Posts with «author_name|devindra hardawar» label

YouTube is testing video downloads on computers

There's no shortage of ways to capture YouTube videos on the web. Take your pick of dangerous websites, or just go old-school and record a video of your desktop. Now, YouTube is finally offering a simpler solution for computer users: A download button. As Android Police reports, it's currently available as an experimental feature for Premium subscribers. That's not a huge surprise, as YouTube already offers mobile video downloads for subscribers too. 

Once you've flipped it on, you'll see a download button right next to the share option below videos, or alongside the three dot menu when browsing. After downloading a video, it gets placed in your offline YouTube library. You can choose to grab videos in resolutions from 144p to 1080p — sorry, 4K fanatics. At this point, there doesn't appear to be any size limit, aside from your available storage.

From my quick tests, the feature works as advertised on Safari and Chrome. Personally, it's not something I'd use as often as mobile downloads, but it's a nice option to have for future trips.

You can nab a limited-edition Billie Eilish Echo Studio for $230

After playing through some Billie Eilish tracks in Beat Saber, soon you'll also be able to kick back and listen to a limited-edition Echo Studio sporting the cover of her latest album, "Happier Than Ever." Beyond the beige fabric and Eilish's visage, the $230 speaker is no different than the standard $200 Echo Studio. That's a shame if you were hoping for some sort of upgrade, but if it's any consolation, we adored the Echo Studio's beefy hardware when it launched two years ago. It's one of the few smart speakers built for 3D Audio, and it has more than enough power to blast all of your favorite tunes. 

The Billie Eilish Limited-Edition Echo Studio also comes with a six-month subscription to Amazon Music, typically a $48 value. That's not a huge selling point if you're already relying on Spotify or other services, but it's one way to justify the higher price. 

The Surface Laptop Studio transforms into an easel, because of course

If we learned anything from last year's Surface Book 3, it's that Microsoft's wild detachable tablet design wasn't long for this world. There was just no way to compete with other powerful notebooks when it required shoving full Windows PC, complete with a power-hungry CPU, into a large slate. Enter the Surface Laptop Studio, a new stab at building a powerful Surface notebook.

Developing...

Follow all of the news from Microsoft's fall Surface event right here.

The Surface Adaptive Kit makes Microsoft's laptops more accessible

We all know what to expect with new laptops: Upgraded chips, often thinner designs, and whiz-bang new features. But it's easy to ignore how some of those changes can affect people with disabilities. Making a notebook thinner can also make it harder to open, for example. So to better equip its PCs to be more accessible, Microsoft created the Surface Adaptive Kit, a collection of add-ons that can help you find specific keys, locate ports and flip open your PC or kickstand.

While they may just look like a collection of simple stickers, it still shows that Microsoft is actually thinking of people with disabilities. The Adaptive Kit comes from its Inclusive Tech Lab, the same folks behind the revolutionary Xbox Adaptive Controller. The impetus for the Surface kit is also very similar: It's all about making Microsoft's hardware easier for everyone to use.

In the box, you'll find a set of translucent keycap labels to highlight keys you use often, a set of three-dimensional bump labels for ports and buttons, and raised port indicators with matching cable wrap. To give you more leverage with cases and kickstands, there's also a ring opener and pull-tab opener. 

The company isn't saying how much the Surface Adaptive Kit will cost when it arrives later this year, but hopefully it'll come in relatively cheap. After all, an accessibility-focused product should work for all budgets.  

Follow all of the news from Microsoft's fall Surface event right here.

Surface Pro 8 is a media-centric 13-inch tablet with a 120Hz Dolby Vision display

Microsoft's new Surface Pro 8 tablet can actually go toe-to-toe with most ultraportables. It features a 13-inch PixelSense screen, a significant upgrade from the previous 12.3-inch display. Even better, it's one of the first non-gaming notebooks we've seen that supports a 120Hz refresh rate, which makes scrolling through web pages and jotting down notes a lot smoother. And of course, it's built with Windows 11 in mind.

Together with some of Intel's latest 11th-gen processors, as well as long-awaited support for Thunderbolt 4, the Surface Pro 8 could tempt over potential buyers who were turned off by the limitations of previous models. As much as I've liked earlier Surface Pros, the last model made it clear that Microsoft seriously needed to change things up.

Thankfully, the Surface Pro 8 finally supports Thunderbolt 4 on its two USB-C ports. That means you'll be able to connect fast external hard drives, several 4K external monitors or even an external GPU. As for other updates, the rear camera is now 10MP instead of 8MP, and it also supports 4K video. The front-facing camera is still 5MP with 1080p video, but it should offer better low-light performance.

Developing...

Follow all of the news from Microsoft's fall Surface event right here.

Roku's new Streaming Stick 4K gets Dolby Vision, HDR10+ and better Wi-Fi

Roku's $50 Streaming Stick 4K has been one of our favorite devices for years. It's cheap, pocketable and has just about every feature you'd want in a streaming gadget. This year, Roku is finally adding a long-awaited feature to its new 4K stick: Dolby Vision HDR. That's something the Roku Ultra started supporting last year, and it's a particularly big deal for home theater fans. Additionally, the new Streaming Stick 4K boots up around 30 percent faster than before, and its revamped wireless receiver makes Wi-Fi speeds up to twice as fast, according to Roku.

Like the HDR10 format, Dolby Vision allows for higher peak brightness levels and more nuanced dark scenes. But it can also do so dynamically, tweaking its contrast and brightness levels for every individual frame in a film or TV show. That's something HDR10 can't do, though it's since been added to the newer HDR10+ format, which the new 4K streaming stick also supports. There's a lot more Dolby Vision content out there today, though, so I'd wager most people would be more excited for Dolby Vision than HDR10+ support.

Roku

While the 4K streaming stick ships with Roku's standard voice remote, you can also opt for the $70 Streaming Stick 4K+ bundle, which packs in the company's new Voice Remote Pro. Normally a $30 upgrade, that smarter clicker adds hands-free voice searching (instead of hitting a button), as well as a rechargeable battery. And if you're looking for something a bit more powerful, the $80 Wal-Mart exclusive Roku Ultra LT is also getting Dolby Vision, a faster processor and better Wi-Fi this year.

For most people, the Roku Streaming Stick 4K is likely all the streaming player you need. You can get faster speeds and more connectivity with the $100 Roku Ultra, or a nicer interface and game ecosystem with the $179 Apple TV 4K. But when it comes to just streaming video in the best possible formats, there's little need to spend more than $50. You'll be able to find the new Roku Streaming Stick 4K sometime mid-October in the US, and in the coming months across Canada, Mexico and  

Roku OS 10.5 adds better voice support, 5.1 Roku speaker configurations

You won't need Roku's new Streaming Stick 4K to take advantage of its latest software features. The Roku OS 10.5 update, which will roll out to players and TVs in the next few weeks, will be jam-packed with features to make your streaming life easier. There's expanded Roku Voice support, which will let you ask players (with supported remotes) to start playing content from Netflix, Spotify and most other channels. And the company has added a Live TV Channel Guide to help find free TV content (so far there are more than 200 live channels to sift through).

But more importantly for the Roku faithful, there are even more configurations for the company's wireless speakers. Roku OS 10.5 will let you use any of the company's soundbars — the Streambar, Streambar Pro and Smart Soundbar — as a center channel flanked by Roku wireless speakers. Put that setup together with two more rear speakers and a wireless sub, and voila, you've got a full-fledged 5.1 surround solution. Previously, you were only able to use Roku's soundbars as all of your front channels (left, right and center).

Roku

From what I recall of Roku's earlier surround solution, it sounded more than adequate for a small room. I haven't heard the company's 5.1 setup yet, but generally having more speakers is always better. At the very least, you can expect clearer dialog and better front channel separation. I can't say if it's worth shelling out up to $630 for all of Roku's speakers ($300 for four wireless speakers, $180 for the StreamBar Pro, and $150 for the wireless subwoofer), but it's nice to have the flexibility to build out a full system if you've already invested in a few of them.

Roku OS 10.5 will also add some audio improvements for headphones. When you connect a wireless headset to the Roku mobile app, it will adjust your sync settings based on the type of headphone you're using. You'll also be able to use your smartphone camera to adjust the audio delay even further. That's a useful feature for anyone using Bluetooth headphones, where audio delay issues are fairly common.

To coincide with expanded Spotify voice support, Roku is also adding a new music and podcasts row to its system search. You'll be able to see results from Spotify's entire library, but more importantly it opens the door for better audio app support on Roku OS.

Engadget Podcast: iPhone 13 and why we’re more excited for the new iPad Mini

So Apple really called it the iPhone 13. This week, Cherlynn and Devindra chat about Apple’s latest announcements, and why the iPhone 13 is more like an iPhone 12S. Also, they discuss why the revamped iPad Mini is the most intriguing new Apple gadget this year. (Hold off on getting a new iPad Air for now, folks.)

Listen below, or subscribe on your podcast app of choice. If you've got suggestions or topics you'd like covered on the show, be sure to email us or drop a note in the comments! And be sure to check out our other podcasts, the Morning After and Engadget News!


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Video livestream

Credits
Hosts: Cherlynn Low and Devindra Hardawar
Producer: Ben Ellman
Livestream producers: Julio Barrientos,Luke Brooks
Graphics artists: Luke Brooks, Kyle Maack
Music: Dale North and Terrence O'Brien

iPhone 13's cinematic mode will let you manipulate focus like a pro

The iPhone 13 could make your mobile footage look a lot more like Hollywood films. Apple's new phones feature cinematic mode, which can mimic the focus capabilities from professional cameras. It can automatically focus your video scenes on specific subjects — for example, making someone in the foreground look completely clear, while everyone in the background is blurred out. Even better, cinematic mode is smart enough to push focus to someone in the background if a foreground character looks at them. And, of course, you'll also be able to manually choose focus points if you want.

Apple

Apple says cinematic mode is possible thanks to the iPhone 13's A15 Bionic processor. As usual, the company claims it's far faster than competing mobile chips (50-percent better, in this case), which opens the door for entirely new software features. The iPhone 13's camera also has optical image stabilization tech from last year's 12 Pro Max, along with far better sensors, all of which help make cinematic mode possible. 

It's unclear just how advanced cinematic mode is at this point. But if it works as advertised, it could be a major upgrade for home videos and pros looking to shoot with iPhones. Professionals can also take their footage to another level with the iPhone 13 Pro and Pro Max, both of which support ProRes video. 

At this point, it looks like cinematic mode could go the way of portrait capabilities, a feature that every smartphone maker will race to replicate. (And yes, we know that first arrived on Android phones.)

Follow all of the news from Apple’s iPhone event right here.

‘Splitgate’ brought out the ‘Quake III Arena’ addict in me

I once spent an entire college summer doing nothing but play Quake 3 Arena. Well, almost nothing. I was an IT help desk drone during the day, but my nights and weekends were almost entirely filled learning the intricacies of the game's rail gun, rocket jump maneuvers, and inventive mods (if I ruined your day in a Threewave match, sorry). Now that I have a child, a home to take care of, and an endless list of adult responsibilities, I thought I had put all that behind me. Then I started playing Splitgate.

At first, it seems to be a fairly standard free-to-play multiplayer shooter, like a lost Halo clone from a decade ago. But the twist is that it also brings in the core mechanic from Portal. Alongside your normal weaponry, you also have a gun that can create portals on specific areas, no matter how far apart they are. And it's not just for teleporting, either. You can also use peer through those portals to pick off far-away enemies.

That may seem like a small, even quaint, addition to the world of online shooters. But in practice it fundamentally changes how they work. Being able to strategically use portals is just as important as being a crack shot who's memorized every map. And of course, it goes the other way too. If you can sneak up on an enemy with portals, they can do the same to you. Nowhere is safe.

Splitgate's subtle complexity is what makes it addictive. All of a sudden, walls high up on the map could give you a vantage point to snipe oblivious foes. A chase through a corridor could easily get wild as you jump between multiple portals. And being able to sneak up on a camping sniper by throwing a portal behind them is always satisfying.

I've gotten into plenty of shooters over the years, but they've never quite scratched my Quake 3 itch (perhaps because I never again had vast amounts of free time to eat pizza and play all day). Battle Royale titles like PUBG and Apex Legend changed the landscape with enormous maps with 100 players, but they've always felt more like tense survival games than huge fragfests. They take longer to play, and one screw-up could take you out of a match entirely. I didn't know how much I missed the days of simple multiplayer shooters, games with quick matches that deliver a direct dose of adrenaline and dopamine all at once, until I started playing Splitgate.

Even though it's become wildly popular over the last few months, Splitgate hasn't officially launched yet. But its most recent beta release, Season 0, has added a lot on consoles and PCs. That includes new character models, more maps and an infection gameplay mode. I've been playing earlier betas for the last few months, but now it's finally starting to look like a complete product, with more UI polish and player models I don't entirely hate. It's also the perfect time to give it a shot before elite players make online matches less enjoyable to play.

Since it's a free-to-play game, Splitgate developer 1047 Games is following in the footsteps of modern shooters by making you pay for items, characters and Battle Passes to level yourself up. It's all cosmetic, but I've found myself throwing them a few bucks for holographic armor and other trinkets just because I enjoy playing the game so much. Spending $20 in add-ons doesn't seem that bad for something that’s already given me dozens of hours of joy.

1047 Games

If you’re considering jumping into Splitgate, I have one piece of advice: Learn to love the damn portals. Treating it like a normal run-and-gun FPS is a recipe for failure, no matter how great you are. It’s a game about quick movement across the map, sneaky shots through your portals, and sneaking up on your enemies. It’s not for everyone, but for players who find joy in a five-minute, fast-paced team deathmatch mode, it’s practically perfect.