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Tech News

Ecobee smart thermostats now save you money during peak hours

July 30, 2018 — by Engadget.com0

Ecobee

Ecobee now has an answer to Nest’s peak-usage energy savings. It’s launching a Peak Relief pilot program that automatically cuts down on heating and cooling when electricity rates are at their highest. It uses your comfort preferences, home energy efficiency and the weather forecast to ramp up the heat or AC right before peak times so that you can reap the benefits of your smart thermostat without paying quite so dearly for the privilege. Ecobee reckons that you’ll save an additional 10 percent on your bills on top of the 23 percent you’re normally supposed to save.

Peak Relief works with Ecobee 3, Ecobee 3 Lite and Ecobee 4 thermostats, but that’s not the only requirement — where you live also matters. The pilot is currently limited to certain users in Arizona, California and the Canadian province of Ontario, and then only for people who both have electric heating/cooling and hour-by-hour utility billing. If everything aligns, though, you won’t have to panic when you need air conditioning on a hot night after work.

Tech News

Ask Engadget: Do I need a TV for my dorm room?

July 28, 2018 — by Engadget.com0

The support shared among readers in the comments section is one of the things we love most about the Engadget community. Over the years, we’ve known you to offer sage advice on everything from Chromecasts and cameras to drones and smartphones. In fact, our community’s knowledge and insights are a reason why many of you participate in the comments.

We truly value the time and detail you all spend in responding to questions from your fellow tech-obsessed commenters, which is why we’ve decided to bring back the much-missed “Ask Engadget” column. This week’s question asks how necessary it is for students to have televisions in their dorm rooms. Weigh in with your advice in the comments — and feel free to send your own questions along to ask@engadget.com!

Do I really need a TV in my dorm room? And if I do go buy one, which would be good for a student on a budget?

Devindra Hardawar
Senior Editor

Ah, dorm life. The parties, the games, the impromptu movie nights. Your question really comes down to how much space you have. As we’ve reported on Engadget, TVs have gotten much cheaper recently — you could easily find a decent 50-inch set under $500.

But can your dorm handle something that large? If you don’t know what your room is going to look like yet, I’d suggest holding off until you see what you’re working with in the fall. And if you’re a freshman with a roommate, there’s a good chance you won’t have space at all.

As with any major tech purchase, I’d also encourage you to think about what you actually plan to do with your new toy. Do you want to gather people around for movies? Maybe you want to play fighting games with friends, or just get engrossed in a game on your own? The whole point of having a TV is being able to share the screen and enjoy things communally. If you’re just a solitary gamer, you’re better off investing in a decent gaming monitor. You’ll get a much better quality screen than most TVs, though you’ll end up with a smaller display. That’s less of a problem if you’re sitting right in front of it, however.

If you absolutely have to get a TV, you could start with something like TCL’s $150 Roku TV. It’s only 32 inches and supports 720p HD, but that small size and low price makes it ideal for tiny dorm rooms. Stepping your budget, TCL’s $650 55-inch 55R617 is a fantastic 4K set, with all of the modern HDR features you’d want. It’s also Wirecutter‘s recommendation as the best overall TV, which says quite a bit about its quality.

Check out our complete 2018 back-to-school guide and find all of our student-friendly buying advice right here!

Tech News

Samsung patches multiple SmartThings Hub security flaws

July 28, 2018 — by Engadget.com0

Samsung

Samsung’s SmartThings hub suffered from 20 vulnerabilities that could have allowed attackers to control the internet-of-things devices connected to it. Thankfully, security intelligence firm Cisco Talos discovered the flaws and worked with the Korean company to resolve the issues, allowing Samsung to release a firmware update that patches them for all affected customers. Talos admits in its report that some of the vulnerabilities would’ve been difficult to exploit, but attackers can combine several at once to launch a “significant attack on the device.”

While the hub may not have access to credit card and bank account numbers, hackers could have taken advantage of the flaws to disable smart locks and gain physical entry to people’s homes, for instance, or to take command of nanny cams and CCTVs to monitor a house’s occupants or an establishment’s activities. They could’ve used the flaws to disable motion and alarm systems or even to damage appliances connected to the hub.

Despite the multiple vulnerabilities, Talos praised the company for working to resolve the situation after being informed. Craig Williams, Director of Cisco Talos Outreach, told ZDNet that Samsung “did a lot of things right and should be commended for the way [it] designed [its] devices to be easily updated.” He added “Every piece of software from every vendor has bugs if you look closely enough.” A Samsung spokesperson also told the publication that it had already released an automatic update to fix all the flaws Talos found and “all active SmartThings Hub V2 devices in the market are updated to date.”

Tech News

Wirecutter's best deals: Save $15 on a Logitech Performance MX mouse

July 26, 2018 — by Engadget.com0

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This post was done in partnership with Wirecutter. When readers choose to buy Wirecutter’s independently chosen editorial picks, it may earn affiliate commissions that support its work. Read their continuously updated list of deals here.

Kingston HyperX Cloud Gaming Headset

Street price: $80; deal price: $65

If you’re seeking a gaming headset at an affordable price, you’re in luck. Down to $65, this is a good drop on this recommended wired option from Kingston. Usually $80, we see periodic drops on this model, which we praise for its build quality and long-term wearability, but we rarely see it lower than this.

The Kingston HyperX Cloud is the top pick in our guide to the best gaming headset. Dennis Burger wrote, “After a combined 200 hours of testing over the course of nearly two-and-a-half years, including listening to 10 new models this year, we still think Kingston’s original HyperX Cloud is the best gaming headset for serious PC gamers. The HyperX Cloud offers the best mix of audio performance and comfort for the money. It’s beautifully built and comfortable on a wide variety of heads, and its sound quality holds up against some of the best dedicated headphones in its price range. You won’t find a more neutral-sounding and versatile gaming headset unless you’re willing to spend at least $40 or $50 more.”

TorGuard VPN

Street price: $60/yr; deal price: $30/yr w/ code FreeResIP

A reliable VPN service is an excellent add-on for your internet security, so this deal on a full-featured option is an opportune one. Use code FreeResIP in cart to drop the regular price of the TorGuard VPN by 50%. This code works for all time periods, so the yearly service, typically $60, is $30. Six months, usually $30, is $15, and shorter periods are also available and work with the code.

TorGuard is the budget pick in our guide to the best VPN service. Mark Smirniotis wrote, “If you don’t mind doing a little extra tinkering in a more complicated app to save some money, we recommend TorGuard because it’s trustworthy, secure, and fast. TorGuard is well-regarded in trust and transparency; it was also the fastest service we tried despite being less expensive than much of the competition, and its server network spans more than 50 locations, more than twice as many as our top pick. But TorGuard’s apps aren’t as easy to use as IVPN’s: TorGuard includes settings and labels that allow extra flexibility but clutter the experience for anyone new to VPNs.”

Logitech Performance Mouse MX

Street price: $55; deal price: $40

At $40, this recurring deal price matches the low we’ve seen for this wireless mouse, a longtime pick in our guide. The Performance Mouse MX, despite its age, is still a great option if you have a legacy (non-C) USB port (or dongle) available for the included unifying receiver.

The Logitech Performance Mouse MX is our larger hands pick

Tech News

Lenovo Smart Display: A worthy rival to the Echo Show

July 26, 2018 — by Engadget.com0

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Smart Display Get more info More Scores Engadget Not yet scored   Critic Not yet scored   Users Not yet scored   Key Specs Screen resolution  X

Amazon may have pioneered the smart-speaker movement, but Google isn’t far behind. A year after Amazon debuted the first Echo, Google followed in its footsteps with the Home. The company copied Amazon yet again with the Home Mini, which is its version of the Echo Dot. Last year, Amazon revealed the Echo Show — an smart speaker with a display. And, sure enough, earlier this year, Google announced that it, too, was getting into the smart-display category.

Gallery: Lenovo Smart Display review | 30 Photos 30 +26 Engadget Score Poor Uninspiring Good Excellent Key Lenovo Smart Display 86 Pros Stylish design Gorgeous display Great sound quality Integrates with many Google apps and services The only smart display on the market with YouTube Cons Not as functional as a tablet in some areas Don’t have full access to YouTube subscriptions Summary

Lenovo’s Google-powered Smart Display is a worthy Amazon Echo Show rival. Not only does it sport a stylish design along with a stunning display and superb speakers, it’s also a great showcase for all of the extra functionality and features that Google brings to the table.

This time, Google isn’t making the hardware itself — at least not yet. Much like its Android ecosystem, the company is partnering with several hardware manufacturers to release a line of different Google-powered smart displays.

The first to do so is Lenovo with its Smart Display, and it sets the bar high. Priced at $200 for the 8-inch model and $250 for the 10-inch, it’s stylish, the display is stunning and the audio quality is stellar. After several days with it, I can safely say that Lenovo’s Smart Display — and Google’s line of smart displays in general — pose a bona fide threat to Amazon’s Echo line.

As much as we liked Amazon’s Echo Show, we weren’t fond of its design. The Lenovo Smart Display, on the other hand, is a thing of beauty. Clad in a white shell, it looks like a fancy tablet stand, with

Tech News

Lenovo delivers the first Google Assistant smart display

July 26, 2018 — by Engadget.com0

Lenovo

Lenovo will start shipping the first Google Assistant smart display this weekend, marking the birth of a new range of products that could eventually include some of Echo Show’s staunchest rivals. Similar to what Echo Show does, Google’s smart displays will give you a way to interact with the tech giant’s voice assistant in a visual way. We first met the new devices at CES this year, where we were impressed with their ability to instantly display maps and send them to your phone when you ask for directions. Certainly beats listening and trying to visualize them.

Here’s another instance where a smart display can be much easier to use than a smart speaker: Assistant will also provide a step-by-step visual aid for recipes you look up that you can follow on screen. Plus, the device can present a visual summary of the weather, give you a way to create and manage to-do lists and show you audio tracks you can listen to instead of randomly playing a tune. If you’re a visual person, this new category will definitely sound more enticing than smart speakers.

And what good is a Google display for if you can’t play YouTube on it? You can ask Assistant to stream cooking videos, make-up tutorials and anything else you want to watch hands-free. If you’ve never subscribed to YouTube Premium in the past, you’ll get three months free with your purchase. The display can also stream live or recorded YouTube TV shows, YouTube Music, HBO Now, Google Play Music, Spotify and Pandora. If you want to video call a friend on a screen bigger than your phone, simply invoke Duo on the device — say “Hey Google, call [friend’s name].” And in case you never had a Home speaker to begin with, you can use the display to listen to podcasts and audiobooks, as well.

Lenovo’s Google-powered smart display will be available in two sizes and colors, though all of them come with a 10-watt speaker. The smaller 8-inch HD model will set you back $200, while the 10-inch full HD one will cost you $250. If they don’t have the looks or the features that can convince you to shell out a couple of hundred bucks, you can always wait for the next models from Google’s other partners, including JBL and LG. Make sure to check out our review to decide for yourself.

Tech News

Amazon will prevent command confusion on all Alexa devices

July 25, 2018 — by Engadget.com0

Engadget

Amazon’s Echo lineup, like some smart speakers, uses proximity detection to decide which device is best-suited to responding to your voice commands. It’s a clever way to prevent multiple devices from waking up at the same time. There’s just one problem: support in non-Amazon devices has been inconsistent at best, creating a mess if you have third-party gear that doesn’t use the feature. Thankfully, that shouldn’t be an issue from here on out. Amazon has moved its Echo Spatial Perception technology to the cloud, ensuring that all devices can use it.

The ESP upgrade is automatic and doesn’t require any changes on the part of hardware makers. It’s also more accurate, according to Amazon, and can change over time as Alexa receives upgrades.

This doesn’t change some limitations for multi-device households. Many commands still apply specifically to the device where they’re set, such as reminders and timers. Even so, this could be a crucial update for Amazon. If it’s going to bring Alexa to virtually every device it can, it has to create a harmonious ecosystem.

Tech News

Netgearā€™s Arlo is launching a smart doorbell

July 23, 2018 — by Engadget.com0

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Netgear

Today, Netgear announced that it is launching a Arlo-branded doorbell that works seamlessly with its line of security cameras and security lights. The wire-free Arlo Audio Doorbell can replace your traditional doorbell; every time someone rings the doorbell, the Arlo app will call your smartphone, which allows you to speak to your visitors or send a prerecorded greeting.

The Arlo Doorbell easily integrates with your home’s existing doorbell’s wiring. However, you can also use it as a wireless doorbell. It runs on two AA batteries, and Netgear reports that in testing, these lasted for about a year.

If you would prefer a more traditional doorbell experience (and don’t want the doorbell constantly calling your phone), Netgear will also offer the Arlo Chime. These devices plug into regular outlets, and you can place as many as you want around your homes. They provide customizable audio alerts, which are useful if you don’t always have your phone with you. You have access to seven days of cloud storage for free.

It’s worth nothing that the Arlo Doorbell is audio-only, unlike the Ring. It requires a Arlo camera for video. We don’t have pricing information yet, but it will be available starting this fall. It’s certainly an interesting decision, given Ring’s dominance in the smart doorbell market (and especially now that Amazon owns Ring). However, this is likely targeting customers who already have Arlo cameras installed and want to add to their home security experience.

Tech News

Nest CEO steps down as the company joins Google's home division

July 17, 2018 — by Engadget.com0

AOL

According to CNET, Nest has announced today that Marwan Fawaz will no longer be its CEO. As part of his departure, Nest will now be folded into Google’s home and living room products team. In a joint interview with Fawaz, Rishi Chandra, vice president of product management for Google’s home and living room products, said that the combination would make it easier for Google to integrate some of its machine learning technology and artificial intelligence into Nest products.

This move comes six months after Nest merged with Google’s hardware division. Nest co-founder Matt Rogers left soon after as well. Now, Nest will live under Google’s home devices (like the Home smart speakers) umbrella, which is led by Chandra. “This is the natural evolution,” he said to CNET. “We thought, let’s connect these things and build experiences that we really couldn’t do before.”

According to CNET, Fawaz will stay on at Google as an executive adviser, and that the Nest brand will stick around. CNET also reports that his exit came after an internal push for leadership change.

Tech News

Wirecutter's best Amazon Prime Day deals: the PM edition

July 17, 2018 — by Engadget.com0

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This post was done in partnership with Wirecutter. When readers choose to buy Wirecutter’s independently chosen editorial picks, Wirecutter and Engadget may earn affiliate commissions. that support its work. Read Wirecutter’s continuously updated list of Prime Day deals here.

DJI Spark Fly More Combo

Street price: $550; deal price: $500

A solid $50 discount on a great starter drone, this discounted price extends to all colors.

The DJI Spark Fly More Combo is the budget pick in our guide to the best drones. Mike Perlman wrote, “it has all the important features you need from a video drone: 1080p video recording, image and flight stabilization, collision-avoidance technology, and an included controller, and smart-flight modes like ActiveTrack (tracks and follows a subject) and gesture controls all come standard.”

Dyson V8 Absolute

Street price: $450; deal price: $365

This matches the best price we’ve seen on a similar new model, the V8 Animal. While we sometimes see great $300 deals on refurb models, you’ll be hard pressed to do better on a new model.

The Dyson V8 Absolute is the upgrade pick in our guide to the best cordless stick vacuum. Liam McCabe and Michelle Ma wrote, “the very best cordless vacuum cleaner, with more attachments, a longer battery life, and slightly stronger suction than our main pick.”

Bonavita BV382510V 1.0L Gooseneck Kettle

Street price: $65; deal price: $45

A new low by nearly $10 on our runner-up pick for best electric kettle and top pick for pour-over coffee.

Michael Sullivan, Winnie Yang, and Tim Barribeau wrote, “We recommend this precise-aim gooseneck kettle for anyone preparing pour-over coffee, or for tea lovers who will geek out over its spot-on temperature accuracy.”

TP-Link Smart Wi-Fi Light Switch

Street price: $35; deal price: $26

Although this product tends to experience a lot of price fluctuations we would estimate the street price to be around $35, and the drop to $26 is a really solid discount.

The TP-Link Smart Wi-Fi Light Switch is the budget pick in our guide to the best in-wall wireless light switch and dimmer. This is the least expensive stand-alone model we tested.

iRobot Roomba 671

Street price: $350; deal price: $230

Although we’re changing our runner-up pick, this is still a solid deal and the lowest price we’ve seen on this variant of our runner-up pick in our guide to the best robot vacuum. Great for pet hair and Wi-Fi enabled, this is a great price to pick up a good robot vacuum.

Crucial MX500 250GB

Street price: $73; deal price: $60

The price of the 250GB version has been slowly declining over the past months with a new low of $65 just recently. When you take this SSD to checkout your final price will be $55 before tax, the best price we’ve ever seen and nice discount from a street price around $73.

The Crucial MX500 is the top pick in our