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2023-09-20 15:30:27| Engadget

Ive been experimenting with my work-from-home setup for a few months now, and I still havent quite got it to where I want it. Ive dabbled in standing desks, mid-century bureaus (not even kidding) and, gasp, chairs that actually support my back, but sometimes its the small things that make the whole setup work, like Twelve Souths first height-adjustable MacBook stand, the HiRise Pro. Twelve South has long made premium, stylish peripherals, cases and more for almost anything Apple. This follow-up stand is compatible with all MacBooks (and other laptops), adding a degree of adjustability to the screen height while remaining sturdy, It even includes a MagSafe charging platform although you have to provide your own MagSafe puck. Photo by Mat Smith / Engadget Its a solid, premium stand and wouldnt look out of place in an office or work-from-home setups. The company has always made accessories that neatly dovetail with Apples aesthetic, with subtle detailing, brushed metal finishes and minimal design fuss. I dont think anyone wants an ornate laptop stand anyway? The V-shaped stand part has a rubberized finish to grip the base of your laptop, while the MagSafe charging area has a glossy vegan leather surface. The HiRise Pro can raise your screen six inches from your desk, inching your laptop screen to your eye-line. This can be adjusted with a metal screw to lower levels if needed. Twelve South believes that the HiRise Pros maximum height ensures any laptop webcam would then be at an ideal height. What I like and what Ive been looking for is a simple way of improving the ergonomics of working on a laptop. I dont want a bigger monitor, always mounted at eye height even if I should. And if you do already have second screens and monitors, this stand means you could line up your laptop screen with any external monitor, if youre especially aesthetically demanding. Photo by Mat Smith / Engadget It feels like the final thing needed to make a standing desk work for me. Im still using this tripod desk at the moment, and the eye-line is almost there. Honestly, Id benefit from the HiRise Pro adding an additional inch or two to the height, but Twelve South may have reached a stability limit. With this kind of laptop stand, youre not really able to use the built-in trackpad or keyboard, which is something to bear in mind. Youll need to invest in either wireless or wired replacements. On top of that, while its not ridiculously priced, $100 is a lot for a stand that already has $40 alternatives. One of which is Twelve Souths own, recently announced, Curve SE laptop stand. Before this, I swapped between a basic, but unwieldy IKEA shelf you can see it in some of my reviews and a foldable, portable laptop stand that didnt quite lift the device off a surface, but at least angled it upwards. It also packed in a load of ports and even an SD card reader. Id be interested in Twelve South cramming more into future laptop stands it does a little more with its Mac peripherals, so why not here? Maybe the company is waiting to launch the HiRise Max? I hope so.This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/twelve-souths-hirise-pro-is-a-slick-height-adjustable-laptop-stand-130027673.html?src=rss

Category: Marketing and Advertising


2023-09-20 15:00:09| Engadget

Have you seen the meme about people who dangle too many things on their fingers for no reason whatsoever? Im not proud to admit it, but Im one of those. No matter how big of a bag Im carrying, I always find my hands full, making it difficult to interact with my phone or smartwatch on the go. And Im not alone there. Which is why voice controlled assistants and hands-free gestures are so appealing. With the Apple Watch Series 9, the company is introducing two new methods of interaction: Double Tap and Raise to Speak (to Siri). Its also rolling out on-device Siri processing, which will let you ask the assistant for your health data and to log your daily stats. These are enabled by the new S9 system-in-package (SiP) that powers the device, meaning they likely wont be available to older models via watchOS 10. The Series 9 also has a new second-generation ultra wideband (UWB) chip like the one in the iPhone 15 series, which allows for an updated interface when pinging your paired phone. On the outside, the new Apple Watch looks just like its predecessor, but the new gesture alone may be intriguing enough to coax some of you into upgrading this year. Double Tap Full disclosure: Due to a series of FedEx mishaps, I wasnt able to receive a separate sample of the Apple Watch with Double Tap enabled until just yesterday. That means Ive only spent about a day testing out the new gesture in the real world. To be clear, the feature will not be available on the watches that ship come September 22, and will be activated over the air later in October. Apple sent reviewers supplemental units with Double Tap enabled for our coverage and testing purposes, in addition to the actual devices that will be going to consumers. Not to worry, though, the rest of this review is based on a Series 9 Ive had since the Apple event last week. Its only the Double Tap sample that I received late. Still, I already have a better sense for when and how it might be useful.   When both hands, or at least my watch hand, are occupied, Double Tap will obviously not be helpful. Youll need to at least have your thumb and index finger available to pinch. But when Im cleaning my apartment, holding a side plank, raising a single dumbbell or reading a book, the gesture does make my life easier. In fact, I love it just for the pleasure of continuing to scroll Reddit on my phone in my right hand without having to put the device down to swipe something away on my left wrist. Photo by Cherlynn Low / Engadget The Series 9 is fairly good at recognizing when Ive pinched twice quickly, but it took me a few attempts to figure out the right cadence. You cant tap too quickly or too subtly, or it wont register. I hate when companies tell us were doing something wrong, but in this case where were learning a new gesture altogether, Im inclined to put in the work. Apple uses a combination of data from the accelerometer, gyroscope and optical heart rate monitor to detect movement and blood flow changes. This lets the watch understand the difference between, say, when youre touching your middle finger versus your pointer. I was able to trigger Double Tap by pretending to snap my thumb and forefinger, and also when striking the side of my digit rather than the pad. This is also a good time to clarify that Double Tap is quite different from Assistive Touch, which was brought to watchOS in 2021. The latter is an accessibility-minded feature that was already available for years in iOS, and allows those with different mobility needs to interact with the respective operating systems. Youll have to first go into the settings to enable it on the watch, and then you can use gestures like pinching and clenching to navigate. Clenching twice will activate Assistive Touch,which brings up an outline around items on the screen. Then, pinching will move through individual elements and clenching will act like tapping on them. Photo by Cherlynn Low / Engadget Assistive Touch is more complete and nuanced than Double Tap, as it has to help users access all of watchOS. Meanwhile, the new feature is more of a convenience and theres only one action available. It also does very specific things. Youll first have to make sure the Series 9 is awake. From the home screen, double tapping pulls up the Smart Stack, and subsequent pinches scrolls through the widgets on that page. You can change the default setting so that follow-up double taps on the Smart Stack enters the top card instead. Everywhere else in watchOS, the Double Tap wil trigger the primary button. Start or pause a timer, snooze your alarm, play your music or reply to messages, for example. Apples programmed some of these applications thoughtfully, too. If youve used Double Tap to reply to a message, it will bring up the voice typing option so you can dictate your response. Thats a nice touch, considering youre likely unable to use your other hand to tap out a message if youre already pinching to react to a notification. But Double Tap isnt available in every part of watchOS. When I was looking at the Phone app or my Move rings, for example, the gesture didnt do anything. A small indicator appeared to show that it did register; It just didnt map the action to anything on the page. I like the little indicator bubble, by the way, as it goes a long way in helping me learn the gesture. Photo by Cherlynn Low / Engadget All that said, it feels like Double Tap might not be as groundbreaking as it may have seemed from the keynote. But it still is a useful tool that will likely reduce my need to lift my wrist and swipe the screen. A better Siri Another way Apple is reducing my reliance on the Series 9s display is through voice control. Specifically, Siri requests on the new watches (including the Ultra 2) will be processed on-device. There are quite a few benefits to this speed of response being the least significant. I compared the Series 9 and Series 8 side by side and this years watch was only marginally faster at responding to my Hey Siri requests. Other advantages of on-device processing are more impactful. The ability to still ask Siri for help when offline or disconnected from my iPhone, for example, was a surprisingly simple upgrade. I left my paired iPhone 15 Pro at home when I went to the gym, and was relieved when I could still tell the assistant to record an outdoor walk when I made my way home (since my hands were full, as usual). Since your requests no longer leave your watch, Apple is also able to let you ask Siri for your health data. You can ask the assistant how long you slept, how many steps youve taken that day, or to log a period and more. Some of this is available now, while others will be available in a software update later this year. Photo by Cherlynn Low / Engadget Right now, the responses arent great. I asked Siri to tell me how many steps Id taken or calories Id burned, and instead of giving me a direct answer, itd take me to the Move or Exercise ring pages. I asked for my heart rate, and was brought to the Heart Rate app for a reading, which is reasonable. But hopefully, with the software update, Id get a straightforward answer of how many steps or calories. Since I cant test it just yet, I cant fully evaluate how impactful Siri Health Requests will be, but its something I suspect will put Apple ahead of its smartwatch competitors. Being able to edit your stats with just your voice could make it much easier for people to input data, which will ultimately improve the insights youd get from your watch. No other wearable OS offers this yet, either. Finally, with the Series 9, Apple is also adding Raise to Speak. In theory, this means you should be able to just bring the watch to your mouth and ask Siri for things. But in my experience, this barely worked half the time. I wish it were more consistent, because, and pardon my hyperbole here, when it did behave as expected, it felt almost magical. Id lift my wrist and speak into the watch case, and the Siri icon would appear, along with the words Id just uttered. No more long pressing the Digital Crown or saying Hey Siri. The good news is, even when Raise To Speak doesnt register, I can still go back to saying Hey Siri. It just got really annoying trying to test this feature, because I quickly grew tired from all the repetitive wrist lifting. Look, its been arm week at the gym, okay? Photo by Cherlynn Low / Engadget UWB precision finding, in use and battery life One last hardware-related feature on the Series 9 is its second-generation UWB chip, which enables a new interface for locating your paired iPhone. Currently, all you can do is use your Apple Watch to ping your handset and make it ring. With the Series 9 paired to another device with the new UWB chip, not only can you also see exactly how many feet you are from your misplaced device, you can also see what direction its in. I nearly panicked after clearing security at the San Francisco airport, when I thought I had lost the iPhone 15 Pro Max. Thankfully, I had a moment of clarity and used the Series 9 to buzz the phone. I was immensely relieved to hear the ringtone, but also amused when the watch told me I was only a foot and a half away from the handset. To see the new interface that tells you which direction your missing item is in, youll have to be more than five feet away from it. I came home from the gym and used the Series 9 to see where the iPhone was, and the onscreen arcs and distance indicators easily guided me to my couch where I had left it. As I got within five feet, the phone buzzed and rang, which helped in locating it. I didnt have a HomePod to test this with, but the Series 9 will also know when youre within four meters of one, and automatically pull up the Now Playing screen so you can quickly control playback. Photo by Cherlynn Low / Engadget If your Series 8 (or older) is a little too dim in sunlight or too bright in your blacked-out bedroom, you might appreciate that the new models screen can now get up to 2,000 nits and as low as 1 nit. Thats double the brightness of the Series 8, which I never had trouble reading, so it makes sense that I found the latest model easy to see on a bright day as well. Its worth noting, though, that, in a dark room, the low-nit display might be hard for some to read. I was wearing both the Series 8 and 9, and the newer watch was noticeably dimmer, to the point where smaller text with low contrast was almost illegible. If this affecs you, the good news is you can still adjust the general device brightness to avoid having the screen going as dim. Theres not much else drastically different about the Series 9 that you wont get by updating to watchOS 10. That is, unless you like the new pink color option so much that youre willing to buy a whole new device just for it (which I would understand, since I love the pink of my review unit). Springing for the latest hardware will get you the S9 SiP, which is supposed to process machine learning tasks up to twice as fast as the last generation while delivering 25 percent more power efficiency. Photo by Cherlynn Low / Engadget Honestly, I barely noticed a difference in performance, and battery life felt a little shorter, with the Series 9 needing a charge every evening rather than every night. Id chalk that up to the fact that the review unit I received is the smaller 41mm size, while the Series 8 Ive been using is the larger 44mm version, and understandably has a longer-lasting battery. Apple says youll still get 18 hours of runtime with the Series 9, and though thats in line with previous generations, I wish it lasted longer. Samsung and Fitbits smartwatches generally clock about two or more days, and itd be nice to see Apple give us more. There are a lot of changes coming via watchOS 10, too, but since those will be available to people with older Apple Watches, I wont cover them here. I also wont delve into things weve already tested, like fitness and sleep tracking or fall detection and emergency SOS. They wont affect your decision on whether to get the new watch. One more new thing you can use regardless of the generation of watch you own: FineWoven bands. This is Apples replacement for leather, which it declared it will stop selling in an effort to reduce its carbon footprint. FineWoven is a suede-like material made from recycled material, and is meant to feel premium. I dont mind it, and though I prefer the texture of leather, Im more than happy to give up a nice tactile sensation in the interest of saving our environment. Photo by Cherlynn Low / Engadget Wrap-up The fact that the Apple Watch Series 9 and Ultra 2 are the companys first carbon neutral products is a significant achievement thats worth calling out. We have to give Apple credit for making an effort to minimize its adverse impact on the earth, despite all the marketing bluster (and the fact that it ironically outlined its 2030 vision at a launch event for new devices it wants people to buy). If youre environmentally conscious, the companys efforts to be net carbon neutral may affect whether you buy the Apple Watch Series 9 over something from a competitor like Fitbit, for example. But if thats not a priority for you, then youre more likely to base your decision over features like Double Tap and Siri, as well as performance and battery life. The Series 9 is a capable, well-rounded smartwatch that remains the best in the category. Double Tap and on-device Siri alone may be reasons enough to trade in your older Apple Watch (yes, even the Series 8), especially if you hate having to swipe or tap a tiny screen on your wrist. What intrigues me more is the vision of the future thats starting to take shape. With gestures like Double Tap and a stronger focus on voice commands, as well as the introduction of the Vision Pro headset earlier this year, its clear Apple has a direction in mind for the next few years. Im curious to see where wearables fit in, and I have a strong suspicion the Series 9 is simply laying the groundwork for a more immersive, hands-free ecosystem to come.This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/apple-watch-series-9-review-freedom-from-touching-your-screen-130009764.html?src=rss

Category: Marketing and Advertising


2023-09-20 13:14:49| Engadget

This summers Federal Trade CommissionMicrosoft trial revealed all kinds of intriguing details about how the tech companys gaming arm saw its rivals and the future of gaming. But now, a court document leak has spilled the beans on new consoles, a new controller and even a list of new game projects (new Dishonored? Yes, please). MicrosoftThe most leftfield part, though, might be a letter from Xbox chief Phil Spencer talking about Nintendo. He said Nintendo was a prime asset for Microsofts continued push in gaming and could be the companys best bet for consumer relevance. Spencer added Nintendo had a board of directors that had not pushed for increases in market growth in ages indicating, of course, a massive difference in how Nintendo governs itself compared to Microsoft. Eventually, Xbox bought gaming giants, including Bethesda and Activision Blizzard, so fewer plumbers and more gunners.Microsoft has attempted to acquire the Japanese gaming giant for a while. When Bloomberg published an in-depth on the development of Xbox in 2021, it revealed that Microsoft execs had asked Nintendo if it was willing to be acquired and were laughed out of the room.By the end of yesterday, Spencer commented on X, saying: so much has changed since those documents. He added the company will share the real plans when we are ready. Mat SmithThe biggest stories you might have missedThe Chan Zuckerberg Initiative is building a massive GPU cluster to cure, prevent or manage all diseasesWe put the Dyson Zones air filters to the test. Heres what we found.Microsoft AI researchers mistakenly leaked 38TB of company dataNetgears new wallet-busting Orbi router has just about every feature imaginableHow to watch and follow Thursdays Microsoft Surface eventTalos Principle 2 and the quiet subversion of optimistic sci-fiCan Microsofts Surface PCs get out of their rut?iPhone 15 Pro Max reviewApple makes the strongest case yet for its biggest, priciest phone.EngadgetIts the year of the USB-C iPhone, and the iPhone 15 Pro Max adds a new action button and the most versatile camera system yet. Apple has kept the same price for the Pro ($999) and Pro Max ($1,199) while doubling the storage capacity on the base model of the latter. If youve been holding on to an iPhone thats at least two years old (or even just a year old), this could well be the year to upgrade. The changes coming to Apples Pro handsets feel meatier than before, and a new titanium build makes these devices seem fresher too.Continue reading.Microsoft plans an all-digital Xbox Series X and haptic controllerThe console could land November 2024.Microsoft is planning a mid-generation refresh of the Xbox Series X with a new discless cylindrical design, according to those leaked documents. Microsoft previously said it has no plans for a mid-gen console refresh, but that doesnt appear to be true according to the document. In fact, the company may be working on three new consoles. The first, codenamed Ellewood, is a light refresh of the Xbox Series S (set to arrive around September 2024), while Brooklin, tentatively planned for November 2024, is a new discless version of the Xbox Series X.Another model, XDL, matches Brooklins specs but will presumably offer Xbox Design Lab customization. Another slide details a two-tone Sebile controller with built-in accelerometers and haptics that would make it more like Sonys latest DualSense controller. There are apparently some sustainability tweaks, like a swappable battery, recycled materials and improved repairability. If youre looking even further into the future, the documents also detailed a cloud hybrid Xbox for 2028, which would combine console power with cloud strength.Continue reading.Neuralink opens enrollment for its first human-brain-computer interfacesThe company wants to test its implants on people with quadriplegia.Elon Musks Neuralink company, purveyors of the experimental N1 brain-computer interface (BCI), announced on Tuesday it has finally opened enrollment for its first human study.The study aims to evaluate the safety of our implant (N1) and surgical robot (R1) and assess the initial functionality of our BCI for enabling people with paralysis to control external devices with their thoughts. As such, this study is looking primarily for those who have quadriplegia due to cervical spinal cord injury or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). The release adds: The initial goal of our BCI is to grant people the ability to control a computer cursor or keyboard using their thoughts alone.Continue reading.This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/the-morning-after-huge-xbox-leak-reveals-an-all-digital-series-x-and-a-lot-more-111449389.html?src=rss

Category: Marketing and Advertising


2023-09-20 13:00:11| Engadget

Since 2012, Yelp has caught nearly 5,000 businesses engaging in shady tactics, like paying customers for favorable ratings or hiring people to write phony reviews. Now, the company has a new tool to help people and maybe the feds track businesses that have tried to manipulate their standing on the review platform.Yelp is releasing a new index that tracks every U.S establishment its ever caught engaging in suspicious activity to influence its reviews. The company has made some of this information available in the past. Yelp places temporary alerts on businesses pages when it discovers fake reviews, and regularly releases transparency reports detailing its moderation efforts. But the index is the first time the company has offered a single place where users can find a historical record of every business thats ever been subject to such a warning as well as a current list of businesses with active alerts on their pages .For Yelp, the index is both its latest move in a long-running war on fake reviews, as well as a nod to a changing regulatory environment in which fake reviews are attracting increasing scrutiny from regulators. The FTC recently proposed a formal ban on fake reviews with penalties of up to $50,000 for businesses caught buying, selling or manipulating online reviews.Yelp has said it supports such a rule. The companys head of user operations, Noorie Malik, points out the company has previously worked with the FTC to notify them when it discovers fake reviews and the sometimes complex operations behind them. We'd love to get to a place where this new index develops into a regular resource for others, whether it's FTC, consumers, regulators or other sites, Malik tells Engadget.But shes also quick to point out that the index is also meant to help Yelp users make educated decisions about where to spend their money. While you may not think much about visiting a coffee shop with a history of paying people to leave positive Yelp reviews, your feelings may be very different if youre looking for a contractor to remodel your home, or for a daycare or moving company (all of which appear in the index).Of course, fake reviews isnt just a Yelp problem. Malik notes that phony reviews are often coordinated on other websites among organized groups of review rings. We also hope that it inspires other review platforms to take a firmer stance against reduced solicitation and incentivisation, she says.This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/yelp-has-a-wall-of-shame-for-businesses-caught-paying-for-fake-reviews-110011882.html?src=rss

Category: Marketing and Advertising


2023-09-20 11:20:33| Engadget

Nikon has unveiled its latest full-frame camera, the 24.5-megapixel Zf with retro style and technology borrowed from the company's high-end Z8 and Z9 cameras. With a new sensor and processor, it promises powerful features like 14-fps max shooting speeds, advanced AI autofocus and 4K 60p video. At the same time, it's a highly manual camera with a lot of old-school touches and multiple colorways, all designed to touch that vintage-loving nerve. The body and handling emphasizes manual controls, with no less than five dials on top to control shooting mode, video/photo/B&W, aperture, shutter speed and exposure compensation. It also has a pair of shooting dials front and back and a D-pad style controller, but no joystick. The "grip" is just a small ridge. With all that, the Zf really does look like a an old school Nikon film camera right down to the chrome-plated shutter release button.NikonThe Zf's magnesium-alloy body is smallish, but not very light at 710 grams (Sony's A7 IV is 659 grams). It does offer "high dust- and drip-resistance" though, Nikon says. The high-resolution 2.1-million-dot vari-angle touch display fully articulates for vlogging and selfies, while allowing touch function controls and focus point selection. For astro shooters, it has a "Starlight view mode" that boosts display brightness in dark scenes. Meanwhile, the OLED viewfinder has a decent 3.68-million dot resolution and 0.8 times magnification.It has two card slots, but with a serious caveat. One is a high-speed UHS-II card slot, but the other is a UHS-I microSD slot the only model with that combo as far as I know. The battery is a weak point, offering only 380 shots on a charge, compared to 580 for the Sony A7 IV. Other features include a USB 3.2 Gen1 port with charging support, mic/headphone ports and a micro HDMI connector. DIXIE_DIXON2022 for NikonInside, it has a backside-illuminated (BSI) 24.5-megapixel sensor and Expeed 7 processor borrowed from the high-end Z models. That gives it autofocus powers inline with the Z8, including Nikon's 3-D tracking plus AI-powered subject detection that can find people, dogs, cats, birds, cars, motorcycles, bicycles, trains and planes. It'll even detect far-away faces that take up as little as 3 percent of the frame's longest side. As for image quality, the standard ISO range of 100 to 64,000 promises good low-light capability, and it has a pixel shifting mode that boosts resolution up to 96-megapixels for static scenes. In line with the retro styling, Nikon has a dedicated black & white mode (with its own dial setting), that enables multiple monochromatic settings ranging from flat to high-contrast "Deep Tone Monochrome." It can hit 11fps shooting speeds in RAW mode (14fps with JPEGs) in electronic shutter mode (Nikon doesn't list specs for mechanical shutter) and offers a reduced-quality 30fps JPEG-only mode with a pre-burst option to ensure you won't miss a shot. The five-axis IBS (or vibration reduction, as Nikon calls it) reduces shake by up to 8 stops with a supported lens. Stabilization can be linked to the focus point, rather than just the center of the image as with most systems. NikonOn the video side, the Zf can record full-frame 4K at 30p from a supersampled 6K image, or 4K60p with a DX (1.5 times) crop, along with 1080p/120p. Video can be captured with 10-bit H.265 recording, which will give users better color fidelity and more options in post. However, H.265 files require a powerful computer, meaning you might have to convert them to another format for editing. Based on the specs, the Nikon Zf looks like a solid camera that can compete against models like Panasonic's S5 II and Sony's A7 IV. However, it sets itself apart from those models based on its retro styling and manual controls, which should appeal to a certain segment of buyers. The Nikon Zf arrives in October 2023 at a competitive $2,000 price for the body only, or $2,240 with the retro-styled Nikkor Z40 f/2.0 SE lens. If you want one of the other colors (Indigo Blue, Sepia Brown, Bordeaux Red, Sunset Orange, Moss Green, StoneGray), you'll pay $2,100 for the body only. This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/nikons-zf-full-frame-camera-puts-speed-and-video-power-in-a-retro-body-092033908.html?src=rss

Category: Marketing and Advertising


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