Verizon reportedly planning online TV service for this summer
It took a while, but it seems like everyone now wants in on online TV. The latest company to show interest is Verizon, which according to Bloomberg, is preparing to launch a nationwide streaming TV service in the US.
Bloomberg reports that Verizon hopes to launch a streaming service this summer. It would include “dozens” of channels and will likely be priced “similarly” to DirecTV Now ($35 to $70 per month) and Sling TV ($20 to $40 per month).
Verizon declined to comment.
It sounds like Verizon’s streaming service would be a full-on competitor to DirecTV and Sling, as well as upcoming services from YouTube and Hulu. Bloomberg indicates that Verizon’s service would be available even to people who don’t subscribe to Verizon’s internet or phone services — unlike what Comcast is said to be planning.
There aren’t many details beyond that, but Bloomberg did offer one very good piece of news: this service will be separate from Go90.
via The Verge http://ift.tt/oZfQdV
March 31, 2017 at 02:08AM
Razer Blade review: the Goldilocks of gaming laptops
The Razer Blade is a laptop defined by compromises.
Consider Razer’s slim gaming laptop range, where the 14-inch Blade sits square in the middle of the line. It’s bracketed by the smaller 12.5-inch Stealth below it, which relies on integrated Intel graphics instead of a dedicated graphics card, and the massive 17.3-inch Blade Pro, which theoretically offers even more power at a larger size But like many of Razer’s decisions around the Blade, its middle-of-the-road stance tends to make it just right for most people. Carrying the $1,899.99 Blade around isn’t nearly as onerous as lugging around the Pro, but it’s still a big enough laptop to fit in a full graphics card to play almost any recent game.
The entire concept of Razer’s Blade series represents a compromise, too: it’s a gaming laptop that’s much smaller and more portable than almost any other PC gaming machine, but that comes at the sacrifice of the long-term upgradability that a desktop or even a bulkier laptop provides. Like Microsoft’s Surfaces or Apple’s MacBooks, the Blade is a closed machine — even the RAM is soldered down, and you’ll void your warranty just by cracking open the case. So whatever specs you buy it with are what you’ll be stuck with forever. Fortunately, the newly upgraded Blade packs some serious specs that should carry it for a couple of years.
Visually, the Blade is virtually identical to last year’s model. Changes are found instead on the inside, where Razer has upgraded the processor to an Intel Core i7-7700HQ from the latest Kaby Lake generation (clocked at 2.8GHz, with a boost up to 3.8GHz). The Blade also has Nvidia’s new GTX 1060 GPU with 6GB of memory, a speedy PCIe M.2 SSD (available in 256GB, 512GB, and 1TB sizes), and 16GB of RAM. If you were building a gaming laptop from scratch today, it’d be hard to come up with better specs for the needs of most people, which helps with the fact that nothing is upgradable after the fact in this machine.
In a lot of ways, the Razer Blade is almost like the MacBook Pro that Apple should have made: the latest powerful hardware, both USB 3.0 ports and a USB-C jack, an HDMI port, and a proper black color, rather than the slate gray Touch Bar models. And it supports VR, which no Apple machine, laptop or desktop, is certified for (although the Blade still can’t charge over USB-C, using a legacy barrel port to actually charge the battery).
The rest of the hardware is essentially taken wholesale from the old model. The chassis is a gorgeous, deep black aluminum that almost instantly became coated with dozens of fingerprints as soon as I took it out of the box. But aside from the company’s signature glowing green snake logo on the lid, the Blade continues to be a welcome breath of elegant and restrained design in a gaming PC market that all too often focuses on "edgy" plastic protrusions and angular vents.
The keyboard features Razer’s Chroma lighting system, which allows you to illuminate specific keys and other compatible Razer accessories in different colors in sync with your game. It’s a cool gimmick, assuming you’ve got a game that supports it, but otherwise it’s probably easiest to just set it to a single, less distracting color. The keys themselves held up fine in both typing and gaming use, although the switches are a bit softer than I usually prefer.
That said, the Blade’s hardware does come up short in a few places. The GTX 1060 generates a lot of heat, and the Blade has two fans placed on the bottom to deal with that. And deal with that they do, by spinning up with the sound and fury of what sounded like an actual jet engine, to the point where I had co-workers complaining about the noise while demoing games.
And sure, I get the need for the fans to be at full blast when running a graphics-heavy VR demo or a game. But the Blade’s fans would spin up for me almost constantly, even if I was doing something as simple as installing Slack or running a basic text editor (albeit at a quieter level than the gale-force roar that I got when gaming). That said, for all the extra noise, I never experienced any issues with the Blade overheating or even getting excessively warm. As a final note, the bottom-mounted fans also mean that the Blade has some oversized rubber feet on the bottom to raise it up for airflow, which adds a bit to the thickness of the laptop.
You’ll also want to buy a mouse, which you’ll need whether you’re playing games or just trying to use the Blade in day-to-day use. The built-in trackpad, which is not a Microsoft Precision trackpad, will work in an emergency. But for more pedestrian tasks like writing or web browsing it’s simply just bad, with laggy scrolling and false positives that would randomly select chunks of text while I was trying to write. As for gaming with the trackpad, the only thing I can do is strongly recommend against it. You, like me, will probably lose whatever it is you’re playing. Badly.
As a final note, the Blade’s screen is also extremely average for a modern laptop. While Razer is producing a model with a 4K multitouch display for an extra $500, the configuration I tested had just a 1080p panel, which felt both distinctly low-res and had an off-color, yellowish hue. And while the panel itself is 14 inches on the diagonal, it’s bracketed by some rather large black bezels that distract from the display itself.
As a work computer, the Blade is decidedly overpowered. The 14-inch display was big enough for me to be productive, and Intel’s fastest, newest processor was probably overkill for my usual workload of web browsing, text editing, and some light photo processing. And while I struggled on almost a constant basis using Windows as a operating system, that’s more a fault of my own unfamiliarity with Microsoft’s software than it is the Blade’s ability to run it.
Ultimately, though, the Blade’s is purpose-built for gaming. And gaming is something it does really well. The combination of the relatively low-res screen and top-tier hardware means that the Blade managed to handle almost any game I threw at it with relative ease.
Most of my time on the Blade was spent playing Overwatch, which despite the cartoonish style is actually a fairly demanding game when you run it at maximum settings. The Blade was easily able keep up with the game when frame rate was locked at 60 fps, with almost no dropped frames, even in the most chaotic situations as particle effects flew everywhere. Without locking frame rate, the Blade reliably hit 90 fps when uncapped — which is absolutely overkill, even for competitive level play, but it’s nice to know it can perform at that level. The Blade even handled live-streaming to Twitch well, while still hitting a steady 60 fps.
I also tested out the open-world Just Cause 3, which has been known to have performance issues on other computers, but I had few problems running it on the Blade. Rocket League, similarly, ran at maximum specs without any hiccups. A lot of the Blade’s performance prowess is due to the 1080p screen, which lets the vast majority of the computer’s firepower go toward rendering graphics instead of pushing extra pixels. And when you’re inches away from a display, the Blade’s screen is good enough that it’s well worth the trade-off for smooth, reliable gameplay — at least for me.
Furthermore, between the GTX 1060 and the Kaby Lake i7, the Blade is specced to handle VR gaming — which after testing, it actually does quite well, making it a legitimately viable portable VR machine. I tried the Blade with Crytek’s The Climb on the Oculus Rift, perhaps the most demanding VR game on the market, and the Blade was able to keep up — although load times for almost every VR title I tried were quite long. Additionally, as a laptop, some of the more annoying quirks of a VR setup go away with the Blade: since it has a built-in screen, it only needs a single HDMI port to connect to a headset, and the integrated trackpad and keyboard mean that you can save your USB ports for the many inputs you’ll need for most headsets and sensors.
Battery life isn’t usually something you think about when buying a gaming PC, but this is a portable laptop after all, so it matters some here. The Blade held up well under The Verge’s own battery test, (which cycles a series of websites under set brightness conditions), clocking 7 hours and 33 minutes. That’s not anywhere near top of the field for this size of computer, but it’s good enough that you can get through half a day of work before needing to charge.
Gaming unplugged is a bit of a different story, however — playing Overwatch at full settings got just over an hour and a half of playtime before the Blade’s battery gave out, which isn’t entirely surprising given the demands of the game and the high power drain of the GPU. And while the Blade is theoretically capable of making the dream of truly portable PC VR a reality, expect even worse battery life away from a wall when you’re adding extra sensors and a second headset display into the mix; The Climb ate away over a quarter of my battery in less than 15 minutes.
But at the end of the day, the Razer Blade is largely effortless machine. While it lacks the customization of a full-sized gaming desktop, Razer’s made great choices when it comes to the Blade’s hardware, leaving you with a powerful, actually portable gaming laptop that looks great and most importantly, plays games great. The Razer Blade may be based in compromises, but Razer seems to have found a niche that makes it just right.
via The Verge http://ift.tt/oZfQdV
March 31, 2017 at 02:08AM
The Elder Scrolls: Legends Review — A breath of fresh air to a stale genre
A very different, albeit, enjoyable game set in The Elder Scrolls universe.
When Bethesda announced that The Elder Scrolls: Legends was hitting the iPad, I wasted no time hitting the download button. I used to be a big fan of Magic the Gathering and spent a fair bit of time (as well as money) playing its iOS game Magic the Gathering: Duels.
Naturally, I had to see how The Elder Scrolls: Legends held up against one of the most popular strategy cards games out there and I couldn't be more pleased that I decided to try it out.
Story & Setting
If you're familiar with other popular strategy card games, you know that the story usually isn't anything special, but for what it's worth, Bethesda did pack some storytelling into the game.
When you first get started, you're treated to a scene depicting a group of people sitting around a fire, telling the tale of "The Forgotten Hero." The scene also sets up some other seemingly important details about the current conflict going on between the Elves, Orcs, and Humans; however, as someone who isn't super familiar with The Elder Scrolls universe, I felt a little lost while trying to follow along.
Lucky for me, this only lasted a couple of minutes — you are quickly thrown into the actual game, and that story is much easier to follow.
Once you are thrust into the heart of the game, you follow the tale of The Forgotten Hero, which starts off with a bang, as you are running away from some cultists. From here the story progresses between card battles through a series of screens and texts.
The story does try to reach out to the player through a series of choices. Throughout the game, you'll be presented with the opportunity to choose between to different actions for The Forgotten Hero to take. These actions give you access to different cards, so while they don't seem to affect the story, in the long run, they do minimally affect your deck building capabilities and can help you shape your deck a certain way. This kept me way more attentive to the story happening between the battles and helped me feel at least a little involved with the nameless protagonist.
Personally, I find it really hard not to look at the gameplay and mechanics of The Elder Scrolls: Legends and compare it to Magic the Gathering (MTG). After all, MTG is still one of the most popular strategy card games, and it has spawned severals iOS games, making the comparison rather apt.
When you tear down the gameplay to its most basic form, The Elder Scrolls: Legends is the same as the many other games that currently occupy this space. You take turns playing creature, action, and support cards in hopes to deplete your opponent's health to zero before they do the same to you. As you progress through the tutorial, more and more mechanics — such as the two-lane system — get thrown into the mix until you eventually have the entire game before you. The tutorial does a great job of teaching you the ropes in increments so that you don't get overwhelmed with all the information at once.
What makes The Elder Scrolls: Legends stand out from other games like Magic the Gathering or Hearthstone is it's two-laned battlefield. Each battlefield is split into two lanes and creatures in those lanes can only attack the opponent's creatures in the same lane. Sounds simple enough, right? Wrong! The lanes can also have different effects that affect the outcome of the battles going on in that lane. One of the more prominent lane effects is the Shadow effect, which doesn't allow you to attack creatures during the turn that they are played. While it may seem like a small adjustment, it adds a depth to the game that I absolutely adore.
As you may have guessed, deck building is a huge part of The Elder Scrolls: Legends, and so far I have liked the way Bethesda has made it accessible. As your play through the Story mode, or battle in Play mode, you have the chance to level up and collect more cards. You can use these cards to build decks and the entire process can be daunting; however, I fully believe anyone can build a deck that is halfway decent by using the autocomplete function. I have played against the AI in Story mode and against real players in Play mode, and even with a deck that is auto-built. I found it possible to win a good chunk of the time each time.
Sure, now and then I would come across a human opponent who simply had much stronger cards than me, but it rarely happened. Even the pre-constructed decks you get through Story Mode are packed with extremely useful and powerful cards. I appreciate that Bethesda took the time to find a way to make the game feel balanced. Of course, The Elder Scrolls: Legends is new on the iPad and time may tell whether the people who choose to sink money into getting more cards will be infinitely better than the people who don't, but I'm hopeful that isn't the case.
Design & Sound
There aren't a ton of things to say about the design and sound of The Elder Scrolls: Legends as nothing really stands out as super bad or super good.
The animations during battle are crisp, short, and to the point. They run smoothly — even on my older iPad Mini 2 — making them a fun little side note during the brain-power intensive battles.
One particular thing I did appreciate was each creature card had some sort of battle cry. Whether it was an actual voice for the human cards or some kind of growl for the beasts, it made playing a new card more exciting. Plus, there were some hidden gems in those voice clips for The Elder Scrolls fans. One of the cards says "I used to be an adventurer like you" when you place it on the battlefield. It's a welcomed and friendly reminder that this game is a part of an already well-established universe.
Normally, this is where I would give a star rating; however, strategy card games are a bit of a unique beast. This is a game you really need to try for yourself to see if you'd like it. It's a free download and after about an hour of playing you'll be able to tell if you think this game is for you.
That being said, if you're a newcomer to the strategy card game world or a seasoned veteran The Elder Scrolls: Legends gets a lot of things right, and I highly recommend giving it a shot.
While the in-game tutorials do an excellent job of explaining the game to even the most novice of players, its massive catalogs of cards and two-laned battlefield system offer plenty of depth to the gameplay for the hardcore audience as well.
via iMore - The #1 iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch blog http://www.imore.com/
March 31, 2017 at 02:05AM
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via iMore - The #1 iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch blog http://www.imore.com/
March 31, 2017 at 01:57AM
Can't Pay Your Car Loan? Here's What to Do So You Don't Default
If you’re in danger of defaulting on your car loan, you’re not alone. Subprime borrowers are falling behind at the highest rate since 2010. Before you default, make sure you’ve explored these possible options, though.
A subprime loan is basically a loan that banks give to people with bad credit. It happened in 2008 with houses, and now, lenders are giving out subprime car loans to many people who can’t afford to pay them back. The Washington Post reports:
Sounds familiar, right? The good news is we probably don’t have to worry about a bubble bursting. According to the Washington Post, the car loans market only makes up a fraction of the mortgage market. Plus, a defaulted car loan is easier to recover from than a defaulted mortgage.
That may be little solace if a default is in your future, though. Defaulting can make your credit even worse. Before you default, explore these options.
Talk to your lender: Your lender wants you to keep giving them money, so before anything else, talk to them. See if you can extend the length of your loan for a smaller monthly payment, negotiate your interest rate, or even get a 30-day deferral (which is basically more time to pay off your loan). It may be a long shot, but you never know, they might be willing to work with you.
See if you can sell it or trade it in: Do you have equity? Check the car’s value. If it’s higher than the amount you owe, yes, you have equity and you may be able to sell your car and pay off your loan. This way, your credit will remain intact and, as Edmunds points out, you may pocket some cash for a down payment on a more reasonable amount. If you’re underwater (you owe more than it’s worth), you may also be able to trade in your car for a cheaper one with a lower monthly payment. Do the math, though. You don’t want your payments to be just as high on the new loan, which would make the whole endeavor pointless.
Find someone to take over your payments: There are peer-to-peer lease exchange sites like Swapalease and LeaseTrader. Here’s how they work: you need to get out of your lease, so you post your vehicle on the site. If someone else likes the terms and your car, they can take over the lease, assuming they qualify and the bank allows it.
Refinance your car loan: You might be able to get a new loan with a lower interest rate or at least lower monthly payments. However, the new loan might just extend the life of the loan, meaning you’ll pay more over time. If you’re struggling to get by or you really need your car, the relief might be worth it. But it’s something to be aware of nonetheless. There are also peer-to-peer lending sites like Lending Club and Prosper where you may be able to get a better loan than you’d get with most traditional lenders.
You should also know the impact a default will have on your credit, too. According to Autos.com, it can drop your score up to 100 points (typically, the higher your score, the bigger the drop) and it will typically stay on your report for seven years. Of course, this makes it harder to get a loan down the road, plus, bad credit makes your life more difficult in other ways, too. If you do default, it’s time to rebuild your credit, and the first is understanding the impact of the default.
via Lifehacker http://lifehacker.com
March 31, 2017 at 01:57AM
Watching SpaceX relaunch its Falcon 9 rocket in world first
Yesterday, SpaceX demonstrated an important capability of its Falcon 9 rocket fleet: the vehicles are capable of launching to space multiple times. From Cape Canaveral, Florida, the company relaunched a used Falcon 9 rocket that had already launched to the space station in April of last year. That same vehicle landed on one of SpaceX’s autonomous drone ships after launch and then went through months of refurbishment and testing to get ready for spaceflight again. And not only did it launch successfully a second time, but it landed on the drone ship again, too.
The mission is an important proof-of-concept for SpaceX, which is trying to demonstrate that it can reliably reuse its orbital rockets again and again. “This represents the culmination of 15 years of work at SpaceX to refly a rocket booster,” CEO Elon Musk said at a press conference following the mission.
The entire endeavor to refly rockets is meant to be a cost-saving tactic. The most expensive part of the mission, according to Musk, is the Falcon 9 first stage — the 14-story core of the rocket that SpaceX tries to land after each launch. This stage, which contains the main engine and most of the fuel needed for launch, represents up to 70 percent of the cost of the mission. Musk notes that propellant for the rocket is only about 0.3 percent of the cost. That means saving these vehicles and flying them again could lead to a cost decrease by a factor of 100, Musk says.
In order for SpaceX to maximize the economic benefit of its reusable rockets, it’s going to have launch these used vehicles as frequently as possible. And it’s not as if the Falcon 9 rockets are ready to fly again as soon as they land. It took about four months to get this particular rocket ready for its second flight. Musk is challenging SpaceX to trim down that turnaround time, though. Eventually, he wants the inspection and refurbishment process to take just 24 hours to complete.
But SpaceX may have a lot of practice with refurbishing rockets, since the company is aiming to fly up to six preflown Falcon 9s this year. And it looks like we’ll see some used boosters on some significant upcoming flights; for instance, Musk notes that parts of the company’s future Falcon Heavy rocket will be used. The Falcon Heavy, which is supposed to make its flight debut this summer, is essentially comprised of three Falcon 9 cores strapped together. And Musk says that two of those three cores will have already flown to space and back.
via The Verge http://ift.tt/oZfQdV
March 31, 2017 at 01:47AM
Apple’s latest iOS update patches 911 DDoS attack exploit
The update apparently solves that problem by now requiring users to confirm though a prompt that they’d actually like to place a call, whereas there were select situations before where that prompt could be bypassed. The Journal also notes that Apple has been working with app developers to ensure that the vulnerability can’t be exploited through third-party apps.
via The Verge http://ift.tt/oZfQdV
March 31, 2017 at 01:40AM
Himax reportedly joining 3D sensor supply chain for 'iPhone 8'
Rumors of 3D-sensing features being included in Apple's rumored OLED iPhone are continuing to grow, with the Taiwanese Himax Technologies reportedly joining the supply chain for the device, providing glass for a module constructed by Lumentum.
via AppleInsider - Frontpage News http://appleinsider.com
March 31, 2017 at 01:37AM
ICYMI: Moving arms with thought and painting faces with light
Today on In Case You Missed It: A quadriplegic man can now move his right arm thanks to the miracles of modern science. No, not like that. A team of doctors from the Cleveland Functional Electrical Stimulation center bridged the gap in his severed spine with a brain control interface and a "functional electrical stimulation" system allowing him to move his right arm. He still doesn't have a sense of touch but at least he can scratch his nose.
We also take a look at new media artist Nobumichi Asai's latest work, a motion-tracking projector that paints its target's face and hands with digital designs. It's a more advanced version of what Asai set up for Lady Gaga for her David Bowie tribute. The system runs at 1000 frames per second and boasts a sub-10 millisecond lag time.
As always, please share any interesting tech or science videos you find by using the #ICYMI hashtag on Twitter for @terrortola.
via Engadget http://www.engadget.com
March 31, 2017 at 01:33AM
One Video: Humble by Kendrick Lamar
Every week, a slew of new music videos hits the web. Watching them at your desk is not time theft because you deserve it; think of it as a nice reward for surviving another work week. But what if you don’t have time to watch every video — maybe you have a deadline, a hungry pet, or other grown-up concerns. In consideration of your schedule, Lizzie and Kaitlyn bring you a series called One Video. Each week we’ll tell you “one video” you need to watch, why, and for how long.
This week’s video: “Humble” by Kendrick Lamar
Lizzie: Near the end of the day yesterday, we thought we had our idea for this week’s “One Video” all locked in, and then Kendrick Lamar went and released a new video. It’s hard to stay mad at him for disrupting our plans though; “Humble” is distractingly easy to watch, and for my money, might be the best “One Video” video yet.
Kaitlyn: Lizzie, you’re right. “Humble” was an easy and obvious choice for this column. If you’re going to watch only one music video every week, it might as well always be a Kendrick Lamar video. It doesn’t even have to be a new one. He always packs his videos with enough fascinating visuals to reward rewatching. (Think of him as the reverse Terrence Malick.)
This one, directed by Dave Meyers (who has done videos for everyone from Britney Spears to the Notorious B.I.G. to Aerosmith to Rihanna), has Kendrick Lamar as a young pope, Kendrick Lamar as Steve Jobs, Kendrick Lamar doing a short advertisement for Grey Poupon mustard, and uh, this:
What’s special about “Humble”:
Lizzie: You could say it’s special for the sole fact that it’s a Kendrick Lamar music video, the likes of which we haven’t seen since 2016’s “God is Gangsta.” While that one featured Lamar sitting alone with a bottle of liquor, questioning his faith and his success, “Humble” sees Lamar donning papal robes and taking that center seat at the Last Supper.
But there’s still an uneasiness to this power, which you can see in the video’s little aesthetic quirks, like the jittery camera angles and that dizzying fisheye view.
Kaitlyn: “Humble” by Kendrick Lamar is also special because this is his second new song in as many weeks, and also his second song in a row that’s explicitly about how he’s better than everyone else alive at rapping. And that’s a statement which is objectively true. It’s not an uncommon thing to claim in a rap song, but listening to Kendrick Lamar say it feels like watching Bob Dylan finally deign to collect his Nobel Prize. He didn’t need to tell us; he’s just doing it for our comfort.
Speaking of comfort: “Humble” makes reference to hanging out with President Obama, while last week’s “The Heart Part 4” had some words for President Trump. I sort of think Kendrick Lamar’s continued willingness to rap about the United States is the only thing convincing me that this is still a real place and we still live here and there’s still something to say beyond loudly calling it quits.
How long everyone should watch “Humble” by Kendrick Lamar:
Lizzie: Until every time you watch The Young Pope you see Kendrick’s face instead of Jude’s.
Kaitlyn: Until you’re so humbled that you sink to the floor, spread out, face-down, and take a nap for the rest of the day. You can rest easy knowing that a new Kendrick Lamar album will be here in one week.
Bonus One Video: “1 Night” by Mura Masa ft. Charli XCX
Kaitlyn: While this may be hard to believe, Lizzie and I do think about the recurring feature “One Video” basically all week. As she mentioned: before Kendrick Lamar’s big ol’ Thursday night drop, we had a great video picked out to share with you. This video has it all — gym class choreography, young love, steel drums, ramen. Nice. It’s called “1 Night” by Mura Masa and Charli XCX, and it’s embedded below.
This is a special two-video week for “One Video,” and it’s okay. In case you hadn’t noticed, we took last week off from “One Video” due to a shocking dearth of necessary music videos. So: two videos, two weeks, none of your business when the videos came out or how many posts they’re in. It’s still one video a week, and that’s math. We haven’t broken any rules.
Lizzie: Personally, I love the idea of two videos, because I abide by the classic adage, “two videos are better than one.”
“1 Night” is more interested in gym class and having sex than being the figurehead of the Catholic Church, but everyone needs to exercise and try out an athleisure look at least once in their lives. This video pairing is a good reminder that choreographed dancing is a nice chaser to heads on fire.
via The Verge http://ift.tt/oZfQdV
March 31, 2017 at 01:26AM