Posts with «personal finance - lifestyle» label

Amazon is reportedly working on a smart fridge that tracks what's inside

Amazon is reportedly aiming to bring some of the tech it uses at cashierless Amazon Go stores to your kitchen. According to Insider, the company has been working on a smart fridge that can monitor items and help you order replacements if you're running low on something.

The team behind the Amazon Go systems is said to be heading the charge on the project, which has been in the works for at least two years. The Just Walk Out tech used at Go stores tracks what shoppers put in their carts and automatically charges them when they leave. Members of the Amazon Fresh and Lab126 hardware teams are reportedly involved with the fridge project too.

The fridge would monitor the items inside and keep tabs on your purchasing habits, according to the report. If you run low on something you buy frequently, the fridge would notify you and make it easier to order more from Whole Foods or Amazon Fresh, which could give the company's grocery division a boost. The fridge could offer recipe suggestions too, which may prove useful if you forget about an item that's about to expire.

Amazon wouldn't make the fridges itself, Insider's sources said. It's looking to team up with an appliance manufacturer. There's a possibility that Alexa voice control could be included. That's said to not be a major concern, but given Amazon's propensity for stuffing Alexa into nearly every other type of product, including home robots and its own TVs, it wouldn't be a surprise if the fridge has voice assistant support.

The company has reportedly spent upwards of $50 million per year on the project so far. Even so, there's no guarantee that the fridge will come to market as it's possible Amazon will shelve the plans. If the fridge does come to market, it likely won't come cheap. An Amazon spokesperson told Engadget the company doesn't comment “on rumors or speculation.”

The concept isn't entirely new. In 2016, Samsung revealed a fridge that can help you keep track of what's inside without having to open the door. You can even order groceries using the built-in touchscreen. Amazon's fridge would take the idea a little further, though, since it would flag items that you're about to run out of and help you order more through the company's own grocery ecosystem.

Microsoft Surface Go 3 review: Third time isn't quite the charm

Microsoft has been trying to straddle two different worlds with the Surface Go. When it launched in late 2018, Microsoft positioned it as an inexpensive way to get the 2-in-1 Surface experience. Three years later, that’s still true: The Surface Go 3, which Microsoft unveiled in late September, is an exceedingly well-built tablet, with a lovely screen and strong kickstand. For a device that starts at $400, it feels great.

But the full truth of the Surface Go 3 is a little more complicated. You need to shell out at least another $100 for a keyboard. And, seeing as Windows still doesn’t offer a great tablet experience you need the keyboard. Not to mention the basic $400 Surface Go 3 is underpowered – so by the time you’re buying a keyboard and bumping up the processor, storage and RAM, you’re spending as much money as you might on a full-fledged laptop with a larger display and more powerful internals.

Our review unit came with a 10th-generation Intel Core i3-10100Y processor, 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage. But that configuration costs $630, not including the $130 Alcantara-clad Type Cover and $100 Surface pen Microsoft sent along as well. It’s a fairly capable machine despite its tiny size, making it a potentially great travel companion. But if you’re going to spend $860 for the kit that I’m testing, you should know exactly what you want to do with it that you can’t do with a standard laptop.

When we reviewed the Surface Go 2 last spring, we noted that it was nearly identical to the first version, with the notable exception of a larger screen. This time out, I’m pretty sure the external hardware is completely identical. The Surface Go 3 is the exact same size and weight as its predecessor, and the display is the same 10.5-inch, 1,920 x 1,280 touchscreen as before.

That’s not a knock on the hardware, though, as the Surface Go 3 is a wonderfully designed and constructed device. I haven’t used previous Surface devices extensively, but Microsoft’s reputation for thoughtful hardware is well deserved. The screen is bright, sharp and colorful, with great viewing angles. I also very much appreciate the taller 3:2 aspect ratio – a 16:9 panel here would feel very cramped for vertical space.

Nathan Ingraham / Engadget

I’m also a big fan of the infinitely adjustable kickstand. I’m no visual artist, but the way you can push it nearly all the way around to prop up the tablet for drawing is a brilliant design decision, and the way the Surface Pen magnetically snaps to the side for easy access is very handy. It really makes me wish I could draw, but alas.

As before, the Surface Go 3 only has a few ports and buttons. There’s a USB-C port on one side as well as a headphone jack and Microsoft’s proprietary charging port. The good news is you can use the USB-C port for faster charging (as well as any other peripherals you have) and use the cables you probably already have instead of the slower charger. Up top, there’s a power button and volume rocker; an 8-megapixel camera stares out from the back of the tablet. Two stereo speakers flank the display, and there’s a 5-megapixel front-facing camera with a 1080p resolution for video calls. It also works with Windows Hello for face unlock. Finally, under the kickstand you’ll find a Micro SDXC card reader, but you really have to go searching for it.

Nathan Ingraham / Engadget

Every time Microsoft releases new Surface tablets, questions follow about whether Windows is actually a viable platform for touchscreen use. With Windows 11, the answer is still “not really.” But purely on the strength of its hardware, the Surface Go 3 is a lovely tablet. The 3:2 aspect ratio makes it work well when holding it in either portrait or landscape mode. And at 1.2 pounds it’s a little heavier than an iPad, but not so much so that you’ll get tired of holding it.

We typically recommend Surface buyers use the device with some kind of keyboard, so nearly all my time testing the Go 3 was with Microsoft’s Type Cover attached. It’s unchanged from last year’s version, but that’s OK because Microsoft’s Surface keyboards are surprisingly good. Given the Go’s small size, it felt a bit cramped at first, but after giving my hands a little time to adjust it wasn’t an issue. 

The keys have decent travel and feel very solid, despite the Type Cover’s extremely thin design, and the magnets that attach it to the Go are very strong. The touchpad is fine given its rather small size, but – like the keyboard – it's not something I want to use for hours on end. When I was using the Go 3 at my desk for extended work sessions, I preferred using a Bluetooth mouse.

Nathan Ingraham / Engadget

The Type Cover weighs just over half a pound, so the tablet plus its keyboard cover is a good bit less than two pounds total. While the overall design hasn’t changed, the Surface Go 3 and its keyboard cover are still a very compact and well-designed set. There aren’t many devices that can provide the full Windows experience in such a portable package.

Unfortunately, as with the prior Surface Go models, you’re trading portability for performance. The Core i3 powering the $630 Go 3 that I’ve been testing is enough for basic tasks, but if you try and push things too much you’re going to be disappointed. My workflow is fairly modest: I mostly live in a browser (I used Edge for this review), and I also run apps including Trello, Slack, Todoist and Spotify. I also wrote this review in Word, to get the full Windows experience. Usually, the Surface Go 3 kept up with these tasks, but I had occasional music stutters and tabs often had to be reloaded if I navigated away from them for more than a minute or two.

Occasionally, things got worse. The Surface Go 3 mostly ran Adobe Lightroom fine, but moving through the interface definitely required patience as UI elements and photos took a while to load. And if I had it open along with any other programs, things slowed down significantly. Browser tabs were more likely to reload, and opening or switching between other apps took a lot longer. Lightroom performance itself was not terrible, though exporting an edited RAW file to a JPG took long enough that I did most of my photo editing and exporting for this review on my MacBook Pro. Exporting a single image probably took about 10 seconds, compared to a second or two on my Mac.

Nathan Ingraham / Engadget

I’m sure you’ll be shocked to know that being on a video call also led to serious performance issues. When I was on a Google Meet call with some co-workers, switching that and Slack was painfully slow, and Slack had to refresh entirely as if I just opened it. While we’re at it, Slack performance was mediocre on this machine; jumping between different channels and conversations led to noticeable delays. (I’m willing to put some of the blame on Google and particularly Slack, because Slack's Windows app is not good. But not all of it.) That sums up the Surface Go 3 experience pretty well — I often just had to wait a lot for things to catch up.

Running our usual suite of Windows benchmarks confirmed my impressions – indeed, according to Geekbench 5 and PCMark10, the new Core i3 processor is nearly identical to the m3 that it replaces. This just highlights that Intel still doesn’t have a great solution for smaller devices. Apple’s $330 iPad, which I just reviewed, hit 1,336 (single-core) / 3,349 (multi-core) on Geekbench 5, compared to the 859/1,450 I got running it on the Surface Go 3.

GeekBench 5 CPU

PC Mark 10

3DMark (Night Raid)

ATTO (Top reads/writes)

Microsoft Surface Go 3 (Core i3-10100Y, Intel UHD)

859 / 1,450

2,601

2,637

1.65 GB/s / 808 MB/s

Microsoft Surface Go 2 (Core m3-8100Y, Intel UHD)

800 / 1,590

2,737

3,848

1.6 GB/s / 265 MB/s

Acer Aspire 5 (Intel Core i3-1115G4, Intel UHD)

1,316 / 2,583

3,790

6,723

2.26 GB/s / 893 MB/s

Lenovo Flex 5 14 (AMD Ryzen 3 4300U, AMD Radeon)

730 / 1,879

4,186

6,271

1.40 GB/s / 925 MB/s

The battery situation also leaves something to be desired. I got about five hours using the Surface Go 3 during normal use doing my normal work routine — not awful, but given how low-powered the processor is, I expected more. It also makes the Go’s portability less useful, because if you can’t be away from a charger for a full work day, what’s the point of having such a small device? The device did last quite a long time in a lower-power test. The Go 3 lasted almost 11 hours while playing back HD video, which matches up with Microsoft's estimates for 11 hours. 

The Surface Go 3 isn't the fastest to charge, either. I had the device plugged in while running some benchmarks, and it took a whopping three hours to charge from 50 percent to 100 percent using the included charger. I was pushing the system pretty hard during that time, but even when I was doing less intense work, it took a good long while to charge. When the Go 3 was asleep, it still took about two hours to fully charge it up from 20 percent. 

Nathan Ingraham / Engadget

Benchmarks don’t tell the entire story, but they should give you a good idea of what to expect with the Surface Go 3. I could see the Go 3 making sense as a second computer, a companion to a more powerful Windows desktop for travel. If I was still commuting, I’d be happy to use the Go 3 on my hour-long train ride to go through email, do a little writing and manage all my to-dos. I could also see it being a good companion for running around at events like CES or E3. But I’d probably get tired of writing on that tiny screen.

But $630 plus another $100 minimum for the Type Cover is a lot of money for a device that feels rather slow and rather cramped. For that kind of money you could certainly get a more capable Windows laptop. Apple’s iPad is also a great option for a secondary computing device, and has the benefit of an OS that was built with tablets in mind; it’s also far more responsive than the Surface Go 3, and there are plenty of keyboard covers out there for getting real work done.

The value calculus does change if you’re a visual artist, I think. I have zero drawing ability, so the Surface Pen isn’t terribly useful for me. But it’s a very good stylus, and I could see artists who like to use Windows appreciating the Go 3 as a portable drawing tool that can also be a full-fledged computer when you need it. But once again, an iPad probably has better app support for artists who prefer a stylus.

Nathan Ingraham / Engadget

Probably the biggest issue with the Surface Go 3 is that nothing has significantly changed since Microsoft released the Go 2 almost a year and a half ago. The design is still good, but performance and battery life are essentially unchanged, despite the new chip. I can’t recommend that anyone get a Surface Go 3 with the Pentium Gold processor; it feels like the low-end model exists only so Microsoft can say it sells a $400 tablet.

Just like its predecessors, the Surface Go 3 can be a pretty useful tiny Windows device, though you’re paying a premium for the portability. And the price for performance ration is seriously out of whack. If you’re a Windows fan, it'a decent option as a secondary device for casual work and for when you want something extremely portable. There aren’t a lot of comparable Windows devices out there, and the hardware’s design and built quality remains outstanding. Just make sure you buy the Type Cover, don’t expect much from tablet mode and be patient if you’re running a lot of apps.

Amazon's Fire Kids Pro tablets are up to 40 percent off right now

Amazon came out with the Fire Kids Pro family earlier this year to give parents with older children a secure tablet option. But since they have a couple more bells and whistles when compared to the standard Fire Kids tablets, these slabs come at a premium. However, Amazon has discounted the entire lineup, so you can grab one of the tablets for as low as $60. That's the price of the Fire 7 Pro, while the Fire HD 8 Kids Pro has dropped to $90 and the Fire HD 10 Kids Pro is on sale for $140.

Buy Fire 7 Kids Pro at Amazon - $60Buy Fire HD 8 Kids Pro at Amazon - $90Buy Fire HD 10 Kids Pro at Amazon - $140

Designed for kids ages six and up, the Fire Kids Pro tablets are similar to the standard kid-friendly slabs in that they come with a two-year warranty, a protective case and one year of Amazon Kids+. The latter also includes more content better suited for school-aged children rather than toddlers, including things like content from National Geographic, LEGO, Rabbids Coding and others. Kids Pro tablets also have a digital store in which parents can approve all apps purchases and downloads that their children request. That's on top of the standard parental controls that come with all Fire Kids tablets, making these slabs good options for parents that want to keep a close eye on what their children are doing while on their devices.

The biggest difference between the various Kids Pro tablets is their screen sizes — 7-, 8- and 10-inch models are available, and unsurprisingly, the Fire HD 10 Kids Pro also has the most power. It runs on an octa-core processor and 3GB of RAM, and should last up to 12 hours on a single charge. While the Fire 7 Kids Pro is best for those with tight budgets, we'd recommend upgrading to the Fire HD 8 Kids Pro for, at the very least, its USB-C charging port (the 7-inch tablet relies on a dated microUSB port).

Follow @EngadgetDeals on Twitter for the latest tech deals and buying advice.

Amazon lets Prime members send gifts with only an email address or phone number

Amazon Prime members can now use the mobile Amazon Shopping app to send gifts to friends using just their phone number of email address — even if they don't have their street address. The new feature makes it easier to give, receive and even exchange presents for a gift card, the company announced

To do it, you just need browse for "millions of products" available to gift on Amazon's Shopping smartphone app, according to the company. Once you've selected a product, you can select "add a gift receipt for easy returns" and go to check out. You can also select a new option to "let the recipient provide their address." To complete the transaction, you just enter their email address or mobile phone number. 

Once sent, recipients receive a gift message by email or text. From there, they can choose to accept the gift and enter their preferred delivery address. If they're not keen on your choice, they can exchange the item for a gift card and use that to purchase something else with no need to notify the gift giver. 

The feature requires the gift recipient to also have an Amazon account, much as Venmo or PayPal's Mobile Cash app requires the sender and receiver to have an account. The key benefit of Amazon's app is that you can still personalize a gift, even if you don't feel comfortable hitting shops with a pandemic still raging. The new feature arrives to Amazon Shopping in the US today (October 4th) — if you get a chance to try it, let us know how it went in the comments below. 

Jeep's Grand Cherokee plug-in hybrid will arrive in early 2022

As promised, Jeep has detailed its first Grand Cherokee plug-in hybrid. The company has confirmed the Grand Cherokee 4xe will arrive in North American dealers in early 2022, and will sport more capabilities than you might have expected. The estimated 25 miles of all-electric driving (440 miles total) won't necessarily cover your entire commute, but Jeep is promising a rough-and-ready PHEV that can climb hills without touching the 2.0L turbo gas engine. You can also drive in a full hybrid mode for peak performance and an "eSave" mode to preserve the 17kWh battery for later.

You can also expect new technology inside, such as 10-inch front and rear passenger displays with built-in Fire TV — your kids can stream Prime Video in the backseat. The driver, meanwhile, gets a 10-inch display with a much faster Uconnect 5 platform that supports over-the-air updates.

The 4xe and its regular counterparts are improved off-roaders with semi-active damping for air suspension as well as a front-axle disconnect when the SUV senses it doesn't need all-wheel drive. You'll also get semi-autonomous help through an optional Active Driving Assist system that takes over so long as your hands are on the wheel and your eyes are on the road. Jeep is promising a 6,000lbs maximum towing capacity.

Jeep hasn't divulged pricing for the Grand Cherokee 4xe, although it will be available in increasingly loaded Limited, Trailhawk, Overland, Summit and Summit Reserve editions. It's already safe to say this is an important vehicle for the brand, though. Parent company Stellantis is racing to catch up with rivals in electrifying its vehicles, with plans for a fully electric version of every SUV by 2025. The plug-in hybrid is a critical first step in that direction.

Watch Amazon's entire new hardware event right here

Amazon tends to avoid livestreaming its big hardware events, but it's happy to share video after the fact — and this year's presentation is one you might want to see. The company has posted its complete fall 2021 hardware event stream online to illustrate everything it introduced in vivid detail, including a few decidedly left-field products. You can watch the whole affair below.

Believe it or not, an Alexa home robot is just the start of what Amazon revealed during its hour-long stream. The company also launched a kid-centric video call device, an extra-large Echo Show, a Ring security system with a router built-in, other smart home gadgets and a bevy of services. The biggest surprise may simply be the lack of ordinary Echo speakers. Amazon was clearly more interested in expanding its lineup than revamping its existing offerings.

Follow all of the news from Amazon’s fall hardware event right here!

Alexa Together turns your loved one's Echo into an emergency support device

Last year, Amazon announced Alexa Care Hub, a free service that uses Alexa to let people check in on family members. The so-called "caregiver" can see notifications and alerts when someone uses Alexa as a way of letting you know that someone they want to keep an eye on is up and about. It also lets the "care receiver" say "Alexa, call for help" and it'll contact the caregiver immediately. Amazon didn't charge for this, but today it's adding a new feature called Alexa Together to the service. It'll be a $20/month service that gives an aging family member 24/7 access to Urgent Response, which Amazon describes as a professional emergency help line. 

Alexa Together will also make caregiving easier to share among multiple family members by letting multiple people be designated as support contacts for a single individual. Other features include support for third-party devices that can detect when someone has fallen at home, the ability to add contacts to an individual's Alexa account so they can make hands-free calls, and set reminders on someone else's device or link up a music service for them to play tunes through. 

At a high level, it sounds like Alexa Together basically makes it easier for other people to manage a family member's Alexa-capable device so they use it more. And if they use it more, the caregiver will see that it's being used and know their family member is going about their normal day. It's a bit convoluted, but the 24/7 access to Urgent Response might be worth the $20 per month cost. Alexa Together will have a free six-month trial period (or one full year if you've been using the Alexa Care Hub already) when it launches later this year.

Alexa Together is designed to help aging family members feel more comfortable and confident living independently, and to give the entire family peace of mind. With Alexa Together, aging loved ones have 24/7 hands-free access to Urgent Response, a professional emergency helpline. pic.twitter.com/WrU1XFOBrQ

— Amazon News (@amazonnews) September 28, 2021

Follow all of the news from Amazon’s fall hardware event right here!

Amazon Glow is a kid-focused video call device with interactive activities

Amazon's latest device is about creating more interactive video calling experiences for kids. Announced today at the company's fall hardware event, Glow is actually two devices in one. It combines an 8-inch LCD display with a projector that creates a 19-inch touch-sensitive touch. Parents, relatives and grandparents can connect to the device through the accompanying Glow mobile app, allowing them to interact with the projected playspace remotely. 

Amazon

The inclusion of object scanning allows kids to turn toys and other items into digital stickers they can use in the various activities that come with the device. features a physical privacy toggle that disables Glow's microphone and camera. Amazon partnered with Disney, Mattel, Nickelodeon and Sesame Street to create content for Glow.

Introducing Amazon Glow, a new way for kids and families to connect with loved ones through virtual experiences that help them feel like they're together in person. pic.twitter.com/A5mijUL9O2

— Amazon News (@amazonnews) September 28, 2021

Developing...

Follow all of the news from Amazon’s fall hardware event right here!

Facebook is ‘pausing’ work on Instagram Kids app amid growing scrutiny

Facebook has announced that it's "pausing" its Instagram Kids project in order to "work with parents, experts and policymakers to demonstrate the value and need for this product." The announcement follows criticism from 44 state attorneys general who asked Facebook to abandon the project, and a request from Democratic lawmakers for more detail about the project. 

The Instagram team said that it was building the app to get around the problem of kids accessing Instagram without parental permission. "We started this project to address an important problem seen across our industry: kids are getting phones younger and younger, misrepresenting their age, and downloading apps that are meant for those 13 or older," wrote Head of Instagram Adam Mosseri. 

At the same time, the company rejected the idea it was capitulating due to criticism. "Critics of 'Instagram Kids' will see this as an acknowledgement that the project is a bad idea. That’s not the case," Mosseri wrote. "The reality is that kids are already online, and we believe that developing age-appropriate experiences designed specifically for them is far better for parents than where we are today."

An important part of what we’ve been developing for 'Instagram Kids' is a way for parents to supervise their child’s use of Instagram. While we’re pausing our development of 'Instagram Kids,' we’ll continue our work to allow parents to oversee their children’s accounts by expanding these tools to teen accounts (aged 13 and over) on Instagram.

Some of the issues raised about the project revolve around Facebook's problems with privacy and particularly child safety. "Not only is social media an influential tool that can be detrimental to children who are not of appropriate age, but this plan could place children directly in the paths of predators," New York state attorney general Letitia James said when the project first came to light. 

Most recently, the WSJ published an article claiming that Facebook has knowingly ignored its own research showing that Instagram is toxic to the mental health of younger people. Yesterday, the social network refuted that article as well, saying its research said that young people had "both positive and negative experiences with social media." 

Facebook pointed out that both YouTube and TikTok have versions of their apps for kids under 13. It also said that Instagram Kids would not be the same as Instagram today, and was never meant for younger children, but tweens between 10 and 12 years old. "It will require parental permission to join, it won’t have ads, and it will have age-appropriate content and features," according to Mosseri. He also pointed out that Facebook has implemented several new measures on issues like body image, encouraging people to look at other topics or take a break if they're dwelling on negative content. 

However, lawmakers don't like even the idea of an app, regardless of intent. "The alternative approach that Facebook appears poised to take—specifically, pushing kids to sign up for a new platform that may itself pose threats to young users’ privacy and wellbeing—involves serious challenges and may do more harm than good," said a group of Democratic lawmakers. 

Beyond Meat's plant-based 'chicken' tenders are coming to grocery stores

Beyond Meat brought its plant-based “chicken” tenders to restaurants this summer, and soon you'll be able to enjoy them at home when Beyond starts selling them through retailers. You'll find the $5 tenders at Walmart and other major grocery chains starting in October, though only in select markets. Beyond expects to expand availability later this year.

The company says its tenders have 50 percent less saturated fat than ones made with actual chicken, and have no GMOs, antibiotics, hormones or cholesterol. Beyond uses faba beans rather than a soy-based recipe in its attempt to replicate the taste and texture of a chicken tender. It says you'll be able to heat up the pre-cooked tenders in under 10 minutes.

Along with Walmart, Beyond's tenders will be available at some Jewel-Osco, Safeway NorCal, Harris Teeter, Giant Foods and ShopRite stores at the outset. Meanwhile, Beyond says it's increasing availability of its products at Walmart. It'll bring Breakfast Sausage Patties to more than 1,300 additional stores, while more locations will offer Beyond Meatballs and Beyond Beef Crumbles.

It's been a busy month in the plant-based meat alternative ecosystem. Beyond competitor Impossible started selling its "chicken" nuggets in restaurants a few weeks ago. Impossible also announced that restaurants will offer its version of ground pork in their dishes this fall.