00 -0400


Final Fantasy XV was a long time coming. After a decade of delays, it's not surprising that both Square Enix and the game's director, Hajime Tabata, are saying they aren't finished with Noctis and his bro squad. With not even a whisper of Final Fantasy XVI, the rest of this year (and part of 2018) is focused on the Final Fantasy XV universe: PC versions, more chapter expansions, more mobile iterations and a multiplayer mode. I talked to Tabata, the man who steered the 15th iteration to the finish line, here at Gamescom and he explained what worked, what didn't and somehow tricked me into evangelizing about that mobile game. (Unfortunately, he didn't say a thing about that bizarre Assassin's Creed collaboration, mere hours before it was announced.)

'The Evil Within 2' is better because it spaces out the scares

Thu, 24 Aug 2017 03:00:00 -0400


The Evil Within 2 is weird, gross and scary, but that's okay. It balances all that with exploration and figuring out what the hell is going on. I can then get back to fleeing disgusting buzzsaw creatures -- or occasionally stabbing them in the chest -- at my leisure. The Evil Within was never about cheap jump scares, but the game was so consistently tense and bleak that many found it pretty hard to play through. The sequel, playable at Gamescom this year, looks to be a refinement of the original, making it altogether more playable, even if there's still usually something trying to kill you at every turn.

Tribeca’s TV Festival aims to be a curator for television’s ‘golden age’

Thu, 17 Aug 2017 13:30:00 -0400


A lot has changed since the Tribeca Film Festival debuted in 2002. Netflix and Amazon, for instance, hadn't even launched their video-streaming services -- and now they're both two of the biggest players in the TV and movies industries. The event, founded by Robert De Niro and producer Jane Rosenthal, welcomed 153,000 attendees to 530 screenings and celebrity-filled panels to its most recent event, in April. Now, inspired by its past successes, Tribeca is launching a new TV Festival that promises to highlight the best projects from the world of television.

FIFA envisions a future where players wear in-game fitness trackers

Thu, 03 Aug 2017 11:00:00 -0400


Like it or not, soccer is moving into the modern era. For the past few years FIFA, the sport's governing body, has been working with the International Football Association Board (IFAB) to bring experiments like goal line technology and Video Assistant Referee to the game. But IFAB, which is responsible for creating and approving the rules of soccer, doesn't intend to stop there. In 2015, the organization announced plans to develop a global standard for Electronic Performance Tracking Systems (EPTS), with the goal being to let players use wearable tech in official matches. A decision on when and how EPTS will be implemented is set to happen next March, IFAB Secretary Lukas Brud confirmed to Engadget in an interview.

Netflix’s ‘Castlevania’ showrunner Adi Shankar on nerddom and season two

Sat, 29 Jul 2017 15:00:00 -0400


It's easy to draw a line from producer Adi Shankar's scrappy Bootleg Universe -- his slew of short indie films about the Punisher, Power Rangers and other pop culture heroes uploaded on YouTube -- to his recent work as showrunner of Netflix's recently released animated Castlevania series. His approach taps into what made beloved characters resonate with fans and gives those old favorites a mature, modern spin.

The top Twitch clip involves a horror game and Jack Daniels

Thu, 27 Jul 2017 09:00:00 -0400


Tom Wheldon started streaming on Twitch as JurassicJunkieLive two months ago. He was an intrepid tinkerer and a veteran video creator who started making YouTube videos before it was the cool kids' multi-million-dollar industry. Wheldon regularly discussed video games, so Twitch felt like a natural evolution of his online presence -- his channel quickly earned a following of about 100 folks, some of them tuning in every Friday to watch Wheldon scream his way through a horror game.

Last week, Wheldon booted up Outlast 2 for his regular "Frightday" stream, and he became Twitch legend.