Monthly Archives: December 2014

Samsung Smart TV with Google TV on display at IFA 2012, ships ‘later this year’ (update: hands-on)

Samsung Smart TV with Google TV on display at IFA 2012, ships 'later this year' (update: hands-on)

It wasn’t a part of Samsung’s IFA 2012 press conference, but Samsung is showing off Google TV hardware for the first time since CES 2011 (pictured above), and will release a Smart TV with Google TV later this year. According to its press release and a blog post by the Google TV team, it will “enhance the Smart TV experience” with premium content from its Samsung Apps services. How exactly it will be merged we should see soon, but now that ARM chips are powering a cheaper, more conventionally built experience we figure whatever hung up the deal has been squashed. We should get an eye on it if it’s anywhere on the show floor soon, as well as the Google TV box from Hisense, and Sony’s NSZ-GS7 which already launched in the US and UK, but is coming to Germany, France and the Netherlands soon.

Update: We caught up with working hardware at Samsung’s booth, but the device was disconnected from the internet, so we weren’t able to take it for a proper spin. You can take a somewhat superficial look in our hands-on gallery below, along with the video after the break.

Gallery | 5 Photos

Samsung Smart TV with Google TV hands-on

Zach Honig contributed to this report.

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All of Samsung’s new smart TVs run Tizen, stream TV to your phone

All of Samsung's new smart TVs run Tizen, stream TV to your phone

This summer Samsung showed off prototype HDTVs powered by its homegrown Tizen OS (pictured above and in the gallery), and things have apparently progressed far enough for the company to go all-in on the software next year. While Tizen hasn’t taken over on phones or smartwatches yet, Samsung says every one of its 2015 smart TVs will be based on it. So what can the TVs do? Other than run PlayStation Now for cloud-streamed gaming, they can stream TV to Samsung mobile devices that are nearby. It uses Bluetooth LE to detect devices in range, then WiFi Direct for the connection, and can work even when the TV is off.

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Samsung Tizen TV prototype

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Linux Foundation Tizen

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  • Reviews 0

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  • Type Mobile / embedded OS
  • Source model Open
  • Architecture 64-bit, 32-bit
  • Announced 2011-09-27

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Moto X Pure Edition gets a 64GB option

Moto X Pure Edition gets a 64GB option

Motorola trotted out a bloatware-free version of the Moto X (2014) back in September, and now, it’s getting a memory boost. The company quietly added the 64GB Pure Edition handset to its Moto Maker site where you’re free to fine-tune a design before committing funds. While that tally doubles the max storage space, it’s only available on the unlocked model for use on AT&T or T-Mobile, and sets you back $600 off-contract. That’s $100 more than the regular Pure Edition. At any rate, folks who’ve clamored for more memory are finally getting an option, and one that’s already rockin’ the latest version of Android.

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Motorola Moto X 2nd-gen

  • Key specs
  • Reviews 17

  • Prices
  • Discussions
  • Type Smartphone
  • Operating system Android (KitKat [4.4])
  • Carriers (US) AT&T, Verizon / Alltel
  • Announced 2014-09-12

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9.1average user rating
  • Reception and call quality 9.3
  • Display 9.8
  • Battery life 7.8
  • Camera 7.8
  • Ease of use 9.6
  • Design and form factor 9.9
  • Portability (size / weight) 9.4
  • Media support 9.3
  • Durability 8.9
  • Ecosystem (apps, accessories, etc.) 9.3

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Engadget Daily: the year’s defining stories, the dangers of sitting, and more!

Engadget Daily: the year's defining stories, the dangers of sitting, and more!

We’re just about through with 2014, so it’s the perfect time to take a look back at the defining moments of the past year. To help, we’ve rounded up some of the biggest stories of 2014. Click on the gallery below to find out what made the list, along with other stories that made headlines in the past 24 hours.

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Engadget Daily: the year’s defining stories, the dangers of sitting, and more!

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Microsoft Xbox One Kinect

  • Key specs
  • Reviews 3

  • Prices
  • Discussions
  • Type Other
  • Connection Wired
  • Console compatibility Microsoft
  • Released 2013-11-22

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8.3average user rating
  • Ergonomics / comfort 8.7
  • Accuracy / responsiveness 8
  • Durability 8

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  1. 2 Engadget Daily: the year's defining stories, the dangers of sitting, and more! The new Xbox is coming!
  2. 3 Engadget Daily: the year's defining stories, the dangers of sitting, and more! Xbox One Kinect

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IRL: Why I got my mom a Nexus 9 for Christmas

IRL: Why I got my mom a Nexus 9 for Christmas

My dad called me up a few weeks ago saying he wanted to get mom a tablet for Christmas, one that might be good enough to replace the laptop she hated. It wasn’t the hardware causing angst; it was the software: Windows 8. She’s pretty comfortable with technology, but migrating from the familiar world of Windows’ past was tricky and she wasn’t alone — I didn’t find it easy either. While no tablet could completely replace a laptop, for general internet use, it’s all she really needed.

The Decision

With a budget of less than $500 for the tablet and accessories, dad had a few options to choose from and trusted me with the decision. In the spirit of dogfooding, I pulled up our Holiday gift guide and Tablet buyer’s guide to make a pick for him to buy.

Dad considered getting her the Surface 2 after seeing a TV commercial (some people still watch those!), but I dismissed that because it wouldn’t remedy her discomfort with Windows 8. There’s the popular iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3, but it had been years since mom had an iPhone and she’d have to get used to iOS all over again. She already owned an original Kindle Fire HD, mainly for reading, but upgrading to a newer model wouldn’t cut out reliance on her laptop.

And then I thought, “What would make this easy to learn and require little training?” An Android tablet; after all, she’s already quite comfortable with her Samsung Galaxy S4. Considering the software would be familiar, I looked at Samsung’s Galaxy Tab S, which looked great, but the price for a 10-inch model was beyond the budget. I then thought about the company’s Chromebook 2, which, of course, was based on Chrome OS and not Android (and was cheaper all around), but it wasn’t something she could carry in a big purse.

IRL: Why I got my mom a Nexus 9 for Christmas

With a total price of just over $500, Google’s Nexus 9 (16GB) combined with the Nexus 9 Keyboard Folio was our best bet. It came equipped with the latest Android OS, Lollipop, and the clean Material Design, which, as Chris Velazco noted in his review, felt “warm, welcoming.” You know, just like mom is when I greet her at the airport (I know: awww).

‘Programming’

IRL: Why I got my mom a Nexus 9 for Christmas

The day after I arrived home for the holidays, I told my dad that a good son would “program it” for mom, so he gave the Nexus 9 to me a few days early to do just that or turn it into another IRL for Engadget. It also gave me a chance to tinker with Lollipop for more than just a minute or two on a review unit at the office.

I turned the Nexus 9 on and got to work setting it up for mom, downloading some of the apps I knew she liked to use and organizing the icons so they were right up front, which took all of five minutes. Really simple setup.

Before I packed it back up for dad to wrap, I used it to watch the penultimate episode of The Comeback, via HBO GO. It looked sharp and sounded great thanks to HTC’s speakers flanking the display. And then I took a few pictures using the camera, which is pretty good for the basics (say, if a phone wasn’t handy and Sadie did something adorable). All told, it fared reasonably well outdoors, but not so much inside: Even after playing with the flash and lighting, it didn’t take great indoor shots.

IRL: Why I got my mom a Nexus 9 for Christmas

Shot using the Google Nexus 9

Here Comes Android Claus

IRL: Why I got my mom a Nexus 9 for Christmas

We opened presents on Christmas morning, capped off with our traditional viewing of Hallmark Channel’s Yule Log. Mom opened the gift, puzzled at first as to what it was, and then realized, “Oh, it’s a tablet!” Even though the gift-giver was all dad, she looked to me to tell her what it was: “It’s the Nexus 9 with Android, sort of like your phone, but bigger.” Her response, looking at dad: “I’m going to cry.” My mom isn’t one to tear up over a present, but this was a truly emotional reaction: She felt the relief of not having to use that mean laptop.

She powered it on and immediately remarked It’s so clear! referring to the IPS LCD screen. I’d go on to judge how well she was adjusting by how often I’d get asked for help. (As any kid knows, when a parent gets a new gadget, your duty is to provide perpetual tech support). Much to my surprise, aside from a few easy questions, she was off and on her own, setting up Facebook, adding her email account, logging into Netflix (so she could watch something else online when dad was watching something she didn’t care for) and was loving it. I was there to help her, but she didn’t really need it.

The HTC keyboard was backordered, so the first couple of days she had to go without it. Despite having an Android phone for many years, she didn’t know about swiping to type and this excited her very much. Right away, she started writing messages using this method and it made her realize a physical keyboard wasn’t always necessary.

How’s it going now, a few days later? I texted her to check and so far, she’s “loving it!!!!” (Yep, four exclamation points). She’s using it to do everything she needed a laptop for (and eventually I’d explain Google Docs and Sheets to her) and, best of all, she had a better gadget than I had at home. I’m proud.

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HTC Nexus 9

  • Key specs
  • Reviews 6

  • Prices
  • Discussions
  • Form factor Tablet
  • Operating system Android (Lollipop [5.0])
  • Screen size 8.9 inches
  • Storage type Internal storage (16 GB, Flash)
  • Camera (integrated) 8 megapixels
  • Dimensions 8.99 x 6.05 x 0.31 in
  • Weight 14.99 oz
  • Announced 2014-10-15

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9.3average user rating
  • Features 9
  • Display 9.3
  • Battery life 8.3
  • Ease of use 9.7
  • Storage capacity 7.7
  • Design and form factor 8.7
  • Portability (size / weight) 8.7
  • Durability 9

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Lizard Squad’s takedown-for-hire service quickly disappears

Lizard Squad's takedown-for-hire service quickly disappears

One of the oldest sales tactics in the book is using a freebie to get you hooked before slapping you with the bill for the second. That’s why the audacious holiday season takedowns of both the PlayStation Network and Xbox Live were, apparently, a marketing stunt. Lizard Squad, the group that claimed responsibility for both attacks turned around and launched Lizard Stresser, a service that let anyone fire off a DDoS broadside, so long as they pay a fee. The joke may be on them however, since the tool is already down (the group claims this is so it can switch servers), and while the website was live it even became a target for exploits.

For instance, a $2.99 payment via PayPal or Bitcoin would buy an attack for 100 seconds a month, while $69.99 gets 30,000 seconds (more than eight hours) of a Distributed Denial of Service takedown. There’s even an option for bulk-buy discounts, enabling you to save nearly $40 by purchasing a 30,000 second attack for five years. Signing up could be a bad idea though, since an exploit for its code was discovered that allowed security researcher Eric Zhang to dump usernames and ID numbers for anyone who had used the site. Zhang also claims the tool itself is a ripoff, with code copied from a similar site called TitaniumStresser.

In an interview with The Daily Dot, a figure called Dragon that claims to represent the group says that the Sony and Microsoft takedowns were a marketing stunt, and that the group is now hoping to earn money. However, as both The Dot and The Guardian have added, that stance contradicts previous statements from the group, saying that the actions were all done for the “lulz.” As Brian Krebs points out, however, the attacks paused after Kim Dotcom gave them the equivalent of $300,000 in vouchers, so any motives can’t be easily divined. Dragon also claims that Lizard Stresser would be the group’s last action before its members vanished “off back to the caves” from where they originated — a move that may not have come soon enough, since at least one of them has apparently been arrested.


Currently only accepting bitcoin, paypal is coming soon: http://t.co/5JaolEGBUX

– R.I.U. Lizard Squad (@LizardMafia) December 30, 2014


Stresser is down while we switch servers

– R.I.U. Lizard Squad (@LizardMafia) December 31, 2014


Oh noes! What happened to lizardstresser? It’s gone, just like 2014, and the LizardSquad. Happy New Year everyone!

– briankrebs (@briankrebs) December 31, 2014

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Engadget | Technology News, Advice and Features

Engadget | Technology News, Advice and Features

One of the oldest sales tactics in the book is using a freebie to get you hooked before slapping you with the bill for the second. That’s why the audacious holiday season takedowns of both the PlayStation Network and Xbox Live were, apparently, a marketing stunt. Lizard Squad, the group that claimed responsibility for both attacks turned around and launched Lizard Stresser, a service that let anyone fire off a DDoS broadside, so long as they pay a fee. The joke may be on them however, since the tool is already down (the group claims this is so it can switch servers), and while the website was live it even became a target for exploits.

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Engadget | Technology News, Advice and Features

This new Pew Research survey might explain why the most active people in your Facebook friends list are your grandparents and selfie-loving high school cousin. The research firm asked over a thousand adults online what role technology plays in their work lives, and according to the results, those who have jobs find internet connection and email the most important tools for communication. For some reason, landline phones outrank cellphones and smartphones, while social media occupies the very last place.

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Engadget | Technology News, Advice and Features

Uber and Lyft’s universally-hated surge pricing model, which drives fares up depending on rider demand, will once again help ring in the New Year. And don’t be surprised if that leads to plenty of social media kvetching. If you don’t want to be that person surprised by an unexpectedly bill along with your morning hangover, there are a few preventative measures you can take. Just like it did last year, Uber warned users with an email and blog post about tonight’s inevitable surge pricing. If you want to take a regularly-priced Uber, your best bet is ordering a car before 12:30am, or after 2:30 am. And that timing would likely make sense for Lyft as well, which didn’t offer any advice about how to avoid higher rates. The easiest way to avoid surge pricing is indeed the most obvious: Think ahead to avoid the crowds. Or, you know, take a normal cab or public transportation. (Flywheel is also running a $10 flat-rate promotion for standard cabs in some West Coast cities.)

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In the space of a few days, Sony Pictures’ The Interview has gone from unreleased to impossible to avoid. Cable video on-demand operator inDemand has added the movie to its roster, so for $5.99, pretty much anyone with pay-TV service can rent it right now instead of needing one of Google’s video services, Xbox or iTunes. It’s also popped up on WalMart’s video service Vudu in the past day, is available via DirecTV, and according to Variety, as of Friday the number of theaters where its playing will grow to 580, compared to 331 on Christmas Day. If you’re still on the fence about viewing you can use our opinion or that of others, but the movie that couldn’t be stopped by North Korea (and/or company insiders) has already reportedly brought Sony $15 million through its unconventional release.

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Jack White isn’t the only act doing amazing things with vinyl releases. Inside DJ Qbert’s Extraterrestria, one of the jacket inserts doubles as a controller for Algoriddim’s djay iOS app. After connecting to a mobile device via Bluetooth, Novalia’s printed MIDI tech makes the album art the console, complete with scratching and a smattering of other tools. What’s more, it’ll work with Apple’s desktop OS, too. The album was funded by a Kickstarter campaign, and most of the copies will go to those who committed ahead of time. Unlike White’s Lazaretto release, it’s not the record itself that’s the main attraction here, but rather the packaging — not that it makes the project any less awesome. Jump down past the break to see it in action.

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One of the constant (if minor) hassles of electric car ownership is having to plug in whenever you get home. Wouldn’t it be nice if the charger could do that for you? That may just happen. Tesla’s Elon Musk has revealed that his company is working on a charger that automatically extends from the wall and attaches to your vehicle like a “solid metal snake.” It’ll work with both current Model S variants and future cars, too. Tesla isn’t providing any more details about the gear at this stage, but it notes that Musk hinted at the P85D event (see the video below at the 9:20 mark) that the company would “probably” do something along these lines — the key is that this is now “for realz,” as the exec puts it. In other words, you may well see this reptilian power outlet in your garage before long.

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If you work anywhere in or around technology, chances are you’ve either witnessed or are a member of the standing-desk craze, the natural offshoot of the increasing medical research suggesting sitting in your Herman Miller Aeron chair will actually kill you faster than smoking. But standing’s the tip of the iceberg. Treadmill desks, work-walking, whatever you want to call it — more and more people aren’t just standing while they work; they’re clocking in 10 slow miles a day on the job. With treadmill desks popping up everywhere from home offices to the cube farms of Google to the open newsrooms of The New York Times, the definition of what it means to be “at work” is changing more than ever before.

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Looking to buy a fresh new set of headphones? Maybe you’re in the market for some killer desktop speakers instead. Either way, you’ve come to the right place. Check out the gallery below for all the best gadgets from our portable audio Buyer’s Guide.

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The Guardians of Peace didn’t just threaten Sony Pictures and theaters that planned to show The Interview; it also shook its fist at the press, too. The Intercept has obtained an FBI alert noting that the group implied threats against a “news media organization” on December 20th. While the bulletin doesn’t name the company, The Desk‘s Matthew Keys has copies of the Pastebin-based messages (since removed) showing that CNN was the target. The GOP sarcastically complimented CNN on its “investigation” of the hacking group and linked a video calling the TV network an idiot, but didn’t warn of any specific consequences.

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Engadget | Technology News, Advice and Features

Did you buy that big-screen Lumia phone with dreams of watching live sports while away from home? Today’s your lucky day. WatchESPN has finally reached Windows Phone, giving you a way to view all the big ESPN channels and catch up through on-demand clips. You’ll still have to show that you subscribe to a supporting TV service to get access. If you’re part of that select group, though, you no longer have to worry about missing out on a big game just because you prefer Microsoft’s mobile platform.

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How to be smart about Uber and Lyft’s surge pricing

How to be smart about Uber and Lyft's surge pricing

Uber and Lyft’s universally-hated surge pricing model, which drives fares up depending on rider demand, will once again help ring in the New Year. And don’t be surprised if that leads to plenty of social media kvetching. If you don’t want to be that person surprised by an unexpectedly bill along with your morning hangover, there are a few preventative measures you can take. Just like it did last year, Uber warned users with an email and blog post about tonight’s inevitable surge pricing. If you want to take a regularly-priced Uber, your best bet is ordering a car before 12:30am, or after 2:30 am. And that timing would likely make sense for Lyft as well, which didn’t offer any advice about how to avoid higher rates. The easiest way to avoid surge pricing is indeed the most obvious: Think ahead to avoid the crowds. Or, you know, take a normal cab or public transportation. (Flywheel is also running a $10 flat-rate promotion for standard cabs in some West Coast cities.)

Lyft typically caps its surge pricing at around 200 percent, but for the New Year it’s bumping that up to 400 percent. Uber, meanwhile, has no cap on its higher pricing, so beware. Both companies make it pretty clear when surge fares are active in their apps, but that may be hard to notice if you’re tipsy and tired.

If you’re an Uber newb, it’s also worth paying attention to the type of car you’re ordering. The most expensive option is the standard Uber black car, but you can save a bit of money by ordering an UberX, which are operated by car services or private owners (outside of NYC). And while Uber claims UberX is cheaper than taxis, you can also use the UberT command to order a traditional cab. The big plus with UberT: No surge pricing (though there may be a $2 surcharge in some cities). But it may also be tougher to find taxis with UberT when there’s high demand.

While surge pricing makes sense for companies beholden to the cold logic of supply and demand (read: all of them), it’s something that will always seem unfair to consumers. After all, aside from major holidays, it’s often tough to tell when you’ll be forced to pay higher prices. The same technology that makes a car magically appear at your location is also being used to nickel and dime you as much as possible. But after a steady string of controversy in 2014 — including sexual assaults by Uber drivers and privacy concerns — the company might want to consider a more human approach to the practice (perhaps by capping the multiplier like Lyft, for a start). Surge pricing may never go away entirely, but Uber can at least make it seem like a coldhearted ripoff.

[Photo: Adam Berry/Getty Images]

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Working adults are too busy emailing to care about social media

Working adults are too busy emailing to care about social media

This new Pew Research survey might explain why the most active people in your Facebook friends list are your grandparents and selfie-loving high school cousin. The research firm asked over a thousand adults online what role technology plays in their work lives, and according to the results, those who have jobs find internet connection and email the most important tools for communication. For some reason, landline phones outrank cellphones and smartphones, while social media occupies the very last place.

Most of these internet-savvy workers also don’t find their gadgets and online accounts distracting. In fact, almost half of the participants say those tools make them more productive — perhaps because they make it possible for people to do their jobs outside the workplace, which, as you probably know, isn’t always ideal. The survey delved into other aspects of internet use by working adults (it even confirmed that companies now have stricter rules when it comes to what employees can and can’t post online), and you can read the full results on Pew Research’s website.

[Image credit: Alamy]

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‘The Interview’ spreads to cable VOD, DirecTV, Vudu and more theaters

'The Interview' spreads to cable VOD, DirecTV, Vudu and more theaters

In the space of a few days, Sony Pictures’ The Interview has gone from unreleased to impossible to avoid. Cable video on-demand operator inDemand has added the movie to its roster, so for $5.99, pretty much anyone with pay-TV service can rent it right now instead of needing one of Google’s video services, Xbox or iTunes. It’s also popped up on WalMart’s video service Vudu in the past day, is available via DirecTV, and according to Variety, as of Friday the number of theaters where its playing will grow to 580, compared to 331 on Christmas Day. If you’re still on the fence about viewing you can use our opinion or that of others, but the movie that couldn’t be stopped by North Korea (and/or company insiders) has already reportedly brought Sony $15 million through its unconventional release.


JUST IN: Sony expanding distribution of ‘The Interview’ via iN DEMAND, Verizon FiOS, DirecTV, VUDU, WalMart’s VOD service & more. • $SNE

– CNBC Now (@CNBCnow) December 31, 2014


Breaking news: Cable operators via In Demand and DirecTv now offering The Interview via video-on-demand. Price per play: $5.99.

– Simon Applebaum (@UBCSimonTWBT) December 31, 2014

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