Posts with «provider_name|engadget» label

Ducati's first electric motorcycle is designed for MotoE racing

Ducati has unveiled not just its first electric motorcycle but a key piece in the 2023 season of MotoE e-motocycle racing, it announced. The V21L prototype has that classic Ducati look but is swathed in carbon fiber and packs a 150HP electric motor with a 18kWh battery. As detailed in an announcement last year, Ducati will be the exclusive supplier of all 18 bikes used for FIM MotoE World Cup racing from 2023-2026.

It weighs in at 225 kilograms (496 pounds), with just under half the weight for the battery — very heavy for a racing bike (143 pounds more than ICE models), but still 26 pounds under the MotoE specification for 2023. It's also 35 kg (77 pounds) less than the Energica e-motocycles currently used in MotoE racing. 

The V21L can be charged to 80 percent in just 45 minutes and has enough range to complete the required seven laps of key GP tracks. It has reportedly hit speeds of up to 171 MPH at the Mugello MotoGP Circuit in Tuscany. 

The e-motorbike is quite a bet by (and on) Ducati considering it's never done one before, but the company said it used its extensive racing experience to design the model. At the same time, it'll take racing lessons learned back to its consumer models. 

"At this moment, the most important challenges in this field remain those related to the size, weight, autonomy of the batteries and the availability of the charging networks," said Ducati R&D director Vincenzo De Silva in a statement. "Helping the company's internal expertise to grow is already essential today to be ready when the time comes to put the first street electric Ducati into production."

Meta allows select creators to post their NFTs on Facebook

Non-fungible tokens have arrived on Facebook. Meta has confirmed to TechCrunch that it has started giving select creators in the US the power to post digital collectibles on their profiles. While it's unclear if and when the feature will make its way to more users — Meta called the release a "slow rollout" — company CEO Mark Zuckerberg previously said that Meta was going to test NFT support on the social network. Meta Product Manager Navdeep Singh has posted photos on Twitter of what NFT integration would look like on Facebook's, and similar to Instagram's implementation, creators will have a digital collectibles tab on their profile where they can show off their NFTs.

Creators will be able to post their collectibles as status updates that people can comment on and react to, and clicking on them shows information on the artwork. According to Decrypt, Facebook will allow users to link their compatible digital wallets with the website, similar to how they can do so on Instagram. At the moment, Facebook supports NFTs minted on Ethereum and Polygon, though it will soon support Solana and Flow NFTs, as well. 

We're launching NFTs on Facebook! Excited to share what I've been working on with the world. pic.twitter.com/TaV66zRanV

— Navdeep Singh (@navdeep_ua) June 29, 2022

Meta started testing NFT integration on Instagram in May, promising additional related features, such as allowing users to display their pieces as augmented reality stickers in Stories. NFTs are perhaps a more fitting addition to Instagram than Facebook, based on the platforms' userbase, but Meta is determined to make them a part of its products. Zuckerberg wrote in the post announcing the arrival of digital collectibles on Instagram: "We're starting building for NFTs, not just in our metaverse and Reality Labs work, but also across our family of apps."

How to survive the inevitable CD revival

In 1982, when the BBC’s prime-time technology show – Tomorrow’s Worlddid a segment on a new musical format called the “Compact Disc” the presenter skeptically asked "Whether there's a market for this, remains to be seen". We all know what happened next, but even in the early ‘80s the benefits of CDs should have been clear: high quality, non-degrading sound in a compact format. Oh, and you could even skip, shuffle and repeat tracks, which, in a pre-digital world, truly felt like the future

The Compact Disc turns 40 this year, and there are already signals the format is primed for a mini revival. For the first time in 17 years, CD sales actually went up - and by almost 50 percent, according to the RIAA’s sales database.

It’s still a long way from the format’s peak. In 2021, 46.6 million CDs were shipped in the US – compared to nearly a billion back in 2000. For context, that 46.6 million barely accounts for four percent of last year’s total music revenue. Vinyl albums, by contrast, sold fewer overall units (39.7M) but are more of a money spinner for artists (seven percent of total revenues).

Some reports claim that the uptick in CD sales is mostly due to mega-artists like Adele and BTS releasing new albums (the former’s 30 accounted for two percent of total CD sales alone). But there are other potential – and more practical – contributing factors, too, including the pandemic.

“CD sales are growing again now that retail stores are reopening and artists are back on tour. And while CDs haven’t yet seen the same type of revival as vinyl, the CD format remains a steady revenue stream for independent artists.” Rob Bach, COO of CD Baby told Engadget. They should know, as one of their services is the production and distribution of CDs for indie bands.

Kevin Breuner, SVP of Artist Engagement and Education for the company, thinks there’s an increasing appetite for CDs as memorabilia, rather than just as a way of playing music. “Part of it is that streaming hasn’t replaced anything at the merch table … the appeal of a physical item like a CD is that it’s a piece of memorabilia in a live setting, something you can have signed by artists. Similarly, for artists, there’s nothing that can replace when a fan goes back to the merch table to buy a CD or a t-shirt; it’s always been that way.”

There’s also the fact that what once seemed restrictive to younger listeners – having to own a song if you wanted to hear it – now presents a different way of enjoying music. A good album isn’t merely a collection of songs, but a structured experience to be enjoyed from start to finish. You can, of course, do this with streaming, but a CD requires getting up to change, Spotify is usually just a click away.

The CD format is experiencing a nice comeback, I'm sure they'll sound pretty sweet played via the new @MarantzOfficial CD 60 player #audiophile#avtweepshttps://t.co/qnSDtm3RfZ

— Arlen Schweiger (@ArlenSchweiger) May 23, 2022

CDs launched in Japan in October 1982. The format and hardware to play it on didn’t land in the US and Europe until the following year. Adoption was relatively swift and just two years later the first million-selling CD album - Brothers in Arms by Dire Straits – would cement the shiny disc's popularity. By the early ‘90s, assisted by increasingly smaller, affordable and even portable players, the CD was the de facto way to listen to music. And for good reason.

In this new digital world, the CD format was consistent in a way that analog never could be. What became known as the “Red Book” standard – two-channel 16-bit PCM at 44.1kHz – would be the prevailing specification from there on out. When someone used to say “it’s CD quality” one might assume that’s what they were referring to.

This standard is considered the minimum requirement to be called “lossless” by today's streaming services. Of course, how or what you record at 16-bit/44.1 is really what matters, but that’s a whole other story.

Jamal Saidi / reuters

More important than any of this, for the labels and artists at least, is that the arrival of the CD meant they could re-sell us our entire music collection in the new wonder format. The ‘90s were a good time to be in the music industry, at least until Sean and Shawn came along.

There were other benefits to this new digital medium, too. And not just the aforementioned ability to skip/program/shuffle tracks. With CDs, you could hide bonus tracks in new ways that would otherwise be visible on a vinyl record or instantly found by anyone that left a cassette tape running.

Even more exciting? Once PCs started being a more common feature in homes, artists and labels realized you could bundle in entirely different bonus media like videos and karaoke versions – as found on some versions of Americana by The Offspring, for example.

Before we show you some ways you can enjoy/rediscover the joys of compact discs, bear in mind the experience was far from flawless.

Despite being more durable than vinyl, it definitely is possible to scratch a CD. When a record has a scratch, it’s almost charming. With CDs, it’s more like walking slowly through hell as they dig up the streets. If your disc was damaged, it also might work in some players yet, frustratingly, not in others. Many an hour has been wasted cleaning and reseating a CD in the hope it would take.

Are CD’s the aesthetic now? 👀 https://t.co/9Ir6OFMjG5

— Mother of the House of Shaming (@mmkayrulz) May 26, 2022

Of course, many CD players took only one disc, so you’d frequently be swapping them out. If you knew someone who had every CD in the right jewel case, that was often a tell that this person doesn’t listen to their music enthusiastically or often enough (It’s possible they were just slightly organized, but where’s the fun in that). This “which disc is in which case” problem became even worse when someone decided CD singles – one song you wanted and some less good songs on one disc – were a good idea.

Not to mention the fragility of the cases they came in. Jewel case hinges would crack just by looking at them, while center hubs (the part that held the disc in place) would crumble no matter how well you handled things. Most often while moving house or the aforementioned enthusiastic listening with friends.

Unlike other formats, the CD is unique in that it played a part in its own demise. With the advent of CD burners, you could easily copy your friends’ album collection, print out album artwork and even print circular stickers with the CD art on them, too. This was how music was stolen for the short period when CD burners and blank discs were affordable and online piracy hadn’t taken hold. The CD was then effectively relegated to the role of external storage medium before quietly regressing into obscurity. Until now, of course.

With those small challenges in mind, if you’re ready and willing to give the humble Compact Disc another, uhm, spin, here are some recommendations, new and old, cheap and not-so, to dive into the world of the CD.

Where to find CDs

Maybe you already have a collection, if so, you’re good to go. But if you’re new around here, you’re going to want to grab a few albums to get you started. For current, mainstream music you’ll be able to find a selection at Target and Walmart. Jeff Bezos will of course also happily sell you a CD. Tower Records also recently returned as an online-only store which also has a good selection of CDs. For more of an indie-artist focus, there’s of course Bandcamp – or the good old-fashioned merch stall at a gig.

You can, of course, also navigate the secondhand market either locally (thrift stores, local record shops) or online at places like Discogs, eBay or even apps like Letgo.

What you may already own

Aaron Souppouris / Engadget

Maybe, you have a CD player unironically in your front room right now. We admire the dedication. Or perhaps you have an old one in storage somewhere? But if you’re young enough to have gone straight to streaming, it’s worth asking family and friends in case they have one gathering dust somewhere.

That said, you might even own a CD player without even knowing it. If you have an Xbox with a disc drive, congratulations, you’re already in the club. PlayStation fans, however, need either a PS1 (original), a PS2 or a PS3, as after that Sony decided the functionality for audio discs was no longer needed.

Cheap and easy

There was a brief period where the only CD player in the house might well have been in your PC. Primarily used for installing software or the drivers for a peripheral (yeah, we know, bad times) the CD-ROM drive was also good for playing music too.

Most PC cases these days aren’t really made with a CD-R drive in mind, and the last Mac to include a CD drive was the 2012 MacBook Pro. That model was discontinued in 2016, the same year Apple nixed the iPhone’s headphone jack - a rough year for many music listeners.

No worries, there’s a sort of dongle for that. You can pick up a USB CD-Drive for a little over the price of one album, such as this one for a reasonable $22. You’ll also get DVD and CD burning functionality thrown in, which surely will also be due their own revivals before long.

A new take on a classic

James Trew / Engadget

For many, the advent of the portable CD player was a long time coming. But the format wasn’t entirely suited to being in motion. Not initially at least, with even the slightest of movements causing a disc to skip. Over time this was resolved as players were able to buffer more music to ride out those bumps.

NINM Labs’ “Long Time No See” portable CD player (approx $117) blends the best of the past with modern conveniences like Bluetooth and USB power. The transparent design gives off early-aughts Game Boy vibes, while a clever speaker “lid” accessory means you’re never without a way to listen to those discs. That said, there’s of course the aforementioned Bluetooth for connecting to speakers and headphones and even a good old fashioned headphone port.

What’s more, you can run the player directly from USB power or AA batteries. You can even charge said batteries while it’s connected over USB. And the whole thing is magnetic, too, so you can get creative with where you place it.

Taking things to a (much) higher level

James Trew / Engadget

For the most authentic experience, it has to be HiFi separates. In the ‘90s a good HiFi was the quickest way to let someone know you were serious about music. No MegaBASS or often even an EQ for these dedicated listeners, just pure unadulterated sound. They may also be seen with magic pebbles or some CDs in the freezer.

Cambridge Audio has been around long enough to know what makes a great CD player. Its CXC “player” comes right in at $700. The CXC doesn’t even convert the CD to audio, it passes the digital signal directly to… something else, as long as it has either S/PDIF coaxial or TOSLINK in puts. You may as well complete the look with Cambridge Audio’s CXA61 amplifier ($1,100) with a DAC. It’s the perfect companion for the CXC both in terms of looks and connectivity. Of course, spending $1,800 on fancy HiFi gear doesn’t always mean you’re set. You still need some speakers, so you might as well toss in the SX60 bookshelf set for the fully-loaded CD setup.

Anova's Precision Cooker Nano drops to $99 at Amazon

If you're looking to experiment more in the kitchen, sous vide cooking could be a way to do that. Anova makes a couple of WiFi-connected sous vide machines that we like, and our favorite, the Precision Cooker Nano, is back on sale for $99. That's 34 percent off and one of the best prices we've seen it, making it a good time to grab the entry-level device.

Buy Precision Cooker Nano at Amazon - $99

You'll need a couple of things to give sous vide a try, but the one that you probably don't already have at home is a machine like the Nano. This method of cooking involves putting food in a sealable bag and then cooking it in a water bath. Devices like the Nano constantly circulate that water while keeping it at a precise temperature so your food comes out perfectly done, not over- or undercooked.

Anova's Precision Cooker Nano earned a spot on our list of favorite kitchen gadgets because it combines affordability and precision in a compact device. Normally priced at $149, the Nano comes in at only 1.7 pounds and its small enough to fit in your kitchen's utensil drawer. It uses 750 watts of power to heat water for up to 3,000 hours before you'll need to recharge it, so you'll be able to conduct a number of sous vide tests before it needs more juice.

The Nano has onboard controls that you can use to adjust temperature and timing, or you can connect it via Bluetooth to your phone and do so via its companion mobile app. Unlike more expensive Anova machines, the Nano doesn't connect via WiFi, and it also has a fixed clamp that attaches to your cooking pot, rather than an adjustable one. Aside from those features, the biggest differences between the Nano and Anova's standard Precision Cooker lie in wattage and size. But we think the Nano is a great option for all home cooks, and sous vide newbies will find it especially easy to use.

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NVIDIA's new Shield update can stop late-night movies waking up the entire house

NVIDIA has rolled out Experience Upgrade v9.1 for all Shield TV and TV Pro units, and one of the features it brings will make watching action movies without earphones more feasible for night owls. The new Night Listening mode can optimize sounds when it's switched on so that loud explosions are subdued while quiet dialogue gets emphasized even while the volume is on low. "Enjoy watching movies or playing games at night without disturbing your family," the company said in its announcement. To note, the new model is available while using HDMI audio only. 

In addition to Night Listening, the latest update also enables Shield TVs to automatically switch to low latency game mode on all supported television and display models. So long as a display has Automatic Low Latency Mode (ALLM), the streaming media device will be able to ensure that it's activated while a user is playing, whether it's a local game or something from the GeForce NOW cloud gaming service. By reducing latency, ALLM reduces lag and allows a smoother, more responsive gaming experience. Upgrade 9.1 comes with a few more features that include the ability to disable displaying HDR/Dolby Vision content and to get notifications when the microphone is turned on. 

Shield TV's previous update brought Android 11 to all models and added access to a new Google Keyboard with support for voice searches. It also fixed a a vulnerability that allowed remote attackers to cause a permanent denial of service. While 9.1 doesn't come with a big security fix, it does include a bunch of bug fixes for both Shield TV app and devices.

Uber's second safety report shows a fall in assaults but traffic deaths rise

Uber has released its second bi-annual safety report covering the period between 2019 and 2020. The headline statistic is that the ride sharing company received 3,824 reports of sexual assault or misconduct via its app during this time. In addition, 20 people were killed in assaults and 101 fatalities as a consequence of an Uber-related crash, although the company is keep to emphasize the majority of those cases were caused by a third-party driver.

Compared to the last safety report, which covered the years 2017 and 2018, the figures for sexual assault have fallen from 5,981 then to 3,824 now. As both The New York Times and Bloomberg say, this may have been related to the fall in demand caused by shelter-in-place orders caused by COVID-19. Uber said that more than 99.9 percent of its rides happen without incident, and that these disclosures are an affirmation of its commitment to safety rather than the opposite.

The Morning After: Major League Baseball wants to deploy strike zone robo-umpires in 2024

Major League Baseball will "likely" introduce an Automated Strike Zone System starting in 2024, commissioner Rob Manfred told ESPN. These robot umpires may call all balls and strikes then relay the information to a plate umpire, or be part of a replay review system that allows managers to challenge calls.

The comments come following outrage over umpires' missed calls in recent games, including a brutal low strike error during a Detroit Tigers and Minnesota Twins game. MLB has been experimenting with robo-umpires in the Atlantic Triple-A minor league since 2019, using similar technology to golf speed-measurement devices.

There may be other benefits to introducing the tech. According to MLB data, mechanical systems have already made Atlantic league games mercifully shorter by a full nine minutes. And I say mercifully from the perspective of a Brit who’s watched cricket matches.

—Mat Smith

 

The biggest stories you might have missed

The best smartphones you can buy right now

Not just flagships.

Engadget

Here at Engadget, we test smartphones all year round and can help you make sense of what’s available and what to look out for. It’s time for our updated Best Smartphones guide and we’ve included all our favorite phones to help you whittle down your shortlist.

Continue reading.

An update makes the DJI Mavic 3 a much better drone

From ActiveTrack to Quickshots to an improved telezoom camera.

When it launched last year, the DJI Mavic 3 grabbed a lot of headlines with features like a Four Thirds sensor and a second 7X telephoto camera. But it launched without ActiveTrack and QuickShot features which meant potential buyers couldn’t get a full picture of the drone before paying up to $5,000 for one.

Following three major firmware updates in December, January and May, all the promised functions and more are finally here. How do they fare?

Continue reading.

Samsung Gaming Hub goes live today with Twitch, Xbox Game Pass and more

The game-centric menu is rolling out to 2022 Samsung smart TVs and smart monitors.

Samsung’s Gaming Hub is now live on its 2022 smart TVs and smart monitors, and it's adding two services from Amazon to its game-streaming lineup: Twitch and Luna. Twitch is available today, while Luna is coming soon. Gamers will also be able to access Xbox Game Pass now, as well as apps for NVIDIA GeForce NOW, Google Stadia and Utomik in the same designated area on their TVs. The company plans to release details about the gaming hub's rollout to earlier Samsung smart TV models at a later date.

Continue reading.

Boring Company's underground Loop just hit the Las Vegas Strip

Why walk less than a mile?

The Boring Company

The Boring Company and Resorts World Las Vegas announced the official opening of the latest Loop station at the Las Vegas Convention Center. This spur off of the Boring Company's existing Loop network (which runs underneath the North and South halls of the LVCC) connects the convention center directly to a sister station underneath the World Resorts property on the other side of South Las Vegas Blvd. The trip should take just a few minutes.

Continue reading.

A swarm of Cruise robotaxis blocked San Francisco traffic for hours

The service launched last month.

A small fleet of Cruise robotaxis in San Francisco suddenly stopped operating on Tuesday night, effectively blocking traffic on a street in the city's Fillmore district for a couple of hours until employees were able to arrive. Cruise — which is General Motor’s AV subsidiary — only launched its commercial robotaxi service in the city last week. The rides feature no human safety driver, are geo-restricted to certain streets and can only operate in the late evening hours.

Continue reading.

Google offers developers $90 million to settle Play Store billing fight

Google has offered to put $90 million on the table to settle a brewing conflict between it and a number of Android developers. As Reuters reports, the issue centers around the mandatory use of Google’s in-house payments platform, with its fixed 30 percent cut. Developers feel that Google had worked behind the scenes to close off the options for alternative payment systems. It’s prompted the search giant to offer a settlement to avoid “years of uncertain and distracting litigation.”

In a statement, Google said that, if the court approves the offer, it will put $90 million into a fund to “support US developers who earned two million dollars of less in annual revenue through Google Play during each year from 2016-2021.” If it goes ahead, Google will automatically notify the people who qualify for a payout, as well as affirm several changes it’s already started to make. This includes lowering the commissionto 15 percent for the first $1 million in annual revenue, enabling developers to communicate with users outside of the app, and make it easier to use rival app stores and billing platforms.

Tesla faces new lawsuit over claims of racism and harassment at its Fremont factory

Tesla is facing another lawsuit by a group of former and current workers at its Fremont factory who allege that it knew about but failed to stop racist slurs, harassment and more, The San Francisco Chronicle reported. The employees were "subjected to offensive racist comments and offensive racist behavior and discipline by colleagues, leads, supervisors, managers, and/or human resources personnel on a daily basis," the complaint states. 

One plaintiff named in the suit, Jasmine Wilson, worked as a quality inspector from August 2021 to March 2022. She alleges that she was the victim of racial epithets and sexual harassment from supervisors. In addition, they assumed she was a production associate because she was African-American, and berated her for not doing that job and wearing the wrong uniform, according to the suit. When she informed human resources, it was skeptical of her claims and never launched a promised investigation. 

Other employees also alleged racial slurs and graffiti on Tesla restroom walls, and said they were retaliated against after complaining. Some said they were given more strenuous positions than non-minority workers and passed over for promotions. 

Late last year, Tesla was sued by six women who accused it of "rampant" sexual harassment at the Fremont factory with catcalling, inappropriate touching, sexual comments and more. In December, a jury awarded former elevator operator Owen Diaz $137 million over racial abuse. The award was later reduced to $15 million, but that was rejected by Diaz and a federal judge ordered a new damages trial. Tesla has yet to comment on the latest lawsuit and eliminated its press relations department in 2020. 

Instagram test turns all video posts into Reels

It looks like Meta truly is making a big push for Reels. Social media consultant Matt Navarra has posted a screenshot on Twitter showing a notice for an experimental Instagram feature that says all video posts would be shared as Reels on the app. If your account is public, that means anyone can discover your video and use your original audio to create their own Reel. Only friends would see your video if your profile is private, but other users can still create a remix with your Reel and download it as part of their remix. The only way to ensure nobody uses your Reel for remixes is to turn the option off in Settings or to disable it for each video you post.

Instagram is now making EVERY video a Reel

h/t @ChristinaSBGpic.twitter.com/YLRDhT1nw0

— Matt Navarra (@MattNavarra) June 30, 2022

As TechCrunch notes, this move doesn't come as a surprise when the TikTok-style videos have quickly become a popular format on both Instagram and Facebook. When he revealed the company's fourth quarterly earnings report for 2021, Mark Zuckerberg said that Reels is now Meta's fastest growing content format. Meta chief product officer Chris Cox called Reels a "bright point" for the company, as well, in a recent memo shared with employees warning them about "serious times" ahead due to slowing growth. He also said that one of the projects Meta intends to focus on for the second half of 2022 is monetizing Reels as quickly as possible. 

Apparently, time spent viewing the short-form videos has more than doubled since last year, with 80 percent of that growth coming from Facebook. That's why the company will go as far as to redesign Instagram's and Facebook's home pages to better incorporate the short videos. Turning all video posts into Reels would give the company more content to circulate, which in turn would translate to more time viewing videos on the platform and bigger potential ad earnings for when the format is finally monetized. That said, not all experimental Instagram features make it to wide release, and it remains to be seen whether this one will survive the testing phase.