Monthly Archives: May 2014

Feedback Loop: WWDC predictions, Dropcam Pro impressions and more!

Feedback Loop: WWDC predictions, Dropcam Pro impressions and more!

Ring in the weekend with the latest edition of Feedback Loop. Apple’s WWDC kicks off on Monday and we try to predict what will be announced, share impressions of the Dropcam Pro, discuss the viability of DIY data storage, talk about our favorite task management apps and wonder where all the good Windows 8 apps are hiding. Head past the break to find out what Engadget readers like you are saying.

WWDC 2014 Predictions

Apple kicks of their annual World Wide Developers Conference on Monday. We’re expecting to see previews of iOS 8 and OS X 10.10. However, it’s possible Apple might have something else up their sleeve. In the forums, we’re sharing our own predictions that range from a potential iWatch announcement to ARM powered laptops. What do you think they’ll show off on Monday?

Dropcam Pro impressions

If you want to watch your pets while you’re away at work, what sorts of devices would you use? Jonursenbach wanted to keep tabs on his pug during the day, so he picked up a Dropcam Pro and shared his first impressions. If you’re in the market for a new camera, take a look at his post and then let him know if you have any questions.

Managing your data at home

We generate a lot of bits and bytes each day. From photos and videos to documents and email, there’s a lot of data floating around that can be a pain to properly manage and keep track of. Frank asks whether it’s worth it to build your own digital storage system, purchase one from somebody like Synology, or just pay for a cloud locker. How are you managing all your digital data?

To-do: Remember to check my to-do list

Engadget’s guru of all things social media, John Colucci, recently started using Trello as his primary task management tool and shared his experience in the forums comparing comparing it to other apps that do the same thing. With everything going on in our lives, how do you keep on top of your responsibilities?

Heyo, where all the Windows 8 Apps at?

Windows 8 has been available for awhile now and you can easily find it on new PCs and Windows tablets. However, ThatsIsJustCraz is wondering why we haven’t seen more well designed Windows 8 applications around. Is this a real problem that Windows 8 has or is he just not looking in the right places? Share your thoughts in his discussion.

That’s all this week! Do you want to talk about your favorite gadget or have a burning question about technology? Register for an Engadget account today, visit the Engadget forums and start a new discussion!

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Leak hints the Galaxy S5 Mini will keep its bigger sibling’s sensors

Leak hints the Galaxy S5 Mini will keep its bigger sibling's sensors

While many have been expecting Samsung to launch a mini version of the Galaxy S5 given the company’s past habits, there have been questions about just what the smartphone would include. Would it be as hobbled as last year’s S4 Mini? Maybe not. SamMobile has received photos of a purported Galaxy S5 Mini which hint that this smaller device could include the fingerprint and heart rate sensors of its full-size sibling, as well as the water-resistant shell. Not surprisingly, it would also share the Ultra Power Saving mode and other software tricks.

The snapshots don’t reveal what’s inside, but their source claims that the hardware won’t be quite as much of a downgrade as in previous years. You could see a 4.5-inch, 720p AMOLED display along with a budget-minded 1.4GHz quad-core processor; there should also be a decent 1.5GB of RAM, an 8-megapixel rear camera, a 2-megapixel front shooter and 16GB of expandable storage. The tip doesn’t include a release date, but it’s coming hot on the heels of the Galaxy S5 Active launch — it’s easy to see the Mini arriving relatively soon.

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Head of Intel’s former internet TV project abandons ship

Head of Intel's former internet TV project abandons ship

When Intel formally abandoned its IPTV project in a sale to Verizon, the team behind it transitioned as part of the deal. Now, only four months later, the man who’s been in charge of the venture all along has washed his hands of it, too. Erik Huggers, who originally outed Intel’s plan to create an IPTV service/hardware platform (later dubbed OnCue), moved to Verizon and continued on as project lead. There’s no indication that Huggers left on bad terms, or that OnCue’s progression is stagnating at Big Red.

“There were no conflicts at all. The technology is great, the team is great, the future is secure, the dream lives on,” he told Reuters. While Huggers isn’t leaving for anything in particular, apart from telling the WSJ that it’s simply “time to move on,” he’s apparently got a “couple of irons in the fire.” What we’re more interested in, however, is the future of the OnCue platform now its leader’s departed. Perhaps a set of fresh legs is exactly what Verizon needs to finally create a product that, up to now, has been nothing more than high-profile vaporware.

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Weekends with Engadget: Apple buys Beats, LG unveils the G3 and more!

Weekends with Engadget: Apple buys Beats, LG unveils the G3 and more!

This week we watched Apple buy Beats for $3 billion, explored the inspiration behind the newly-announced LG G3, learned about Samsung’s new partnership with Oculus VR, investigated the benefits of solar energy and much more. Read on for Engadget’s news highlights from the last seven days. Oh, and be sure to subscribe to our Flipboard magazine!

Weekends with Engadget: Apple buys Beats, LG unveils the G3 and more!

With Beats, Apple faces the music

Music streaming is on the rise, but it’s still a largely untested source of revenue. So, is Apple’s acquisition of Beats guaranteed to turn a profit, or have Cook and Co. purchased a very expensive business lesson?

Weekends with Engadget: Apple buys Beats, LG unveils the G3 and more!

LG’s G3 flagship is a bigger, simpler, higher-res smartphone

This week, LG announced the G3, and yes, it is equipped with a beautiful 5.5-inch Quad HD display and laser autofocusing feature. What’s more, we managed to go hands-on with the handset. So click on through for our impressions and photos.

Weekends with Engadget: Apple buys Beats, LG unveils the G3 and more!

Samsung is working with Oculus on a media-focused VR headset

Yep, Samsung’s building its own VR headset, and with a little help from Oculus VR. But rather than have its own screen, Sammy’s device will use your smartphone as the display instead, commandeering the handset’s processor for tracking functionality.

Weekends with Engadget: Apple buys Beats, LG unveils the G3 and more!

What’s on tap for Apple at WWDC 2014

WWDC 2014, Apple’s yearly developer conference is right around the corner and the speculation is heating up, especially regarding Apple’s supposed entry into home automation. Lucky for you, we’ve put together a handy collection of our own expectations for the June 2nd event. Enjoy!

Weekends with Engadget: Apple buys Beats, LG unveils the G3 and more!

Samsung Chromebook 2 review: A $400 laptop never looked so good

Chromebooks are gaining steam, and the Samsung Chromebook 2 is no exception. Sure, it’s got a bit of Sammy’s pseudo-leather on top, but don’t let that fool you. Between its fantastic trackpad, HD display and sturdy keyboard, the Chromebook 2 packs the best Chrome OS experience on the market.

Weekends with Engadget: Apple buys Beats, LG unveils the G3 and more!

Inside LG’s G3: How vacuums, focus groups and competitive pressure shaped a smartphone

The LG G3 doesn’t just have the nicest display on the market, it’s got an ultra-fast autofocusing laser sensor — all thanks to a coffee break with the company’s vacuum experts. Read on as our own Brad Molen investigates the inspiration behind the company’s most powerful smartphone yet.

Weekends with Engadget: Apple buys Beats, LG unveils the G3 and more!

Old console, new tricks: Getting the most out of your Wii

Be honest. It’s been a while since you last dusted off your Wii and engaged in a match of Mario Power Tennis, hasn’t it? Not to worry, we’ve got a few tricks to help you rekindle your relationship with the 10-year-old console.

Weekends with Engadget: Apple buys Beats, LG unveils the G3 and more!

What you need to know about solar energy

Most of us realize the basic benefits of harvesting solar power, but did you know it was the second leading source of new energy last year? Even still, many argue as to the efficiency of the technology. Continue reading to learn all you need to know about the business of the sun.

Weekends with Engadget: Apple buys Beats, LG unveils the G3 and more!

Extreme exposure: Inside GoPro’s burgeoning media empire

GoPro doesn’t want to simply build a camera to capture thrilling close-calls and daredevil stunts; it wants to be a media empire. Read on as our own James Trew investigates how the company aims to transform athletes into viral video creators.

Weekends with Engadget: Apple buys Beats, LG unveils the G3 and more!

The US Air Force’s oldest bomber is now a flying network

The B-52 bomber is one of the most reliable aircraft ever designed, but at over 50 years old, it seems an upgrade is in order. Now outfitted with a modernized communications system called CONECT, the B-52 plans to keep on truckin’ in this era of real-time data transmission.

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AT&T and Verizon are tied for the most US cellular customers

AT&T and Verizon are tied for the most US cellular customers

AT&T and Verizon have long dominated the American cellular landscape, but there’s always been a top dog (more recently, Verizon). In the first quarter of the year, however, something strange happened — the carriers virtually tied each other for market share, according to estimates by analyst Chetan Sharma. While the providers publish different figures (AT&T includes virtual networks and machine-to-machine links that Verizon doesn’t), Sharma believes that they both had 34 percent of US subscribers. AT&T reportedly leveled the playing field when it bought Leap and added all of Cricket’s customers.

This isn’t to say that either of the big two telcos can rest easily. While Sprint is still bleeding subscribers and dipped to 16 percent of the US market, T-Mobile is thriving — the UnCarrier added twice as many users as its top three rivals put together, giving it a 14 percent slice. It’s difficult to know for sure whether the estimate is completely accurate given the lack of directly comparable official numbers. No matter what, you can’t count on this state of affairs lasting for very long. Sprint’s rumored acquisition of T-Mobile could quickly tip the balance, and it wouldn’t take much for AT&T or Verizon to claim an absolute lead.

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The Big Picture: Exploring the deep blue in a wearable submarine

The Big Picture: Exploring the deep blue in a wearable submarineDeveloped and built by Nuytco Research, this exosuit is made from hard metal and allows divers to operate safely down to a depth of 1000 feet. The suit has four 1.6 horsepower propulsion thrusters, fiber optic gigabit ethernet, and a host of telemetry devices. The “Exosuit atmospheric diving system” (ADS) will allow wearers to work in deep water without facing problems with decompression. While still in testing right now, diver Michael Lombardi will be taking it out for its first full exploration mission later this summer, at a location called Canyons, approximately 100 miles off the coast of Rhode Island.

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Meet NASA’s commercial space capsule contenders

Meet NASA's commercial space capsule contenders

Sure, the Dragon V2 is the latest (and greatest) spacecraft from SpaceX, but it’s not the only capsule that may one day schlep astronauts to the International Space Station. In fact, Elon Musk’s firm is just one of three private outfits currently competing in a NASA program for commercial launches with their own vehicles. We’ve surveyed the space capsule landscape and have whipped up a primer on the future crafts that may wind up taking humans to space.

Dragon (V2)

Meet NASA's commercial space capsule contenders

The second-gen Dragon just had its coming-out party, but we’ll recap the highlights. As SpaceX’s workhorse, the original Dragon has sat atop Falcon 9 rockets and carried cargo to the International Space Station, but it hasn’t been able to safely transport humans. Dragon V2 remedies that, providing accommodations for up to seven passengers (or less for additional cargo space). What’s more, it’s expected the capsule can be used up to 10 times before needing significant repairs.

Eight new SuperDraco engines are fitted into the vehicle, allowing it to land on solid ground with the precision of helicopter, all without using a single parachute. Of course, in an emergency, the vessel can use its reserve chutes and drop itself into the sea. A battery of tests is still in the cards for Dragon V2 before it goes airborne, but it’s expected to fly with humans aboard in 2016.

Inside SpaceX’s Dragon V2

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5 Photos

CST-100

Meet NASA's commercial space capsule contenders

[Image credit: Boeing, PDF]

Boeing’s entry into the commercial crew and cargo program is the Crew Space Transportation-100, or CST-100 for short. In addition to shuttling astronauts to the International Space Station, it’s intended to carry folks to private space stations like those proposed by Bigelow Aerospace. When it’s tasked with taxiing humans, Boeing’s vessel can carry a crew as large as seven.

For landings, the craft slows itself down with parachutes and touches down on terra firma. In the case of an emergency, however, the vehicle can take a dip in the sea.

The CST-100 isn’t quite ready to be tossed into the vacuum of space quite yet, but it’s making good progress. In February, the hardware that connects it to Atlas V rockets passed muster with NASA, and it’s on track to hit the development milestones the space agency is looking for in 2014.

CST-100
Diameter 4.56 m (15 ft)
Height 5 m (16.5 ft)
Weight Approx. 9,000kg (20,000 lbs)
Crew (maximum) 7
Launch Vehicle(s) Atlas V, Delta IV and Falcon 9

Dream Chaser

Meet NASA's commercial space capsule contenders

[Image credit: NASA]

The odd duck in the government’s commercial crew program is the Dream Chaser. Rather than rely on a capsule design, Sierra Nevada Corporation’s built its astronaut taxi by picking up the space shuttle’s mantle. Although it resembles NASA’s retired 184-foot long workhorse, it measures up at just 29.5 feet long. Not only does it look like a pint-sized shuttle, but it also functions much like one.

The Dream Chaser uses an entirely different form of controlled descent from its competition. By gliding down from low-Earth orbit, the contraption is able to land at any airport runway suited for commercial airliners. While it builds on the shuttle’s strengths, it also inherits some of its weaknesses. Sierra Nevada’s solution can handle ferrying up to seven folks to space in low-earth orbit, but it’s not fit for long trips to other planets.

In November of 2016, the pint-sized shuttle lookalike is scheduled to make it to orbit for the first time. As if the similarities to NASA’s spaceplane weren’t enough already, it’s set to use the very same runway as its much larger doppelgänger.

Dream Chaser
Length 9 m (29.5 ft)
Wingspan 7 m (22.9 ft)
Weight 11,300 kg (25,000 lbs)
Crew (maximum) 7
Launch Vehicle Atlas V

Orion

Meet NASA's commercial space capsule contenders

[Image credit: NASA, Flickr]

OK, NASA’s next-generation space vehicle, Orion, isn’t a commercial craft, but it’s certainly worth mentioning. Although it was originally devised as part of the now-canceled Constellation program that aimed to take astronauts to asteroids, Mars and the moon, the space agency’s building a version of the craft — with the help of Lockheed Martin — that’ll become its Swiss Army knife. Now dubbed the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle (MPCV), it’ll be able to make those same trips using a new rocket setup called the Space Launch System. What’s more, it’ll also be able to haul up to six people to the International Space Station if the need arises.

Returning to Earth for Orion means deploying parachutes and splashing down in the ocean, much like the Apollo missions did. In an emergency, however, the vessel can safely set itself down on soil.

NASA’s Orion space capsule

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6 Photos

A bit of legwork is still needed before Orion can make its way into orbit, but its first test flight isn’t far off. Come December 2014, it’ll head 3,600 miles away from our blue marble and land — if all goes well — in one piece.

Orion
Diameter 5 m/16.5 ft
Height 3.3 m/11 ft
Weight 8,913 kg/19,650 lbs
Crew (maximum) 6
Launch Vehicle Delta IV, Space Launch System

Wrap-up

Though each of these commercial vehicles is progressing steadily, it may not be until 2016 that any of them are slung into orbit. Ironically, for as much as NASA’s demise is proclaimed, it’ll launch Orion before the CST-100 and Dream Chaser even get their first taste of space’s vacuum. No matter which companies NASA ultimately taps for future crew and cargo missions, space aficionados will have the private space race as entertainment.

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Congress, NASA agree to thin out commercial spaceflight partners for ‘space taxi’ program

Congress, NASA agree to thin out commercial spaceflight partners for 'space taxi' program

Congress has twisted NASA’s arm on a new deal for the “Commercial Crew Program,” designed to get private spaceflight companies to ferry astronauts into space. Senator Representative Frank Wolf wants NASA to scale back its grants to four companies: SpaceX, Boeing, Blue Origin and Sierra Nevada down to two, while a third gets a retainer in case one of those chosen pair fails. The administration will be examining the financial health and business viability of each company before doling out the cash — with one of those named above effectively being shut out of the market. Although, we imagine SpaceX did itself no harm at all when it became the first commercial enterprise to get a capsule to the ISS.

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WOLF STATEMENT ON FUTURE OF COMMERCIAL CREW PROGRAM

Washington, D.C. (June 5, 2012) – Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA), chairman of the House Commerce-Justice-Science Appropriations subcommittee, today released the following statement regarding his agreement with NASA on the future of the commercial crew program:

As chairman of the appropriations subcommittee that funds NASA, I want to see America continue to be the world leader in exploration and spaceflight. Our country needs an exceptional program to return American astronauts to the moon, and ultimately beyond. Space is the ultimate ‘high ground’ for a nation and will play an increasingly critical role in our national security and economic growth in the 21st Century.

Given recent advances in space capabilities by foreign competitors, it is essential that the U.S. move quickly to restore its domestic crew access to the International Space Station (ISS) and focus on the successful completion of our unique exploration systems, including the Space Launch System and Orion crew vehicle. During this current “gap” in U.S. access to both low earth orbit and beyond, it is imperative that NASA focus its limited resources on these critical human spaceflight missions.

For these reasons, I have had serious concerns about NASA’s management of the commercial crew program over the last two years. That is why I included language in the report accompanying the fiscal year 2013 Commerce-Justice-Science Appropriations bill, H.R. 5326, to address these concerns and direct a new management paradigm for the program. I remain convinced that the approach outlined in the committee’s report is the most appropriate way forward for the program.

However, in an effort to prevent any disruption in the development of crew vehicles to return U.S. astronauts to ISS as quickly as possible, I have reached an understanding with NASA Administrator Bolden in an exchange of letters that will allow the upcoming Commercial Crew Integrated Capability (CCiCAP) phase to proceed under a revised, more limited management roadmap and with an fiscal year 2013 funding level at or near the Senate Appropriations Committee-approved amount.

As part of this understanding, NASA and the committee have affirmed that the primary objective of the commercial crew program is achieving the fastest, safest and most cost-effective means of domestic access to the ISS, not the creation of a commercial crew industry.

Additionally, NASA has stated that it will reduce the number of awards anticipated to be made this summer from the 4 awards made under commercial crew development round 2 to not more than 2.5 (two full and one partial) CCiCAP awards. This downselect will reduce taxpayer exposure by concentrating funds on those participants who are most likely to be chosen to eventually provide service to ISS.

NASA also has stated that, after the CCiCAP phase, future program funding will only come in the form of FAR-based certification and service contracts. Further, to help prevent a problematic logistical “choke point” at the beginning of the certification phase, NASA will also produce an important new procurement strategy for awarding these FAR-based contracts, which will be substantively complete prior to the awarding of CCiCAP funds.

Finally, NASA has specified that it will vet commercial crew participants’ financial health and viability before providing CCiCAP funds and ensure the government’s “first right of refusal” to acquire property developed under or acquired as part of the commercial crew program at a price that reflects the taxpayers’ existing investment in its development.

Should any of NASA’s plans and intentions change from what was agreed to in the exchange of letters, I will reevaluate the situation. I will continue to follow up with NASA to monitor the implementation of these understandings in fiscal year 2012 – both through committee actions and through appropriate outside oversight – and to ensure that these principles are reflected in any final appropriations legislation for fiscal year 2013.

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Recommended Reading: Beer genetics and Kinect physical therapy

Recommended Reading highlights the best long-form writing on technology and more in print and on the web. Some weeks, you’ll also find short reviews of books that we think are worth your time. We hope you enjoy the read.

Recommended Reading: Beer genetics and Kinect physical therapy

Strange Brews: The Genes of Craft Beer
by William Herkewitz, New York Times

Pocket

White Labs has been providing professional and home brewers with the requisite yeast strains that they need for proper fermentation for years. Now, the suds-focused laboratory has gone a step further by creating the first genetic map for the yeasts. The company has sequenced DNA from over 240 strains from all over the globe, reading the 12 million molecules that compose each line by line. Not only will direct comparisons be an option, but also discovering exactly how the mapping translates to the final taste and the overall brewing process.

How the Kinect Saved My Life and Why I Don’t Want it to Go Away
by Holly Green, Polygon

We’ve seen Kinect used in a variety of ways over the years, and aiding physical therapy patients is just one of the myriad tasks. Finding relief from her Reflex Neurovascular Dystrophy, Polygon’s Holly Green took to Dance Central for at-home sessions and staying motivated to get the much-needed exercise in. With Microsoft recently making the choice to unbundle the Kinect from Xbox One packages, the future of the add-on could be in jeopardy, and Green pleads her case for it to stay.

Pocket

Why This NASCAR Team Is Putting RFID Sensors On Every Person In The Pit
by
Matt Hartigan, Fast Company

A fraction of a second in the pits could mean the difference between winning a race and finishing fifth. Until now, NASCAR crews have used video footage and stopwatches to gauge performance, but a company is looking to outfit each person over the wall from Michael Waltrip Racing with RFID Sensors. By doing do, the effort seeks to maximize efficiency by gauging each turn of the track bar, tightened lug nut and fuel fill-up to ensure that races are won — and not lost — on pit road.

Pocket

Kickstarter Helps Revive a Film Ansel Adams Used
by Hiawatha Bray, Boston Globe

Thanks to a Kickstarter campaign, Polaroid’s popular large-format black-and-white Type 55 film is set to return. A new release based on the original photo material — which was used by Ansel Adams to shoot stills of Yosemite National Park — is scheduled to debut next year thanks to the efforts of inventor Robert Crowley.

Pocket

How To Redesign Stadiums For People Who’d Rather Watch Games On TV
by Evan Gant and Alex Tee, Fast Company

Let’s face it: Sometimes it’s just better to stay home and watch the big game on TV. There’s the traffic and the overpriced beers and the view from the nosebleeds to make the experience a bit less than ideal. Most folks are okay to stay at home, so attendance is suffering, but there are some things that can be done to motivate couch potatoes to turn out.

Pocket

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Oppo’s N1 mini makes iPhones look tiny

Oppo's N1 mini makes iPhones look tiny

The N1 isn’t exactly a household name, so allow us to refresh your memory: it’s a CyanogenMod phone with a selfie-friendly swivel camera made by Chinese manufacturer Oppo. Well, its creator just announced a mini version of the device — except it’s not exactly something you’d call small. Oppo shaved just 0.9 inch off the full-sized N1, so the smaller version’s still quite a large 5-inch phone, larger than other “mini” follow-up devices like the 4.3-inch Galaxy S4 mini. According to the official page Android Police spotted, the new device will have the same 13-megapixel swivel camera. It is slightly lighter (150 grams) than its older sibling (213 grams), though, and features something the original phone doesn’t have: LTE support, which is unfortunately coupled with a smaller battery (2,140mAH vs. the larger one’s 3,610mAH). As you’d except, the Oppo N1 mini’s shipping in China first on June 11th loaded with the company’s Android ROM called Color OS. Whether it’ll follow in its predecessor’s footsteps and heading stateside, we still don’t know, but we’ll keep you posted.

Oppo's N1 mini makes iPhones look tiny

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