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'Digital Key' standard uses your phone to unlock your car

June 20, 2018 — by Engadget.com0

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LEEDDONG via Getty Images

You can already use your smartphone as a car key if you own the right vehicle (just ask Tesla Model 3 owners). There hasn’t really been a common standard for it, though, and that has hurt adoption — you can’t guarantee that you’ll have phone access if you switch brands, or even individual models. You might soon have a solution. The Car Connectivity Consortium, a mix of major smartphone and automotive brands, has posted a Digital Key 1.0 standard (PDF) that will let you download (what else?) a virtual key that can unlock your vehicle, start the engine and even share access with other drivers.

Unsurprisingly, the technology focuses on security more than anything else. Your car manufacturer uses an existing trusted system to send the digital key to your phone, which uses close-range NFC to grant access to your ride. You can’t just unlock your car from inside your home, then, but this would also force would-be thieves to be physically present with your phone when trying to unlock your car.

It’s going to take a while for companies to implement the feature, so the days of keeping a tangible key in your pockets aren’t done yet. However, the Consortium’s membership suggests that Digital Key could be ubiquitous once it arrives in earnest. Apple, LG and Samsung are among the phone brands in the group, while car brands including BMW, Hyundai and the Volkswagen group are also onboard. There’s also talk of a version 2.0 spec that will promise more interoperability between cars and mobile devices in the first quarter of 2019.

The standard promises convenience for anyone who tends to forget their usual keys, but it could also be essential for future cars. Brands like Lynk & Co are starting to offer car sharing as a feature, whether it’s offering temporary access for your teen’s night out or renting your car to neighbors. This could make sharing relatively trivial and lower the cost of ownership for buyers who only periodically drive their own machines.

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LG's G7 and V35 are available for pre-order on Project Fi

June 20, 2018 — by Engadget.com0

Chris Velazco/Engadget

You no longer have to spring for a Pixel if you want a high-end smartphone on Project Fi. In the wake of an announcement late last month, Google’s wireless service has made LG’s G7 ThinQ and V35 ThinQ available for pre-order. The pricing for the devices remains unchanged at a respective $749 and $899, but there’s now a sweeter incentive to buy them: you’ll get a $100 Fi bill credit if you buy either device no later than July 7th. They’re still more expensive than the Pixel 2 line as of this writing (Google is offering a $150 bill credit for those devices as well), but it might be tempting if you want a fast phone on Fi and aren’t willing to wait a few months.

The Project Fi version of either phone will be extremely familiar — the difference is just that they’re running on Google’s unique multi-network, pay-for-what-you-use service. Whether or not you like them will depend on your tastes in Android interfaces, cameras, and special features like the V35’s quad DAC. If you’re a stock Android fan or prefer Google’s intelligent camera processing, the Pixel range is likely your top pick.

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LG's Q Stylus phone is a budget Galaxy Note rival

June 6, 2018 — by Engadget.com0

LG

If you’re looking for a stylus-equipped smartphone without spending Galaxy Note 8 cash, LG has an answer with the Q Stylus. As the name suggests, it’s equipped with a pen for note-taking, sketching, and touching up images and videos. It has a number of other premium features as well — you get a metal body with a 6.2-inch FHD+ display, a 16-megapixel rear(max)/8-megapixel front cameras with phase-detect autofocus and the same DTS:X 7.1 channel 3D surround audio found on the V and G series phones.

The processor is an unnamed 8-core model — hence the “mid-range” designation — but you do get up to 4GB of RAM, depending on the model (more on that in a second). It also comes with USB Type-C fast charging, IP68 water and dust protection and a rear fingerprint sensor.

Confusingly, there are a several models in the Q Stylus lineup, the regular Q Stylus, the Q Stylus+ and the Q Stylus α. (Those latter characters are supposed to be in superscript, a rather clueless decision from LG’s marketing department.) The Q+ gets 4GB of RAM, 64GB of storage via microSD and a 16-megapixel camera, while the other models get 3GB, 32GB via microSD and 13-megapixel front cameras, respectively.

The Q Stylus is coming to North America and Asia later this month in Aurora Black (Q, Q+), Moroccan Blue (Q, Q+, Qα) and Lavender Violet (Q+). It will be introduced elsewhere afterwards, but it’s not clear which models are coming where, and there’s no word yet on pricing.

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LG's first 4K projector will be available in the US this week

June 5, 2018 — by Engadget.com0

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CineBeam, the compact-but-powerful laser projector LG debuted at CES 2018, will be available for purchase at retailers in the US this week. It’s the brand’s first 4K projector ever, and it’s also LG’s most expensive — the model will set you back $3,000. The device doesn’t look like most of its peers with its upright design and a lid that opens when you want to use it. But LG went for that look on purpose to make the projector much easier to carry around and use: it can beam a 150-inch screen on a surface, whether you hang it from the ceiling or just place it anywhere on the floor.

Its other features include HDR support, two 7W speakers, wireless connection for external devices, as well USB, Ethernet and HDMI ports. In addition to being LG’s first 4K projector, it’s also the brand’s brightest yet at 2,500 lumens. The Korean company’s other projectors top out at 2,000 lumens, though they’re also admittedly cheaper than the CineBeam, with prices ranging from $300 to $1,800.

Although the model is still more affordable than other 4K projectors, it also has quite a few rivals in the same price range or lower. BenQ recently launched a true 4K offering with an entry-level price of $1,500, while premium projector-maker JVC introduced a $2,500 4K model with features similar to CineBeam’s. If you decide to buy LG’s device, though, check out its official page to see which retailers will stock it.

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LG's AI-infused G7 ThinQ is now available in the US

June 1, 2018 — by Engadget.com0

Chris Velazco/Engadget

LG’s S9-rival, the G7 ThinQ, has arrived in the US and is now available at various retailers and major carriers. The G7 ThinQ is one of the Korean phonemaker’s latest premium devices that comes infused with AI features — there’s also the V30S ThinQ and the V35 ThinQ, which shares many of the G7’s characteristics and could make LG’s lineup a bit confusing. It boasts the first dedicated Google Assistant button found on an Android phone, so you don’t need to say “OK, Google” to summon the voice assistant. That button can also conjure up Google Lens, which can detect text, landmarks, media and other real-life objects, giving you a way to quickly translate foreign signs or to look for info on various objects.

The device’s star features, however, are its AI-powered cameras: it has one wide-angle and one standard 16-megapixel cameras on the back, as well as a 5-megapixel front cam. If you switch on the shooters’ AI capabilities, they’ll be able to recognize what they’re taking a photo of and to adjust the image based on what they think will produce the best results.

For instance, if the AI detects people in the photo, it could switch to “person” mode that highlights facial features and skin tone or to “portrait” mode that makes faces stand out with bokeh. If the AI detects food, it amps up color and saturation, but if it thinks you’re taking photos of the city, it focuses on the contrast between lights and shadows. The AI Cam was still unfortunately hit or miss when we tested it out, but LG says it will improve over time and future updates.

A G7 ThinQ will set you back at least $749. You can get one from Amazon, Best Buy and other retailers, from Google’s Project Fi page and from more traditional mobile carriers (Sprint, T-Mobile, US Cellular and Verizon.)

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Project Fi now works with LG's newest phones and Moto's affordable G6

May 30, 2018 — by Engadget.com0

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In spite of recent additions, Google’s Project Fi hasn’t had great device choices. You’ve hadto buy a Pixel if you want a high-end phone, and the most affordable modern option has been the mid-tier Moto X4. No more — Project Fi now supports three more third-party phones that fill in some huge gaps in the experimental carrier’s roster. You can now use LG’s G7 ThinQ and just-unveiled V35 ThinQ, for starters. They’re not cheap at $749 and $899 respectively, but they do give you a viable choice if you feel the Pixel 2 is long in the tooth (or just prefer LG’s self-branded designs).

The third device, meanwhile, is Fi’s first truly low-cost phone. The Moto G6 is priced at $199 and promises a decent amount of power for the price through its 5.7-inch screen, portrait mode photos and 26 hours of claimed battery life.

You can pre-order the G6 today. The G7 and V35 will be available in June, but there’s an incentive to wait: you’ll get $50 in Fi service credits if you buy one of them in advance. No, these new handsets won’t satisfy anyone who wants to use Galaxy S9 with the service, but this at least provides some honest-to-goodness variety.

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LG V35 ThinQ hands-on: Modern brains but last year’s looks

May 30, 2018 — by Engadget.com0

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LG’s flagship V30 has been on the market for well under a year, and it — somehow — has already spawned two sequels. The first, an AI-infused redux called the V30S ThinQ, only recently became available for pre-order in the US. The second, which LG just revealed today, takes many of the features found in the new G7 and packs them into a very familiar body. Say hello to the V35 ThinQ: it’s a dead ringer for last year’s V30, with a few modern niceties tucked away inside.

I spent a little hands-on time with the V35 last week, and one thing is clear: If you were hoping for LG’s next V-series phone to break new ground in mobile cinematography or audio quality — as earlier models have done — you’re fresh out of luck. The V35 really is just an update of an update of an existing phone (albeit one we really liked).

Gallery: LG V35 ThinQ hands-on | 18 Photos 18 +14

Just consider what’s going on inside the phone. Like nearly every other premium smartphone released this year, the V35 ThinQ packs a Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 chipset, this time with 6GB of RAM. That’s just like the G7, and the V35 felt just as fast as rival devices. Beyond that, the V35 mostly sticks to the existing V30 formula: There’s a rear-mounted fingerprint sensor, 64GB of internal storage, a microSD card slot, a 3,300mAh battery inside and a 32-bit Quad DAC that ensures the phone is still one of the best mobile music players on the market.

The V35 is far from the most innovative smartphone LG has ever made, but some of the changes here really are worth digging into. Take that 6-inch, Quad HD+ screen up front, for instance: It’s a big step forward from the P-OLED panels we got in the V30 (and, to some extent, the V30S ThinQ). Let’s say you were reading in bed and wanted to dial your V30’s screen brightness down — the display would often look a little gritty or grainy when you dimmed it.

This time, LG went with a more traditional OLED screen that avoids that pesky, dirty look and seems to produce punchier, more vivid colors at the same time. (It also doesn’t have a notch, if that’s a thing that matters to you.) The phone lacks the Super Bright Display mode that made the G7 so readable in broad daylight, but it was still plenty easy to read on a sun-drenched rooftop. All told, LG is on the right track here.

Chris Velazco/Engadget

And then there are the cameras. LG transplanted the 16-megapixel dual camera from the G7 into this familiar frame. For those keeping track, the standard camera has a wide f/1.6 aperture and

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LG's 2018 TVs now work with Amazon Alexa

May 29, 2018 — by Engadget.com0

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For years, “smart” TVs have largely been defined by internet connectivity and a wide array of apps. LG, with its webOS platform, has been at the forefront of that push. This year, the company has focused more on making its TVs more intelligent thanks to its ‘ThinQ‘ initiative, first integrating Google Assistant and now rolling out support for Amazon’s Alexa.

All of LG’s 2018 OLED TVs and Super UHD TVs with ThinQ AI are now compatible with Alexa-enabled devices — including Amazon Echo, Echo Show, Echo Plus. Users have the power to switch channels, toggle TV volume, browse available content and even initiate private YouTube streams in another room, all through the power of their voice.

Last month, LG announced that its current collection of ThinQ-branded appliances can take commands from both Amazon’s Alexa and Google Assistant. LG says its intelligent voice control systems are there to provide the most comfortable smart home experience, but sometimes it can be nice not to hunt down that lost remote.

With Google Assistant already available, LG TVs now easily fit within an existing connected setup. However, for those who aren’t familiar with the smart home concept, they could afford owners their first foray into intelligent living.

Tech News

The best air conditioner

May 25, 2018 — by Engadget.com0

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By Liam McCabe 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 the full article here. After six summers…