Posts with «information technology» label

The HD Chromecast with Google TV is on sale for only $20

If you watch movies and TV on a 1080p screen, the Chromecast with Google TV (HD) provides a rock-solid streaming experience on the cheap. This is the HD version of Engadget’s top choice for streaming devices. Today, Amazon has it for $10 off, letting you pick up the HDR10-capable streaming stick for only $20, nearly a record-low price.

The Chromecast with Google TV (HD) plugs directly into an open HDMI port on your TV. (There’s an optional power adapter with a USB cable if your TV can’t supply enough juice.) If you have a 4K television, you’re better off with the more expensive model designed for higher-res displays. But for HD screens, this model is hard to beat. It offers the same terrific user experience as the high-end model, only less expensive and downscaled for 1080p.

Setup is quick and easy. You scan a QR code with your phone to begin the sign-in process in the Google Home app. (That’s also where you add your Wi-Fi network.) So, you don’t need to worry about entering long email addresses and passwords using the remote and a clunky onscreen keyboard.

The device has relatively lightweight specs (1.5GB of RAM and an Amlogic S805X2 chip) that may reveal some nearly imperceptible lag when navigating the UI, especially right after startup. But it provides smooth performance when it matters most: playing content.

The software streamlines things as much as possible, including a Live tab that draws from a handful of streaming services to let you resume or jump into new content straight from the home screen. Google advertises support for over 700,000 movies and TV episodes, and you can install just about any streaming service you can name, including Netflix, Prime Video, Apple TV+, Max, Peacock, YouTube TV and much more.

Photo by Sam Rutherford / Engadget

The remote includes a built-in mic and a dedicated Google Assistant button. The latter lets you control TV content and smart home features with your voice. It also has standard IR integration, so you can control some of your TV’s essential functions and potentially leave its remote in a drawer.

If you don’t want to wait for Amazon’s shipping, Target has the same deal. If your local stores have them in stock, you could get instant gratification while saving five percent on your purchase if you check out using a Target RedCard.

Follow @EngadgetDeals on Twitter and subscribe to the Engadget Deals newsletter for the latest tech deals and buying advice.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/the-hd-chromecast-with-google-tv-is-on-sale-for-only-20-182333907.html?src=rss

Acer's new $399 Chromebook Plus 514 hits the mark for a solid budget laptop

There are a frankly ridiculous number of Chromebooks on sale to choose from, but Google's Chromebook Plus initiative that launched last fall has gone a long way towards standardizing some key specs for ChromeOS devices. That in turn has made it a little easier to pick ones that'll provide a consistent quality experience without breaking the bank. Acer's latest Chromebook Plus 514, which the company just announced today, is a good example — at first glance, it looks like it checks most of the boxes I'm looking for when recommending a basic Chromebook that'll work for most people. 

To make things confusing, Acer already sells a few Chromebook Plus 514 models; this one is the CB514-4HT and is priced at $399. Look for that SKU if you want to make sure you're getting the latest one. This laptop is powered by Intel's 13th-gen Core i3-N305 processor and pairs that with 8GB of RAM and 512GB of storage — that latter spec is a bit of surprise and is a lot more storage than I'd expect to see on a $400 Chromebook. To meet the required Chromebook Plus specs, this laptop includes a 1080p webcam with a privacy shutter. While the resolution is pretty solid, not all webcams are equal so we'll have to see how this one performs in real life.

Acer

The display is a 14-inch, 1080p touchscreen, so it's not quite as tall as the 1,920 x 1,200 screens that I've seen on a number of other Chromebook Plus laptops. But again, at the price I'm not going to complain too much. It has a decent selection of ports, too: two USB-C and USB-A slots along with a microSD card reader. I wouldn't have minded seeing HDMI here, as the USB-C ports could quickly be taken up by power and a monitor, but I just keep reminding myself this computer is only 400 bucks. 

Acer says that this laptop will hit stores in early May, though the specific SKU we're talking about here should also be at Costco as early as next week. The company also says it'll have some other configurations available in the near future, though they didn't say what'll change. I wouldn't be surprised to see a model with less storage or perhaps no touchscreen, which could drive the price down even more. If so, this might be a great budget option. But even as is, you should get a pretty good laptop here for the price.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/acers-new-399-chromebook-plus-514-hits-the-mark-for-a-solid-budget-laptop-130058747.html?src=rss

Logitech adds programmable ChatGPT shortcuts to its mice and keyboards

Logitech has rolled out a new software tool called Logi AI Prompt Builder, which gives you quick access to ChatGPT's features. You first have to link a specific key on your keyboard or a button on your mouse with the tool from within the Logi Options+ software. After that, you can use that key or button as a shortcut to summon the prompt builder when you need it. 

The tool window pops up when you call it, populated with the text you've highlighted. It already has functions or "recipes" you can use, such as Rephrase, Summarize and Create Email, that will base their results on the text you've selected. However, you can create your own recipes, as well, including one that can generate images. From within each feature, you can also adjust the result's length and tone until you get one that fits your needs. It could help prevent disruption to your workflow if you do use AI tools frequently. And if you don't, well, maybe OpenAI is hoping that this could lessen friction and get you to use ChatGPT. 

Logitech says you can access the Logi AI Prompt Builder if you have one of its keyboards and mice that support the English language version of the Logi Options+ app, including its MX, Ergo, Signature and Studio Series devices. But take note that having one of its more recent models isn't a guarantee that you'll be able to access it: The Verge says they had to get a new mouse, because their 2022 M557 model was deemed too old to access the tool. 

One model that's sure to be able to conjure the prompt builder is the newly launched Logitech Signature AI Edition Mouse, which already has a dedicated button for it. You can only get the accessory from its website in the US and the UK starting this month for $49.99 and £54.99, respectively.

Earlier this year, Microsoft introduced a dedicated keyboard key to summon Copilot, which is also powered by OpenAI's technology. The company said Copilot keys are slated to appear in new PCs coming this spring, as well as in future Surface devices. 

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/logitech-adds-programmable-chatgpt-shortcuts-to-its-mice-and-keyboards-133058130.html?src=rss

8BitDo's Ultimate Controller with charging dock drops to $56 on Amazon

8BitDo makes some of our favorite third-party game controllers. The gamepads work with a variety of devices (now including the Apple Vision Pro) and they’re well-built. Right now, you can pick up a bundle of an 8BitDo Ultimate Controller and charging dock for $56 on Amazon. That's 20 percent off and close to a record low. It’s the best price we’ve seen so far this year.

If you're a Prime member and you're signed in, you'll see that the controller is sold by 8BitDo directly. Otherwise, you'll see the peripheral for the same price, but a third-party seller is flogging it instead.

Along with other devices, the Ultimate Controller is compatible with Nintendo Switch and Steam Deck over Bluetooth or a 2.4g adapter. To connect wirelessly to a Windows PC, you'll need to use the adapter. 

You can use a PC or mobile app to customize the sensitivity of the joysticks, triggers and vibrations, as well as to remap the buttons, add macros and create settings profiles that are saved to the controller. Other features include Hall effect sensing joysticks that will likely be more resistant to wear and drift than many other joysticks, a pair of back paddle buttons and motion controls.

While 8BitDo says that you'll get up to 22 hours of use out of a single charge, having a dedicated dock to plunk the Ultimate Controller into is handy. In a neat touch, the controller automatically turns off or on when you dock or undock it, respectively.

Overall, the Ultimate Controller is a great, flexible gamepad (for one thing, it's one of the few third-party controllers that can wake a Switch from sleep mode). After six months of using the peripheral, Engadget Senior Commerce Writer Jeff Dunn called it a "comfortable and versatile pro-style pad that should stay alive over the long haul" and "my endgame controller for both Switch and PC."

Follow @EngadgetDeals on Twitter and subscribe to the Engadget Deals newsletter for the latest tech deals and buying advice.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/8bitdos-ultimate-controller-with-charging-dock-drops-to-56-on-amazon-144529345.html?src=rss

The Apple Watch Series 9 is on sale for as low as $295 right now

Those looking to pick up a smartwatch for the first time, or upgrade from an older model, should check out the sale running on Amazon right now on the Apple Watch Series 9. Certain sizes and colors have deep discounts, including the 41mm Product Red version that's down to a record low of $295 — more than $100 off its regular price. The 45mm model with cellular connectivity is also on sale by way of a clippable $80 coupon, which brings the final price down to an all-time low of $350.

The Apple Watch has been at the top of our list of the best smartwatches for quite some time, and the Series 9 (introduced in September 2023) is a big update from its predecessor. It runs on a new S9 SiP, which is the most meaningful upgrade to the wearable's processor in years. While we didn't notice a huge jump in general performance — the Watch has been speedy and responsive for a long time — the SiP update does allow for faster Siri responses and enables offline Siri interactions.

The latest model also supports the new Double Tap gesture based on Assistive Touch. This allows you to navigate the Watch's interface without actually touching the screen, doing things like dismissing timers or starting workout tracking using finger gestures. You can only use Double Tap in specific instances in watchOS 10, but those actions are made easier and more accessible with this feature.

In addition, the Series 9 has a second-gen ultra wideband (UWB) chip that works with a new Find My iPhone interface, plus its screen is brighter than previous versions. All of those things combine make the Series 9 feel like the biggest update to the Watch in a few years. Nevertheless, the caveats remain the same as they have been for some time: you can only use the Apple Watch if you're an iPhone user, and it lags behind the competition when it comes to sleep tracking. Battery life contributes to the latter, but you'll still get a full day's worth of use before you need to charge it up overnight.

Follow @EngadgetDeals on Twitter and subscribe to the Engadget Deals newsletter for the latest tech deals and buying advice.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/the-apple-watch-series-9-is-on-sale-for-as-low-as-295-right-now-131012915.html?src=rss

Google One is shutting down its VPN feature later this year

If you're — apparently, one of the few people — using the VPN service that comes with Google One, we've got bad news for you. In an email you're going to receive from Google if you haven't gotten it yet, it revealed that it's phasing out the perk sometime later this year. The company rolled out Google One's VPN feature back in 2020, but you could only access it then if you're paying for a plan with at least 2TB of storage, which costs at least $10 a month. Last year, the company expanded its availability across all One plans, including the basic $2-per-month option, making it more affordable than before.

At the moment, you can access One's VPN service if you're in one of the 22 countries where it's active, whether you're on iOS or Android. You can also use it to mask your internet usage on a Mac or Windows computer. Google didn't say when the VPN service will stop working completely, but it told 9to5Google that it's discontinuing the feature because "people simply weren’t using it." Instead of trying to drum up interest, it's redirecting its resources to support other and more in-demand One features. However, you'll still be able to use the free VPN that comes with Pixel devices even after One's shuts down through the Settings app on Pixel 7 devices and newer models. 

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/google-one-is-shutting-down-its-vpn-feature-later-this-year-063507780.html?src=rss

Apple may start releasing AI-centric, M4-powered Macs later this year

It's only been five months since Apple released the first M3-powered Macs, but we may not have to wait long to see laptops and desktops with M4 chipsets. According to Bloomberg, Macs with M4 processors could start arriving later this year (which isn't necessarily a massive surprise given the cadence of Apple silicon chips so far). While the M3 lineup didn't offer a massive upgrade from M2 chipsets, the M4 series could be a gamechanger since Apple is said to be placing far more onus on artificial intelligence this time around.

There will be at least three main versions of the M4, according to the report, and Apple is expected to update every model of the Mac with one of those chips. As things stand, Bloomberg says Apple will release iMacs, an entry-level 14-inch MacBook Pro, more powerful 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pros and Mac minis with M4 chips by early 2025.

Versions of the 13-inch and 15-inch MacBook Air with M4 chips could arrive by the spring, with an M4 Mac Studio to follow around the middle of 2025 and a Mac Pro to come later in the year. However, the publication notes that plans may change.

The Mac mini upgrade will be quite a long time coming, as Apple hasn't upgraded that device since January 2023. The Mac Studio and Mac Pro got M2 upgrades in mid-2023. M3-powered iMacs and MacBook Pros arrived in October (remember the Scary Fast event?). The MacBook Air, meanwhile, got an M3 upgrade just last month.

With the higher-end Mac desktops, Apple may include support for up to 512GB of memory. The latest Mac Studio and Mac Pro max out at 192GB of RAM, but previous Intel-powered systems supported up to 1.5TB of memory using off-the-shelf components. Apple integrates memory more deeply into its own chipsets, so upgrading the RAM on silicon-based systems is more difficult.

That said, Apple's major focus for the M4 lineup is said to be artificial intelligence as it aims to catch up (at least in terms of public perception) with the likes of Microsoft and Google. Bloomberg suggests that Apple will highlight how on-device AI processing capabilities of the M4 chipsets will integrate with the hardware and the latest version of macOS, which will debut at the Worldwide Developers Conference in June.

The company is also said to be planning AI-focused upgrades to the processors used in this year's iPhones. Previous reports suggested that Apple wants to integrate Google's Gemini AI into iPhones while it works on its own generative AI models.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/apple-may-start-releasing-ai-centric-m4-powered-macs-later-this-year-175312540.html?src=rss

DJI Avata 2 FPV drone review: A cheaper, more potent tool for creators

When DJI’s Avata came out in 2022, its agility and people-safe propeller guards made it an instant hit — especially with video pros and content creators. It was hampered by poor video quality, though, and gave users no ability to see the outside world when using the Goggles 2 headset used by pilots. It was also less maneuverable than other FPV drones and quite expensive.

Now, the company has released its successor, the Avata 2. The camera now uses the same 1/1.3-inch sensor as the Mini 4 Pro, so video quality is highly improved. The Goggles 3 have passthrough cameras to show the world around you and the Avata 2 can now maneuver more like a real FPV drone. Battery life has improved and it’s cheaper to boot.

It sounds great, but how is it in the real world? With my drone and FPV pilot friends, we tested it in a variety of scenarios and events. In general, it's much improved from its predecessor, but there are a few things to know if you’re considering buying one, especially around the Goggles 3.

Body

The Avata 2 has been completely redesigned to improve flight characteristics. It’s more oblong, less top-heavy, comes with a bigger battery and weighs 30 grams less at just 377 grams. It also just looks less toy-like and more professional.

The updated propeller guards and extensive obstacle detection make it far more crash-resistant than other drones. Updated binocular fisheye sensors cover both the bottom and rear views to detect hazards while increasing flight stability. It also features a “turtle mode” that flips the drone back to a normal stance for takeoff if it hits something and flips over during flight.

The propellers have the same 3-inch size as before, but engine noise is reduced to 81dB, making it more suitable for events like weddings.

Steve Dent for Engadget

The camera unit and gimbal are larger and the protective covering is easier to install and remove. The USB-C and card slots, notoriously hard to access on the Avata, are much easier to get to here. Another welcome update is the generous 46GB of onboard storage, more than double the last model and considerably higher than most other drones.

The 18-minute battery life was a big issue with the Avata, but the new model now boasts 23 minutes max flight time, up 28 percent. The batteries can be charged quickly using the charging hub, too, from 0 to 100 percent in 45 minutes with a 60W charger — a bit faster than before, considering the higher capacity. The hub also supports DJI’s new power accumulation feature, letting you completely drain the two weakest batteries to transfer power to the strongest.

Transmission and controls

Like the Mini 4 Pro and Air 3, the Avata uses DJI’s latest O4 transmission system that boosts range to 13km in the US and 10km in Europe — impressive for an FPV drone. It streams a 1080p video feed at up to 100 fps, with latency as low as 24 milliseconds using the Googles 3.

Steve Dent for Engadget

Speaking of, the Goggles 3 have a built-in battery like the Goggles Integra while updating to O4 capability. Along with the improved transmission, they now come with higher-resolution 1080p MicroOLED displays and improved eye comfort compared to the Goggles 2 that shipped with the original Avata.

The big update, though, is the Real View pass-through cameras. With a double tap on the side of the headset or side button on the RC Motion 3 controller, you’ll instantly switch to a forward view outside the Goggles 3. The resolution isn’t very high, but at least you can see outside without removing them. A setting allows you to see the drone view as a picture-in-picture to boost situational awareness.

The Goggles 3 now allows you to capture up to 1080p video directly to a microSD card on the headset itself and you can even stream live to another Goggles 3 headset simultaneously. Video quality is still higher when capturing directly to the drone, of course, but it does provide a backup. You can also record a view showing the on-screen controls — handy for reviewing flights.

Another new feature is head tracking to control the aircraft and gimbal with head functions, allowing better control for experienced pilots.

Steve Dent for Engadget

There are a few downsides. It still doesn’t support glasses, so folks with astigmatism will need to purchase custom lenses. If you have the Goggles V2, which does support eyeglasses, it’s unfortunately not compatible with the Avata 2.

DJI hasn’t quite nailed the comfort part, either. The padding isn’t soft enough, so the edges pushed against the bridge of my nose, creating some discomfort. It was better after installing the additional (included) pad, but still not perfect.

The RC Motion 3 controller has been considerably revamped for the better. It’s smaller, lighter and has a more comfortable grip. Controls are also more precise, with a new sidelink wireless solution boosting the quality of the joystick’s signal. And for FPV enthusiasts who prefer a classic drone controller, the Avata 2 also works with the new FPV Remote Control 3.

Performance

Steve Dent for Engadget

Where the original Avata dumbed down FPV performance, the Avata 2 goes all in. It’s incredibly maneuverable, and unlike most FPV drones, highly crash-resistant.

Maximum speeds are the same as the Avata at around 60MPH in manual mode with obstacle detection turned off. That might be slower than purpose-built open-propeller FPVs, but it’s fast for a consumer product and won’t slice up bystanders like regular drones.

Though it’s not faster, it’s quicker and more precise than the Avatar thanks to the slimmed-down and better-balanced body. It turns on a dime around obstacles and climbs and descends with alacrity. At the same time, you can plow through small twigs or leaves and barely slow down.

Flying it is truly fun. The improved Goggles 3 with O4 give a clearer view, and the Motion 3 controller allows for precise and intuitive control. For events around people, you can fly in normal or beginner modes for safety, or elsewhere at 35 or 60 MPH in sport and manual modes.

Steve Dent for Engadget

The Motion 3 adds a new trigger setting that rotates the Avata 2 in place for easier maneuvers and it now includes a dedicated mode button for normal or sport flying. The joystick is larger and the controller more responsive and precise overall.

Head tracking is a common feature on FPV and Cinewoop drones, and it now works on the Avata 2. I found it helpful mainly for controlling the camera tilt, as it’s a natural way to adjust that parameter.

If you want to fly the Avata 2 at top speed in manual mode, you’ll need the FPV Remote Controller 3, which is sold separately for $199.

The Easy Acro mode is cool, but a bit cumbersome since you have to switch it on and off. Also, it’s so easy to implement with the RC Motion controller that it's almost... boring. Tricks include slides, 180-degree drifts and flips, though you can’t record video in flip mode.

Steve Dent for Engadget

The Avata 2 is better than before in stiff winds, but can still get buffeted around and often has to lean against the breeze, causing choppy or unlevel footage. Keeping things smooth, particularly outdoors, requires more practice than with a drone like the Mini 4 Pro.

It doesn’t have forward-facing sensors, so its main protection is the prop guards and high durability. It does detect obstacles from the rear and below, and that kept me safe in some tight spots. I still crashed it at least four to five times though, luckily just in the grass or against small twigs and leaves — without leaving a scratch. This could make some pilots overconfident, though.

Battery life is noticeably better than the Avata and eliminates much of the range anxiety typical with FPV drones. However, you only get 18-20 minutes of realistic range. Most serious pilots will want to have at least three batteries with the Fly-More kit, and preferably more.

Video

The Avata 2 eliminates the Avata’s mediocre video quality via a much larger 1/1.3-inch sensor with 10-bit D-LogM capability borrowed from the Mini 4 Pro.

As before it offers normal, wide and ultra-wide shooting with up to a 155-degree field of view. It has two stabilization modes, RockSteady 3.0 and HorizonSteady. The latter is best if you want to keep things level, particularly in high winds — it does tend to lean into wind. RockSteady smooths footage more while allowing the camera to tilt, all the better to show off thrilling maneuvers.

It supports 4K video at up to 60 fps or 1080p and 2.7K at 120 fps. However, it can only capture 12-megapixel JPEG stills, so it’s not ideal for photography.

All that puts it leaps ahead of the Avata for video. Images are generally sharper and colors more accurate. The 10-bit D-LogM mode allows for higher dynamic range in bright or contrasty conditions. The one quality flaw I noticed was occasionally blockiness in video at 4K 60p when flying fast, likely artifacts due to the 130Mbps bit rate (beware of re-encoding for YouTube).

It’s much improved in low light for cityscapes or interiors as well thanks to the larger sensor. It’s not up to the level of a mirrorless camera, but as with the Mini 4 Pro, it’s fine for well lit night scenes in most cases. ISO levels are usable up to 12800 with noise reduction, with the 25600 max setting being for emergency use only.

Wrap-up

Steve Dent for Engadget

The Avata 2 is bound to be another hit for DJI. It eliminates nearly every flaw on the Avata, boosting picture quality, FPV maneuverability, battery life, range and more. Video quality, in particular, will make it even more desirable for content creators, event videographers and others. At the same time, it’s a fantastic FPV drone for beginners — just super fun to use.

It’s also more affordable. The Avata 2 is priced at $1,000 with a single battery in the Fly-More kit with the Goggles 3 and Motion 3 controller, or $1,200 with three batteries, the two-way charging hub and a carrying case. That compares to original $1,388 price for the Avata with Goggles and Motion Controller, plus another $279 for the 3-battery Fly-More kit (for $1,667 total) — so the Avata 2 is nearly $500 cheaper in that configuration. As mentioned, the FPV Remote Controller 3 is $199, while the ND Filters Set is $79.

The Avata 2 doesn’t have much competition, as regular FPV drones generally lack propeller guards and rivals like Autel don’t offer similar products. That doesn’t really matter, though, as DJI’s latest drone is both powerful and attractively priced — making it a highly desirable product for creators of all stripes.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/dji-avata-3-fpv-drone-review-a-cheaper-more-potent-tool-for-creators-130052891.html?src=rss

DJI Avata 2 FPV drone review: A cheaper, more potent tool for creators

When DJI’s Avata came out in 2022, its agility and people-safe propeller guards made it an instant hit — especially with video pros and content creators. It was hampered by poor video quality, though, and gave users no ability to see the outside world when using the Goggles 2 headset. It was also less maneuverable than other FPV drones and quite expensive.

Now, the company has released its successor, the Avata 2. The camera now uses the same 1/1.3-inch sensor as the Mini 4 Pro, so video quality is highly improved. The Goggles 3 have passthrough cameras to show the world around you and the Avata 2 can now maneuver more like a real FPV drone. Battery life has improved and it’s cheaper to boot.

It sounds great, but how is it in the real world? With my drone and FPV pilot friends, we tested it in a variety of scenarios and events. In general, it's much improved from its predecessor, but there are a few things to know if you’re considering buying one, especially around the Goggles 3.

Body

The Avata 2 has been completely redesigned to improve flight characteristics. It’s more oblong, less top-heavy, comes with a bigger battery and weighs 30 grams less at just 377 grams. It also just looks less toy-like and more professional.

The updated propeller guards and extensive obstacle detection make it far more crash-resistant than other drones. Updated binocular fisheye sensors cover both the bottom and rear views to detect hazards while increasing flight stability. It also features a “turtle mode” that flips the drone back to a normal stance for takeoff if it hits something and flips over during flight.

The propellers have the same 3-inch size as before, but engine noise is reduced to 81dB, making it more suitable for events like weddings.

Steve Dent for Engadget

The camera unit and gimbal are larger and the protective covering is easier to install and remove. The USB-C and card slots, notoriously hard to access on the Avata, are much easier to get to here. Another welcome update is the generous 46GB of onboard storage, more than double the last model and considerably higher than most other drones.

The 18-minute battery life was a big issue with the Avata, but the new model now boasts 23 minutes max flight time, up 28 percent. The batteries can be charged quickly using the charging hub, too, from 0 to 100 percent in 45 minutes with a 60W charger — a bit faster than before, considering the higher capacity. The hub also supports DJI’s new power accumulation feature, letting you completely drain the two weakest batteries to transfer power to the strongest.

Transmission and controls

Like the Mini 4 Pro and Air 3, the Avata uses DJI’s latest O4 transmission system that boosts range to 13km in the US and 10km in Europe — impressive for an FPV drone. It streams a 1080p video feed at up to 100 fps, with latency as low as 24 milliseconds using the Googles 3.

Steve Dent for Engadget

Speaking of, the Goggles 3 have a built-in battery like the Goggles Integra while updating to O4 capability. Along with the improved transmission, they now come with higher-resolution 1080p MicroOLED displays and improved eye comfort compared to the Goggles 2 that shipped with the original Avata.

The big update, though, is the Real View pass-through cameras. With a double tap on the side of the headset or side button on the RC Motion 3 controller, you’ll instantly switch to a forward view outside the Goggles 3. The resolution isn’t very high, but at least you can see outside without removing them. A setting allows you to see the drone view as a picture-in-picture to boost situational awareness.

The Goggles 3 now allows you to capture up to 1080p video directly to a microSD card on the headset itself and you can even stream live to another Goggles 3 headset simultaneously. Video quality is still higher when capturing directly to the drone, of course, but it does provide a backup. You can also record a view showing the on-screen controls — handy for reviewing flights.

Another new feature is head tracking to control the aircraft and gimbal with head functions, allowing better control for experienced pilots.

Steve Dent for Engadget

There are a few downsides. It still doesn’t support glasses, so folks with astigmatism will need to purchase custom lenses. If you have the Goggles V2, which does support eyeglasses, it’s unfortunately not compatible with the Avata 2.

DJI hasn’t quite nailed the comfort part, either. The padding isn’t soft enough, so the edges pushed against the bridge of my nose, creating some discomfort. It was better after installing the additional (included) pad, but still not perfect.

The RC Motion 3 controller has been considerably revamped for the better. It’s smaller, lighter and has a more comfortable grip. Controls are also more precise, with a new sidelink wireless solution boosting the quality of the joystick’s signal. And for FPV enthusiasts who prefer a classic drone controller, the Avata 2 also works with the new FPV Remote Control 3.

Performance

Steve Dent for Engadget

Where the original Avata dumbed down FPV performance, the Avata 2 goes all in. It’s incredibly maneuverable, and unlike most FPV drones, highly crash-resistant.

Maximum speeds are the same as the Avata at around 60MPH in manual mode with obstacle detection turned off. That might be slower than purpose-built open-propeller FPVs, but it’s fast for a consumer product and won’t slice up bystanders like regular drones.

Though it’s not faster, it’s quicker and more precise than the Avatar thanks to the slimmed-down and better-balanced body. It turns on a dime around obstacles and climbs and descends with alacrity. At the same time, you can plow through small twigs or leaves and barely slow down.

Flying it is truly fun. The improved Goggles 3 with O4 give a clearer view, and the Motion 3 controller allows for precise and intuitive control. For events around people, you can fly in normal or beginner modes for safety, or elsewhere at 35 or 60 MPH in sport and manual modes.

Steve Dent for Engadget

The Motion 3 adds a new trigger setting that rotates the Avata 2 in place for easier maneuvers and it now includes a dedicated mode button for normal or sport flying. The joystick is larger and the controller more responsive and precise overall.

Head tracking is a common feature on FPV and Cinewoop drones, and it now works on the Avata 2. I found it helpful mainly for controlling the camera tilt, as it’s a natural way to adjust that parameter.

If you want to fly the Avata 2 at top speed in manual mode, you’ll need the FPV Remote Controller 3, which is sold separately for $199.

The Easy Acro mode is cool, but a bit cumbersome since you have to switch it on and off. Also, it’s so easy to implement with the RC Motion controller that it's almost... boring. Tricks include slides, 180-degree drifts and flips, though you can’t record video in flip mode.

Steve Dent for Engadget

The Avata 2 is better than before in stiff winds, but can still get buffeted around and often has to lean against the breeze, causing choppy or unlevel footage. Keeping things smooth, particularly outdoors, requires more practice than with a drone like the Mini 4 Pro.

It doesn’t have forward-facing sensors, so its main protection is the prop guards and high durability. It does detect obstacles from the rear and below, and that kept me safe in some tight spots. I still crashed it at least four to five times though, luckily just in the grass or against small twigs and leaves — without leaving a scratch. This could make some pilots overconfident, though.

Battery life is noticeably better than the Avata and eliminates much of the range anxiety typical with FPV drones. However, you only get 18-20 minutes of realistic range. Most serious pilots will want to have at least three batteries with the Fly-More kit, and preferably more.

Video

The Avata 2 eliminates the Avata’s mediocre video quality via a much larger 1/1.3-inch sensor with 10-bit D-LogM capability borrowed from the Mini 4 Pro.

As before it offers normal, wide and ultra-wide shooting with up to a 155-degree field of view. It has two stabilization modes, RockSteady 3.0 and HorizonSteady. The latter is best if you want to keep things level, particularly in high winds — it does tend to lean into wind. RockSteady smooths footage more while allowing the camera to tilt, all the better to show off thrilling maneuvers.

It supports 4K video at up to 60 fps or 1080p and 2.7K at 120 fps. However, it can only capture 12-megapixel JPEG stills, so it’s not ideal for photography.

All that puts it leaps ahead of the Avata for video. Images are generally sharper and colors more accurate. The 10-bit D-LogM mode allows for higher dynamic range in bright or contrasty conditions. The one quality flaw I noticed was occasionally blockiness in video at 4K 60p when flying fast, likely artifacts due to the 130Mbps bit rate (beware of re-encoding for YouTube).

It’s much improved in low light for cityscapes or interiors as well thanks to the larger sensor. It’s not up to the level of a mirrorless camera, but as with the Mini 4 Pro, it’s fine for well lit night scenes in most cases. ISO levels are usable up to 12800 with noise reduction, with the 25600 max setting being for emergency use only.

Wrap-up

Steve Dent for Engadget

The Avata 2 is bound to be another hit for DJI. It eliminates nearly every flaw on the Avata, boosting picture quality, FPV maneuverability, battery life, range and more. Video quality, in particular, will make it even more desirable for content creators, event videographers and others. At the same time, it’s a fantastic FPV drone for beginners — just super fun to use.

It’s also more affordable. The Avata 2 is priced at $1,000 with a single battery in the Fly-More kit with the Goggles 3 and Motion 3 controller, or $1,200 with three batteries, the two-way charging hub and a carrying case. That compares to original $1,388 price for the Avata with Goggles and Motion Controller, plus another $279 for the 3-battery Fly-More kit (for $1,667 total) — so the Avata 2 is nearly $500 cheaper in that configuration. As mentioned, the FPV Remote Controller 3 is $199, while the ND Filters Set is $79.

The Avata 2 doesn’t have much competition, as regular FPV drones generally lack propeller guards and rivals like Autel don’t offer similar products. That doesn’t really matter, though, as DJI’s latest drone is both powerful and attractively priced — making it a highly desirable product for creators of all stripes.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/dji-avata-2-fpv-drone-review-a-cheaper-more-potent-tool-for-creators-130052278.html?src=rss

Apple's 10th-gen iPad returns to a record low of $349

While the arrival of new iPad Pro and Air models seems imminent, rumor has it we won't be getting a classic update until next year. If you have no interest in waiting and want to explore some of the best iPads on the market, then the Apple 10th-generation iPad's current sale is for you. The 64GB Wi-Fi model is back down to its record-low price of $349 from $449 — a 22 percent cut. The discounted iPad is available right away in the blue version or for an extra dollar when applying a $79 coupon to the silver model. 

Apple released its 10th-gen iPad in 2022 and garnered an 85 in our review. It offered a new look and features, with new design elements such as a 10.9-inch screen and a Touch ID moving to the lock button. It also offers a liquid retina display with a 2360x1640p resolution.

The 10th-gen iPad comes with an A14 chip — a step up from the ninth-gen's A13 but still not as strong as the M1 and M2 that power the iPad Air and Pro. It comes with a solid battery that lasts 11 hours and 45 minutes if you play iTunes movies on rotation and almost 10 hours when you're working with an attached keyboard. 

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This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/apples-10th-gen-ipad-returns-to-a-record-low-of-349-143630423.html?src=rss